Stellar Weekend

Blog, Photography

THE ASSIGNMENT

There are many reasons I love this hobby of mine.  On the top of that list is that there’s always something new to learn… something to explore.  Once a year, in September, we visit a little valley in the mountains of central Pennsylvania.  It’s a weekend filled with long walks and paddling around a pond during the day, and sitting around the bonfire and star gazing at night.  Oh, and of course, spending time with the family ~priceless!   I have been documenting this weekend for over 16 years and as my technical skills grow, so do my photo projects/challenges… from macro to light painting to family portraits.  So this year, with the help of some new gear, I wanted to take on universe.

This is what I learned about astro/night photography.  1) It really helps to be prepared.  Um, should have thought of this before I got to the land of no cell service.   With what little cell service there was, I was able to Google “how to photograph star trails,” and got some very basic settings.  2) Patience.  I’m not sure why I thought 4 minute exposure would be enough (it’s not) to capture good trails.  The above shot is 15 minutes.  I’m guessing 30 might have done it… but I was running out of patience, standing in the dark, just outside the woods, alone, where I am sure creepy things await (at least, that’s what was going through my head as the timer seemed to take forever). 3)  There’s a lot more light out there than you think.  I always thought this would be the perfect place to do night photography, the center of Pennsylvania, where there’s nothing around for miles.  Maybe that’s just what it feels like given the rustic setting, but in reality State College is only about 30 min to the North and Huntington, another college town, is just to the South.  Of course they are not metropolises by any stretch, but apparently big (and bright) enough for the camera to capture their light on the horizons. 4) Wait for the world to go to sleep.  This may have worked better had the cabin lights been turned off, the bonfire burned out… (neither of which I could see from where I stood, but the camera could) and the towns in the distance dimming some of their lights too. But, I’m not a night owl…

The Unexpected

Moving on from the star trails, when I turned around, I saw the cabin light had lit of row of trees.  It was like “light painting” without all the work.  So I took some shots based on a nighttime landscaping setting I found by DPS.   Satisfied after a quick check on the display, I packed it in for the night.  While enjoying the bonfire and reviewing my images more closely, I got one heck of a surprise! I actually captured the Milky Way (you know, like in those Nat Geo kind of shots).  I could see it looking straight up overhead; it just didn’t occur to me that it reached across the sky… and I never dreamed it would turn up in the shot.

So there you have it.  With a little guidance on the post-processing, I have my first ever shot of the Milky Way.  Okay, so maybe there are some way, way more amazing photographs of this amazing astronomical wonder out there, but there are none quite like this one… because this one is mine.

I can’t wait to see what next year’s stellar weekend brings,

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High Noon

Blog, Photography

Not only is it when the heat of the day really starts to rise, it is said to be one of the most undesirable times of day to take photographs ~ High Noon.  If you photograph people, you get unattractive shadows under the eyes and nose.  If you photograph animals… well, they just know better than to even be out, and you’ll have a long wait.  But what do you do when that seems to be the only time of the day you ever have (I have) to get out with your camera?

For me, I’m working with what I have, in the time I have, and I’m loving it!  Maybe someday when the day job is not so demanding, I’ll have a little more flexibility to catch those “golden hours” more often, but since they are so fleeting and since I never be seem to be in that right place at just that right time, I make it work… for me.

Round-Barn

A recent road trip to central PA. A bright sunny day, but I was not going to get another chance to photograph this barn anytime soon. With a little help from Lightroom and Topaz Impressions, I’m able to use all that sunny goodness to my advantage.

kaleidoscope-2

Ok, so maybe not an original idea on how to capture such a photo (saw my daughter using her iPhone), but when I saw her results, out came my Note 5. Although, it turns out I have an app on my phone that does something very similar, this is so much better… my lens and a real kaleidoscope.

 

 

The kaleidoscope garden at the PSU Arboretum .

The kaleidoscope garden at the PSU Arboretum .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding a little patch of shade in a very sunny arboretum was perfect spot to catch this family portrait. Thank you Nate & Greg for being our personal tour guides!

Banners-2-Edit

Still sunny & getting hotter, but there was so much color everywhere! Love these banners lining the street of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts on the campus Penn State Univ.

Church-in-the-valley

Late afternoon sun is still pretty strong… it is summer after all. Another shot with my Samsung Note 5 and a little help from Topaz Glow.

I see and hear the saying The best camera… is the one you have with you all the time, and it is so very true no matter what time of day it is.

