Thursday, June 30, 2011

Burning Bridget Cleary

My wife works at our public library.  She helps to coordinate some events, one of which was tonight.  She got the Celtic band Burning Bridget Cleary to play in our local park, and man, did they sound good.  Beautiful harmonies, beautiful (faked) accents, and nothing more than fiddles, a guitar, and some hand percussion were used...besides the sound system, of course, to get their lively music loud enough that all could hear it.
I was given permission by the director of the library to get on stage and get some shots.  So I did.  Quite willingly.  Here are the results of that as well as some photos from the rest of the enchanting evening.
(to learn more about them and hear some of the music check out

 Burning Bridget Cleary
This is the band.  From left to right is Rose Baldino, Lou Baldino, Pete Trezzi, and Genevieve Gillespie

Lou Baldino
This is Lou Baldino, waiting to get the group shot that you just saw.  The other members of the band were busy signing autographs.

Rose Baldino Playing the Fiddle
Genevieve and Pete watch as father and daughter play together.

The Crowd
Ephrata Park filled up pretty quickly, but at this point, (early on) the crowd was still thin.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Camera

I got my wife a Canon 20D today.  I use a T1I and love it, but we both felt it was time to get her a good camera...especially since we will be moving to Northern Ireland soon.  I looked around and felt that a solid option was a used dslr from awhile ago.  After much research I was pretty confident that for the money, the 20D was the way to go.  I tested it out today with my sigma 10-20mm, and it seemed to do rather well.  My wife and I, as well as my siblings and mother, are all going to Michigan for a week starting Friday, so that will provide us with a great chance to assess the camera and to have her get a good grasp on using a nice dslr.

Fire on Main Street
I didn't want to go out and have to find something worth shooting today.  I wanted to mess around with her camera and learn the ins and outs of one of Canon's fantastic (and dense) pieces of equipment.  While sitting inside figuring out how to change the f stop, the lights and sirens of a fire engine caught my attention.  I went outside, talked to some people, made sure everything was alright, and shot my picture for the day.  Don't use this image as an example of the image quality of the 20D or sigma's 10-20mm.  I added some noise to the image to get the style I was looking for.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

After the Rain (and an addition)

[EDIT] My wife and I went on a rather nice walk this evening.  We were walking past a little river, when we were attacked by a flock (or whatever you'd call a large amount of..) dragonflies.  I have never seen dragonflies like this...the color and body looked normal, but they flew in the strangest way.  Basically, they would beat their wings once or twice, which would cause them to rise just a little, then they would start to drop, and only after they dropped a few inches would they beat their wings again.  Now mind you, they were beating their wings every second, its not like it was at a 10 second interval or something, but normally they are beating their wings a bunch of times in a second.  Not just once.  Anyone know what kind of dragonfly this is?

When Dragons Fly
These are probably the most lethargic bugs I've ever seen.  Someone, anyone, please tell me what kind it is.  

It rained this morning.  Not too heavily, but it definitely rained.  When I walked out this morning, I was bombarded with buds and petals covered in the aftermath of the rain.  Droplets.  Even though I'm not too huge on flower photography, I have a hard time not shooting the little pearls of water that end up resting on their petals.

The Stamen and the Petal
The stamen, as well as the petal's edge remind me of some sea creature.  The way the droplets are lined up on the edge make it look like a tentacle of sorts.

Black Hole
This flower, surrounded by darkness, reminds me of a black hole.  The reflecting rain drops make for decent stars, trapped within the event horizon.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Silhouettes of Four

I was amazed by my brother's girlfriend the other day.  We were driving around, and she kept going on and on about how beautiful the countryside is.  I live in a beautiful area, so that reaction on its own doesn't warrant my amazement.  What does warrant it is the fact that she is from an area that I find ridiculously beautiful.  I wouldn't have thought she could be so taken by the countryside...but she I decided to look around today and realize just how much I'm taking for granted. 

Country Roads...
It's not like I disregard the beauty of where I live...not at all...I'm always out photographing it (I must find something about it tolerable).  She just helped me see that even if you are from a gorgeous area, that doesn't stop other places from being awe-inspiring, nor should you let it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Elusive Letter

Here is the next letter for my Urban Alphabet.  The K.  You'd think the K would be an easy one...or at least I did.  Bars and pipes and wires are always going at each other in angles...that should make it awfully easy to find a K.  Apparently those angles are never the degrees I want them to be.  I have been hunting down a K for weeks now.  I finally found it today in a lumber yard roof.  Not the best K, but I don't think I can continue to look for would drive me insane.  Now that I found it, though, I'm sure they will start popping up everywhere.

