It is amazing the small things we miss because we are so wrapped up in the business of the regular day-to-day – the falling rain, the blossoming flowers, the small shaft of sunlight as the clouds part. I am just as much a culprit of that as well. I often times get so wrapped up in programming at work that I forget to observe the things outside. Well, I broke away from the monotony and observed, through my window, tulips blossoming in the sunlight behind a pane of wet glass.
The act of using the texture made by the streaking water droplets on the glass was very deliberate as I wanted to bring attention both to the water and the flowers in the background. I could think of no other way to present it that would illustrate those elements together and on par. In fact, the water provided something more akin to a texture to the overall image.The lighting played its part in making the image what it is, lightly kissing the flowers helping them emerge from the surrounding dark green vegetation.
Could I have made the image sharper? Sure I could. But, the purpose of the image was not about conveying a surgical copy but to convey a mood. A mood that is often felt when observing the rain fall. It is more of a feeling of being purified as particles are washed away and everything seems to burst with renewed vigour. That is what I felt when I saw the scene and what I wanted to convey when I shot this image through my window.
Oops, I did it again. I revisited the Montauk Point area to have a look at it given the changing conditions and because things were warming up – yaaay Spring. I had also planned on exploring more of the area like the coastline which I hadn’t had an opportunity to do on my previous trip. What I encountered however was a lot more than I bargained for.
I had thought that my visit would have been much like the previous one with the lighthouse being inaccessible. But as it so happens, on this visit, the lighthouse had resumed its services opening up to visitors. This time around, I had to pay a little to get into the parking lot and yes, I had to pay to get into the lighthouse as well but it was worth every “penny” – paid by credit card. Nevertheless, I got into the lighthouse which I later understood is currently unmanned – It operates automatically. Further, the rest of the lighthouse has been converted into a museum illustrating the history of the lighthouse and the Montauk Point. The discussions given by the guides were both educational and refreshing but the real treat of the visit was getting the opportunity to ascend the spiral staircase into the light enclosure. It was there I shot the photograph depicted above showing the jagged coastline of the Point.
The Montauk Point Coastline has been etched by the Atlantic Ocean over years of slow and continuous erosion. This has created some rather steep bluffs which look out into the waters. During stormy conditions, the beach area which is visible in the photograph is not accessible so it was very fortunate that I got an opportunity to make this capture. However, the natural formation of this beach front is beautiful and is the reason why I selected it as one of the photographs to post of my visit.
In retrospect, it would have been nice if I had the opportunity for me to set up my tripod to take this photograph and properly compose the shot. Given the narrow staircase, limited room to work within and limitations as to where visitors are allowed to access, it was not at all possible to properly plan out the shot as I would have wanted to. But, that was one of the limitations of my revisit to the Montauk Point Coastline. Regardless, I enjoyed every bit of it.
Like a scene straight out of a fairytale novel, a white maned horse, Jill, pauses and casts here stares in my general direction resulting in the photograph presented on the left which I have titled – White Mane. Indeed, the scene appeared almost majestic as the various elements coalesced into the composition visible here. But to explain how I got to this point let me take a step back to explain the back story.
Since my relocation to Long Island, NY last year, I had been longing for the opportunity to return to the place I now call home, Syracuse. I took the opportunity to visit some family, revisit some old familiar places and to take photographs over the Easter weekend. It was on one such photography outing with some family, Lynne, that I captured this scene.
We stopped at a nearby farm which we have frequented in the past to see two familiar horses – Jill and Jasper. On this visit, we discovered that both had two new companions – Dixie and Tiki. Tiki was not present when I shot this scene but Jill was well represented as she stood out front and center for this photograph. With her striking white mane flowing from her head to her back she stood out majestically among the other horses. Being a draft horse she stands out prominently with muscular legs and tall stature. But, in spite of her size, she is a gentle and beautiful giant.
For me, it is always a pleasure to see this horse. She embodies the sort of qualities which I fancy in horses – strong, majestic and beautiful. An of course, I can’t help but mention about her striking white mane which, to me, is her mos telling characteristic trait.
Like the opening chorus of the song from STAIND, it’s been a while since I have last posted on my blog and given some insight as to what I am currently up to. It has been a little over a month now since I have relocated to Long Island NY and I am still getting settled in. However, at this point, I am starting to explore the place a little; And, one of the first places I have visited since being on the island is the Montauk Point Lighthouse which I have illustrated in this photo posted on the left – Lighthouse in the Reeds – Montauk Point Lighthouse.
Montauk Point is one of the more easterly facing points on the island overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and boy what a view. I personally haven’t seen the Atlantic in years now, and seeing it again was exhilarating in itself. But visiting the Point is not complete without seeing the lighthouse. Unfortunately, when I visited, access to the lighthouse was closed. So, I was unable to gather more information on the lighthouse firsthand. On the other hand, I did get to walk around the lighthouse and observe it from different vantage points – from the shoreline beneath the bluff on which the lighthouse sits, to a nearby lookout point north of the lighthouse.Among the various pictures I took that day, this is the one which stands out the most to me – the lighthouse in the reeds.
