Friday, August 31, 2007

Welcome to the Beach!

Just being ironic ... actually, this photo isn't a good indication of how welcoming Rocky River Park actually is. It's a lovely little beach park, with a great new playground for kids, a picnic shelter, plenty of benches and swings for people to sit on and enjoy the water view, and of course a great view of the sunset every evening ... which is truly a bonus of living along the southern shore of a body of water. Every night a sunset over water. It's easy to take it for granted, but I view each one as special.

I'm also fond of the park because they allow you to bring your dog there, as long as you keep it on a leash, unlike the nearby Lakewood Park. But at least Lakewood has a city dog park, which makes up for it.

One thing I have noticed here in Northeast Ohio ... there aren't a lot of undeveloped little parks like this on the water. It seems that most of the waterfront is taken up with homes, apartments, factories, ports ... anything but public recreation. That's why a park like this is such a gem!

However, the next beach pics I post will be a lot more scenic ... as they should be from Cape Cod. We leave tomorrow for a week of rest and relaxation ... and hopefully lots of picture-taking!!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Required photograph

I'm sorry, but I had to do this. Just like every photographer who has kids is obligated to take endless photographs of said kids (usually the first one ... later ones get less and less photos taken of them, so that the youngest invariably wonder if they were actually adopted ... I know I did, a feeling my brother encouraged greatly). However, I have no children at this time. This is probably WHY I was able to afford my new Canon Digital Rebel XT and Sigma 17-70mm lens AND the fancy new iMac to play with my pictures on (actually, the iMac was a necessity ... my 6-year old iMac had a completely filled harddrive, a dead CD burner, a greatly dimmed monitor, and it was going really really really slow).

However, I have a dog. So therefore, I must take endless photos of my dog. And I have.

But still, I think he's cute, and I liked this photo, so now I'm subjecting anyone and everyone on the internet to see yet another photo of Brewster, The Wonder Dog, facing a setting sun, while I'm fooling around with the depth of field. Photo taken at Rocky River Park, in Rocky River, Ohio (hence the name of the park, which is down the road from my house in nearby Lakewood).

Awww, ain't he cute???? As usual, double-click on the photo to see it a tad larger.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Beachfront action

Well, last week saturday dawned beautifully ... cool, low humidity, sunshine, and blue skies. So we headed to one of our favorite parks in the region, Mentor Lagoons Park, located in the Cleveland suburb of Mentor (hence the name), and on the lakefront. It's probably one of the only undeveloped beachfront parks in Ohio, at least on this side of Ohio, so it's pretty special. There's only some trails there, a nearby marina, and probably a good mile or so of beach, usually deserted. When we go walking and beachcombing along the beach, we're often the ONLY people out there. It's amazing.

However, the weather didn't hold, and the clouds rolled in. No rain, but the sun and blue skies went away, so our beautiful August saturday ended up looking like a bleak day in Autumn.

So while I wanted some lovely scenic shots, instead I took the opportunity to experiment with the camera, play with the settings, mess with the depth of field, and just generally see what my camera could do. The results weren't all pretty, but I did get some interesting shots.

It was also a case to experiment in composition, not just go for the "pretty" shot of scenary, but just play around with whatever I had to work with.

Ultimately, it turned out to be a pretty good day. The shots weren't bad ... nothing terribly special, but I feel a lot more comfortable with my camera, and I've been pleased by some of the shots. A little tweaking is going to be necessary in Photoshop Elements, but I still gotta read the manual for that!

As usual with all the photos on this blog, double-click to see a bigger version of each picture.

Next up, we leave for vacation to Cape Cod. I plan on taking a helluva lot of photos, so hopefully I'll get some good results. The scenary there is perfect, the lighting is out of this world ... now all I gotta do is feel confident in my camera's features and my eye for composition. Hopefully I won't screw it all up too badly, and I'll have some good results.

Which of course, I'll post here. That's the idea behind this blog, after all!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Good Eatin'

One of Cleveland's great treasures is the West Side Market, which has been around since 1912. Unlike some other cities, it's not a "festive marketplace" or some sort of touristy place. No, it's a food market, owned by the city, but populated mostly by ethnic grocers, some of whom have had their stands in the family since the day the market opened! The outdoor market is for produce, and was mainly Italian greengrocers, but in more recent years, the produce merchants have been Middle Eastern. Inside are the butcher shops, bakeries, fishmongers, and a variety of stands selling everything from killer fresh pasta to Cambodian cuisine.

