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Posts tagged ‘IR’

Let’s Do It Again

Happy New Year.  I hope you had a nice Holiday.  We did.  Lots of family gatherings which was great, but we did make some time to get out and do some work in the field.  The weather was nice for the most part and not terribly cold, till the last few days.  That was very useful because of an ongoing project that has my attention, on the spiritual nature of the Quabbin Reservoir, or perhaps I should say, its spiritual impact.  (If you’re new to the blog, click on the key words below and you’ll be guided to a few posts that will give you some background, or of course, just “google” Quabbin Reservoir.)  As an accidental wilderness with historical as well as environmental importance, it has a way of bringing people into the fold.  I happened to bump into another photographer at Gate 30 last week, a terrific wildlife shooter, who had gotten the bug a year or so back and now went out there whenever possible.  I’m not just referring to photographers, though.  Far from it.  We’ve run into people from all walks of life who have been captivated by the experience of being there.  They often have trouble putting that feeling into words it seems.  But as a photographer, I approach the question visually of course.

While the ice can be a terrific subject, I’ve  been focused more on the relationship between the water and the forest.  Gate 37 in Petersham presents some wonderful opportunities to explore this relationship.  Here Fever Brook, which runs through the Federated Women’s Club State Forest on its way to the Reservoir actually meets the Reservoir.  The local engineering firm, Beaver and Beaver, has taken it upon themselves to create a rather large pond here.

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The reflections are stunning and give one the sense that the water and the forest are conversing.

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As I’ve mentioned a few times, I was unfortunately ill during part of 2014 and was far less active in the field than I had hoped.  Things are better now and I hope to be a bit more productive.  We have much to be grateful for.  One of the spiritual tugs I feel when I visit the Quabbin is that of gratitude.  I’m terribly appreciative of the fact that I get to go to such  wonderful location, that the Reservoir not only provides us with both water and air, as if that wasn’t enough.  It gives us an opportunity to be grateful for the sacrifices that others make on our behalf.  We’re looking forward to 2015.

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Nature Photography Day (and Father’s Day)

Greetings,

This is Father’s Day in the U.S. so Happy Father’s Day to all involved.  It is also Nature Photography Day, an annual event sponsored by the North American Nature Photographer’s Association, which has as its purpose to:  “promote the enjoyment of nature photography and to explain how images have been used to advance the cause of conservation and protect plants, wildlife and landscapes locally, and worldwide.”  (From the web site link here).  Photography was used from nearly the moment of its invention (which is a moment hard to pin down) to build an awareness of our environment, or components of the environment, that so many can’t witness.  It remains an important calling, even in an age in which we are inundated by images.  So many of those images don’t tell a story, of any sort.  It really is the story that counts.

As luck would have it, I had a chance (with family) to spend some time roaming around the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site on Roanoke Island in North Carolina.  This is the site at which the famed Lost Colony story unfolded.  You may know the story, and I won’t recount it in any detail, but in essence, a group of English colonists were left on Roanoke Island in the late 1580’s to establish a business oriented settlement on behalf of the English Crown and associated entrepreneurs such as Sir Walter Raleigh.  They were stranded and did not receive resupply for over three years.  When the English returned after the three-year delay, the colony was gone.  There was no sign of violence, or mass illness.  The buildings were taken down (not torn down) and the only clue remaining was the name “CROATOAN” carved into a tree.  To this day, a satisfactory theory backed by evidence regarding what happened has eluded scholars. Visiting sites like this is always an education. I was struck by several key points.  First, the colonists had to find a way to live in harmony with their surrounding.  They had to get along with the native Americans (who were already angered by previous unsatisfactory contacts) and they had to live off the land, off of nature.  Sadly, they were ill-equipped to do either.  Their ranks were staffed with those ready to exploit the environment, not come to terms with it:  the military, miners, loggers, etc.  Farmers and craftsmen were lacking.   The colonists were prepared to exploit an environment that was simply not going to yield, for many reasons.  Sound familiar?

The colonists at that time were surrounded by lush maritime  forests, as well as the familiar marshes and bodies of water we associate with the region.  Many of those forests included the famed “live oak” tree that is iconic to the south.  You will recognize them by their outward growth and the elaboration of their large branches into nearly a humanoid form.  Old forest growths of these trees were nearly all taken throughout the south for ship building and lumber.  The live oak is a very strong tree (used in the construction of Old Ironsides, the U.S.S. Constitution, for instance). _DSC6844-Edit

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So now in a few places you can find these wonderful trees.  These shown here are obviously not four hundred years old, they’re quite a bit younger but this will give you some idea of what those forests were like.  Away from preserves such as this, the live oak is still threatened by development.

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Conservation doesn’t have to be an all or nothing pursuit, though it is often thought of as such by some.

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_DSC6836-Edit Perhaps the Lost Colony will be found some day.

The Tree the Apple Didn’t Fall Far From (If you follow)

I’ve been once again off the grid, preparing for an upcoming exhibition of Quabbin related work that will be opening shortly.  I’ll be posting more information in the next day or two.  Meanwhile, I had time for one small and for me somewhat different effort:  the photography of a single tree/icon. Here’s the story.

