Hawaii – A most Beautiful State – Part I

I have been to about 35 of our 50 states.  They all have a special beauty that makes them unique.  I was lucky enough to travel, this past January, to Hawaii, a most beautiful state. We were able to see four islands while we were there thanks to Tauck Tours.  www.tauck.com  We started off on the island of Oahu where the USS Arizona Memorial stands as a solemn reminder of the horrific start of World War II.  Below is my image of the memorial.

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Unless you have been there you have no idea how eerily quiet everyone gets as you approach this hallowed spot in Pearl Harbor.  On a lighter note we travelled to Hanauma Bay.  It is just a beautiful area as my image below shows.  It helped that it was a gorgeous day as well.

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We also travelled to another fabulous area called Nu’uanu Pali State Park.  This is the site of the “Battle of Nu’uanu” which was the unification of the islands by Kamehameha I.  His forces arrived at Waikiki in 1795.  Below is a more peaceful look at this beautiful park.

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We then moved on the “Big Island” or Hawaii.  This is the home of Volcanoes National Park.  Here are two of the most active volcanoes on earth, Kilauea Volcano and Mauna Loa.  Below is an image of Kilauea Volcano.

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There were many things to see and do on these first two islands that we saw and plenty of scenery to come.  I will talk about the last two islands in the March blog.  Meanwhile get ready for spring.  Clean those cameras and lenses so you will be set to get out there.  Remember “Keep Shooting.”

Ellis Island – 1892-1954 Part II

Before I start part II of Ellis Island I want to thank all of the loyal followers of my blog.  Today’s edition starts the sixth consecutive year of the steverockoffphotography.wordpress.com blog.  I’ve had a great deal of fun and satisfaction writing this monthly series.  My hope is that you have found it interesting and at times educational, both on the subject matter and the photography instruction.  As always if you have any questions please email me at srock33624@gmail.com.

In last month’s blog I started with a photograph of the main building of Ellis Island.  This month my first image below is called “Dawn Ellis Island.”

Dawn Ellis Island

As you can see it was shaping up to be a beautiful day with fresh snow on the ground.  The physical island grew over the years with landfill from the subway system construction.  It grew from 3.3 acres to 27.5 acres.  Between 1900 and 1914 some 5000 to 10,000 people passed through Ellis Island each day.  Sick people who were housed here until they were allowed to enter the country only had to look out the window to see the New York Skyline.  The image below is called, appropriately, “New York Through The Window.”

New York Through The Window

As you might imagine services were needed for all of the staff as well as the sick at Ellis.  The laundry building was where more than 3000 pieces of laundry were washed and sanitized each day.  The photographs below are called “Laundry Room Washer” and “Laundry Room Dryer.”  A little bigger than yours I’m guessing.

Laundry Room Washer

Laundry Room Dryer

As well with diseases like Tuberculosis and others all of the mattresses had to be sanitized by a large steaming device.  The image below is called “Mattress Steamer.”

Mattress Steamer

In 1954 a large portion of Ellis Island was closed.  About 30 buildings were left with a doubtful future.  Since 2000 Save Ellis Island has been working with the National Park Service to preserve Ellis Island and it’s rich history.  I hope you have enjoyed reading  these two blogs as much as I enjoyed writing them.  Ellis Island really should be preserved so future generations will know how most of our ancestors came into this great country.  Again my thanks to Tony Sweet, Andrea Phox and the people from Save Ellis Island for a wonderful photographic and educational experience.  So until next month remember “Keep Shooting.”

Ellis Island – 1892 to 1954

I was privileged to be on a photo shoot at Ellis Island earlier this month with professional photographers Tony Sweet www.tonysweet.com and Andrea Phox www.andreaphox.com    Together with the people from Save Ellis Island www.saveellisisland.org an organization that is working with the National Park Service to continue the important work of preserving Ellis Island.  Below is “Main Building, Ellis Island.”

Main Building, Ellis Island

This is where you would go if you took the regular Ellis Island tour.  But we were able to go to some of the buildings people rarely see.  Unfortunately these buildings are in such a state of deterioration that hard hats must be worn.

Deterioration At Ellis Island

Ellis Island opened in 1892 as a federal immigration station which it was for 60 years.  The save Ellis Island website says that, “It has been estimated that 40% of Americans today can trace at least one ancestor’s entry into the United States through Ellis Island.”  The image below is called “From Across The Sea To America.”

From Across The Sea To America

Think about that 40% number for a minute.  Based on the most recent estimate of US population (325 million) that means that over 130 million people in America have an ancestor that came through these hallowed halls.  The day of our shoot (December 10th) was the day after a small snowstorm that dropped around 2 – 3 inches.  It gave the shoot a special feel.  Below is “Miss Liberty From Ellis Island.”