It's a great place to go for lunch; I love getting a bratwurst at Frank's ... for $2.50 I can get an amazing bratwurst, with sauerkraut, on a soft roll. Add some fresh pasta salad from Ohio City Pasta, and it's perfection, all in just a scant few minutes. New vendors add to the Market's flavor, as there's now a stand selling Middle Eastern delicacies, the aforementioned Cambodian stand (great pad thai there), and now even a stand that sells crepes! It's a wonderful cross section of Cleveland, too ... and English is NOT the dominant language you hear there!

Anyone who wants to see the West Side Market (if you're unfortunate enough to not live in Cleveland) could see it on the PBS special on markets that's currently running, and also probably Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" episode set in Cleveland, which should air on Monday, August 27 at 10pm on the Travel Channel.

It's even a good reason to come and visit Cleveland for!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rain, rain, go away!

Okay, it's been raining here nonstop for the past few days, including some deluges that are absolutely biblical! I've had enough, thank you!

However, I did run out during a break in the storms when the sun peaked out, and shot a few pictures of my wife's flowers. Still using my Digital Rebel XT with the Sigma 17-70mm lens, though I'm really zooming in and using the macro feature on these. But I liked the way they came out!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I'm always amazed when I read my photography books (not how-to books, which I have several, but collections by noted photographers, of which I have dozens) when they describe the endless time they took to get certain shots. The results certainly speak of their determination, because the results are absolutely wonderful.

But I wonder if I could do that. In a book of photos of Cape Cod by Jon Vaughn, he describes going back to the same spot, day after day, for months ... until was there at the exact right time with the perfect lighting. The picture he took was wonderful. I doubt I could ever get a picture that beautiful!

Maybe it's patience ... maybe my standards aren't as high, or my sense of perfection not that honed.

This picture I took eons ago (2001, I think ... maybe even 2000) with a very early model digital camera (Sony Cybershot, I believe ... it kept the images on a 3.5 inch floppy disc, which shows you how old it was), and it was mostly an accidental image. I was touring the LTV Steel plant in Cleveland, and allowed to bring a camera (I actually brought two, the Cybershot, and my ancient Mamiya/Sekor 35mm loaded with slide film). So I took advantage and was taking all sorts of shots. We were listening to the tour guide, and while he was talking, I was looking around. For some reason, not even thinking, I grabbed the Cybershot and took this photo. There was no lengthy set up, I didn't have a tripod, I didn't wait for the scene to unfold, I just quickly saw something, and unthinking, just grabbed a quick snapshot.

And yet it's one of my favorite pictures. I love the lighting and color (color is rare in a steel mill, where everything is black, or rusty), and it's just one of those "perfect moment" photos. I don't know if I could have gotten this if I had tried to set something up and waited for the moment.

I don't know if I even have the patience to do that. It'll probably limit me immensely in being a good photographer. But we'll see. I'm going to try to overcome it, and try to work to be pretty decent.

Funny thing is, I think I did better shots with the digital camera ... my old Mamiya just couldn't handle the mill. It only went up to 1/500th of a second on shutter speed, which just is NOT fast enough when you're taking photos anywhere near hot metal, which can be as bright as the sun! A number of times, I just couldn't get a shot with the 35mm camera, because I could not close my aperature enough or crank up the shutter speed high enough. Other spots in the mill, away from the glowing hot metal, there wasn't enough light to take my shots without a tripod!

But somehow, the old and limited digital camera actually managed quite well in that environment. Go figure.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A little sunset, Cleveland-style

Yes, the sun does occasionally shine in Cleveland ... and one of the great bonuses living on the Great Lakes is that we get sunsets over water ... which much of the world does not get! Their loss.

Taken at the foot of Webb Avenue in Lakewood (down the road from my house), August 2007. f11 @ 1/320, ISO 100, 70mm.

