Great Smoky Mountain National Park
I just returned from a photo shoot to The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. My cousin/friend Bruce Steakley (brucesteakley.com) again was my shooting partner. First some facts because everyone loves facts (well almost everyone). The park was established in 1934 but didn’t become a national park until FDR dedicated it on September 2, 1940. It is an 800 square mile mountain wilderness that spans the states of Tennessee and North Carolina. We arrived late on Thursday May 16 and planned to catch sunrise the next day at Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the parka at an elevation of 6,643 feet. It is also the highest point along the 2,174 mile Appalachian Trail. Ok enough facts! This first image was taken on a completely overcast Friday morning from atop the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower and is called “Smoky Mountain Foggy Morning.”
The next image was made on Saturday morning with much better weather and is called “Early Morning In Smoky Mountain.”
The next photograph was taken later that morning and is called “Smoky Mountain Vista.”
The next photo was taken at sunset on Saturday and is called “Mountain View, Clingmans Dome.” It was a beautiful sunset that night and a little bit chilly.
The last image is called “Sunset, Clingmans Dome” and shows the beautiful Smoky Mountains as they roll out into the distance.
If you have never been to Tennessee you should consider the trip. It is a wonderful state with terrific scenery. We stayed in Gatlinburg right outside the park which is free to get into, unlike most national parks. It was another successful photographic outing for Bruce and me. Well that’s it for this blog, see you next time and remember “Keep Shooting.”
The Blog – Five Years On Part II
As promised in the last blog this will be part II of the blog five years on! After about 60 blogs it becomes difficult for a photographer to pick five or even ten favorites out of many years of shooting. So for this month’s blog I have decided to show a few more images with less explanation – in other words I’ll shut up and let you look at the photographs!! The first image below is called “Milky Way, Tilghman, MD.” This was my first attempt to capture the Milky Way and thanks to my friend/cousin Bruce Steakley (brucesteakley.com) I was able to get this shot: Moral – you never stop learning.
The second photograph is one of my all time favorites. It is called “Swamp Road, Another View”, and was one in which I literally almost walked away before getting the image.
My third image was taken at the Central Park Gardens and is called “Italian Garden Path, NYC.” To me it is just an easy to look at serene scene.
I had to include at least one flower shot after all these years photographing gardens like Presby Iris Garden. This one is called “Aurifero Iris, Closeup, Presby Garden.”
Everyone loves waterfalls so I am including “Delicate Falls” because it is a nice representation of soft water flow.
I could not forgive myself if I didn’t put at least one image from my beloved Yosemite National Park, so here is “Glacier Point, Yosemite.”
The next image called “Lower Manhattan Lights” is one of my best cityscape photographs and I had to include it.
The last image for this month’s blog is “Lady Liberty And Full Moon”, and is proof that being in the right place at the right time sometimes really pays off!!
I hope you have enjoyed another walk down memory lane with me because I certainly did. It is amazing that I sometimes can not remember what I had for dinner last night, but I can tell you each circumstance of getting all of these photographs. Photography is a great hobby/profession and I hope that those of you who go out to capture what you see have gained a little knowledge from my blog, so until next month remember “Keep Shooting!”
The Blog – Five Years On!
Hello everyone and Happy New Year. This edition of my photography blog starts the sixth year. I have been very happy with the comments and compliments I have received and my hope is that you have learned something about photography and have been entertained. For this blog I thought I might put up some of the more popular images I have posted over the last five years. These are not easy choices and so it might take two blogs to include more of my favorites. The first image is not only popular but a personal favorite of mine. It is called “East Road, The Berkshires.” We were out very early on a cold winter day and I was able to capture this image.
For the second image we go from winter to summer for this early morning shot. The image is called “Early Morning, Kennebunkport, ME.” As you can see from the photograph it was a beautiful summer morning.
The third image is an interesting one in that it is an infrared image of “Pond at Richmond Lake.” Infrared photography, simply stated, picks up the band of light that the human eye cannot see and has some interesting effects. I shot this scene because I knew that the foliage would come out white and the sky and water would be a deeper black. Infrared is a fun subset of photography.
The last image is called “Oxford, Md After Sundown.” My friend, cousin, and fellow photographer Bruce Steakley (brucesteakley.com) and I took a photo trip to the eastern shore of Maryland and we both made some amazing images. This is just one of my favorites from that outing.
I really enjoy doing this photography blog and I hope all of you loyal readers enjoy it as well. My motto is “Pass It On”, so as I said earlier I hope many of you picked up a few lessons from this blog and that your photography has improved. That’s it for now and remember “Keep Shooting.”
Years ago I watched an oil painting instructor on public television named Bob Ross. Not only was he a terrific painter, but he seemed so soft spoken that it really relaxed me just to watch the show. Maybe some of you remember him but if not you can see some of his old shows on YouTube. He used to say “we don’t make mistakes, we have happy accidents.” He always made something out of nothing. A few weeks ago up in the Berkshires with my good friend and shooting buddy Bruce Pitman, we went out early to get some of the famous Berkshire Fall color. Things, however, seemed dull compared to past years but we persevered. While riding around we came across a farm scene from the road so we stopped. The composition was good but it was very cloudy and the colors were very muted. I set up the tripod and decided to make three exposures at different settings. Truthfully I thought it was a big mistake. Below is one of the three images before editing. It’s called “Berkshire Farm In Autumn #1.”