Til next time,
Maria

My Secret Garden – Part I

Blog, Photography

Nope you haven’t missed any posts, I’ve just been too busy growing my photo library… a lot!  Since this is a photo blog and it is a beautiful time of year… I guess it is not that surprising that I’ve been spending a lot more time behind the camera lately.

EandM-II

Our lovely guide (aka sister-in-law) Eva and my daughter. I read somewhere recently that a blurry object in the foreground is a no-no. I actually like the slightly blurred column here… I also like to veer off the beaten path from time to time.

Back to my garden(s)…  Actually, it’s not really much of a secret as they are readily available for all to see.  One sits in front of my house, and the other is a beautiful setting and formal gardens of Longwood.     Part I:  My visit to Longwood with my daughter and sister-in-law.  I traveled light (i.e. minimal camera equipment) because sometimes it is just really nice to be present with those you are with.

And what's an outing without a self?

And what’s an outing without a selfie?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But that’s not to say, I didn’t keep an eye out for a photo-op when it presented itself…

grape-lime-ricky-copy

Ok, let me just say I am pretty gosh-darn proud of this image.  First, I resisted adding any effects… although tempted… a lot.   This is straight out of the camera, taken in a wide open field, hand-held-no tripod.  Okay, so maybe it’s 95%… the other 5% is the post I did in Topaz Clarity to bring back some of the vibrance lost from it being such a bright yet humid & hazy day, but that’s it.  The flower, the backdrop, and those colors are 100% courtesy of mother nature.

 

Longwood-Terracotta-copy

Now this one, I could not resist. Before I even took the picture, I thought it looked like a painting.

Wavy-White

A solitary peony with some painterly touches

 

I like to think of the sky has a natural light pad. Exposing for the flower, I naturally blew out the sky and created this lovely white backdrop.

A natural light pad! Exposing for the electric  orange of this flower (no idea what kind it is), I naturally blew out the sky and created a lovely white backdrop.

white-on-black

Moving indoors, a Longwood visit isn’t complete without perusing through the orchid house.  Opposite of the orange flower, exposing for the lovely white cluster of orchid blooms (again, I can never remember the names) provided a dramatic almost black background.  

X marks the spot

Don’t forget to look up!  A slight variation on the black & white (or is it white and black) theme. This is the top of the lovely gazebo you saw part of earlier.  Again, exposing for the black ironwork created this natural black and white image.

Yellow-Water-Lily

I’ve been to Longwood a few times over the years, but this is the first visit where the lily pond actually had lilies! No painterly effects; surprised… me too.  Another 95/5.  I am definitely heading back next month with my long lens when the pond is in full bloom!

And that was just a handful of some of the beautiful blooms  at Longwood.  I can’t wait to go back.  Until then, I’ll be spending a little more time on my photos from my own garden… the roses are putting on such a show and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Until next time,
Maria 

On your mark… Get set…

Blog, Photography

Go!2015-5k-poster)This is this year’s sponsor poster for the Chalfont Challenge (poster layout courtesy of the borough), and the final race in the Bucks 5K Series.  This was my fourth year (5th if you count the time a actually ran jogged it) that I have been a part of this event.  So what’s so different this year from previous… me.  I’ve learned a few new skills since I started shooting this race and even more paramount, to me, is the comfort level I have reached interacting with and photographing people.  For the first time, I think it’s about 50/50… oh okay, maybe 60/40, candid shots (I do love catching the runner in mid air) and those shots where I’m actually engaged in and engaging the subject… from sponsors, to volunteers, to families, and to think all I had to do was ask… “can I take you picture?”

If you would like to see more photos from this event, you can check them out on my website here http://www.studiomdigitalart.com/p114600569

Til next time,
Maria

 

 

 

Rain, rain, go away

Blog, Photography

I had a completely different post planned for today and then I saw these photos.  A little after the fact, but too fun (now looking back) not to share.   A couple of weeks ago, the Doylestown Photography Club (DPC) participated in the Doylestown Arts Festival.  This is quite a big deal for the club, as members are given an opportunity to exhibit and sell their photography in one of the biggest Arts Fest around.  As for the past five years, the DPC booth was a first-class act with first-class photography.  Unfortunately, day 1, Saturday, the rain did not stay way.  Like a sinking ship, we were taking on water… fast!  image

With a little help (actually a lot of help) from some members… the photography was kept safe and sound…

image image

image

even our festival neighbor is looking rather worried

… and day 1 came to an abrupt end 😦

Come Sunday, sun shining, we were back up, dried out, and better than ever!

2014-09-14 09.44.06-2-2

Til next year…

Til next time,
Maria