Tag Archives: Photography

Ducks in a Row

Ducks in a Row
Ducks in a Row

It has been quite some time since I have had an opportunity to visit the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, NY.  And, at the first opportunity to do so, I leapt at the chance. I had always enjoyed the zoo visits I made when I lived in Syracuse, as it allowed me the opportunity to explore a bit of the exotic.  Further, it allowed me to bring a slightly different flavour of content to my images. So, at the suggestion to visit the zoo with some friends, I quite literally got my ducks in a row, jumped into my car and hit the highway.

Without fail, the trip to zoo filled me with excitement and wonder and I couldn’t keep my camera from my eye. It was a joy to be among the various aquariums, and underwater life, among the birds of the aviary, the primates, and other species of animals. I am certainly no Tarzan, but I am pretty sure as I made my way through the twists and turns of the zoo, the animals were all whispering to themselves — boys, and so as to not sound politically incorrect,  girls, he is back,  strike a pose! At least, that is the thought which consumed my mind when I shot the photograph in this post — Ducks in a Row. Though it may appear so, the composition was not posed. I literally walked upon two ducks roosting in and on a log, one atop the other. Thankfully, they were not bothered by the sound of my shutter release going off nor my indulgence in trying to to organize the elements in the frame both vertically or horizontally. Thus, I was able to accomplish the photograph shown here.  Although, I took numerous other photographs while meandering through the zoo, that stands out as one of the more outstanding images i shot that day simply because of its idiomatic undertones.

In all it was a good day at the zoo, and I can’t recommend the Rosamond Gifford Zoo enough as it never fails to delight. But, as most start to get their New Year’s resolutions together and to focus on what needs to be accomplished, I am probably the only one who can argue figuratively as well as literally, I got all my Ducks in a Row.

 

Greenport, NY – Moments in Time

Greenport Bicycle
Greenport Bicycle

Here is a little tip; If you ever get the opportunity to take a trip out to the East end of long island and  to visit the village of Greenport, NY, don’t hesitate; Take It!  The experience itself is  well worth it as it has a very relaxing atmosphere.  But what also makes it intriguing, is that Greenport attempts to preserve the little qualities that a lot of the surrounding areas have lost due to over development and heavy commercialization.  And, through the next few paragraphs and through the illustrations I will attempt to explain how it is I ended up with the title of this post – Greenport, NY – Moments in Time.

Due to its narrowly paved streets and closely connected buildings it is not recommended to drive through the main shopping area of Greenport. Now, I don’t say that to put of any would be visitors. But, the offerings of this quaint little town are best explored on foot or bicycle. It is more of a pedestrian town and to truly enjoy it, you have to be prepared to slow down. Once you can accomplish that, you will quickly realize there is lots to experience.

From its antique carousel which dates back to the 1920s, its one room town jail, its 1950s displays in some of its shops, to its modern day marina  which sits out on the bay from Greenport,  the town offers little hints into the influences of its past and present. Through my visits, I was only able to capture a small portion of the Greenport life through my lens.  Some of the best attractions were not easily captured through a visual medium because they stimulate other senses – the smell of the different cuisines and the salty air, the sound of the breaking of the waves on the shore line, the cool breezes from the bay…

The true highlight for me which is not captured in any of the pictures was the camera obscura which looks out onto the bay. Unfortunately, the nature of the room made it difficult, if not impossible to capture the experience in the photographic room of the device. But, it was like watching high definition TV being created by sunlight.

Unfortunately, with the shift of Summer into Fall, a lot of these  outdoor attractions and activities will disappear for a while. The carousel will be stopped, the marina will slow down and the streets will be less frequented. But that will be only be temporary as the town goes into hibernation. However, in the Spring its doors will again swing open to allow other visitors to the village of Greenport, NY. And through their experiences, they too will understand why I recommend visiting the village of Greenport, NY.

Naked Cowgirl

Naked Cowgirl
Naked Cowgirl

One of the most interesting franchises I have ever heard of is that of the Naked Cowboy. The term Naked Cowboy is trademarked by Robert Burck. However, he licenses the name to persons who wish to make  use of the brand.  A search on the internet  for a Naked Cowboy in Times Square will only reveal one, Mr. Burk, as he has defended his trademark fervently.  But, a similar search for a Naked Cowgirl on the other hand results in numerous results. This post is about the other half of the Naked Cowboy franchise, the Naked Cowgirl.

By no means is the Naked Cowgirl depicted in my photo the original.  The title of original Naked Cowgirl goes to Cindy Fox, who is a professional fitness trainer. But ever since the advent of the Naked Cowgirl, there have been several licensed  and unlicensed Naked Cowgirls. The one depicted in this post is one of the licensed ones, Alex.