As you can see not very impressive at all. But when I got back home and loaded the images into Lightroom I said let’s take a chance and I put the three images into an HDR program called Aurora 2019. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. The program combines the three images to come up with the best exposure in one image. Below is the final image with the same name without the #1.
The final image is one I can be proud of – a “happy accident.” As is the case when you are out shooting atmospheric conditions change, sometimes quite frequently. As Bruce and I set up to photograph a stand of trees he spotted, low and behold the sun graced the scene before us and we quickly made some exposures. Below is “Colorful Trees.”
My last photo this month is one of my new favorite water shots. When I shoot water I usually slow down the shutter speed to get what I call the cotton candy effect. This time I decided to stop the action and show the white water around that crystal clear and colorful rock. It is called “River Flow, The Berkshires.”
I hope you enjoyed reading this month’s blog as much as I enjoyed writing it. Just a personal note for any of my readers in the Morristown, NJ area, I will be teaching an adult beginner photography course at Morristown High School in April and I hope some of you will attend. The adult school catalogue will be coming out after the new year. Until next month “keep shooting.”
Well it’s that time of year again when all the photography bloggers (like me), and the magazine writers, and even the TV network weather persons start to talk about fall color. It’s no different for this blogger. Every year we talk about getting those fall colors, but how many of you actually get out there and shoot the colorful leaves. It is nice to read the articles, but believe me it is better to be out there with a camera even if it is only your phone. The first image below is called “Autumn in New Jersey.”
I think it certainly conveys the spirit of the autumn season. In the second image below, I used the leaves on the rocks and in the water to show the fall season. It is called “Fall in Hacklebarney.”
The first two images show muted fall colors but in the third image below called “Fall, Mt. Greylock” the colors are much more brilliant and evoke a real taste of autumn.
The last photograph is also from the Berkshires, a great place to get fall colors. It is called “Berkshire’s Colors.”
So don’t just read the articles, get out there and capture the beautiful autumn feeling in your photographs. I know you will be happy with what you get. I’ll be traveling up to the Berkshires again in a couple of weeks and I hope to get some beautiful images of fall. See you there and remember “Keep Shooting.”
We were up in the Berkshires a couple of weekends ago with our friends the Pitmans. It is always beautiful up there (unless it rains!). We happen to hit a rough weekend but we still had a lot of fun. One morning I looked outside and the rain had stopped, so I walked out the front door. On my way back in I spotted a flower right on their front porch. It was a great shade of red with a nice green background. Not one to leave the Berkshires without at least one exposure, I got my camera and tripod (of course!!) and decided to photograph this flower which I call “Red Beauty.” The image below is a straight shot with no flash.
It really is dull and lifeless as the sky was overcast. I decided to take one with a flash. As you can see from the image below it was way too much light.
At that point Bruce came out and said “Did you get a good shot?” I said “not yet but I’m working on it.” I showed him the first two exposures and said I want to try something. I decided to take out my handkerchief (I know, I’m the last man who still carries a hanky) and try putting one layer of the linen hanky over the flash to diffuse that harsh light. The image below is the final photograph which I like very much.
Bruce suggested that talking about the ‘trick’ of using something over the flash to diffuse the light might be a good blog subject. So here it is and thank you Bruce for the idea. I hope everyone is having a great summer, and I’ll “See You In September” as the song says, meanwhile just get out there and “Keep Shooting.”
Maryland – Eastern Shore
Last week my cousin/friend Bruce Steakley Brucesteakley.com took a trip to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I hadn’t been there in years so it sounded like a great photo trip. We stayed in Easton where we were within about 20 minutes of the places we wanted to shoot. Once again luck was on our side as the weather was spectacular. We photographed in Oxford, St. Michael’s, Tilghman Island, Annapolis and Easton. I describe these images in no particular order, but I think you will get an idea of how beautiful the Eastern Shore is. The first image below is called “Oxford, MD After Sundown.”
Sundown is a great time to shoot and you can get some great images of the sun as it dips below the horizon. But let me tell you you should not pack up your camera after that event. After the sun was gone the colors really started to pop evidenced in this image. Bruce had an idea to photograph the Milky Way, which I had never done before. We needed a very dark location if this was to work. Our concierge at the hotel suggested Tilghman Island. So here we were at about 10:30 PM experimenting with Milky Way shots. Bruce had done some research about some settings which were very helpful. After going through many images I picked this one called, naturally, “Milky Way, Tilghman Island, MD.”
The middle of the afternoon is not usually a good time to shoot pictures. The sun is directly overhead and everything looks washed out. But in walking around Easton Bruce discovered the Talbot Historical Society Gardens. They were beautifully maintained and we started to see what we could do. The first thing we came across was the gate to the gardens below called “Gate of the Gardens of the Talbot Historical Society.” I knew this was going to be a black and white image and I think it is a very peaceful photograph.
