Saturday, February 27, 2010

More Snow

As February draws to a close, I was hoping to move onto more spring-like subjects, but when I sat down at my desk this morning and saw more snow out my window, mother nature dictated.
Here is an image I captured after the last snowstorm while walking around my tiny town tucked amidst "the Hamptons" on eastern Long Island. While most of the world envisions this area as a seaside resort, those of us who live here year-round experience small town living that in the off-season resembles any little place in the Northeast.
Aside from the snowy path canopied by trees trailing into the distance, what I like most about this picture is the rusty maple leaves on the right catching the midday sun and throwing the composition a little off-kilter. The long shadow from the telephone pole falling diagonally across the foreground also disrupts the symmetry of this typical scene drawing the eye in.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Before happening upon the Valentine in Flushing last week, there was another surprise, quite bizarre, that shocked my senses. Turning the corner off Main Street, I spotted the back of an open delivery truck filled with layers of pink.
"Ahhh, there's something I might be able to post for Valentine's Day," I thought moving closer, lifting my camera, adjusting the aperture to F8 to give me enough depth of field, yet not too much in order to emphasis the ripples in the foreground.
As the image came into focus, I realized it wasn't bolts of fabric or some such thing as I suspected, but layers of flesh---lifeless pigs piled one on top of another. My stomach churned breaking down the plateful of pork dumplings I had just ingested.
Then, men in white aprons appeared and started to unload them one at a time. As one butcher crossed the street with a hog draped over his shoulder, I recovered quickly enough to frame him in my viewfinder and press the shutter.
"Did you get it?" he asked smugly.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine Surprise

One of the things I love most about photography is that it constantly surprises me. Whenever I set out with an image in mind, I usually end up with something else. While it’s vital to visualize before embarking on a photographic field trip, I’ve learned that it’s also important to remain open to the possibilities while I'm out and about.
Between the double snow storms that paralyzed the Mid-Atlantic coast this past week, there was a sunny day when I managed to travel to the Flushing area of Queens with a fellow photographer. Populated predominantly by immigrants, it's known for its authentic Asian fare. After lunching at the food court at the Golden Shopping Mall, we wandered around with our bellies full and our cameras hanging from our necks.
Hoping to find something for Valentine’s Day to post here, I was pleased when I realized that the area is, of course, festooned with red. Red lanterns hang from the awnings, red letters fill signs, red garments cover many of the pedestrians.
Then I noticed that lots of the people walking by were carrying red shopping bags, perhaps in preparation for the Chinese New Year. Setting my shutter speed to ¼ second, I captured an image blurring the flurry of red plastic. While I was pleased with the photograph, it had very little to do with Valentine’s Day.
With just ten minutes left on our parking meter, we were heading back toward the car when I noticed this railing painted bright red. Sinking down to street level, balancing on the balls of my feet, I peered through my viewfinder, and surprise…just beyond the red, there it was...the Valentine I had been hoping for…

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Inside Out

With the wind howling outside my window and snow blanketing my yard, I find myself sitting inside again writing about shooting during the winter. Another alternative to charging outside into the cold is to aim your camera at your window.
Windows provide a natural frame that we rarely notice since we’re usually focused on what we see outside. However, if we shift our perspective inside, something interesting may come into view that we hadn’t noticed before.
One of the favorite features of my house is the grids set inside the casement windows. During a storm, they contain the chaos outside calling attention to patterns forming on the glass and how the light varies from one square to another.
To capture this image, I picked up my Canon Rebel setting the zoom lens to about 35 mm – the “normal” focal length for my digital camera. Then I stood far enough away from the window so that the grid filled the frame.
Next, I flipped the dial to shutter speed priority with a setting of 1/30 of a second – the slowest speed that I can hand-hold without shaking. It’s suggested that a tripod be used when shooting at longer intervals than 1/60 of a second.
In my opinion, however, that choice depends on the steadiness of the photographer. And most important, the flash must be turned off so the image isn’t washed out and the nuance of natural light shines through.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Wintertime Shooting

Most of us who love to wander around taking photographs dread the winter. This year with the frigid temperatures here on the East End of Long Island, it's been especially challenging to push myself out the door and brave the elements. Although I can be adventurous, I'm not one of those die-hards who rushes out into a storm to capture the monstrous sky and torrent of snow and ice. I've learned that if I wait until after the storm when the sun comes out, there is much beauty to be found.
Here's an image I took with my Canon EOS Rebel XSI near Roger's Beach in Westhampton after the late December storm that dumped two feet of snow on the area. Up until recently, I resisted going digital and shot exclusively on film using a medium format camera. I must admit that the lighter, more compact camera made it easier to maneuver, performed beautifully and even withstood the impact when I slipped on the ice.