A Weekend in the City

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Haven’t you always wanted to be able to go to New York City or even Paris for the weekend? When you live on the east coast it isn’t such a special thing to go to NYC, but I grew up out west, so it was just as exciting as going to Paris would be. Well we did just that this past weekend. In fact we went to NYC for a day; one single day. There is a reason for this madness, as we were going to meet up with cousins, and it was all the time the wild child could take. So we set off early Friday morning to go to our New Jersey (NJ) cousins house. We spent the night there, and Saturday morning the wild child, the youngest, one NJ cousin and I headed off to the train station. We arrived at Penn Station about 10am and met up with our English (UK) cousins. A bit later our younger NJ cousin joined us from college and we set off for a day in Central Park with our cameras.

This day was full of fun, companionship, adventure, and learning. It was just fantastic! Now let me first set the scene. As you know the youngest and I have been on the road of learning with our cameras for awhile now. Both the older UK cousins are photographers, and really good. In fact he teaches one-on-one classes. He taught us a lot, but took the youngest under his wing for the day. He also taught me something very interesting. While we were on the subway he passed over his phone with a picture on it asking what I thought. It was of a castle by a lake, taken at that special time of day when the lighting was just full of color. Well, the first thing that hit me was the colors, they were beautiful. Then the thought flashes through my head “did he take it?” So my first reaction was to say it was lovely, and the colors in it were, especially on the small screen of his smartphone. I find out it wasn’t his, and they both didn’t like it! Ok, I panic a moment. They are both such great photographers. They enter, win, and now judge competitions. So I look closer, and then I start to see things. He mentions too much detail in the castle, and yes I then see it. Way too much clarity used in the post processing. The colors were beautiful, but technically the photograph itself was not. It was harsh, and needed to be softer.

I watch a lot of tutorials, training’s, and photography shows on the internet. Things like “The Grid” with Scott Kelby and R.C. Concepcion, and “The Art of Photography” podcast with Ted Forbes, where they occasionally do photography critiques. They can get very critical, and listening to the UK cousins I felt that same tone. I realized there is a real difference between the ‘art’ of photography as an artist, and as a photographer. I realized why the wild child didn’t really take to photography the way I thought she would being an artist. But I also realized how important your ‘eye’ is.

When I looked at the picture on the smartphone I saw the color first. The UK cousins saw the over-processing first. I had to look for the things wrong, they automatically saw it. It doesn’t make either of us right or wrong per se. But it does reiterate that we as human beings will get joy out of different things. The type of photography I do is catching the moment. So often there will be something technically wrong. I won’t have the settings just right because I didn’t have time to change them from the last shot. It will be blurry as I moved because I was laughing. None of this matters if I get the shot. But when you are making a perfect shot of something, you have to have the intent, the concept, and do it right. I look at my UK cousins work and see all they put into each and every shot.  While we were walking around NYC his focus and attention to details like leading lines and composition are so important. My focus was getting that perfect shot of him with the youngest talking. We both care, we both do what is needed, and we both will have something in the end (well most of the time) that we are very happy with.

What did this teach me? I don’t have to have that perfect shot to capture that perfect moment. But when I what that technically perfect shot, I need to know what I am doing. That is where the education comes in, and knowing your equipment like the back of your hand. Practice, practice, practice.

Our Weekend Away

_MG_5370This past weekend Hubby and I used our 20th anniversary gift from our children, a weekend at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. Two of my girls and I were there earlier this year, and it was just such a wonderful experience they set it up for me to be able to share it with Hubby.

Friday we headed down to Lewisberg for the night. On a side-note we stopped by the local Arby’s and it was terrible, but it was the only downside of the trip. The next morning we headed to the Lost World Caverns. What a cool place that was. Hubby brought the T3i so _MG_5391he could shoot along with me. The caverns were lit up really well with sodium vapor lights. The problem was that it made parts of the caverns very yellow. So I took it as a challenge to play with the camera and see what I could get. It was a lot of fun, and most of the pictures I took are straight off the camera (just a couple had to be lightened, and there is a slideshow below).

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_MG_5483After the caverns we drove to Durbin to ride the “Durbin Rocket” train. We had a blast, even though it was pretty cold. We got there a little early, so went into a small cafe and had an apple dumpling with ice-cream, yummy! We bundled up with layers of clothes as the wind was turning colder as we waited to leave. The locals told us we had missed the peak time to see the changing of the leaves, but it was still a beautiful sight.

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_MG_5581Hubby really did have a wonderful time driving the hills of West Virginia getting back and forth from Durbin. There are places with no cell phone connections. Partly due to the mountains, but also because we passed right by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. So of course we had to stop and take a peek at the site.

We arrived at the Greenbrier Just before the sun went down and checked in. For dinner we went to Drapers and had fantastic fried green tomatoes and fried pickles. Then absolutely delicious hamburgers that we just couldn’t finish, which just killed us! After dinner we took the camera outside and got the wonderful shot. You can even see the moon coming up._MG_5584-x

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Taken in April 2015

The next morning we headed to the Bunker Tour. I was a little concerned that it would be a bit boring as I did just go on the tour earlier this year. But we had a wonderful tour guide; a true West Virginian woman, who made the tour interesting and fun.

Taken October 2015

Taken October 2015

After the tour we checked out and took a quick drive around the property so I could take another picture of a shot I had taken the last time. When I took the shot in April I could imagine what it would be like in
the fall. So wanted to take one before we left. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember exactly where I was when I took it, just that it was by a flag. Well it isn’t the same place, but oh so nice still the same.

