American Roots Photography: Blog en-us (C) American Roots Photography (American Roots Photography) Thu, 14 May 2020 22:02:00 GMT Thu, 14 May 2020 22:02:00 GMT American Roots Photography: Blog 120 120 Plows, Family Roots, and History _9070091-Edit_9070091-Edit

Recently a local college, Warren Wilson, celebrated their annual plow day in tribute to horse draft power farming. I shot the event and was pleased that the college decided to use some of my images. The plow is one of the oldest inventions dating back to several thousand years BC. The earliest plows were suitable for relatively easily tilled soil like the Nile flood plains. Improvements in design and materials led to the ability to till more difficult soils and greatly expanded agriculture. My maternal grandfather was born in extreme western Oklahoma at the end of the 19th century in a house made of sod. The Great Plains were the last area settled in the United States due to the challenges of eking out a living in a dry and unwooded terrain with harsh summers and winters. But the settlers could build houses from the dense prairie grass. In the 1880’s a plow was invented that would conveniently cut the sod into useable widths and depths for building. However, technology is a two-edged sword. At the beginning of the 20th century, the tractor begin to replace draft animals for plowing and harvesting. Suddenly large swaths of the prairie became agricultural land despite warnings that the prairies were fragile ecosystems. When extreme drought struck the prairies in the 1930’s the fallow fields had no protective grass and the environmental disaster known as the Dust Bowl erupted. With ignored warnings today regarding the impact of our fossil fueled economy on climate change, we seem unable to take a lesson from our past.


(American Roots Photography) Bowl Draft Dust Horse house Oklahoma plains Plough Plow Prairie sod Mon, 23 Sep 2019 21:01:39 GMT
Roots Music Betty Smith Betty SmithBetty Smith performing at 92nd Mountain Dance and Folk Festival.

In moving to Western North Carolina I returned after a couple of centuries to a region where many of my maternal ancestors lived. My 3g-grandfather was in Buncombe county by 1809 and received a North Carolina land grant in 1816 for land on Avery Creek on the western side of the French Broad River. So I have roots here. The site identification of American Roots Photography borrows from the NPR program American Roots Music which traces modern music to its roots in the various music traditions including that of the British Isles. Traditional Appalachian mountain music is often almost unchanged from tunes and lyrics from Scotland and Ireland. During World War I, Cecil Sharp spent time in the Southern Appalachia mountains collecting these songs and helping to preserve them. In 1916-7 he spent time in Hot Springs, NC collecting songs (70) and traditional "Jack, Will, and Tom" stories from Jane Hicks Gentry. Cecil collected more songs from Jane than any other traditional mountain singer. Betty Smith is pictured here performing at the 92nd annual Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, the oldest folk music festival in the country . Betty is also the author of "Jane Hicks Gentry: A Singer Among Singers". But Betty is also an accomplished, well-known keeper of traditional mountain music herself. She has been performing at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival since 1952 and has numerous recordings and awards, including the North Carolina Long Leaf Pine award. She will tell you that she can always remember how old the festival is because it started the year she was born. Today Betty resides in the same community as I do. And every Tuesday I get to musically return to my roots by playing at her Dulcimer Jam. Roots are a wonderful thing.

(American Roots Photography) Appalachia Betty Smith Cecil Sharp mountain music roots traditional Sun, 04 Aug 2019 21:14:14 GMT
To the Moon and Beyond Skylight Meadow Milky WaySkylight Meadow Milky WayMilky Way - Highlands County, VA

As I stated in my previous post, astrophotography has been added to my photographic pursuits largely influenced by my next door neighbor, Rock, in North Carolina. I thus have rationalized including night sky images into my American Roots theme. For much of America's history the frontier was viewed as unlimited and the vast western sky was a metaphor for the promise America held. As a child of the mid-20th century, my identity is very much rooted in the seemingly boundless possibilities that America held. And my youth and youthful science aspirations were completely intertwined with the space program. As we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission, I realized that for my granddaughters the moon landing was as distant in time as events of the late 19th century are for me. In this image taken last year at Rock's home in Highlands County, Va, the Milky Way is revealed in a way that only a truly dark sky yields. Growing up in rural Mississippi, the Milky Way was easily seen at night. Unfortunately today due to light pollution truly dark sky areas are few. The bright object above the tall tree is Mars some 36 million miles from Earth last year. That was the closest (and thus the brightest) it has been since 2003, two years before my granddaughters were born. I will be lucky to still be living the next time it is this close, 15-17 years from now. As we all know these time scales and distances are minuscule when compared to the Milky Way and the stars and galaxies beyond in deep space. Within those stars is the beginning of all the elements and the ultimate "roots" of us all. Somewhere in time and place the stardust was formed that is now within us. I am not sure what inspirational events of their youth my granddaughters will reminisce about 50 years hence. Despite all the technical achievements of the last several years,
I worry that my generation has failed to aspire to the greatness that the space program represented. But inspiration does exist in the dark sky at night if we only shut-up for awhile, turn off the lights, and gaze up at the sky.

(American Roots Photography) mars milky night sky virginia way Sun, 28 Jul 2019 21:14:48 GMT
Return From a Long Hiatus Seven Sisters and. Lake TomahawkSeven Sisters and. Lake TomahawkSunrise on the Seven Sisters and Lake Tomahawk After a 2 year hiatus, I have returned to posting. Since my last post, my wife and I have relocated to North Carolina and I have gone through a re-examination of my photographic work. The Vermont Project was very satisfying but after completing it I was not sure what was next. Luckily I have become involved with a local art league and in the process my enthusiasm has been rekindled...selling some prints helps also. I will remain focused on what I call an "American Roots" art perspective drawing inspiration from Hudson River School landscapes and late 19th/early 20th century photography. But I have also added astrophotography into the mix. The image above is Lake Tomahawk located in my new hometown of Black Mountain, NC. Just as the sun rises, the tops of mountains turn a lovely red-orange, especially in the winter. This particular group are known locally as the seven sisters. Lake Tomahawk was created by the CCC about 1935, another example of treasures left us by that wonderful depression era program.

(American Roots Photography) 2019 Black Mountain Lake Tomahawk North Carolina sunrise Sat, 06 Jul 2019 19:51:29 GMT
Hamilton House, S. Berwick, ME - digital sketch IMG_1014Hamilton HouseThe Jonathan Hamilton House, South Berwick, Maine

After the Vermont History Project, I decided to take some time and determine what is next. As an aspect of the Vermont project, I explored introducing painterly effects into my images. I was pleased with what I achieved but developed an acute awareness of how little I understood painting. So I am undertaking an exploration of recreating some of my images as digital sketches and paintings. I have very limited "artistic" skills but luckily technology provides a nice bridge for those like me - for those old enough think of a very elaborate "paint by numbers" process, without the numbers. I am using a wonderful app, Procreate, and my original images as a guide. 

This sketch comes from an image I took of a summer sunrise at the Hamilton House in South Berwick, Maine. The home overlooks the Salmon Falls River from which Jonathan Hamilton conducted a lucrative shipping business. Now a National Historic Landmark, a visit to the home is both a pleasant experience but also an opportunity to learn about Colonial Revival style. In the sketch I am attempting to explore subtle light and shade variations due to a morning sideline scene. 

(American Roots Photography) Hamilton House", "South Berwick", Maine digital. painting Thu, 15 Jun 2017 21:43:56 GMT
Back to Get More Rock Fall Foliage 0670-EditFall Foliage 0670-EditLake Rescue Sunrise Fall 2015

In Chapter 9, High Hopes and Earnest Toil, of Morrissey's book "Vermont: A History" he states that "Much of Vermont's history has been a quest to cultivate home-grown prosperity, and the result has often been disappointing....many of the hopes never propagated among the rocks". Elsewhere Morrissey writes about Vermont before European settlement "these woody hills and valleys were a land in between". The hills and river valleys easily take your breath away year around and probably never so dramatically as in the fall. But with the beautiful landscape comes the reality that the soil is rocky, the rivers not navigable, the winters long, and the mountainous terrain makes rail and highway construction expensive. As inventive and creative as Vermonters can be, their efforts ultimately scale more cost effectively elsewhere. From gun manufacture, to sheep farming, to machine tools and many more - inevitably the challenges of Vermont's landscape and weather put its hard working individuals at a disadvantage .

Besides the forested mountainous terrain, the defining characteristic of the Vermont landscape is rock. Naturally the settlers utilized the abundant rock to build walls and foundations. In the image to the right is the Town Pound built from rick in 1790 for stray animals in Weathersfield, VT. And just as anywhere in New England, any straight line walk will within a short distance bring one to a rock wall no matter how isolated you think you are. In fact my favorite Vermont aphorism involves the inevitability of rock. A flatlander (a person not from Vermont) noticed a farmer removing rock from his field and inquired as to what the farmer was doing. "Picking rock" said the farmer. "Where did the rock come from?" asked the flatlander to which the farmer replied, "Glacier brought it." The flatlander then inquired as to where the glacier went. Not looking up the farmer stated matter-of-factly, "Back to get more rock." 

This concludes my Vermont photographic essay. So much more could be written and I have left a hundred years from 1900 onward left untouched. But I do hope that I have captured through image and text somewhat the nature of Vermont and Vermonters. And for all of those unanswered questions you might have I leave you with the classic Vermont answer - "Hard telling...Not Knowing". I also leave you with this image that I believe captures much of the nature of Vermont. The image was taken on a country road near Bridgewater Vermont on a January day.

Jan Images 0340-Edit-2Jan Images 0340-Edit-2Bridgewater - N. Bridgewater and Gold Coast Rds


(American Roots Photography) Tue, 13 Jun 2017 20:47:37 GMT
The Nooning

The photo above was inspired by Winslow Homer's "The Nooning" (1872). With the passing of the trauma of the Civil War, in the 1870's rural life was idealized for it's innocence and Homer's paintings reflected that sensibility. For this image my nephew agreed to pose for me in the cold wet grass and the setting is Calvin Coolidge's childhood home at Plymouth Notch, VT.

Despite the suggestion of an idyllic setting, rural life has never been one of hours passed in pastoral leisure. And most assuredly young Calvin did not spend his summers lounging in the yard. Reality required constant, tiring manual labor with the chores varying by season and this reality was magnified by the terrain and weather of Vermont. Vermont grew fairly rapidly in the first half of the 19th century to just over 300,000 citizens at the start of the Civil War. However, population growth after the Civil War was limited, largely due to Vermonters taking their hard work and considerable skills elsewhere in the country. As Morrison writes in Vermont - A History (p.123), "Fifty-four percent of all Vermonters were living outside Vermont by 1880; no other state in the nation was losing such a large portion of its native-born. Vermont's greatest export has been its natives, especially its young people.".

Two U.S. presidents were born in Vermont, Chester A. Arthur and Calvin Coolidge, but both pursued their political careers in other states. Wells of Wells, Fargo grew up in Thetford, VT. Frederick Billings of Woodstock built the Northern Pacific Railroad. Inventors from Vermont such as Elisha Otis (safety elevator) and John Deere (steel plow) impacted the country greatly and their eponymous companies persist yet today. Joseph Smith from Sharon, VT founded a major religious faith - The Church of The Latter Day Saints.

The above are just a few examples and many states can also lay claim to native sons and daughters whom made their mark elsewhere. But it can also be argued that Vermont's native-born have made an outsized contribution to the nation given the state's small population. One can also argue that the determined flinty nature of these individuals was instilled in them in the rocky Green Mountains and the harsh weather that had to be endured. Creative responses were demanded and just maybe those responses were dreamed up while lying in the grass at noon before chores were to be enjoined again.

These images are part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) Coolidge History Homer The Nooning Vermont Winslow life rural Thu, 29 Dec 2016 22:16:40 GMT
Let the Bridges Fall Down! BRAM BR 6th Grade 0088-EditBRAM BR 6th Grade 0088-EditMs. Baitz's BR 6th Grade Class at the Black River Academy Museum

Pictured above is a recreation of a circa 1890's classroom located in The Black River Academy Museum in Ludlow, VT. The re-enactors consist of the 6th grade class from Black River school and their teacher Ms. Heidi Baitz. The period costumes were supplied by the museum and my sincere thanks go to the Ms. Georgia Brehm (museum director), Ms. Baitz, and the 6th grade class for affording the opportunity to make this image. Anyone visiting the Ludlow, VT area in the summer should visit the museum, it is a gem.

At the beginning of the 19th century, America had the highest literacy rate in the world largely due to the pioneering efforts of the New England states, BRA 0083-HDR-EditBRA 0083-HDR-EditBlack River Academy in Ludlow including Vermont. As outlined in the last blog post, Vermont specified from the start that towns would provide schools in each town to educate the youth and the money should come from the town residents. A one room building would be built and a teacher hired to school children in basic reading, writing, and math. The school terms were usually short (3 months) as the children were also needed for labor in a society that was still predominately agrarian.

But the demand for secondary education soon followed giving rise to Latin Grammar Schools (classical education) and Academies that taught both classical studies as well as more advanced language, math, and science subjects. The first Vermont academy was Clio Hall, incorporated in Bennington in 1780. By 1870, an estimated 119 academies existed in Vermont with an annual enrollment of 6000 students, including the Black River Academy (pictured right) established in 1835. Interestingly, the inaugural class was almost half women which is significant in part because parents paid the fees for attendance. The building shown was built in 1889 as the original had burned. Black River Academy is also where Calvin Coolidge received his secondary education. Eventually the academy became the public high school until it was replaced by a new building in 1939. Today it houses the Black River Academy Museum.

A passionate endorsement of Vermont education was delivered several years ago by Patrick Thompson, a village grocer in Arlington, Vermont (Morrisey, p.175). At the annual town meeting a debate ensued as to whether the town's limited funds should be spent on repairing bridges or building a needed grade school. The bridge repairs were winning when Patrick arose and said, "If we have to chose, let the bridges fall down! What kind of a town would we rather have, fifty years from now - a place where nit-wit folks go back and forth over good bridges? Or a town which has always given its children a fair chance, and prepares them to hold their own in modern life?" The school was built.


These images are part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) Black River Academy Ludlow Vermont history Sat, 10 Dec 2016 21:15:40 GMT
Eureka! Eureake School Marm 0084-EditEureake School Marm 0084-EditErika School House with School Marm

Pictured above is the Eureka schoolhouse, the oldest surviving schoolhouse and one of a few 18th century public buildings remaining in Vermont. Completed in 1790 in the Eureka district of Springfield, the name came from the first teacher. David Searle, a young Yale graduate, headed to the Vermont frontier from Fort No.4 following the Crown Point road. When he discovered the new schoolhouse in need of a teacher, Vermont lore has him exclaiming "Eureka" which is Greek for "I found it". The school "marm" in the picture is my good friend Sandy Peplau in period clothing that she had made for the celebration of the 225 year celebration of our church in Ludlow, VT.

The 1777 Republic of Vermont constitution  specified "A school or schools shall be established in each town, by the legislature, for the convenient instruction of youth, with such salaries to the masters, paid by each town; making proper use of school lands in each town, thereby to enable them to instruct youth at low prices." In 1782 the General Assembly wrote the first school act which specified more clearly the authority and mechanisms by which each town would provide schools. Largely due to religious beliefs and the emphasis on biblical knowledge, the New England colonies had a stronger educational tradition than other colonial regions.

In the late 18th century education in New England was extended to girls but it was very basic. Some parents, such as Emma Willard's father, recognized and encouraged the love of learning in their daughters. Emma Willard enrolled in school in 1802 at 15 years of age and 2 years later she was a teacher in the school and by 1806 she was head of the school! In 1807 she became the principal of the Middlebury Female Seminary in Middlebury, VT. However, she became frustrated with the limited curriculum and in 1814 opened a boarding school in her home teaching science and classical studies to women. By 1821 she had secured funding and support for Troy Female Seminary in Troy, NY. The seminary became the "the first school in the country to provide girls the same educational opportunities given to boys". Soon seminaries and academies, such as the Black River Academy in Ludlow, VT, would proliferate across Vermont offering both men and women secondary educational opportunities.

These images are part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) Emma Vermont Willard education girls schools Sun, 04 Dec 2016 22:34:45 GMT
...or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow

I took and include this photograph of  the mural "Prisoners Taken at Bennington Battle"  by Leroy Williams (Bennington Museum) for a couple of reasons. First the many different American, British, and Hessian coat colors are exhibited . Mounted on horse in a blue coat is General John Stark and the first mounted individual to his right is Colonel Seth Warner in his green coat. Next to Warner is Colonel Samuel Herrick (also in green), another important Vermont militia leader. Secondly, the painting was done by Leroy Williams of Chester, VT who was hired to do it by Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration. Williams was hired along with many other artists around the country during the depression to complete paintings, drawings, and murals for public appreciation and education.

After the engagement at Hubbardton, the British general John Burgoyne was encamped at Fort Edward some 50 miles north of his target - Albany. Burgoyne had leisurely pursued his objective and was in need of supplies. He sent Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum with 700 men to raid Bennington and the force was joined by another 300 loyalists and Indians. What the British did not know was that General John Stark (of French and Indian War fame) was camped in Bennington with 1500 men and Seth Warner was just 30 miles to the north with another 350 men. Eventually Herrick's Rangers would join the effort to confront the British bringing the entire force to around 2000 New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts patriots.

On August 16, 1777 Baum was decisively routed by Stark's and Warner's forces at the Battle of Bennington, although the battle actually occurred 10 miles away in Walloomsac, NY. At the beginning of the battle Stark famously rallied his troops by saying,  "There are your enemies, the Red Coats and the Tories. They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow."

Fort4 515-EditBaking Bread in Beehive Oven_DSC5847 Molly Stark is well remembered for her nursing to her husband's troops and the use of her home as a hospital during the war. Numerous buildings, schools, etc. are named for her in both Vermont and New Hampshire as well as the Molly Stark State Park in Wilmington, VT. Another well remembered woman is Mary Tilden Dewey, daughter in-law to Bennington's first minister. Prior to the Battle of Bennington, numerous troops were bivouacked in her home and the night before the battle she and her household stayed up all night baking 80 loaves of bread. Her husband, Eldad, delivered the loaves to the battlefield. All of the bread was cooked in a beehive oven,  a cooking mainstay of colonial America. The image to the right is of a oven in use at Fort No.4 outdoor museum.

The Bennington Battle victory was particularly important to the ultimate defeat of Burgoyne and the British at Saratoga as Burgoyne lost almost 1/6 of his army at Bennington. With Burgoyne's Saratoga defeat the the British army was reduced by about 7000 troops and the attempt to split New England from the colonies had failed. In 1778, the British turned the focus to the Southern colonies and Vermont renewed its focus on operating as an independent Republic. 

These images are part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) Bennington Leroy Williams Revolutionary War Stark Warner battle museum Sat, 26 Nov 2016 14:51:18 GMT
Free and Independent Precision Valley 0186-HDR-EditPrecision Valley 0186-HDR-EditRobbins and Lawrence Armory in Windsor, VT Pictured above is the former tavern of Elijah West in Windsor, VT where the Constitution of the Vermont Republic was drafted and adopted. Today it is the "Old Constitution House" museum found on the north end of main street in Windsor.

Just as the colonies in mid-1776 declared independence from England, the occupants of the Hampshire Grants decided it was time to declare independence from New York and New Hampshire. A meeting of Hampshire Grant freemen met in Dorset (north of Bennington) in the summer of 1776 to pursue free and independent status for the Grants. On January 15, 1777 an independent republic, New Connecticut, was declared in Westminster, a town on the Connecticut River. Dr.Thomas Young, a supporter from Philadelphia and a friend of Thomas Paine, sent a copy of the Pennsylvania constitution and a suggestion the new Republic be called Vermont. On June 2, 1977 the Westminster Convention adopted the name Vermont. One month later the delegates met in Windsor at the tavern of Elijah West. On July 4 they drafted the constitution of Vermont and adopted it on July 8, one day after the Battle of Hubbardton on the opposite side of the new Vermont Republic. The Vermont constitution immediately became the most far-reaching constitution in the Americas guaranteeing many of the freedoms later found in the U.S. Bill of Rights. And notably it was the first to abolish slavery, extend universal male suffrage, and enshrine public education as a requirement for each town to provide. 

Vermont remained an Independent Republic for 14 years until it was admitted into the United States in 1791 as the 14th state and the first state that was not one of the original 13 colonies.

These images are part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) Republic Revolutionary War Vermont constitution independence Sat, 19 Nov 2016 20:54:21 GMT
Hubbardton - When a Loss is a Win Hubbardton 0029-EditSeth Warner Militiamen on Patrol - Monumen Hill, HubbardtonRe-enactment of the Hubbardton Battle

In the above image, 2 soldiers from Seth Warner's regiment stand guard on Monument Hill where the Hubbardton battle took place. Castleton, VT is 8 miles in the distance over mountainous terrain.

Early in the Revolutionary War, the British devised a strategy to break off New England from the rest of the colonies. As part of this strategy the British commander John Burgoyne moved a large army south from Quebec. On July 5, 1777 the Americans under General St. Clair left Fort Ticonderoga in the middle of the night when confronted with these overwhelming forces and their cannon. St. Clair retreated 30 miles south along a mountainous military road to Castleton (today in VT) with British soldiers under the command of General Fraser in close pursuit. St. Clair had left Seth Warner in command of a rear guard at Hubbardton, 8 miles north of Castleton. Present with Warner was also the 2nd New Hampshire Regiment under the command of Colonel Nathan Hale.

On July 7 Fraser engaged the Americans at Hubbardton and a short but intense battle ensued with Americans occupying high ground on Monument Hill. The Americans were on the verge of turning Fraser's left flank when Hessian troops under General Reidesel arrived and secured the British line. The Americans were then forced to retreat but had inflicted enough damage that Fraser ceased his pursuit of St. Clair's army. Fraser rejoined with Burgoyne who ultimately would be defeated at Saratoga, but first the Battle of Bennington transpired. Although a relatively small engagement, the Battle of Hubbardton proved to be very important in defeating the attempt by the British to split New England from the rest of the colonies. It was also the only Revolutionary War battle to take place in present day Vermont.

But first why not finish creating a new republic?

These images are part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) Battle Hubbardton Revolutionary Seth Vermont Warner Wed, 09 Nov 2016 23:56:51 GMT
Coats of Many Colors Rev War Fort 4 0024 CompositeGreen Mountain and Kings RangersColonial Militias Found Themselves on Different Sides of the Revolutionary War

Real history is often complex and not given to simple stories. The Revolutionary War was in many ways a civil war, especially on the frontier. Above left is a Captain in the patriot Green Mountain Continental Rangers and on the right is a Sargent in the loyalist King's Rangers. Both groups were formed from colonial militias. Although much of their uniform is very similar, a variety of colors and styles were deployed by the various troops' uniforms who took part in the Revolutionary War. This image is somewhat in the style used by Charles M. Lefferts who researched and made water colors of Revolutionary War uniforms over a 30 year period. The link on his name connects to an index (with hyperlinks) of 70 plus of Lefferts paintings.

Between the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War, New Hampshire and New York continued to dispute their claims on what became to be called the New Hampshire grants, especially in today's southwest Vermont around Bennington. New York tried to assert their control forcibly which led to the organization of the Green Mountain Boys, a militia led by Ethan Allen and his second in command, Seth Warner. After several violent confrontations, New York put bounties on the capture of Allen, Warner, and others. But before resolution was reached, the Revolutionary War broke out and in May of 1775 the Allen led Green Mountain Boys were crucial in capturing Fort Ticonderoga from the British,. The canon captured at Ticonderoga and Crown Point were transported to Boston and were critical in forcing the British to abandon Boston's occupation early in the war.

Allen and Warner then traveled to Philadelphia petitioning the Continental Congress for the Green Mountain Boys to be organized into a Continental Army regiment. Congress directed New York to organize and outfit the regiment. New York reluctantly did so despite the arrest warrants they had issued against Allen and Warner. Surprisingly, the Green Mountain Boys elected Seth Warner and not Allen as their Lieutenant Colonel and leader. Thus Warner became the commander at the Battle of Hubbardton, the only Revolutionary War battle on Vermont soil. During this same time period, Robert Rogers offered his service to George Washington but Washington distrusted him and arrested him as a spy. Escaping Washington's custody, Rogers then organized for the British the Queen's Rangers, although many of the original Roger's Rangers joined with the patriots. Real history is often complex.

These images are part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) Allen Civil Revolutionary Vermont War Warner Thu, 27 Oct 2016 12:14:25 GMT
Roberts Rules F&I Fort 4 0253-Edit-2F&I Fort 4 0253-Edit-2French & Indian War @ Old Fort 4

F&I Fort 4 0153-EditF&I Fort 4 0153-EditFrench & Indian War @ Old Fort 4 The top image is of the 27th Inniskilling Regiment of Foot. This Irish regiment is rather famous in the British Army having originally been formed in 1689. The scouting group in the image to the right are part of Rogers' Rangers, a group formed by Robert Rogers of New Hampshire. A group of Rangers can be seen to the right flank of the Inniskilling line.

In the early 1750's, the American colonies had  reached a population of 1 million and out numbered New France by roughly 30 to 1. But France was pushing its New World trade into the Ohio Valley and was successfully creating strong Indian alliances. This presented a northwestern barrier to settlement expansion by the American colonists and gave rise to the French and Indian War (1756-1763). 

During the French and Indian War, England sent elite troops such as the 27th Inniskilling Regiment of Foot who were part of the successful capture of forts at Ticonderoga and Crown Point. But to be successful in the harsh and rugged environment of northern New England also required soldiers with skills adapted to the densely forested mountains. The most successful of these were Rogers' Rangers. The raids and scouting expeditions proved to be invaluable to the British effort. As guidance to his troops Rogers developed his "28 Rules of Ranging" a derivative version of which can still be found in the U.S. Army's Ranger Handbook.

Although the French had early success in the war, England dedicated decidedly more money and manpower into their effort resulting in France ceding Canada and all of its claim to land east of the Mississippi River in 1763. With France out of the picture, now only New York and New Hampshire were left to argue over the largely unsettled land which would become Vermont.


These images are part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) Crown History Inniskilling Point Rangers Rogers Ticonderoga Vermont Fri, 21 Oct 2016 20:44:35 GMT
Where is the Wall to Mend? Bennington 0343-Edit-2Bennington 0343-Edit-2Bennington Museum, First Church, Walllomasac Tavern

The Old First Church of Bennington (above) was built in 1805 but the congregation was formed in 1761 by Capt. Samuel Robison and six families. Although Bennington was first laid out in 1749, as detailed below, the arrival of this band of Congregational Separatists in 1761 constituted the founding of Bennington and the first example of separation of church and state in Vermont. The construction of this beautiful building was paid entirely by the members with no public money. And as an aside, Robert Frost is buried in the graveyard officially proclaimed by the Vermont legislature as "Vermont's Sacred Acre" and the church was designated as "Vermont's Colonial Shrine". The church is open to touring by the public and all are invited to worship there.

Putting aside France's claims, all or part of the area comprising today's Vermont was claimed at times by the colonies of Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire. The conflicting claims arose from inconsistent decrees from successive English Kings and from the avarice of colonial governors. New Hampshire's western border had never been set but New York's eastern boundary was decreed as the western bank of the Connecticut river in 1664. In 1700, King William III set the western boundary between Connecticut and New York to be a line 20 miles east of and paralleling the Hudson River. In 1740, King George II set Massachusetts' northern border as it is today and eventually New York,following the Connecticut agreement, ceded its border with Massachusetts to be a 20 mile line east of the Hudson River. 

In 1741, Bennington Wentworth became the New Hampshire colonial governor. Being both bold and ambitious, Wentworth decided that he would make town grants in the land west of the Connecticut river and to within 20 miles of the Hudson River. Of course, parcels of this land went to both himself and those close to him. His very first grant was Bennington in 1749, utilizing the "20 mile east of the Hudson River" precedent. In making this grant he skipped over a large section of unsettled land to layout a town within just 40 miles of Albany -  a direct challenge to New York's land claims. New York was slow to respond and by 1764, Bennington had made 135 grants of what became to be known as the Hampshire Grants. In 1764, New York did get a decree from King George III reaffirming the border between New York and New Hampshire as the western bank of the Connecticut River. But New York also got greedy. The settlers in the Hampshire Grants had paid for their lands and now New York demanded payment again. Thus the Green Mountain Boys, a local militia led by Ethan Allen, rose up in opposition to New York's demands for payment and control. The Green Mountain Boys frequently met at the Catamount Tavern near the Old First Church. And the land dispute between New York and New Hampshire continued into the Revolutionary War when it was further complicated by a new state calling itself Vermont.

These images are part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) Allen Bennington Ethan Hampshire New York Vermont history Sun, 16 Oct 2016 11:45:49 GMT
The Road Not Taken (now)

Crown Pt Rd 0014Crown Pt Rd 0014Crown Point Rd near Stoughton Pond, North Springfield, VT Between 1740 and 1760 much of what is presently the State of Vermont was occupied primarily by Indians due to both the access to the rugged landscape and competing claims of the British and French to the land. The French primarily held sway over the Lake Champlain area and the British had established settlements in the Connecticut and Hudson River Valleys. At the southern end of Lake Champlain a strategic narrows exists between Crown Point on the New York side and Chimney Point on the Vermont side. To the south of Crown Point, the French had established a fort at Ticonderoga which General Amherst captured in July, 1759 towards the end of the French and Indian War. To further control the southern end of Lake Champlain, Amherst then constructed Fort Crown Point and ordered a road built between Crown Point and Fort No.4, the northern most British outpost on the Connecticut River. Much of the road was constructed in 1759/60 under the command of John Stark, who had been ransomed by Phineas Stevens of Fort No. 4 fame. The above image is a portion of the road largely in its original state near Stoughton Pond in North Springfield, VT. The road did serve a military purpose in both the French and Indian War as well as the Revolutionary War. But its real significance is that it provided settlers access to south central Vermont and numerous communities sprang up along its length. Over time newer, better roads were built and sections were abandoned. However, in some cases sections can still be found in use as seen in the image below of a 19th century home near Shrewsbury, VT. Additional history on the road can be found at the Crown Point Road Association.


Shrewsbury 0037-HDR-EditShrewsbury 0037-HDR-EditShrewsbury near Crown Point Road

These images are part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) Amherst Crown Point Stark Vermont history Sat, 08 Oct 2016 15:49:10 GMT
Fort at No. 4 - A Frontier Settlement F&I Fort 4 0431PXHDR-EditF&I Fort 4 0431PXHDR-EditLeah Winter Scene

The information presented here is largely taken from printed and online material produced by The Fort at No. 4 organization. For a more in-depth look please visit their website or visit the fort on one of the numerous living history weekend events.

The above image was taken during a reenactment weekend at the reconstructed Fort at No.4. In 1735 Massachusetts chartered plantations on the Upper Connecticut River Valley for farming and settlement and designated some of the plantations simply by number. No. 4 was the northern most plantation and was initially settled by Stephen Farnsworth and his brothers Samuel and David. By 1743 ten families were located at No. 4 and although the frontier was relatively peaceful the settlers decided to build a fortified village in which settlers would have security when Indian and/or French raids occurred. Phineas Stevens was chosen as Captain of the garrison. It should be mentioned that the French and English approached their colonies very differently with the French emphasizing trade for furs with the Indians and the British focusing on settlement and production of agricultural goods to be taken back to England. Consequently, in 1740 New France had a population of less than 50,000 while the American Colonies were approaching a million people. The persistent pressure to extend settled area was simply much higher from the British.

In 1744 France and Spain entered into war with England and eventually the war extended to the colonies. The location of the Fort at No. 4 put it at the edge of territory claimed by France and England and more importantly at that time it was encroaching on Abenaki land. But more British settlers kept coming. In 1746, Indian raids ensued on the outlying mills and farms with several men killed and others taken as captives to the French in Canada. All the settlers retreated to the Fort to join with those living there. But the Indians had killed their livestock and the crops could not be harvested for fear of attack. Late in 1746, No.4 was abandoned.

F&I Fort 4 0543-EditF&I Fort 4 0543-EditAbenaki Day at Fort 4 with Traders In March of 1747, Captain Phineas Stevens returned to secure the fort with a 30 man militia group. On April 7 a large group of French and Indians attacked the fort and laid siege for 3 days, but the militia held fast with the French and Indian attackers withdrawing. In so doing Captain Stevens and his men not only secured the Fort at No. 4 but also protected settlements to the south. And Captain Stevens' secured a reputation throughout New England as a leader held in high regard. Stevens continued to reside in the fort establishing himself as a trader to both the settlers and the Indians. He also was sent on several occasions to redeem captives in Canada including Captain John Stark who would later gain fame in the Battle of Bennington during the Revolutionary War. During the French and Indian War, Captain Stevens led a militia group that was part of the successful taking of Fort Beausejou in Nova Scotia. Unfortunately he became ill while there (probably dysentery) and died in 1756. The above right image is of a frontier trader re-enactor in Steven's trading post at Fort No. 4. 

The next post will pick up the story of Fort No. 4 and its importance to the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, and the settlement of interior Vermont.

These images are part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) 4 Charlestown Fort History Massachusetts Phineas Stevens Vermont plantations Sun, 02 Oct 2016 21:01:51 GMT
At The Frontier's Edge At the beginning of the 18th century, Deerfield Massachusetts was the New England northwestern frontier of the British colonies. The history presented in the next few blogs will have a British centric view of settlement of what is now Vermont even though the French under Samuel de Champlain had penetrated the Champlain Valley as early as 1609. The French had claimed much of what is Vermont as part of New France and in 1666 established the first European Settlement in Vermont as Fort Saint Anne on Isle La Motte. But the settlement was abandoned in 1671. In 1690, the Dutch also established a stockade and trading post at Chimney Point near present day Addison. But again this settlement was abandoned although Chimney Point remained a strategic defensive location.

Three colonies (Massachussets, New Hampshire, and New York) would ultimately place their claims on what eventually became Vermont. By the 1720's adventuresome settlers from Connecticut and Massachussets had moved into what is now southern Vermont. In 1724 Fort Dummer was established to protect the settlements near present day Brattleboro from attacks by the French and the Abenaki under the leadership of Chief Gray Lock.

