Thursday, July 31, 2008

Flowers in Larchmont

While we were at my mother's this past weekend I couldn't resist taking photos of some of the flowers in her garden. She has been spending her summers in her garden for as long as I can remember and really enjoys spending time on her flowers.D300, 18-200m VR, 56mm, f/6.3, 1/1000s, ISO 200

D300, 18-200m VR, 50mm, f/6.3, 1/200s, ISO 200

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dinner in my Backyard redux

My wife was looking at the blog this morning and asked how the picture of the deer had come out so well since I had taken it through our kitchen window. I reminded her that I had turned off the lights in the kitchen to minimize reflections and then I showed her the real secret. You see I had grabbed the camera with the attached lens from the bag and had very little time to change any settings except for the shutter speed. Deer don't tend to stick around when you have a dog that barks at the site of anything encroaching on its territory.

You can see from the top photograph that the whole picture appears washed out and grey. I very simply opened the shot in Adobe Photoshop and reset the black point and white point on the photo using a curves layer. I used the black of the Deer's eye and the white from her ear and the rest of the colors aligned right with it.

Dinner in my back yard

Sunday afternoon, after the thunder storms passed through Wanaque, guess who decided to come for dinner. There was a tasty tree with some low hanging branches that she just couldn't resist. The photo was shot through a closed window.
D300, 18-200mm VR, 150mm, f/5.6, ISO 720, 1/10s

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunset Over Wanaque - Cropping

I was looking back at my photos of the sunset the other night and I realized that I had been to much in a rush. I got some decent photos but I didn't get what I really wanted. I really like this first picture. The colors in the clouds mixed with the silhouettes of the trees works well but there is too much bland sky at the top of the photo and the silhouette on the left side is too tight. I decided to play around with the picture to see if I could make it look a little better. I only cropped the photo - didn't play with anything else.

The Original:
The first time I croppped the photo I used the the two trees on the sides to frame the clouds while reducing the emptiness over the clouds. They act like a great frame and focus the eye on the center. The second time I cropped the photo I decided to focus on the tree on the right. There is enough detail in the tree and the eye gets drawn to that tree. At the same time it brings the color of the sky out. Which one do you like best?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sunset Over Wanaque

I have been working pretty late this week but on Thursday - despite all the rain we were having I figured I would put the camera in the car and see if I could sneak out during lunch. I didn't leave work until 7:45 and it was non-stop all day. On the way home I watched the sunset start to develop and right before I got home I went up the side of the mountain to try and get a decent vantage point over the reservoir.

These are untouched out of the camera except for some slight cropping.
D300, 70-300mm VR, 70mm, f/4.5, 1/500s, ISO 400
Click image for a larger view
I really like this photo due to the outline of the trees and the detail. It was taken at 8:19.

D300, 70-300mm VR, 95mm, f/4.5, 1/500s, ISO 400
Click image for a larger view
The sky was much better on this photo especially with the juxtaposition of the water and the dark mountains separating the two. This was taken at 8:23

D300, 70-300mm VR, 200mm, f/5.3, 1/200s, ISO 400
Click image for a larger view
The colors in the sky here were great but it needs a little more detail in the mountains. It was taken at 8:37.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Jumping off a cliff...

Katie, my youngest, used to hate the water. She doesn't like to put her head in and is afraid the water will get into her eyes and go up her nose. This is the exact opposite of how I grew up. I can't remember not being in the water as a kid. My mom used to take me and my brother to Grandma and Grandpa's on Long Island and we would go to the beach. I remember going in the Ocean and if I was tired of that they had a pool too. I insisted when I was four on going to a swim camp for the summer, Camp Badger - a day camp. Mom used to make me get out of the ocean because my lips had turned blue.

Katie has always been the opposite. She likes to go to the beach but isn't a fan of getting wet. She would rather build sand castles then let water get any where near her head. She has started to change her mind but is still afraid to put her head in the water and thinks she is going to sink. The swim lessons have helped and she is willing to put her face in the water for a second these days as long as her goggles are on (and yes, she counts to one).

One of the big things they have been working on in swim class is jumping off the side of the pool and Katie will do it as long as someone will catch her. That finally changed this past weekend. We were out at the pool with my brother and his family when Katie decided to jump in if I would catch her. I refused and said I would let her jump as long as all I had to do was keep her head above the water. The first jumped I grabbed her right before her head went in and the second too. Then I moved back and said she didn't need me but I would grab her if she got scared. Katie finally agreed and after counting to 3 numerous times 1...2.....I'm scared! 1....2....I'm really scared..but I want to do it! 1......2.......3....I'm scared! 1......2........3!
D300, 18-200mm VR, 60mm, 1/500s, f/4.8, ISO 220
She did it! She then jumped 12 or 13 more times all by herself and isn't scared anymore. Yeah Katie.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

All Star Game Take 3!

