Kirby Park, PA

May 6, 2011

...Coming soon (or maybe not)

Kirby Park, PA

May 11, 2011

...Coming soon (or maybe not)

Nescopeck State Park, PA

May 20, 2011

What started out as a bad day turned into one of the worst.  The weather wasn't all that terrible.  We were expecting mostly overcast skies with 70% chance of rain.  With 70% on the day you could be sure of 100% at some point.  No matter.  Dave Cohen and our friend Bradley Gelb just wanted to start making some pictures somewhere.  We decided on Nescopeck State Park. 

While waiting for Dave I decided to take my PEN camera out for some quick exposures of the wet flowers in our yard.  At one point I had to take shelter from a quick spit of rain.  When it was over I went back out for more of the same, making sure to lock the door behind me.  We have to lock doors where we don't want our dogs and cats to enter because our dog Chip opens them and sets the whole clan free.  Well, the bad day worsened because Chip still got out and brought Phoebe with him.  Fortunately Oreo the cat wasn't in on this breakout, but still I knew I'd have to wait for Chip and Phoebe to come back, which they always do within an hour, before heading out to Nescopeck.  The bright spot of the day was Barb coming up the drive just before Dave, and she said she would search and wait for the escapees.

We were soon off to pick up Brad and get what we could at Nescopeck.  Just to keep it a bad day, though, there was a huge traffic jam.  We took an alternate route and arrived at our first spot which is often my first stop in this park.  The first 6 photos are from there.  At one point when I turned to put down my backpack to prepare to change lenses I heard Brad yell. "Camera!"  I turned to see my tripod give way to the unbalanced weight I left on it and the whole kit fall into the water.  Did a bad day just get worse?  Not yet. Well, not too bad.  Because of the early-warning device (Bradley), the build of the body and lens, and drying them off quickly, there seems to be a full recovery.  Shots 4, 5 and 6 were taken wih the 17mm after the lens change, so I figured the body was fine.

The next 2 photos in the gallery were taken almost directly across the street and down the hill to the stream.  For these I reapplied the 24-105mm lens and didn't yet notice there were water spots between the CP filter and the lens.  So those shots had to be cropped.  If that weren't bad enough, I suspect that this is where Bradley and I picked up the 3 ticks we each brought home. Dave took a different course from the parking lot.

We then headed up to what I hoped would be our main course for the day.  I figured we could get the best stuff along the stream and the banks of Lake Frances, then take the Nescopeck Trail to the Woodland Way and onto the 2nd pond for some photos of stumps and turtles.  On our way from collecting ticks, however, I remembered to steer off into the Woodfrog Loop parking area to get a few quick photos of the bridge, stream and flooded puddles.  Well, you can never say "few" or "quick" when throwing a bunch of photographers into a scene and saying, "Have at it."  When one thinks he's done, another will be just getting into something new, so he will let loose his muse and likely be involved when the other is ready... ad infinitum, if not for hunger or loss of light.  At any rate, the main course would have to wait until after this Woodfrog dessert.

So much for plans.  They must have been bad plans.  All of the rest of the photos in the gallery were taken from this area, but we weren't complaining.  Nothing from the bridge was photographic so we all naturally headed for the water and shot along the stream.  Reflections were a big part of it, and the challenge was getting the dark, mossy shore under a canopy of trees, contrasting with the bright sunshine hitting the water and the far shore, in the same exposures.  HDRs helped meet the challenge, but this time lacked that certain quality to beat it.  Number 9 is the only HDR of the day.  Ten photos were taken with the Olympus PEN camera. 

The last 6 photos in the gallery were taken at a pond just behind the stream down Woodfrog Loop.  Bradley had already been there and Dave was just setting up for a macro subject near the stream.  Dave and Brad, hearing the rain start, and not yet hearing the muse for this scene, both headed back to the car.  Not being so lucky, and feeling safety under a tree where I was setup, I wanted to finish a moment.  My last 3 exposures (not in the gallery) was my last attempt at HDR, hopfully catching the rain hitting the calm water. They didn't. I quickly unsnapped the camera and lens from the tripod, packed them safely in the backpack and raced to the car where I ended up as wet as the subject that got away.