Moving around the garden I spotted this flower which I call “White Wonder”, because of how striking it is against the green background.
We decided to take a side trip to Annapolis, MD where we photographed the capital dome. Below is simply “Annapolis, MD.”
We walked around and, of course, I couldn’t resist buying my grandson an Annapolis Naval Academy T shirt, with the caveat that I am not making any suggestions about where he should receive his higher education!! Some of the images here have also appeared on Facebook, but I had to use them in this month’s blog. Bruce and I had a great time photographing Maryland’s Eastern Shore and we had some great food while we were there. So if you are looking for a beautiful place to visit this summer whether you are a photographer or not I suggest the Eastern Shore. Until next month everyone enjoy the summer weather and remember “Keep Shooting.”
Hawaii – A most Beautiful State Part II
I begin the second part of my Hawaii blog with the state flower which is the “Yellow Hibiscus.” Needless to say the flowers and foliage on Hawaii are simply magnificent.
The sunsets, as you might imagine, were breathtaking. Below is “Sunset – The Big Island.”
We were given an absolute treat every night on Hawaii. You might say a photographer’s dream. We had the opportunity to visit a Kona Coffee Farm and it was a very interesting and educational tour. Below is “Kona Coffee Man”, who was very funny and really knew his stuff. As an aside he asked one of our group where they were from and upon hearing New Jersey he said, in his Japanese accent “Ah Chris Christy.” Our former governor’s reputation certainly gets around!!
Here he demonstrates hand roasting of the Kona Coffee beans. If you are a coffee drinker like me there is no better experience than a cup of 100% Kona Coffee in the morning. We got to Maui which I think is the most beautiful island. Below is a shot I just couldn’t resist. It is from the Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel, and it is called “Through The Arch.”
As I said I never saw a bad sunset in Hawaii. Hawaii is really a paradise and for anyone who has never been there, I think it is a must trip. I leave you with an image I made called “View From Atop Haleakala National Park.”
We had a wonderful time visiting the 50th state and there were limitless opportunities for photographs. Until next month enjoy the summer and remember “Keep Shooting.”
Central Park Gardens
On May 6th a, few weeks age, I went into New York City to the Central Park Gardens to do some spring photography. With me was my friend and shooting buddy Bruce Pitman and his niece Carey Pitman (our guide). This is the second time we have done this, the first being a few years ago when we said we’ll come back the following year. Well with one thing and another the following year turned out to be about three years later! These gardens are just magnificent and in a row, French, Italian, and English. We had a cloudy day and had to make do with lighting. Although I really prefer slightly cloudy to harsh sunlight for flower photography. Our first stop was the French Garden where I got the image below called “French Garden Reds, Central Park, NYC.”
I like the simplicity of these two beauties although as you can see they were starting to show some wear. We then moved on to the Italian Garden which had less flowers but beautiful foliage. The next image below is called “Central Park Italian Garden Scene.”
I purposely kept the light post in the foreground because I think it gives the photograph depth and anchors the scene. In the same area I made this image below called “Italian Garden Path.”
I love the way the trees make a canopy over this long path with benches. If you look very hard at the benches you might just make out a couple sitting on the last bench on the left. The last photograph below is called “Bed Of Color, English Garden, Central Park, NYC.”
I love the way the flowers move you into the image as the colors change. It may not have been the best day to shoot, weather wise, but we had a lot of fun and we all got some great images. The moral of this story is, just because it looks like rain doesn’t mean you can’t get out there with your camera!
Look for the second installment of my new blog called stevescameratalk.wordpress.com coming in early June. A big thank you to all of my loyal blog readers. I hope you have enjoyed these photography blogs and more importantly I hope you have learned something from them. My motto is “Pass It On.” So until next month remember “Keep Shooting.”
I have a quote on my website (rockoffphotography.com) which says “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” Ansel Adams. He was arguably the greatest landscape photographer for almost the whole of the 20th century. But was he right or was he expounding on the value of sometimes breaking the rules if your visualization tells you to make the image that way. I like to think that that was just what he was telling us. The image below called “Great Barrington Forrest” has no leading line, and no singular point of interest,
so there are definitely rules broken, yet many people make comments on how much they like this image. As usual it’s what the beholder enjoys. In my next image called “Bayonne Bridge, Early Morning” you are led into the image by the foreground curve.
I decided when I made this image that I wanted the bridge very high in the frame to show the height and I liked the reflection of the arc of the in the water. In my last photograph for this month’s blog called “Bushkill Falls, Pa.”
I couldn’t find too many rules that were broken so I guess this one is an example of what Ansel called ‘A Good Photograph’. It isn’t how you photograph an image when you are out in the field it is what you saw when you came upon the scene and how you wanted your image to look. This is how I saw Bushkill falls that day in that particular moment. The next time I go there I might just see it differently. I hope the weather gets warmer soon and as always remember “Keep Shooting.”