Thursday, October 30, 2014

Around the yard this fall

Fall is a wonderful time for photography. The colors are vibrant and the weather often vivid, with clear skies and that beautiful, low-angled sun that just says "autumn" to me.

This year we were surprised to see pink among the yellows, reds, and golds in our yard. Our landscaper, Mark Willcher, planted a Camellia last spring that is now covered in pink blossoms with amazing yellow stamens. Based on web searches, I believe it is a Camellia sasanqua. I took some close-ups after a rain shower. Strangely enough, I didn't notice the ant in the blossom until I was looking at the image in Lightroom.

Another gorgeous shrub has been in our yard since we moved here, but I don't know its name (update: Euonymus allatus, a.k.a. burning bush). Its foliage turns a brilliant vermilion in the fall, complemented with orange-red berries.

Camellia sasanqua

Vermilion Bush
The details:
(Camellia) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/80 sec. at f/6.3, ISO 800, 45mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)
(Vermilion) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/80 sec. at f/3.2, ISO 800, 36mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Italy with the iPhone 5s

As I previously posted, after auditioning two small DSLRs I decided to carry only my iPhone 5s as my camera in Italy. Susan and I spent 16 days in September 2014 visiting Rome, Volterra, Florence, the Cinque Terre, Siena and the Tuscan countryside around Greve in Chianti.

The 5s photos came out as I expected. Images in daylight were very good: mostly accurate exposure, good color balance, and decent shadow detail. I downloaded and used the Camera+ application on the 5s. It allows you to split the focus target into two, one for focus and the other for exposure. That was helpful in high contrast scenes. Camera+ has other features but I haven't used them much. The Ponte Vecchio and statue shots are examples in good light (morning and evening, respectively).

However, returning home to work on the files in Lightroom reminded me why I shoot JPEG only when there's no other choice. There just isn't much latitude to work with in a JPEG file, compared to RAW. Blown highlights are truly blown, and LR adjustments can lead to odd results. For instance, look closely at the woman's face in the Central Market image. There's no choice but JPEG with the 5s, and it's a drawback.

Low light results were pretty bad, consistent with the tiny sensor in the 5s. The Wine Tasting image is a not-quite-horrible example. There were a couple of night scenes I would have liked to capture with a APS-c box; they were awful on the 5s. 

Ah well. It's small, it's light, and it doubles as a smartphone, so it was a good choice for a trip where photography wasn't top priority and travelling light was. My expectations weren't too high so I wasn't very disappointed, but I hope to carry something better on my next trip. Perhaps by then I'll have found a smaller camera I can live with.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Statue on Ponte Sant'Angelo, Rome

Central Market, Rome

Wine Tasting, Volterra

Monday, August 25, 2014

Off topic: Renting and trying out cameras

Much has been written about the demise of brick-and-mortar camera stores. In our area, we've lost Penn Camera and Ritz over the past few years. Everyone assumes the reason is online competition. It does seem hard to compete with mammoth warehouse operations like B&H and Amazon, with their huge inventories, low prices, quick delivery and sales tax advantage. But the prospective camera buyer who wants to handle a new camera has few options. I'm thinking about buying, so I rented two new models for a few days.

Our recent trip to Nova Scotia convinced me I'd be happier with a lighter kit. I currently carry a Pentax K-5, a Pentax 16-50mm f2.8 zoom, and a Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 macro zoom in a Lowepro Fastpack 200 backpack. It weighs almost 9 pounds; with the laptop I include when traveling, over 11 pounds. Doesn't sound too bad, but carrying it on multi-hour hikes became tiring. The last straw was deciding to leave it home one morning and consequently missing a shot of a bald eagle perched less than 100 feet away on a beautiful rock overlooking an azure ocean. Nuts.

I've watched with interest as mirrorless cameras have become the next big thing. "Big" only figuratively; they are substantially smaller and lighter than conventional DSLRs. The Fujifilm XT-1 and the Olympus OM-D EM-1 (who makes up these names?) have garnered praise, so I rented each for a few days from

I found it hard to get used to the electronic viewfinders. They are wonderfully bright, even in dim light--terrific for available light shooting, as I found when shooting with the Fuji at an outdoor evening event. But in daylight the viewfinders tend to hunt for the right illumination level as bright light and shadow areas move through the view, which I find disconcerting. They also have a bit of time lag that is a little distracting. And probably my 40+ years of using optical viewfinders has conditioned me to such an extent that it's just hard to adapt.