K is for Killing me slowly with a game of hide and seek that takes a few weeks to play
"I found you!...but I must say, best hiding place ever!" 

 Urban Alphabet
It's coming along nicely...anyone have a name that is comprised of the first eleven letters of the alphabet?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another Assignment

One of my assignments for my current photo project with New York Institute of Photography is an action shot at a team event.  Today, through the open windows in my house, I could hear the sounds of people shouting out numbers and names, and other people cheering and clapping.  I assumed there was some sporting event going on at the park that is about a mile from my house, so I grabbed my camera, got on my bike, and rode...hoping I'd find something that would suffice for the project.

Through the Water
The event was a swimming tournament.  There were a few different types of races...this one having the next team member dive and swim across the pool as soon as the current swimmer reaches the other's location. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Watering a Garden

My sister and her husband went somewhere for a week.  This means I was contacted with the hopes that I could feed their cats and water their garden.  I told them I could and when I went over today, I brought my camera.  I decided to try an "action shot" with my wife watering the garden.  The action was just the drops of water being sprayed over some tomatoes.

Watering the Green Tomatoes
Though it might not appear green at all in the final image, the tomato was a very light green in real life, leaning towards the white that you see here.  I like how the blurred lines created by the poured water act as leading lines that draw the attention back to the tomato.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Railroad Tie

The Reading & Columbia Railroad used to run through Ephrata, PA (the town I currently reside in).  This is apparent by the railway station in the middle of the town.  But the station just sits alone, there are no tracks connected to it, nor any means for an engine to idle up next to it.
At one point in time, though, it being used as an actual station (not the Visitor's Center that it currently is being used for) was a daily occurrence.  I found proof of the authenticity of that station today.  I was biking behind some rather old buildings when I stumbled upon something half covered by stones.  A railroad tie was just barely breaking the surface, and when I looked around, I saw many more, all lined up as they would have been back when tracks connected them.  The further away the other ties were from the one I saw, the deeper it was buried...all the way until they disappeared under the surface.  Here is the one I saw first, the one that still is distinguishable as a railroad tie.

When I first saw it, it made me think of aged piece of wood that has been ground down by stone, hidden from the common man.  Now I'm going to have to go back and get some wide angle shots of what is remaining of the rest of the ties, as well as to try to find some rail spikes.    

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Textures For Photoshop

Today's photos are not anything special by themselves.  Instead, when combined with other images, they can add interesting textures and depth to otherwise ordinary images.  There are tons of tutorials online on how to best use textures, but basically, if you are using Photoshop, all you need to do is place one of these images over your picture that you want to add texture to, change the opacity of the layer, and then just mess around with the layer mode, saturation, exposure, and whatever else you think would look good.
All of these textures are free to anyone who wants to use them.  All I ask is that you leave a link to what you used it for....thanks!

Old Book Cover
This texture is from an old book cover.  It can be used to make photos look much older than they really are.

This rust was on the side of a green dumpster.  It would be a great texture for a grunge look.

This image has a lot going on in it.  The cracks and darker parts would make this texture work well as a grunge texture as well. 

Portrait of an Old Man, Staring
This is a portrait of one of my uncles.  I took this photo at my sister's wedding, not today.  It was the first image I had access to, so it became the image that had some of today's textures tossed onto it.  Definitely not the best use of the textures, but I just wanted to give an example of what can be done.
For another example of using textures, look at yesterday's post.  I used an old paper texture for the first photo.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Harpers Ferry

My wife and I went to Harpers Ferry with some friends today.  In that it is the first day of summer, all national parks and national historic parks had no entrance fees.
While we didn't arrive at the crack of dawn, (which was probably for the got very hot, tiring us out quickly) we were there long enough to walk around the beautiful town as well as to hike a pretty steep mountain so we could see the town from a nice lookout.

Harpers Ferry from the Overlook Cliffs
I tried to recreate the aged look of all the photographs that we saw in the visitor center and around the town on information boards.  The town is the blob of buildings on the far side of the bridge.

Harpers Ferry
Here is a closer view from the same overlook cliffs.  I love the winding train and the single person in the street. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

From The Inside Looking Out

I found myself behind a bolted and locked gate today.  What was strange was that if I wanted to be on the other side, I could walk thirty feet around a corner and I'd be there.  It seemed kind of useless.