Miss Liberty From Ellis Island

The first immigrant to arrive at Ellis Island on January 1st, 1892 was Annie Moore from County Cork, Ireland.  She came with her brother and she was given a $10.00 gold piece upon her arrival.  The 725 bed Ellis Island hospital complex, completed in 1909, consisted of a powerhouse, morgue, laboratory and housing for doctors and nurses.  Covered corridors connected the main hospital buildings to infectious disease wards, kitchens, laundries and recreation facilities for patients and staff.  Below is “Staff Corridor.”

Staff Corridor

These buildings are the ones that need to be preserved.  I will go into some more detail in next month’s blog.  I know that holiday time is one for giving, so if by some slight chance you find yourself with a little money left over, consider making a contribution to Save Ellis Island at the website I mentioned above.  Believe me as you write the check or do it online I’m sure you will think of more than a few of your ancestors that came through that great complex.  Until next month I hope everyone enjoys a very happy and healthy  holiday season and remember “Keep Shooting.”


Street Photography

Street photography is both interesting and fun.  In street photography, which I started doing only a few years ago, I look for interesting people in all kinds of everyday situations.  The general rule about street photography is that if you are in a public place there is no expectation of privacy and therefor no release forms are needed.  However if you happen to be walking along and see a person inside their apartment you cannot take the shot without a model release form, because that person has a clear expectation that his/her apartment provides privacy.

My first image below is called “Street Scene – Ireland.”

Street Scene-Ireland

I had a lot of fun shooting these scenes.  Sometimes the people would look up and smile at me.  In the next image I took a little artistic license and used selective color to highlight her hair.  The image is called, appropriately, “Woman with Red Hair – Charleston, SC.”

Woman With Red Hair-Charleston,SC

My next photograph below was just a simple shot that was taken in Clinton, NJ last summer.  It is called “Lazy Sunday.”

Lazy Sunday

Notice the unopened book on the table and the active cell phone in the young lady’s hand!  I thought the next photo below combined street photography with landscape.  It was taken in Tuscany on a partially cloudy day and is one of my favorite street shots.  It is called “Newspaper Reader Overlooking Vineyards.”

Newspaper Reader Overlooking Vineyards-Tuscany

My last shot was one I just couldn’t resist.  We were down in Spring Lake, NJ and I came across this sculpture.  This is one I had to take.  It is called “Street Photographer Sculpture.”

Street Photographer Sculpture-Spring Lake

Notice the old fashioned bellows camera that he is shooting with.  This one was very nostalgic for me because I used cameras like this one in the film days.  Well that’s it for this month.  I want to wish everyone a happy and joyous holiday season and a great New Year.  Remember “Keep Shooting!”

Fall In The Berkshires

Before I get into this month’s blog I want to let all those interested that this Saturday October 28th is the workshop in Hacklebarney State Park.  I will meet you all in the parking lot at 7:30 AM.  For those who still wish to register please go to www.rockoffphotography.com and click on ‘workshops’.

The Berkshires located in southern Massachusetts is a great place for photography in any season, but especially in the fall.  Even with this year’s muted colors there were some beautiful scenes.  My thanks to my good friend and shooting buddy Bruce Pitman for having us up to his (and Lucille’s) place.  Not far from where we were staying is Mt. Greylock which was the main focus of our shoot.  It is a wonderful mountain for views of the surrounding area and has many great photo-op stops on the way up.  My first image below called “Fall Mt. Greylock” was a beauty of a fall color shot.

Fall Mt. Greylock

The reds and oranges against the blue sky with a wisp of clouds above made for a nice fall photograph.  I couldn’t resist this next shot.  I remember seeing an Ansel Adams shot called self portrait, which he shot with his shadow against a wall while trying for a different image.  Ansel, I have read, had a great sense of humor.  The shot below is appropriately called “Self Portrait”, it was a lot of fun.

Self Portrait

My third photograph was also a lot of fun to do.  Near where we stayed is East Road, Richmond, MA.  Some of you will recall a winter image called “East Road” with a little shack surrounded by snow and white clouds with a strip of blue sky.  It is on my website if you care to see it.  This time I wanted to capture this little shack in the fall.  But I decided to make the image look like a painting.  So below is “East Road, Special Effects.”

East Road, Special Effects

In a future blog I will discuss how this image was made.  My last photograph is a dawn panorama taken from the summit of Mt. Greylock.  This photograph is eight images stitched together to form the panorama.