My last post on the All Star game (Maybe). Yankee Stadium is a great stadium and what a place for the 15 inning pitcher's duel the other night. I surely thought that the National League was going to win the game when they carried the lead as late as they did and their pitchers were doing awesome. In all reality - both teams' pitchers were on.

As the game wore on it became unbelievable. My brother and I looked at each other at the end of the tenth when the National League escaped the bases loaded with no outs jam and said at the same time - "Can you believe it?"

We stay until the 13th inning and if I hadn't had to go to work early the next morning we would have stayed for the whole thing. We had a great view when Navarro was tagged out at the plate in extra innings and just didn't know if it was ever going to finish.

It still leads to the debate of whether All Star Games should end in a tie but on the other hand, when I was growing up I don't remember every player who made the All Star Team playing. Should the manager try to play everyone or should he have pitchers pitch to more batters? Does it make sense to use your bench up early to middle of the game? Does it make sense to take out Manny Ramirez, A-Rod, Ichiro early with their track record with their bats?All questions I know I am not qualified to answer. Maybe I will let my friend Paul do a guest blog on this topic - he lives his life for baseball and can recite almost any stat (actually for his son Zach and the twins they are having). He has a deep passion for the game. So deep - he missed a foul ball at the All Star Game because he was keeping score in his program (didn't do him much good since the score sheet ended in the 10th inning.

What an awesome game for my first MLB All Star Game ever!
Direct TV Blimp in the 10th inning

Monday, July 21, 2008

All Star Game Take 2!

The above photo is one of my favorites from the All Star game. We had our seats right behind the National League dugout and this is a shot of the players watching the first inning on-fold. They were as excited as the fans were and spent almost the entire first inning hanging out on the dug out fence. Surprisingly - Alphonso Soriano isn't in this photo since he spent most of the game hanging onto the fence talking to Wood.
The bottom of the first inning Derek Jeter decided to steal second and was successful. It ended up scoreless but it was still a great steal.
The National league took the lead 2 - 0 until this swing by JD Drew which tied up the game. I may not be a Red Sox fan but JD Drew had a terrific game at the plate and was the reason that the American League won this game.
Mariano Rivera came into the game and had a nifty strike 'em out throw him on the first batter he faced when Navarro threw out the man trying to steal second after Mariano struck out the batter.

What a great game. I ended up taking the wrong lens with me to the game - (do you ever have the right lens when you go somewhere?) but I got it to work pretty well in most situations. I could still run the photos through a noise filter but a lesson here is to make what you have work for you and know your equipment's limitations. All these shots were done with a Nikon D300 camera with an 18 - 200mm VR lens. I had meant to bring my 80-200mm f/2.8 lens but my mistake. I still managed to do decently well with most of the action shots at 1/400th for a shutter speed.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

All Star Game!

On Tuesday night I got very lucky. My brother called me on Monday to let me know that he had managed to get 2 seats to the Major League Baseball All Star Game and wanted to know if I would like to join him. See - brothers aren't all that bad.

We headed out to the game a little late since he got stuck at the airport due to a canceled flight. We still managed to make it to the stadium by the National Anthem and it was so cool. All the Hall of Famers were still out on the field and what a great field of players.

They had 4 Hall of Famer Yankees throw out the first pitch after the Boss came out with the ball. Yogi managed to throw out the first real pitch - his other 3 cohorts waited until he threw to let their's go.
Yogi throws out the first pitch!
Yogi Berra, Goose Gossage, Whitey Ford, and Reggie Jackson

These guys were laughing and having a great time. There are all in good shape and let it fly. What a great start to the game. I will write more on the game later and share a few more photos.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Photoshop and John Stewart

For those of you that follow the news I couldn't resist this clip from Comedy Central pointed out by John Nack on his blog.

Soda snorts and othe sorts!

I was going to hold off on this post because I figured my mother-in-law would say that I am always picking on her. I figured I could wait until a slow day and put this together then. What does Mom decide to do? She decides to send me an email with more ammunition and then I just can't help myself. I really do love her but it was a great moment.

The last night that we were in NH on vacation we were all in the family room watching the WMUR 11:00 news. Mom decided to get a drink while the news was on. She poured herself some ice tea (it's really good ice tea) and started to drink it. At the same time the news went live on location to a reporter in the field. Just as he was wrapping up his story and made some comment to that fact he got drowned out by a fire engine racing by on the street behind him. Pops made some comment about him having to go to another story and we all burst out laughing.