This image was taken at the location of the civilian Fort No. 4 which was established in 1740 and by then the northern most settlement extension of the British colonies. More will be written about Fort No. 4 in the next post. Although the image is too pastoral to be truly representative of frontier conditions along the Connecticut River (in the background), I like it because it alludes to the remoteness and isolation that frontier settlers experienced. I often wonder at the calculus that the settlers considered in making the decision to move into the frontier. In the upper Connecticut River Valley, the threats to safety extended beyond French and/or Indian raids. Winter weather was harsher than it is today and, given the agrarian economy, the rocky hillside soil made agriculture extremely difficult. Vermont's charm lies in it's weather and wooded mountains, but to this day those same attributes still make it a tough place to make a living. But the rugged settlers still came. And the impact that those individuals and their ancestors made far exceeds what might be expected from the sparsely populated "brave little State of Vermont" as Calvin Coolidge dubbed it in a 1928 speech.

This image is part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) Charlestown Fort NH No.4 Vermont frontier history settlers Mon, 26 Sep 2016 21:52:11 GMT
The People of the Dawn Land F&I Fort 4 0128-EditMahican Warrior and His European WifeTrade Day at Fort No. 4 Meet River Bear and his wife. Before you read further take a moment to assess your reaction to this image. This couple are married in real life, both have considerable Native American ancestry, and attend events as a Mahican warrior and his European wife. I would be remiss to do a history of Vermont and not recognize the first inhabitants. Although the Mahicans were in what is now southern Vermont, The dominant group were the Abenaki which were found in today's Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The largest numbers today are found in Canada where the Abenaki migrated to as the English colonists encroached upon their territory. The Abenaki were part of the Wabanaki, a large tribal confederacy belonging to the Algonquian language group. Wabanaki is an anglicized version of a word meaning "people of the dawn" or people of the east.

To say the least, 17th and 18th century colonial America was an exceedingly complex struggle among numerous nation groups. Each group had interests and enemies and often the old dictum of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" rang true. The French in Canada and the British in the New England colonies not only competed for control of the same territory but often engaged in proxy wars reflecting their old world conflicts. For a variety of reasons the Algonquian tribal groups tended to align with the French. Various Algonquian tribes often warred with tribes from the Iroquois Confederacy and in conflicts with the French, the English often were able to rally the Iroquois to their side. 

But history is not just complex at the macro level, it is also often fascinating and more complex at the individual level. The numerous raids and battles between these actors inevitably led to prisoners. And the Native Americans were often deployed to intentionally take captives to be used in exchanges between the French and the English of important prisoners. The valuable captives would be relinquished but the fate of other captives was up to the Native Americans with especially young women frequently being spared as potential slaves and wives. Traders also often took Native American wives, with the end result being many Americans who can today claim both European and Native American ancestry.

Several captive stories exist, often told with a decided European bias and depicting the captors as uncivilized savages. Often loved ones would try to redeem their captive relatives and some had success. But sometimes the captive would refuse to be ransomed with one of the more famous being Eunice Williams, aka Marguerite Kanenstenhawi Arosen. Her fascinating story is told in the book "The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America". The daughter of the Congregational minster of Deerfield she was taken with her family and a total of 100 persons in the famous 1704 Deerfield raid. She was adopted by a Mohawk (an Iroquois tribe) and eventually married a Mohawk man (and a Catholic convert) with whom she had 3 children. Her ransomed father and then her brother spent several decades trying to "redeem" her but she refused to return. But she did on several occasions visit her New England family. So, as I stated above, at the individual level the relationships in Colonial America were often more complex and different that what our broad brush history would have us believe.

(American Roots Photography) Abenaki History Mahican Vermont captives unredeemed Sun, 18 Sep 2016 21:13:45 GMT
A New Generation - Leadership and Turret Lathes Precision Valley 0047-Edit-2Pencil Sketch 1861 Lamson, Goodnow, & Co. Turret LatherOne of the oldest turret lathes in the world

Note: It is recommended to read the prior blog(s) to fully appreciate this posting.

The above simulated pencil sketch is a top view of an 1861 Turret Lathe in the American Precision Museum located in the original Robbins and Lawrence building in Windsor, VT. Frederick W. Howe, Richard S. Lawrence, and Henry D. Stone of Robbins and Lawrence are credited with doing much of the important advancement and development of the turret lathe. So as discussed in the prior blog when the successor company of Jones and Lamson was purchased and moved to Springfield, VT this technology and product were acquired. But in 1888 when the move was made the turret lathe and other products of Jones and Lamson did not represent a sustainable business, even with the tax breaks provided by the Town of Springfield.

The Windsor Jones and Lamson superintendent left soon after the move to Springfield and so the investors began a search for talent to run the operation and manage the business. Adna Brown searched and found James Hartness in Torrington, CT and enticed him to come to Springfield to run Jones and Lamson. At 27 years old, Hartness was already a very experienced machinist and a talented inventor.

 Because his prior employer had taken his patents and then fired him, Hartness insisted on a 3 year contract and a $100 (roughly $2500 today) royalty for each machine of his design sold. At the time turret lathes sold for $1100. He began work at J&L January,1889 and in August 1891 was issued a patent for what is now known as the flat turret lathe. In this design the turret can pass under the piece being cut and thus much longer parts can be accommodated and held more rigidly. The Hartness Flat Turret Lathe was an immediate commercial success.

W.D. Woolson in 1891 was now 25 years old and a major stockholder in the company as well as the treasurer. Hartness proposed that the J&L operation make only one product - his flat turret lathe and W.D. backed him in this bold move. Together the two young men formed a extremely successful 44 year partnership that transformed Springfield. By 1895 over 400 Hartness Flat Turret Lathes had been sold and in addition to his $100/lathe royalty, Hartness was receiving a $5000/year salary and soon to become president of J&L.

J&L attracted exceptional talent and when one of their employees had a great idea Woolson and Hartness helped set them up in businesses of their own. Among these businesses were: Fellows Gear Shaper Company (Edward Fellows, 1897); Bryant Chucking Grinder Company (William Bryant, 1910); and Lovejoy Tool Company (Fred Lovejoy, 1917). Springfield came to be known as the Precision Valley and as late as the 1970's Springfield residents had the highest per capita income in Vermont.

Besides his mechanical brilliance, Hartness had numerous other interests. He was the first licensed pilot in Vermont and built its first airport, Hartness State Airport in North Springfield. He was an amateur astronomer and helped organized the Springfield Telescope Makers later renamed the Stellafane Society which annually holds a large amateur telescope convention. In the process Hartness teamed with Russell Porter (artist, engineer, amateur astronomer, and artic explorer) to develop the Optical Comparator which is still made at J&L Metrology in Springfield, VT. Hartness served as governor of the state and held numerous professional honors. But his legacy and that of Precision Valley was also firmly rooted in the gunmakers that first delivered precision made guns in 1846 from the Robbins and Lawrence facility in Windsor, VT.

Note: The information for this post is taken almost completely from Frederick W. Richardson's book - "Nineteenth Century Springfield:From an Agricultural to Industrial Community".

This image is part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) Flat Hartness History Jones Lamson Lathe Lawrence Precision Robbins Springfield Turret Valley Vermont Fri, 09 Sep 2016 20:51:29 GMT
Moving Down River Precision Valley 0243-EditParks and Woolson Mill - Oldest Manufcaturer in Springfield, VtPark and WoolsonMachine Factory on Park Street

This image is of the now shuttered Parks and Woolson operation, a maker of clothing manufacturing equipment. The 3 story gabled roof building in the center was built in 1829 and the original equipment made at this facility was for the shearing of wool and the manufacture of woolen clothing, this being during the Vermont "Sheep Bubble". The building is located in Springfield, VT on the western side of the Black River upper falls. In 1850, Adna Brown came to Parks and Woolson as general superintendent and rose to become part owner and president. By the 1880's Adna, along with other prominent citizens, realized that the overall economy of Springfield was stagnant and needed growth.

Also by the 1880's the Windsor, VT machine tool facility had changed business focus and ownership several times and was now the Jones and Lamson company. The company was also struggling and looked to local capitalists for new investment but none was forthcoming. Meanwhile 17 miles to the south, Adna Brown led a group of investors late in 1887 to purchase control of Jones and Lamson's stock. However, the business was still risky and the investors wanted to mitigate somewhat the risk before relocating Jones and Lamson to Springfield. They requested from the town of Springfield a 10 year tax exemption and in December 1887 at a special town meeting the tax exemption was granted by a vote of 573-1.

In February 1888, Adna Brown was elected president of the stockholding group and 22 year old William D.("W.D.") Woolson was elected assistant treasurer. W.D. was the son of Amasa Woolson, an early partner in Parks and Woolson, and at the time of his election a clerk at the bank. By the summer of 1888 a two story brick building had been built on Main Street next to the Black River for water power. In 1888, Springfield still had no railroad service so the equipment had to be laboriously transferred by wagon over the mountainous, dirt road between Springfield and Windsor. But by October 1888 the Jones and Lamson Company was in Springfield, VT and would become an important machine tool company known throughout the United States and the world. Young W.D. Woolson would prove to be very important to the company, but the basic business model in 1888 was still problematic, despite the tax abatement. Then another important individual was recruited to Springfield - James Hartness.

Footnote: The Parks and Woolson facility that began in 1829 continued operation into the first decade of the 21st century.

Note: The information for this post is taken almost completely from Frederick W. Richardson's book - "Nineteenth Century Springfield:From an Agricultural to Industrial Community".

This image is part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) Jones Lamson Parks Springfield Vermont Woolson history precision tools Mon, 05 Sep 2016 21:12:10 GMT
"Put the Vermonters ahead" LG&Y 0007-EditUnion Veteran wth a LG&YGrand Army of The Republic Veteran with LG&Y Special 1861

Meet Dennis Charles representing a Vermont member of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of Union service members who participated in the Civil War. On the first day of battle at Gettysburg, Gen. John Sedgwick is quoted as saying, "Put the Vermonters ahead and keep the column well closed up.". Vermont soldiers participated in almost every important engagement during the Civil War with 10 percent of its population (about 350,000) serving in active duty. Of these 5,194 died on the battlefield, of disease and wounds, or in prison. At the Battle of the Wilderness, the Vermont 1st Brigade prevented the Union Army from being split by holding at a strategic crossroad. In so doing the brigade suffered 1269 losses in 12 hours, one of the single largest brigade losses in US Army history. Proportionally no state contributed more manpower to the war effort. And Vermonters will proudly tell you that no Vermont Colors were ever captured by the Confederates.

LG&Y 0019LG&Y PlateLG&Y Plate on a Springfield 1861 Special But Vermont did not just supply soldiers. The precision tool facility in Windsor also provided arms, specifically the Springfield Special 1861 with the Windsor made model referred to as simply the LG&Y. In the above image Dennis is holding an original LG&Y and the well worn plate of the rifle is seen to the left with the inscription:




As mentioned in the last blog post, the financially over extended Robbins and Lawrence company went bankrupt. The Massachusetts company of Lamson, Goodnow, and Yale was able to purchase the Windsor, VT facility at a bargain price. Ebenezer Lamson oversaw the Windsor operation that now focused on making sewing machines. He was a staunch abolitionist and his home in Shelburne Falls, MA was a station on the underground railroad. When the Civil War erupted, Lamson obtained a contract for 50,000 Springfield Specials and returned the facility to arms manufacture. Eventually 2 million men served in the Union army and the Harpers Ferry and Springfield armorys could not supply the modern rifle muskets needed. Thus numerous private arms manufacturers were needed. The LG&Y contract obviously would not fill the need but the contribution of the Windsor facility went well beyond 50,000 rifles. LG&Y made some of the best precision tools in the world and the factory began to manufacture and ship the needed rifle making tools to numerous other contractors. The list of tools and manufacturers supplied is too long to enumerate here but can be found in Carrie Brown's excellent booklet "Arming the Union, gunmakers in Windsor, VT". The booklet is the source of much of this information. Post Civil War the history of the facility in Windsor took a interesting turn leading to another Vermont town grabbing the nation's interest.

For those interested in Vermont or OVI 100th relics, Dennis Charles is your man and can be contacted at [email protected]. You also might find him and get a few heirloom apples this fall by visiting Mendon Mountain Orchards

These images are part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

(American Roots Photography) 1861 GAR LG&Y Springfield Vermont history special Sun, 28 Aug 2016 12:14:20 GMT
Cornish Fair, NH - Americana Experience

And now for a brief but related break from Vermont History. This weekend the small but significant New Hampshire town of Cornish is having their annual Fair. Cornish is also the home of St. Gaudens National Park and the site of the well known Cornish Art community. But their fair is about the agricultural "arts" and a peek into a time in the United States that only some remember. With 4H displays of livestock, vegetables, and home "arts" the fair resonates for any who grew up in rural United States. And then there are the adult competitions of horse, ox, etc. "pulls" where magnificent animals such as this pair exhibit the raw power that augmented the muscle of the men and women who pioneered and settled this land. Firsts of anything are always open to debate, but NH seems to have a legitimate claim to the first Agricultural Fair in 1722. A group of farmers in Nuthill, NH (now Londonerry) gathered to compete and demonstrate their skills. This competition was in the 3300 lb and under (horses) category and this pair had no problem moving the sled of almost 6 tons. I left before the competition was over but this team was still handily moving almost 8 tons. However, my money was on the team of Dollar Bill and Electric Bill.

(American Roots Photography) Americana Cornish Fair NH New Hampshire history horse pull Sat, 20 Aug 2016 21:53:04 GMT
Winds of War - Robbins and Lawrence Precision Valley 0120-EditRifle Wind Vane on CupolaRobbins and Lawrence Armory in Windsor, VT

The rifle wind vane atop the cupola has been an enduring and representative feature of the Robbins and Lawrence building. With the United States at war with Mexico, in 1846 Robbins and Lawrence obtained a contract for 10,000 M1841 rifles originally manufactured at the Harper's Ferry Armory. The first mass produced rifle available to the US Army, it became known as the Mississippi rifle as it was carried by the Mississippi volunteer regiment under the command of Colonel Jefferson Davis. Robbins and Lawrence delivered early on their contract and received a contract for 15,000 more. In 1851, the company took 6 rifles to an exhibit in England. The British Army was impressed by the precision and interchangeability of the parts. With the impending Crimean War, an order was made for 25,000 rifles plus 141 machine tools to be used at the Enfield Armory. Thus, the Robbins and Lawrence facility extended its reputation as it became the first large scale exporter of precision machine tools. Soon after, however, Robbins and Lawrence went bankrupt having gone deeply into debt to expand at other locations. But more rifles and history were still to be made in Windsor as the Civil War was on the horizon.

This image is part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.


(American Roots Photography) Enfield M1841 Mississippi precision valley vermont Tue, 16 Aug 2016 13:35:42 GMT
Precision Valley - 18th Century Tech Bubble This image is part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

This 1846 building in Windsor, VT housed the Robbins and Lawrence gun making firm and today is the home of the American Precision Museum. The museum has one of the best collections of precision machine tools in the United States. From the earliest days of the industrial revolution, mass production of products with interchangeable parts had been a goal. A key hurdle had been the lack of precision in the manufacture of individual parts. In 1849, the Robbins and Lawrence company is considered to be the first to have developed this precision on a practical and mass production scale when it delivered to the US government 10,000 guns all with perfectly interchangeable parts. The impact of these guns and the importance of this manufacturing facility will be expanded in the next post.

(American Roots Photography) Vermont machine museum precision tools Mon, 08 Aug 2016 20:34:20 GMT
The Sheep Bubble No.3 - Beyond Merino This image is part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

New Lambs at Vermont ShepherdOut to Pasture

Napoleon indirectly led to the Sheep Bubble in Vermont. Rather than have Napoleon decimate its Merino sheep population, Spain allowed the exporting of its sheep as a result of The Napoleonic Wars. William Jarvis, the US Consul to Portugal, brought Merino Sheep to Vermont where they thrived. Vermonters also successfully improved the Merino through breeding resulting in a three fold increase in wool production from what became the Vermont Merino. The Vermont Merino had success internationally and many sheep were sent west to bolster the herds there. While Vermont's sheep farming came and went, New Zealand and Australia have had tremendous success with Merino sheep dating back to the early 1800's. In !879 the Vermont Sheep Breeders Association sent 2 Vermont Merino rams to Australia as a gift. Although some Australian breeders crossed the Vermont Merino with the Australian Merino, ultimately the Vermont Merino was judged inferior despite it's high yield. Today, numerous sheep varieties are raised in Vermont and shepherds such as those at Vermont Shepherd are constantly improving their breeds such as these 2 Dorset-Rambouillet lamb.

(American Roots Photography) Lamb Sheep Shepherd Vermont Wed, 03 Aug 2016 15:29:12 GMT
The Sheep Bubble No.2 - A Sheep Tradition Continues This image is part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

In the last post I presented a brief history of sheep in Vermont. The sheep industry dominated the economy of Vermont in the 1830's and 1840's. This image shows sheep post-milking and headed to pasture. I shot this picture at the Vermont Shepherd Farm with the 1890 barn in the background. The early 1800's original barn burned down, the victim of a serial arsonist. David and Yesenia Ielpi Major today operate the farm which is the oldest sheep dairy farm in the United States. They are wonderful and welcoming individuals who readily gave me access to their farm. Not only was I rewarded with some great images, I learned much from David and Yesenia. Among the products Vermont today is known for is maple syrup. I have personally observed the intensive effort required to gather and reduce 40 gallons of sap to a gallon of syrup and willingly part with cash to purchase the sweet nectar. After witnessing the effort required to produce a wheel of sheep cheese, I likewise will never question the price. From pasturing, to milking, to rending, and to aging- a great sheep cheese requires much effort. But the end result in my opinion well justifies the value. So although sheep are no longer a dominant piece of the Vermont economy, for a few hard working individuals sheep farming still provides rewards to both the producer and the consumer.

(American Roots Photography) Shepherd Vermont cheese sheep Sat, 23 Jul 2016 00:31:35 GMT
The Sheep Bubble No.1 (VT History Photo Essay No.2) This image is part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.

New PastureVermont Hillside Sheep FarmVermont Shepherd, Westminster, VT

In the 1820's and 1830's Vermont's economy was dominated by sheep farming. The landscape of Vermont was very different from today with much of the land deforested leaving open hillsides well suited to pasture land for sheep. The Napoleonic Wars had loosened Spain's ability to restrict the export of Merino sheep and the embargoes of the War of 1812 further encouraged the domestic sheep industry in the United States. Vermont had the hillside pastures and nearby New England mills ready to take the wool. Fleece was golden to Vermonters. By 1840, sheep outnumbered people in Vermont by a 6:1 ratio. The industry was protected by high tariffs, which were removed in the 1840's, leading to more cost-effective competition from the West. The Vermont sheep bubble collapsed,  done in by the Vermont landscape which does not lend itself to large operations no matter how hard a Vermonter works. Vermont's landscape has always been both beguiling to behold and limiting in support to economic development. The Vermont Shepherd owners David and Yesenia Ielpi Major generously made their farm available for photography.


(American Roots Photography) History Vermont farm sheep Mon, 11 Jul 2016 19:02:22 GMT
Vermont Photo Essay Project

I am beginning a photo essay on a part of Vermont's history covering the time period from the French and Indian War to the late 1800's, known in the U.S. as the Gilded Age. For me this time period coincides with the initial development of Vermont as a region distinctly different from the original colonies to the emergence of Vermont as a state of independent thinkers with their own unique sensibility. Calvin Coolidge was our 30th President and the quintessential Vermonter. Although "Silent Cal" was decidedly a conservative "Yankee", a close examination of his speeches reveals the very essence (I think) of the Vermonter soul - a pronounced commitment to frugality and limited government with a fervid dedication to social justice. The social justice theme will probably recur in these posts. Below is a quote from a Calvin speech while reflecting on WWI and the speech is well worth reading.

Toleration and Liberalism: Speech before the American Legion Convention: Omaha, Nebraska | October 6, 1925 "We must reaffirm and reinforce our ancient faith in truth and justice, in charitableness and tolerance. We must make our supreme commitment to the everlasting spiritual forces of life. We must mobilize the conscience of mankind."

Calvin was born in Plymouth Notch, VT which is today a Vermont Historic Site and is preserved almost unchanged. Every year on July 4th a wreath is laid at his grave followed by a chicken dinner in the yard behind his mother's home, and all are welcome. This particular image was made in 2015 as the VT National Guard led the procession to the cemetery, probably the most humble gravesite of any president. I had positioned myself to have the tree hide the cars parked along the road near the Plymouth Notch village. In the background are the village church , the store that Calvin's father operated (and which also served as a summer White House), and attached to the store is the unpainted home where Calvin was born. The image was the processed in NIK Analog Efex using the options designed to simulate a wet plate. Olympus OM-D E-M5, m.zuiko 12-42mm/2.8 @ 31mm, f6.3, 1/250, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 4th Coolidge July Wreathg Fri, 06 May 2016 11:08:25 GMT
American Roots Photography No.3 - Classic Fishing NH Fishing 2015 679-Edit-2Classic Vermont FishingWhite River near South Royalton

I knew when I took this image I was going for a Hudson River School type landscape. As I looked downstream from the bank, the vegetation overhang and the distant columned bridge immediately suggested to me an image that had elements I was looking for. Although the Hudson River School began in New England and focused on the American Wilderness, many of the painters traveled throughout Europe and South America picking up other influences and ideas such as including classic Greek and Roman structures in their paintings. Thomas Cole's The Course of an Empire series (5 paintings) is perhaps the most famous example tracing the decline and fall of a city from pastoral beginnings to its decay and destruction. From a distance the bridge column supports suggested the columns of a temple and provided a "classic" element to the image. BTW, the image was shot with a waterproof P&S camera that I usually carry when on the water fishing.

(American Roots Photography) Hudson River School Vermont White River fishing Thu, 10 Sep 2015 21:41:26 GMT
American Roots Photography No.2 - Vermont Country Sunrise View From The HillsideVermont Late SummerGold Coast Rd Bridgewater Sunrise

This is my second installment of what I am calling my American Roots Photography project where I am attempting to emulate the look and feel of 19th century landscape art, specifically the Hudson River School landscape genre. Trees and distant mountains were dominant elements as I mentioned in the last post. This image adds an element of distance and expansion that are often seen in Hudson River School paintings. The color palette of these paintings are also different from modern photography colors with a definite shift towards warmer colors and more pastel skies. The greens in the foliage are also quite different showing a greater range of green colors in the leaves and much more yellow, which if one observes closely is actually more naturalistic. Many of the pigments that artists worked with in the 19th century were natural and often mineral based and thus the artists were most limited in green pigments

(American Roots Photography) Bridgewater Vermont landscape sunrise Thu, 03 Sep 2015 19:14:50 GMT
American Roots Photography - Part 1 Coon Club Rd 0020-EditAscutney BoundSouth view near Coon Club RD, Windsor, VT

In 2001 PBS made a popular documentary series entitled "American Roots Music" exploring the roots of American music. As I worked to improve my photography I eventually arrived at a "wall" and I felt my images were okay but not very distinctive or impactful. My camera, compositional, and post processing skills were good but continued improvement in them was not going to give me what I wanted. Luckily for me 2 factors converged. A group of individuals led by Trey Ratcliff launched a learning experience called The Arcanum using the traditional Master/Apprentice model. The second factor involved my affection for Hudson River School paintings and Currier and Ive prints. The Hudson River School was the first distinctive American style of landscape painting and reflected both the grandeur of the American wilderness but also the Manifest Destiny perspective that many 19th century American held. As an apprentice in The Arcanum I am improving my technical skills while being encouraged and allowed to pursue my specific goal of creating landscapes inspired by 19th century American paintings and prints. My next several posts will reflect some of my initial attempts. In this example I was able to include 3 Hudson River School elements: a view down a valley towards a distant mountain (Ascutney in this case); a dominant foreground tree; and a figure moving into the landscape.


(American Roots Photography) Ascutney Hudson River School The Arcanum Vermont Sun, 02 Aug 2015 11:38:14 GMT
New Software - New Camera Italy 2014 0877_DxOSunrise in ItalyMazzaro Beach, Taormina, Sicily

Earlier in May I posted regarding new software and revisiting images. This image was taken on Mazzaro Beach last April during our trip to Sicily. I had just repositioned my tripod to locate the sun under the cliff overhang when I noticed a fisherman heading out from the bay to my left. Lucky for me he passed right by the cliff. But I was never happy with the processing I did of the image. The dynamic range of the image stretches the capability of my micro 4/3 sensor on the Olympus E-M5 and my existing software just could not deal with the limitations of the image file. Of course, with a little money (actually a lot) I could upgrade my camera and lens to a full frame camera with a wider dynamic range and better noise levels. But I would suggest that unless you are printing very large images, you can upgrade your camera with software (much cheaper than a new camera) designed to maximize the image quality from the raw data held in the file. In my case, I have adopted DxO as a raw processor for special images as their software adapts to your specific camera and lens combination. In this case what resulted was a very clean file that I would not hesitate to print to 30 inches on the long side. Olympus OM-D E-M5, m.zuiko 9-18mm@11mm, ISO 200, 1/200 s, f6.3.

(American Roots Photography) Ionian Mazzaro Sicily Taormina sunrise Thu, 06 Nov 2014 16:15:41 GMT
Can't Sleep - Starry Night Shenandoah Fall14 0122_DxOFall Starry Night - Shenandoah ParkOctober 2014 in Shenandoah Park Area

Claire and I recently spent a night at the very nice Glen Gordon Manor near the Shenandoah Park and had a marvelous meal. But when I eat a large meal late at night, my digestive system is not ready for bed. Finally at 2A, I looked outside and saw a crystal clear night sky, so I grabbed the camera and went into the nearby field with this spreading tree and Orion situated above in the Eastern sky. After a half an hour and a dozen exposures I decided I had a good image and I was ready for sleep. Olympus OM-D E-M5, m.zuiko12-40mm@12mm, ISO2000, 15 sec., f2.8. Manually focused to infinity (a feature of the lens) and the tree "light painted" with a head lamp.

(American Roots Photography) Shenandoah fall night orion sky Mon, 03 Nov 2014 01:17:24 GMT
Choosing Your Reality Ithaca Oct14 0172Judd Falls October 2014 in Ithaca Judd Falls on Cornell Campus

As soon as my good friend Bruce looks at this picture he will respond that he doesn't like the silky water because he wants to see the water as it "really" appears. Of course, I disagree telling him that water does not appear frozen in mid air. I shoot silky water because that is my preference. It is the way I "see" it. Photographers learn to make decisions when capturing images to show the "image" they desire and not necessarily the one visually before them. This falls is located on the Cornell campus in Ithaca, NY and the stream bank is adjacent to a busy main thorough fare. But as a photographer I chose to limit what appeared within the camera frame thus constructing an image that could easily be from deep within an isolated forest. I get to choose what I want viewers to see. I don't think of a camera as capturing "reality" simply because it can not do so. What we see in our camera displays represent decisions made by engineers, etc. to yield their vision of what the world looks like. For me getting better at photography, means not just accepting this vision. Indeed, if I let the engineers do all the work for me my friend Bruce would have a nice picture of water frozen in time, but that is not what my vision was. Whether in photography or other phases of life, one should never just take the choices offered but forge ahead with your own vision. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with m.zuiko 12-40mm/2.8@13mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/3 s.

(American Roots Photography) Cornell Ithaca fall waterfalls Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:20:34 GMT
Room(s) With a Milky Way View Lynd's Hill Milky Way 0011_DxOLynd's Hill Milky Way 0011_DxOJuly Milky Way from Lynd's Hill

This is another in a series of images from my friend's home on Lynd's Hill Rd, Plymouth, VT. I am sure some will recognize the chairs and the rock outcropping. The image was taken at late twilight which explains some of the horizon light plus Ludlow several miles to the south contributes some light. In July the Milky Way runs fairly vertical in the southern sky and can be seen just above the fir tree. The picture is a combination of a multiple (2) exposure in my D300 Nikon camera with a 17-55mm lens set to 18mm. The first exposure was 15 sec. at f2.8 (ISO 3200) and focus set to infinity to maintain as much sharpness as possible in the stars. The second exposure was at f11 and 4 sec. while I use a LED headlamp to paint some light onto the chairs and the rock. Post processing was in DxO Pro (for maximum noise reduction) and Lightroom for final color correction.

(American Roots Photography) 2014 Landscape Milky Vermont Way nature Thu, 24 Jul 2014 19:18:39 GMT
Let There Be (No) Light

I had a blind date when I was a sophomore in college in Syracuse, NY. I was from a small town in Mississippi, she was from Long Island. We were definitely a mismatched pair. When she learned I was from Mississippi, she inquired just what in the world did one do of interest in Mississippi. My response was how can I explain to someone whom has never seen the Milky Way what the experience is like. Almost 50 years later even more individuals would fail to understand the explanation. Back then I would return home to Mississippi by plane on the cheap fares at night. And in the 1960's flying at night across the Eastern US one would see vast areas of darkness punctuated by the lights of cities. Today few areas of darkness can be found east of the Mississippi River. In fact websites are now dedicated to finding areas of low light pollution. Recently I came across an ebook by David Kingham whom specializes in night scape photography. David's book is an excellent primer and he inspired me to do some night photographs. Even in Vermont the number of locations of truly low light pollution are limited but I recently made the acquaintance of some East Wallingford property owners with a southern view of the Green Mountain Forest. In the summer the Milky Way requires a southern view and they happily gave me permission to do some photographs. Last week I captured this image. Nikon D300, Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm, f2.8, 20 s, ISO 3200, processed in DxO Optics Pro 9 for maximum noise reduction and finished in Lightroom 5.

(American Roots Photography) 2014 Landscape Milky Vermont. Way Wed, 02 Jul 2014 23:51:30 GMT
How Does Your Garden Grow? Peonies 0105Peony GardenHappy Acres Farm Peonies 2014 It was a long hard winter in Vermont, but now in June (as in every year) the flowers have burst into color. This makes the winter suddenly seem far in the past. My good friends at Happy Acres Farm in Reading, VT have great pride in their peonies and they encouraged me to come by and take some pictures. I will not bore you with the many images but suffice it to say it was a target rich environment. Both pictures were taken with my Olympus OM-D. The first was at 58mm (m.zuiko 40-150mm), 1/60, f6.3, ISO400 to compress the garden bringing the flowers closer together. The second was at 17mm (m.zuiko 9-18mm) 1/400, f6.3, ISO 400 as I have learned that a wide angle lens can often make nice macro shots.


Peachy PeonyPeony at Happy Acres Farm

(American Roots Photography) 2014 Vermont flower peony Fri, 20 Jun 2014 19:52:04 GMT
Throwback Thursday 2. April 21, 753 BCE Roman ReenactorRoman Reenactor2014 Trip to Sicily and Rome

This image was taken recently (4/21/14) but definitely represents a "throwback". Many of us have experienced reenactors, especially those representing the Civil War time period. However, international travel can often remind a person that our US history is quite young. And when visiting Rome, one is also reminded that our modern achievements have stiff competition from the past. Show me an architect and builder today who could or would build the Panthenon using the same material, labor, and construction. Rome's designated founding date is April 21, 753 BCE and each year celebrants gather around the ancient forums and have a wonderful day of games and fun. And opportunities abound for "street" shooting. I also "googled" Roman reenactors and found numerous legions in the US. Olympus E-M5, m.zuiko 40-150mm@150mm, f6.3, 1/800 s, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2014 Rome portrait street Thu, 05 Jun 2014 20:40:16 GMT
Throwback Thursday 1. Starry Winter Night LR Night Sky 0005_DxOStarry Winter NightStars Over Lake Rescue in January

Just as cameras and photography techniques improve, so also does post-processing software. Today an amazing selection of software is available that allows ever better development of images. I took this photo in January of 2013 as initial foray into shooting a night sky. Recently I decided I wanted to return to shooting night skies and have been reading up on techniques for both capturing the image as well as post processing the image. Night photography presents several technical challenges and I would do several different things today in the recording of this particular image. However, I also wanted to know just how much I might be able to optimize it and have been trying out different software packages. The original image was captured with a Nikon D300, Tamron 10-24mm@15mm, f 4.0, ISO 400, 60 s. The image was then processed in DxO Pro which has the best noise reduction I have found. I liked this one enough to add it to my Lake Series collection.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont nature Thu, 29 May 2014 17:17:50 GMT
Don't Know Jack Jack Pulpit 0090-EditJack in the PulpitAfter a Summer Storm I am often amazed at how oblivious I can be to the nature around me. Behind our townhome in VA is a nice woods that escaped development primarily because it meets the definition of a wetland. I walk it frequently and have posted several pictures from it. But only recently did I discover Jack in the Pulpit growing in the woods. And once I found one, I realized that the plant was numerous in the woods. Some American Indians used the plant as a medicine and it does contain the toxin calcium oxalate. Calcium oxalate is also the chemical that causing gout. Of course once I knew the plants were there, I had to take a picture. Yesterday we had a thunderstorm and afterwards the late afternoon sun broke through in the understory of the woods. By laying on the ground I was able to catch this backlit Jack in the Pulpit. Nikon D300, Nikkor 85mm macro, 1/160 s, f 5, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2014 Macro Virginia nature Fri, 23 May 2014 12:24:49 GMT
Nothing New Under The Sun Italy 2014 1673Trajan's MarketSunrise Over Trajan's Market, Easter Sunday, 2014

Today I post a picture of Trajan's Market as I am finally again processing some of my photos from Italy. Starting mid-20th century the suburban shopping mall became a fixture in many communities and cities. Shopping arcades have a longer history but the idea of an enclosed space with numerous and varied shops I had always believed to be a modern (19th/20th century), commercial development. The Roman Emperor Trajan (end 1st century, beginning 2nd) is considered to be one of the best emperors. He evidently had a focus on truly serving all Roman citizens leading him to build in the first decade of the 2nd century an enclosed market next to his forum. Thus Trajan's market is probably the first "shopping mall" and today is one of the few multi-story Roman Empire buildings still standing. Olympus E-M5, m.zuiko 9-18mm @ 9MM, f6.3, 1/400, ISO 200

(American Roots Photography) Landscape Rome Trajan sunrise Sun, 18 May 2014 17:44:13 GMT
Salute to the Street Cleaners Italy 2014 0168_69_70_71_72_tonemappedItaly 2014 0168_69_70_71_72_tonemapped The above captures the Catania Cathedral of St. Agatha (Catania Sicily) early in the morning. St. Agatha is one of the earliest and most important woman martyrs of the Catholic church having been killed for her faith mid-3rd century. I was lucky to catch the rising sun glinting off the freshly washed street. I had arrived at the Duomo Plaza about 30 minutes earlier but was disappointed to find the plaza very littered as it is a very popular destination in Catania. But I have also learned that in cities, be they NYC or Catania, the street cleaners arrive just before sunrise and in a surprisingly short time clean up the trash from the day before. So here is a salute to those workers who pick up after us and keep our special places clean. Olympus OMD E-M5, m.zuicko 9-18mm@14mm, f6.3, 5 shot HDR 1/60s +/- 2ev and processed in Photomatix Pro.

