Charlotte Beach by night

Nov 20, 2009 in Photography

charlotte.jpgOi, this is not easy.

Last Sunday I went to Charlotte Beach and the pier with tripod and camera in tow to take night images. One puts one’s camera on the tripod, points the contraption in the general direction desired and pushes the button causing the selected scene to be recorded for eternity’s sake. Award-winning photography awaits in one’s future surely.

I came back with 40 or so images and edited them down to the seven you’ll find in the gallery. Last winter I spent an evening on RIT’s campus with more or less the same success rate. Well, success. I think the images I posted are not necessarily bad but there’s not the wow factor I saw on the camera’s display after clicking the shutter. Some more practice and maybe some reading up and polishing the technique are required.

Take a look at this example and this one from Flickr’s Night Images group: if nothing else the sky is black…

The Ballad of Brad

Nov 09, 2009 in Photography

soduspoint.jpgFor a few days I was thinking that I hadn’t fed the beast that is Flickr but what to take pictures of?

Yesterday it was beautiful warm autumn weather – perfect for cycling but I wasn’t in the mood. Instead I decided to drive to Sodus Point and see if inspiration would strike. I arrived there mid-afternoon, parked the car in the village ready to wander around. A group of motorbikers had just gotten here as well breaking for lunch it seemed. All of middle age or a little more they did their best to look fierce and severe. Seeing a female rider in a pink Harley Davidson leather jacket, I suspected that in reality they’re very likely just cuddly teddybears. Nice bikes though especially the one in bright green, a color that worked really well in the low stroking sunlight.

I walked to the end of the village where the road loops back surprised to see that there’s a free lot there. Great view over Sodus Bay towards Charles Point. Amazing that nobody built here yet – the rest of the shoreline is filled up.

From here I strolled on to the beach park and to the lighthouse at the end of the pier. There were a few fishermen and women giving it a try but both the fish and the anglers appeared just content with a lazy autumn afternoon. Back along the pier to the beach there was a group of young people sitting and chatting in the sand.

One of them called out to me: “Did you take a picture of that dead bird?”
I shook my head: “No.”
“That would be really cool though?”
I smiled back and wandered on.

A hundred yards further up I turned around strolling back. The group were now tossing a football around. The guy who called out earlier was picking up a bottle from their circle of bags and towels, looked up and I asked what I was taking photos of. I had just taken a picture of a footprint in the sand:
“Look down,” I pointed, “see how the light strokes over it. That’s beautiful.”
“Can I see?”
“Sure.” I showed him the photo on the camera’s display.
“I didn’t mean to intrude. My name is Brad. I am just curious.”
“No problem. My name is Onno. Nice to meet you.”
“You do this often?” Brad asked gesturing with his hand holding that bottle.
“Yeah, it’s fun to do.”
“I wish I had a good camera. My dad has one. My brother paints. Do you paint?”
“No, I have no skills in that department.”
I ask if he lives here. He does. “Must get busy here in summer?” I asked.
“Yeah, it does, but then at night when it is all quiet and you can walk out on the beach and see all the stars then it is pretty good.”
“Want a sip?” Brad offered, holding out the Captain Morgan rum bottle. He had worked his way through a quarter of it.
“No, thanks, that’s a little too strong for me,” I smiled, “I hope you’re not finishing that bottle all by yourself. Share some with your friends.”
“Yeah, I will. If they deserve it,” Brad grinned.
“Do you smoke? We have some weed?” was his next proposal.
“No, don’t smoke either.”
“So, you don’t drink and smoke, just wander around taking pictures?”
“Yep, that’s it.”
“Well, that’s cool. I like that!”

We shook hands and I walked on. A few seconds later Brad called me back, running over with his cell phone in hand:
“Wait, I have to show you this picture I took during a storm!”
He fiddled with the phone bringing up the image on the display. It was actually a very nice photo, certainly considering it’s taken with a cell phone, showing the dark clouds, waves crushing against the pier, the lighthouse in the distance with its beam on. And I told him so. We said our goodbyes once again.

I walked back to the boulevard to get back to the village. The sun was just hovering over the village turning all yellow and red. At the side of the parking lot there was a small sheriff’s office. The sheriff in bulletproof vest and gun on hip came out of the office just as I walked by, holding a camera like me, stepping onto the rocks at the shore of the bay like me, taking sunset photos just like me. If the strong arm of the law has the time and motivation to notice beautiful sunsets and take pictures of it then not all is bad in the world.

