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Return to Ice

Well, just two days after a snowfall, we got hit again only this time it was an ice storm. No worries though, I made the best of it by staying busy with office work and helping some neighbors with downed trees. After all was said and done I had that itch to get out and capture the beauty of the thick ice that covered everything. Only problem was that the trees that line my driveway were so bent over with ice, that there was no way for me to just jump in my car and getaway. At first I was a bit upset that there was all of this great scenery out there and I couldn’t get to it, but as usual I decided to not let this stop me and pack my gear, grab the dog and head out on foot. I must have walked for an hour not once did I take off my pack. It was one of those moments where you scan the landscape for something to shoot and not being satisfied with everything you see.

I know it sounds like I was just being picky (and I was), but as a photographer sometimes I like shooting things that just present themselves in their own time. Whether it be a landscape or on the street. Unless I’m doing portraiture, forcing myself to compsose something that isn’t there always puts me on the losing end of the situation. Sheila met me about hallway through my walk and we both looked for places to shoot. After some time I had resolved myself to the idea that this was just one of those situations where I would go home empty handed. Seems like a waste of time, but in the past I have gone out shooting for hours and not even fire one shot, so this was no big deal. At that moment, I heard Sheila say, “Oh wow. You should get a photo of this.” I caught up to her looked into the direction that her extended arm was pointing to. And she was right. Here was the scene that I was looking for. I dropped my bag, set up and started shooting. Man was I pleased with myself. It reminded me of that old saying “Good things come to those who wait”. What was even better was the fact that the scene in the photo above was taken right in front of my house.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 100, 1/160 @ f/8

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Be Beautiful, Be Sad

I don’t know about my fellow americans here on the east coast, but living in the mid atlantic lately hasn’t exactly been a joy. Snow every week, not being able to get to work, and so much salt on the roads that the trees that line them are white. I don’t know how many times you vacuum your house without losing it. Speaking of losing it, cabin fever with all of the animals and us is a true test of one’s patience. Oh well. at least it gives me time to sort through my photos. Here is one I took of Mt. Olivet cemetery in Fredrick, MD. It was of course, after one of the many snowfalls we’ve had this year. A bit of history: Mt Olivet is the final resting spot of Francis Scott Key, the man who wrote none other than the “Star Spangled Banner”.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/250 @ f/8

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An afternoon walk last summer with the dogs. Sia takes the lead as Sheila, Corran (our other dog), and I struggle to keep up.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 320, 1/320 @ f/2.2

Eastern Market

For those of you who have never been to Washington D.C., and may soon come visit, I have a tip: coming to see all of the typical tourist sites is all well and good, but as well traveled person will tell you, get off that predetermined path and find the places where the locals go. Such is the case with Eastern Market in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of the city. Typical of any good market in a major city, Eastern Market sells local meats, produce, baked goods,and everything in-between. I love this place because people from all races, economic backgrounds, and different nationalities all congregate here for their various needs. It is a true reflection of the city. Built in 1873, this market has served the locals for many years. During the spring and summer months, venders line the front and sides of the building selling artworks, clothes, food, and even more local produce. On the weekends next to the building is also a great open air flea market. Back in 2007, the market suffered a devastating loss through a fire that almost destroyed the building. The market did not give up however, and carried on it’s business under tarps and inside tents until it was rebuilt in 2009 and, as you can see in the photo above, things are back to normal and the market is as good as new.

Even though I live in the suburbs of the city in Maryland, I still come here a few times a year to take in the sights and smells and to remind myself that yes, I did once live here.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 640, 1/160 @ f / 5.6

Fort Frederick

In my hunt for fall colors last year, I came upon an old fort on my way to “Big Pool”. This Fort Frederick in Big Pool, Maryland. It was built in 1756 and was primarily used as a supply depot during the French and Indian war. This building is an old log house that I believe was erected well after the initial fort was constructed. The actual fort has a large stone wall surrounding it and I will post some shots of that at a later time.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 320, 1/160 @ f/8

What Polar Vortex?