(American Roots Photography) 2014 Agatha Catania Landscape Sicily St. cathedral Thu, 01 May 2014 17:27:08 GMT
New Lens, New Great American Landscape Great Falls Apr 2014 0007Great Falls Apr 2014 0007Spring Day at Great Falls, VA

With the Italy trip only 3 days away I went to the Great Falls on Sunday to do a little landscape practice with my new m.zuiko 9-18mm. Specifically I wanted to try some focus techniques to yield maximum depth of field. I was satisfied with the lens performance. It was a wonderful early spring day and the Virginia bluebells are just beginning to bloom. The park was full of people enjoying the weather and the view. The Great Falls are strongly linked to early United States history. George Washington strongly advocated for a canal around the falls and to make the Potomac river a gateway to the interior and the Ohio valley. Remnants of that canal, abandoned by 1830, remain visible. In the park today, one comes in direct contact with the changing faces of America. The original canal was built by a mix of European and black labor. Today an amazing mix of ethnicities and languages are among the people visiting the park. Some of course are tourists, but Northern Virginia is probably as diverse demographically as any area of the country. Regardless of one's background, we all can enjoy the grandeur and power of the Great Falls. And though Washington's canal lasted just a few years, the country of democratic ideals that he helped build lives on and has expanded to include people from all over the world. Both pictures captured with OMD E-M5; top - m.zuiko 9-18mm@9mm, f6.3, ISO200, 1/1000s, bottom- m.zuiko 40-150mm@62mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/1250s.

Great Falls Apr 2014 0023Great Falls Apr 2014 0023Spring Day at Great Falls, VA

(American Roots Photography) 2014 Falls Great Landscape Virginia waterfalls Mon, 07 Apr 2014 21:28:07 GMT
New Lens, New Views on Spring Pavilion Lake 0035Pavilion Lake 0035March 27 Photowalk Around Pavilion Lake

Winter seems to be lingering longer than normal in Northern, VA but today was moderately warmer and I had a new lens mounted on my Olympus E-M5: m.zuiko 9-18mm. With the Sicily trip only 2 weeks away I decided to purchase a wide angle lens to facilitate landscapes and, of course, the ancient architecture of Rome. A wide angle lens provides a wonderful view on the world but it does take more practice than most other lenses. Thus I took the photo walk today around a local man-made lake. This picture illustrates why I love this perspective. The daffodils in this picture were no more than 6 inches in height and only a foot from the front of the camera. Not only do the daffodils get captured but also the larger scene. I chose to put the focus on the daffodils and an aperture (f6.3) that yielded everything else out of focus. The wonderful happenstance of going on photo walks is that other surprise images present themselves. Below are a couple of images taken with the same lens of a Great Blue Heron who was feeding along the lake. The images are cropped because normally one does not shoot birds with a wide angle lens. Maybe the heron has adapted to humans passing so close, because I was able to get within 10 feet of the bird before it took flight. In this case the images were shot at 18mm (36mm on a 35mm format). Bella, Bella - I think my new lens will do fine in Italy.

Pavilion Lake 0030Pavilion Lake 0030March 27 Photowalk Around Pavilion Lake Pavilion Lake 0067Pavilion Lake 0067March 27 Photowalk Around Pavilion Lake


(American Roots Photography) Landscape Virginia flower nature Thu, 27 Mar 2014 21:21:48 GMT
Story Telling 8b29516v8b29516v As I have pursued photography and improved my skills the question that I have frequently asked myself is "what type of photography do I like to do?". Many "wise" individuals advise specialization to be able to hone your skills. But I could never decide...I do like landscapes, but I also like macro and portraits. And I find street photography intriguing. As some of you know, in the past at the beginning of the year I would choose a generalized photo focus for the year sometimes even maintaining the focus through mid-year ;). This year I have struggled. But in the back of my mind I think I always knew what is most important - story telling. I want to be a story telling photographer. Several image related events have recently brought that realization to my consciousness. This will be a year when I attempt to get better at story telling.

This Dorothea Lange iconic image is my all time favorite picture, primarily due to the story revealed to me. Of course, I realize much of the story is supplied by my own understandings and experiences but I challenge anyone to gaze up this image and not see a story. Recently, I photographed some local school children being assisted in skiing by the organization NEHSA (New England Handicapped Sports Association). I made some nice shots of the students skiing, but for me the most "telling" shots were the interactions between the students and the support staff from the school. An example is included here. Maybe others don't see a story but I do.

NEHSA Ludlow 0332ANEHSA Ludlow 0332ANEHSA at Okemo Mt. - Ludlow Students

In January, just in time for my story telling journey, a new iPad app called Storehouse waslaunched aimed at visual story telling. We can not all be Dorothea Lange and have one image masterpiece stories. Sometimes we need multiple images and some text to tell our story. Here is a link to my story of the day photographing the school children on the ski mountain - Human Spirit Trumphs.  

Note: The Dorothea Lange photo is in the public domain.



(American Roots Photography) 2014 Dorothea Lange iconic storytelling Fri, 14 Mar 2014 17:31:06 GMT
NYC Urban Landscape NYC Mar Weekend 0045_6_7_8_9_tonemappedNYC Mar Weekend 0045_6_7_8_9_tonemapped

The city that never sleeps - NYC. Recently Claire and I joined 2 other close couples/friends for a weekend in the city. Besides sharing memories together we had some wonderful dining and took in "Jersey  Boys". The trip was a real splurge and we chose to stay at the Hyatt Times Square at 135 West 45th Street. For those of you unfamiliar with NYC, Times Square is in the lower right hand of this image. This sunset image was taken from the patio lounge at the top of the Hyatt. Almost dead center can be seen the spire of the Freedom Tower. I find urban landscapes difficult to do because so much is going on and composition is difficult. But I thought this image did capture NYC. To capture the full dynamic range I did a 5 shot HDR image hand held by resting the camera on the ledge. Olympus OMD E-M5 with 12-50mm m.zuiko @12mm,  f7.1, ISO 1000-1600, 1/10 s-1/60s, tone mapped in Photomatix Pro 5.



(American Roots Photography) 2014 City Landscape NYC New York Fri, 07 Mar 2014 21:35:47 GMT
Snowy Suburban Creek Suburban Creek 0084PXHDR-2Suburban Creek 0084PXHDR-2One Loudoun Development Creek in Snow at Sunrise

I have been busy putting together a video of my fishing trip to Alaska and neglecting getting out for new images. With our snow under threat from warming temperatures, I knew I needed to get out before it was gone. I discovered this creek about a mile from our home in January. Thanks to limits on developers the huge project surrounding this creek had not turned it into a concrete drainage ditch as it would have been 30 years ago. You would never guess that within 100 feet of this creek hundreds of homes are being constructed. A little research told me that the creek would be pretty much aligned with the sun this morning and I made my way to the banks about a half hour before sunrise. I have a shot after the sun came up but I liked the color from the cloud reflections in the water in this shot. Nikon D300 with Nikkor 17-55mm@ 28mm, F22, ISO 200, 5 shot HDR +/- 2 ev from 1/3 s. HDR processed in Photomatix Pro 5.

(American Roots Photography) 2014 Landscape Virginia creek sunrise Tue, 18 Feb 2014 23:48:59 GMT
Lines and Zones Jan Pic Outing 0023Jan Pic Outing 0023Picture Outing Landsddowne and South Ashburn/Leesburg

The grandchildren, their parents, and we are all headed for Sicily in April. Two images I commonly associate with the Mediterranean are Pergolas and the wonderful high contrast black and while images of directors such as Fellini. On a particularly sunny day I came across this Pergola and loved the way the light played with the structure, providing both shaping shadows as well as creating interesting lines on the beams. To further enhance the impact of the light, I let my limited internal "Ansel Adams" take over. It is difficult to find someone who does not know and appreciate the images of Ansel Adams. To this day any photographer who is serious about improving will have at least a passing knowledge of the Zone System developed by Ansel Adams. For those of you familiar with this system, I chose to go from a 1 to a 8/9, losing all detail in some of the blacks while retaining some detail in even the brightest whites. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Leica Summilux 25mm@ f6.3, 1/1600 s., ISO 200. B&W post processing in Lightroom 5.

(American Roots Photography) 2014 Pergola Virginia and black white Tue, 04 Feb 2014 13:14:48 GMT
Snow Place Like Home III January Snow 0003January Snow 0003Landscapes Near Waterford, VA of January 22 Snow Day

Yet another country home picture near Waterford, VA taken after the January 21 snowfall. In this case the stories I wonder about are those that unfolded under this tree. As Claire and I drove, this tree grabbed my attention much more than the adjacent impressive home and I would guess that the tree could easily be a hundred years old - enough time for many activities underneath its graceful branches. I ultimately decided on a black and white version. Like many post snowfall days, this day was crystal blue clear with only hints of clouds. The sky was so intensely blue that I felt attention was drawn away from the tree. Perhaps I could have moved to the right and captured only the tree but the impressive width of the tree crown would not have displayed as well. Plus I liked how the house gave scale to the tree, further revealing its grandness. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with m.zuiko 12-50mm@26mm, f6.3, 1/2000 s, ISO 200. For me a true example of a poetic tree.

(American Roots Photography) 2014 Landscape Virginia Waterford Winter Thu, 30 Jan 2014 18:01:47 GMT
Snow Place Like Home II January Snow 0001January Snow 0001Landscapes - Waterford, VA of January 22 Snow Day, The "Weaver's Cottage"

This is another shot done just after the Northern Virginia snowfall of January 21. This Waterford, VA home, circa 1820, is known as the "Weavers Cottage" and is located in the heart of the Waterford Village Historic District. And it is still a private home and is on the market for $488,000. I was restricted in the perspective to shoot due to the dominant realtor sign in front. Like the previous home, I am sure many stories are held within its walls and if you were to purchase it maybe some of them could be accessed in the middle of the night. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with m.zuiko 12-50mm@12mm, f5.6, 1/1250 s, ISO 200. Comes with 0.92 hillside acres.

(American Roots Photography) Landscape Virginia Waterford Winter Tue, 28 Jan 2014 15:21:57 GMT
Snow Place Like Home January Snow 0007January Snow 0007Landscapes Near Waterford, VA of January 22 Snow Day

Yesterday felt very much like being back in Vermont. On Tuesday we received a decent snow fall and the temperatures got down to 3 F overnight. In other words the conditions were excellent to get out and find a picture. Claire and I drove in the country side near Waterford, VA - which is a well preserved and famous Quaker-founded town whose residents remained loyal to the Union throughout the civil war. As we meandered around the undulating farm country we came upon this traditional fine farm home. As Claire said, "wonder what stories the house could tell". Olympus O-MD E-M5 with m.zuiko 12-55mm@23mm, f 6.3, 1/1600 s., ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2014 Landscape Virginia Winter Thu, 23 Jan 2014 12:59:16 GMT
Peach of an Orchid Peach Orchid 0020-EditPeach Orchid 0020-EditPeach Colored Orchid in Natural Light

As I have stated on several cases, sometimes an image just demands to be taken. Claire bought this orchid as a house warming gift. She had placed it above the fireplace mantle and the morning light gave it a nice soft glow. As beautiful as orchids are I have found them often to be difficult to photograph, but in this case I basically just had to set the camera on a tripod and snap. Nikon D300 with Tamron 70-300@70mm, ISO 200, f10, 0.5 s.

(American Roots Photography) 2014 Virginia orchid Fri, 17 Jan 2014 14:07:53 GMT
Another Tree Poem Jan Pic Outing 0052Jan Pic Outing 0052Picture Outing Landsddowne and South Ashburn/Leesburg

THINK that I shall never see  
A poem lovely as a tree.  
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest  
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;  
A tree that looks at God all day,          5
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;  
A tree that may in summer wear  
A nest of robins in her hair;  
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;  
Who intimately lives with rain.   10
Poems are made by fools like me,  
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer, Tree

I have referenced this poem by Kilmer before and ,for me, this beech tree fits the poem. I was out driving looking for potential photographic landscapes when I came upon this tree along a dirt road. Sunlight from the left gave a very pleasing glow to the smooth bark thus demanding a picture. Olympus O-MD E-M5 with Leica Summilux 25/1.4@ 1/3200 s, f1.6, ISO 200. And the dirt road is one of the few left in Loudoun County causing Claire to remark upon by skill at finding them. A piece of country in me will always yield to dirt roads.

(American Roots Photography) 2014 Beech Kilmer Landscape Virginia Thu, 16 Jan 2014 12:29:25 GMT
It's a Guy Thing Day10 10DP 0011Day10 10DP 0011OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At least some guys tend to wear a piece of clothing a long time as in the blue shirt in the lower left hand corner. In fact because this shirt now had some holes and paint stains, I remarked to Claire that even my sons would like this shirt...the trait is inherited. But Claire admonished me wondering why I wanted to look like I was homeless. She then reminded me that I had a huge box of t-shirts collected over the years from the various runs and bike rides I had done since 1981- numerous 10K runs and bike century rides, 3 triathlons, and even 1 marathon. Rummaging through the box brought back lots of memories and a realization that I will have a shirt once the "Backroads" shirt is retired...maybe in 2015. Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Leica Summilux 25mm/f1.4@ f2.0, ISO800, 1/50s. And the Backroads shirt is from a multi-day ride I did with Walt when he graduated from college.

(American Roots Photography) 2014 bike run t-shirts Fri, 10 Jan 2014 16:10:07 GMT
Preparing for Summer Day6 10DP 0009-EditDay6 10DP 0009-EditDay 6 of 10 Day Picture Exercise, Materials to tie a Purple Egg Sucking Leech

Now that the winter solstice and the holiday season has passed my attention is turning towards spring and summer. Last winter at this time I started tying flies for my Alaska fishing trip. I am not going to Alaska this year but I will be fly fishing and it is time to get out the feathers and vise. The weather this time of year sometimes encourages indoor photography which I have learned can be quite challenging. For this picture I assembled all the materials necessary to tie an "Egg Sucking Leech" which is a popular Alaskan pattern and works well as I learned on Silver Salmon. I assembled the material on a diffuser suspended between 2 supports and placed a flash underneath. From the direction of the top I also placed another diffuser with a second flash behind it. This gave illumination to the top but also allowed some shadowing for texture definition (e.g. wooden handle,bobbin thread). Except for the color distortion caused by the chenille behind the one feather I was pleased. Nikon D300 with Nikkor 85mm/f3.5 macro, f32, 1/60 s.

(American Roots Photography) 2014 egg fly leech macro sucking tying Mon, 06 Jan 2014 21:54:29 GMT
Snowy Suburbia Sunrise Day3 10DP 0139_HDRDay3 10DP 0139_HDRDay 2 of 10 Day Picture Exercise, Snowy Sunrise

We are probably staying in Virginia for the winter which has very mild winters by Vermont standards. And I have become accustomed to being able to do winter landscapes right out my front door. Luckily yesterday we ended up on the southern boundary of the snowstorm that hit the northeast and we received a dusting of snow (2-3 inches). That was all I needed to decide to rise early for some pictures and the forecast was for a clearing sky. Landscapes are almost always enhanced by sunrise or sunset. Just 2 weeks after the winter equinox means photographers can arise at a decent hour and still catch the sunrise - 7:27A today. This lake/catch basin is a 7 minute walk from the house which made for a picture opportunity "almost out my back door". Olympus OMD E-M5, m.zuiko 12-55mm@12mm, 5 shot HDR, f8, ISO 200, 1/50s +/- 2 EV. The disadvantage to winter sunrises -it's colder (16 F and windy today).

(American Roots Photography) 2014 Landscape Virginia snow sunrise Fri, 03 Jan 2014 20:47:21 GMT
A Study in Green and Yellow Kwanzaa 2013 0025Kwanzaa 2013 0025Flower from UUCS Kwanzaa Service

Different colored carnations were used as a prop in the church service today and we were encouraged to take some home. I have been in a little bit of a photographic lull recently and the flowers were a nice encouragement. I shot close to 100 different compositions but I liked this the best. I focused on the edge of the closest petal and use another flower as background. Shooting with my macro lens in close rendered all but the focused edge as a blur. Probably not to everyone's taste but I like to shoot flowers this way occasionally so that color and general form make the picture. Nikon D300 with Nikkor 85mm macro @ f8, 0.4 s, ISO 400. And yes my website has a new look...something I wanted to start the New Year with. Next I need to update the home page with more recent photos.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 flower macro Mon, 30 Dec 2013 01:08:26 GMT
Walk of Lights - 1.4/1600 Revisited Christmas 2013 0013Christmas 2013 0013Pictures from December 2013

Nearby us in Vienna, VA is the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens consisting of over 95 acres of gardens and trees, many of which are mid-Atlantic species. Each year approximately half of the gardens are decked out in a "Winter Walk of Lights" that would make Uncle Walt proud. Naturally we took the granddaughters who you can just barely see in the foreground. And naturally I had my camera with me. Last September I posted on low light, hand-held photography and this picture revisits that concept. I used my Olympus OMD EM-5 set to 1600 ISO and I mounted the 25mm Leica Summilux/f1.4 set at 1.4. This allowed a handheld shot at 1/80s capturing both the beautiful lights and the last color from the setting sun.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Christmas Virginia Winter lights Sun, 22 Dec 2013 22:03:09 GMT
Simplicity Dec 11 VA PW 0003-EditDec 11 VA PW 0003-EditWalk Around Pavilion Lake and Path To Ashburn Villas

The Help-Portrait day went well last Saturday with 43 families (170+people) receiving a portrait on that day from 40 volunteers. Worldwide over 40,000 portraits were delivered in 32 countries. I do like participating in this event but afterwards I feel a need to do some photography without all the lights, backgrounds, etc. Sometimes the simplest images can be quite pleasing. We had a recent small snowfall. To keep it simple, I grabbed my point and shoot camera and went for a walk to see what I might find. Beech leaves in the winter, as some of you may have noticed, attract my attention as this single leaf did as it lay on the snow. Simple camera, simple image but I think pleasing. Canon D10 in auto mode, post-processed in Lightroom and NIK Color Efex.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 beech leaf nature Fri, 13 Dec 2013 14:56:26 GMT
Help-Portrait Humfrey H-P 13 Practice 0066H-P 13 Practice 0066Mary Methaney Practice with D50

Every year since 2009 I have participated in an international photography event named Help-Portrait. Click on the link to see a 5 minute video of the original event in Nashville. The concept is simple: identify someone in need, take their portrait, give them their portrait. Since 2009 almost 300,000 portraits taken by roughly 20,000 photographers have been delivered to individuals in 62 countries. This year I have organized an event at our church in Virginia and this Saturday we should have 50-60 families show up to have a portrait taken and delivered that day. The families are the clients of INMED Partnerships for Children, an organization dedicated to providing services that help children towards maximizing their potential. To prepare for the day, I needed to refresh my studio portrait capability. Humfrey is my go to model. This is a 2 light shot - key light in a shoot through umbrella camera right, and fill light (-3 stops) camera left in a reflector umbrella. Nikon D300 with Nikkor 17-55mm/2.8@50mm, f5.6, 1/60, ISO 400.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Help-Portrait portrait Tue, 03 Dec 2013 11:38:07 GMT
Thanksgiving Message from Maine Maine 227PXHDR-EditMaine 227PXHDR-Edit Both software and my processing skills improve with time. I originally took and posted this image in August, 2012 but I was never really satisfied with it. Recently the father of a good friend of mine passed away and I decided I wanted to do a personal card for her and I chose this image. Her roots are in Maine. This image is of Hatchet Cove near Friendship, Maine. Some of my earliest American ancestors passed by this cove in 1742 on their way to settling Waldoboro, Maine. I arose early to catch the sunrise and some color. The tide was ebbing as I arrived, just an hour before low tide. Maine tides are significant and as I waited on the appearance of the sun and color with my tripod just at the edge of the water, the shoreline receded fairly quickly. I would pick up my tripod and reposition again at the edge of the water keeping a watchful eye on the changing skyline. By the time I arrived at this spot and took the picture, I turned and I realized I was at least 50 yards from the shoreline and the large rock to the left had been underwater when I arrived. Themes of the past, present, and future echo in the many thankful descriptions on social media I read this month. As life moves before us and we follow its tide with an eye on a promising future, we are reminded to periodically glance back to the shoreline from which we came and to remind ourselves of the safe harbor provided. And we take note of the obstacles and opportunities as they emerge immediately before us hopefully successfully navigating them. So today I am thankful for a peaceful sunrise on a rocky Maine beach pondering the thoughts of Jacob Lagenauer as he passed with his family into the safe harbor of Broad Bay in October, 1742. The future held promise but many rocky obstacles lay ahead for those early settlers. Nikon D300, Tamron 10-24mm@10mm, f22, 5 shot HDR processed in ProPhotomatix v 5.0.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Maine coast sunrise Thu, 28 Nov 2013 17:28:10 GMT
The Grass is Always Browner Fall Walk 11_20 0003-EditFall Walk 11_20 0003-EditFall Walk - Potomac Green Path Fall Walk 11_20 0011-EditFall Walk 11_20 0011-EditFall Walk - Potomac Green Path

Today I wanted to just get out and take some photos but had no particular image in mind. I have learned that if I just set out with my camera, pictures will emerge. I did decide ahead of time that I wanted some images with sharpness and some with a shallow depth of field, and chose my lens accordingly. In the fall leaves are a profusion of eye candy and yield pleasure when consumed either individually or in large landscape bunches. The above leaves were just outside the garage door. This late in the fall season colorful leaves become rarer and represent the last gasp of  the profundity of summer. It is in the browns of fall that I find the wonderful and promising fecundity of the distant spring. As I walked in a nearby wetland and looked closely I was almost overwhelmed by the numerous seed heads atop the various plants and grasses. Even the cattails had suddenly gone from dark brown tubes to cottony cylinders. I cannot identify the plant on the right but rest assured the next generation will arise, judging by the number of seeds. Olympus OMD E-M5, Leica Summilux 25mm/1.4. Left image - f5, 1/80s, ISO 1250; Right image - f1.8/1/4000s, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Virginia fall nature Thu, 21 Nov 2013 00:28:07 GMT
Selfie @ 64 DSC_0341_1DSC_0341_1 The Oxford Dictionaries has designated 'selfie' the 2013 word of the year. Yesterday was a glorious November day - sunny and 64 degrees. Being motivated by a 64 milestone, I elected to take advantage of the weather for a bike ride. And of course this demanded an indulgent selfie. Sony Xperia, 1/400s, f2.8, front camera.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Virginia W&OD bike selfie Tue, 19 Nov 2013 12:36:51 GMT
Got Your Photo's Back Hearne 049Hearne 049 Recently my niece posted on Facebook that she had reached the limit of photo storage on her phone. And a recent story details how Kelly Rowland, of Destiny Child's fame, lost her iPhone with some irreplaceable photos. As some of you know in addition to taking many photos (42,000 plus in my Lightroom Library), I am a fanatic about backing up my photos having at least 3 copies of each photo on my computer, hard drives, and the "cloud". I could probably lose 95% of my photos, but the other 5% would cause me sadness and I am sure that is true for those who primarily use their smartphones for picture taking and sharing. So this blog is aimed at smartphone camera users and protecting your valuable images. My remarks are based upon a few criteria and do not necessarily represent all the providers and solutions available. First the criteria:

  • the smartphone (and/or tablet) is the camera used the majority of the time
  • the providers are established players and likely to remain so
  • the process is automatic as much as possible
  • the solution is low cost
  • only looking at backing up photos - not phone apps, messages, etc.
  • image capacity assumes an average 2.5 MB file size and images are saved at full resolution

I believe the following providers represent the best possible solutions:

  • iCloud (Apple)
  • Google Plus
  • Flickr
  • Dropbox.

Here is my take on these services as back-up for your phone(tablet) images.


A viable solution if you are entirely in the Apple ecosystem. iCloud comes with 5GB free and will sync your last 1000 photos. Importantly the photos can end up on your desktop computer and you can use iPhoto to manage the photos . The 5 GB is also used for other app syncs, e.g. email. Additional memory is relatively high at $2/GB/yr.

Google Plus

Google Plus bridges easily across both Apple and Android devices and comes with 15GB free but, like Apple, this memory is shared among other Google services such as gmail. The cost of additional memory is fairly low at $0.60/GB/yr. Google Plus is the best for online photo management and has remarkable search capability using common words like "beach". As explained in the previous posts, the online edit and image enhancement features are also impressive. Sharing to other services, e.g. Facebook, is non-existent although links to photos and albums are easily done. Downloading pictures to your desktop has to be done manually.


Flickr is the original photo sharing site but had lanquished under Yahoo! until Marissa Mayer came to Yahoo! from Google. Flickr has a much improved UI now and a free membership comes with 1 TB of storage...repeat 1 TB. And because this storage is dedicated to photos, this would be 800,000 photos at 2.5 MB each. Flickr organizational tools are not as good as Google's but it does have a well integrated browser edit app from Aviary, although not as powerful as Google's. Downloads to a desktop hard drive, like Google Plus, must be done manually.


Unlike Google Plus and Flickr, Dropbox has no "social network" sharing feature. Dropbox is an online file system that will sync your automatically uploaded images to your desktop hard drive. Because of this you need to be aware that Dropbox files will take up space on your hard drive. The free account comes with only 2GB of memory, but you can easily "earn" additional memory, for example by signing up to automatically back-up your photos. Additional storage costs $1/GB/yr. Dropbox works on any OS, including Linux, and has apps for just about any device available. However, a phone or tablet device will only show file structure and individual files must be downloaded to each device. Photos and albums are easily shared via links, email, Twitter, and Facebook.

Dropbox is my backup service as I like automatically getting files from my phone/tablet to my MacBook harddrive, which are further automatically backed up to an external drive and the cloud. Because I easily exceed 2GB, I pay for additional storage but I also use Dropbox to share non-photo files with Claire and others.

Now to the image posted above - it is Benjamin Seth Hearn (b. 1840). Thank goodness someone preserved his picture and now over a hundred years later I know what my great-great grandfather Hearn looked like. Which brings me to the most full proof back-up - prints. If one hundred years from know you want someone to be available to view an important image, paper prints are still the most reliable method and you only need your human "operating system" to access them. Make prints of your special images!

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Dropbox Flickr Google iCloud Sun, 17 Nov 2013 21:31:02 GMT
Far Out Google! Fall Walk 11_90018-ACTIONFall Walk 11_90018-ACTIONAction Photo Created by Google+ For younger readers "Far Out!" is a 60's expression that was used in much the same way "awesome" is used today. And of course, the use of "far out" immediately marks you as an old person. But older persons, such as my self, can learn new things. Continuing the previous Google Plus theme, the images today were generated by what Google designates "Auto Awesome". As mentioned in my last post, when you upload photos to Google Plus, Google automatically performs various actions to assist you in organizing and enhancing your photos. An included set of actions is the Auto Awesome function (click on the link to read a summary). Google+ has given me some new, clever tools and new tools require practice. Fall_Walk_11_90054_MOTION Thus when a future opportunity presents itself, I will be ready to deploy the tool. Yesterday I set out on a walk with the intent of making shots that might be "Auto Awesomed". I shot with my OMD E-M5 mounted with a Leica Summilux 25mm lens set to f5.6 and the camera set to aperture mode and auto ISO. No post processing was done by me. The image to the left is an example of Action where Google+ recognizes someone is moving and merges multiple shots into one to depict the movement - great for sports. To the right is an animation generated from a series of still shots, an example of Motion. Note: the display here is a movie made from the animated gif generated by Google+, my blog provider does not support animated gifs. The animated gif is generated by Google+ plays over and over in an endless loop - cute to some, annoying to others. Finally below is a Pano generated from 3 overlapping shots. In each case Google technology recognized an opportunity for further processing. Before anyone makes the accusation, I have not become an absolute Google+ fanboy. But I do think think it has emerged as the best social network site for photo sharing. And remember these images were generated automatically by Google+ making life much easier for those whom want some "no effort required" post processing. And next I am doing one more post in this Google related series looking at a photo workflow for those who use just phone cameras for image taking.

Fall Walk 11_90085-PANOFall Walk 11_90085-PANOFall Walk - W&OD, Pavilion Lake - Ashburn ,VA

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Auto Awesome Fall Google Sun, 10 Nov 2013 19:51:30 GMT
Oh Snap! I could have used Google+ 2013-11-06 14.44.012013-11-06 14.44.01 Yet another photo from the bike path, this time taken with my SONY phone camera (4.5mm, f 2.4, 1/640s, ISO 50). As you can see from the image to the left, the picture is obviously of a Wooly Bear (more about the Wooly Bear below) but overall the image is flat and the eye is not particularly drawn to the Wooly Bear. I took the picture intending to explore a new feature on Google+, which IMHO is the best photo sharing network on the web. And Google is making it better all the time. First, any photo I take with my camera or iPad is automatically uploaded to Google+. But many "cloud" apps have that feature. But Google is going much further. Google uses technology to evaluate each photo you upload and will automatically highlight photos that might be the best, eliminating photos with issues such as out of focus. Then it will also auto enhance (adjust brightness, contrast, etc.) the photo. You can turn this feature off and on and you also can customize the enhancement you desire. But wait, there is more. If you use Chrome as your browser (and your OS is up to date), further non-destructive editing of the photo can be done online with a version of Snapseed, an app that is also available as a free download. So the image at the left was edited online in Google+ to give the image below. The image is not fantastic but does encourage the question of why does the Wooly Bear cross the road? Or more seriously, why do we see so many Wooly Bear's in the fall? The Wooly Bear is the caterpillar stage of the Isabella Tiger moth. The moth emerges from the pupated caterpillar in the Spring, mates, and lays eggs that hatch in the fall. The caterpillar survives the winter by freezing solid. First it's heart stops and then it's organs are protected by a cryogenic solution. The Wooly Bear is found in the arctic but the growing season is so short that the caterpillar cannot completely mature in one season and thus will freeze and unfreeze through several seasons with some taking up to 14 years before the Isabella Tiger Moth can finally merge and mate again. I learn so much from biking and photography.


(American Roots Photography) 2013 Google Virginia fall nature Thu, 07 Nov 2013 14:28:50 GMT
Bike Path Photography W&OD 11_2 0028W&OD 11_2 0028W&OD Bike Path Ashburn to Leesburg VA I especially like Images from the the photographic genre termed "street photography". A street photographer records images as they occur and the best photographers have an uncanny ability to compose instantly and capture a picture that tells a story or relates to the viewer emotionally. It also takes a certain skill to take images of perfect strangers without incurring a negative reaction. I have not become a street photographer yet because I am too reluctant to invade someone else's privacy without express permission. But yesterday I indulged in some "Bike Path Photography". Although I did dismount to take the above image of Sycolin Creek from the bike path bridge, the pictures in the slide show below were taken from my bike as I rode. I had my camera mounted on a strap around my chest and as I rode I would tilt the camera lens forward, pre-focus, and shoot. Olympus OMD E-M5, f5.6, various shutter speeds, ISO 200. The day was a beautiful fall day and I got a bike ride and photography session in simultaneously.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Vermont bike fall path Sun, 03 Nov 2013 18:37:47 GMT
Suburban Sunset Pavillion Lake 0100PXHDR-Edit-EditPavillion Lake 0100PXHDR-Edit-EditFall Sunset over Pavilion Lake, Ashburn, VA When we come to Northern Virginia I miss the abundant natural landscape opportunities just outside my front door. But I am learning to seek out landscape opportunities in suburbia. At least suburban development has matured to the point that parks and lakes are incorporated into the planning. In this picture the development's fitness center can be seen to the left and a nice gazebo extends into the man made lake. A 4 lane boulevard is just behind me and the lake is surrounded by townhomes and single family housing, but at sunset nature takes over. Nikon D300, Tamron 10-24mm@13mm, f16, ISO200, 5 shot HDR +/- 2ev from 1/50s. Don't you think a bride in silhouette inside the gazebo would be lovely?