I took this photograph on a previous visit to Times Square  and caught her while she was entertaining on the corner of 43rd St and 7th Avenue.  For those who are unfamiliar with this area of Manhattan, it is more commonly referred to as Midtown. It is one of the busiest sections in New York City frequented by tourists, street performers and native New Yorkers alike.

Along with her counterpart, the Naked Cowboy, she often welcomes visitors and takes group shots with those wishing to get a memento of their encounter with her. In my experience, the nature of the shots can range from  a basic friendly encounter to being a bit provocative. Of course, for every group shot taken there is also the expectation of a tip but It is all in good fun and worth the time. Further, unlike other entertainers and guides who work the Times Square area there is never the feel of being hustled into taking a group photograph – taking a photography of any one of the naked representatives is free.

Although there has only ever been one Naked Cowboy, the Naked Cowgirl, the counterpart to the Naked Cowboy franchise, has had numerous representatives.  And,  it is hard to visit New York City and not bounce into either one of the naked representatives. Given that Naked Cowgirl is just as much a staple of the  New York City experience, I would recommend paying her a visit on your next trip and taking a group shot if you are up for it. But, if you do, remember, do tip generously.

Bhangra – Folk dance of the Punjabi

On a whim, I decided to take an unscheduled trip to Rochester to see the SUNY Geneseo Bhangra Team, aka GB, perform at Rochester’s Fringe Fest. Well the experience turned out to be a lot more than I bargained for as I got an opportunity to shoot the teams performance up front. That, by far, was one of the greater experiences of the evening given that photography was literally forbidden in the the theater room of the except to assignment photographers. But, I will not delay with unnecessary copy of the experience. I will let the photos do the talking and hope you enjoy Bhangra – Folk dance of the Punjabi.

Patas Monkeys on Look Out

Patas Monkeys on Look Out
Patas Monkeys on Look Out

There are quite a few mammalian species which are communal. Patas Monkeys are no different. And, in the wild, the communal nature of the group ensures the survival of the species. They quite literally live by the proverb, “You scratch my back, I will scratch yours”. But, besides sleeping eating and taking care of young together, They also partake in performing look out as demonstrated in this shot of “Patas Monkeys on Look Out.”

For me, what works most about this composition is the amount of character that comes through the photograph of these two monkeys. One looks out to the left sternly keeping an eye on what drew its attention while the other rubs its nose while facing the camera. The placement of the monkeys in the frame as well as their facial expression humanizes them as they peer out of the frame and produces posturing which seems more akin to a painting than a candid photograph. Every time I look at the photograph I pause to wonder – What was it looking at? Why was the other monkey covering its nose?

In a more painterly sense, another reason why the image works is the manner in which leading lines are used in the photograph. All the major lines in this photo converge on one central point, the smaller of the two monkeys in the foreground.The metal beams of the enclosure as well as the limb of the tree converge on the smaller patas monkey.

As technically sound as the image is, I think it still does suffer from some problems that I could not workaround. the fencing of the enclosure is subtly visible in the image. It is something that I wished that would not have been visible at all. Further, at the time I took the shot it was raining and caused some small white streaks which appear in places in the shot.But, in spite of its flaws I still like this image for the qualities which I think are enduring  – that it demonstrates very human like qualities in another species.

Smoke Dance

Smoke Dance
Smoke Dance

The Sencas, Oneidas, Onondagas, Iroquois, etc have many ceremonial dances in common. One of them happens to be the smoke dance. The smoke dance is one of the more energetic and colourful of the ceremonial dances which I have seen that both men and women participate in. Its energy is displayed in a flurry of colours which I have tried to capture in my own rendition of the “Smoke Dance”.

On visiting the NY State Fair on Saturday, one of the exhibition areas I discovered was the Indian Village. The term Indian may have been the homogeneous term for the people who were present there but really they were representative of different Native American Nations. Some were adorned in their traditional dress while others were in regular clothes.

At the time I visited they were presenting the various ceremonial dances. All were indeed interesting to observe but the one which caught my attention was the smoke dance. Initially, the dance is slow and unassuming. And slowly, as the chanting becomes louder, the footwork becomes more energetic. The dance itself is accentuated by lots of stomping and quick turns which are all performed in a circular pattern. Also, the brightly coloured clothes emphasize the movements by giving them impact.

I tried to capture that flurry of colour and energy in “Smoke Dance” by delaying my shutter speed long enough to capture the movement of the dancers’ feet. Believe me when I say there are lots of technical issues that come into play with that. I had to contend with changing light conditions which can result in overexposed areas; a lack of focus area; and, just simply hand holding the shot was a difficulty in itself.

All technical issues aside however, I believe I captured it in a tasteful manner which displays the essence of the dance and the spirit of the smoke dance. I hope you enjoy this rendition as much as I enjoyed witnessing it first hand.