Both cameras fit my hand well, start up fast and are responsive in shooting. Their designs differ somewhat. The Fuji has more physical dials, reminiscent of film SLRs, and I found it pretty easy to use. The Olympus relies more on menus, menus, menus. I didn't use either one enough to form an opinion about their auto-focus, but I did miss several shots relying on it. Might have been user error, since a couple days is not enough time to learn a camera. I was too cheap to spend more than the approximately $200 it cost for a camera and two lenses for four or five days, and life kept me from testing them on several days.

But I took a lot of A-B comparison shots with the Pentax and Fuji, and also with the Pentax and Olympus. To make sure I had good exposures, I used exposure bracketing on all three cameras. When I sat down to look at the images I discovered that Lightroom 4 doesn't support the Fuji or Olympus raw formats. The workaround is to download Adobe's free DNG converter and use it to convert the raws to DNG format (I don't need to do this with the Pentax because it supports DNG in camera.) After that exercise I was able to import them into Lightroom and use its comparison tool to really look at them side by side.

The main finding: my Pentax 16-50 zoom isn't working well. No matter how carefully I tried, its images weren't as crisp as those from the Sigma on the K-5 or the other four lenses on the Fuji and Olympus. There is some history: the 16-50 has been in the shop once. I bought it and the K-5 new at the same time, and something was seriously out of whack. I had purple fringing at a hallucinogenic level. Camera and lens went back to Pentax, who sent me a different K-5 body and the same lens, which they said had been adjusted to meet specs. I think something has changed, and I suspect it is in the 16-50.

It's worth noting that the Fuji has an APS-C sized sensor, like the Pentax, while the Olympus uses a smaller, micro four thirds sensor. I was interested to see whether I would notice a difference. The answer is yes, but only when looking at pretty large magnification. If I often made big prints, I think I would favor the APS-C. And the Fuji is very similar to the Olympus in size and weight, which matter to me quite a bit. Advantage Fuji.

In the end, though, I decided not to buy a new camera. Our next trip is to Italy--God knows, a photogenic place--but our tour operator warns about theft, and repeatedly urges us to pack light. At this point I believe I will rely solely on the iPhone 5s (which I've written about here and here). There is more to life than photography...I'll keep repeating it like a mantra...and when we return I can concentrate on weightier work, so to speak, and get the 16-50 repaired.

If you've read this far, you might want to see some images from the Fuji and the Olympus. Here they are. Remember that these are JPEGs made from the raw files. The only tweaking was Lightroom's low sharpening for screen, so don't read too much into them. You can see some vignetting in the upper left of the Olympus 12mm (bottom shot). All were shot at the Rocky Islands at Great Falls in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.

The details: (Top) Fuji XT-1 handheld, 1/1900 sec. at f4.0, ISO 400, 23mm (SF23mmF1.4 R)
(Second) Fuji XT-1 handheld, 1/450 sec. at f8.0, ISO 400, 35mm (XSF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS)
(Third) Olympus OM-D EM-1 handheld, 1/200 sec. at f8.0, ISO 100, 47mm (LUMIX G VARIO 35-100mm/F2.8)
(Bottom) Olympus OM-D EM-1 handheld, 1/2000 sec. at f2.8, ISO 100, 12mm (LUMIX G VARIO 12-35mm/F2.8)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Nova Scotia II

Leaving Peggy's Cove we traveled west along the southern coast and spent two nights at Heron's Rest*, a gorgeous cottage on a wooded hillside at the end of a gravel road. When we arrived our hostess showed us around. At the bottom of a slope was a gurgling, completely deserted stretch of Petite Riviere waiting for us to jump in and play, which we did in due course. Good thing, too: Hurricane Arthur complicated outdoor activities the next day so our first dip was also our last, but it was memorable. The cottage was built by a shipwright, we were told. After weathering the hurricane inside with nary a creak nor rattle, we were convinced of its storm-worthiness.  