Some more Cape Cod

These photos were taken in Dennisport, on the bay side of Cape Cod. I'm not sure of the beach's name, I think it's Sea Street Beach ... whatever it is, we can walk to it from the cottage we stay at, which is right over the line in Brewster. One thing I love about this, and other Cape beaches is the tide coming in and out ... when it's low tide, the water line can recede upwards of a mile from where it's at during high tide! The ripples it leaves behind are amazing, as well as various large rocks and things that otherwise disappear at high tide.

Both images were shot with my Canon PowerShot A75 in September 2005. Top photo was f4.8 @ 1/60th, 16.2mm, bottom photo was f2.8 @1/400, 5.4mm.

Best of all, I'll be back there in three weeks. Woo-hoo!!!

And this photo below was from Skaket Beach, in neighboring Orleans. A favorite of my wife's family, it's a wonderful beach for families, and is a great place to check out the sunset. f8 @ 1/200, 16.2mm, also shot in September 2005. You know, for a little point-and-shoot, the damn thing takes pretty good pictures!!

More flower fun

Taken with my cheapo Canon 50mm lens ... it only cost about $75, but it's got some great qualities to it!

Photo taken in my wife's flower garden ... f1.8 @ 1/800, ISO 100, 50mm.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cape Cod, part 1

One reason I decided to take up photography (after putting it down repeatedly, but that's another story) is Cape Cod. My wife is a New Englander, and started dragging me to the Cape every year for a vacation ... and I found that I loved the place. It's gorgeous, it's relaxing, and it has the most amazing light. Now I see why artists and photographers have flocked there for years ... it is the perfect place to make art, take photos, relax, write, shop, eat, swim, sunbathe, do whatever ...

So I started by just taking photos of things that caught my eye, using a Canon Powershot A75. Yep, just a point-and-shoot. But I liked the results I was getting. Inspired, I broke down and bought an SLR, figuring it was time to start taking it a bit more seriously, and really work on getting good photos. Cape Cod is my muse, so why not pursue it as fully as I can (within the limitations of having no money for fancy equipment, and only a week or two a year on the Cape).

If you've not been there ... you must go. There's no other place quite like it. And when it's good weather, you'll be amazed by the light. That magic "golden light" that you get first thing in the morning and at the end of the day? You get that for hours upon hours at the Cape. It's bright, it's intense, it's golden. It begs for a camera to be taken out and used, it screams out to take some pictures, and share the beauty of this small elbow of land on the far east coast.

And of course, I'm an amateur schmuck, so I can't do it justice. But regardless, I love taking photos of the Cape, so I'll periodically post some of them here!

This is the harbor at Vineyard Haven, on Martha's Vineyard. Taken 9/06 with my Canon PowerShot A75. 13.4mm, F4.5 @ 1/800

Friday, August 10, 2007

Playing around with a new lens

Since the Canon 18-55mm kit lens pretty much sucks (sharpness is a BIG issue with me), I've invested in a new lens. Since I want a basic walkaround lens, I did some research (which I'll talk about later), and ultimately decided to go with a Sigma 17-70mm f2.8. It's the range I want, and the reviews were favorable.

I just haven't had time to experiment with it much. Since I've gotten it, the Cleveland weather has turned HORRIBLE, with a lot of rain, high humidity, and gray days. So I need to take it out and play with it a bit.

Here's a start; I ran out to our backyard and snapped a picture of one of my wife's sunflowers. Canon Digital Rebel XT, Sigma 17-70mm f2.8 lens, shot at 1/160th of a second exposure at f7, ISO 100, 70mm. Photo taken a few days ago (August, 2007)

It's mostly a macro shot, and I'm actually pleased with the sharpness so far. However, what I really love to do are landscape photographs, so until I can get out somewhere with the lens, I don't honestly know how well it's going to do. Which is important, because I want to take it to Cape Cod next month for my annual vacation, where I love taking tons of photographs (it's certainly quite photogenic!).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

This is a test

This is just a test ... I wanted to test out posting a picture to the blog ... and why not post a picture of Brewster, the Wonder Dog?

We thought he was afraid of the water, but when we took him to Rocky River Park, he walked right into the lake! Big surprise for us, but a delightful one!

Photo taken with my new Canon Digital XL ... with the lame-o kit lens (18-55mm), pretty small f-stop to give me less depth of field.

More to come!