Most of the land on and surrounding the bluffs is sand. There is very little shrubbery to hold the land back from erosion except for these reeds which grow wildly around the point. To me the lighthouse almost mimics the structure of the reeds with its slender build; So, I couldn’t help it but juxtapose the two together, illustrating the light house growing within the reeds.
The lighthouse appears to be a frequently visited spot all year round. I can only imagine what it must be like during the summer when it is a little warmer. I would certainly look forward to visiting it it again then. Till then, I will enjoy and reminisce the memories of my winter visit.
This is not the final installment to the Twilight saga – far from it. This is to introduce the real “Breaking Dawn”. The photo in this post was taken at Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca New York. And, to me, is a much accurate representation of breaking dawn.
This is one photograph that I could not possible convert to black and white because if I did, I would loose the effect of the warm sunrise over the crest of the waterfall. The warm, golden yellow color seen here is indicative of the soft glow seen from the sun as it slowly creeps its way into forest areas. The atmosphere at the top of the falls was a sort of hazy mist filled with the moisture liberated by the splashing water of the falls. The lit area to the left of the photograph define the contours of the jagged, rocky terrain lining the falls and provide depth to the image. The sun rays almost split the image in half creating an equally sized shadow area where the milky, white water of the falls cascade down to the pool below.
In contrast to the well-lit, warm, sunny area, we have the cooler parts of the falls where the water runs through. The falls cascade no less than three times, zigzagging, carving its way through the terrain until it finally terminates at the pool. The white water of the fall is indicative of the motion of the water as it descends through the rocks.
Indeed the serene scene evokes a mood of tranquility and in some ways a mood of refreshment – not only because of the cool, flowing waters of the falls but also because of the directional light cast by the rising sun. A mood which is further emphasized by its title – “Breaking Dawn”.
During the preparatory work for Thanksgiving, I took a photograph of a friends daughter. The part of the composition that really caught my attention at first was the back-lit area behind her as she was sitting near a window. But, this had another beneficial effect as it created a reflection on the dinner table surface and bounced a catch light into her eyes – hence the title “The Eyes have It”.
I believe there were other elements which helped this image besides the simple catch light. For one, there was the color of her hair which was more like fire embers. The color ranged from at times from golden yellow to reddish orange.
The other interesting element was her stare. This is just one of about three shots. But, it is the one where the eyes were directed straight back to the camera and, to me, gave the most dramatic effect. This, in combination with the catch light which reflected of her eyes, drew a lot of attention to her serious stare. By no means was she upset or unhappy, but I could tell in talking with her that she was exhausted from doing her morning jog.
The last element which I believe helped the image was the depth of field. Although very subtle in this image, it is noticeable on the curved part of the wooden chair she is sitting on that there is a soft blur that recedes to the window. This brings her to the foreground in a very prominent way creating a sense of depth to the image.
Of course the back-lit scene created by her proximity to the window also helped immensely in creating a minimalist, airy feeling by painting the background white. However, the combination of all the elements came together to create this rather simple but dramatic image which focused attention on the eyes. Thus, the title of the image – “The Eyes have It”.
Thanks to the acute attention to detail of fellow photographer and instructor, Joe Inzalaco, I was able to capture something I rarely take notice of – winter berries.
We were both assisting some students at the Rozamond Gifford Zoo, taking them through the paces of adjusting their camera to take photographs manually. Upon leaving the pond where ducks and flamingos are frequently on exhibit, we paused at the primate park exhibit. There, Joe pointed to a berry plant which had lost almost all its leaves.
Thanks to thick fog and dense cloud cover this morning, the lighting was flat. There were no deep shadows and this allowed me to emphasize the small amounts of light which would break through the clouds occasionally In this case, there was a small amount of light which shone on the right side of the berries bringing drama to the image.
The leaf shown in the image was the last leaf I observed on this branch; And, I used it to counter balance the berries on the opposite side of the frame. I also used a shallow depth of field to further isolate this singular branch. The photo was taken such that the branch ran diagonally through the frame to add a dynamic feel to the image. Although I had considered converting the image to black and white, I thought the colors were rich and added more to the image than taking away. Further, the purple blurred patches in the background add to the context of the image and makes for a nice smooth background.
For a completely spontaneous image, I thought that various elements came together to make the image work. The soft lighting, the leaf, the shallow depth of field, the color all converged in making an image which emphasized depth, drama and the beauty of these “Winter Berries.”
I will be the first to admit that the photograph of this grazing reindeer looks a lot like something straight out of a fairy tale book or some wildlife photography shot. And, I will not deny that this was the look I was going for.