Mt. Greylock Panarama

A big thank you to Bruce Steakley www.brucesteakley.com for some great help and guidance in panoramic photography.  Even after my forty plus years in photography there is always something to learn or improve on.  That’s it for this month and I hope you  enjoyed the blog.  Some of you I hope to see Saturday at Hacklebarney, for the rest of you remember “Keep Shooting.”

Our National Parks

Before I start this month’s blog I would like to mention that there are still spots left for the October 28th workshop in Hacklebarney State Park, NJ.  Please go to www.rockoffphotography.com and click on workshops for the details.

We are very blessed in this country because we have some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world right here in America.  I have been fortunate to have visited quite a few over the years.  And since my camera and tripod go where I go I have been lucky enough to have made some beautiful images in our national parks.  Our first stop is Yosemite National Park and my personal favorite of all the parks I have been to.  It is simply majestic.  The two images below “Glacier Point #2” and “Mighty Half Dome” are two of my favorite images from Yosemite.

Glacier Point #2

Mighty Half Dome

We now move on to Grand Canyon National Park which I know is many people’s favorite park.  It is quite breathtaking.  The two images below are “Tree On High #2” and “Grand Canyon First Look #2.”

Tree On High #2

Grand Canyon First Look #2

Zion National Park is also a treasure and simply beautiful in it’s own right.  Below is a very lucky shot gotten on a very cloudy day as the sun broke through for a few minutes.  It is called “Court Of The Patriarchs #2.”

Court of the Patriarchs #2

We leave Zion for, you guessed it, Bryce Canyon National Park.  At Zion you are on the bottom looking up, and at Bryce you are on the top looking down.  Below are two images from Bryce, “Rainbow Point #3” and “Rain In The Distance #2.”

Rainbow Point #3

Rain In The Distance #2

Last but not least is Acadia National Park in Maine.  It is beautiful and pristine.  The image below is called “Acadia Nat’l Park View #3.”

Acadia Nat'l Park View #3

I hope you enjoyed this short pictorial tour of just a few of our national parks.  If you get a chance please go as these parks and their magnificent views should not be missed.  Until next month remember “Keep Shooting.”

Fall Foliage Season Is Almost Here

Before I get into this month’s blog I want to tell you about the Fall Workshop.  It will be October 28, 2017 in Hacklebarney State Park.  For details go to:  www.rockoffphotography.com and click on the Workshops tab.

Around this time in the summer I start to get excited about Fall Foliage Season.  I have referred to some fall seasons as a “Nuclear Explosion of Color.”  The image below is called “Berkshires Color.”

Berkshires Color

It’s always great photography during fall foliage time.  You can almost get in your car and stop in any park or lake area and get some beautiful images.  Some things to remember.  You need a good sturdy tripod (I know you you have never heard that from me before!!) and you will certainly need a circular polarizer.  The image below shows that the polarizer takes away any reflections in the water.  It’s called “Fall In Hacklebarney.”

Fall in Hacklebarney

Foe the next image below called “Fall In Hacklebarney #2” you will notice it is in focus from front to back with some beautiful ‘Cotton Candy ‘ water.

Fall in Hacklebarney -5

For any long exposures which are necessary for that water effect, you should use a cable release so you don’t touch the camera or tripod.  Remember you want everything tack sharp except the water, of course.  The last image below called “Autumn Leaves” is a good example.  This was a two second exposure.

Autumn leaves

Fall is one of my favorite times to shoot.  I hope you all get out there and get some great images, and remember “Keep Shooting.”

Charleston, South Carolina Part II

As promised here is Part II of our trip to Charleston, SC.  I usually separate travel blogs by having some educational blogs in between.  But as I am involved in editing and printing new work I thought I would just finish Charleston.  I believe everyone that travels to Charleston for the first time wants to see a plantation or two, which is just what we did.  Our first stop was Drayton Hall.  Founded in 1738 it is the oldest preserved plantation house in America still open to the public.

Charleston Book-142

The house was beautifully kept up.  Below is an image of the basement arches I thought was interesting.

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The grounds were magnificent and we were told that if we walked to the pond some distance from the front the front of the house we would be able to see a great reflection in the water.

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We learned many things about plantation life and about the Drayton Family.  Our next stop was the famous Magnolia Plantation.  Below is a view of part of the beautiful gardens.

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On a more somber note we took a tour that explained what life as a slave was like, or as I call it “Hell On Earth.”  The slave cabin below, although only about thirty feet by fifteen feet, usually housed twelve to fifteen human beings.  It was deplorable!