Getting back to the car I exchanged the camera bag for my Kindle. It’s time for some serious food. When I walked through the village earlier I noticed a bar/restaurant called Captain Jack. It seemed deserving of further inspection. I sat myself down at the bar, bartender Patrick poring me a cold one and handed me the menu which features a broad selection of burgers and the likes. Being surrounded by all this water I felt fish was more in order. I was hoping to find items on the menu that would resemble the crab shack scene from “A Few Good Men” – the interior was close enough – but had to settle for Fish Fry instead. An elderly couple arrived at the bar to my left. There was only one stool there but another empty one to my right so I offered to scoot over. The gentleman declined, said he preferred to stand. After my dinner arrived I looked around the bar noticing that there were a few couples with the woman sitting in the bar stool and the man standing (hovering?) diagonally behind her. Perhaps that’s the proper custom here?

The couple to my right left and just as I was finishing my fish Brad sat down next to me. We shook hands once more. He was in the company of a woman in her forties whom he introduced to me and Patrick the Bartender as his mom. Brad ordered beer and shots, toasting each other these went down. Brad appeared impressively sober after working on that rum bottle earlier. They started chatting, his mom gently chiding him for letting opportunities slip away.

I called for the check, gathered up Kindle and coat and departed to drive back to Rochester pleased with the harvest to feed Flickr with.

The pictures are in the gallery.

2009 Cobbs Hill Cyclocross

Oct 11, 2009 in Cycling

09cyclocross.jpgThis Sunday morning saw another installment of the cyclocross race in Cobbs Hill Park here in Rochester. Sadly – well for me that is, don’t think the riders minded – it had been much too nice a weather the last few days so no heroic muddy pictures for me.

Still, it is a fun race to watch. The course has technical sections through the trees, fast parts, the climb up to the reservoir and then the descent back. The course was a bit different from last year: the route up the hill was harder and there was a sandy section that was not there last time. Those few zigzags through the sand caused a few problems for many of the riders.

Paul, Cliff and John of RBC fame were riding, the chap from the Towners bike shop entered (don’t know his name, he looks just like my nephew Martijn though), and Shana together with a few others I recognized from the Tuesday Night winter rides.

A few like Paul did both the Masters race and the Open Men’s. Madness, I say, but he seemed to enjoy it.

Each year (this is the third time) I think I should join in. But each time I think of this too late before the event leaving me with no time to practice a on the mountain bike. Which reminds me that I do need to check on that bike. The TNUA rides have started!

The pictures are in the gallery.

The Irondequoit Coastline

Sep 28, 2009 in Photography

irondequoit.jpgOn Sunday afternoon I took advantage of the rainy/sunny weather to take some pictures. Directed the Mini Cooper to Lake Road in Irondequoit and hiked up and down the road and to the harbor at the end. This gave choices of scenes between Lake Ontario and Irondequoit Bay.

Last time I took pictures of the Bay it was the midst of winter and the Skate The Bay race was on. Now temperatures were much nicer and in the time it took to drive to Lake Road the raininess had cleared away (for the time being, it rained again later in the evening) providing me with nice light and dark skies to the west.

The harvest of this little photo excursion is in the gallery.

Those Magnificent Men in their Racing Machines

Aug 10, 2009 in Photography

watkinsglen1.jpgOn Friday I trekked southeast to the Watkins Glen racetrack to catch the first day of a 3-day weekend NASCAR racing event. First I swung by Hahn Photographic to pick up that wonderful anti-vibration Nikon zoom lens. Except perhaps for Formula One I don’t care much about car racing and it saw more as a fun photographic exercise.

I made it to the Watkins Glen village by about noon so first had lunch, walked around the town a bit and then drove the final 4 miles to the track switching the Mini Cooper engine to the Sport setting as warm-up for the afternoon and evening. While your ticket is scanned and checked only once in order to get on the grounds, there’s security at the entrance to each of the stands who want to look in your bag. Executing my plan to shoot from many different places and angles around the track this meant that my backpack was checked about 12 times. This got a little tedious after the third check. Curiously this seemed to mean that they didn’t care – from a security point of view – what happened on the camp grounds, the pit areas and vending areas.

watkinsglen21.jpgWalking around I was amazed to see that many families apparently follow the racing circus around in their campers. Some even built their own stands around the course; a few quite elaborate. I guess there worse ways to spend one’s summer. As a racing course I like Watkins Glen. Similar to European circuits it has right turns as well as left turns.

Much of the pit area was open to the public. This was fun as it allowed you to see many of the teams working hard on the cars. In the afternoon the area also hosted a driver autograph session. Guess which team table was by far the busiest…?

Pictures in the gallery.

Sunday Afternoon Walk in Rochester

Jul 27, 2009 in Photography

fadedsigns.jpgI had originally planned for a bike ride today but decided for a different form of exercise: take the camera for a random walk through Rochester. Starting out I didn’t have a particular theme in mind however one came up while walking: faded wall signs. To me this is a very American city thing: painted advertisements and billboards on the side of buildings.