Locked In
There's no way you are getting out/in...unless you are mobile.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Black Raspberries

My sister's husband's grandparents (if you can follow that, well done) have a few acres of land.  Apparently they used to have quite the garden, covering much of that land.  Now, though, they don't have the time to really keep up with all that produce maintenance.  They do still grow some things, just not as much as they once did.  They also have other family members, capable of doing some of the work.  Enter my wife, myself, my mother, my sister, and of course her husband (the necessary connection).  My sister and her husband were told that if the black raspberry bushes weren't picked, the berries would all go bad.  So my sister gathered all of us together and we went and picked away.  My wife and I came home with a basket filled with delicious berries.

The Bushes
They only have one row of berries, but the plants are pretty big.  Even after other people had picked through them, we were able to find many big juicy berries.

The Berries
Here is one of those big juicy berries, ready to be plucked.

The Bounty
Surprisingly, we took a good amount home.  Eating 50% straight from the bushes and still filling a basket is rather impressive. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I love astrophotography.  I love the chance to stand under the beautiful night sky, just staring into space.  And what situation doesn't benefit from having a camera nearby, as well as having different equipment to work with?  none.  none at all.  The different equipment I am referencing is a remote shutter trigger.  The only time I use my remote shutter trigger is when I shoot astrophotography.  Any other time that I need to trigger the shutter without causing much camera shake, I just use my 2 second on camera feature.  That feature is quite helpful.  But with astrophotography, the shots tend to take at least a minute, in which case I must use the remote otherwise I can only get up to 30 seconds.  The remote allows for shutter speeds of as long as I am willing to sit under a starry sky.  That could mean hours.

The Big Dipper
A good constellation.  Definitely not my favorite, but a good one none the less.  Orion takes the cake.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Cluster of Ducklings

You can frequently find animals for sale at the Green Dragon (my local, open Friday only, farmer's market).  It is also frequent that these animals are in less than fantastic conditions.  I'm not saying they are treated poorly, just that their quarters might be a little closer than the common animal rights activist might want them to be.  These ducklings sure don't mind it though, even with extra room in their box, they are quick to pile onto each other.

A Duckling Cluster
 I may not have composed this shot in a beautiful way, but I was going more so for the close quarters look.  I wanted it to be hard to distinguish between the different birds, making them seem like one big pile of feathers.  Also, does anyone know what types of ducks the ones with the black stripes on their heads are?  I've never seen ones like that before.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Algerian Flatbread

To go with my Futari, my wife made a delicious spiced Algerian flatbread called msemmen (think naan).  It was actually slightly wife does not like spicy things at all, so I was impressed by her willingness to add cayenne pepper and cumin.  And I even watched to make sure she tried some at dinner.  She did...and she even said that she liked it.

Whether she was telling the truth or not about liking it is a different story.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tomorrow's Dinner

Some friends of ours are all getting together for an evening of delicious food from various African countries.  I am making Futari, which I've heard is a popular West African dish.  It is a mix of yams, onions, coconut milk, cinnamon, cloves, and a certain kind of squash.  A kind that I don't have access to.  So I am using Butternut Squash.  I'm sure it won't be as good as the real stuff, but it sure does smell good right now.

Butternut Squash
Though similar to some of my other produce photos, the positioning of the squash on this one is quite different.  Regardless, I love all produce and couldn't help but take a picture of this beautiful vegetable.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It Has Been Some Time

...Since I did my last installment of my Urban Alphabet.  So, with a free morning, I hopped on my bike and rode around town looking first and foremost for my elusive G. 
I frequently have my camera attached to me while I'm on my bike, so I have been looking for the G for quite some time.  I have had no luck up until this point.  Today, I told myself I had to find it.  I did...Within the first 3 minutes of being on the hunt, too.  H, I, and J were quickly found after the G popped into existence.

Urban Alphabet
Now I can spell out Big Head.  That, my friends, is an accomplishment. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sooner or Later

Sooner or later I'll find a good subject for some wide angle photography.  Not only will I find an awesome subject, but when I stumble across it, the sky behind it will be bold and beautiful.  That is not what happened today.  Today I found a tolerable subject and an ok sky.  I have been looking into different techniques for "aging" photos in post production, and today, since I wasn't perfectly pleased with the straight outta the camera picture, I applied some of those techniques to the photo.

