Wildlife Photography

Trying something new. A quick share this a.m. http://www.adoramapix.com/blog/2014/02/18/photographing-wildlife-in-winter-5-tips/?refby=slgt&utm_source=slgt&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=Banner&utm_content=Main&utm_campaign=Pix02171710PixWinterWildlife#.WKb6GoV3W1w

Capturing my Imagination

 

Five Rivers is a parcel of 450 acres managed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

After years of driving past the place, always a little curious (not too curious) some months ago my wife and I finally took the side road that leads there and spent a while getting acquainted with the center dscf1470_wm.

Last week, though the temperature hovered near 30, I returned with a camera in search of inspiration.

If you believe, as I do, that the ‘devil is in the details,’ than no matter how cold and grey, snow and ice covered, or bleak a natural setting may appear, there’s always something there – the closer you look.

On this walk, with a dreary light reflected off so much whiteness I was forced to stare down at to maintain my footing, my eyes grew tired quickly (sacrifice for my art!) and I found myself looking for patches of darkness to relieve them. I found those in the trees, and brush

Note: If you find yourself here on an icy afternoon – the facility has cramponsdscf1472_wm to offer some surefootedness, but did I take them up on it? Perish …!

As I walked around the lake (manmade, I believe) things began to present themselves to me.

Almost immediately, there’s a bench sheltered from the storm. I immediately named the photo “Rest” although no rest would be required on this short outing – and it was certainly too soon upon just setting out.

dscf1496_wmShortly I arrived at this rusted relic, which I felt had a floral quality in its handle design. It was also growing like sort a flower out of the bank of the lake. I imagine it was part of some old waterworks there though its haphazard state of de-installation suggests it’s no longer in use.

I was struck by the bark on several trees at Five Rivers, perhaps because it was the closest thing to color I came up this chilly afternoon.

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dscf1522_wm Perhaps because as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post (LINK) I’m always looking for texture.

I also spotted a stump, which was weathering nicely.

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dscf1502_wmThese needles also did it for me. Can’t tell you why.

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Approaching this particularly treacherous walkway (Just as bridges and overpasses freeze first and harder than the surrounding road surfaces, elevated wooden decks are potentially more hazardous than the dirt and gravel paths they connect) I was struck with a surfeit of paths..

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Just as I would walk over the elevated path, aquatic life might travel the waterway below, as small mammals might opt for the log crossing. Just a thought.
And while my icy path provided the opportunity for a hardier freeze, it also permitted me to travel through the undisturbed rustling of the dried winter grasses and weeds. It was here that I took my favorite photo of the trip

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Here’s where my walk got really interesting.

Focused on the minutia, I wasn’t paying much attention to my broader surroundings. And … wait for it, walking around a small man-made lake possibly with several foot bridges intersecting it, I found myself slightly turned around (if it was darker, and I was a drinking man, I’d say o.k. I was ‘lost’)

Just in the nick, I spotted this.dscf1526_wmand Although the direction it was pointing in was vague, I took an overgrown path up and eventually found my way back to my car stopping only to study this sundial and wonder, as I often do when faced with acts of unnecessary cruelty and random bits of vandalism …

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Why?

Selfi(sh) Sticks

I don’t like selfie sticks.

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I maintain selfie sticks are a scourge. They’re dangerous and distracting in crowds, as well as being downright ridiculous to watch in use. Coast to coast, many amusement parks most museums and arenas like the LA Coliseum and Madison Square Garden have already moved to ban them.

 

My wife and I have been taking selfportraits, or more accurately self-two-shots, for about as long as we’ve been together. Often that’s meant propping a camera (or in recent years sometimes a phone) on a rock, or hat, or railing, and setting the timer. (These timers have existed on cameras for at least half a century that I’m aware of).

 

I’m not sure if I’ve ever asked a passerby to take our photo, and I’m certain no one has ever offered. Perhaps it’s that sense of confidence and known smiles we exude when capturing a moment. Perhaps not.

 

However, for some reason, I’ve long found pleasure in helping folks take that photo in front of a scenic vista or landmark.

 

Perhaps it’s my trustworthy face, or perhaps I just give off that photographer vibe, but, for many years I felt I was being singled out to take the photo. It got to the point I occasionally volunteered when I saw one member of a group was obliged to take the picture of the rest.  My actions were sincerely appreciated. I felt I’d touched others with a random act of kindness (and a well-composed photo).

 

But I’m aware that’s it’s happened less over the past year. Perhaps I need to get out more, or perhaps the opportunities are diminishing as more and more folks can be seen dueling with invisible foes, their phones extended on one of these goofy monopods.

 

In 2013, Apple declared “Every day, more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera.” Though the video has been erased from Youtube, the stats back up their claim.

 

I recall the company’s billboard alongside the promenade on my approach to the Brooklyn Bridge. Couldn’t find an image to share on line, but on a whim – discovered Apple sells a $50 selfie stick that includes a tripod feature. Ugh.

 

I’ve noticed the collapsible sticks have found their way into reality TV with the same dopes vying for fame and prizes required to document their insecurities and isolation by serving as their own camera operator.

