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New York State Parks in Autumn

October 14th, 2012

For many of us who have ties to upstate New York Watkins Glen State Park, Letchworth State Park, and Stony Brook State Park are places with special meaning. From family reunions, to church picnics, to spending time there with someone special, when it comes to autumn we naturally think of these places.
I first came to the Finger Lakes region when I was fourteen or so. I had lived in Pennsylvania and Vermont before coming to the Northern Finger Lakes, and while Iíve lived all over the country since then there is something about these parks in the fall that is hard to find anywhere else. Perhaps itís the colors and the fact that it is one of the clearest times of the year around here. Perhaps itís the way that leafs look when in the gorges. Whatever it is, it makes this area worth visiting during the autumn.

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A wooden bridge over Stony Brook in Stony Brook state park is surrounded by the yellowing leafs of autumn.
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The same bridge as above, showing the wonderful stonework that supports the trail as it approaches the bridge and continues along the gorge.
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The Letchworth Gorge, seen here in late autumn or early winter, after the leafs had fallen from most of the trees.

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Watkins Glen, one of the crown jewels of the New York State Park System, has experienced low water this year as has most of the North East. The next blog will be more about this and more about Watkins Glen in general.

Panorama Photos

August 1st, 2012

Most photographs are of course basically rectangular. In my case the ratio is generally 4:3 because theyíre taken with an Olympus. Other companies of course have different ratios. However special scenes sometimes need to be much wider then they are high. These scenes tend to be special places, especially to the photographer.

Here we see a typical 4:3 image along the Buffalo River in Arkansas. Yes, it is in ďportraitĒ rather than ďlandscapeĒ but it is 4:3, or strictly speaking 3:4.

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Here we have the same rock face, but with the whole face showing, and far more of the river. In fact the river appears to curve far more than it actually does because panorama photos will do this under certain conditions.
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Here we have a mountain TOP view, as opposed to one where it is very wide but looking up at a mountain. These work best when youíre able to get above the tree line, but if a hill has an open slope (like the photo of the vineyards below) you can still get the same feel.

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Keywords: Olympus, Photography, Panorama, Buffalo River, Ozarks, Finger Lakes, Mountains, Adirondacks

Storms in Mississippi

July 21st, 2012

The rains have finally begun here in Mississippi, and while the lakes remain low (it is summer after all) they are coming up. With these storms of course come clouds, and in many cases lightning, these can be worth photographing, but there is a good deal of risk/reward as far as lightning is concerned.

Here we see storm clouds building over Lake Sardis, essentially north of Oxford Mississippi.

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And here we have lightning that struck just outside Oxford.

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Creepy Crawly Things

July 8th, 2012

Summer brings out insects and arachnids all over the country. Most of these are harmless, and even mosquitoes are more amusing down here then annoying at least so far. Since it has finally rained perhaps they’ll pick up. What there does seem to be a great deal of is TICKS. Now, not all ticks carry Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but that doesn’t mean you want to have them sucking your blood either way. There are plenty of spiders around too, and at least a few weeks ago millions if not billions of dragonflies and damselflies.

Spiders and insects are a big part of some birds diets. Here we see a Mockingbird taking a spider back to its nest.
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This is a dragonfly that landed on my shirt. He or she isn’t in very good focus because of how close it was even with the macro lens.
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Here we have a tick that was on my arm. I had the camera handy so while someone went to get tweezers I took a few shots of him/her. This actually happened about 3 minutes after the tick was removed from my arm.
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This is a spider that had gotten in the car with me. Since I had the camera handy I took a few shots of him and then let him go.
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Independence Days?

July 6th, 2012

What is the Fourth of July to us? Most Americans have no negative feelings towards the English, and havenít for generations. The idea of Independence is engrained in our culture, but what is that freedom or independence? While thinking about that meditate on these two photos that remember people who lived a century apart.

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Memphis and the Lorraine Motel

July 3rd, 2012

Memphis seems to be a great city, although I need time to actually explore it. Most of the time Iím there itís dealing with the rental car agency. But one trip was worthwhile. If you ever get to Memphis (and are not stumbling around Beale Street) be sure to check out the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.

For those of you who donít know, Dr. Martin Luther King was at the Lorraine when he was assassinated. He had come to Memphis to stand in solidarity with the sanitation workers who were on strike against the city. The permanent exhibit is housed in two separate areas, the original museum is in what was the Lorraine Motel, and the former Rooming House across the street, where the fatal shot was fired from.
As someone who has worked at several National Parks, it is very surreal visiting a site like this that has been made into a museum rather than being preserved and having a separate visitor center. I donít have an issue with it, but the fact that both buildings have been essentially gutted and only 3 individual rooms have been preserved in the pair of buildings is a bit strange to me. What I found more disappointing was that in the original exhibits there were many portions that were not clearly labeled. Is this the bus that Rosa Parks was riding on? Who knows, there is no sign making that clear. Is this shell of a burned out Greyhound bus from the 1960s or a mock up?
What they do have going for them is that they have the original signs for the building, this makes it possible to get a feel for what the motel looked like that fateful April day in 1968.

The first photo shows the sign for the Lorraine Motel, along with the southern end of the building. Room 306 canít be seen from this angle due to the trees and the sign.
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The second is essentially the view from the rooming house towards room 306.

This is the angle that the shooter fired from.
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The third photo is a different take entirely.

This is a street scene about one block east from the museum. It gives you some idea of what remains in this neighborhood. If you go a block west there has been designed gentrification, a block east it is like this.
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Summer Time in Mississippi

July 1st, 2012

I think we can all agree that it is HOT. No matter where you are, if youíre in the Northern Hemisphere, itís summer, and at least here in the U.S. itís hot just about everywhere. Between drought here in Mississippi, and that massive storm system that hammered the DC/VA/MD region a few nights ago, and higher temperatures then much of the North East has seen in years.

Things here in Mississippi are killing the grass and evaporating the lakes. The two photos below will give you some idea of how bad things are. The first is the front yard at William Faulknerís House. The grass is green here because they are watering fresh turf. I didnít think to ask if the previous had died from the heat. The second gives a good feel of how much water has been lost. That peninsula in a normal year is two different islands. It may rain tonight, and if it does it will allow businesses to stay open that depend on the lakes, and save crops.

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