Petite Riviere
Our trip stuck mostly to the coasts, but we took one leg through the center of the western part of Nova Scotia. In the interior is Kejimkujik National Park (shortened to "Keji" by most). We had only part of a day to spend in that beautiful place. We chose to hike a trail to Peter Point, at the end of which one emerges onto a small sandy beach on a pristine lake. Like many spots we visited, it was deserted. That was one of many "oh, wow" moments.

Beach at Peter Point

View from Peter Point
*Heron's Rest was one of several excellent lodgings Susan booked through Airbnb. We really like this approach. We avoid overpriced hotels. There are scads of choices in location and types of lodging. And we have met many gracious, helpful hosts eager to point us toward the best sights, sounds, and food (in Halifax they even gave us bus tokens...thanks, Tim and Colleen!) If you travel, you should try it.

On the subject of travel tips, here's another: travel with someone who loves to travel, loves to plan travel, and loves you.

Susan, Travel Ace
The details:
(Petite Riviere) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/250 sec. at f/8, ISO 800, 34mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)
(Beach) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/50 sec. at f/9, ISO 200, 16mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)
(View) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/400 sec. at f/9, ISO 400, 28mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)
(Susan) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/2000 sec. at f/8, ISO 400, 28mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Nova Scotia I

In July 2014 Susan and I toured Nova Scotia. We had often heard that it is a place of great natural beauty, with deep and exciting music and dance traditions. We were not disappointed.

Our first stop outside Halifax was Peggy's Cove, a small South Coast community at St. Margaret's Bay.  The lighthouse there is said to be the most photographed one in Nova Scotia (or Canada, or the universe). It sits atop a hill of exposed granite, and on this day it was wrapped in fog. Perhaps that delayed the tour buses and I was able to get a few shots of the lighthouse alone.

Lighthouse at Peggy's Cove
Like many villages we visited, Peggy's Cove is a working fishery. That isn't surprising, since Nova Scotia is almost surrounded by water and is near major fishing resources. It's one of many factors that make it a fascinating province (others include a contentious political history, settlement by several nations and cultures, a complex geology and a phenomenal tidal range in the Bay of Fundy). I will add photos from others parts of Nova Scotia in later posts.

Boats at Peggy's Cove

Freedom 55
The details: 
(Lighthouse) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/2000 sec. at f/8, ISO 400, 16mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)
(Boats) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/1000 sec. at f/8, ISO 800, 16mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)
(Freedom) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/1000 sec. at f/8, ISO 800, 43mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Southwest Utah

Those of us who live in the eastern woodlands sometimes can't see the forest or the trees, so densely do they surround us. Spring has been very wet in Maryland this year, and vegetation has gone wild. So it was exciting to find ourselves in a completely different environment recently when we helped our son relocate to Cedar City, Utah, an attractive town in the southwest corner of the state.

I had some idea of what to expect. As an undergraduate geology student in the 1970's I spent several weeks in Silver City, New Mexico, making maps of a very dry area. I knew vegetation would be sparse (that's one reason they send neophyte geologists to such places: it's easier to see the rocks). But I had forgotten how much variety and drama there can be in arid landscapes. I was reminded on this trip, which included a visually delicious three hour drive south from Salt Lake City, and a stunning return drive at sunrise. But as this was a working trip with a tight schedule, no images were made along Interstate 15.

However, while in Cedar City I took a short drive up Cedar Canyon to make a few shots of the beautiful multicolored hills. Another day I wandered down to a creek near our hotel, where the vegetation was thick and the thistle in bloom. I can understand how photographers spend lifetimes in the American West yet feel they haven't seen everything. It is so compelling, and so vast.

Red Hill near Cedar City, Utah

Thistle and Grass

The details:  
(Red Hill) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/1000 sec. at f/8, ISO 400, 22mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)
(Thistle) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/320 sec. at f/8, ISO 400, 50mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rocks in my eyes

I love textures: fabric, bark, the surfaces of leaves, skin. Texture is everywhere in nature. As an undergraduate student in geology I was trained to identify rocks and minerals partly by their texture. Is it smooth, sandy, crystalline, fractured in a particular way? Geologists get many chances to examine rocks closely.