Didn’t have a specific route other than walk in a loop through downtown. I started down East Ave and almost immediately had second thoughts about not bringing a rain coat or umbrella: ahead the clouds looked ominous and soon the first drops came down. It didn’t seem to push through though, nothing like Saturday’s downpour, the big trees along the avenue giving good shelter. Coming up to Alexander Street the rain was a bit more serious – what better excuse than to slip into Murphy’s Law for a little break? Must say hi to Mark, after all!

It cleared up, I crossed Main Street and came to the St Paul area. Several buildings here with these beautiful, old, fading signs. Of course this is not the most thriving area of town which is why there are these older buildings with the fading paint. Although, a number of these old warehouses are being converted to apartments and lofts so some revival of the area is upcoming. I was quite pleased to notice that the renovators have left many of the signs intact as you can see in the pictures.

While off-topic for the theme – or at least I suspect they would object to the fading aspect – a group of women on the terrasse of a wine bar on St Paul’s asked me to take their picture, apparently celebrating a college reunion. One asked if I was Canadian. That was a first: Scottish, Irish, Scandinavian, yes but not Canadian yet, eh? I fulfilled the request and carried on via Andrews Street eventually crossing over the Corn Hill area.

Passing Main Street again I saw another scene that’s quite American to me: a diner, news boxes, pay phones and the “Main St” sign all together! Along the river, crossing at Ford Street, right on Monroe taking a picture of the theater. An oddity and sadness at the same time. Such a characteristic building it housed a sex shop until recently, since then bought by Ride Aid and it’s unclear what they’ll do with it. In a perfect world it would restored and put back into function for the community ala the Little Theater.

Back on Park Avenue finally took a photo I have wanted to shoot for a long time: of one of the buildings with the nuclear shelter sign. Such a fantastic leftover of the 50-ies and the cold war. Always reminds me of my basic military training in The Netherlands regarding nuclear attacks: if you saw a very bright white flash you were supposed to (quickly) lie face down covering any exposed skin like your hands under your body. Of course the moment you see that flash any burning of exposed skin happens at that same moment so the lying down… not making much difference… always had great temptation then to engage in a happy debate with the sergeant on the merits of these instructions (I may have fallen for that temptation once or twice).

As ever: accompanying photos in the gallery.

December Storm

Dec 28, 2008 in Photography

storm.jpg“Ik waaide bijkans uit m’n hempie”

After the cold, very snowy winter weather it was suddenly a comparatively warm but stormy day this third Christmas Day. I got up at 6:30 to watch on-line the second day of the Dutch speed skating championships. Then grabbed the camera and drove to Hamlin Beach and Charlotte Beach on the coast of Lake Ontario. The wind gusts made me think of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”. The wind came from the south and so some of the gusts almost blew me into the lake while balancing to take some of the pictures. The interaction between the clouds and the sun tempted me to play with the photo settings when editing the pictures on the computer; I hope I didn’t overdo it but stormy, gloomy weather just seems to scream for black&white or sepia.

On the pier at Charlotte Beach the little group of people you see in one of the photos were preparing for some streaking. Very, ehh, brave (?) with the still rather cold temperatures and the waves crashing over the pier while the two boys were running up and down it in the costumes Mother Nature awarded them. I got very wet feet next to the pier. Wanting to get close to the waterline for some shots I hiked forward only to discover that just a thin layer of sand had blown over the melting snow and ice leading to the waterline and so I sank down to my knees through the slush. Cold, yes. According to the temperature reader at home it was 40 degrees, much warmer than previous days and so I had zipped out the fleece from my winter coat…. Back in the car I was very happy with the heated seats (a feature that shows that God exists, I tell ya).

The pictures are here.

The First Photo

Oct 25, 2008 in Photography

firstphoto2.jpgToday Hahn Photographic kindly assisted me in obtaining a new camera replacing the one I let so clumsily fall off the tripod a week ago. It’s a lovely Nikon D90 with twice as many pixels than the D70, much less noise at higher ISO values, movie mode and seeing the size of the manual a ton of other new stuff I have yet no idea of. Onno Junior patiently posed for the first picture. This shot was taken with Rachel’s lens that was on the old camera when it so rudely met the ground and it appears to have survived that event just fine.

The D90 takes SD cards instead of Compactflash, something that Steve at Hahn’s very timely reminded me of and at 13 megapixels a shot it seemed useful to get a larger SD card than the one I had. Otherwise a few pictures and the card would be full. Love it so far. The one little irk is that MacOS X does not yet support the D90’s raw format and so until Apple gets around issuing an update (hurry up!) the workflow consists of Nikon Transfer -> Nikon ViewNX -> transfer to JPEG -> iPhoto. By the way, the 4GB SanDIsk SD card I bought came with its own tiny USB reader – very handy since Rachel took my reader to the wedding today. The camera has a GPS capability. Definitely something worth fiddling with to geotag the photos and all that.

That’s it. Bye. Must take more pictures.

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