As I mentioned in the last post (for you international folks) most of us here in the states went through one hell of a cold snap last week that the weather folks on TV incessantly called “The Polar Vortex”. Our dog Corran, who refuses to come inside, weathered the cold by wearing some custom made fleece coats that Sheila made him, even though we had to force him in at night. Sia, on the other hand prefers to deal with the cold in her own way from the confines of a comfy old couch.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 1600, 1/25 @ f/5.6

Hunting Creek

After eating a big fat breakfast that Sheila made me this morning, I packed up my car and headed out for some landscape photos. I had something very specific in mind: Hunting creek that runs down the Catoctin mountain near Thurmont MD. Last week during the “Polar Vortex” that we all went through I went out for a drive to the mountain to see what’s what. That’s when I noticed the creek with it’s huge boulders and rolling water that parallels the twisting mountain road. At the time the weather was a bit harsh and it was late in the day, so I decided to come back later. Well, that later was today. What I didn’t realize was that there would be very little places to park and I would have to traverse large boulders and downed trees to get to the spots where I needed to be.

Since there are no clear paths along the creek, getting to the various places along it was extremely time consuming, as I had to crawl in the mud and rocks under and over trees, get to my spot, set up, shoot, and then climb a small cliff with heavy gear on my back, only to run along the mountain road as fast as I can since there was no shoulder (only a 30 foot drop) and jump back in near the creek before I got run over by a car or truck. Sounds crazy I know, but I live for this stuff. The sheer beauty of the creek kept me wanting more, and as usual what started out as only a two hour trek lasted at least three times that. All I can say is thank god for my Think Tank camera bag and my Merrells.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 50, 0.3 sec @ f/11

You’ll Never Walk Alone

As I sit here at my computer for what seems like hours trying to write a post that reflects my feelings about the loss of such a truly remarkable human being that was Nelson Mandela, I think I will forego all of that and post this photo of his statue in front of the South African embassy instead, as a tribute to a man that, in his long walk to freedom, never walked alone.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 100, 1/100 @ f/8

Worthington House

A day or two after Christmas we had a fifty degree day so Sheila and I took full advantage of the situation and loaded the dogs into the car and went to our favorite place – Worthington Farm, which is part of the Monocacy Civil War Battlefield here in Maryland. As usual, I brought my camera with us because here the dogs are easy to manage if I want to get a few shots in while we hike. We were walking the main road in when Sheila suggested that I turn around and get a photo of the house from the back because two of our favorite trees in the park happen to be there. I post processed the photo this way as a sort of tribute to the old plate photographs one sees of the civil war.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 100, 1/200 @ f/8

Black Water

As many of you great people who follow me may have noticed, some of my landscape shots include some body of water that is either black or close to it. This because having black still water is something I look for in my shots if possible. I won’t throw away a shot if it doesn’t mind you, but it is this type scenario that I will spend the most time in the field with. It may sound crazy, but a black pool of water can absolutely mesmerize me on how it can reflect in great detail life above it yet completely conceal anything within it. Such scenes can keep a photographer busy composing a shot as the black water (for me anyway) is not just part of a scene, but almost like a model whose pose must be just right. This was the case in the photograph above. It was taken in Hancock, MD on the C&O canal, directly across from the shot that was used in a previous post. I spent a very long time at this location composing different shots and loved every second of it.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 100, .4 sec @ f/8

The Bridge at Roddy Creek

Welcome to the new year, I hope everyone is coping well. As many of you know, the east coast here in the U.S. is going through some very cold and severe winter weather and it seems like we are getting snow here every week. Yesterday the sun finally came out and I thought that I would revisit some old haunts to get a different snow covered perspective on things. At this point and time it was late afternoon and as usual I was fighting for daylight. However in recent years I have resolved myself to the idea that in photographic terms, if you want to go out and shoot something, then shoot it, providing you have the means to get there. Such is the case with the shot in this post. I was sitting around with some time on my hands, just itching to get out with my camera when I thought ” I wonder what the covered bridge at Roddy creek looks like with all this snow?” That’s it. That’s all it took to get me out the door. I just grabbed my camera, one lens, a tripod and went. As I was flying down the highway to get to my destination before dark, I slowly realized that the road this historic covered bridge lies on is very rural and the chance that any snow plow has cleared it would be slim to none. Oh well. Too late to think about that now. When I got to Roddy creek road I could see that if anything, the road was barely passable. The road itself is pretty short so I decided to just go slow and steady in my little car until I got to the bridge. Once I got there I found a small patch of ice on the side of the road that gave me just enough room to park. The snow covered bridge and the creek that ran beneath it was a site to behold.