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Virginia sunset Thu, 31 Oct 2013 13:15:43 GMT
Ode to a Thistle Impulse S Fall 0085Impulse S Fall 0085Fall Shots in Woods Behind Townhouse It has been longer than a week since I was out shooting...time with grandchildren does trump all other endeavors. For several years my wife has told me when I get what she thinks is cranky, "why don't you go for a run or a bike ride?" because she knows I begin to miss it (and she really thinksI am getting cranky). I have learned that my photography impacts me similarly - I just need to shoot a few pictures on a regular basis. I am also learning to present different challenges to myself which in this case was to capture an image using a fixed focal length lens of a mid-range focal length. A subject I return to often is the thistle both in the Spring when it is a beautiful royal purple and in the fall when it is a brown sentinel announcing winter is coming. The sky was a brilliant fall blue and the noon time wintering sun already low in the sky. Placing one of the seed heads in front of the sun, I shot directly into it thus silhouetting the thistle seed heads. Olympus OMD E-M5, Leica Summilux 25mm/1.4, f4, 1/4000s. ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Thistle Virginia fall nature Tue, 29 Oct 2013 21:16:24 GMT
Easy Art Orchid C 64bday 0042Orchid C 64bday 0042Mini Orchid from Claire's 64th Birthday I seem to go through on and off periods with my photography. Sometimes I will let a week or more pass without shooting and then suddenly I cannot put the camera down. At times the images demand to be taken such as this fall in Vermont. Then I have to hold myself back from subjecting everyone to my pictures. Other times I am not so inspired but a subject keeps calling to me. This image is one. Claire received for her birthday a mini orchid and she keeps it on a table next to her reading chair. For over a week I kept looking at the orchid as a potential picture, but I was uncertain if I could do it justice. Today I decided to try capturing an image that I felt was worthy of sharing. Our cameras now come with many features including "filters" which I wrote about earlier this year - sort of an in camera "photoshop" capability. I have now several pictures of the orchid, many without any particular effect applied, but this image was my favorite. Other than some slight cropping of the image, this is exactly as it appeared in the camera when the Line Art filter was applied. Olympus OMD E-M5 40-150mm@135mm, f5.5, 1/60 s, ISO 1600.


(American Roots Photography) 2013 flower macro Thu, 17 Oct 2013 20:30:47 GMT
Fall View From Rocks Hagge Fall 13 0207PXHDRHagge Fall 13 0207PXHDRFall Pictures from Hagge's Home, Lynds Hill Road

Those who follow this blog will recognize this scene and I have been encouraged by some to capture the view in all 4 seasons. The winter and summer versions are below and hopefully I will get spring in 2014. I just need a name for the series. Lynd's Hill Views, Plymouth, VT; Olympus OMD EM-5, m.zuiko 12-55mm@12mm, f5.6, 1/125s, ISO200, sunrise.

Hagge Summer 0164Hagge Summer 0164Landscapes from Hagge Home and Lynds Hill Rd Hagge Feb HDR Efex6-10AHagge Feb HDR Efex6-10ASouthern Landscape View from Hagge Home on Lynds Hill


(American Roots Photography) 2013 Hill Landscape Lynd's Plymouth Vermont Fri, 11 Oct 2013 22:37:31 GMT
Vermont Peak Foliage Sunrise Hagge Fall 13 0222Hagge Fall 13 0222Fall Pictures from Hagge's Home, Lynds Hill Road

"The first week of October in Vermont is the unbearably beautiful American time and place. Brilliant yellow birch-covered hills slope down to glowing green meadows. Every sugar maple along every country lane combusts in scarlet and gold. The autumn sun brightens the white church steeples in the pretty valley towns. Plump pumpkins appear in orange pyramids outside the crossroads stores, and the smell of wood smoke hangs in the air. The intensity of the season so overpowers the senses that autumn cannot be remembered one year to the next, so its splendor always comes as a shock." Charles Kuralt. I certainly could not say it better. Photo at sunrise 10/1/13 from atop Lynd's Hill Road, Plymouth, VT. Olympus OMD EM-5, m.zuiko 12-50mm@12mm, 1/160s, f5.6, ISO200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont fall foliage Thu, 10 Oct 2013 14:12:08 GMT
Variations on an Iconic Shot Beall Fall 13 0068Beall Fall 13 0068John and Jamie Beall Family in Vermont Fall 2013

We all like visiting well known places like the Eiffel Tower and, of course, taking a photo to show family and friends. A problem arises as to how do you make your Eiffel picture standout from thousands of others taken from pretty much the same vantage point. My niece and her family visited us this week and they luckily arrived just as foliage was peaking. Friday I took them on a foliage and covered bridge drive which included the Jenne Farm. The Jenne Farm has the reputation of one of the most photographed farms in New England, if not the world. And Fall is usually the most popular time to visit. The Jenne family readily shares their piece of Vermont but do have a donation box nailed to a big Maple tree alongside the road and have Vermont maple syrup for sale. As I soaked in the post card perfect setting, I wondered what could I do to make my photo a little different. My niece's 4 year old daughter provided the answer. I asked her to go part way down the road to the farm buildings and then run back up the road towards me as I fired off multiple shots. This was my favorite. Olympus OMD E-M5 with m.zuiko 40-150mm@ 40mm, ISO 200, f5, 1/125s. And yes I left a donation.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Jenne Landscape Vermont Sat, 05 Oct 2013 21:07:22 GMT
Marriage Across Space and Time Taughannock Falls 0067_HDRTaughannock Falls 0067_HDRFall Pictures at Taughannock Falls near Ithaca, NY

Each year my college roommates and our spouses get together for 1 or 2 weekends together. Taughannock Falls 0104Taughannock Falls 0104Fall Pictures at Taughannock Falls near Ithaca, NY This last weekend was spent in Ithaca, NY which abounds with numerous and fantastic waterfalls both in the city and nearby. This year the 3 couples visited Taughannock Falls just 7 miles north of Ithaca on the west side of Cayuga Lake. The falls are 215 feet high making them the highest single drop falls east of the Mississippi River and 33 feet taller than Niagara Falls. As seen in this picture, the falls have eroded a large gorge over time creating a beautiful, enjoyable space. The falls can be viewed from below and, as here, from above. When we arrived at the overlook, we were pleasantly surprised that a wedding was being set-up. I took the picture above from the overlook and then retreated back up the stone staircase. Then we became uninvited attendees at the beginning of a new marriage which we all wished was a lasting as ours. Both images with Olympus OMD E-M5, m.zuiko 12-50mm. First image 5 shot handheld HDR @12mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/250s +/- 2 ev; 2nd image @27mm, f8, 1/200 s., ISO 200. Among the 3 couples - 126 years of marriage.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 New Taughannock York fall waterfalls Mon, 30 Sep 2013 15:23:50 GMT
Red, White, and Blue  

Hagge Fall 13 0036Hagge Fall 13 0036Fall Pictures from Hagge's Home, Lynds Hill Road

As I have said before, often when shooting there is the picture you intended to shoot and the one that presents itself. I was at my friend's house on Lynd's Hill Rd in Plymouth, VT hoping to do a nice fall panorama. Just as the sun came up the clouds moved in. The negative impact of this was the valley to the right of this picture was not going to see morning sun. The positive impact was a colorful sky. I decided the white chairs against the blue and red sky was a picture worth capturing. Olympus OMD E-M5 with m.zuiko 12-55mm @13mm, 1/60s, f7.1, ISO 800.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont fall sunrise Sun, 29 Sep 2013 23:04:38 GMT
Not Summer, Not Fall Hagge Fall 13 0165Hagge Fall 13 0165Fall Pictures from Hagge's Home, Lynds Hill Road

Partly because I have been working on my Alaska photos and partly because I have been lacking inspiration, I have not taken any photos for a couple of weeks. But as the hills are starting to show fall color, I am getting out. This morning I shot from atop a hill in Plymouth, VT and as I was going home I decided to take a look at this view of Echo Lake which I had noted a couple of months ago. The sun had risen with promise of a sunny day but clouds began to roll in. No wind was on the lake yielding a nice reflection of the clouds and hillsides. As can be seen, the grass is still green but some leaves are down and spotty color is evident in the hills. And obviously someone hopes for a last boat ride. Nikon D300 with Tamron 10-24mm@22mm, f7.1, 1/100 s, ISO 200. My boat comes out next week as temps are dipping into the 30's at night.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont fall lake sunrise Thu, 26 Sep 2013 22:45:40 GMT
All That Glitters Alaska 2013 0248Alaska 2013 0248Marah and Holly Pics from Quest Gala at Ludlow Town Hall One of my favorite songs is "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell which includes the line "you don't know what you've got till it's gone". This song has been in the back of my mind as I have been sorting through my 1200+ images and videos from Alaska. Reflecting back on the incredible beauty of Alaska and the phenomenal abundance of fish and wildlife, I had a glimpse into the abundance that the first colonists wrote about when they arrived on the Atlantic shore of America. The abundance in Alaska is to a large degree built upon the various species of salmon many of which return from Bristol Bay and migrate up the rivers of the Alaska Peninsula and Lake Iliamna watersheds. Water is in abundance in these lowland, tundra areas and the water is connected to Bristol Bay. In the 1980's one of the world's largest copper ore deposits was identified on the northwestern side of the Lake Iliamna watershed between the Koktuli river and Talarick Creek. This deposit, known as Pebble, also contains gold and molybdenum and has become the site of a proposed open pit mine. The size of the deposit and the potential mine are mind numbing in size. To extract the several billion pounds of copper would require the grinding and extraction of billions of tons of ore as the copper content is only about 1% by volume and distributed in the ore as fine grains. The billion plus tons of ore tailings would then be stored in huge impoundments behind dams projected by some to be taller than Hoover dam. Of course large volumes of water from the streams and rivers would be required, and these same streams can also be contaminated by an impoundment failure. The Pebble Mine partnership promises huge economic benefits to the people of the region and to Alaska while assuring everyone that this can be done in a manner that protects the fishery of Bristol Bay, the largest salmon fishery in the world. Many Alaskans whose livelihood and way of life depend upon the salmon don't think the mine is worth the risk. Others who have visited and hunted and fished the area also wonder if the mine is worth the risk. I fished the Koktuli River and Talarick Creek in 1999 and the images here are reflective of what the area looks like. I am lucky enough to afford to visit and enjoy this pristine area and not sure how much weight my opinion should hold. I do think that the people of the area need to be given the final voice on the mine and whether the jobs and money are worth the potential environmental risk. However, I do know what will be lost when it's gone.

Alaska 2013 0323Alaska 2013 0323Marah and Holly Pics from Quest Gala at Ludlow Town Hall Alaska 2013 0595Alaska 2013 0595Marah and Holly Pics from Quest Gala at Ludlow Town Hall


(American Roots Photography) Alaska Bay Bristol Pebble salmon Mon, 16 Sep 2013 13:43:22 GMT
How Low? 1.4/1600 Emarald Isle 0149 Today's post is definitely inspired by my technical side. The 2 images posted were shot at Emerald Isle on August 26 a half hour after the sun had set and within 6 minutes of each other. One of the favorite things my son and his family like to do is hunt for crabs in the surf at dusk. Emarald Isle 0137 I grabbed my camera (Olympus OMD) with a "fast" lens (Leica Summilux 25mm/1.4) attached to see if I could get some handheld, existing light shots. I opened the lens up and raised the ISO to 1600. These images are a testimony to the low light capability of newer cameras and to image stabilization. The above image shows Venus setting in the Western sky shot at f1.4/1/40s. The other image was shot at f1.6 and 1/4s! And again, both were handheld. Most of the blurring in the second image was due to the people and waves moving. The learning from this is never assume that you can't get the shot.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape NC light low sunset Tue, 03 Sep 2013 14:00:42 GMT
Morning Bath Emarald Isle 0322 On our last morning in Emerald Isle I visited the "infinity" pool one more time in an attempt to get a back lit gull. I set up the camera on a tripod with a remote trigger and then waited for a gull to land. This gull had just bathed himself in the pull and was flapping his wings just as the sun emerged from behind the clouds. Olympus OMD with m.zuiko 12-50mm@26mm, f6.3, 1/500s, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Emerald Isle Landscape NC sunrise Sun, 01 Sep 2013 20:56:03 GMT
Graveyard Stories IMG_0009 Avid genealogists share a love of cemeteries partly for the often surprising information revealed and partly to make a physical connection with ancestors. Plus I find cemeteries often to be very peaceful places. This image is of the "Old Burying Ground" in Beaufort, NC dating from 1711 when it was established by the local Anglican Church. A self guided tour can be made around the cemetery and the handout details some very interesting stories such as the man who married, wrote his will, and died all on the same day.IMG_0008 The image to the right shows the tombstone of Sarah Gibbs. Sarah had been married to a seaman whose ship wrecked and he was eventually presumed dead at sea. Sarah remarried a Mr. Gibbs only to have her first husband return a few years later. The two men got together and decided that Sarah should remain with her second husband but upon her death would be buried with her first so that she might be with him for eternity. Then there was the story of the girl buried in a keg of rum. Brought to the NC colony as an infant, the 11 yr old wanted to see England where she was born. Her mother agreed to the trip only if her father promised her safe return. Tragically she died on the return voyage.IMG_0010 To prevent her being tossed into the sea and to partially fulfill his promise, the father purchased a keg of rum from the captain and placed her in it. Today her tombstone is frequently visited and often people leave shells, small toys, beads, etc. Olympus OMD with m.zuiko 12-50mm.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Beauufort Burying Ground NC Old Fri, 30 Aug 2013 10:31:16 GMT
Ready for Take-off IMG_0006 Sometimes a little patience is rewarded. The pool at our hotel in Emerald Isle has an adjacent, narrow "infinity" pool that the seagulls love to visit and treat as their personal bird bath. But the birds scatter when people approach. I sat down next to the "infinity" pool with my Canon D10 point and shoot and waited for the birds to return. Among the shots was this one. Canon D10, f4, 1/1250 s, 11.5 mm, ISO 80.

(American Roots Photography) Carolina Emerald Isle North seagulls Wed, 28 Aug 2013 12:36:08 GMT
Before Sunrise at the Beach IMG_0005 Getting up early has never been a problem for me but my photography gives me added incentive. Claire and I are vacationing on Emerald Isle with Walt and his family. Sunrises on beaches are particularly appealing, so I was up early this morning. Although there were not a lot of stars out, I was lucky enough to catch the beginning of sunrise with a few stars still visible. Olympus OMD with 12-50mm@12mm, f5.6, 21.5 sec, ISO 200, processed in iPad iPhoto and posted from an iPad mini.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Emerald Indian Isle Landscape beach sunrise Mon, 26 Aug 2013 22:44:24 GMT
One if by Land Alaska 2013 0163 It is no exaggeration that planes are the "cars" of Alaska. IMG_0264 And just as in the lower 48 more durable and work-like vehicles with good drivers are needed in rough terrain, in Alaska it takes good planes and excellent pilots to reach the special fishing places. Tracy Vrem, owner of Blue Mountain Lodge, is just such a pilot and I think his planes can go anywhere. Tracy has both wheeled and float planes. This post is intended to give you an idea of what a wheeled landing is like when fishing a remote but highly productive stream. I am not identifying the stream to help keep it remote and little fished. The video is about 2.5 minutes long showing an initial flyover of a major glacially silted stream followed by a left turn and the clear stream to be fished comes into view. Finally the video shows the landing strip come into view and the initial touchdown. The picture above was shot by friend Rod Wendt showing the plane reaching the end of the "runway". Olympus OMD with m.zuiko 12-50mm@12-20mm, shutter preferred at 60 s. BTW, we caught more fish than we could count.Alaska 2013 0727


(American Roots Photography) 2013 Alaska bush fishing plane Sat, 24 Aug 2013 10:36:07 GMT
Bear Back! Alaska 2013 0589 When a group of cyclists ride on busy roads the trailing cyclist monitors for motorists approaching from behind. When one is sighted, the trailing cyclists shouts Car Back! I have learned when fishing in Alaska the trailing fisherman on the river shouts Bear Back, or something otherwise suitable. On our recent Alaskan fishing trip we saw several bear while we were on the water but soon learned that through appropriate, non-threatening behavior and maintaining a respectful distance the bear would pass pretty much ignoring us. After all at this time of year the bear have plenty of fish available. In the picture below, this mother bear was about 50 yds behind me when I first noticed her. I was in the middle of the Brooks River in Katmai National Park and so was she. Obviously, I waded as fast as I could downstream and to the bank. She eventually moved to the opposite bank while her cubs stayed out of site in the shore vegetation until she passed and was down stream. Olympus OMD with m.zuiko 40-150mm@150mm, f5.6, 1/320 s, ISO 320. Trust me, they look really bigger in real life than in a zoo.

Alaska 2013 0670

(American Roots Photography) Alaska Bear Peninsula Thu, 22 Aug 2013 00:44:49 GMT
Sunrise at Temporary Alaskan Home Alaska 2013 0488_HDR I have returned from my Alaskan Fishing trip and have many pictures to share but will be merciful and only post a few. But I had to start with the Lodge itself. Blue Mountain Lodge is owned and operated by Tracy Vrem and his wife Linda. If you visit the website you should take the time to watch the video because it really captures the essence of the operation. Located 60 miles south of King Salmon, AK on the Alaskan Peninsula, the lodge is only accessible by plane. Those of us from the lower 48 have little appreciation for just how much Alaskans depend upon planes and the logistics involved in moving material and supplies to places like the Blue Mountain Lodge. Everything needed to construct and furnish these 2 buildings had to be flown in, including the Toyota truck between the buildings. Power is supplied from a generator housed in the small building visible on the left side. And of course the fuel for the generator needs to be flown in. We had a wonderful week on the tundra of the Alaskan Peninsula and fished some beautiful streams. And as I already stated I took many pictures. This picture was taken on the one non-cloudy morning as the sun rose. Olympus OMD with m.zuiko 12-50mm@12mm, 5 shot HDR, f6.3, 1/20s +/- 2ev.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Alaska Landscape sunrise Mon, 19 Aug 2013 18:14:35 GMT
Young Guns I have not posted much in the last month partly because I have been teaching photography to a group of 9th and 10th grade students in our local Ludlow area. Borrowing from a Rotary club in New Hampshire, the Ludlow Rotary club partnered with the town to launch Quest. The Quest program is summed up at at the Ludlow website - "for 7-weeks a total of 27 students entering into 9th and 10th grade were treated to a unique summer experience filled with recreational and educational activities that included kayaking, fly fishing, archery, culinary arts, photography, carpentry, video production, jewelry making, dancing, sports, automotive and much more.  Special field trips were also planned during the 7-week program." With the help of my friend, Barb Wendt, we spent several weeks exploring with 8 students the basics of photographic composition. And the results exceeded everyone's expectations. The slide show below shows the 51 photos exhibited by the students at the Quest Gala last night. These shooters qualify as talented "young guns".

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Quest Vermont Thu, 08 Aug 2013 20:17:21 GMT
Meditation Meditation 0001 Our location near the dam at Red Bridge on the Black River is a magnet for many during the summer. Most are participating in active water sports such as swimming or Kayaking. Often some are unwinding with lubricating beverages. But yesterday I spied this young man who had decided to use the location in a much more contemplative way. The low sun provided excellent light and with a telephoto lens I was able to capture the moment from my deck without disturbing him. Olympus OMD with m.zuiko 40-150mm@132mm, f8, 1/320 s, ISO 640. Sometimes we do better by being still.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Vermont lake meditation Wed, 07 Aug 2013 18:45:41 GMT
Old Flower IMG_0001 Among the summer blessings in our home town of Ludlow, VT are Laura's flowers. Laura provides from her garden each summer flowers for the church altar and her flowers are absolutely gorgeous. Today I was drawn to a tiny flox flower framed by the curve of a petal from a very large  lily. I had my phone camera and decided to try and get a picture. Laura now lives in her childhood home and she explained to me that this particular flox was over a hundred years old having been planted in the garden by Laura's mother. This picture also afforded me an opportunity to practice my mobile photo processing skills before my trip to AK next week. The photo was automatically uploaded to my Dropbox cloud storage. I then accessed it with my iPad Mini and processed it with iPhoto on the iPad. From there I uploaded it to my blog gallery using another iPad app and then made this post, again using the iPad. Assuming I can get some internet access in AK, I hope to do some fishing reports from there. Thank-you to Laura for the inspirational 100 year old flox.







(American Roots Photography) Vermont Winter flower Sun, 04 Aug 2013 19:12:22 GMT
Father & Son Having Fun Father & Son 0017

I go through periods sometimes when I just am not very motivated to take a picture and then an image presents itself. We are in the middle of the summer vacation season and our little piece of Vermont is popular to visit. Yesterday, my neighbor who willingly shares his water toys with anyone whom asks (or at times with those he recruits) had loaned a kayak to a father and his young son. As they kayaked near the bridge, I spied them from my deck and rushed to grab my camera. Thus I captured a little bit of summer joy shared by a father and son. Olympus OMD, m.Zuicko 40-150mm@138mm, f8, 1/80 s, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) Tue, 30 Jul 2013 12:26:13 GMT
No Cable, One Car Leica 1st Shots 0029 Sometimes an image needs a back story and this is such an image. When we moved to Vermont, Claire and I decided to give up broadcast and cable TV, although we will watch videos. Surprisingly to us, many of our acquaintances find this a little odd and often ask, "How do you know what is going on." We reply "radio, newspapers, and the internet", but that answer often seems to be less than satisfactory. About 3 years ago we decided to have just one car. This week Claire is away on a trip and so I am using my bike to get around. Plus I am like Blanche DuBois and receiving rides from the kindness of (not so) strangers. And now the reason for the post is reached. Monday night an old acquaintance called and asked me to breakfast, to which I replied that either I could bike to meet him or he would need to pick me up. His reply was, "so this one car thing is not working out so well". I informed him it actually was, but I still needed to work around not having a car this week. Neither Claire or I are on a crusade regarding TV or multi-car ownership, but we have found it interesting that these 2 items have become core to American life. Not only must we have TV's in several rooms in the house but now they play in restaurants, airports, etc. They are even at the gas pump. And we now need an automobile for each of us at our constant disposal, seemingly starting as soon as a driving license is issued. Claire and I have become surprised that people look at us askance simply because we have chosen no cable and one car. Olympus OMD and Leica Summilux 25mm/1.4 @ f1.8 (for blurred background), 1/4000s. Yes it is a new lens because one camera and lens just doesn't work out well for me.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Vermont cycling Wed, 24 Jul 2013 20:26:11 GMT
Huck Would Be Proud Quest 3 0752 I first read the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the fifth grade and re-read it twice more before graduating from high school. It remains a favorite of mine partly because of the wonderful descriptions of the trip on the raft down the Mississippi River. This last week has been unusually hot. And every year during hot weather this raft appears at the Red Bridge Dam which my deck overlooks. I have always referred to it as the Huck Finn raft and look forward to its return each year. We see many fancy kayaks and canoes and a smattering of small fishing boats, but this "vessel" is unique. This year I introduced myself and asked to take a picture. I also learned that like true Vermonters, the owners were imminently practical. The raft is actually a detachable part of their dock and outfitted with a small trolling motor and some poles they can easily move the mile upstream to the dam. Canon D10 waterproof camera, 6.2mm, f2.8, 1/640 s, ISO 125.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Black River Vermont Thu, 18 Jul 2013 19:41:05 GMT
Sarah Snapshot 2013-07-17 09.46.59a Today's image is a snapshot with my phone camera. An objective with many of my photos is to tell a story but often it is the story behind the picture that needs telling. On my morning ride I stopped at Bridgewater Corner's for a snack and met Sarah from Portland, OR. Having started in Portalnd, OR last May, Sarah was now headed west having reached Portland, ME last week. She began today's ride at 5AM and tonight was to be spent in Rutland. Soon she is ending this years biking journey in Ticonderoga, NY with family - to go backpacking. And she has been riding solo. We all have dreams of what we wish to do - and bicycle touring is Sarah's. Her blog detailing her adventure can be read here. Sarah, you brightened my day and put some strength in my legs as I biked up to Plymouth Notch.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Vermont cycling Wed, 17 Jul 2013 22:44:20 GMT
Weight of Winter Hagge Feb HDR Efex6-10A My cousin Edie suggested I need a seasonal picture from the same vantage point atop Lynd's Hill as the nice summer shot posted yesterday. I did do one last February when at least 2 feet of snow blanketed the high ground. Actually, this was the first time at this location for me and I had no idea what was beneath me and only the top of the rock was exposed. The weather and been snowy but late in the day the cloud cover to the west was breaking and the sun began to filter through. The sun is about the same height in both pictures but the summer picture was taken 2.5 hours later in the day. Nikon D300 with Tamron [email protected], f20, ISO 200. Below I show the pictures side by side and BTW the adirondack chair is under the deck.

Hagge Feb HDR Efex6-10A Hagge Summer 0164


(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont Winter Sat, 13 Jul 2013 17:59:47 GMT
Room(s) With a View (3) Hagge Summer 0164 As I have written before, I have a good friend that lives on top of a hill in Plymouth, VT. Together we have been working on a series of panorama views at different seasons. While shooting the summer panorama I decided that this was too nice a shot to pass up. This rock formation is at the southern end of her lawn and the view is due south with the setting sun camera right. I placed the adirondack chair in the picture to add additional "New England" character. Nikon D300 with Tamron [email protected], 1/80 s, f13, ISO 200. Wouldn't you like to sit in the chair on a summer evening?

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Hill Landscape Lynds Plymouth Vermont Fri, 12 Jul 2013 13:14:08 GMT
Passing Storm Okemo @Sunset 0006_HDR Our town July 4th fireworks were scheduled for last Friday night but a thunderstorm came through at 7P. Ultimately the fireworks were delayed till the next night. In Ludlow when people ask where you live the answer involves reference to either the river (and lakes) or one of the hills surrounding the town - creatively named East, West, North, South. I have friends who live on South Hill with a good view of West Hill (fireworks location and Okemo Mountain). They had kindly agreed to let me shoot the fireworks from their deck. However, the storm intervened. But Mother Nature had her own display planned and thus this image looking north across the river valley to North Hill and beyond. Nikon D300 with Nikkor 17-55mm@28mm, 5 shot HDR, f11, ISO 400, 2.5 s +/- 2ev.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Ludlow Vermont sunset Sun, 07 Jul 2013 13:06:20 GMT
Honoring President Coolidge Calvin July 4 0040 We live just 7 miles from the birthplace and homestead of Calvin Coolidge - "Silent Cal". Calvin July 4 0021 Coolidge attended school in our Town of Ludlow at the Black River Academy which today houses a local area museum. Coolidge's home "village" of Plymouth Notch consists of half dozen buildings which are today pretty much as they were a hundred years ago. In the picture to the right (l to r) is the General Store his father operated, the brown structure where Calvin was born, the "village" church, the cheese factory, and the home Calvin's family owned when he became vice-President. It was this house where Calvin was sworn into office by his own father, a justice of the peace, after Harding died. Calvin was born on the 4th of July and each year a ceremony is conducted to lay a wreath at his gravesite in the nearby Plymouth Notch Cemetery. Today, Claire and I decided to attend this as our July 4th event.

Calvin July 4 0048 Calvin July 4 0050 Calvin July 4 0061

The Vermont National Guard leads a march from the village green to the cemetery led by the Vermont Guard Adjutant General, Major General Stephen Cray. The celebration included a reading by great grandchildren of Calvin and the laying of the wreath by great-great children. Calvin was a small government conservative. Today's reading was from a speech he made to the American Legion Convention in 1925 entitled "Toleration and Liberalism". Click on the link, it is a speech well worth reading. But the most impressive person we met today was a young man on a bike. We were sitting in the rocking chairs on the porch of John Coolidge's (Calvin's father) store when this young man rode up and started up a conversation. He lives in Plymouth Notch today and, as he told us, his father works for the historic site. He was obviously proud of his father and he and his father mow the Plymouth Notch Cemetery. Too many of us are quick to dismiss today's youth, but we are in good hands and Calvin would be proud. All images shot with Olympus OMD and m.zuicko 12-50mm lens.Calvin July 4 0019

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Coolidge Vermont history Fri, 05 Jul 2013 01:28:30 GMT
Happy July 4th July 4 LR Fireworks 0044 Each year a group of individuals put on a fireworks display on our lake - Lake Rescue. They pay for the fireworks out of their own pocket and have built a floating barge just for the annual event. Luckily the display is directly across the lake from me so Claire and I can sit in front of her garden and enjoy the show. Of course, passersby join us making for an impressive but low key celebration of July 4. This image is from the fireworks display last night. Nikon D300 with Nikkor 17-55mm@28mm, f8, 5 s., ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 4th July Landscape Vermont Thu, 04 Jul 2013 11:21:19 GMT
Foggy Morning Black R. - Springfield 0001 We have been having a very rainy June in Vermont and I have to carefully pick my times for bike rides - thank goodness for radar maps on the internet. Yesterday I was out on the bike at 6:15 A hoping to get the ride in before the rain arrived. I also knew my chosen route would take me over the N. Springfield Dam of the Black River where there is a nice up river overlook . I put my waterproof Canon D10 in my jersey pocket. As I crossed the dam I was greeted with a calm river and low hanging fog over the river valley. Biking just does not get much better than in long as you don't mind hills. Canon D10 @ 6.2mm, f2.8, 1/125 s., ISO 100. And I did beat the rain home!

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Black Landscape River Springfield Vermont dam Thu, 27 Jun 2013 17:47:50 GMT
Goodnight Moon Okemo Super Moon 0039 I had promised another Supermoon landscape over Okemo but in the end I just didn't like the image enough to post. So instead I'm closing out the Okemo Supermoon series with a closeup of just the moon. This is a 100% crop of the moon done with my Nikon D300 and a Tamron 70-300mm@170mm, f8, 1/400 s., ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Vermont moon nature Wed, 26 Jun 2013 22:25:16 GMT
Sunrise, Moonset Okemo Super Moon 0126_HDR Following up on yesterday's post, as I finished shooting the Super Moon and was starting to pack, it occurred to me that sunrise was only 40 minutes away. With the gathering clouds a chance for some color was likely. Unfortunately, the heaviest cloud cover was in front of the sun but it did peak through for a few moments. Of course the added benefit of the waking and singing birds, especially the wood thrush, made the moment better yet. Nikon D300 with Tamron 10-24mm@21mm. Five shot HDR f18, ISO400, +/- 2ev from 1/15 s. Tomorrow - another Super Moon  from a different perspective shot within 10 minutes of sunrise.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Ludlow Pinnacle Sunrise Vermont Tue, 25 Jun 2013 12:16:37 GMT
It's Only A Super Moon Okemo Super Moon 0050-Edit_edited-1 You know you are probably becoming a little obsessive about photography when you get out of bed at 3:15A to get a picture. But this is one I've thought about for a long time - a full moonset over the Okemo Valley. Unfortunately early Sunday morning was overcast so I did not get the absolute full moon but being shot at 4:20A this does catch the moon just 22 hrs past it's peak. The image was made from The Pinnacle in Ludlow, VT. A problem with moon photography is that the moon is both very bright and moving fast. Most photographers overcome this problem by shooting 2 images and then combining them - which I did. I also added a little artistic license by using my flashlight to "light" paint the rocks during the long exposure shot. D300 for both shots: Moon - Tamron 70-300mm@170mm, f8, 1/400s, ISO 200; Landscape - Tamron 10-24mm@10mm, f11, 30 s., ISO 400. Combine and post-processed in Lightroom 5 and Photoshop Elements. Tomorrow - the sunrise that occurred just 45 minutes later.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Ludlow Okemo Pinnacle Vermont nature Mon, 24 Jun 2013 18:29:03 GMT
Coolidge Meets Fellini Coolidge 0008-Edit On Wednesday as I my bike ride was taking me to the top of Plymouth Notch, I spied this meadow and undulating hill set against a blue sky with wonderful clouds. For me this image could have been shot in many places of the world. In my mind I was in Italy, not Vermont. I just wish Sophia was standing on the horizon. I love the post WWII Italian B&W films with their high contrast, surreal look. So I converted the picture to B&W but left just a touch of color in the yellow flowers in the meadow. Behind this meadow is the original Coolidge homestead and just to the left is a road leading up to the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Homesite. Olympus OMD with m.Zuiko 12-55mm@13mm, f13, 1/200 s, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Coolidge Landscape Vermont Sat, 22 Jun 2013 14:23:55 GMT
Lithe and Lovely Lupine Lupine 0108-Edit The Lupine is one of the more popular June flowers in the Northeast with people frequently commenting on having seen them in various places. Franconia Notch, NH even has an annual Lupine Festival. This year, probably due to cooler and wetter weather, the Lupine have been particularly lovely. Lupines belong in the legume family and as early as the Romans references can be found that their beans are edible. Normally sold in a salt solution like olives or pickles, the beans are consumed in many countries with the most numerous dishes found in the Mediterranean countries. This image was captured just as the rising sun hit the field: Nikon D300 with Nikkor 17-55mm@19mm, f20, 1/10 s., ISO 200. I wonder if Euell Gibbons ever ate Lupine neans

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Lupine Vermont Fri, 21 Jun 2013 21:38:08 GMT
Lake Cottage Lake Cottage 0088 This image is a shot of my favorite home (other than mine) on our lake - Lake Rescue in Ludlow, Vermont. Everything in this picture is classical New England lakeside. From the wood shingle siding, to the Andirondack chairs on the dock, to the wooden Larson "Knock on Wood" the elements are iconic to New England. The vegetation at the water's edge not only captures a New England lakeside feel, but it is environmentally far better than the over-fertilized and herbicide laden lawns that water side homes exhibit today. This image was taken as the sun peaked over the mountains to the right giving nice highlights. Being Vermont in early June the temperature was 41 when I got in my Whaler at 6A. Nikon D300, Tamron 70-300mm@70mm, f5, 1/500s, ISO 1000.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont lake Thu, 20 Jun 2013 23:33:04 GMT
Refreshed Rosa Rugosa June Flowers 0002 I recently wrote about the hardy Rosa rugosa also commonly called the Cape Cod Rose. Yesterday I received a new lens that I had ordered my Olympus OMD and naturally I wanted to immediately try it out. Yesterday was also rainy which happens to be the perfect time to photograph flowers and I targeted this Rosa Rugosa. The overcast light allows colors to be rendered vibrantly without harsh highlights and water droplets wonderfully enhance any flower image. I used a relatively low f stop which along with the telephoto focal length isolated flower from the distant background trees. Olympus OMD mounted with 40-150mm@114mm, f5.2, 1/250 s., ISO 500. I like this lens.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Macro Rosa Vermont nature rugosa Wed, 19 Jun 2013 12:17:18 GMT
Room(s) With a View II HaggeSummerDoubleTakemidexp-Edit-Edit