 

Further blurring the lines between photographer and subject as I gather some news organizations are skipping the assignment of a videographer and assigning a selfie stick instead.

 

There’s a joke in there somewhere, but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

 

And sure I’ve seen selfie sticks at weddings, but fortunately – not yet in the hands of a clergyman. This writer for the Knot.com at least urges folks to be respectful of the photographer, but I figure it’s only a matter of time before booze and selfie sticks combine to make the professional’s job more difficult. Hope I don’t run into them anytime soon in my capacity as a Hunter wedding photographer.

 

Though… with a number of officiants already presiding over ceremonies at their own for-profit facilities with an interest in the catering and homegrown floral arrangements, will it be too long? If it’s this year, you probably heard it here first.

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Will a future generation of Shopping Mall Santas wear a coin changer on their big black belt and carry a selfie stick accosting children in the common areas or outside on the street – as the traditional model of a shopping mall (and shopping mall Santas) struggle for relevance?

 

I remember visiting Niagara Falls in 2015 and shaking my head at all the selfie sticks on display. They made it that much harder for me to take my own shots of the falls – each selfie-sticker effectively taking up that much more space than without.

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The author and wife, some years ago at Niagara Falls. Sorta.

This shot could have been taken with a selfie-stick, but alas I DON’T OWN ONE. Of course, it wasn’t even taken with the Falls for a background. Instead, it was taken on an assembly line in front of a green screen – prior to (if memory serves) Jennifer and I boarding a ferry that took us into the mist.

I’m sure these things aren’t going away, in fact I’m certain they’ll become more pervasive. But I don’t have to like it.

Tacky.

I simply don’t like selfie sticks, though I admit these folks may take their feelings a bit too far with pruning shears (if it’s not a gag). The comments, on that link are worth a skim as well.

While researching this story, I did find these ridiculous sticks could be good for a laugh, when I happened on upon this site featuring movie stills (such as the one at the top of this post) in which the guns have been replaced with selfie sticks – and with some overlap this one.

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I also found this sign prohibiting their use at the Brisbane Museum on Wikipedia which made me want to get a sign of my own.

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Photo by Kerry Raymond.

 

 

Jonathan Ment is a writer, photographer, philosopher and consultant. Follow him on Twitter and share your thoughts on this story here.

Getting the Shot: Part 2 No Two Snowflakes Are Alike

dscf1211_wmWith the election season behind us, thankfully, and only the uncertain future ahead many folks it seems have returned to talking about the weather. It’s cold, it’s hot, it’s raining. It’s not.

Political memes have given way to shots of snow covered back yards and decks, and it’s these shots that make me laugh.

It’s as though everyone is telling everyone else – look, it snowed. The proof is in the photo.

dscf1215_wmSo many of these shots include the snow-covered barbecue, patio table or deck rail.

Perhaps is unconscious.

Cabin fever expressed through a visual declaration of external in-hospitability?

“Look, there’s my deck. I could probably go out there, but I’d have to shovel.”

Perhaps, and more likely, it’s merely the slipper-clad-coffee-cup-wielding-cell phone-camera-clutching masses keeping warm and dry while commiserating.

Christmas wasn’t white, except on the ski slopes in our part of the Catskills. (Nor Chanukah!) My snow tires are barely getting a workout … so far … knock on wood … dare I mention it … glad I’m not superstitious … jinx buy me a — Pepsi! (Got ya!) But we have had a fair bit of winter precipitation of late. Flurries, what seems like most days, a few all-out snowstorms with measurable inches.

dscf1168_wmBut course nothing can save the snow from the repeated temperate afternoons, leaving most roads thankfully clear and snow lumps in a sad shrunken state.

The change comes quick. From winter wonderland wow to mud covered cleanup mode. Getting the shot means getting out there as soon as you know it might be waiting.

Now, I will confess to liking my Acorn slippers so much that they’re fairly worn out and due for replacement. And – I’ve taken my share of shots from the safety of the porch. But sometimes – the boots must go on.

Like after an ice storm, when every twig glistens within it’s shroud of frozen precipitation, I always admire the scenery when the snow clings just so. Rarely, however to I take off the lens cap and capture it.dscf1177_wm

Here are a few shots I did venture out for, earlier in this early part of winter.

Some I’ve taken before, meaning I’ve shot the same subject over and over before like a waterfall waiting for the shot.

Others are new to me-principally, such as the snow-covered branches for which I rarely get out in time to photograph.

There’s a narrow window of opportunity for these sorts of photos. Too early, and the snow is still flying. Too late and it’s melted away.

Rustic Catskills Wedding Tannersville NY Hunter NY Katy Trent Sneak Peek New York Wedding Photography

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Katy and Trent’s wedding was intense! Looking forward to sharing more photos from this weekend.

