Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Old Rag Once More

It has been my goal to hike Old Rag before I turn 50 for the last couple of years. I’m not 50 yet and a couple weeks ago I met this goal ahead of schedule. I hiked Old Rag several times when I was in my early twenties. I remember it being a tough hike but not something that I had to get in shape for. I’m not 20 anymore so the rules have changed…...

My past trips to Old Rag this year were by way of the fire road. This cuts about 3 miles and 800 feet off the journey. Going up the back way is still a very challenging hike but easy compared to doing a frontal assault. My goal was to do a proper hike and if feels great to have accomplished the goal. The trip stats are 9 miles and 2600 feet of elevation.

I was joined by 3 non-photographer friends. We started at the lower parking lot and made our way up the mountain. As we neared the top the bottlenecks became evident. Old Rag is a very popular hike and rightly so, but there are several places that are narrow or otherwise difficult to transverse. So people would back up at these locations. Also as we neared the top the mountain was covered in clouds. There were many photographic possibilities but a gray sky was a deal killer. Normally I’m quite excited about fog but not in this situation.

While the photo opportunities were somewhat limited, I did come away with the feeling that I can go back and produce some shots that exceed anything I’ve seen shot from this location. I’m sure others have taken spectacular images from this popular peak, it’s just that I have not seen them. That is just as well, when I return I don’t want my vision to be affected by the work of others if possible.

One other interesting tidbit. I had read on and some other sites about the Old Rag Dogs. These are local dogs that go up near the top of the mountain and run a scam on the tourists. People react by trying to give them food and water, and otherwise worrying about their general welfare. I heard some ladies exclaim great concern for these dogs. I tried to explain the dogs are local and doing just fine. But to no avail. These pups are running a very successful operation from the look of things.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cuyahoga Wrap-Up

I think it is time to close the book on our recent trip to Ohio. The old saying, “it’s a nice place to visit” comes to mind. No offense to those in the Midwest region, but Greg and I came home with a renewed appreciation for Virginia. We really did cover a lot of ground in 3 days and came away with some good images to show for it. My favorite of the trip was my previous post of Jaite Station after dark. I did get to do some additional lightpainting and I have posted those results in the gallery. We also owe a big thanks to local photographer Jerry Jelineks for showing us around and providing a wealth of information on the different locations.

Click Here for the Gallery

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lake Erie

During our Labor Day trip to Ohio, Greg and I wanted to maximize our shooting potential. Lake Erie is an hour away from Cuyahoga Valley so a side trip was in order. Originally I had hoped to stay and do some nocturnal photography, but the park closed 30 minutes after sunset and the park police were quite serious about this. The sunset was uneventful, but in spite of the disappointment, I still managed to get a couple of keepers.

The Blog image was shot with my D200 Infrared Camera shortly after our arrival. I used a slight amount of Topaz Simplify to soften the image.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Shooting From The Train

After finishing our 1st morning shoot in Cuyahoga Valley and a late breakfast, we went for a train ride to learn the lay of the land and get a better feel for the possibilities. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad runs through the park and for $15.00 you can ride all day. It took about 3 hours for the full trip and it was a most enjoyable time. We took our gear in case we decided to get off the train. While we never found anything that motivated us to get off the train, we did see some interesting sights. I used my Infrared converted D200 and shot from my seat on the train. The results were surprising. The train window had lots of reflection and glare but my shots did not contain these distracting elements. The camera is fitted with a filter that blocks visible light so reflections in the visible spectrum were not a concern.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jaite Station - Rails On Fire

This past weekend Greg Daily and I headed out to Ohio to spend a couple days in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Local photographer Jerry Jelineks was kind enough to show us around the first night and next morning. After shooting a rather uneventful sunset and moonrise at Tinker’s Creek Preserve, I mentioned wishing for a place to go light painting. Jerry knew the spot. We rolled into Jaite around 10:00pm and got to work. Jaite was the location of a former textile mill. When researching the trip I thought the mill was still in existence and planned on doing some serious HDR photography. But a couple years ago the park service remediated the site, so no such luck.

The light painting above is a composite of 5 shots blended in Photoshop. I’m even in one of the shots, or more precisely, my shadow is. I found that trying to light paint multiple aspects of the composition adds complexity to the shoot. So for this shoot the first shot was 30 seconds and I just painted the railroad bed. The next 2 shots were of each railroad track. I increased the brightness of the light as I moved away from the camera. This helped provide a constant amount of light as I ran down the tracks. The 4th and 5th shot was of each building. After combining the images a few targeted adjustments were made.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Eastern State - Part IV

Last week I joined friends Tony, Sara, John, Mark, Bob, Mike, and Doug for a private shoot at Eastern State Penitentiary. This trip was different, we had (at a significant cost) access to non-public areas of the prison. In some cases this offered us shots not otherwise available, in other cases it was more of the same. Perhaps the best part of the day was the camaraderie between the group. Literally it was the fastest 3 hours in recent memory. I had known some of the crew from Facebook and the virtual world, it was really great to meet in person and I felt like we really gelled as a group.

The only downside was that Sara and I needed to get on the road after lunch. Most of the group was going back in to shoot, but considering that we had to drive thru 3 major metro areas to get home, traffic was a consideration.

This time I also tried something new. I incorporated some creative flash photography into my routine. I decided to show a sample of this on the Blog. I’m a beginner at this type of lighting, but hey you have to start somewhere. I’m hoping to integrate a little more flash photography on my nocturnal efforts. Stay tuned….

Considering that I have been to ESP 4 times in the last year, I was starting to think that I had exhausted all the possibilities. In reality, I’m not even close.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Big Schloss

This past month has been the slow season for me in regard to getting out and taking pictures. Perhaps because it has been hot and humid. I’m certainly taking pictures, but I don’t feel like I have been hitting it quite so hard. Instead I have been trying to get out and hike a little more and this past Sunday Big Duke and I did a quick hike up Big Schloss in the George Washington National Forest. As far as hikes go, this one is not bad. About 1000 feet in elevation and a little over 2 miles to the top. The first mile is straight up and then you follow the ridgeline to the top.

As far as hikes go, Big Schloss has one of the best views going. I hope to shoot star trails from this location at some point.

I hate to admit it, but the objective today was exercise and not really photography. I did bring along my Nikon D200 Infrared Camera in the hope that I would get to shoot some puffy clouds from the summit. It was also a chance to use my 28mm PC lens. The panorama above is a composite of 24 images. 12 across and 2 rows. I took the above series, put the camera back in my pack, and headed down the mountain.