Mom, of course, was drinking at the time and grabbed her nose and covered her mouth to keep the tea from coming out. It didn't help that I had my camera next to me and started taking pictures. We calmed down for a minute and then she was brave enough to try and drink some more. Innocent me, , of course, had to make a comment. And so it went. Pops was next and we were all cracking up....... We must have laughed for at least 10 minutes, Sue even had tears coming out of her eyes at one point.

So, I was going to be good about this until Mom sent an email last night. Her and Pops had gone to a local restaurant and Pops had ordered a wrap. The wrap came and was held together by one of those toothpicks with the frilly end. He started eating the wrap but forgot to take the toothpick out. Pops realizes it and starts looking for the toothpick without taking the bite out of his mouth. Mom, who is drinking her soda this time starts cracking up at all the facial expressions he is making and hence the soda snorts. It didn't get any better when he found 2/3rds of the toothpick but not the frilly end. It took him five more minutes to find the end and Mom said she was laughing so hard that the waitress didn't understand why she was crying when she came by the table. As an homage - Mom laughing so hard she snorts:

D300, 18-200mm VR, 130mm, F/5.6, 1/60s, ISO 200, Flash

Monday, July 14, 2008

White Horses!

A two day absence and you guys already thought I had fallen into my bad habits again. Saturday was a traveling day for vacation and yesterday was unpack/veg/mow the lawn day. Not to mention that some of us had to go to our day job again starting today.

Anyway, I have started to go though my pictures from vacation and this was one of the easiest posts since it was the easier of my galleries to put together. As you know - I went out to grab some photos of the rising sun on the day after Independence Day. Seemed like a good idea when I had spontaneously woken up at 4:30 in the morning, stupid me. So off I went.

On the way back from the 2 different spots that I hit I ran into these two beautiful creatures just staring at the road while they were mowing the lawn. What a sweet deal - they mow the lawn and fertilize it at the same time.....!

I pulled over right there and started shooting. They backed off pretty quick but they were definitely interested in me and my clicking camera. The white one - the one that looks bleached, really is that bright - it isn't blown highlights. The two made a majestic pair as they strolled around their paddock. If you click for a larger view you can also see the whole gallery.

D300, 18 - 200mm, 170mm, f/6.3, 1/500s ISO 200
Click image for larger view

Friday, July 11, 2008

4 Generations

I had the opportunity today to take photos of the four generations of women from my wife's family. Her grandmother (Nana) is 91 years old and sharp as a tack. After we played cribbage - Nana and I taught the kids how to play - we went out onto the deck and grabbed a few photos in the fading night light. It was a chance to try a few things out and grab some important photos at the same time.

I used my SB600 flash with my Lumiquest Bouncer for fill light and took shots with 2 lenses. I tried out my 70-300 VR at 70mm to see how good the Bokeh (This is how the out of focus background looks - never want it to be too distracting) was and then slipped on the 50mm f/1.4 which I stopped down to f/4.0 due to fact that they weren't all sitting straight. Kimmy was much farther forward and I was on a slight angle.

I shot from below to get more of the trees and less of the deck - looked better when I checked in the LCD.

I can't say enough about the Lumiquest bouncer - I use the Lumiquest Velcro strap to attach it to my flash and it really does a great job especially when you don't have a ceiling or reflector. Amazingly - no one blinked - which is a big symptom with at least grandma and mom (Sue) while the kids tend not blink so much. I think the bouncer helps with that too. (Note - none of the photos have been edited - still having laptop issues)

Nana and the great grandkids:D300, 70-300mm VR, 70mm, f/4.5, 1/100s, ISO 200, Flash w/ bouncer

4 generations of Geiler Women (Nana's side):
D300, 50mm f/1.4, f/4.0, 1/160s, ISO 200, Flash w/ bouncer

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A bath? Again?

As part of our vacation here in NH we have taken the kids to both Storyland and Santa's Village. They are about 40 miles apart so we stayed in a motel between the two of them in Gorham NH. Since Grandma and Papa came with us to the two parks we has to take Doogie with us, he couldn't stay home alone.....

This wasn't an issue at Storyland - they have kennels at the park and they give them water as well as have an attendant who is there most of the day. Doogie really liked it there since the attendant gave out biscuits every now and then and he just loves his biscuits. You can visit them anytime during the day and the dogs are locked up so not just anyone can get them. The kennels were clean, they signed the dogs in and they signed them back out.

He did very well at the motel - Mt. Madison Motel in Gorham - which is competely dog friendly.