As stated, the scene looks like something out of a story book. With its gentle sloping hills, its green pastures, the ground littered with the golden and yellow leaves of Fall, and a soft sunny backlit area, the scene looks almost staged – but it wasn’t. This is yet another photograph from my visit to the zoo last week. I started early and had decided to make my way around the Rozamond Gifford Zoo but from a different direction. I choose to start of from the pond entrance rather than the bird exhibit where the kookaburas reside. As I made my way around the winding path, I came across the open pen of the reindeers. It was still early in the morning and the sunlight was more directional than it was overhead creating long streaks of yellow light in the areas where it penetrated through the leaves and branches. The gentle slope of the land helped to accentuate the fallen leaves which littered the grounds of the pen. The reindeer, with its solid brown, white and black colors, anchored the photograph illustrating that it was the subject. Had it not been for the reindeer in the shot, the scene would have been plain and would lack interest. But with the reindeer in the shot, and the including of all the other elements working together, it creates a photograph which is memorable.
Although the photograph looks staged, it wasn’t. In spite of this, however, the combination of elements which make the photograph work – lighting, gentle sloping hills, reindeer, leaf littered landscape, green pastures – give the impression of a scene straight out of a story book; A story book of a grazing reindeer in a meadow.
Golden Lion Tamarins are one of the more active simians present at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, next to the Squirrel Monkeys. Being one of the New World Monkeys, it is lighter, faster and smaller than the Old World Primates which tend to be larger and heavier – apes and humans. It is this combination of characteristics along with the lighting conditions of their enclosure which made them a challenge to photograph; Let me explain why.
One of the bigger attractions of the Golden Lion Tamarin exhibit at the Zoo is the tamarin itself. Golden colored, small and agile, the tamarin is usually a very active primate which jumps from branch to branch, often hiding behind leaves and branches. The small size and active nature makes them pretty difficult to track even with the autofocus system of most modern cameras. I have walked away with many blurred shots because they were so active.
The problem is further compounded by the fact that the lighting conditions in the pen is very low. To the human eye, the change in light is not all that significant as our eyes have a higher dynamic range than that what is achievable with digital cameras. However, for a photographer on a budget who does not have the money to invest in the next 2.8f 200mm lens, having a significantly high ISO capable camera with low noise can be your best friend. Otherwise, one can suffer from slow shutter speed which again results in blurred pictures. Now, blurry photos are not a bad thing, as long as they are done deliberately and with reason.
Thankfully, on my visit to the zoo earlier this week, I arrived at a time when the tamarins appeared to be still sleepy. It may be that they are just adjusting to the cooler weather of Fall. However, this was the first I had visited and seen them so lethargic hanging from the branches within the pen. This gave me the opportunity to really think through my shot and compose the best way I could. Consequently, I took this photograph labeled Golden Lion Tamarin. This photograph is one in probably three or four that I took of the tamarins. Of all of the photos, this is the only one where the tamarin in the foreground raised its head and looked forward. In the others, it merely laid its head on the branch and slept. I choose to stick with this image because I thought it carried the most interest, compositionally.
Further, I chose to stick with color on this shot as there is no other way I can illustrate that the tamarins are golden color without showing them in color. The hair growth on the tamarins is also interesting as the hair on the head appears like a mane on a lion. I guess this explains the name.
Tamarins are always a pleasure to watch because of their color, agility and general active nature. However, they are difficult to shoot because of their very active nature. The problem can be further compounded by the lighting conditions of their enclosure. But, if you are lucky, there are times when you can capture them when they are still. And, that opens the door for more creativity in shooting them.
This is the last of my Fall photos. The peak season has already come and gone and right now the trees are starting to loose their leaves. Winter is almost here as the temperatures continue to grow colder daily. However, I am going to take one last look back at the fall colors with a simple photograph of a bench beneath a tree.
Certainly, it is not as attention grabbing as the earlier photographs Red Leaf on a Bench and Awash with Color. However, it has a sort of meditative quality because of the simplicity of its composition and what it implies. A bench beneath a tree already implies the idea of taking a break, resting and in so doing I am taking a break from the fall pictures to make way for a new set of images which will follow in later postings.
To review the composition, the image does something that I have always been told not to do; It divides the frame evenly vertically and leaves a conflicting imbalance. On one side, the left side, we have a bench. On the right side, we have empty space. It is an imbalance which draws interest to the photograph and again presents a more painterly aesthetic.
A railing runs in the distance creating a division and giving the impression of a layered scene with depth. The foreground is bordered by this railing and consists of everything up to the railing. Everything beyond the railing represents another layer and this forms the background.
To draw extra interest, the bench was lightened as it was in deep shadow. The shadow beneath the tree was enhanced somewhat to give the impression of a shade from the branches above which form a small semicircular form above the bench.
As stated before, the design is very simple and invokes a very tranquil mood not only because of the composition but because of the elements within that composition – a bench beneath a tree. And, this signals the close of my Fall photos for the year to make way for other photos to follow.
Fine Art Nature and Outdoor Lifestyle Photographer