Tunkhannock Area & Frances Slocum

February 4, 2011

A wonderful day. Well, I mean it was quite sunny yet cold and windy --not nearly the best day for photography-- and we went out in the worse light, the afternoon; but this day Dave Cohen and I went shooting with Mike Thomas. Mike is one of the most creative guys I know, and, although I've admired his work and treasured his friendship for some time, this was the first time we nudged his muse into the chaos of our outings. Hopefully he will accept the invitation to be a regular, in spite of the chaos. 

We actually started off with an amazing tour of Mike’s creative works (past, present and future) around his home.  I could have stayed there all day just asking him many questions while trying not to trip over my jaw as he displayed another project, but with the “intent” of shooting scenes along the Susquehanna River from West Pittston to Tunkhannock, I couldn’t stall any longer.  We left.  Dave drove, Mike navigated, and I sat in the back changing lenses and giving unheard opinions and suggestions. 

Although Mike brought his Hasselblad, I told him he could save film and use my 5D for the day.  All along the way you could hear us exclaim, “That would be a good place,” or “Stop here!” only to be followed by lamenting sighs in the realization that there was nowhere to pull over.  Even if the snow was not piled high and everywhere, the best places to photograph were on (what has become known as) private properties.  Back in the day, meaning more than 30 years ago in this case,  it would be nothing to pull over somewhere and walk out to photograph a tree in someone’s backyard ~especially in the country.  Unfortunately that was before digital, frivolous litigation and me-me possessive attitudes. 

Once, during a drive on Sugar Hollow Road and right after Mike said, “I know the people in that house,” I almost jumped out of the moving car to run into the backyard.  There was what looked like a frozen fountain in a tree -- yet without the fountain -- with this wonderful blue ice cascading to the ground.  Simultaneously hearing Mike say that and seeing this amazing opportunity in the very yard where he knew the owner, I thought we were IN.  No, not to be, and I can certainly understand, especially from the business perspective.  Mike knows them more on a business basis, and less than on a can-I-bring-some-guys-on-your-land-maybe-causing-some-damage-and/or-bringing-some-liability-to-you basis.  Dave did turn around hoping to find a place to capture the scene from a public vantage point, but all we got were some slow-the-car-and-open-the-window shots. 

My first shots of the day were taken while waiting for Dave to pick me up.  Number 21 was a quick snapshot of ice that rather resembled a bird in a nest that was used last year by TWO robin families in succession.  These first 3 photos are made to appear at the end of the gallery, so you will see the shots of the ice tree from the car as the first 5 photos (all cropped).  They were our first “official” exposures of the day, taken after a long drive up Route 92, over The Falls Bridge into Tunkhannock and back out down Route 29 diverting right onto Sugar Hollow Road.  Eventually we drove a loop up to Rt. 6 and back into Tunkhannock.  In the center of town we turned left onto Rt. 29 and headed out to Lake Carey.   Here, after several hours of longing looks out the windows, we made our first exposures outside of the car.

After a short time in one spot we decided to head back down 29.  This time we were heading to Frances Slocum State Park, where I knew we would be welcomed.  After a few years of driving country roads being disappointed with what photos could and could not be obtained from such vantage points, I started ParksPhotos.com with the hopes of filling galleries from areas where we could go.  Still, it was a fun ride with great conversation and music, not to mention the thrilling motivation outside the windows. 

By the time we arrived at Slocum the sun was starting to hide from the increasing wind, and our challenges were obvious and mounting.  We already decided with the uninviting weather and the fading light that we shouldn’t start to hike very far, and when we got out of the car it was silently modified to stay-quite-close status. 

The snow that lay on the ground was very crusty.  Because of a recent warm spell with some rain, the texture of the snow was somewhat unusual.  All day we drove by photo ops with interesting subjects that could be backlit accenting the wavy patterns and unusual textures, and finally in Slocum we were able to capture some. 

When we were all done we realized Mike has no way to retrieve the RAW images from his card, so I took it to convert them to digital negatives and jpg files for him.  In the process I was amazed at how in one photo Mike placed a lens flare circle over a building (the one in my #11 shot) to bring out color and clarity.  What a wonderfully creative technique, and it shows a sense of what we can learn just by having him around. 

Before Dave and I drove off with a hearty goodbye, Mike came to my side of the car to offer me his Hasselblad to try for awhile.  Of course I almost fell out of my seat at such a generous gesture, but wisely considered the possibilities, and had Mike promise to come with us again to show us how to use it.  To paraphrase Bill Murray’s character in Caddyshack, We got that going for us.


Worlds End

February 18, 2011

It was the warmest day this month, perhaps even records were broken, but Dave & I decided to go north to Worlds End State Park where we hoped to find some melting ice. We did, but there was also plenty of packed snow adding its difficult brightness to our exposures. We started along Loyalsock Creek near the main day-use area of the park. We practically had the park to ourselves, except for three other photographers that stopped by. Only one of the three took any photos, but they all offered us encouragement.

One guy just stopped because he saw someone he could ask if the Canyon Vista area was open. At that time we weren't sure, but later learned the one-lane road was dangerously icey. I just told him he could always walk there, but recommended he not try it without a partner.

Another man with whom I chatted for quite some time was there with his dog (photo #44). He lived nearby and was very helpful in giving us directions to a covered bridge that was recently renovated. So the last 5 photos in the gallery were not taken in the park.

All in all we had our usual great time enjoying each other's personality, but the photos we obtained were not worthy of printing. We plan on returning to this park later this year when the flowers are in bloom, and at that time we'll climb to Canyon Vista and also take in some more of the fun at neighboring Loyalsock National Forest.