Then we went to Santa's Village the next day. The experience there was a little different. They charge a $10 deposit which they give you a very nice waterbowl and a key. The key locks the kennel and you keep it with you the whole day. The kennels are mostly clean - under an arbor of trees - so they are shaded the whole time and there is a water hose to fill the hose and clean out the kennel when done (or before hand). There is no attendant and you are responsible for your dog. Doogie did okay there but when we checked on him at lunch time and gave him a walk he was definitely dirty from the floor of the kennel - none the worse for wear but not very clean. We did get our deposit back at the end of the day - and he was okay but definitely a different experience.

What did we do when we got back to Grandma and Papa's house that night - why we gave Poor Doogie a bath. Doogie being a Poodle/Terrier gets big as his fur grows but turns into a little rat dog when he gets wet. Kimmy and Katie both helped me give Doogie his bath while Sue was kind enough to snap a photo of Doogie in all his wet misery (he doesn't hate baths but will never be the first one to jump in the water).
D300, 18-200mm, 70mm, F/5.0, 1/60s, iso 200, Flash

Apologies for my photos

I should apologize now - since I am on vacation and am having trouble with my laptop I have not been able to process most of my photos. Otherwise you would have seen more of some of the photos I have taken this week. (Hence, among others, the monkey butt photo not being straight and having a shine from the flash)

What's wrong with my Butt? Anti Monkey Butt

"What is wrong with my butt?" Katie thought that was a hilarious question. It was prompted by the container of Anti Monkey Butt that my mother-in-law had produced.

Before we go any further - let's be fair here. It's nothing new for my mother-in-law to have strange things. Remember, this is the same person who gave me a birthday present she had no idea what it was until we figured out it was supposed to be a bagel slicer. This is also the woman who has never looked a gift horse in the mouth or something that is free after rebate and not bought it. She would be so surprised at how much she has in common with my dad. He has never met a rebate he didn't like either.

So there my Mom-in-law is, strolling down the aisle of a drugstore (which will rename nameless) with a sale circular in her hand. She sees the free after rebate section and it has something called Anti Monkey Butt powder. Never mind that she has never heard of this powder before and has no idea what it is for - its free after rebate - how can you turn that down....?

Needless to say - she bought it (and got the rebate) and now it was my turn to be on the receiving end. "Mom - is there something you are trying to tell me? Is my butt that big and red? Or worse - do you smell butt sweat?" It made a great joke and I should apologize to her - we did make some fun of her for buying something she had no idea what it was for.

Yes - it is a real product - a cross between Talcum powder and Gold bond with Calamine powder in it. It was invented by motorcyclist and they swear by it. And yes - mom did try it. I think it may become a display on one of my shelves though.
D300, 50mm, f/3.5, ISO 200, 1/60s, Flash
Click image to go to Anti Monkey Butt website

Monday, July 7, 2008

My new best friend

We hit Santa's Village today and had a lot of fun as a family although we were pretty tired after yesterday. Katie had to hit the roller coaster 9 times today and I managed every single one with her. Let's just say my back aches a little bit.

Who knew when I went that I was going to meet my new best friend. The good news is that Doogie hasn't found out yet - the bad news is when he does. On the other hand I am not sure that my new friend has anything to worry about - and he has the same spot on the top of his head as Doogie where he likes to be pet.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hanging out down in the pond

This critter was hanging out in one of Storyland's ponds.

D300, 18-200mm, 200mm, f/5.6, 1/125s, ISO 200
Click image for larger version

Storyland NH

As you know by now - I have been on vacation this week. We made our annual trek to Storyland today which is up in the White Mountains right above North Conway in Glen NH. It is a great trip up since we get on the Kangamangus Highway and go right through our National Forest.

I won't bore you with our time at Storyland except to say we got really wet in the morning - we got there early so the girls went on the Bamboo Chutes 11 times in a row (I went 4 ~ 6 times I think and Sue went at least 4 times with them. Katie loved it because it was the first time she really got to do most of the rides herself, you must be 48" tall to ride most rides alone.

At the end of the day we took our annual Storyland postcard photo and what was unique about this was we all got into it. My mother-in-law graciously offered to take the photo and it came out really well. This is surprising since my camera is heavy and she has a tendency to move when she takes the picture. I neglected to tell her that I had put on VR - Vibration Reduction and had set the camera to high speed shutter release. She took 2 photos every time she pressed the button and they all came out excellent. Great job Mom.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Dawn over Tilton

My wife Sue asked me last night what my plans were today. I, of course, didn't have anything in mind. She was taking the kids over to her 91 year old Grandma (Nana) to do some baking and I was free to do whatever I wanted. I joked - well if I wake up at 4:30 I'll go take some sunrise photos. I didn't plan on getting up early - on vacation I like to sleep late - the only time I really get a chance to catch up.