Reflecting on the opportunity to photograph Katy and Trent at the old Stone Church above Tannersville and the Mountain Brook down below, one of the fun and challenging aspects  was a language barrier. Katy’s mum handmade the dress. It was amazing, and I had to compliment her on it – through an interpreter. Brother Simon who had flown in that morning from the Dominican Republic helped me out. Perhaps a third of the guests spoke little or no English. Polite hand signals and gestures were the order of the day during the more formal portrait shoots.

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Mixed In or Mixed Up

Early this week, Weddingwired-dot-com, an everything wedding website clearing house hosted “Happy Hour Albany,” a mixer for industry professionals.

I’ve taken advantage of a free listing offered by this site for several years. To be fair, I’ve gotten what I’ve paid for: nothing. Until now. At this swanky soiree I enjoyed a few chicken wings some guacamole, and a seltzer, all complimentary. Congratulations to the company for not holding attendees hostage to some elaborate sales pitch. I think its reputation speaks for itself, and paying for enhanced promotional opportunity makes sense for some folks via this channel.

Also, this evening at the Hall of the Pines in Saratoga Springs, I met a number of possibly like-minded wedding service providers. One has been at it for quite a while. The other is new to the, ahem … business.

Reverend Ronald Hunt travels within about a sixty mile radius of Rotterdam, a town I know fairly well. But he also ventures farther – nearer to http://www.catskillsphotographer.com home base as Windham, and points farther north than Saratoga.

It seems to me that an officiant, or ‘celebrant,’ as he describes himself might be selected late in the game. But I know I’ve booked at least one ‘rescheduled’ wedding in recent years because while I was committed on the original date I was available on the new date when the pastor of choice could conduct the ceremony. Rev. Hunt said he has presided over weddings on as little as two days notice but typically books for the following year as he likes to get to know the couples before the big day.

I liked this guy. I could tell he was the sort of down-to-Earth soul who would bring a joyful and respectful tone to virtually any ceremony. I hope we get the chance to work ‘together.’ I’ve worked a bit in Saratoga, and would love to return because there are so many beautiful backdrops there. Hunt has covered the region far more extensively than I so one never knows.

Afloat in this sea of photographers (many of whom seemed to know one another) and DJs, (likewise), was another relative newcomer to the WeddingWire mixer scene; Barbara LeFleur. A musician, who recently was invited to play at a wedding that stumbled upon her (if I got the story straight), LeFleur enjoyed it so much she has decided to pursue it. I commend her, and support her.

While I’ve never heard Hunt or LeFleur in action, but it is without trepidation that I say I’d be comfortable around either. I can be very focused, easy-going guy and I suspect they are both similarly focused and easy-going. My thanks to each for striking up the conversations on Monday.

I also spoke briefly with a disc jocky, who said he keeps busy with approximately 30 weddings and 30 bar or bat mitzvahs annually. AND he increases his take from many event by offering a self-built ‘photobooth.’ Photobooths are popular north of Albany. They’re typically actual booths like you find in malls these days, or were common in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Several companies specialize in them. This is the first time I’ve heard of the DJ running the franchise (so-to-speak) but kudos to him for showing the creativity, initiative and ambition.

As a photographer, it might seem kind of funny to compete with my own images by enabling guests to take their own with my equipment. BUT covering the basis would also make sense. Perhaps I could create my own non-booth booth, wire up a spare digital camera, computer and printer and see what happens. Then I could worry that this “Rube Goldberg” was running correctly, while I did my job. Of course I’d need to include the cost of an attendant in whatever I charged, find a reliable and available someone, and convince clients they can’t live without offering these party favors to their guests.

Back to reality.

DJ Dancin’ David seemed like a nice enough fellow. But I wondered how he felt about the DJ laying the musical backdrop for this mixer.

I recently read a list of things that could be ironed out ahead of time or ways a DJ hoped he and any Photographer he was teamed with at a wedding could work together. I’ve been meaning to write a similar list from a Photographers perspective.

The best DJs I’ve worked with have that team approach. We’re there to provide a service to the couple and the guests, and working together can help move an event past uncomfortable lulls or unexpected rough spots.

I’ve found that some DJs do what they do no matter the venue or audience. Somewhere they read that volume and BPM should be increased as time passes.

If getting guests to move on the dance floor is their goal, they might pursue that and never notice that the entrée is being served. If setting the scene for dinner conversation is the aim then, wait, oh right I haven’t encountered too many DJs yet that understood the subtleties of volume and mood.

Of course most of the cliques at this mixer were packed in tight around the DJ so I guess ease of chat wasn’t the goal. To be fair, further, I liked the mix of music and speculate that perhaps the volume was intended to minimize crowds in proximity to the open bar. Sorry, feeling cynical.

(The worst DJ I ever worked with pushed a couple through their first dance because he wanted to get the “business” portion of the evening over with. What a ma-roon. Rivaled perhaps by the one who came pushing through the buffet ahead of the couple.)

Basically I was confused at this mixer in Saratoga. Not sure it was worth the trip. Not sure it wasn’t. Glad I went, but also wonder what I could have been doing instead.

Rather than mixing in, I left feeling mixed up.

Thanks as always, for reading.

~ Jonathan Ment, Photographer