A Hybrid
Part barn and part garage, this structure helped me with today's photo of the day.  We will say today's photo was more an exercise in post production, not so much in actually taking a picture.  The scratchy look is a "texture" from a free archive and are easily found online.  I have some good ideas for my own, so look for some similarly textured photos in the future.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bald Eagles

I was meandering around Middle Creek with my new wide angle lens.  I got some decent stuff..nothing special.  Luckily, I also had my telephoto with me.  When my wife pointed out the window of my car as we were leaving, and said she saw two bald eagles, I grabbed my camera, swapped lenses, and took some photos.  We were really far away, so this shot really isn't that good.  But it is of two bald eagles...that must count for something.

Bald Eagles
These two majestic birds were just sitting there preening their feathers.  A 300mm lens is just not good enough.  I need a 3000mm lens.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Uncle

Due to my sister's wedding, much (extended) family time occupied my day.  Even with many people around that I normally don't see, I just didn't think to take my camera out until around midnight.  This uncle was the last person to leave.  He is an awesome uncle.  I just searched his name and the school where he teaches...the article title "Mars Pathfinding in the Channeled Scabland" came up.  He worked with NASA for the Mars Pathfinder Mission.  Pretty sweet.

He is probably thinking about some phase of the moon while making my mother think he is actually paying attention to what she is saying.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wedding Photography, Part 2

Today was my sister's wedding.  I thought it was very nice...Hopefully she felt the same way.  A very simple wedding.  Simple but meaningful.
Here is one shot from it.  The first shot that I thought had potential.  I will be going through everything and will do my best to put something nice together for her.

Calla Lilies and a Whistle
Both the Calla Lilies and the whistle have significant meaning for my sister.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wedding Photography, Part 1

Today, with the help of my new Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens, I got some pre-wedding day photos of my sister.  She wasn't dressed for wedding photos, in fact, she was wearing rain boots due to the intense thunderstorm that had just attacked Ephrata.  The boots were a vibrant yellow, allowing for some good contrasting colors.  Especially since I ended up making the whole photo black and white except for the boots.  The lens creates a decent amount of perspective distortion on close up subjects, but sometimes that makes for an interesting photo.
In that I will spend the next two days being in a wedding and shooting much of it, and then shooting much family portraits what with the extended family all being here, I will not get to use my new lens for what I want to use it for, or what I bought it for...But soon, I promise, I will get some good landscapes up on this site and I will do a decent review on the lens.  So far, though, I'm enjoying the different perspective that it allows.

Like a Bumblebee
Her arms are not really that fat, her head..not that small.  Her boots, though, are definitely that yellow.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

John Protopapas

The Ephrata Public Library had a free sitar concert today.  The sitar player was John Protopapas, a very interesting man with an impressive past and a beautiful talent.  He played for about 45 minutes, some on his hand drums, tablas, but mostly on the sitar.  His explanation of the culture that surrounds the music he played, the techniques he used, and the trance he was able to put us all in made for quite an enjoyable evening.

John Protopapas
I only had a second to get my attempt at a portrait.  Throughout the whole evening, the only time he wasn't smiling was when he would get into an intense riff on the sitar.

Deep in the Music
Here is one of the infrequent times that he isn't smiling.  His fingers flew up and down the neck of his sitar.

Here is a close up of his hand resting on one of his tablas while he explains the different rhythms and beats to us.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Eggs Through the Viewfinder

Since I had my Duaflex out from yesterday's picture, I figured I might as well use it today as well.  When I thought of what my day would entail (band practice and eggs), I knew what I would be photographing.  Eggs
My wife and I rarely eat eggs.  I wont say that we are vegans... we purchase things that are not vegan, but they are produced locally and organically and are from farms that we can actually walk around on.  We think that this has a more positive effect on the world around us than not touching anything that isn't vegan.  We want to create a demand for local small businesses that believe in the ethics and practices that we believe in.  (I know there are some contradictions and issues in the practice that we subscribe to, but we are constantly altering the way we look at things, trying to figure out what is the best method for us.)
But today, I must make about three dozen hard boiled eggs for my sister's wedding.  I am in the process of doing so.  Some of them will become buffalo eggs, some will be red beet eggs, some will be mustard eggs and some will be dill pickle eggs.  They all will then become deviled eggs.  Here are three of those three dozen.