So - what happens - I wake up without an alarm at 4:30 and decide I might as well go out and get some photos. I snuck out (Sue was awake) but my father-in-law had no idea I had left. The benefit of parking the car out front.

I was figuring I would head to the Franklin Falls Dam and got a mile down the road and was struck by the beautiful sky over the mountains with the clouds in the valley. I pulled over and that became my spot.

D300, 70-300mm VR, 70mm, 1/125s, f/4.5, ISO 220
Click image for larger version
I love the juxtaposition of the dark foreground trees with the clouds hanging over the valley and then the high clouds over the mountains catching the sun still under the horizon.

I stayed around taking pictures from there until the sun completely cleared the horizon, but just barely. That led to this photo:
D300, Tokina 12-24mm, 12mm, 1/500s, f/11, ISO 200
Click image for larger version
This photo is from the same spot with a much wider lens. You can still see the clouds over the valley and some remnants of the red over the mountains. I love what the lens does to the sun - always nice when it makes a star and in this case it appears to make a 16 pointer. I have many more photos but with the laptop trouble I am having it is a little more difficult to edit them while I am here.

The best part of the morning was when I walked into the house and my Father-in-law jumped. he didn't expect anyone to be coming in and was surprised when I appeared. Katie was sitting next to him and had a big laugh at his expense.

Sunrise - Sunset

So- you are a photographer or an aspiring photographer and you want to plan your day around some pictures of the magic hour - right as the sun is setting or as it is rising. Guess what, the internet is full of tools to help you out.

I figured I would get out at least once this vacation to take some sunrise photos and the only way to do that is to know when that is going to happen.

This tool is great. If you go to this website and click the link for custom sunrise and sunset calendar you can get a month's worth of information for your town or one near you. It also allows you to choose 3 different twilight settings based upon , civil, nautical, and astronomical which is great when taking photos.

I decided to take a look at Kittery Point Maine where I took my Fort Foster Photos last December and this is what I got:

The Flume

We went to the Flume Gorge at Franconia State Park with the family on the first full day of vacation. I haven't been to the Flume for over 25 years but I had remembered enjoying it. Surprisingly enough Katie didn't put up a fight and seemed fairly excited about going. She wanted to be the tour guide on the hike.

By the way - a great thing to know about NH state parks is that NH senior citizens get in for free. You need a picture ID but if you are 65 years or older and live in NH then you get into all state parks for free. Not only do you get into the Flume but you get a free ride on the tramway if you desire.

The hike was a lot of fun and I got some great pictures. Katie enjoyed going up the flume although I am not sure that being a tour guide is really her thing. For the first half mile she never looked up from the map and the guide except to see if we got to a place yet. It was cute and endearing but she missed a lot. The second issue for her was that the tour guide always has to be in front. You weren't allowed to pass her which always makes things interesting.

The Flume still holds its beauty and it is a fun hike - it does help to be in some shape. The girls especially liked when I came up through the Bear Hole. Kimmy was sure that I couldn't make it but I won't take no for an answer and got up fairly easily.

We took the Ridge trail back and that leads you by the Pool.
D300, Tokina 12 - 24, f/6.3, ISO 360, 1/500s

I took this shot from the covered bridge looking into the pool.

Friday, July 4, 2008

I'm Back...............!

It's 11:57 PM on the fourth of July. Happy Independence Day America. So it's been almost 3 1/2 months since I last wrote a post that has been published.

What happened? We can start with the fact that I am lame. Not that it started out that way. I decided to try posting to my blog a little bit differently towards the end of March. Instead of logging in I was going to email my posts to the blog and do it that way. You see, I am never without an email device (only my brother is worse than me - he never lets go of it - sometimes I think he is thumbing away in his sleep but never asked his wife about it) and I figured that as long as I emailed my posts in I would have no trouble staying up to date.

Imagine my surprise when I checked my blog and discovered that none of my posts were up ( you think I would be smart enough to check after the first post - but that would be too easy - I waited 3 weeks). Besides being a little annoyed - I had to track down all my posts and decide if it was worth putting them up and also figure out the problem. The problem was easy - I forgot to check a box off.

Then I got lazy -or really busy depending upon which way you want to look at it. Soccer season had started again and I was off to taking pictures every weekend and sometimes during the week. My workflow for going through the pictures was a little long and it was really a whole week of work to get them finished and posted for the teams.

So - I am actually taking a vacation with the family finally and this is my opportunity to get started again. I beg for your indulgence and I will do my best to not let it happen again. On the other hand - I will not promise to post every day but I will go for 4 ~ 5 days a week.