In the winter I posted a landscape taken from atop Lynds Hill Road where good friends recently relocated. Nancy fell in love with the views, which are spectacular. I have volunteered to capture some panoramas for her at different times of the year. This sunset image is a 180 degree panorama looking south to the left of the image and north to the right. A third of the way from the left the tall distant peak is Okemo Mountain and the sun is setting just to the left of Killington Mountain which is hidden by the trees. The image is 5 shots stitched together shot with my Nikon D300 mounted (in portrait mode) with a Tamron [email protected], f16, 1/13 s, ISO200. Some "ghosting" can be seen in the trees as it was very windy...and the black flies caused my legs to be peppered with red spots by the end. Should not have worn shorts.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Plymouth Vermont Tue, 18 Jun 2013 15:10:41 GMT
A Rugged Rose Cape Cod Roses 0017-Edit Those of you who have visited us in Vermont know how close we are to the Red Bridge over the Black River. Partially as a discouragement to individuals who want to cross our property as a short cut to the river and mostly for beauty, Claire has planted roses along the road approaching the bridge. But not just any roses could make it in this location. In the winter the snowplows dump large volumes of snow embedded with road salt and sand right on top of these roses. Luckily Claire chose "Cape Cod Roses" which are very salt tolerant and each year recover quickly from their winter trials bursting forth with sweet scented roses. The rose truly earns its botanical name Rosa Rugosa. This particular image was constructed from a single petal that had fallen and the center part of another flower past its prime. Nikon D300, Nikkor 85mm macro, f20, 2 sec., ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Macro Vermont nature Wed, 12 Jun 2013 19:01:32 GMT
How Does Your Garden Grow? 2013-06-10 10.03.55 Although not perfect small towns do offer glimpses into a time when community meant something different than a Facebook or Google Plus group. Claire and I returned to Ludlow, VT on Saturday night. Today as I passed through town on a bike ride I noticed the Ludlow Garden Club putting up flower boxes on the Memorial Bridge. In larger towns and cities such activity today is done by the Parks and Recreation department or contracted out by the agency charged with such activity. But in small towns civic groups volunteer their time to keep the town attractive and pleasing to visit. Noticing my friend Susan Kneebone among the group, I stopped and asked to take her picture with the Black River in the background. Shot with my Sony Xperia phone camera: 4.5mm, f2.4, 1/640, ISO 50.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont Mon, 10 Jun 2013 19:45:40 GMT
Jellies Invasion Baltimore Aquarium 0064 The above image was shot at the Baltimore National Aquarium located at the Inner Harbor. The image catches 3 different view of the Northern Sea Nettle which is one of nine jellyfish species at the "Jellies Invasion" exhibit. The Jellyfish species is at least 500 million years old and the oldest multi-organ animal on earth. Their numbers are also growing at concerning rates due to over fishing and killing of some of their predators such as tuna and sea turtles. As predators themselves, high numbers of jellyfish can seriously disrupt the food cycle of the oceans. Putting that concern aside, jellyfish are fascinating animals to observe. Olympus OMD with 12-50mm@42mm, f6.3, 1/60, ISO1600, handheld.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Baltimore aquarium jellyfish nature Fri, 07 Jun 2013 22:08:09 GMT
Going to Carolina in My Mind Carolina BBQ in Ashburn, Virginia Carolina BBQ 0071_HDR Carolina BBQ 0041_HDR

In Virginia we live in Ashburn which is a stereotypical suburban development of the early 21st century - townhomes, apartments, condos, large single family homes surrounding shopping areas and recreational fields -  e.g. suburban sprawl. Locating what was once the country farm village called Ashburn is difficult. Through the first half of the 20th century, Ashburn was basically a train stop on the W&OD trail serving the needs of the local farming community. Located near the stop was the Partlow Bros. store which first served as a feed and seed store and later was the only grocery store serving the area within an 8 mile radius. Luckily the Partlow building somehow avoided the destruction of development mania and 8 years ago was purchased by Danny Hurdle who was originally from North Carolina. Carolina BBQ was born and it is authentic and great. They also serve the only potato salad I have ever had that matches my mother's. To enter Carolina BBQ is to be transported back in time as you walk the bare wood floors - no fast food chain faux kitch here. Today the W&OD trail stands just to the left of the building providing a wonderful way to calorie load before and after a bike ride. Anyone who ever visits me in Ashburn will always be subjected to Carolina BBQ because I am mean like that. Images are 5 shot HDR taken at sunrise with Nikon D300 and Tamron 10-24mm@12mm, f16, 1/13s +/- 2ev, ISO 200, processed in HDR Efex Pro2.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Virginia Wed, 05 Jun 2013 13:46:31 GMT
LIfe- Made Fun by the Absurd and the Ridiculous Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 4.25.12 PM Yesterday's blog briefly told the life of the 17 year cicada - a life cycle that some might view as absurd and ridiculous. But for me the story is also fun. The  concept of a fun life being composed of both the absurd and ridiculous comes from Edie Sundy, a Littlefield cousin of mine. Edie recently walked 793 miles in 58 days along the old Spanish Mission Trail in California, averaging 14.5 miles per day. This would have been a singular accomplishment by anyone, but Edie did it just 3 months after having half a lung removed and after 6 years of combating advanced gall bladder cancer. The image above was a still taken from a video produced by Dara Padwo-Audick, a film maker and founder of Enlightened Media, LLC. Please take the time to watch Dara's short video (2.5 minutes) and listen to what Edie has to say. Hugs on the Heart side to cousin Edie!

00 A Walk of Joy - Life Reimagined EDIE 230 FINAL720 - May 2013


(American Roots Photography) 2013 inspiration Tue, 04 Jun 2013 21:15:40 GMT
A "Cicadian" Rhythm Cicadas 0102A As some of you may know, 2013 is a year in which several million cicacdas will emerge from the ground after 17 years in the nymph stage. The adults have a face that probably only a "mother" cicada could love but I do think they are kinda cute. The ground has to reach 64 degrees before they will emerge, which happened this past week in Northern Virginia. Recognizing I will need to live to 80 before I get another chance to photograph them, I set out today to locate and shoot these fascinating critters. I located a nice brood near Manassas, VA in a development of million dollar homes. In the areas they emerge there can be almost a half million per acre. They merge, mate and live 2-6 weeks as adults. When the new eggs hatch the nymphs go back into the ground for another 17 year period. But as you will see from the short video they not only make themselves physically present but they do so in a very loud way. Stills shot with Nikon D300 and Nikkor 85mm macro. Video shot with Olympus OMD and 12-55mm.Cicadas

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Virginia macro nature Tue, 04 Jun 2013 00:36:50 GMT
Duck, Duck, Goose W&OD Goose Crk 0003 Today's image is yet another from the W&OD. I was on the trail before 6AM to avoid the heat and just to greet the wonderful sunrise. Just west of Ashburn, VA the W&OD crosses Goose Creek which is a major tributary of the Potomac River and classified as a VA Scenic River. The trail bridge is at least 50 feet above the water as can be seen by the tops of the trees. The sun was rising over my left shoulder and skimming the tops of the trees on the left bank while fully illuminating the trees on the right bank. Canon D10, 6.2mm, f2.8, ISO 160. And yes at times both ducks and geese can be seen on the stream.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Virginia W&OD Fri, 31 May 2013 17:42:49 GMT
Welcome to Paradise AM Walk 0074 AM Walk 0053 An expression often stated is that a "man's home is his castle". A more encompassing and gender neutral statement might be "a person's neighborhood is their paradise". The image to the left was taken on the backside of a nearby town home. The back overlooks the lake formed by the detention pond used to regulate runoff from development. Indeed even in suburbia many pleasant surprises can be found. Early this morning I grabbed both my big Nikon (mounted with a 70-300mm) and my smalller Olympus OMD (12-50mm) and went for a walk. Luckily behind our town home is an area that for part of the year is a wooded wetland and therefor set aside from development. As I entered the woods I was first met with the unmistakable sweet scent of honeysuckle and even revisited my youth by partaking of the sugar in a couple of blossoms. As I emerged from the far side of the woods both I and a fox were suddenly surprised by each other. Unfortunately there was not a lot of light so the image is not that sharp but I did finally get a shot of him. As I walked on across a meadow and behind the town homes on the other side of the woods, I came to the lake mentioned above. A great blue Heron was fishing in the lake and I was able to get close enough for a picture before he took off. And then as I turned to go home, I was reminded that I was in suburbia and only a 5 miles from Dulles Airport. But for my brief walk I was in my own private paradise.

AM Walk 0084 AM Walk 0003
AM Walk 0025 AM Walk 0048


(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Virginia macro nature Thu, 30 May 2013 14:06:12 GMT
Not the General Lee W&OD Old Cars 0002 In the early 80's the tv show The Dukes of Hazzard was fairly popular. Like many shows, especially during that time period, each episode followed a predictable script and pacing which included a "jump" made by the Duke boys in their 1969 Dodge Charger before a commercial break. Probably not well known is that every car used in a long jump was retired afterwards due to structural damage and the show is estimated to have gone through at least 250 Dodge Chargers. As I bike along the W&OD trail near Leesburg a car repair shop is located just adjacent to the trail and I have passed this car numerous times making a mental note to take a picture one day. Often other vehicles are present obstructing the view. Today I was out early on my bike ride and was rewarded with a clear shot. I had my Canon D10 in my jersey pocket and grabbed a couple of shots trying to recreate a "jump" perspective. I have tentatively identified the car as a 1958 Dodge Coronet, but may be wrong. For me all cars from the 1956-1959 years are still my stylistic favorites. They also had great engines! Canon D10, 6.2mm, f2.8, 1/200 s, ISO 160 - not bad for a point and shoot camera.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Virginia car old Wed, 29 May 2013 17:36:29 GMT
Plays With Camera Glen Echo 0016 My son David was a film student in college and can be quite harsh in his critique of even very popular movies. Probably my favorite of his critiques was of a movie that won 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture - "director plays with camera". I have learned to "play" with my camera often using tips from Bryan Petersen. I have several of Bryan's books and frequently turn to his tips for creative shots, as I did in this image. The key is to use a wide angle lens and to get low to the ground. Ava appears to have leaped from atop the pedestal on this old fountain. Actually she just ran and jumped from the stone base. But the wide angle lens tends to distort perspective and thus the dramatic effect. Olympus OMD, 12-50mm@13mm, 1/320 s, f6.3, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Virginia angle wide Tue, 28 May 2013 12:53:27 GMT
Macro Construction Leaf Macro 0005-Edit

As I continue to explore the capabilities of my new Olympus OMD camera and the 12-50mm lens, I did a macro shot yesterday. The lens has a macro mode locking the focal length at 43mm. The shot was made at 1 sec., f11 on a tripod. The composition was suggested by the work of Mike Moats, a pro photographer concentrating exclusively on macro work. Mike is a favorite of mine for 3 reasons. First, he produces wonderful fine art macro images. Secondly, he shoots with consumer level equipment to emphasize that anyone can make the images that he does. Finally, although Mike does do paid workshops he also freely shares his knowledge and techniques online. One of the approaches I have learned from MIke is to not be constrained by just shooting objects as you find them. Even natural subjects, such as leaves, can benefit from arranging them in a different configuration. I liked the teeth on these leaves (American Elm) and the strong contrast in color shade between top and bottom. Finally all macro shooters quickly learn to shoot after a rain shower or to add drops of water.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Macro Virginia nature Mon, 27 May 2013 13:57:16 GMT
Let's Ride The Carousel Glen Echo 0074

Glen Echo 0059 Glen Echo 0036 Glen Echo 0043

Glen Echo 0019


Glen Echo 0001 Although today we have a few gigantic amusement and theme parks such as Disney World, in the first half of the 20th century numerous cities and towns had smaller scale versions. But these parks probably provided as much joy and certainly were more accessible without a major financial commitment. Yesterday we took Ava and Leah to Glen Echo Park, 6 miles northwest of Georgetown, DC. The park was originally intended as a Chautauqua dedicated to the arts and culture, but financial difficulties of the founders led to the conversion of the property to an amusement park by 1900. The amusement park remained in operation until 1968 when it closed due to declining attendance just as did most amusement parks like it all over the country. In 1971 the park came under the National Park Service as part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway and is jointly managed with the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture returning the park to its roots. Today the Park is well known for its antique Dentzel carousel, its Spanish Ballroom, its many public festivals, including Family Day and the Washington Folk Festival, its children's theaters, and its social dance program. The carousel was built in 1921 and is in operation today with Ava and Leah taking several rides yesterday. And this summer when Leah takes her theater classes at Glen Echo she have more opportunity to participate in the same joy as that of children almost 100 years ago. But not all children partook of this joy. As a private enterprise, the park was "whites only" accessible. In 1960 demonstrations, originating with students from Howard University, brought a spotlight on this discriminatory practice. In 1961 the park was opened to all thus placing the park into page of the Civil Rights movement.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Park Virginia Sun, 26 May 2013 17:49:08 GMT
The Grist MIll Colvin Run Mill 0007

Today I was scouting places to take the granddaughters and I also ended up making a photography scouting trip. The Fairfax, VA park system includes Colvin Run Mill which today functions both as a park and a historical educational facility for the local schools. The mill originally built c.1811 stayed in operation until 1934 and today is the sole functioning grinding mill in the Washington, DC area. This image is the of Miller's home taken with my Sony Xperia phone camera. I will return with the heavy artillery and when there is better light.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Colvin Landscape Run Virginia Thu, 23 May 2013 21:57:30 GMT
All Aboard! Hamilton Station on the W&OD Trail Hamilton Station 0003 Hamilton Station 0011 Hamilton Station 0021 Hamilton Station 0036

Today I took a longer bike ride on the W&OD going out to Purcellville, VA on a foggy morning. About 3 miles East of Purcellville the W&OD passes by a old building that I had always thought to be an old Feed store that traditionally supplied farmers with items needed on the farm. And because I always noted cars in the graveled parking area, I had assumed it to be still active. As it turns out the building dates to 1870 and served the village of Hamilton as a train station when what eventually became the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) railroad was extended beyond Leesburg after the Civil War. For the remainder of the 19th century and the the first half of the 20th this railroad served as the principal manner in which farmers got their product to Washington and Baltimore. Today the building stands right up against the W&OD trail and is used apparently to store hay. A feed store does exist but it stands at the base of the grain silos seen in one of the pictures. As a young boy when my Dad had a farm in Arkansas I remember going to the feed store on Saturday in the GM pickup he had. And if I was lucky I got a Baby Ruth and a 6 oz. coke. Olympus OMD, 12-50mm@12mm, f5.6, 1/50s - 1/200s, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Virginia Wed, 22 May 2013 19:26:17 GMT
Silky Water PFLA Poconos 0075 This image is another shot at the Paradise Falls in Cresco, PA and is of the creek continuing its run down to Brod Creek. The image was made at night and lit by the flood lights on the bridge located to the left and above what is seen here. Even with the lights a 25 second exposure was required which resulted in the water gaining a silky effect. The "silky" water effect has become common among photographers and some viewers like it and some don't. Those to whom the effect doesn't appeal often state that that is not what it really looks like. Obviously, viewers have different criteria and expectations in judging the appeal of an image. However, I do not believe that photographs should be judged by whether or not they represent the "real" scene because in fact none do. The camera records light and even the simplest point and shoot records that light based upon someone's decision as to how to render it. For me all images are an interpretation of what I see and feel and hopefully others have a positive response. Olympus OMD, 12-50mm@14mm, f9, 25 s, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Pennsylvania Tue, 21 May 2013 11:02:45 GMT
Paradise Falls 2 PFLA Poconos 0070 A second image of Paradise Falls in Pennsylvania done at 9PM under cloudy skies. This shot was taken near the foot bridge that crosses the stream below the falls. A bank of floodlights can be turned on to eliminate the falls at night. Even with the floodlights a very long exposure was required. Olympus OMD with 12-50mm@12mm, f9, 50 seconds.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Pennsylvania Mon, 20 May 2013 13:19:59 GMT
Paradise Falls PFLA Poconos 0039_HDR For many years Claire and I have gotten together with friends from college 1 or 2 weekends a year. The husbands were both fraternity brothers and roommates of mine. And we were dating our spouses at the time so we have all known each other for close to a half century. One couple, being Lutheran, have access to a Lutheran Poconos cottage community started in 1922. On the property is a beautiful trout stream with a falls at the lower end. This image is of the falls and it is the first HDR image done with my Olympus OMD. As I took the 5 shots for the image my friend Gary is just out of the picture to the left hooking up a 14 inch brown trout. 5 shots with 12-50mm@13mm, f13, ISO 200, 1/4 s +/- 2ev.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Pennsylvania Mon, 20 May 2013 00:05:07 GMT
Morning Coffee Fun Morning Coffee 0009 Today's image was part experiment and all fun. I often state that we are in a golden age of photography. Even today's cell phones are capable of images that far surpass the consumer (and some semi-pro) cameras of just 2 decades ago. Additionally we all have access to digital darkrooms that allow amazing manipulation and creativity, all without the health threatening chemicals of the wet darkroom. And now the instant digital darkroom has emerged with products such as Instagram where an effect can be applied in one step, dramatically altering an image. Newer cameras now come with the ability to apply these effects in camera. My new Olympus OMD has 10 such filters and even offers the capability of taking one shot and then generating in camera 10 images (or a chosen subset) applying each of these effects separately. As I sat this morning on the deck with my coffee and reading news on my iPad, I also had the camera nearby. Bonkers, our cat, had joined me and I took the opportunity to make a shot using the in camera Art Line effect. This image is directly from the camera. Explore your in camera darkroom. Olympus 12-50mm@14mm, f3.8, 1/60s, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Effect Virginia Thu, 16 May 2013 12:34:22 GMT
Shenandoah Landscape Shenandoah R. VA Park 0124 Claire and I returned to the Shenandoah River Virginia State Park yesterday. The park has become a new favorite of mine. The river is still brown and high from the recent rains but still scenic. This view is looking to the southwest up river, e.g. river flow is left to right. From here it is 50 miles NE to Harper's Ferry where the Shenandoah converges with the Potomac River. The picture was at 1PM and now I need to return at either sunrise or sunset to capture this scene in golden light. Olympus OMD with 12-50mm@12mm (bottom cropped), f8, 1/500s, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Virginia Wed, 15 May 2013 13:15:01 GMT
Buttercup - Beautiful but Beware Panorama @ Clark's Gap 2 Today's image is yet another shot (last week) from a bike ride near Clark Gap on the W&OD trail. The horse farms near the trail present ever changing vistas. Just 3 weeks a go the fields were full of yellow from Dandelions but now they have gone to seed and a profusion of yellow Buttercups emerged almost completely blanketing the fields. Interestingly, buttercups are poisonous to cattle and horses but their acrid flavor discourages the animals from eating them, although they will consume buttercups if nothing else is available. I assume between the other foliage and hay these horses can avoid the buttercup temptation. I wanted to capture the fields of buttercups in a wider view so the image is actually 3 images stitched together horizontally into a panorama giving around an 80 degree field of view. Each shot: Olympus 12-50mm@14mm, f9, 1/400s, ISO 200, handheld.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Virginia W&OD Tue, 14 May 2013 12:55:40 GMT
View from the Cabin Porch Shenandoah R. VA Park 0090_HDR On the hike in the Shenandoah River Park we came upon a simple cabin set back about 200 feet from the river. The tree line visible above the porch railing on the right is on the river's edge. I was drawn both to the view as well as the green door and doorknob. The composition may not work for everyone but I shot to include both the doorknob as well as a view down the river valley. It is close to noon and the sun is high and to the right making the porch very shaded. So I needed to address the wide range of light. Using the exposure bracketing on the Olympus OMD, I shot handheld 3 shots rapid fire at +/- 1 f stop. The shots were then merged in HDR Efex. Olympus 12-50mm@16mm, 1/200s (and +/- 1 ev), f13, ISO 400.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Virginia Mon, 13 May 2013 11:49:06 GMT
Radiation Detector Shenandoah R. VA Park 0074 On my Friday hike in the Shenandoah River Park I came across a flower that was unfamiliar to me. One of my fellow hikers named it Tradescantia and I subsequently learned that the common name is Spiderwort and a very interesting fact. This flower has stamen hairs that when subjected to radiation turn from blue to pink. If examined under a microscope and the individual cells counted that have changed color, the number is directly proportional to the radiation exposure. Olympus 12-50mm@43mm macro mode, f6, 1/1000s, ISO 800.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Macro nature Sun, 12 May 2013 11:00:00 GMT
Virginia Hill Stream Shenandoah R. VA Park 0111

Yesterday I went hiking with a 2 new acquaintances in the Shenandoah River Virginia State Park located 8 miles southwest of Front Royal. Unfortunately the recent rains caused the river to be high and muddy so the river was not as scenic or accessible as normal. The park itself is 1800 acres of beautiful woods, steep hills, and meadows all accessible by well maintained multi-use trails. This image was a hill side stream about a mile away from the river. Even with the recent rains it ran clear demonstrating that nature is much better at soil management than man. I took the Olympus OMD to try out carrying a lighter camera that was capable of high quality images. I like this camera more each time I use it and I will be posting several images from the hike. Olympus 12-50mm@15mm, 1/100s, f13, ISO 800, handheld.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Virginia nature Sat, 11 May 2013 12:06:20 GMT
Forgotten Barn W&OD May 9 0009 With my new camera I now frequently combine 2 of my favorite activities - cycling and photography. This abandoned barn is just off the W&OD trail near Leesburg, VA. The W&OD trail is just 20 feet beyond the silo. Directly behind this view is a hill leading up to million dollar McMansions which I can only assume were built on the farm this barn once served. Although the barn from this angle still looks servicable, to the left of the tree the roof has collapsed. I would love to know the story behind the barn. The builder obviously was both skilled (look at the stone foundation) and practical. The barn is built into the hillside giving easy access to the loft and the silo is on the up hill side aiding gravity flow from the bottom. Today was basically a photography scouting session as I took pictures all the way around looking for the best angles. Next I need to return at sunrise or sunset to capture the barn in better light as this was taken at noon. Olympus OMD, 12-50mm@18mm, f7.1, 1/2000s, ISO 1250.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Virginia W&OD Fri, 10 May 2013 10:53:35 GMT
Botany Refresher Meadowlark 0024-Edit Today finds one last image from last Saturday's visit to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. The image shows a close-up of the male pollen bearing flowers on a Loblolly Pine, sometimes erroneously called catkins. These are a major source of all that yellow pollen on your car in the Spring. Earlier images have represented the flowers from deciduous trees which often have what we more typically think of as flowers where the male and female parts are both present. Conifers, such as the loblolly pine, are evolutionarily more primitive and the male and female (the cone) flower parts are located separately on the tree. These trees depend upon the wind for pollination which is obviously not as efficient as having pollinating insects capable of transferring pollen from one part of a flower to another on the same flower or an nearby flower. Thus the pine, and other conifers, must produce lots of wind blown pollen resulting in  your yellow car. I would add that the loblolly pine is one of our most important commercial trees as it is utilized in much of our lumber and paper. Setting aside the botany lesson, I found the image just appealing. Olympus OMD, 12-50mm@43 mm, macro mode, 1/160s, f8, ISO 800.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Macro Virginia nature Thu, 09 May 2013 14:20:02 GMT
Hand of God Woods April14 0025 This image was taken almost a month ago and I liked it but "technical" aspects kept me from posting. Specifically "the hand " is not as in focus as I would like. But as a image with something maybe to say, I liked it. For me the suggestion of a hand jumps out. From there one could enter into a discussion about nature, creation, etc. But each individual will bring their own interpretation to the image. Or some may just think it is an image with no impact. Nikon D300, Nikkor 85mm macro, 1/160s, f16, ISO 800, handheld.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Macro Virginia nature Wed, 08 May 2013 23:45:05 GMT
Beauty Among the Weeds OMD 4th 0147

I wonder how much money is spent each year in an attempt to eradicate the Yellow Dandelion. Yet the Dandelion persists and an early Spring meadow filled with Dandelion flowers is truly an enticing visual. Moreover, all parts of the Dandelion are edible. Makes one wonder why the Dandelion is so reviled. Olympus 12-50mm@43mm in macro mode, 1/400s, f7.1, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 macro nature Tue, 07 May 2013 12:00:00 GMT
Half-Hearted Meadowlark 0044-Edit Today's image is another from Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. The leaf was a small emerging leaf on a Redbud tree shot with the Olympus 12-50mm@43mm macro mode, f6.3, 1/1250s, ISO400. I was drawn to the leaf because of the light falling on it and I positioned the shot to have the tree trunk as background. With the exposure and shallow DOF in macro mode the tree trunk went black. The leaf stem cast a shadow on the leaf dividing it in half and the shallow DOF caused the left half to be in focus and the right half not.

Given my title of half-hearted many different interpretations might be suggested by the image. Next Sunday is Mother's Day. Like most of us I would somehow recognize Mom on Mother's Day. But I will admit I was not always as attentive in that recognition as what I think Mom deserved. Now that she is gone I have remorse about that. Here is my admonition to those of you whose Mom's are still with you, do not be half-hearted this Mother's Day.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 macro nature Mon, 06 May 2013 13:17:45 GMT
Flowering Dogwood Meadowlark 0047

Meadowlark 0052 A few flowering trees are iconic such as the Cherry trees in Washington. The Flowering Dogwood is another iconic tree and it shares a attribute with the Cherry tree in that it is beautiful as a whole and each individual flower is also beautiful. The flowers on the Dogwoods at Meadowlark are huge with some approaching 4 inches in diameter. The close-up image was shot handheld with my Olympus OMD and the Olympus M12-50mm in macro mode - 1/400s, f6.3, ISO400. The tree image was shot at 1/2000s, f3.7, ISO400 (it was windy and I wanted a high shutter speed).

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Macro nature Sun, 05 May 2013 13:45:21 GMT
Under the Shade Meadowlark 0031 Today was a beautiful late Spring day in Virginia and Claire suggested we visit Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. Part of the Northern Virginia Park system, the gardens cover 95 acres with a mix of gardens, trees, lakes, gazebos, etc. with an emphasis on native plants and conservation education. One of the areas is dedicated to "Historic Trees". All the trees in this section were propagated from cuttings from trees connected to historical places and people:e.g., a Catalpa from Monticello, a Sycamore from Martin Luther King's church, and even a Pin Oak from Graceland. The tree framing the landscape in this picture is a Red Maple from the Berkley Plantation in Virginia, established in 1619. Besides being the birthplace of a signer of the Declaration of Independence (Benjamin Harrison) and the 9th President (William Henry Harrison), Berkley Plantation is reputed to be the site of the first Thanksgiving (12/4/1619). So I had a nice walk among the gardens, shot several pictures (I will share more in the next few days), and I received a history lesson through trees. I used the Olympus OMD with a 12-50mm@15mm, f9, 1/250s, ISO 200. Note the plaque in the lower left corner for information source.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Virginia Sun, 05 May 2013 00:19:41 GMT
Immigration - Youthful Faces Immigration Reform 0063 First let me state that this blog post is about images of engaging young people and I do not want to start or engage a debate about immigration policy. Most of my photography has focused on Landscape, Nature (especially macro), and some Portraiture. I have recently become more interested in Photojournalism and Street Photography - which are similar but not the same. In Photojournalism a reasonable assumption can be made that your subject is expecting a picture to be made, which is definitely not the case in Street Photography.  When a new acquaintance in Northern Virginia described an Immigration Reform event which would occur locally I jumped at the photojournalism opportunity. Basically a march had been organized to encourage the local US congressman to become more engaged in immigration reform. The congregation of my friend was supporting the march and accepted my offer to take pictures. All of the pictures can be seen here which links to 2 folders of pictures - 1 specific to members of my friend's congregation, and 1 of the broader group. Warning: 102 Pictures in Total! I was surprised by the number of youth at the event and I always find them to be great subjects. The slide show below reflects that youth are all pretty much the same: sweet innocence, best pals, boy looking for mischief, teenagers - sports oriented, shy, energetic, studied indifference, absorbed in digital world, and ebullient college students full of hope. And as I think all of us wish, I desire to see the same smiles and happiness on these faces on into the future.

On the technical side, when shooting an event a decision has to be made as to what lens(es) to use. I knew I would be shooting both inside and outside starting at 5:30 when it was still bright outside. But I also knew the event could last until close to sunset. I prefer not to change lenses during a shoot, so the best choice was my Nikkor 17-55mm/2.8. It gave me a fast lens that could handle extreme changes in light, I could get by without a flash and I could shoot fairly wide. It also meant that I would have to "zoom" with my feet. My status as a "photographer" approved by my friend and a "big" camera made it perfectly acceptable to wander wherever I wanted and "zoom" by getting closer. I kinda like this photojournalism.


(American Roots Photography) 2013 Herndon Photojournalism Thu, 02 May 2013 20:43:33 GMT
Just Horsing Around May W&OD 0020

I know that I have done a couple of horse pictures recently but I could not resist. I now carry my new camera in a fanny pack while riding and today once again I was out on the W&OD between Leesburg and Purcellville, VA. Normally these horses are in fenced pastures further removed from the trail. But today they were in a pasture close to the trail with beautiful flowering trees in the background and a field of dandelions. The white horse barely took notice of me but the brown guy definitely noticed my presence eventually approaching the fence at a gallop. But he quickly returned back to eating. Olympus OMD with Olympus 12-50mm@41mm, 1/50s, f8, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Virginia Wed, 01 May 2013 20:12:20 GMT
In The Pink Pink Carpet 0066 Some images just grab you and say "take this picture". On my way into the fitness center today I spied this cherry tree. Due to the rain of the last 1.5 days most of the cherry blossom petals had dropped. Luckily they were wet enough that the wind had not dispersed them. Thus a nice pink carpet had developed at the base of the tree. I initially shot the picture with my camera phone but I decided to return with my new camera to get a higher resolution image. Although I did not have the camera on a tripod the image is reasonably sharp considering it was handheld at a 1/15 sec. I had the aperture at f16 for max depth of field and I kept the ISO at 200 because I wanted as clean colors as possible. Luckily the image stabilization in the OMD is extremely good. Olympus 12-50mm@12mm.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Virginia nature Tue, 30 Apr 2013 21:01:23 GMT
Early Morning Flights of Fancy April Backyard 0206 A common occurrence in photography is capturing an image that was different than the one originally intended. The woods behind our Virginia town house provide habitat to a surprising range of wildlife including a Red Fox. Early in the morning I have spied him cruising along the edge of thApril Backyard 0177 e woods and yesterday he passed twice within 20 feet of our backdoor. Alas, I was too slow to grab the camera and get the shot. This morning I positioned myself on the deck camera in one hand, coffee in the other. But between the dog walkers and the lawn service I think the fox was too wary to show up. I truly admire wildlife photographers because the element of patience plays so much into their wonderful images. As I sat for an hour and a half I did manage to capture deer and the following birds: Pine Grosbeak, Tufted Titmouse, White Throated Sparrow, Mourning Dove, American Robin, and a Cardinal. The last bird I caught is a favorite of mine - the Common Flicker. The Flicker is a woodpecker and mostly a ground feeder but nests in trees and once you learn their call you will immediately be able to recognize it. The birds are also somewhat shy and difficult to approach close enough to photograph even with a telephoto lens. Just as I was deciding to end my time on the deck, a flicker landed about 40 feet from the deck. I managed to get several shots of the bird on the ground before he took note of me. I was able to get off one shot as he hastily retreated revealing the wonderful yellow in the under wings. I did not get the fox pictured I intended but I did get one that made the morning a pleasant one. Nikon D300 with Tamron 70-300mm @ 270mm, f5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO 800.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Virginia nature Fri, 26 Apr 2013 15:05:51 GMT
Spring - New Growth, New Camera OMD 4th 0103 The first good  camera that I owned was passed down to me from my father - an Argus C3. This camera probably popularized the 35mm format more than any other camera and I dearly wish I had never parted with it. I doubt anyone younger than I even know of the camera, but it was a fairly simple range finder camera that took good pictures. Just yesterday I purchased the latest in a long line of cameras. My trusty Nikon DSLR still works great but I sometimes hesitate to lug it around due to its size. In the last 2 years non-reflex cameras of ever better quality have appeared on the market. The Olympus OMD E-M5 that I bought is 1/4 the size of my Nikon but takes pictures of equivalent quality and I have nearly the same control with both cameras. This image was taken with the "kit" lens (12-50mm) in the 43mm macro mode. Handheld at f10, 1/30s the image has reasonable sharpness. Obviously the dandelion and violet were not found growing together on a bed of new green leaves but I felt together the three made a nice composition. It is always nice to try something new.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Macro nature Wed, 24 Apr 2013 01:42:27 GMT
A View from the W&OD Clark's Gap 0001 Today is another post from the W&OD as I begin to lengthen out my bike rides. The image here was taken near Clark's Gap which is the highest point on the W&OD trail, although at 610 feet we're not exactly talking the Rockies or even the Appalachians. But the gap is a few miles west of Leesburg and the country is a little more open. This part of Loudoun county is also the start of horse country. Today was misty and foggy but views were still pleasing. I had thrown in my Canon D10 into my bike jersey in anticipation of getting a photo and this image was captured with it. The D10 is also waterproof making it a great camera for grandchildren at the pool or shore. Because of the fog I thought the image would show better as a black and white and this really brings attention to one of the horses.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Virginia Thu, 18 Apr 2013 18:08:54 GMT
It's Biking Season! 2013-04-17 11.05.32 One of the advantages of coming to Virginia in late March is I get an earlier start to bicycling season. Even though Northern Virginia has seen much suburban sprawl in the last decade, the W&OD trail provides a fantastic greenway. The trail begins just a few miles from the capitol in Shirlington, VA and goes for 45 miles out to Purcellville, VA. The paved trail follows the old rail bed of the W&OD railroad and has a parallel gravelled horse trail providing recreational opportunities for walkers, runners, cyclists, and equestrians. Although I first hit the trail on March 30, it is only in the past week that the redbud and forsythia have brightened the ride. Additionally the green space provides plenty of habitat for wildlife and I have seen deer, woodchucks, squirrels, etc. on the trail. Today as I rode I noted more than one Box Turtle making his way across the path and I stopped to take a picture which I have named "Hey Buddy, I was here first". Unfortunately, I was not able to get to the unidentified 4 foot snake before he completed his crossing. Both photos were taken with my phone camera.2013-04-17 10.52.52

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Virginia nature Wed, 17 Apr 2013 20:29:51 GMT
Where to Focus? Woods April14 0050 Today I am indulging in a little philosophical riff and I hope viewers don't mind. One of the wonderful attributes of still photography is that allows one to see the world differently such as in a macro shot. Or it allows us to see an one moment frozen in time but that single moment tells an entire story. A classic example is Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother, which I consider one of the most powerful images I have ever seen. The image shown here is of ivy vine growing up a tree. The image was made by putting the camera against the tree and shooting along the axis of the tree and ivy. The lens was a Nikkor 85mm macro and the image is a textbook example of the shallow depth of field of macro lenses. The depth of field was further minimized by an aperture of 4.5. The focal point was put on an intermediate leaf cluster yielding blurred splotches of color from the foilage above and below. If I had shot the image with everything in focus, I don't think the image would have been nearly as interesting. Photographically I was able to minimize distracting elements but leave them in supportive roles. For me this is very much a metaphor for life. Some rare individuals, e.g. Leonardo da Vinci, are true polymaths who can succeed at many different things. But most of us need to focus and push to the background distractions. We need to decide what is important to us and by maintaining our focus I believe we all become more interesting "images".