Roger Babson was an interesting gentleman.  He was the founder of my employer, Babson College, so I have a bias toward him from the get go.  One of his many interesting, shall we say interests, was in Sir Isaac Newton.  Passion would not be too strong a word, in fact, it may not be strong enough.  He was particularly impressed by Newton’s Third Law of Motion:  For every action there is an equal and opposition reaction.  The Third Law applies in a vacuum it should be said.  (Doesn’t that remind you a bit of modern day politics?  But I digress.)  He actually did predict the Great Depression, utilizing insights gleaned from the Third Law.  (And to his credit, I don’t believe he predicted any other depressions, so he had an excellent batting average.)  Not far from my office in Tomasso Hall you can find a carefully tended tree that in fact is a descendent of the apple tree in Newton’s garden. Alas, it is now quite old and dying if not dead.  Fruit trees don’t live forever and this one has outlived it’s normal life span, probably because it has been so carefully nurtured.  The tree has had many fans, including myself.  It’s presence has provoked contemplation and reverie in a context that is too frequently overpowering.  It will be missed. However, I’m pleased to say that Babson recognizes the value of legacy and history and, some time ago a program was put in place to assure that the future descendents of the tree will have a good home.  The celebration of the creation of a new grove of Newton Apple Trees will take place this coming Friday for anyone interested.  You can read about it here .  It is taking place as part of Babson’s observance of Earth Month.

So here’s to the future Sir Isaac.  We appreciate having you and your trees along for the journey.

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This image was taken as a gift for our soon to be retiring President, Len Schlesinger.  Len has done a fine job in his six years at Babson, and he will be missed.  Tech:  The image was captured on an IR converted Nikon D700.

Misty Manteo and a Lightroom 4 Warning

Hanging around Manteo, North Carolina, on the Outerbanks, courtesy of  Al, Donna, Chester and Maya.  Very relaxing and wonderful (thanks!) but the light has been a struggle.  The vegetation is popping here, too early as it is in many other parts of the U.S.  However, you wouldn’t have known in this morning.  The ocean of course brings with it humidity, stark contrasts between hot and cold, and fog.  It looked like it was clearing around 9, so I thought I’d try some infrared shoots, going for a different look in an area that has been photographed, a lot!  Infrared though, at its best requires sun, shadows and chlorophyll.  In the absence of those elements, things can get tough.  Nevertheless, the marsh and the sea tried to be helpful, as did a passing boat.

Design elements, shapes and leading lines are still visible.  The Causeway Bridge and the NC State boat ramp near by also helped out.

And some more relaxed ducks.

We will continue to be vigilant, for other opportunities as they arise.

Incidently, in the image above, “One of these things is not like the other” (with apologies to Sesame Street).  Can you spot it?

Tech note and tech word of warning:  Images captured with an infrared converted Nikon D200, converted to black and white in Lightroom 4, and tweaked with George De Wolfe’s PercepTool, which is a very powerful set of Photoshop actions that I highly recommend.

Now for the tech word of warning!  I am a huge fan of Lightroom, and Lightroom 4 looks great to me, so far, with one rather substantial exception.  This is technical, but I’ll try to make it brief.  Those of you who use Lightroom know that you can easily send an image into Photoshop for pixel level work, etc.  Up to this time, that image was then rendered in Photoshop quite nicely using whatever tonal changes you made in Lightroom.  In other words, where you started in Photoshop reflected exactly where you left off in Lightroom.  That is not the case using Lightroom 4 at this time. If you send your image into Photoshop CS5, you will find that the images does not look like it did in Lightroom 4.  This is a major problem and my perusal of the various Adobe internet fora suggests to me that Adobe is on the case.   However, the problem has not yet been fixed.  What to do?  When you hit control or command E to send your Lightroom 4 image into Photoshop, you will get a warning dialogue box saying that because ACR 7 is not installed, you must choose between several options before you go into Photoshop.  One of those, thankfully is, “Render using Lightroom Adjustments” or words to that effect.  That’s the right answer.  If you are like me, and blythely turned that warning dialogue box off, you can go to Lightroom preferences and look for an icon that allows you to “reset all warning dialogue boxes” or words to that effect.  It’s always something when it comes to software isn’t!  And don’t even get me started on Nikon Capture NX2 and Nikon software support.  I would not recommend that one two punch to my worst enemy.  Nikon makes great cameras, but their software is problematic and their technical support for software is poor, at best.

A Walk in the Park

I’ve been inspired by Elm Park, in downtown Worcester, Massachusetts, for many years.  In so many ways, it mirrors the the beauty, the potential, and the struggles of life.  (Click on the horizontal images for a better view.)

It was born in idealism and is chronically underfunded.  It’s inhabitants, wonderfully urbane trees, flourish in the spring and summer, put on an incredible light show in the fall, and then have to withstand the winter.  But, they seem, mostly, to make it through.  At least they have each other.

It’s nice to have them around.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(Technical note:  All images created with an infrared converted Nikon D200, converted to black and white in Nik’s Silver Efex Pro.)