Sunday, June 26, 2011

Signs of summer life

After listening to Lady Antebellum's song "American Honey" (My favorite song from the group), I felt a desire to revisit the summer life. While some go for a picnic, hike, or fish, I grab my camera. I pulled my beloved 100mm macro lens and MR-14EX flash from "hibernation" and took them out for a "spin".

I visited the areas of the Rancocas Woods in New Jersey. It is a state park flanked by a series of county parks along with various development. Not necessarily a rural area in New Jersey, but close. I strolled along the flowers looking for little wildlife that reminds me of the season that I have been waiting for since September of 2010. I spent about an hour looking for subjects and the rest was spent simply enjoying the weather.

The majestic monarch butterfly.

Can anybody say a ball of Japanese Beetles?

Here we see a small fishing spider. This is a small one; they can get bigger. 

This dragonfly is behaving more like a butterfly. 

As I entered the Rancocas Creek along the nature trails, I noticed some damselflies. Since much of the lighting was obstructed by the thick forests, I felt flash was a must. Although I was getting sharp pictures with the flash set up, I was not getting the true blue color of the flies. So I turned the flash off, adjusted my settings to let in more light and held my breath. I always felt that shallow depth of field was usually reserved elsewhere instead of macro, but what a difference! These are the same flies taken twice; one with flash, and the other without.

The same damselfly taken both with and without flash. 

And again......

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New York City

My other favorite city is no other than New York City. As the city that never sleeps, it is also the city that never ceases to amaze me. I have close friends and relatives to visit, so I was not necessarily in a photo mission of any sort. Nevertheless, the camera was with me.

I don't recall ever seeing this Zodiac fountain on 5th Ave. I must have not been paying attention to the display across the Apple Store. 

And there goes the Apple Store under construction.

Lions, tigers, women, oh my...

Typical scene at "The Rock".

The majestic and iconic Grand Central Terminal. New York used to have two of these; the other being Penn Station had they not replace it with something more modern but ugly looking. 

Things supposedly cost more in New York, with the exception of pizza. Meant to be efficient and economical, it is perfect for those in a hurry. If you plan to dine-in, expect no seating.

I love waffles and managed to find the famous waffle truck. It was the best waffle I ever had. Since they have no official location, you need to keep track on where they are everyday. They have a main truck and a series of smaller ones. 

Is this the same Naked Cowboy or someone different? Last I heard he was suing the Naked Cowgirl for infringing upon his idea.

New York City's finest.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hawk flying Lessons

I looked up the sky to photograph what I first thought was a typical scene of a small bird harassing a hawk. After looking at the picture I realized that it was in fact an adult Red-tailed Hawk giving a flying lesson to a juvenile. Just goes to show that a photograph can reveal something you don't normally see because we only get a short and/or distant glimpse of it. 

Normally I don't photograph birds, but a recent Winter trip to photograph migrating Bald Eagles with a loaned 500mm lens has emboldened me. In addition I recently acquired two APS-C sized sensor cameras as well as a previous investment in a 1.4X teleconverter and 300mm lens. Now when I visit local, county, state, and national parks, I don't just go for landscapes and close-up wildlife, but I now have the determination and some ability to seek airborne wildlife. I intend to get more bird photographs in the future. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2011 Philly Pride

On the weekend of June 11-12, one of Philadelphia's few gay pride parades was held. It was a rare event where homosexuals would proudly celebrate their way of life with public acceptance. I happened to be in the city at the time, not knowing what was going on. So I grabbed my camera and placed myself on 2nd and Market Street, right into the path of the march.

It was an emotionally happy event to showcase Philadelphia as a diverse city tolerant of other people. Coincidentally, Lady Gaga was giving an address in Rome so speak out against intolerant of homosexuals. Not surprisingly, her song "Born This Way" was being played numerous times during this event.

Throughout my years of living in the Philadelphia area, I have seen Mummers Parades, Chinese New Years Parades, and recently an American Civil War Anniversary Parade. Stumbling upon this one was a surprise for me, but it showed me how different and unique a particular parade can be.