(American Roots Photography) 2013 macro nature Tue, 16 Apr 2013 17:45:10 GMT
Spring Beauty Woods April14 0010 I have been photographically uninspired recently despite the emergence of Spring buds and blooms. Not because I have not seen subjects to shoot but because I wanted something different. Yesterday while walking with the granddaughters in the woods, I spied this not quite open bud and obviously returned to capture it. I found it interesting but I will need to wait for the leaves until I can identify the tree. The other subject that emerged this last week were the tiny  Spring flowers named Spring Beauty. The flowers are only about 0.5 inch across but marshy areas of the woods are almost blanketed in them. Between being small and very low to the ground photographing them in a way that captures their beauty and impact is challenging. I recently I had read a photoblog describing a challenge of capturing a "worms eye" view. I think this turned out to be a good approach. The group of flowers in the foreground about 1/3 up from the bottom, I also shot from the top to give a better idea of the "Spring Beauty" these tiny flowers have. And having looked up the flowers on the internet I learned that the flowers, leaves and "corm" root are edible with the corm resembling a "sweet chestnut" in flavor according to none other than Euell Gibbons. Woods April14 0121 Woods April14 0119

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Macro Virginia nature Mon, 15 Apr 2013 15:46:27 GMT
Forecast - Bright and Yellow Daffodils 0026 Few things announce Spring as early and as brightly as Daffodils. Although we think of Spring in terms of the color green, the early color which often predominates is yellow. Beyond Daffodils, the forsythia usually bursts forth early in a profusion of yellow. Even the early tree foliage is yellow-green instead of the deep greens of summer. This year the Daffodils have persisted longer due to the cooler weather and in the past 3 days we have had lots of sunshine. Normally I would shoot flowers in the shade and with low contrast, but I think the bright mid-day sun shows Daffodils well. I shot these at a 200mm focal length (70-300mm Tamron, f6.3, 1/500 s, ISO200) from 30 feet away. This compressed the distance between the flowers and yielded the background foliage out of focus. Says Spring to me.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Spring nature Thu, 04 Apr 2013 13:57:39 GMT
Few Flowers - But Birds are Here Birds April 2 0036 As I mentioned yesterday, Spring seems to be reluctant in bursting forth. But I have decided I need to get out and search for signs of its arrival. Of course among the reliable harbingers of Spring is the American Robin. The robin is so ubiquitous that we probably fail to appreciate it as much as we should, especially it's many songs and calls. A click on the link will take you to the website of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology which is an outstanding resource for birders, or in my case someone who is severely challenged when asked to identify birds. All of the birds in this post were shot today as I walked around the woods behind our Virginia townhome and a neighboring development with a nice natural wetland set aside. I had a Tamron 70-300mm mounted with the aperture set to 6.3 yielding in most cases shutter speeds above 1/500 s. The lens also has an excellent vibration reduction feature. Most shots were at 300mm and even then the shots have been cropped to about 1/5th the original size. I have been able to identify 3 in the row below as: a Red Breasted Woodpecker, a White Throated Sparrow, and an Eastern Bluebird. The day was chilly and windy and you can see that the some of the birds have fluffed out their feathers. The woodpecker was a lucky find as you can see the hole to the nest to the right. In the next row I have tentatively identified the one of the left as a

Birds April 2 0068

Birds April 2 0105 Birds April 2 0140

Mocking bird but the other 2 I have not identified and would welcome some help.

Birds April 2 0126 Birds April 2 0170 Birds April 2 0179






(American Roots Photography) 2013 nature spring Tue, 02 Apr 2013 22:14:06 GMT
It's Spring? Bradford Pear Buds 0008_edited-1

Spring does seem to be late this year, although that maybe due to a much earlier Spring the last 2 years. No matter when Spring is officially designated as arriving, I have decided to spend most of April documenting Spring's progress. Today's photo is of the flower buds on my neighbor's Bradford Pear. Each flower bud is less than an 1/8 inch in diameter. I decided to focus only on the tip of one flower bud as a metaphor for early Spring stirrings. The image was then processed with a texture to give a painterly feeling. Nikkor 85mm macro, f 4.8, 1/80, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Spring nature Mon, 01 Apr 2013 23:22:17 GMT
Sugaring - Part 2. Boiling Boiling 0171DfRSCE

Happy Acres Farm - Sugaring Under the Stars

Last week I posted some pictures of Jim Peplau tapping his maple trees in preparation for the sugar season. Yesterday the sap began to flow and I returned to the Happy Acres Farm to document the boiling process. As previously mentioned, today sap from the sugar bush flows from the tap into tubing and all of that 10 miles plus of tubing on Happy Acres meets at one spot - the pump house. On occasion, Jim can apply a vacuum at the pump house to assist the sap to flow. From the pump house the sap is pumped up to the sugar house to a giant vat and the sugar content is monitored by the use of a hydrometer. Yesterday's sap was running 2.1% which was high enough to start boiling assuming enough could be collected. After walking all the lines and making any necessary repairs, Jim and Sandy were waiting for the sap to let loose. By late in the day enough sap had run and the vat level was at 30 inches. Jim and Sandy began to stoke the sugaring pans with wood from the 20 cords Jim had prepared. The sap flows through a series of baffles in the sugar pans as water is boiled off and the sugar concentrated. The temperature of the boil is carefully monitored as well as the sugar content. In the big pans Jim and Sandy stop just short of fully developed syrup, preferring to do the final boiling and filtering in a separate operation. In this manner they can deliver a consistent, high quality product. For the outside picture- Nikkor 17-55mm @18mm, f 5.6, 30 sec, ISO 1600; for the inside pictures - Tamron 10-24mm@ various focal lengths, apertures, and speeds, ISO 800.

(American Roots Photography) Maple Syrup Vermont Winter nature Sun, 10 Mar 2013 18:18:28 GMT
Sugaring - Part 1. Tapping Tapping 0100

Several recent posts have dealt with signs of Spring. Nothing in Vermont speaks to early Spring as much as "sugaring", the annual task of tapping Maple trees and distilling the sap down to a sweet, amber nectar. My friends, Sandy and Jim Peplau, are among the longtime area Maple Syrup producers on their Reading, VT farm called "Happy Acres". Jim grew up on this family farm and to know him is to have a connection with a much different Vermont than the one presented by the ski industry. On Sunday afternoon I accompanied Jim as he visited one of his "sugar bushes" freshly tapping trees in hopes that the sap would soon flow. The snow is still thigh deep in the woods, snow shoes were definitely required equipment, and I was quite impressed with Jim's "sure footedness" on his snow shoes. Tapping the tress required frequent crossings of barbed wire fences, ducking under tubing, and standing precariously close to a "drop off". As you can see the height of the snow made crossing the fences a little bit easier. The days of the bucket hung on the side of the tree are long gone, although Jim recalled adventures of hauling the buckets down steep hillsides as a youth. Today hundreds of feet of tubing are strung along the Maple trees in a way that gravity will pull the sap down to a large container. At individual trees short sections of tubing lead to a tap. Jim with an experienced eye would pick a new spot on the tree not too close to an old "tap hole" and drill a hole to a preset depth. Then he would drive the tap into place. Depending on the size of the tree 2 taps would be put in place and occasionaly 3 taps. The oldest tree tapped had to be at least 10 feet in girth and no telling how old. I had the pleasure of being able to photograph JIm at work and avoiding the steeper and more precarious positions. Because I knew I wanted both some closeups as well as wider angle shots I had my Nikkor 18-200mm lens mounted and the pictures shot at either f6.3 or f11 in aperture priority mode. I did put exposure compensation to +0.3 to compensate for the impact of the snow on the camera meter. Please watch the slide show.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Sugaring Vermont Winter Tue, 05 Mar 2013 00:17:09 GMT
Room(s) With a View Feb_Panorama1psd

Friends of ours recently purchased a home that has spectacular views. The home is about 1.5 miles south of the Calvin Coolidge homesite and at least 1000 feet higher in elevation than the Plymouth notch. They moved in just last week and invited us over for an informal house warming. Naturally I brought my camera along. The home is Nancy's dream come true and her desire is to have panoramas shot at different times of the year. This image is a practice shot I did to get a feel for what will be required. Obviously the sky was not the greatest but the image does give an idea of the view. The center of the picture is almost due south and the highest peak seen to the south is Okemo. The left edge of the image is ESE with Ascutney on the horizon and the right edge is NW with Killington in view. The panorama encompasses about 210 degrees and consists of 5 images stitched together. Tamron [email protected], 1/125 sec, f16, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont Winter Sun, 24 Feb 2013 22:56:16 GMT
Spring Signs - The Willow Tree E Hill Andover Feb 0014

Although winter is still very much in evidence in Vermont, by late February signs of a future Spring begin to emerge. The most obvious is the maple syrup producers are out readying their sugar bushes and will soon begin to collect sap. For me the very first signs are elongating tree buds and the bark of willow branches. If one looks closely the trees begin to look "fuzzy", at least they do to me as the leaf buds elongate in preparation for leafing out in early May. The fine branches of the Willow tree always have a yellow tint to them and in Vermont are easily spotted among the gray barked oaks and maples. But as late February arrives the yellow color deepens, again indicating to me that Spring is around the corner. Sunday I drove along East Hill in Andover and spied a cabin on a small frozen pond. Two willow trees are obvious above and to the left of the cabin and the other trees are (in my terms) "fuzzed". Nikkor 17-55mm@38mm, f8, 1/200 sec, ISO 200. PS. I think this is another candidate for the Currier & Ives treatment.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont Winter Thu, 21 Feb 2013 13:24:48 GMT
Vermont Winter Landscape - Currier & Ives Style Cloudland 4C&IPSE

This image was taken on New Year's Day this year as we were returning from a "brunch" with our friends the Wendts. This farm is located on Cloudland Rd between Woodstock and Promfret Vermont. After a new snow the drive is absolutely gorgeous. I had posted the original image on another site and I received a comment likening the image to a "Currier and Ives". This month I am spending time studying composition which means I also am looking at paintings and other works of art. I really knew nothing about Currier and Ives which meant turning to the internet and learning about the lithography that the two men popularized in the late 19th century. I also ordered a book cataloging 150 of their lithograph prints. Next I did a search of digital techniques that might allow me to reproduce the look of a Currier and Ives lithograph. I will not bore you with the processing other than to say it involved both NIK Color Efex and Photoshop filter effects. I just hope you could imagine a Christmas card with this image and think "Currier and Ives". The original images was shot late in the day with the sun behind and camera right causing the deep shadows and the lit hillside. Nikkor 17-55mm@30mm, 1/125 sec, f13, ISO 200, handheld.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont Winter Mon, 18 Feb 2013 16:15:45 GMT
Finding Nemo - VT Style IMG_0014 I know that the storm named Nemo created much havoc along the coastal northeast. And I also know that many people are without power and probably isolated by drifting snow and I wish for them safety and as little duress as possible. Luckily in VT, Nemo did not leave quite as much snow (1-2 feet depending where in the state). Furthermore, we do expect these types of storms every year and we are prepared with ample snow removal equipment and a reliable power grid. So after blowing the snow from the deck today, I built a fire in the wood stove and began to play with my new iPad Mini. Soon our cat, Bonkers, had found his warm place by the fire and decided to take a cat nap. It was time to try out the camera on the iPad Mini. The image was then post processed with Nik's Snapseed, mainly to crop a little and add a "frame" border. Ahh...winter time in Vermont.

(American Roots Photography) Vermont Winter Sat, 09 Feb 2013 19:51:19 GMT
Spring Through a Frosty Window Sq&Rect Comp

I have decided February is a month to be spent on a study of photographic composition. I am re-reading my 2 favorite books on the subject - "The Photographer's Eye" and "Picture Perfect Practice". The second book has many suggested exercises and yesterday was spent exploring square and rectangular geometry. Most of the practice involves training the eye to see geometry and then learn how to use it in your photographs. Among the images I shot was a scattering of snow on the brick pavers in my driveway and another image of some ceramic ducks that my mother gave to me years ago (the ducks are part of the cover of a small jewelry box). In the case of the ducks, I was shooting an object that implied a square. In looking at the 2 images I decided that the pavers image almost looked like a frosted window and what would happen if I could layer one image on top of the other. Using that modern tool of photographic illusion, Photoshop, I was able to stack the 2 images and then selectively allow the ducks to show through. It is February, the days are getting longer, and thoughts of Spring are starting to appear. Both images shot with my Nikkor 17-55mm lens. The paver image was shot at 32mm, f5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO 200. The duck image was shot at 34mm, f6.3, 1/50 sec., ISO 800, sidelit with window light and against a black background.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Vermont nature Tue, 05 Feb 2013 16:47:05 GMT
Early Valentine From Vermont Hearts 2013 0134

It is that time of year again. After a new member of our church brought her "hearts" to our congregation a few years ago, it has become a tradition for the women (and men) of the church to make hundreds of hearts each year. These hearts then appear through out our extended community at various people's homes and the town gazebo, etc. And each year several women who give generously of their time to the the community are "honored" with some hearts. Yesterday I helped deliver the hearts to these women and took several pictures (hopefully to get one in the paper). Usually the hearts are put in a tree or on a porch railing, but when we spied this hay rake in the yard we knew where the hearts belonged. The woman lives on a hill in a log cabin and it seemed so "vermonty". Nikkor 17-55mm@17, f20, 1/60 sec.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont Winter Mon, 04 Feb 2013 12:39:24 GMT
Irony 2013-01-31 13.24.46-1

The end of January brings the end also of my picture/headline project. February will probably see fewer posts. One of my friends had assumed the headline/pictures a day project would last all year and was counting down how many days I had left. But in my January 1 post I stated I did not know how long I would do it. I will just now look for inspiration elsewhere. And as the today's image says - "Nothing is written in stone". The image is of a granite section of the walkway entrance to The Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT. Northshire is a rare store today - an independent book store. Claire and I love going there and spending time just browsing the shelves. All book lovers know the feeling. The picture was taken with my phone camera and processed in the phone using Snapseed to accentuate the texture/contrast in the granite. And those that love words will understand the title.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 object Fri, 01 Feb 2013 17:53:07 GMT
The Incredible Landfill Orchestra Peter M 0071CE

My War on Clutter: Never "organize" what you can discard

I seemed to be finding headlines that link together. First I ran across - "Never organize what you can discard" via a blog titled 'The Lesser Photographer'. Now this made a lot of sense to me as I can be a pack rat and periodically do organize bunches of stuff that I should 'discard'. And I am not alone. Even though the average US home doubled in size between the 1950's and the first decade of the new millennium, we still needed more storage. By 2009 we had in the US 2.3 billion square feet of self-storage rental space and 1 in 10 households rented a self-storage unit. But then I saw a post on Facebook (thanks Erin) that made me think the above quote needs reformulation. Yes, we do need to unclutter our lives with so much stuff. But we should really try to find a new owner or purpose for the stuff - not just discard. "The Incredible Landfill Orchestra" headline comes from Slate and the embedded video below is highly recommended.

An amazing music program exists in a slum in Catuera, Paraguay. The slum sits on a landfill and the children's instruments are made from the trash in the landfill. The story is being made into a documentary film and the above video is a teaser for the movie. The image I shot for today is the Silver Jewelry Studio of Peter Manship about 1 mile from my home. His studio is obviously built from scraps of this and that and it would be easy to not expect much before entering. But his work is truly beautiful and when my daughter-in-law was pregnant with the twins, Peter designed a special twins necklace that she wore throughout her pregnancy. Shot with Tamron 10-24mm@15mm, f9, 1/100 sec and post-processed in NIK Color Efex 4. Truly one person's discarded "trash" can be another's opportunity to create a treasure.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont Wed, 30 Jan 2013 20:59:49 GMT
A Crash Course in Playing the Numbers  

That Daily Shower Can Be a Killer

Spinning Coin 0037 From the science section in today's NY Times comes an essay by Jared Diamond titled "That Daily Shower Can Be a Killer". Mr. Diamond is a well respected author ("Guns, Germs, and Steel" probably his best known) and professor of geography at UCLA. The essay describes how Americans have a differing perception of how dangerous something is versus the rankings of real danger. We exaggerate risks of events beyond our control and underestimate the risks of events we do control. A classic example would be our view of risk in flying versus automobile travel. Conveniently also today in the NY Times Science section is a review of "Naked Statistics" by Charles Wheelan, professor of public policy and economics at Dartmouth. The book describes the nature of statistics not the number crunching. The book evidently focuses on health statistics and how we need to better know what goes into the statistics that so many health choices are based upon. Those who know me best, know that I always want data and want to understand how that data was generated. One of my favorite quotes is - "In God we trust, all others use data". Now to the image of a spinning Sacagawea dollar coin. Statistically we know that when the coin falls it has a roughly equal chance of falling to either side (different coins actually might have a slight bias to one side or the other). I spun the coin on a black piece of foam board and handheld my camera with a Nikkor 85mm lens mounted and the camera set to double expose. Exposure was f4, 1/250 sec. and the light came from a side glass door and overhead skylight. A great deal of trial and error was involved trying to catch both exposures with reasonable focus and the coin caught at the right angle. It took almost 100 spins to get this particular image, but what are the odds of catching it just so?

(American Roots Photography) 2013 coin macro Tue, 29 Jan 2013 20:55:25 GMT
The New Old Age SR Skiers 0008

The New Old Age

Larry Skiing The New Old Age is the title of a relatively new blog at the NY Times. The actual headline I wanted to use I could not find but the story basically discussed seniors and the new realities of retirement (longevity, demographics, etc.).  When I saw the article I immediately knew I needed to show one of the realities of seniors in a ski resort town. During mid-week the lodges are often predominately populated by a crowd that probably averages above 70 in age. And they can ski! In this picture is a group from my church stopping for a hot chocolate break at the summit lodge. They are all very good skiers including Larry Humm, second from the left. Larry is 71, a certified PSIA ski instructor, and always leading the group down the mountain. The short video clip is of Larry demonstrating how it is done. At the start of the video focus on the 3rd skier up the mountain and to the left. Following right behind him is Dottie, the first person on the left in the above photo. Both the video and photo were taken with my Canon Powershot D10 - not great video or photo, but the point is made.

(American Roots Photography) Vermont Winter Mon, 28 Jan 2013 21:00:31 GMT
God's Idea LR Full Moon psdnr

God's Idea

Today's sermon was titled God's Idea and the basic message was that all that we have and our freedom in life are because of God's idea(s). For many of us, one of God's ideas that is particularly awe inspiring is the creation of beautiful sun and moon rises. For sometime I have wanted to get a moonrise over the lake. Yesterday evening was almost clear and with the lake well frozen I easily could get to a good spot and set up my tripod and camera. Because the moon is so bright, it is difficult to expose both the surroundings and the moon effectively. My idea was to actually shoot the surroundings in the twilight before the moon arose above the tree line. First shot: Nikkor 18-200mm@18mm, f20, 8 sec. I then waited 20 minutes (10 degrees and windy) on the lake and took the second shot zooming in on the moon, Nikkor 18-200mm@200mm, f 5.6, 1/40 sec. The 2 shots were then merged together. Full moons are really good idea of God's.

(American Roots Photography) Landscape Vermont Winter nature Sun, 27 Jan 2013 23:44:37 GMT
Dormant but Not Forgotten Jan Tree Buds 0008

Dormant but Not Forgotten

Todays's headline is from the NY Times Home and Garden section. The article describes different examples of winter time activity in the plant kingdom. In Vermont the past 3 days have seen nighttime lows in the -10 range (plus or minus) and daytime temperatures of single digits. But the days are getting longer and I always marvel each year at the small little signs indicating Spring is coming. One of the first signs is that tree buds began to show color and slowly elongate. The bud in this image is from a Shadbush, so named because in the Northeast it flowers about the time the Shad fish begin to return to the rivers and streams. The tiny white flowers are also for us in Vermont some of the earliest flowers we see each year. Nikkor 85mm macro, f10, 1/80 sec, ISO 400, handheld.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Macro nature Fri, 25 Jan 2013 22:06:03 GMT
Is There a Post Office Closing Near You? VT Post Offices 0008_09_10_tonemapped

Is There a Post Office Closing Near You?

VT Post Offices 0027 Today's headline came from our hometown weekly - "The Vermont Journal". A few days I reflected on technology's impact on television. But few institutions are being impacted nearly as much as the US Postal Service. I was an early adapter of email and successor technologies (social media, texting) but I admit I do not like seeing small communities lose their post office. In Ludlow I like going in and saying high to Diane and asking about her husband whom I fly fish with on occasion. And I miss Dave, our mail carrier, who once showed up at our house at 7P, Christmas Eve to make sure a package from my sister was delivered. I know the $ and cents involved and time moves on, but we are losing something. The first image I shot in the small, charming village of Belmont in the town of Mt. Holly (towns in VT are like townships or counties). Mt. Holly (pop. 1200) has had a post office since 1808 and the building pictured her was built in 1843. The post office is attached to the Belmont General Store, which is exactly what it's name implies. The second image is of the post office in East Wallingford, VT (pop. 450) and the post office was established in 1851. This is not the original post office building as the elderly woman I talked with explained - "it was here before my father died in 1943, but it used to be in the building, down by the bridge, that burned...". All this reminds me of the lyrics from the Joni Mitchell song, "Both Sides, Now" - 'Well something's lost but something's gained in living every day'.  Both pictures shot with Tamron 10-24mm. Fisrt image 3 shot HDR, f22, 1/125 sec +/- 0.3 ev. Second image shot at f22, 125 sec.

Post Script: temperature for the mail carriers in VT today anywhere from -5 to 5 with wind chills appropriate to wind gusts of 20 mph.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Winter Thu, 24 Jan 2013 23:28:59 GMT
Letter From Berlin | Paper & Tea Melissa's Tea 0008

Letter From Berlin | Paper & Tea

Today's headline is from the Travel section of the NY Times. Just outside Berlin is the now upscale Charlottenburg area where the subject "Paper & Tea" store recently opened. Claire and I visited this area in 2011 as her grandparents lived there from 1910 to 1926 before immigrating to the United States. In those years Charlottenburg was a thriving and growing middle class city and home to many famous German industries. Of course much of this area was bombed during WWII and today it has re-emerged largely as a affluent suburb to Berlin. This morning we awoke to sub-zero temperatures and by 2P when I pried my self from the wood stove to grocery shop, the temperature had risen to 3 degrees. With the suggestion of tea in mind, I dropped by our local "slow food" cafe and got a cup of my favorite tea  - "Organic Andalusia Lemon". Charlottenburg has nothing on us in Ludlow. I took the image with my Nikkor 85mm @ f4.5 to get shallow depth of field before and after the one label. Handheld at 1/50 sec and ISO 800.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 macro Wed, 23 Jan 2013 21:06:57 GMT
How High Could the Tide Go? Impulse Jan 0007_8_9_tonemappedA

How High Could the Tide Go?

100_1501 Today's picture was suggested by an article in the Environment section of the NY Times. Scientists are studying prehistoric shorelines to garner clues as to how high sea levels might rise if predicted global temperature rises occur. According to scientists, even the modest sea rise we have had in the past century greatly contributed to the flooding from Hurricane Sandy. Today's pleasant image shows our VT home with a setting sun and in an attractive, natural environment. The picture also indicates the several feet of elevation we have above the river with our front door a good 10 feet above the river bed. The second photo shows the water level just below our front door during tropical storm Irene in August 2011. As if to underline how quickly the weather can change, just 10 minutes before this picture was taken a snow squall had reduced visibility almost completely. The lagging edge of the squall can be seen in the upper left of the photo. And another squall passed through 30 minutes later. I normally let viewers/readers arrive at their own thoughts about my images and words. But I readily share my opinion on this subject. The data is clear - the planet is warming, carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere and the oceans , and the sea level is rising. The data also strongly implicates these changes to be anthropogenic. Tamron 10-24mm@11mm, f22, 3 shot HDR, 1/40 sec +/- 1 ev, handheld. Processed in Photomatix and Color Efex Pro 4.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont Winter Tue, 22 Jan 2013 21:47:24 GMT
A Drama’s Streaming Premiere Apple TV 0044A

A Drama’s Streaming Premiere

From the NY Times Television section, the link will take you to an article on a new Netflix produced series, "House of Cards", starring Kevin Spacey. On February 1, Netflix will make all 13 episodes available at once. The online streaming of movies and tv shows has been accelerating rapidly and content portals like Netflix and Hulu Plus are beginning to develop their own programming. This is not your 1950's commercial B&W television. When we first moved to Vermont Claire and I eschewed broadcast television opting to watch a few DVD's and otherwise listen to the radio. Then came high speed internet and streaming boxes like Roku and Apple TV and now we are watching a fair amount of tv again, albeit in a new way. So tonight we will bring up Downton Abbey (yes, we are fans) on Claire's iPad and then stream it through Apple TV to our television. When I saw this article the idea of a "product" shot of my Apple TV box formed. I wanted the box to have the appearance of maybe floating so it is balanced on a small glass over a white background. The lighting is side window light and an overhead skylight with a flash bounced off a white background underneath. I also positioned the shot to get some "glare" on part of the shiny logo while keeping half the apple black. Nikkor 85mm, 1/60 sec, f5, handheld with VR on.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 macro Mon, 21 Jan 2013 21:33:30 GMT
With All Your Weight LRescueHDRcolor

With All Your Weight

On Rescue 0016 Once again I found the title for today from the minister's sermon. Rev. Harpster told the story of a missionary who was trying to communicate what 'to believe' meant when no such word existed in the native language. He finally hit upon the idea that when you trusted something to hold all of your weight, that was a concept that could be substituted for belief. For example "for whosoever 'put all his weight' on him" (John 3:16). In a more secular setting, it struck me that such belief and trust is required to venture out on a frozen lake. In doing so you trust the frozen lake with all your weight. This winter individuals have been a little hesitant to venture out until this weekend when the ice fishermen and skaters showed up. The featured image was taken on 1/5/2011 and is a 5 shot HDR (Nikkor 17-55mm@18mm, f16, 1/60 sec +/- 2ev, ISO 200). The skaters were taken today with a Tamron 70-300mm@220mm, f9, 1/200 sec, ISO 200).

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont Winter Sun, 20 Jan 2013 21:04:50 GMT
What You Shouldn't Say or Do on a First Date Collette Trail HDR9-13 CE

What You Shouldn't Say or Do on a First Date

Collette Trail 0047 This headline from the AARP online magazine caught my attention this morning. I am always surprised at the "issues" seniors apparently deal with these days. I am still on my first date with Claire which hits 42 years in March. But I did have a first date today. I recently joined the Quechee Area Camera Club better known as "Quack". Today I went on my first photo outing with the club to Collette Trail on Bicknell Brook in Enfield, NH. The stream is beautiful in the snow with many drops and small falls. And the trail even in the snow is easily hiked. We worked about a quarter mile section in perfect weather - no wind, 30 degree temps, and overcast skies. This image was one of the first I captured trying to catch the double "S" curve on the left and the more rapidly moving water to the right. The ice had a brownish, yellow tinge probably due to tannin and the recent "January thaw". The picture is a 5 shot HDR with my Tamron 10-24mm@14mm, f22, 1/2 sec +/- 2ev, ISO 100. I took a picture on "my first date" and the image says it all.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont nature Sat, 19 Jan 2013 23:03:15 GMT
Equation of Time Solves Mystery of Gray Mornings Jan 18 Noon 0015

Equation of Time Solves Mystery of Gray Mornings (NY Times Science Section)

As much as I like winter in Vermont, I do look forward to longer daylight hours after the winter solstice. However, for early risers like myself during the first few weeks after the winter solstice the sun rises later each morning. The days are getting longer and the sun sets later each day but it also rises later. Kind of like a natural winter "daylight savings time". I will restrain the science geek in me and not try to explain why this happens other than say that is a combination of the tilt of the earth's axis and the closeness of the earth to the sun which speeds the earth up in its orbit. Another implication of this is that the "solar noon" and noontime on our clocks do not coincide. In fact they vary throughout the year. Inspired by the headline, I took this picture just behind my house at 12N on my watch. But according to NOAA the solar noon was 12:01:21. Not that big a difference but the solar noon can vary considerably throughout the year so those of you trying to sync your watches with your forewarned. Obviously the sun is still not high in the sky even at noon, and as you can see by the shadows from the tree I am facing almost due south. I intentionally underexposed slightly the image to darken the winter sky and used a large f-stop to get a starburst. Tamron 10-24mm@11mm, f20, 1/200 sec, ISO 200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont Winter Fri, 18 Jan 2013 18:44:40 GMT
Stained Glass, From Churches to Malls United Church 0072PSE edit

Stained Glass, From Churches to Malls

I took this picture a year ago as our church was preparing for its 220th year anniversary and the 120th anniversary of our present building which is on the National Register of Historic Places. When I saw the headline from the NY Times Home and Garden section a photo opportunity was immediately suggested. Claire has some small decorative stained glass panels which were my original targets. But the more I thought about it I knew I needed to go big or go home. Taking a photograph of a stained glass window such as this is really not creating anything artistic. You are documenting someone else's art, and in the case of this window really good art. The scene is of Jesus with Martha and Mary and is located high above our altar. I stood on a step ladder to try and minimize the keystone effect and keep lines parallel. I was only partly successful. Tamron [email protected], f3.5, 1/30 sec, ISO 640, handheld.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Glass Stained Vermont Thu, 17 Jan 2013 20:20:16 GMT
Snow returns; cold weather is back Jan Snow Day 0003

Snow returns; cold weather is back

As I have noted we have been experiencing a thaw with above freezing temperatures and loss of snow pack. But thankfully winter returned today with some new snow and a promise of much colder weather for the next few days. I know some of you would not be happy with cold and snowy weather but when you live in a ski town snow and cold mean money for the local economy. This beautiful barn is in Shrewsbury and the farm is on a road that is not maintained by the town in the winter. Thus the locals do the plowing and you should have four wheel drive to venture on it in the winter. The scenery however is fantastic. Nikkor 17-55mm@35mm, f9, 1/125 sec, ISO200.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont Thu, 17 Jan 2013 00:24:12 GMT
Deep Under Antarctica, Looking for Signs of Life Lichen 0049B

Deep Under Antarctica, Looking for Signs of Life

American, British, and Russian teams are all drilling to lakes deep (0.5-2 mi.) under Antarctica ice to look for signs of life in these isolated waters. Previous studies have found life in very unlikely places such as in the sulfurous vents of volcanoes in the deepest reaches of the ocean. So it is not unreasonable to expect to find some life forms under Antarctica ice. Maybe not quite as dramatic as life found in lakes deep under the ice in Antarctica, evidence of life is readily available in frigid environments such as Vermont. One of the signs that I notice every winter is the lichen on the trees near the house. Lichen is a symbiotic life form consisting of a fungal part and a photosynthetic part (either alga or cyanobacteria). The fungal part provides the structure and support and the photosynthetic part produces food. This particular lichen was on a aspen tree near the house and was photographed with a NIkkor 85mm (f20, 1/6 sec) and post processed with NX2 and Color Efex Pro4.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Winter nature Tue, 15 Jan 2013 23:28:21 GMT
Greece Sees Gold Boom, but at a Price Gold Coin 0017

Greece Sees Gold Boom, but at a Price

I know I did a coin image just a few days ago, but when I saw this headline I was immediately reminded of the $5 gold piece Claire has among her keepsakes. The coin comes from her Grandmother Weisheit who was born in Suhl, Germany in 1888. Thus among Claire's keepsakes are also a few coins from the Duetsches Reich which came into being just 5 years before this coin was minted. Of course, the first thought any of us has when we see old coins is "wonder what the value is?". But obviously value is very subjective and individual. The NY Times article on the Gold Boom in Greece discusses how the perspective on the value of the boom differs among the Greek population. And the perspectives today have shifted from just a decade ago. The coins in the picture are family heirlooms and thus their value is not monetary, but we can afford that perspective. If we were destitute we just might view that $5 gold piece very differently. The shot was made with my Nikkor 85mm, f20, 1/2.5 sec. The picture was not photoshopped. To get both sides of the coins I shot a double exposure in camera, flipping both coins after the first exposure. It took several attempts to get the spacing close together until I realized I could use other coins to temporarily mark the right spots.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 coins macro Mon, 14 Jan 2013 18:43:24 GMT
Prisoner of Hope LR January Fog 0043

Prisoner of Hope

I confess. I shot today's picture before I had a caption. We are experiencing a January thaw which is not unusual. When this happens a lot of fog is generated on the lake which has a unique feeling and beauty and at times everything merges into a background of white. The title is taken from the title of our pastor's sermon today. The phrase comes from Zechariah 9:12. Leaving aside the religious interpretation, the phrase for me was an interesting and positive juxtaposition of words. Having taken this image before church, I almost immediately made a connection. Regardless of the source of your hope, I think this phrase implies that to truly have hope you must become its prisoner - you cannot escape from true hope. Living in a cold and snowy climate, I am always amazed at the miracle of life that springs forth each year after the snow and cold has left. This image is of Claire's garden with the dried remnants of her ornamental grass and spirea. And each year we have hope that these and the other plants will re-emerge in the Spring. We are prisoners to that hope and the hope is fulfilled. Nikkor 18-200mm@36mm, f8, 1/640 sec.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont Winter nature Sun, 13 Jan 2013 21:21:54 GMT
New Mall turf braces... Ludlow Town Green 0005

New Mall turf braces for the onslaught of millions of inaugural feet

Today's headline comes from the Washington Post. Whenever I visit the Nation's capitol a smile comes to my face watching the various activities on the Capitol Mall. If one looks closely, one will see besides the tourists numerous individuals just enjoying this vast public space (1.9 mi. from the Capitol steps to Lincoln Memorial) - couples in love, frisbee throwing youth, children chasing butterflies, etc. The Mall is our National "Village" Green - a public space that is well used and available to all. Yes, the grass is well worn and some areas are a little shabby. But it is ours to use. We have many public spaces in America and none are quite so picturesque as New England's village greens. Just about every village has one and they are still used. In Ludlow our green, aka Veterans Memorial Park, is the frequent site of concerts, festivals, and memorial services. In this picture the town Gazebo is seen to the left, immediately behind and to the right is the First Baptist Church, and just visible up on the hill is the Black River Academy. Today the Black River Academy building is a museum but as a school Calvin Coolidge was among its graduates. Today was overcast and foggy and I knew from the beginning I would make a B&W image. I shot with my Nikkor 18-200mm@24mm, f8, 1/640 sec and then processed it in NIK Silver Efex Pro going for an "antique" look.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Portrait Winter Sat, 12 Jan 2013 18:20:50 GMT
300 Cats, Yes. Craziness, No. 2012-12-06 16.22.49-1A

300 Cats, Yes. Craziness, No.

I took this picture a month ago, but the headline dictated that I use it now. 2012-12-06 16.22.49 The NY Times had an article on a Italian-American woman in NC who was described as "the Mother Teresa of animals". The woman's background and her animal sanctuary are quite interesting. Our cat, Bonkers, is pictured here. Anyone who has ever owned a cat will attest that at times they can act a little crazy dashing about the house for who knows what reason. The image was taken with a smartphone and the smaller image is as captured by the phone's camera. The image is nice but I then processed it in a free piece of software called Snapseed made by NIK (available for both iOS and Android). Many image processing apps are available but I think this is one of the best and Apple did name it App of the Year in 2011. Besides the usual filter effects, Snapseed is truly a mobile device digital darkroom. And its outstanding feature is that you can modify the image in selective areas. Captured with a SONY Xperia TL and postprocessed on the phone with Snapseed for Android.