Beautiful Local Brown Eggs
These eggs have such a nice color to them.  So unlike the bleached white things you get at those massive grocery stores.  They would go rather well with a slice of that honey oat wheat bread that is sitting in the background of the photo.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Laundry Day

It wasn't laundry day for me today (yesterday, on the other hand, was), but it was for someone in my neighborhood.  Passing the brightly colored articles of clothing on my way home was all the prompting I needed to figure out what today's photo would be.  I got home, grabbed my cameras (my Canon T1I and my ancient Kodak Duaflex IV), and went right back out.
On its own, a clothesline might not be anything special, but I have taught myself how to see the world in different shades, void of color all together, and in tons of different forms that require post-processing or just simple in-camera manipulation.  I saw the clothing hanging there and I knew that all it needed was to be shot through my old Kodak Duaflex IV - the more and more popular Through the Viewfinder, or TTV technique.

   Laundry Day
The only post-processing that I do to my TTV images is an upping of saturation...The images that you would get from a working Duaflex were known for their strongly saturated colors.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Walk in the Woods

So many of my days include a walk in the woods.  About 75% of my photography has been taken on a walk in the woods.  Why stop now?  Here are another two photos to add to that 75%.

I looked up what I could only assume has been used before...the term treeffiti.  It has been.  Someone once said no one ever has an original idea...too true, too true.  
As horrible as it is to do something like this to a tree, it does look...interesting.

Perched, high up in a...Transmission Tower
These turkey vultures were lazily basking in the sun.  They reminded me of the vultures in Disney's The Jungle Book...all indecisive and British.  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Veins of Nature

Nature's veins run close to the surface.  They don't hide behind flesh and fat like ours do.

Nature's Veins
While taking the photograph, a wind kicked up.  It only moved a portion of this red currant leaf.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Elusive Birds of Middle Creek

Today, my wife and I took a trip to our favorite place to hike and see wildlife.  I always get so frustrated by the pamphlets that can be found there.  Basically, the photography of the animals and landscape is pretty poor, in my opinion.  I feel I could do much better, but never get around to offering my services. Perhaps it's a good thing I'm yet to do so.
Normally the photos I get from Middle Creek are quite decent.  Today, though, I came across two birds, slightly hidden, and I realized there might be a reason that the photography isn't as good as it could be.  It was hard for me to get the shots I wanted, and the results really are less than fantastic.  But they remind me oh so much of the pamphlet photography.  Here they are:

I did not do this beautiful bird justice.  Let it be known that it was hiding in a grove, avoiding me and my camera.

Canadian Goose
I like the way the bushes frame the goose.  I don't like the fact that sometimes I can't move around and get my subject from the direction that I'd like to get it from.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pet Photography

I've never done any pet photography before...other than a few pictures of my lethargic cat.  I decided today that I must try this new side of photography.  I also decided today that my marketability as well as laziness might get in the way of actually finding clients.  So I then decided today that I must find another way.  I did.
I went to the trail by my house that is used for biking, walking, running, and any other physical activity.  But besides all that, it is mostly used as a place to take one's dog for a walk.  I sat down with a notebook and pen, ready to write a song or do some sketching until my first "client" walked past.  I'm not the most outgoing person, so I saw this as an opportunity to break down those anti-social walls and to put myself out there.  I also saw this as a chance to go at pet photography all out...I figure, most people that are getting their pets photographed have some treats or a favorite toy to help keep the dog on it's best behavior...making the photographer's life easier.  On the trail, enjoying a nice afternoon, few people are expecting to have to keep their dog in one place, looking in one direction.  So yea, it seemed like a good way to get a real taste for the hardships pet photography could bring.
Also, anyone that told me no when I asked, my plan was to tell them that this was a social experiment on the generosity of complete strangers.  I figure if people know they are being evaluated in terms of their decency, they will be more likely to give in.  If not, I will then know that letting someone know they are part of a social experiment makes no difference on the outcome of a social least under these circumstances.

Seeds of Knowledge
I shot this while waiting for my first "client."  I kind of like it.

Furry Thing
This pup would not look my way.  With all that hair, even if he would have looked in my direction, it would have been hard to focus on his eyes.

Smiley Thing
This pup wouldn't look away from me.  He had a big slobbery smile on his face the whole time.

Another picture of the same dog, this one has him with the questioning "cocked head" that dogs so frequently have.  Check out those teeth.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Starting June With an Abstract Day

I went with my sister, her fiance, and my mother to buy a suit for my sister's wedding.  It is rare that I am not in the driver's seat, so I took the opportunity to try something that I've never had much of a chance to try before.  Long exposure time from a moving vehicle.  My end result looks much like an abstract painting I did about a year or so ago.

An Abstract View out of a Window
I only post processed the image slightly...basically, I just warmed up the colors.  I love the single thin stripe of orange under the thicker whitish/bluish line.