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Again as everyone does we took a boat out to see Fort Sumter where the Civil War began on April 12, 1861.  The two images below are of Fort Sumter today and a rendering of how the fort looked before the shelling by federal troops at the end of the war.

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Charleston Book-232

The last image is of the sign that stands near the county courthouse where Thurgood Marshall and others defended the Briggs family and others in what became known as “Brown vs. Board of Education.”  The landmark decision by the Supreme Court declaring ‘separate but equal’ unconstitutional in 1954.  As we all know Thurgood Marshall went on to become the 96th justice of the Supreme Court and the first African-American.  He served from 1967 to 1991.

Charleston Book-278

Once again I hope you enjoyed this journey back in history via Charleston, SC.  See you next month and until then, “Keep Shooting.”

Charleston, South Carolina Part I

First let me announce the formation of Stevens Studio, LLC.  For years I have been known to photographic supply companies, other vendors, and have even had magazine subscriptions sent to ‘The Studio’.  Now that I have left my Wall Street career behind, I have made Stevens Studio, LLC an official New Jersey company.  The right arm of the company is:

Lens logo small for RP

For those who do not know yet my new website is http://www.rockoffphotography.com.  Now that I have increased my leisure time, so to speak, I will be, at last, putting together a fall workshop designed for all levels of photography.  More information about the workshop will be coming soon.  If you have any feedback on the website I would love to hear it.  Just click the ‘contact us’ tab at the top.

Karen and I with our dear friends Bruce and Lucille took a trip a few weeks ago to two beautiful and historic southern cities, Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC.  For this blog I will be speaking about and showing some images of Charleston.  Two more blogs will cover Charleston, SC Part II, and Savannah, GA.  We stayed in a beautiful hotel in the historic district of Charleston called “The Mills House”, which is on Meeting Street.

The Mills House

Up the street from the hotel at the corner of Meeting and Broad street stand three majestic and historic old buildings.  Below are my images of, in order, “Historic County Courthouse”, “U.S. Post Office and Courthouse”, and the magnificent “St. Michaels Church.”

Historic County Courthouse

U.S. Post Office & Court House

St. Michael's Church

I am not usually an architect photographer but I just couldn’t resist these beautiful buildings.  A few blocks from our hotel brings you to “The Battery.”  When you stand at the tip of the Battery to your left is Cooper River, to your right is Ashley River.  The image below is called “Sunrise over Cooper River.”

Sunrise Over Cooper River

When you stand at the Battery, straight across the river is Fort Sumter.  We who live in the north take pride in the fact that the Union Army was able, at terrible cost to both North and South, to keep the United States together.  We sometimes forget that those in the South were trying to defend their way of life.  For sure that way of life had terrible flaws.  These Confederate defenders held Fort Sumter from 1861 until General William Tecumseh Sherman caused the Confederates to evacuate the fort on February 17, 1865.  Below my two final images are 1. “The Confederate Defenders”, and 2. “Fort Sumter.”

The Confederate Defenders

Fort Sumter

We will revisit Charleston in a future blog as well as the Savannah part of the trip.  I hope you enjoyed this little walk through history and I hope you get to see these great American cities.  Until next time “Keep Shooting.”

Summer Means Travel

We are almost in summer, though you can’t tell from the weather.  Summer means travel for millions of Americans.  Whether it’s a week at the beach or as we say here in New Jersey “Down The Shore”, or two weeks in Europe, and awful lot of us will be on the road (or in the air!).  Your summer travels don’t necessarily mean only scenic images.  Fine art can be accomplished even if you have the kids in tow (or the grandkids).  My first image below is called “Early Morning At The Marina” and was made in Jupiter, Florida.  I did pack a tripod just in case I got up early and decided to make some images before everyone got up.  The tripod made all the difference especially in the difficult lighting conditions.  These days light weight tripods that fold down very short are in abundance.  Mine folds down to 16 1/2″ without the ball head which I pack separately.  These will fit in most carry on suitcases.

Early Morning At The Marina

My second image called “The Duomo, Florence, Italy” was made from our hotel room.  I thought it was going to be just a scenic shot, but when I looked at it in black and white it became something special for me.

The Duomo, Florence, Italy

My last image is certainly not what I call fine art, but I couldn’t resist adding “The Bagpiper” from our trip to Ireland a few years age.  This was a Tauck Tour and I made the decision not to take my tripod (unusual for me!!).  I knew we would be on a tour bus and thought I could get along without one.

The Bagpiper

Travel photography is great fun and can produce some great images.  Just be patient and make sure you have a wonderful trip.  As some of you may know I have a new website which will give you access to my blog.  www.rockoffphotography.com  My usual ending certainly applies here “Keep Shooting.”