Sometimes my photography mimics my geology field work. I'm drawn to the textures and surfaces of exposed rocks and the way light plays over them; it spans two of my areas of interest. It accounts for much of the time I spend at Great Falls, Maryland, one of my favorite locations. There are miles of trails through exposed metamorphic rocks, which are not always easy to find in our verdant eastern woodlands.

It's ironic that in the midst of this lush spring, the shots I liked best from my latest trip to Great Falls are of rocks. I even rendered them in black and white, which has been diverting me recently. It seemed to enhance the textures and shadows, whereas the color versions looked a bit ho-hum. The first image is a vertical rock face shadowed by overhead branches. The geologist sees a hint of conchoidal fracture, typical of hard fine-grained rock, and at least two cleavage directions. The biologist would, I suppose, see the splotchy lichens. The second image shows an arrowhead-shaped void partly filled with fine sand and shell fragments. Fractures and much erosion formed the void into a pleasing shape. At the top of the void is a quartz vein that may have contributed to the fracture. Puffy lichen clouds fill the stone sky above it. I was tempted to title it Time's Arrow, as a nod to the geological notion of time, but I don't much go for interpretive names.

Rockface and Shadow

Sand-filled Rock Void

The details:  (Rockface) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/160 sec. at f/9, ISO 800, 36mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)

(Sand-filled Void) Pentax K-5 handheld 1/80 sec. at f/9, ISO 800, 50mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I went no farther than the driveway garden this morning. The peonies are bursting with pink ruffled exuberance. This is the morning we pined for in March when winter seemed endless. It's hard not to love life when it blooms so.

Peony, May 2014
The details: Pentax K-5 handheld 1/800 sec. at f/5, ISO 800, 45mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Screen Saver

Way back in the early days of personal computing, when the lumbering cathode-ray tube display ruled the desktop, a small and nimble type of program evolved. It was called a screen saver, and its function was to prevent an image from staying in one place on the screen for a long time. This was necessary because the CRT phosphors could be damaged by such over-exposure, leading to a permanent "burning-in" of the image. A screen saver would come on after a few minutes of PC inactivity, turning off the screen or, more entertainingly, filling it with moving images.  Flying Toasters was perhaps the best-known but there were scads of others.

Technology marches on as it is wont to do. CRTs are all but extinct, and screen savers no longer crawl endlessly across our displays. But still I think of images that are displayed when a computer isn't active as screen savers (not "Desktop Background" as Microsoft puts it). This came up because I recently bought a lightweight laptop, the Aspire S7, for backing up photo files when travelling. It weighs in at a dainty 2.3 pounds and fits easily into the laptop slot in my camera bag. After loading Lightroom and upgrading to Windows 8.1, it still has about 72 GB free on its SSD, which is sufficient to back up photos on any trip I'm likely to take. It also has a microSD slot, in case I get ridiculously profligate. It replaces my ancient but trustworthy Toshiba Satellite that runs the unsupported, unspeakable Windows XP. RIP, Satellite. You too, XP, I suppose.

Shunning the smartphone-like touch screen of Win 8.1, I opted for the more conventional desktop. Naturally I needed to choose a screen saver image. What better excuse to rummage through my catalog? I returned as I so often do to one of my favorite locations, the Lewes Rehoboth Canal in Delaware. This was one of many images made early on a September morning (cropped to the Aspire's 16 by 9 aspect ratio).

Lewes Rehoboth Canal, September 2012
The details: Pentax K-5 on tripod 1/250 sec. at f/8, ISO 200, 50mm(smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM).

The Last of Winter

The title of this blog is a hopeful one; I resisted ending with a question mark. It's hard to imagine getting another storm like this in March in our part of the country. The spring equinox is but 17 days away.

There are still a few hours before it clears and we must shovel. Nothing better to do than to put on the long lens and shoot into the storm. We're fortunate to have lots of trees around our home: they are always willing subjects. In my imagination, even they are tiring of this long, cold winter. In fact, buds are appearing, raising hopes of warmth to come.

I confess to shooting from the windows instead of donning winter gear and going outside. I confess to shooting in my pajamas. My excuse is, 'tis better to shoot imperfectly than not to shoot at all. Spring approaches and my excuses will melt away, but not quite yet.

