Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Posts Tagged ‘Thoughts on photography

Reflections on a Reflection

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Many of my favorite photographs were accident and/or happenstance. Such was the case with this image of a reflection of the former Erie Railroad passenger station in Kent, Ohio, in a pool of the decorative dam on the
Cuyahoga River.

The story behind this image begins with a walk down to the observation platform that can be seen toward the right middle of the image.

My intent was to get a close up view of the late day sun hitting the station, which is now an Italian restaurant named Treno, which is Italian for train.

The dam used to be functional, but several years ago the river was channeled away from it and into the remnants of the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal. What had been the river became dry land that was transformed into a park while the dam was renovated to become, in essence, a giant water fountain.

The top of the dam is quite high, about at my eye level. I happened to notice the station reflecting in the pool at the top of the dam and thought it would make a nice photograph.

I made it but all you see was the reflection in the water. I lifted my camera above my head and head it over the railing in the foreground.

A Canon 60D has a foldout screen that can be angled up or down. That came in handy in being able to see what the lens was seeing. The result was, perhaps, my best image of the day.

What appears to be a reflection from a flash toward the right end of the station is actually the sun reflecting off a window.


Cleveland Skyline

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It is late on a Sunday afternoon in late September. A friend and I are visiting Wendy Park in downtown Cleveland, which runs along the west bank of the Cuyahoga River. It’s a great location from which to make a portrait of the skyline of Cleveland, or at least a portion of it.

Look carefully and you’ll see that the Huntington Bank building to the left of Key Tower appears to have two different shades. It is a produce of the sun hitting the angled building at different angles.

Anniversary of a Dramatic Sunset

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One year ago today I created what may be the most dramatic sunset photographs I’ve ever made.

We were staying at a bed and breakfast northeast of Tucson, Arizona, at the home of a couple that had some land. Therefore, I had some open views of the surrounding landscape, which includes the Santa Catalina Mountains.

Saguaro cactus plants are a mainstay of the Sonoran Desert though they tend to do best on steep, rocky slopes.

Our hosts had a number of tall saguaros and I walked around their property looking for a suitable one to use to frame my images.

There was a cloud cover that was, fortunately for me, moving on. Ken said those clouds would yield a nice red sunset.

He proved to be right. The skies to the west were clear, but the edge of the cloud cover was still overhead.

That was key because it is not the sun itself but the reflection of light from the setting sun that creates the spectacular and dramatic colors that give a sunset its stark beauty.

From a scientific perspective, what we see  are light rays reflecting and then scattering after hitting particles of dust, water droplets and ice crystals.

Scientists say that the colors produced by light depend on how far it has to travel and at sunset that path is farther than it is in the middle of the day.

In short, what we are seeing is a filtering effect. Colors tend to be more vivid in skies that are dry, clean and contain smaller particles. This image was made in October when the air tends to be drier and cleaner.

From a photography standpoint, I’ve noticed that getting good sunset images takes patience as well as the ability to react quickly.

The dramatic colors of sunset don’t last long. They can peak and be gone in a matter of minutes. Maybe it is my imagination, but they seem to vanish much faster than they appeared.

But that’s probably a result of the run-up time to the sunset, which is often going to be long as you have to get in position for nature’s show and then wait for it.

And what a show nature can put on when conditions are right.

Cactus and the Clouds

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Dark clouds do not also means storms are coming. They don’t even necessarily always mean that rain is coming.

Many photographers prize what they call storm light. It often occurs when the sun pops out after a storm and illuminates the back edge of the storm.

The contrast of objects against the dark clouds can make for some dramatic images.

This image is not storm light per se, but it has some of its qualities. There was no rain and no storm from those dark clouds in the background.

Yet I was able to take advantage of the edge of those clouds opening up a path for direct sunlight. It arrived in time to give this saguaro cactus a late day warm lighting.

The image was made near Tucson, Arizona. Those are the Santa Catalina Mountains in the distance.

That Warm Red Glow of Sunrise

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Think of a sunrise or a sunset and what probably comes to mind is an image of the sun.

Yet some of the most interesting sunrise and sunset images I’ve made didn’t feature the sun at all.

Such is the case with this image of sunrise over the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona.

The early morning light and its warm glow has turned the rocks into a fiery red color. It won’t be long before all of this mountain moves out of the shadows and into the early morning light.

Hummingbird Please Fly Away, Fly Away

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The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum near Tucson has a walk-in aviary that allows visitors to get close to the birds.

I knew from a previous visit that there were hummingbirds inside the aviary.

Perhaps you’ve seen photographs of a hummingbird hovering in flight.

My objective was to create such an image. I quickly learned that doing that would be more difficult than I thought.

Hummingbirds don’t hover in one place for long. I would spot one hovering but it would dart off before I could even compose and focus the image.

The best I was able to do was capture a few birds sitting on a branch. Even those images were not the greatest.

Like any form of photography, there must be a trick or two to photographing a hummingbird in flight. It probably takes patience, experience and time.

I didn’t have all day to capture a hummingbird in flight. so I had to move on after about couple dozen attempts. This was my favorite hummingbird that I did manage to photograph.


Playing Dodge Ball With the Clouds

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There are probably some photographers who never venture out unless it is a bright sunny day with nary a trace of clouds in the sky.

I didn’t have that luxury on the day that I made this image.

We were having lunch at a rest area along Interstate 70 in Pennsylvania not far from the Maryland border.

There was a pleasing view of a valley in front of us from our picnic table. There were also a lot of clouds in the sky.

If I wanted to make an image I had to be patient and put up with some cloud shadowing.

This was about as good as it was going to get. I once lived in central Pennsylvania and scenes such as this is what I envision when I think about the Keystone state.