It was a perfect weekend away. Something we don’t do often enough, but hopefully will be able to do more of in the future. We came home to 4 of our 6 children at the house, and very grateful to them for giving us such a wonderful time.

Golden Hour

It occurred to me that there are times I will go and shoot something and I never write about it, let alone process the photographs. This morning I was reminded of a day-trip we took to Cincinnati last August. We took a Riverboat Cruise on the Ohio River. Now I can tell you that after re-looking at the pictures this morning I think I know why they sat unprocessed.

Unprocessed Ohio River

Unprocessed Ohio River

We were out on the water at 3:00 in the afternoon on a clear and sunny summer day. The best of post processing isn’t going to save a good chunk of these pictures. These are what you would call tourist shots. Taken for the memories. Oh don’t get me wrong, there are a few that turned out nicely. But it really speaks to the photographers ‘golden hour’.

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The ‘golden hour’ is something I learned a long time ago. This is that time around when the sun is rising and setting. This is when you get those wonderful colors, like in the sunrise and sun sets. But it also makes the light softer, and more complimentary to the skin. It also warms colors, not like the dull washed out look you get in the harsh midday sun.

The youngest and I are scheduled to do a photo shoot; senior portraits. This time it isn’t a friend of her’s, but the daughter of an old co-worker of mine. In other words, someone neither of us know. We are meeting at an arboretum late afternoon in order to catch that golden hour, and the fall colors. This is the perfect time of year for that, and if we can get the lighting right we will have some beautiful shots to pick from.

So a little piece of advice – if you are really interested in becoming a photographer who shoots outside, you have to be willing to get up at ungodly hours in the morning, or work when everyone else is heading home for dinner. Because the light will make the world of difference in everything you do. But if you find yourself in that midday sun, don’t not take the pictures. You can get some help in your post-processing. But more importantly you will have the memories. I went on the Riverboat cruise with two of my girls, two cousins visiting from New Jersey, and a good friend and her son. I don’t see the harsh light in the pictures I have of their smiling faces.

Cincinnati part II

_MG_5060-x_MG_5050-xSo to continue yesterday’s post. As we wandered down the street looking for the Taft Theater we saw a lovely park with birds. They didn’t seem to mind all the people around, which was nice. Then across the street we saw the theater. Sadly not much to look at from the outside, (see picture slideshow below)so we wondered what magic might be inside. We crossed the street and took the chance to see if we could get in and photograph.

We tried the first door, locked. As was the second, but an elderly man inside vacuuming motioned to us to try the end door. We walked in to a woman at the box office. There are other ways for me to say it, but let’s just say she was very grumpy. We asked her if we could sneak in and take some pictures. She abruptly informed us you can only go in if you buy a ticket, and they were closed. My friend asked when the next performance was; well needless to say she was not accommodating at all. I turned around looking at the beautiful architecture and a bit loudly said, “oh what a shame we can’t go in. The architecture in here is beautiful, I bet it is fantastic inside!” The woman just turned and left. But the man vacuuming came up to us and asked what we were doing. When we explained he motioned us to follow him, and in we went. He showed us the beautiful lobby area, and said we should definitely take pictures of the art on the walls. Then we were led into the theater, just a beautiful place. The doors were even covered in leather! We didn’t dawdle as we were afraid the woman would discover us. We also didn’t want to get the lovely man into trouble.

As we walked out of the theater we were very satisfied with what we had been able to see and photograph. Then we realized the time and tore back to the car to head home. We will be back!!

A Real Craftsman

_MG_5042-xToday my good friend and I went for a photo walk in downtown Cincinnati. We went with a plan to walk a 3 mile route from this neat book she found. It has different walking route maps with information on the buildings and area. Well we didn’t get through 1/3 of it! We weren’t upset, but it does mean many more trips down before we cover everything.

_MG_5026-xHere is what happened. We planned on hitting a coffee shop first so we could look at the map and decide what we wanted to see. We saw a Panera, and headed that way. But before we could get to it we passed a men’s hat shop. Not just any old hat shop, but the real deal. Where they make the hats in-house. We decided to go in, and met the owner, Gus Miller. _MG_5030-x
_MG_5039-xGus came to America from Greece at the age of 17, and has worked at the store for 64 years. He knows his craft _MG_5027-xand has made hats for many famous people, including President Reagan and many others.

In the store they also have a shoeshine stand with two men working there. It had such a wonderful old world feel; a shoeshine stand, the smell of shoe polish, and all those wonderful hats!

Gus says he doesn’t make many hats now, as he is getting old. But I would love to go back sometime and watch him working at his craft. There are so few true craftsman left. Gus Miller is one of them.

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We then went to Panera, and tried to work out a new plan. We headed off, but didn’t get very far before we found the Taft Theater. I will write about that tomorrow . . . 🙂

Straight Off the Camera

Today I took a page out of my youngest daughter’s book. We went on our weekly photographing ramble today. It was such a gray and windy day, we met the wild child for lunch at the 2nd Street Market, an indoor farmer’s market with really good restaurants. We took our cameras, and had a great time. My youngest is very ademant that her pictures be untouched, off the camera as they were taken. So today I have done just that. I will admit to a little contrast in one of the outside photographs (I just couldn’t stand how dull it was in the picture compared to what it was there 😛 )

I must admit, it is an empowering feeling to not open Lightroom. Enjoy!