(American Roots Photography) cat nature smartphone Fri, 11 Jan 2013 21:38:39 GMT
‘Lincoln’ Leads Oscar Field With 12 Nominations Lincoln Penny CEfex

‘Lincoln’ Leads Oscar Field With 12 Nominations

On January 1 of this year the Emancipation Proclamation reached a 150 year mark. This act by Lincoln was a wartime act and to truly abolish slavery further legislative action was required. The movie 'Lincoln' dramatizes what was required to pass the 13th amendment and if you have not seen it, you should. Despite the miniscule value of the penny today, I still love the connection between Lincoln and his image on our lowest denomination coin. This image was very much inspired by the headline and the fact that I knew I was going to do a macro today. I arranged some pennies and mounted my Nikkor 85mm macro. At first I was using natural light but Claire had a candle burning and I liked the warm light it was casting. I shot at a high f stop to get depth of field: f22, 15 sec.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Macro Thu, 10 Jan 2013 22:28:01 GMT
No Headline - Just an Early Morning Picture LR NS 4-5

Today's picture was taken before I read anything today so feel free to supply whatever title you wish. For quite some time I have intended to do a star lit sky picture over the lake. But whenever I organized for the picture the weather did not co-operate as obviously very clear skies are required. Nature awoke me this morning about 4:30A and I noticed a wonderful starlit sky. I got back in bed as it was 18 degrees outside, and 60 degrees inside (we turn down the thermostat at night). I just did not want to give up my warm bed. But I think I have contracted Photographic OC Disorder. The thought of the picture just would not go away. I put on some fleece over my pj's, grabbed the camera and tripod and went out to my usual spot overlooking the lake. Photographing stars is a little tricky as they require longer exposures but with too much time will streak due to the earth's rotation. After trying various times and camera settings, I finally got some good stars but nothing else. I did a second, longer exposure getting some foreground but the stars streaked. I finally realized I would need to have 2 exposures and merge them together. I used my Tamron 10-24mm@15mm, f4, ISO400. The stars were exposed for 29 seconds and the foreground for 60 seconds. And I finally got my starlit sky on the lake.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont Winter Wed, 09 Jan 2013 19:09:12 GMT
Iceland, Cold but Seething Hot LR Sunrise Jan2013 0020_4 PMNX2

Put Iceland, Cold but Seething Hot, on Your 2013 Anxiety Barometer

This headline is from the NY Times television section reporting on a PBS Nova series detailing the instability of Iceland's volcanoes. Having just dodged the "Mayan predicted" apocalypse, we are now given something else to worry about. Interestingly, Iceland is one of the "hot" photographic destinations currently, with numerous picture taking trips being offered. And I have seen some truly breath taking photos from Iceland. But I also have some pretty good views right out my door. This image was taken within 15 minutes of getting out of bed. As I looked out I could see the great color emerging and knew that I could get the picture if I hurried. I started to go out in my robe but early morning traffic across Red Bridge suggested otherwise, plus it was 8 degrees. Tamron 10-24@15mm, 5 shot HDR, +/- 2 ev from 1/2s, f25.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Landscape Vermont Winter Tue, 08 Jan 2013 19:56:39 GMT
Sweet Mystery of Life 2013-01-06 11.58.35a

Sweet Mystery of Life

None of the headlines generated any ideas today but the minster's sermon title did. Today was Epiphany which Christian tradition holds as the day that the human Jesus was revealed as God the Son. Our minister began with a story illustrating the miracles of seeds. While trying to maintain attention to the sermon, I began to look for pictures. Our church, like many, always have several poinsettias around the sanctuary during the Christmas season. And poinsettias with their wonderful rich colors and leaves are "miraculous" in their own way. After everyone had left the sanctuary I returned, did a little rearranging at the pulpit and turned the minster's reading light down on the pulpit scarf and the poinsettias. Image was taken with my Sony Xperia TL smartphone (yes the James Bond one) and then processed in NIK Color Efex. Many mysteries abound around us if we just look.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Church Epiphany Sun, 06 Jan 2013 19:46:51 GMT
Will Biomimicry Offer a Way Forward, Post-Sandy? Leaf 0013A

Will Biomimicry Offer a Way Forward, Post-Sandy?

A second Hurricane Sandy related post. The article is a rather interesting look at how nature might inform the rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. Some think taking clues from how plants and animals have adapted might lead to designs that would better withstand extreme weather events. Some of the design ideas are pretty radical. But it did cause me to think about nature and its intricacy. I have had a fascination with beech leaves for sometime. Beech leaves persist on the trees long after they have died curling into a cylinder before finally dropping from the tree. This particular leaf was taken from a tree at the side of the house and then placed on a old fashioned slide viewing light box to back light it. The veining and cellular structure emerged when I photographed with my 85mm macro lens, f32, 1/5s, ISO400. We have a long ways to go to mimic the natural world but we certainly should not stop examining it and the wonder it holds.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 macro nature Sat, 05 Jan 2013 20:21:28 GMT
A Basket Ball Coach Ahead of His Time OkemoPanA

A Basket Ball Coach Ahead of His Time

Jerry Tarkanian is the basketball coach referenced here and he did indeed challenge the norms of his day. His up tempo style of play can be seen today at all levels from high school to the pros. How did I get to skiing from basketball? I warned you about my free association. Claire has dealt with it for years often asking "how did you get there when I thought we were talking about...?". Not only have coaching techniques and approaches changed for elite athletes, but every day participants in sports have seen techniques change for the better. And importantly the equipment has really helped us - shaped skis, large tennis racquets, multi-speed bikes, etc. Weekend warriors can now perform at a higher level due to these innovations. This image is actually a 2 shot Pano and the "2 skiers" are the same person. Taken with a Canon D10 Powershot, stitched with Double Take, and finished with Color Efex Pro 4.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Skiing Vermont Winter Fri, 04 Jan 2013 22:56:22 GMT
Hurricane Sandy Aid Irene Sugar House 0007

Stalling of Storm Aid Makes Northeast Republicans Furious

I shot this sugar house last summer and posted it to this blog. Claire and I passed it on New Years Day and I thought I need to shoot it in the winter. Then the controversy over Hurricane Sandy relief aid erupted and I grabbed the camera and headed up the road to Plymouth. The snow was over 2 feet deep in front making access awkward and the weight of the snow on the roof must be adding to instability of the structure. Although most Vermonters have recovered fully from Irene, some still haven't. I am sure a year from now some Hurricane Sandy victims will still be trying to piece their homes and life back together. Tamron 10-24mm@10mm, f16, 1/100s, ISO 100.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Irene Winter nature Thu, 03 Jan 2013 19:25:41 GMT
Avis to Buy Zipcar for $500 Million Barker Farm Wagon0006

Avis to Buy Zipcar for $500 Million

From the NY Times business section, this headline caused me to think about old cars covered with snow or maybe a snowmobile, a north country "zip" vehicle of sorts. I drove around looking for old abandon cars when I came across this on North Hill near the Barker Farm. Do not be surprised when my photos often suggest irony. Tamron [email protected], f16, 1/320, ISO 800.

(American Roots Photography) 2013 Vermont Winter Wed, 02 Jan 2013 21:01:36 GMT
Start of 2013 Photo Project Cloudland 0010

I am not sure how long I will continue my new photographic project for this year, but this is my first installment. Each day I will look at the news headlines for the day and then do a bit of free association to generate a photo idea. Usually the headline will come from the NY Times, as I read it everyday. Today's headline was "Senate Passes Legislation to Allow Taxes on Affluent to Rise". The objective is not to illustrate the headline or make any political statement. Rather it is to see where the headline might take me photographically. Today, Claire and I were driving to meet friends for a New Year's brunch when we passed a cemetery. The oft repeated statement that "the only thing in life that are certain are death and taxes" sprung into mind. I took several shots but I liked this one the best as it isolates a couple of headstones with others in the background. The pictures will not necessarily be great but hopefully they will show the whimsical state of my mind. Nikkor 17-55mm@52mm, f16, 1/100 s, ISO 800.


(American Roots Photography) 2013 Day Headlines New Years Tue, 01 Jan 2013 22:34:40 GMT
December Macro - Bringing the Year Into Focus Dec Macro 0001 Like most of us as the end of the year approaches I am reflecting on the past year and what might be in 2013. Among the considerations is a photographic direction for next year. But I have yet to decide what I will do and I am presently reading "The Passionate Photographer" by Steve Simon. As in all endeavors, I find reading how others find their inspiration to be helpful to my own photography. And as the minute hand (old school analog clock with no second hand) ticks it's way towards the new year, I reflect on the highlights of 2012. I am hopeful for a good 2013 because I saw many good things in 2012. My cousin, Edie Littlefield Sundby, has reason to look forward to 2013 due to her 2012 success battling her cancer. Her spirit is a powerful source of inspiration. My exploration of my mother's family history gave me inspiration as I learned of the rich heritage our family has. And much of this knowledge comes from my cousin Ann Littlefield Coleman who readily shares her research riches. My good friend, Bruce, is coming down the home stretch towards his retirement to Maine. His infectious optimism is always inspiring. And my good friend Rod saw success in making his state a better place. His outward focus on living out his faith values is inspiring. My immediate family is healthy and my extended family saw new beginnings through weddings and births, which are always inspirational. So in 2013 I choose to be hopeful and to pursue what my cousin Edie calls "Bountiful Blessings", blessings that we just need to open our eyes to see. The clock in this image is a family heirloom. Claire's grandparents received this mantle clock as a marriage gift in 1913. In 2013 the clock is a hundred years old and it still runs, which I find inspirational in a comforting way. To touch it is to touch the same metal that Claire's grandparents touched as they looked towards a life together. I focused just on the tip of the minute hand using my 85mm Nikkor Macro @ f5, 1/20 s, natural window light. Here is to an inspiring 2013.

(American Roots Photography) Sat, 29 Dec 2012 15:23:00 GMT
December Landscape - Skylight Star Trails Star Trails 10min CEFOS Last night I awoke as nature demanded. In our upstairs bathroom (Vermont) we have a skylight and last night was the first clear one we have had in awhile. The stars showing through the trees and the skylight were beautiful and in my half awake state I made a note that the scene was worth capturing someday. As I have written before, some pictures insist on being made. So even though I returned to bed, the picture still called. Being careful to not awaken Claire, I got my camera and tripod and setup in the small bathroom. Luckily, I had been thinking about doing a star picture so I was somewhat prepared with the needed technique. And thus I could do this in 10-15 minutes and be back in bed.

Initially I was just going for pinpoint stars and would use the bathroom night light to illuminate the skylight frame. But the skylight, being glass, was picking up too many reflections. When I killed all the light, I got the stars but nothing of the frame and the trees. I then decided that maybe star trails would allow an exposure long enough. For those unaware, really long exposure times (greater than say 10 seconds) on digital cameras require a second image to be shot to reduce colored specks referred to as "noise". I initially tried one minute, then two and I began to have the trees emerge from the sky background. But the trails generated by the Earth's rotation were too short to be aesthetically pleasing. I then tried 5 minutes and then finally 10 minutes. Thus the last exposure took a total of 20 minutes with the noise reduction shot. The frame never really was exposed other than some of it showing in the lower right. But in the end I got close to what I had envisioned and after 1.5 hours I could return to bed. As Roy would say Happy Trails to You for the remainder of 2012 and into next year. Nikkor 17-55mm/2.8 @ 17mm, f4, 10 minutes and long exposure NR on.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape nature stars Thu, 20 Dec 2012 20:48:52 GMT
December Portrait - The Fleeting Moment Sarah_Fogleman_SidesA For this post, I borrowed "The Fleeting Moment" from a photography blog I follow - A Lesser Photographer. The blog encourages a focus on creatvity and to quit obsessing about equipment. A recent quote from this blog fit into some of my thinking -“Longevity in photos has become inversely proportional to the lack of longevity in the subject.” Today's availability and capability of image capturing technology is remarkable. Through email, texts, and social networks these images are shared with immediacy. But I have come to think of these images as the photographic equivalent of consuming McDonald's french fries, which I kinda like. However, we consume McDonald's fries quickly and they do relatively little to satisfy us very long, much less make a lasting impression on us. We are consuming images in the same way. They are on our screen for a few seconds and then replaced by the next image. But the analogy breaks down when considering the quality of the images. McDonald's french fries are always the same. But many of the images we see, regardless of the technical quality, are worth preserving. And pictures of people important to us have a special value. I want to encourage all of us to think more about and curate some of the images we are generating. Some images demand longevity. My postings on this blog have slowed down because of my other passion - family history. I am finishing a book on my mother's ancestors and this fall luckily made contact with distant cousins, one of whom sent me this portrait of my 4th great grandmother, Sarah Fogleman Sides. Besides having a picture of an ancestor born in the 18th century, I love the look on her face. Most early portraits depict individuals with stern faces, partly because long exposure times were required. However, Sarah to me seems to be stifling a laugh and saying 'would you hurry up'. This holiday season make a gift to your self and posterity by printing a few pictures important to you.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait Mon, 10 Dec 2012 17:18:17 GMT
Who Needs a DSLR - November Macro 2012-11-29 10.39.03 This past year has seen a tremendous change and advances in "convenient" camera photography. As I have quoted a couple of times "the best 2012-11-29 10.39.38 camera is the one you have with you". No question a large sensor, high pixel camera with a super-duper expensive lens will give the highest quality image. However, sensor technology and tiny lenses have advanced to where very nice pictures can be taken with cell phones. I replaced my aging smartphone this week with a Sony Xperia TL (yes, the James Bond one), principally because I got a deal. But the phone comes with a 13.1 megapixel camera. The tiny lenses on cell phones are best thought of as wide angle lenses which means they are good for tremendous depth of field and pretty close in focusing. Thus as long as the light is sufficient and you have a steady hand, both landscapes and macros can be done. With a new camera (cell phone) and the dropping of the Bradford pear leaves this week, I decided to see what I might do. There was sun streaming in the front window, so I propped a black foam board on an end table, taped a leaf to a lamp shade and took a picture (see setup). The picture is as shot other than some minor contrast adjustments and a square crop.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Macro nature Thu, 29 Nov 2012 16:33:30 GMT
November Portrait - Christmas Card Preparation Christmas 2012 0008 I started photographing seriously again because of these two young ladies. Even the President's daughters may not be photographed as much. Since they were born they have graced our Christmas card which means each year I have to capture another image that Grandma approves for the card. This one did not make the card, but Grandma liked it. Photographing two energetic and silly young ladies is a challenge. I have to make sure I have everything setup before hand as patience for Grandpa and his camera wanes quickly. I used a 3 light set-up in my basement utility room studio: SB910 in shoot through umbrella camera right (key light); SB600 in a reflecting umbrella camera left; and a SB800 bounced off the background. Nikkor 17-55mm@31, f5, 1/60.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait Sun, 25 Nov 2012 12:35:10 GMT
Sunrise at The Edge of Suburbia Suburban Lanscape 0080_HDRNX2A As a follow-up to my Landscape post of 2 days ago, I returned again trying to isolate the tree on the hill against a red sky. Two days ago it was cloudy but today was clear diminishing an extensive red sky. I still set up to photograph the tree on the hill. But, as I noted before, sometimes the image to be taken is not the one planned. As I waited for the sun I noticed the fence and the road and felt like they were marking a boundary between the development to the right and a area of land to the left not yet subject to granite top counters and walk-in closets. Hence the title "The Edge of Suburbia". I reset the camera for a wider angle view and waited for the sun. Anticipating a need for a wide range of focal lengths, I had my Nikkor 18-200mm lens mounted. I put the lens at 18mm and manually set the focal distance to 1 meter. With this setting at f22 I could get both maximum depth of field and a star burst on the sun. The final image was a 5 shot HDR (1/13 sec +/- 2 EV) processed in HDR EFex and NX2.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Sunrise VA Sat, 17 Nov 2012 17:22:56 GMT
Extreme Suburban Landscape Suburban Lanscape 0011_2_3_4_5_tonemapped I have been busy processing pictures from my Nephew's wedding and finishing my family history book, so my fun photography has been languishing. I recently read that (paraphrasing) instead of taking the picture you wanted to make, take the picture that wants to be made. While in Virginia I miss having the ready made opportunities for landscapes literally at my doorstep. But sometimes a picture is where you don't expect it. Near our townhouse is a small hill created from some construction excavation. Nature has been doing its usual reclamation and a tree has sprung up on top. Every time I drive by the hill and tree demands my attention. I went out this morning with the idea of catching the tree with a red sunrise behind the hill. But it was overcast. I took some pictures anyhow to prepare for the shot I had intended to make. Standing there I realized that a B&W photo was calling. As I processed the photo I was trying different effects and B&W looks including a "solarization" process. The image may not appeal to everyone but I like the dramatic look of the single tree commanding attention on an artificial hill in a suburban setting. I will shoot more pictures of this tree and am now envisioning a series of "Suburban Landscapes". Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17, f13, 5 shot HDR +/- 2 ev from 1 sec. Processed in Photomatix Pro and NIK Silver Efex with final adjustments made in NX2.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Virginia Thu, 15 Nov 2012 13:57:45 GMT
October Portrait - American Gothic Wedding Day 1725

I am a little late in posting this picture but I have been concentrating on getting pictures back to the bride and groom in the picture. I still have more family pictures to process and I also did another set of pictures for a niece that was married last month. It was so much fun working with my nephew, the groom, and his bride because they were open to many different ideas. This was one suggested by my sister, Patti. The pose is adapted from the painting "American Gothic". We probably should have had the pitchfork in his right hand but that would have run the danger of covering the face of his beautiful bride. We had practiced the picture the day before and my nephew really struggled to keep from laughing. Maybe because he was just married, he had suddenly become much more serious. The picture was shot at 30mm with my Nikkor 17-55mm which is wider than I would normally shoot a portrait, but my feet were on the edge of a dock over the water. Background exposure was 1/100 and f4.5. Camera left was a SB900 flash mounted on a paint stick with an attached umbrella and held by a niece, Alissa, serving as a VAL (voice activated lightstand). I used this portable umbrella/flash combination on several outdoor "formal" wedding shots and it was a fantastic light. The flash was triggered by the onboard camera flash using the Nikon CLS system.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait Fri, 02 Nov 2012 22:14:24 GMT
October Landscape - Sideling Hill Sideling Hill 0016

We Vermonters are proud of the annual fall display our hillsides put forth. And we can be a little bit quick to dismiss other displays as not quite as impressive. This month I drove to Kentucky from Northern Virginia passing through Western Maryland and West Virginia. Luckily I saw peak foliage and had "bluebird", clear skies. The color was glorious and up to VT standards. I was photographing my nephew's wedding and was able to take advantage of the color for several photos. On the way back we went by the Sideling Hill cut on I-68. I-68 parallels the original National Road and Sideling HIll was noteworthy for the steep inclines and hair pin turns which defeated more than one wagon and later motorized vehicles. Today it is a scenic overlook that is well worth the stop. Some day I will return in the fall at sunrise to shoot a picture but for this shot it was mid-day. But I think the beauty is still apparent. Tamron [email protected], f22, 1/50s.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Mon, 29 Oct 2012 02:30:04 GMT
October Macro - Wedding Rings Preparation 091

I have not posted to the blog in almost a month, partly because I was taking a little break and partly because I was preparing to shoot my nephew's wedding. This macro of their wedding rings was done with the rings nestled in the  bride's bouquet and her wedding band and engagement ring standing inside the groom's wedding band. I used natural light from a large window on a cloudy day. I tried 3 different apertures for varying depth of field and liked the best. Nikkor 85mm macro, f13, 1.3 sec.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Macro rings wedding Sat, 27 Oct 2012 12:52:29 GMT
Foliage Sunset Pinnacle Pinnacle PANA CE4crop Unfortunately we will miss peak fall color in VT, but grandchildren, as I like to say, trump everything. Thursday evening I visited Pinnacle one last time. The setting warm sun accents what color is there and at the higher elevations many of the trees have turned. This image is actually 15 pictures merged together into one. I shot 3 sets (5 each) of vertical HDR images and then stitched the 3 HDR images together to get this one image. The HDR allows a wider tone range and the stitched panorama allows a different perspective than my wide angle. Plus I wanted Lake Rescue (to the left) to be a little more visible. Nikkor 17-55mm @ 23mm, f13, 1/100 sec +/- 2 EV.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Vermont Sat, 29 Sep 2012 13:20:22 GMT
Fog and Foliage - A Pinnacle View Pinnacle Fall 026_HDRA A landscape photography forum this month is having a contest for landscapes shot "Close to Home". Yesterday morning when I awoke, the lake was totally obscured by fog. With foliage season starting, I decided to try my luck on Pinnacle, an overlook just 15 minutes from my house. Although the trees are just turning the rising sun at my back enhanced what color that existed. And down in the valley the fog persisted,  beautiful sight close to home. 5 shot HDR, Tamron 10-24@13mm, f22, 1/15 sec +/- 2 EV. Processed in HDR Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Vermont Tue, 25 Sep 2012 12:58:48 GMT
Something Different - A Textured Look RI Fish 005

We are probably in a golden age of photography. Image capture is easier and of better quality than ever would have been imagined even 10 years ago. Even phone cameras are capable of captivating images. And the digital darkroom is accessed just as easily. Instagram allows everyone with a smartphone to create interesting images by applying a preset filter with a touch of a button. The above image is my attempt at being a little more adventuresome and creative in the digital darkroom. The original image was shot at the western beach of the entrance to Point Judith Pond, Rhode Island. The breakwater can be seen to the left. The image was shot at 5:10AM before sunrise (Tamron 10-24mm@10mm, f22, 45 sec.) and first post processed in Capture NX2. The night had been stormy and a rain squall could be seen on the horizon. I liked the image I had but decided to try a new technique. By applying textured layers in Photoshop Elements a very different look was achieved, in this case 3 different textures from the August Painterly suite from Flypaper Textures. This is my first attempt at texture layering and I still am working on my technique. But because it is my chosen combination of textures and application approach, I know that this is an image that only I can duplicate.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape nature Mon, 24 Sep 2012 00:56:51 GMT
Try the Scene Modes- Another Sept. Portrait RI Fish 329

While I have an expensive Nikon dslr and lenses, there are times when I do not want to risk the camera against nature's elements. In this case it is salt spray. So I also have a Canon D10 which is a waterproof point and shoot camera which I originally bought to be able to take pictures of the granddaughters in the water. Even as a point and shoot it is not considered to be one with the highest image quality, but in keeping with the mantra "the best camera is the one you have with you", it is a camera that can take much of what nature throws at it. I was with a group of friends fishing near Block Island and after a very successful day we were returning to Point Judith Pond. The sun was getting low and my friend David was sitting opposite me. Another good piece of advice is that practice and experience pay off. The last time I was fishing of the northeast coast, I had the same camera and a fishing buddy was walking off the water when I caught him silhouetted against the setting sun. Recalling this I put the D10 into the "Sunset" scene mode, had David lean forward and snapped the picture. The lesson being that good photos can be taken with point and shoot cameras and we all could practice using the different scene modes that these cameras have built in. If I had kept the camera in "Auto", it would have attempted to balance the overall exposure and David would have appeared with some moderate details and the sky would have been washed out. But knowing what the scene mode would deliver, I think I got the better photo.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait nature Sat, 22 Sep 2012 15:18:47 GMT
Another in the Lake Series September Fog on Lake Rescue

One of the true privileges I have occurs every morning while making coffee. I have an ever changing display of nature as I gaze out on Lake Rescue. The light is constantly changing and I frequently am witness to glorious sunrises. But at this time of year with cool nights but still warm water on the lake, the sunrise is often obscured by fog. For me this has its own beauty. So this image was taken yesterday while the coffee brewed and is another in my Lake Series all taken from the same vantage point and just 30 yds from my front door. I have a color version but in this case I envisioned it as a B&W and I do believe it is better that way. Nikkor 17-55mm@17mm, f 2.8, 5 shot HDR +/- 2ev from 1/100 sec. HDR generated with Photomatix and then B&W done in NIK Silver Efex Pro. BTW, NIK software was just purchased yesterday by Google evidently for their Snapseed mobile photographic software.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Lake Landscape nature Tue, 18 Sep 2012 12:56:23 GMT
Season Transitions "Cycles of Life" at Mt. Sunapee Yet another in a series of phone camera pictures from our Friday bike rides. Our group which I currently refer to the "Cycles of Life" is still open to name suggestions. After the Vermontasaurus ride of last week, one of our siblings suggested a name invoking dinosaurs due to the age of the group. In our area, fall is arriving with the earliest signs of color in the trees. This also means thoughts turn to skiing. Bob on the right and Rod on the left are both avid skiers and their "home" mountain is Mt. Sunapee in New Hampshire. Bob has developed a ride from his hometown of Grantham to Mt. Sunapee designed for the express purpose of picking up his annual ski pass. The ride details can be viewed at Mt. Sunapee Ski Pass Loop. I am including an elevation profile of the ride as I think the numerous ups and downs befit the name of the ride. Unfortunately this will probably be our last ride all together this year as Bob is doing the Sea Coast Century next week and Rod and I will completing our training for the Seagull Century in 2 weeks. But we all agreed that we should now "Think Snow"!

Sunapee Ski Pass

(American Roots Photography) Cycling Mt. Ski Sunapee Sat, 15 Sep 2012 14:15:19 GMT
September Landscape - Morning Coffee Morning Coffee I took this photo last Friday and I call it Flowers on a float.Water Flowers Morning Coffee as the scene seems to invite you to sit down in the Andirondack chairs with a cup of java. The scene is only 1/2 mile from my house at The Green Mountain Sugar House which is behind the camera. The flowers on the float are done by Ann Rose who, with her husband Doug, operate the sugar house. They maintain a grassy area next to the sugar house where patrons can consume their Maple Creemees (soft serve, maple flavored ice cream) and enjoy the lake. Friday morning was foggy, as it often is this time of year, and I wanted to capture this peaceful scene. Both pictures were captured with my Nikon D300. For the foggy morning I used a Nikkor 17-55mm@30mm, f10, 1/15 sec., ISO 200. The flowers were shot on 7/29 using a Tamron 70-300mm@160mm, f4.8, 1/320 sec, ISO 200. Some pictures just asked to be made.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Vermont lake Mon, 10 Sep 2012 21:10:12 GMT
Amelia - September Portrait Amelia 082

First let me say that I have a strong appreciation for baby photographers and their ability to generate such creative and beautiful images. It probably helps that many of them are also moms and let experience inform their images. Recently a young friend of Claire and I gave birth to a daughter, Amelia. As I seem to do often, I offered as a present to do pictures of Amelia. Now all babies are by definition beautiful and Amelia is certainly no exception. Most of the shots were with three lights. When I looked at various websites of baby photography, the shots I liked the most tended to be "high key" in nature, with few dark tones. This particular image was one of my favorites. Jennifer, Amelia's mother, held the main light directly over head. A fill light was fired through a diffuser camera right and I also used the on camera pop up flash, with a diffuser, for on axis fill light. In post processing I also used the NIK Color Efex high key filter to enhance the overall effect  but making sure I did not washout the color in the cute little hat mom had knitted for Amelia. Shot with Nikon D300 with Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm, 1/60, f7.1.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait Sun, 09 Sep 2012 12:39:29 GMT
Vermontasaurus Vermontasaurus Ride

In late July I posted an entry about my friend Bob Peterson and his status as one of my athletic inspirations. Bob has been organizing a group of riders on Friday and we have been doing rides on both sides of the CT river in what is know locally as the Upper Valley. This Friday Bob suggested we do the Vermontasaurus Ride. Bob was introduced to the ride by Paula, the second rider from the left, but Bob gave it the name. About halfway into the ride we passed through Post Mills, VT home of the now famous, some would same infamous, Vermontasaurus. Built from scrap wood by Brian Boland, retired teacher and balloonist, the Vermontasaurus was initially quite controversial. However, now it is considered to be a work of art and does attract visitors...and bikers. Different rides that bikers take quickly acquire names as short hand, rather than describing the roads and turns. And with a website (and app) called Map My Ride these various rides can be made available to others. Those interested in riding the Vermontasaurus should click here for the Map My Ride details that Bob made available. Our group this Friday, by the way, was all 60+ in age and 2 were 70+. Like the rides, we need a name. Any suggestions? And as I have stated before, the best camera is the one you have with you. Taken with my 3 year old Samsung Fascinate smart phone.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Vermontasaurus Fri, 07 Sep 2012 22:30:48 GMT
For Edie, Hugs on the Heartside Wichita EfexHDRdfos579-587

I originally posted a different exposure and version of this image in May taken from halfway up Mount Scott in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. The original post was a quick merger of a series of HDR exposures. As personal techniques improve as well as new tools being available, I have found revisiting earlier images is often worthwhile and so I have redone another HDR series trying to improve my technique. But this image also has personal resonance. In May I attended a Littlefield reunion in Oklahoma. My grandmother was a Littlefield but died when my mother was 11 years old, so I never knew my grandmother Mildred Littlefield. Last year I made contact and a bond with two wonderful Littlefield cousins. One of them is Edie Littlefield Sundby who is a bundle of energy and accomplishment. Edie also has lived for the past 5 years with advanced gall bladder cancer as described by her in the NY Times Well Blog. Today is August 28 and tomorrow Edie will undergo surgery to remove up to an entire lung inflicted with cancer secondary to her original cancer. This is to allow her to discontinue chemotherapy and establish whether or not her liver cancer has been stopped. Her strength is inspiring. Today I sent her a text message of support and her response was classic Edie - "It's a beautiful day in Palo Alto. A lovely time of year for surgery and recovery. Hugs on the Heartside." Mount Scott is about an hour from Edie's and my mother's birthplaces and I had visited it earlier in the day with Edie's husband, Dale. I knew that I had to return for a sunset picture. Tonight my wish is that Edie will have many more opportunities to see sunsets, be they in Oklahoma or anywhere else.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Mount Scott Wichita Winter Tue, 28 Aug 2012 23:24:26 GMT
An August Macro - Cast Upon the Water As many of my friends know, I like to fly fish and on occasion I tie flies.Aug Macro 055 A well tied fly is a work of art and in fact some flies are tied as works of art. Even a large fly is small and when photographed they are usually in the tying vise or mounted on a piece of foam. I wanted to photograph the fly in the medium it is designed for - water. A dry fly is designed to float on the water and to entice a fish to see it as food. I initially thought I could just float the fly on a dish of water. But then the background was not very realistic. I decided to get some gravel from the lake and put it in a glass pie pan along with some lake water. I selected a Yellow Humphy and initially tried outside but there was too much wind blowing the fly about. So I moved inside under the dining room sky light. Even then I needed to close windows and doors as even the slightest breeze caused the #16 Humphy to move about. I also learned, as all fly fisherman know, that eventually the natural materials of the fly wet, so I had to add some floatant to the fly to keep it afloat. Finally I was ready to shoot. Because the fly would never totally stop I had to reach a compromise in aperture and shutter speed for some depth of field while keeping part of the image sharp, even then the ISO had to be bumped up. I could have used a flash but I really wanted natural light and the flash would very likely have introduced specular highlights. Most of the shots were from the side which showed more detail of the fly and would have been more documentary of the fly pattern. However,  I recently have become a fan of Mike Moats who is an excellent macro photographer and his voice told me to go for the shot that had photographic impact not documentation. Thus the final image shows the fly from the front with only the hook eye completely sharp. I have an idea of how to anchor the fly's movement in the future, but for now here is a dry fly upon the water. Nikkor 85mm macro, f10, 1/4 sec., ISO 800 on a tripod.