 

Stealthy Snow Leopard Cub

Stealthy Snow Leopard Cub
Stealthy Snow Leopard Cub

I decided to take a brief moment and step away from the western theme which I had been pursuing whole heartily and post an image which I had shot on a  recent trip to the zoo with fellow photographers Lynne and Joe. We had heard that there were two new additions to the snow leopard family as two cubs had been bred in captivity. They are expected to remain at the zoo for the next 6 months before being sent of to other zoos. Given the limited time frame and the limited time they are on exhibit on a daily basis – 11:00am to 12:00pm, I decided to take the trip and see if I could capture a keepsake.Thankfully, I did in this photo of a sneaking, stealthy snow leopard cub.

He had just climbed the rock face and was making his way to the front of the rock but not in a trotting, playful manner. Instead, he choose to sneak in. With his head down, eyes straight ahead and careful placement of his paws, he made his way slowly around the corner of the rock.

I tried to recapture that feeling of being stalked by a predator in this image and I will be the first admit that shooting him was no easy task. The snow leopard has a light brown colour with dark brown spots, And, in this man-made environment which simulates the same sort of habitat he would have inhabited in the wild, he  blends in very well – almost vanishing. In colour, it was almost impossible to distinguish the young cub from the rocks which surrounded him and, to me, would not have revealed him as much without the treatment I gave it in black and white. Besides makding the leopard easier to distinguish from the surrounding rock, I found that the black and white treatment helped the leopard to pop more in the environment. Of course, this is not how it would appear in the wild, and it should not. But it certainly helps the viewer to see the creature.

Had there been actual pray around the corner of that rock, it would not have stood a chance given the way the cub was creeping around the corner. But, given there wasn’t any, I guess I am satisfied in just capturing the movements of this stealthy snow leopard cub.

When Life Hands You Lemons…

I was recently out shooting with some friends at a nature reserve near Lake Ontario. While perusing the paths of the grounds, I came to a point where I felt I could do away with my tripod for some handheld shots. Due to a miscalculation, the camera fell from my tripod and fell to the ground, lens first. It didn’t appear to have hit hard, nor did it apear to have received any serious physical damage. But, I was mistaken. Although, I was still able to autofocus and was still able to make use of the VR functionality on my Nikkor, the lens was permanently extended and fixed at 200mm.

Surprisingly, I was not distraught or heavily concerned. I think I would have been more concerned if the lens had broken and smashed to pieces. This did not happen thankfully and because I was still able to continue shooting, I continued to do so. I think there was a lesson to learn there – when life hands you lemons, make some lemonade. I could have packed it in and decided that this was the end of the line. I could have sobbed all day and not take another photo. But, I chose to continue shooting because for me the most important thing is the image and capturing that moment. I quickly came to accept that I now had a prime. So, I made use of my lens as a prime and continued shooting. I think that the photographers that I am continually inspired by would not do anything differently.

Anyway, I am awaiting my replacement so I can get back into the swing of things to start making images that matter.

Take a Bow

Take a Bow
Take a Bow

Yet another venture into studying forms which occur naturally in nature, I decided to observe the curves of fiddle-heads. I liked the very simple and clean curved structures of these young ferns and more importantly to see them juxtaposed against one another.

Because of a simple gut feeling, I chose to go with a sepia toning of this image. It just felt that it helped expressed the content more and provides a non-distracting background colouring to the scene. I will also add that flat lighting, due to an overcast day, also helped create this somewhat surreal background as well.

The photo was shot at Beaver Lake Park while taking the lake loop trail which should have taken 1 hour.  But beware,  if you are photographing; the trip will probably take 3 and  1/2 hours.

The Folds

The Folds
The Folds

This is an oldy but a goody. I had spent quite a few days thinking through how I wanted to edit this photo. But after much observation, I decided to settle on something simple but, I think, adequate.

Back on April 22, I took a trip with companion photographers Joe Inzalaco and Lynne Fordham to Derby Hill Observatory on the shores of lake Ontario. Part of the observatory descends into a forest area with a slightly cleared walking path. It was a bit damp, and in some places I felt I was playing a game of hop-scotch as I tried to avoid the muddier parts of the path. But, it was well worth the effort. I found the immense diversity of plants in that woodland path pretty rich and  I found some lovely geometrical structures, like the one displayed on the left.

I was captivated by the way the leaves unfolded from the centre forming this ever growing spiral of leaf blades which protruded outward. There could have been any number of ways in which I could have photographed this plant but breaking all the conventional rules of composition, I decided to put it right smack in the centre. It just felt like that made the best display of the composition given the subject. But, I will let you be the judge.

For anyone who plans to visit Derby Hill Bird Observatory, I definitely recommend taking a walk around the woodland areas of the hill. It is well worth exploring and seeing what else is out there. But, please, whatever you do, carry some boots. You will thank me later for that.