Tree and Snow, March 2014

The details: Pentax K-5, tripod-mounted, 1/3200 sec. at f/4.5, ISO 1600, 85 mm (Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 DG MACRO)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Off-topic: portraits

I saw a good posting by Ryan Pendleton on DPS: How Self-Portraiture Makes You a Better Photographer. He convinced me to sit down and try a session with myself. I hung a dark blanket on a basement wall, unscrewed some light bulbs, pushed the ISO up to 1600 and used the self-timer to take about a dozen shots.

My biggest revelation: when I think I'm smiling, I'm not. I had to really crank up the grin to get something that wasn't morose. Mothers probably hold their children's hands a little tighter when I go by. But that made me think how important it must be to get a subject comfortable for a portrait, in case they have the same proclivity.

The technical parts were interesting, too. I needed to turn my head more than I expected to get an angle I liked; it felt a bit unnatural. And getting the focus correct, using available light in my dark basement, took some trial-and-error.

Post processing was pretty easy. I prefer black and white portraits, so I just desaturated and set the contrast where I wanted it. I tried a few of Lightroom's presets but in the end didn't use them. I also tried dialing in some "grain" but at ISO 1600 it wasn't needed. Went with a square crop, just because.

All in all, a useful exercise. Thanks to Ryan for the advice.

Dean Wight, by Dean Wight

The details: Pentax K-5, tripod-mounted, 1/5 sec. at f/7.1, ISO 1600, 50 mm (smc Pentax DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Seeing Conflict, Courageously

I just read of the death of Anja Niedringhaus, a Pulitzer-winning photojournalist who covered the Iraq war, the aftermath of 9/11, and much more. The Washington Post reports that she was shot by an Afghan policeman today.

It's awe-inspiring that such people put themselves in harm's way to show the rest of us the horrors of conflicts and the agony of innocents caught in them. If only her images, and those of other journalists, could overcome the hatred, power-lust and ignorance that fuel such atrocities, it would be a fitting tribute. I wish I could be more hopeful of such an outcome. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Off-topic: Photography for good

Our friend Meredith Hutchison conceived and carried out a photography-based project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The objective, in her words, was to "use photography to show positive images of women and a way that gave the girls...control." The girls and young women shared their aspirations with Meredith, who helped them put themselves and their dreams into photos. The project is called Vision not Victim.

This video gives a much better explanation, and shows some wonderful images. It's well worth watching. The project was supported by the International Rescue Committee. I've heard but can't confirm that the photos will be on public exhibit soon in Washington, DC. I'll update this post when I find out.

This is a great reminder of how powerful and constructive photography can be. Thank you, Meredith, and congratulations.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Off-topic: A great cause

One of my photos and two sets of my greeting cards will be offered at the annual auction for Green Acres School, a pre-kindergarten through 8th grade school in North Bethesda, MD. Our two boys attended Green Acres and Susan has worked there for over three decades. We can attest that it is an exceptional place for children to learn and grow. (Bethesda Magazine thinks so, too. Their readers named Green Acres the best private school, K through 8th, in the January/February 2014 issue.)

You can bid on my items and many, many others at the online auction site. The proceeds support financial aid, professional development, classroom materials, library acquisitions, and more. More information about the auction is here. See this post for a description of my greeting cards.

So have a look at the auction. Bidding closes March 10th. Thanks very much!

Kale (signed, framed print offered at auction)

Greeting Cards (two sets of these six designs offered at auction)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Greeting Cards for Sale

Some friends have bought, or asked to buy, my greeting cards (thank you, kind friends!) so I've decided to offer them for sale.

Please go to this page to see card images and pricing. Thanks!

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Even the most energetic of nature's displays can go unnoticed. Today Susan and I walked to the Olmstead overlook of the Great Falls of the Potomac, in the C&O Canal National Historical Park. There weren't many people around.

We've had a lot of precipitation this year: 6.5 inches so far, compared to an average less than 5 inches. This past week we had thunderstorms dumping rain on top of recent snow cover, and 60-degree temperatures. This morning Susan felt a need to be near the water, and water we found. The river was very high and turbulent.