Humphy on the WaterAug Macro 028

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Macro nature Sun, 19 Aug 2012 23:37:28 GMT
August Portrait - Gold in the Hills Gold 015 Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc on VT almost a year ago. But a small silver, er Gold, lining has emerged from Irene's devastation. In the 19th century a minor gold rush occurred in VT, with much of the activity located very near Ludlow on Buffalo Creek. The torrent of water resulting from Irene exposed new sediment and now a "micro-mini" gold rush is on. Gold pans are being sold locally and books and DVD's on gold prospecting are readily available. Gold 082 Today, I accompanied 2 friends on a gold expedition on the upper reaches of Buffalo Creek. This section is on private land owned by a 73 year old Vermonter who lives "off the grid" and can be reached only by 3 miles of rough dirt road. In the winter, the man must use a snowmobile to get in and out of his home. While we were there he showed us numerous pictures of the bear and coyote that visit his yard. The picture to the left shows my friends working their way up the creek which is at summertime low flow. I accompanied them mainly because I saw the trip as a photographic opportunity but I did try my hand at a little prospecting. Gold apparently is often associated with quartz which is prevalent in the creek. I even found a small gold flecked piece of quartz shortly after arrival. To get the shot below of my friend, David Almond, I used my Tamron 10-24mm @ 21mm, f20, and 1/60 sec. I also hand held my Nikon SB800 off camera left and tripped it wirelessly with the on board pop-up flash. BTW, I think the real money is in selling the panning supplies.

Gold 050

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait nature Wed, 15 Aug 2012 20:26:42 GMT
Waiting for the Color Blue Skye Farm, Waldoboro MaineBlueSkyePMatixHDR

Photography is teaching me patience and the importance of waiting for the image to appear. On our recent trip to Waldoboro, ME we stayed at the Blue Skye B&B. The home was built in 1775 and the innkeepers have preserved as much as possible the 18th century nature of the home. I decided I wanted to photograph the home and give our hosts a copy of the image. The above image has many flaws including the non-parallel line distortion due to shooting at an angle but the sky is wonderful. I sat in the front yard for 1.5 hours as the sun descended to its 7:50 P disappearance on the horizon. The sun was directly facing the home, so as it set nice golden light played across it with accompanying shadows from the front lawn trees.  The sky above the house was blue with gathering white clouds. I took dozens of shots and many of these images were quite nice.  But I wanted to see what would happen after sunset. As the sun disappears over the horizon it sometimes can color the entire sky. Which is what happened. Fifteen minutes after sunset, the white clouds slowly became colored pink. In this situation, one must take advantage of the opportunity because all the color disappears quickly. In this case it was 5 minutes. To capture the full dynamic range the image is a 5 shot HDR (shutter speed from 1/5 s to 3 s) taken with a Nikkor 17-55mm @ 22mm and f16.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Maine Fri, 10 Aug 2012 11:29:19 GMT
Appeal of B&W in a Color World  

Maine 046B&W

Despite our ability to render images today in spectacular and Vibrant color, black and white images still attract many of us. In fact B&W has enough appeal that Leica began selling this year a B&W only digital camera for $8,000 (although they throw in Lightroom and NIK Silver Efex Pro for free - worth about $200). The image above was taken on the north side of Owl's Head Point in Maine where a lighthouse is located. The lighthouse is not very tall and from the north is almost totally blocked by trees. Compounding my challenge of photographing the lighthouse was a heavy fog. As I waited for the fog to lift, the sun briefly broke through a patch in the fog and I composed a picture capturing the sun and the extreme end of Owl's Head Point across the cove. After 2 early morning hours perched on a craggy rock, I left being somewhat disappointed in my photographic trip. But then the thought occurred that the conditions were much better suited to B&W. And this is probably a physiological response as well as an aesthetic one. Our eyes have both rod cells and cone cells and it is the cone cells that allows us to see color. At low light levels, however, only the rod cells are sensitive to light and tend to render objects in light or dark without color. This is why in dim situations we do not see the color of objects. Thus seeing the world in B&W is sometimes a natural perception and maybe why B&W images have appeal. So this image was taken in low light and the B&W for me works. As I processed the B&W I also added a very slight blue tint because I liked it but again this may be physiological as rod cells are maximally sensitive at 500nm, a blue light wavelength. Taken with NIkkor 17-55mm @23mm, f22, 1/80.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Maine Tue, 07 Aug 2012 14:21:05 GMT
A Maine Candidate for August Landscape FHarborHDREfex2

Maine is a photographer's dream location for shooting landscapes. However, I have quickly learned that obstacles do exist to getting the landscape you want. First, if you are on the coast, foggy and cloudy weather occur frequently. So even if you know when the sun rises, you may not see it. Secondly, if you are going to the beach be sure and check the tide tables. I had scouted this picture of Friendship Harbor the day before but it was high tide. When I arrived it was 2 hours before low tide and the waterside spot I had identified was now 40 yards away from the waters edge. But the weather was clear and a nice pastel sunrise was there to be captured once I located a new spot to place my tripod. I used my Tamron 10-24mm @ 10 mm and f22. The shot is a 5 shot HDR composite.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Maine Sun, 05 Aug 2012 02:08:57 GMT
Another Squirrely Image - July Portrait Self Portrait 009

At the risk of real humiliation, I decided to try a self-portrait. But I wanted to further challenge myself by doing the portrait with a point and shoot camera hand held. The effort turned into much experimentation to say nothing of many stupid expressions. I first just shot with my Canon D10 using its built in flash and the exposure adjusted manually on the D10 to -2 stops underexposed at ISO 8. But the "deer in the headlights" look was more than I was willing to accept. So I brought out my SB800 Nikon flash unit which can be setup to trigger when it "sees" another flash. So now the D10 built in flash will cause the SB 800 to fire. But the D10 flash was still just too harsh, so I began to tape pieces of kleenex over it and 3 layers seemed to do the trick. The SB800 then needed to be moved around and power adjusted eventually arriving at the flash at 1/64th power, sitting atop an upside down trash can on a table, and camera left at 30 degrees to me and above my head. Now all I needed to do was make a goofy expression, hold the camera out with my left hand, and shoot. Then I decided my time was better spent on a bike ride.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait Sat, 28 Jul 2012 00:02:49 GMT
Composition and Life - Coming and Going BobP Alps

Some basic rules of photographic composition can be used to significantly improve your photos. One such rule is if a subject is apparently in motion, leave some room in the image in front of the subject to move into. But your images should also try to tell a story which sometimes means breaking the "rules". On Monday, I did one of my regular bike rides with 2 friends. The ride is known locally as "The Alps" ride because of the scene like this one. This was taken in the middle of a 6 mile climb, which if you watch the Tour de France is categorized as a Cat 2 climb. The real reason for posting the picture is the rider. I have certain people who are personally inspirational, like this rider. Bob is 70, has an artificial hip, and is an insulin dependent diabetic. Yet he bikes over 1500 miles and skis 50 plus days a year. Just below where the road disappears on the horizon, Bob came up a grade which maxed out at 13.6%. I had several elements I wanted in the picture: a landscape view to illustrate the "Alps", some foreground elements to anchor the photo (a rule), an indication of where Bob had come from (the road disappearing on the horizon), and Bob to be a significant element in the picture. To do so I had to wait until Bob was to the right and thus had limited room "to move in the picture". Later as I thought about the picture, the thought occurred to me that life has some aspects of this picture of Bob. At all stages of our life we have a perspective on the direction we are going but we are not exactly sure where. On the other hand where we are going is informed by where we have come from. Bob knows the challenges he has faced and is determined to keep going but will readily tell you he will continue to adapt to future challenges - in his case another granny gear for the bike. The picture was taken with my phone camera which because of a phone camera's very small sensor and lens has a large DOF and will make a decent landscape shot with both foreground and background elements in focus.



(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Vermont Thu, 26 Jul 2012 14:23:01 GMT
July Portrait - Red Squirrel? Red Squirrel 032 I am not sure if I will have a portrait opportunity this month and this guy may be needed to fill the requirement. We seem to have more Red Squirrels this year than usual and as the acorns come down they have been very active. I admit to enticing him in closer with some peanuts. I shot him with my Tamron 70-300@250mm, f6.3, 1/40 sec. Normally you would not expect 1/40 sec at 250mm to end up sharp but this lens with the image stabilization has consistently surprised me. I also shot on burst mode knowing that I was more likely to get a sharp image by shooting several at a time. The 1/40 of a sec was dictated by the shade of the oak tree. I put my meter on spot so the squirrel would be exposed correctly and because of the telephoto and f6.3 the background would just go "creamy". Below is another shot I call "The Muscle Squirrel" as he struck a muscle man pose.

Red Squirrel 039

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait nature Fri, 20 Jul 2012 21:47:38 GMT
July Landscape - Vermont Sunset View from Pinnacle Vermont sunsets are more subtle than sunsets in other areas such as the west. But they are still beautiful. Pinnacle is a rock out cropping near me that affords a nice view of the Green Mountains and Lake Rescue is also visible (in the center of this photo). With the humidity lower yesterday, the skies were a clearer blue and afforded an opportunity for a nice sunset picture. The image is a 5 shot HDR shot at f22 (to get the sun starburst) and processed in the just released NIK HDR Efex Pro2.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Vermont Wed, 11 Jul 2012 11:59:49 GMT
July Macro - Marguerite Revisited 2012-07-01-17.07.23 ZS PMax1

Claire's garden, as any garden, is a wonderful place for photographic exploration. And I especially like her yellow Marguerites as I keep looking for another way of shooting them. Last month I shot an unopened Marguerite intentionally putting most of the flower out of focus. This time I wanted the flower totally in focus, which I did by using focus stacking. Focus stacking is a technique where a series of photos with different focal points are then combined to give an image with more in focus area than the lens would otherwise allow. Although macro lenses allow one to get in close the lenses also have very shallow depth of focus. I brought the flower inside because the wind would be shifting its position constantly plus we have a blue camp chair that I thought would be a good background. This was my very first effort at focus stacking and the image is not as sharp as I would like but I thought it came out nicely. BTW, the flower is only about an inch in diameter. Nikkor 85mm macro, f5.6, 1/2 sec, ? no. of images focused stack. I will send a 8x8 print to anyone who can guess the correct number of images combined.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Macro Mon, 02 Jul 2012 12:59:56 GMT
June Portrait - The Bass Player June Portrait 006 When my friend, Barb Wendt, sent me an email announcing the first Hartland Jazz Festival, I had immediate interest in attending for several reasons. First, Claire and I enjoy Jazz. Secondly the artistic director for the festival is Peter Concilio, a friend of the Wendts and an influential high school teacher of their daughters. Finally I had seen Peter perform several times and I knew I had an opportunity for my June Portrait. I love watching the faces of performing jazz musicians as they are so expressive. I used my Tamron 70-300mm @ 240mm, f5.6, 1/80 because I knew this would blur the background. I then positioned the shot to isolate Peter in front of trees in the background.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait Vermont Sun, 24 Jun 2012 13:27:23 GMT
Another June Macro - Marguerite - ville C Garden Macro 013 Tuesday it was overcast in the morning and I was walking around Claire's garden. The Marguerites are pretty much in full bloom but I noticed a few that were just opening up yielding these 1/2 inch wide yellow crowns. I framed the flower on some green background foliage and shot at a wide aperture for a very shallow depth of field. I wanted just the lead edge in focus. I did other shots with more of the flower in focus but I really liked the look from this image. The open aperture also allowed a faster shutter speed to maintain sharpness as there was a light breeze. Nikkor 85mm macro, f5, 1/640.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Macro nature Thu, 21 Jun 2012 16:52:39 GMT
June Landscape - 10 Months After Irene Irene 054a With the accessibility today of affordable, high quality digital cameras and readily shared information on photography techniques, we are living in a golden age of consumer photography. Many beautiful pictures are posted everyday to the web and the social networking sites where these images can be posted are numerous also. As nice as the images are, there is also a sameness to them. The question arises as how to make an image unique? How do you get someone to pause for a few seconds before clicking onto the next image? One way is to try and tell a story. This landscape is my attempt at a story. Even though 10 months have passed since Irene, some of the worst hit still struggle to recover. Just before entering from the south Plymouth, VT on Rt.100, this scene appears. Prior to Irene, the only noticeable sign of the stream to the right was the small bridge one crossed on Rt. 100. Even though I bike by here regularly, I had never taken real notice of the stream. The "sugar house" was also not very obvious. Now of course your attention is drawn to both. The owners of the sugar house live on the opposite side of Plymouth and their house there was also destroyed by the flood. For me a story existed that I tried to capture - the destruction of Irene, VT traditions such as sugaring, and the hopefulness for the future. Tamron 10-24@10mm, f22, 1/15

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Vermont Wed, 20 Jun 2012 17:27:56 GMT
June Macro - Bleeding Heart Bleeding Heart 048

Patience and persistence. I have read this advice many times in different books and articles on photography. The May landscape I took from Mount Scott in OK required me to setup an hour before sunset and just wait for the right moment. And while I stood there several cars drove by with their cameras stuck out the car window. I am probably in the foreground of a lot of landscapes. Bleeding Heart pictures are numerous because they are truly captivating flowers both in form and color. Because they grow in multiples along a stem, images of just one flower are not often seen, especially when unopened. I cut this flower from Claire's plant (with her permission) and then set it up on the kitchen table with the stem in my fly tying vise. I propped up her lounge chair cushion as a dark green background. The day was overcast so the skylights provided a nice soft light. Although the flower was wet when I brought it in, I still used a spray bottle to add drops of water. An hour and a half later and 49 shots at multiple angles and exposure combinations I had this shot, number 48 of 49. NIkkor 85mm macro, f22, 6 seconds, ISO200.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Macro Fri, 08 Jun 2012 00:16:35 GMT
May Portrait

Portrait opportunities are more limited mainly because many people just don't want to do a formal portrait. So to achieve my 2012 goal of a portrait a month (as well as macro and landscape), I have sought opportunities to do environmental portraits. I recently took a fishing trip with my good friends Rod and Bruce. To get the picture meant carrying my camera gear as well as my fishing gear to the water. I knew I wanted to catch either Rod or Bruce on the water. I also wanted to isolate the person from the background, thus I mounted my Tamron 70-300 on camera which gave me both the reach I wanted as well as the blurred background I desired. I caught Bruce's typical intense concentration when he fishes. ISO 200, 1/125, f5.6.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait Tue, 05 Jun 2012 19:17:25 GMT
May Landscape - Wichita Mountains OK 570_1_2_3_4_5_tonemapped When I think of Oklahoma I certainly don't think of mountains. But they do exist. The Wichita Mountains are in south central Oklahoma with peaks in the 2500 foot range. This photo was taken from Mount Scott about 2/3 the way up the mountain. The image is a fusion of 6 images shot at 0.7 ev spacing. The camera was set at f22 to get depth of field and some starring in the sun. The sun was still causing too many blown highlights even at -3.0 ev exposure so I put on a stop ND gradient filter. All post processing was done in NX2 using NIK filters.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Sun, 27 May 2012 03:58:27 GMT
May Macro II - Purple Haze May Macro 046 Unfortunately, I have not yet identified these flowers and would welcome anyone to identify them. Although much of the softness in this image was created in post-processing (mainly selective Gaussian blur), it still is in keeping with some experiments on my part for softer images. I also have found myself tending towards more saturated and vibrant colors. But in this case I intentionally desaturated the color somewhat to give a pastel look. Nikkor 85mm macro, 1/640, f4. edit. Flowers identified as a Beardtongue and specifically I think it is Penstemon gracilis.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 macro Fri, 11 May 2012 12:03:03 GMT
May Macro I - I'm Getting Soft May Macro 065 My target image yesterday was different but I spied this tiny flower, similar to a blackberry, and I was attracted to it. A recent NIK podcast interviewed Kathleen Clemons . Kathleen is a Maine fine art photographer who specializes in flowers and her work is beautiful. Her emphasis is on shallow depth of field and lines and textures. I took a shot of this flower where the entire flower is in focus, but in this case I let Kathleen influence me. I went for a shallow DOF and focused on the leading edge of the closest petal. In the end I liked this better than the completely in focus image. I guess because I am an engineer, my natural inclination is for detailed and sharp images. But now I know to go another direction can at times improve the result. I was also lucky in that the day was completely overcast. Anytime there is an overcast day, it is a great time to do outside macro flower shots. Tomorrow, I'll post another example of going soft. 85mm Nikkor Macro, f4.5,1/800

(American Roots Photography) 2012 macro Thu, 10 May 2012 12:20:02 GMT
May Landscape II - Super Moon April Moon 036 Yesterday I wrote about your best camera being the one you had with you, even a phone camera. But this photo can't be taken with a phone camera - at least not yet. I have wanted to do a rising moon shot for awhile and last night's "super moon" provided the opportunity. It almost did not happen as the afternoon was cloudy and when the moon first arose it was hidden by the clouds. Luckily, 45 minutes after moonrise the clouds parted enough for a picture. Because the moon reflects sunlight, most moon shots have the moon overexposed as the camera attempts to expose for the overall scene which is much darker. Secondly, the moon moves surprisingly fast, so shutter speeds less than 1/30 of a second yield a blurry moon. So this image is actually a double exposure which can be done on my D300. With the camera set for a double exposure and my 18-200mm lens mounted, I first shot a wider angle shot (56mm) with the moon just out of the picture (f22, 30sec, noise reduction on). I then zoomed into 180mm and recomposed the picture with only moon and sky, and the moon in the frame where it should appear in the composite picture. The exposure was set to 1/30 sec, f5.6.

And now a plug for a great piece of photography related software - The Photographer's Ephemeris (TPE). The building is our Sports Pavilion and has a nice lake in front. I had decided I wanted to shoot the moon over the Sports Pavilion and across the lake if possible. This is easy to do using TPE. Using the map in the software you can set a location and the direction from which both the moon and the sun rise and set is shown on the map along with the time. From home I was able to determine exactly where to go. TPE is available in desktop, iOS, and android versions. If you really like to shoot during the golden hour, the TPE is a great tool.


(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Virginia Sun, 06 May 2012 11:07:08 GMT
May Landscape I - The Best Camera 2012-05-05 07.30.42

I was on an early morning bike ride Saturday and came across this scene near Clark Gap on the W&OD trail. When discussing what is the best camera, an adage among photographers goes like this: "the best camera is the one you have with you". On Saturday the camera I had with me was on my smartphone (2 year old Samsung Fascinate). There are phones with much better cameras, but this was the one I had with me. The picture as taken was low in contrast and I don't think the phone manufacturer spent a lot of time tweaking how jpeg images would be generated by the phones computer. So I did do some tweaking myself in my NX2 software, primarily using NIK filters. Obviously the image has limitations but I thought it reflected what I saw from my bike and I got to use my best camera - at the time. And a so-so image is much better image than no image. The technical spec: 3.8mm lens, f2.6, 1/282 sec, ISO 50.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Virginia Sat, 05 May 2012 16:44:17 GMT
April Portrait (2) - Old Salem, NC NC-SC Gene 123 Claire and I were touring the Old Salem Tavern with this "interpreter" who also portrayed at times the town doctor. He was describing how the doctor would often be called to the tavern to take care of travelers. As he talked I was drawn to the light as it fell on him from the window and asked if I could take a picture. He turned and struck this pensive pose. I was using my 17-55/2.8 lens at 28mm. Exposure was 1/100, f4, ISO400.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait Sat, 28 Apr 2012 16:13:30 GMT
April Portrait - Old Salem, NC NC-SC Gene 105 This photo was taken inside the Moravian Single Brothers House in Old Salem, NC. The organ was over 200 years old and music was very much a part of Moravian worship, especially organ music. The sister agreed to let me take her picture as she played, which she did quite well. The light was all natural coming in from a large window camera right. I used my 17-55/2.8 lens at 38mm wide open at f2.8 and 1/50 shutter speed. To get the shutter speed high enough for hand holding, I bumped the ISO to 400.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait Sun, 22 Apr 2012 15:19:46 GMT
Another Trail Trillium Trillium Macro 019 As I mentioned in my last post, Claire and I went to the Thompson Wildlife Management Area last Saturday for a hike and to hopefully take some pictures of Trillium. It was a little early, and this one was not open yet. I tried some shots from the side but I wanted to keep the identification of a Trillium, thus this straight on shot. Again because of the wind I bumped up the ISO but not as high at 400. I wanted some DOF so I was at f8 and 1/200 on my 85mm macro. I used my jacket to put the bud in the shade (the light was uneven) and to block some of the wind. I have post processed the picture to further highlight just the bud and leaves, the most significant which was to do a black and white conversion with a green filter and then blend the B&W version with the color using the multiply blend.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Macro Spring nature Wed, 11 Apr 2012 23:43:25 GMT
Trillium on the Trail Trillium Macro 008 Saturday, April 6 Claire and I visited the Thompson Wildlife Management Area in western VA. The Appalachian Trail passes through the Wildlife Area and this section is known for numerous Trillium blooms in the Spring. It was still a little early and only a few Trillium were in bloom but there were a few alongside the AT. I used Byran Peterson's story telling technique with a wide angle lens. I mounted the Tamron 10-24@10mm on my D300 and set the focus ring to 1 meter and the aperture to f20 which gives tremendous DOF. The Trillium was about a foot away. The ISO was set to 800 because it was breezy and I wanted the shutter speed (1/250) fast enough to "freeze" the flower. And of course, I lay on the trail to get a low perspective.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Virginia Sun, 08 Apr 2012 14:34:22 GMT
Know Your Camera, Get The Picture The post today is not about a fantastic photo, but it is about getting an important shot and being familiar with your camera. Leah was having her birthday party and her Dad was walking to her with the cake. The room had no windows and only overhead fluorescent lights. The camera was set fluorescent white balance and I was shooting without a flash. I had my 17-55/2.8 mounted because I knew the light would be low. With a combination of the f2.8 and ISO 400 I could shoot at 1/50th and have a good chance at a somewhat sharp picture at a 28mm focal distance with low noise.

Leah BDay 237

Just as Walt set the cake down less than 5 seconds later (photo time stamp) someone turned the lights out just before the next shot. Now I had a shutter speed of 1/10 of a second and clearly I cannot handhold for a sharp picture as seen here.

Leah BDay 238

A picture with noise is better than no picture. Thanks to a back lit screen on the camera and knowing my controls, I was able to raise the ISO to 2000 while everyone was still singing. This restored the shutter speed to 1/50 and I was able to capture Mom, Dad, and sister with the birthday girl 9 seconds later.

Leah BDay 239 The lesson learned is 2-fold. Do not be afraid to shoot at high ISO's when you have no other choice. And practice with your camera so you can adapt quickly to changing shooting conditions



(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait Mon, 26 Mar 2012 17:06:43 GMT
Bradford Pear Blossom Spring 12 Flower 008 Last week's March Macro was shot at the same time as this Bradford Pear blossom, which is what I originally set out to shoot. There was a breeze outside and I really wanted more DOF which called for a smaller aperture and correspondingly slower shutter speed. But the wind was blowing and even though I upped the ISO I could not compensate for the breeze. So I cut a small cluster from the tree and brought the flower inside. I am always in awe of the beauty that a macro shot can reveal. Nikkor 85mm macro, f22, 1/2 sec, ISO800, manually focused using live view

(American Roots Photography) 2012 macro nature Sun, 25 Mar 2012 12:45:37 GMT
March Landscape Suburban Woods Spring Sunset

Spring is very beautiful in VA especially with the numerous flowering Cherry and Bradford Pear trees. But suburbia also has many distracting elements when trying to get a landscape shot, unlike just out my front door in VT. I still want to do a better landscape this month but considering I shot this within 100 feet of our condo, the distractions of suburbia have been largely eliminated. Although the trees have not leafed out yet, the woods floor is greening up. Tamron 10-24 @ 15mm, f22 (for DOF and sun starburst); 5 shot HDR +/- 2 EV from 1/30 sec.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Spring Fri, 23 Mar 2012 12:02:54 GMT
March Macro - Amaryllis in the Rain Amaryllis in the Rain Yesterday was overcast and we had a slight mist which is a great time to shoot flowers. I initially was focused on the flowering Bradford Pear trees but then I noticed the Amaryllis on the deck and I was drawn to this petal with water drops. It was shot with a 85mm macro @ f/22, 1/20, ISO800 on a tripod and manually focused.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Macro nature Thu, 22 Mar 2012 12:38:07 GMT
View From Mt. Road - Okemo MtHolly2PanD10 Absolutely gorgeous bluebird sky day in Vermont today, March 6. This is a view from the Mountain Road trail close to the top of Okemo. Killington Peak can be seen just to the left of the middle evergreen tree. This was shot with my Canon D10 point and shoot camera but is 2 shots stitched together and processed further in Nikon Capture NX2, f8, 1/200, ISO80

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Vermont Winter Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:25:26 GMT
Happy Acres, Happy Cows Happy Acres Cows My friends, the Peplau's, have a working farm in Plymouth, VT and I visited in the evening for some shots. I shot with a Tungsten WB to get a deeper blue sky and then used a CTO gel on a flash to "warm" the cows. Nikkor 17-55@17, 1/160, f22

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Vermont Winter Sun, 04 Mar 2012 14:05:42 GMT
Natural Ice Sculpture Natural Ice Sculpture We have lost most of our snow but a little was left on the deck. A half inch high piece suggested an animal to me so I grabbed the camera, put a piece of black foam board behind and snapped this picture. I use some toning and selective darkening and brightening afterwards and here is the result. Shot with 85mm macro, f8, 1/20 on a tripod.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Animals Ice Macro Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:33:45 GMT
Just Ignore Him Just Ignore Him We have some open water near the dam which the ducks occupy this time of year. They also are starting their courtship which is fascinating to observe. Yesterday I caught this image while out for a walk. Tamron 70-300@270, f5.6, 1/800, ISO400.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Ducks Lake Winter Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:31:18 GMT
Llama Hill Sunset Llama Hill Sunset Just a mile walk from our VT home is a hill where a Llama farm is located. This last Saturday I took a walk up the hill to catch the sunset. Unfortunately I could not coax the Llamas over to the fence to get them in the picture, but I still had a nice sunset. The image is a 5 shot HDR taken with a 10-24mm Tamron lens at 15mm and f22. The f-stop gives both maximum DOF as well as the starring effect on the sun.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Landscape Sunset Vermont Winter Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:29:37 GMT
The Hypnotist The Hypnotist This month's portrait opportunity arrived when my friend asked if I could do a headshot for her. My friend is a PhD pediatric nurse practitioner. She is also an author, teacher, and speaker on clinical hypnosis and a role for it in health and healing:
She has several stuffed hippos which she often uses in her practice and this was one of her favorites. The main light was a flash in an umbrella high and camera left. Hair highlights were added with a flagged flash (thanks Rod for the light) and a reflector was placed on a table in front of her to open up shadows. A flash was also bounced off of the background.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:28:27 GMT
Winter Sunrise - Lake Rescue Winter Sunrise - Lake Rescue One of the advantages I have in VT is great landscapes are literary just out my door. Sunday morning while making coffee I saw some nice color developing in the sky, so I grabbed camera and tripod and went to a spot I have shot from several times, but never for a winter sunrise. This was shot with a Tamron 10-24mm @ 17mm, f11 and is a 5 shot HDR image followed by PP in NX2. I just barely made my photograph goals this month, but the goals did make me go out the door early Sunday morning to get this image.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Lake Landscape Sunrise Vermont Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:27:16 GMT
Rev. Read aka Bob Kottkamp Rev. Reed aka Bob Kottkamp I had little opportunity for my January portrait (Claire is tired of the camera pointed her way) but today in church our president did a re-enactment of our very first minster from 220 years ago. In addition to being our first minster he was the first state representative form Ludlow and had 3 wives and 9 children. His grave can be found today off of HIgh Street. The book in Bob's hand has Rev. Reed entries in the minister's hand. The picture was shot with a 85mm Macro with light from a stained glass window camera left and a bounced SB800 speedlight camera right.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Portrait Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:25:49 GMT
Claire's 1st Tracks Claire's 1st Tracks We received 3-4 inches of powdery snow over night and hit the first chair lift. I was following Claire and pulled up to capture her ski tracks in the new snow. A classic New England ski image. Canon D10 in auto with post=processing in Capture NX2.

(American Roots Photography) Landscape Mountain Winter Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:24:01 GMT
Berries @ -10F Berries @ -10F Many photographers for New Years challenge themselves with a photo project, often a picture a day. Mine is not so ambitious. Each month I want to shoot a decent macro, portrait/person, and landscape/architectural image. I think I got my first decent image of the month this morning. It was -18 and we had some good hoar frost showing on the white pine needles. I shot some but I also spied these berries. Shot with Nikkor 85mm VR macro, f10, 1/160 handheld.

(American Roots Photography) 2012 Macro Winter Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:22:46 GMT
10 Best 2011 - Red Bridge in the Snow 10 Best 2011 - Red Bridge in the Snow We had experienced a modest 8 inch snowfall overnight and wanted to get some pictures with the new snow. I had taken several of the lake and the river by the house and was about to go back into the house. I then realized I could walk out onto my dock (carefully) and grab some shots from there using my tripod. I intentionally framed to eliminate the gray sky. The resulting image is a 5 shot HDR and my best of the year.

(American Roots Photography) 2011 Lake Landscape Vermont Winter Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:20:44 GMT
10 Best 2011 - Brandenburg Gate @ sunrise 10 Best 2011 - Brandenburg Gate @ sunrise Well, it is more of a "touristy" picture but I still like it because it beats the noonday sun, straight-on shot with lots of people. As I mentioned with the Berlin Deutscher image I got up early to catch morning sun (and no people). I intentionally pulled back and got at an angle which I think makes the shot more dynamic and the makes lines in the pavement standout. And of course the golden morning light added to the color of the stone.

(American Roots Photography) 2011 Berlin Germany Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:19:25 GMT
10 Best 2011 - Woman on Top 10 Best 2011 - Woman on Top Technically this is not a great photo but I do think it is a good capture. The annual Andrews AFB airshow featured the Air Force Thunderbirds and in this fly y the 2 planes mirrored each other. Note No. 5 is the designated plane to fly upside down. The Thunderbirds now include female pilots which I understood this day to included the pilot of No.6. The shot was taken with a Tamron 70-300 mm lens @ 1/2000th, f5.6, and ISO800.

(American Roots Photography) 2011 Airshow Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:17:58 GMT
10 Best 2011 - Waterfall @ Watkins Glen 10 Best 2011 - Waterfall @ Watkins Glen The water flow was high for late fall at Watkins Glen State Park and the sky was overcast (also light rain) which made for great diffuse light. But I wanted silky water and needed to cut the light more. I dialed down ISO to 100, used f22, and put on a 3-stop ND filter. This allowed an exposure time of 5 seconds. The result was silky water and great depth of field.

(American Roots Photography) 2011 fall waterfall Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:15:54 GMT
10 Best 2011 - Red Bridge @ Sunrise 10 Best 2011 - Red Bridge @ Sunrise This is a 5 shot composite image (HDR) taken during sunrise over Lake Rescue, VT in July. The sun is rising and below the horizon to camera right but is lighting up the clouds to camera center left.

(American Roots Photography) 2011 Lake Landscape Vermont summer Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:13:43 GMT
10 Best 2011 - Thistle 10 Best 2011 - Thistle Another shot with the 85mm macro lens. I went out to shoot fall color but my best shot was of a drab, dry, brown thistle head. Nature has such beauty in items we often overlook. Compositionally I concentrated on isolating the thistle against a distant grass field and turned the camera to put the stem on a diagonal.

(American Roots Photography) 2011 Portrait nature Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:12:15 GMT
10 Best 2011- Emma & Rings 10 Best 2011- Emma & Rings This photo may not be a truly best but I consider one of my best for the year because I pulled it off. Emma's mother had a copy of a similar picture on her iPhone and wanted to know if I could do it. I used an 85mm macro for a shallow DOF and a focusing technique that allowed me to focus on just the rings. Emma was placed on a blanket in the grass. Infants do squirm so it required about 25 shots to get this one.

(American Roots Photography) Portrait baby wedding Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:10:00 GMT
10 Best 2011 - Berlin Deutscher Dom @ Sunrise 10 Best 2011 - Berlin Deutscher Dom @ Sunrise Our first morning in Berlin and I wanted to photograph the Brandenburg Gate at sunrise for the early light and no crowds. Just 2 blocks from the hotel I caught this sight. Surprisingly the exposure was 1/1250 @ f10.

(American Roots Photography) 2011 Berlin Germany Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:08:50 GMT
10 Best 2011 - Va Bluebells 10 Best 2011 - Va Bluebells This image was taken at River Bend Park above the Great Falls on the Potomac River. The Bluebells are among the early signs of Spring. Most Bluebell pictures are of individual flowers and flower clusters but the patches of flowers are also wonderfully beautiful. Unfortunately, Bluebells grow in wet low lying areas among the underbrush presenting a challenge to photograph without competing brush and trees. I luckily found this Bluebell bed along a hiking path.

(American Roots Photography) 2011 Landscape Spring nature Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:05:44 GMT
10 Best 2011 - Parsons Beach Stripers, K'Bunk, ME 10 Best 2011 - Parsons Beach Stripers, K'Bunk, ME The first of a what I consider my 10 best images of 2011. My friend leaving Parsons Beach after fly fishing for stripers on the outgoing tide. The image was shot on a Canon D10 with the sunset setting. I knelt down to catch the water low and luckily timed it right given the shutterlag of point and shoots.

(American Roots Photography) 2011 Fishing Maine Summer Thu, 23 Feb 2012 22:03:05 GMT