There was snow everywhere and since there was no leaves on the trees, I had plenty of light and did not have to use my tripod. There is a concrete barrier that runs along the creek to keep cars from going  in and it was the perfect brace for me to lean on to get my shots, as there was no way I could stand on the icy boulders that line the creek itself. The barrier allowed me to lean in as far as I could without falling in and take my shot. I first found this place last summer when I was doing some research on historic bridges in Maryland that I could shoot. I got a lot of photos of the bridge back then but haven’t had the time to post them. Someday I hope to. As the title implies, this is a bridge that crosses Roddy creek in Thurmont, MD. which is near where I live. It is one of only six existing bridges in the entire state of Maryland and this one is the smallest. It is believed to have been built around 1856. More info on the bridge is HERE.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 100, 1/100 @ f/8

Return to Ruin

On occasion I will go back to places that I have visited to shoot before for various reasons. Different time of day or year. Different lenses. Or maybe there was something about the particular subject that was left unsaid from my previous visit. The truth is that the same story can always be told more than once, just from a different perspective. Such is the case of this ruin of an old stone mill the a bit off the beaten path from the C&O canal in Maryland.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 800, 1/100 @ f/8

Flying Buttress

Here is a shot of the Flying Buttresses on the side of the Washington National Cathedral from the previous post.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/100 @ f/8

Cathedral

I was working near D.C. yesterday and happen to have my gear with me. I got off about mid afternoon and drove into the city with the intention of paying my respects to Nelson Mandela at the South African Embassy (a post on that later). After doing so, I thought I would maybe hit a neighborhood for a few shots and go home. The only problem was that the sun was going down and I would not have time to figure out which area I would shoot, much less driving there, parking, and the rest. After thinking about it, I decide to just go home. On the way, I happen to drive past the Washington National Cathedral. At the time (about 3:30 pm) I could see that the sun was setting on the front of the building giving it this beautiful golden glow. This is what photographers refer to as the “Golden Hour”. It’s the time in early morning or late afternoon when the sunlight is a bit softer and you get that yellow or red tone to an image and not the harsh bright light of the mid day sun.

Parking in this area is notoriously bad and I wasn’t willing to pay the ten bucks for parking in the cathedral garage, so I drove around the neighborhood looking for a spot. Time was ticking, and I was afraid that if I got a spot too far away, the sun would be gone by the time I got to the cathedral. Fortunately I snagged a good (albeit tight) space about a half a block from where I wanted to be. When I got to the church I just started clicking away.  I should also mention that at this point I had my 50 my camera and in a perfect world I would have a wide angle zoom instead, but all this means is that I would have to work a bit harder to get the shots I wanted. I furiously worked my way around the building knowing that I was losing daylight, all the while stopping to take in the awe of this gothic masterpiece. All in all I had a lot of fun despite the pressure I put on myself to get my shots right.

On a side note, in 2011 we had an earthquake hear on the east coast that as many of you know damaged some major landmarks here in D.C. The Washington National Cathedral was one that suffered some of that damage. For those of you who would like to learn about that damage and maybe donate if possible, the link for this is HERE. I don’t usually ask for such things on this site, but it would be nice to see this beautiful old church restored to her former glory.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/640 @ f/8

Cities in Dust

I took this photo of an angel that is part of a large fountain in front of Union Station in D.C. The thing that struck me as odd about the fountain was the fact that not only was it bone dry, but it was also filled with trash like old bicycles and just general garbage. The rest was in some serious disrepair. I certainly hope they revive this very old structure as I feel that it is just as important as the interior of the station that they seem to be forever trying to fix.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/450 @ f/8

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