It's hard to capture the energy of the river in a photograph. You can't hear the roar or feel the vibration of the footbridges over channels like the one pictured below. But the image gives some idea. Mind you, this is a side channel; the falls themselves are much larger. It sort of transports me to get close to this awe-inspiring force for a bit. Thank you, Susan. Without your instincts this might have been just another Sunday morning.

Potomac channel on Olmsted Island, Great Falls, MD

The details: Pentax K-5 handheld, 1/640 sec. at f/8, ISO 800, 24mm (smc Pentax DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Yet More Winter

The ice keeps coming this winter. Today at dawn a glaze covered everything. It was raining a little and the ice glistened. Before it melted I took the camera out. The spirea bush in our yard was amazing.

Branch and Ice

The details: Pentax K-5 on tripod, 1/250 sec. at f 5.0, ISO 1600, 50 mm (smc PENTAX-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL[IF]SDM)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Tokens and Sentiments show opens Friday February 7

As I mentioned in a previous post, two of my images will be in the Tokens and Sentiments exhibit opening Friday, February 7, 2014 at Capitol Arts Network's Urban by Nature gallery. Follow the link for the location and details. The opening is from 6 pm to 9 pm. You can view the show, meet some of the artists, have a glass of wine, stroll around the studios and see other works hanging in the halls. Susan and I will be there from about 6 to 7, when we'll head off to celebrate her birthday. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More Winter (an observation, not a request)

As I age my comfort zone narrows. I barely noticed hot or cold weather as a kid. My college years were spent in snowy blowy Cleveland, with a summer of field work in desert conditions in southern New Mexico. Neither bothered me much.

But at age 60 I've found this winter very uncomfortable. My feet are cold almost all the time and I go around blowing on my fingers a lot. And that's just indoors. Getting out to take pictures has been a struggle that I have mostly lost. I try to take heart at the forecast: today it will reach 22 F! (though as I write, it is 9 F).

But I did get out a couple weeks ago (see my post on Winter at the C&O Canal) and was rewarded with interesting ice. Here's a shot from a flooded, frozen forest floor that was an abstract riot of leaves and crystals.

Leaves and Ice
The details: Pentax K-5 handheld 1/125 sec at f 6.3, ISO 1600, 50 mm (smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM). 

Aren't these wonderful times when one can shoot ISO 1600 and leave the tripod at home on such days? Maybe the shot isn't as sharp corner-to-corner as I might wish, but setting up and handling a tripod in this weather isn't fun. Especially on ice.

The depth and texture of the ice and the contrast with the organic color and form of the leaves appeals to me. I may be empathizing with those leaves.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Winter at the C&O Canal Park

We've had a very cold spell this past week, so when things warmed up a bit on Friday I headed out to Great Falls, one of my favorite spots for photography, hiking and just clearing out the cobwebs. The Potomac River has been very high recently but was receding on Friday. It left ice on the banks in wonderful forms, shaped I suppose by the fluctuations in temperature and water level. I loved the contrast between the angular ice crystals and the smooth ripples of water. Once again I was glad I got outside. I was also happy that the restrooms at Great Falls have hot-air hand dryers (which I usually loathe).

Ice and Branch, Potomac River
For those interested in the details: Pentax K-5 handheld 1/250 sec. at f/6.3, ISO 1600, 36mm(smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM).

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Two images for Tokens and Sentiments exhibit

Two of my images have been accepted for the Capitol Arts Network show, Tokens and Sentiments. The show opens on Friday, February 7, 2014 in CAN's Urban by Nature Gallery, and runs through Wednesday, February 26th.

The show will feature the work of invited artist Pam Rogers, and "will be a unique, real-world take on love and romance that is not necessarily the greeting card version of the story". I hope you will be able to see it.

Here are the images I'll show. Paw Paw was taken in one of my favorite locations, the C&O Canal Historical Park, on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. Paw paw trees are indigenous; I'd seen the paw paw fruit previously in late summer but I had never seen one in blossom. Friendly folks on the park website helped me identify the blossoms in this image.

The Dalmatian Iris image is from another favorite location, Brookside Gardens, a public display garden in Wheaton Regional Park in Montgomery County, MD. The image was made in early morning during a photo class conducted by Nikhil Bahl.

Paw Paw

Dalmatian Iris