We drove up to the park office where we originally intended to park for the main course, but the rain was still too much for our gear. I went in looking for new maps and was pleased to see more of my photos being used. Returning to the car I suggested we wait; the best light will probably be right after the storm--maybe even a rainbow or lifting mist. But time was running out for all of us so we headed home. be continued (or maybe not)

The River Common, PA

May 25, 2011

Dave Cohen is working on a Blurb book showing photos of Wilkes Barre, PA for his aunt, so this was his day. Bradley Gelb and I took our Olympus PEN cameras with an extra lens each to capture what we could as we walked along The River Common Park. It was a nice clear day and we parked a short walk from the entrance, but took our time taking shots at anything that got in our way. Dave was almost arrested when Wilkes University security came out to ask him why he was taking photos of their buildings. Of course, it is legal to photograph most buildings as long as you are on public property when you trip the shutter, but Dave stepped over the line a bit ruling out that defense.

Usually we get out of the car and scatter, but this day we walked pretty much in a straight line and got in each other's way more often. We entered the park from the south side and shot our way passed Market Street enjoying some wonderful combinations of shapes and colors, yet seeing relatively few other humans taking advantage of the fun. The coming Memorial Day weekend would likely be much busier, but on this Wednesday afternoon most of the bustle was on the streets and in the buildings we captured. [Speaking of "in the buildings"... If anyone reading this can get us in to the Hotel Sterling, please contact me.]

The daisies were out in springtime splendor and I wished I brought the 17mm lens. The PEN has a crop-2-factor sensor so the 14mm focal length equates to 24mm on a 35mm camera, and the 17mm has tilt/shift capabilities for including cool, up-close foreground objects. Still, we didn't stop to lament; the getting was too good and our PENs were getting into it. The Luzerne County courthouse was either the prominent background object or main subject of most of my photos from the day. Dave was big on buildings and Bradley was tripping the shutter like a Gatling gun trigger.

Photo 34 is where I went up to see the Hotel Sterling in its present state of destruction --this part mostly handled by the elements-- and Dave went over the top and across River & Market Streets to make some photos of the rusting fire escape. He drew a great angle from the street looking up and captured some interesting patterns and textures. Bradley, who never stopped finding cool compositions during all of it, eventually crossed Market Street with me -- UNDER the traffic.

We shot together and apart, shared suggestions and results, and generally got lost in the creative process until we realized it was getting late. We weren't there to capture the sunset, not even the golden hour of light, so we called Dave. He didn't answer so we shot some more, got carried away like the mud in the Susquehanna, then tried Dave again. And again not too much later. I climbed the steps to peer across at the Sterling but he wasn't there. Brad kept shooting.

Not much later Dave called us. He forgot his phone in the car. He said he'd pick us up on River Street. We had time and Brad kept shooting as we leisurely strolled back under Market and dangerously jaywalked River. It was a beautiful day and he made the most of it with 500-some photos. Even as Dave drove up and parked halfway in the driveway of the First Baptist Church Of Wilkes Barre, Brad was taking a few last exposures of the wonderful wood textures of the church's doors. Just then the pastor pulled up behind us and Dave accommodated him by pulling in further. He was there to help a flowerist with a delivery and offered to let us in to see how magnificent this place is from the inside. We jumped at the opportunity, trying desperately to restrain our desire to spend the next few hours there capturing some of the beauty. Since the pastor left his dinner table to run this errand we didn't want to trample his kindness by overstaying our gratitude. He promised to call and get us back in to do a proper job of capturing this glorious structure. We look forward to it, and maybe wecan get our good friend Mike Thomas to come along.