Perspectives by Scott | Blog

Welcome to the Perspectives Blog!

We all need to create and experience beauty. I enjoy finding beauty in the under-foot and commonplace. We are literally walking on beauty and surrounded by it.  I hope I can open up some part of this world to you.  If you are new to this site and would like to be on my mailing list, please visit the guest book and leave a private message for me with your email.

March 2014: Spring at Last!

April 02, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Dear Friends,

  I am embarrassed, because you told me to take good snow pictures, and I just shoveled my driveway.  I did take a lot of photos of snow and ice, but few worth sharing.  It is not easy to get good snow pictures.  Falling snow can be pretty, but mostly it just obscures the scene. And snow is usually so bright that the camera will get confused and try to make the snow gray.  Use exposure compensation or a snow scene mode if your camera has such, to keep your snow white.

 

Shea BrookThis little brook is dry ornamental stones for about 352 days out of the year.   I spent a lot of time with my Nikon 10-24 wide angle zoom lens on, this winter, so that I could get shots like the one below. This little brook that runs through Neumann's Shea Garden is dry ornamental stones for 362 days out of the year.  But I have been keeping my eye on it.  When I saw it running fresh, I spread my tarp and got the camera as close to the stream as I could. Shea Brook was shot at 1/200, f16, ISO 500, 24 mm focal length.  At the narrow f16 aperture the wide angle lens has a huge depth of field, and focusing about a third of the way into the scene ensured that just about everything in view was also in focus.

  The wide angle zoom can also focus quite close, and as snow descended on us for another day in February, I shot images of snow laden twigs with the 10-24 wide angle.  But the results were uninspiring, both because the lens has a very narrow depth of field at f4.5 and also because I had not composed a picture with much interest.  The lens is also probably not as sharp as the 35 mm and 60 mm prime (non-zoom) lenses that have become my favorites.

The images here are available for download from my SmugMug gallery, in different sizes, for use as desktop backgrounds. Clicking on any of the images in this blog, however, takes you to the full-resolution image in my ZenFolio gallery, where you can purchase prints, framed and mounted products, T-shirts, mugs and even cutting boards with the images imprinted.

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I had visited and photographed the abandoned Chester Creek Branch line railroad tracks in the early winter, but I was eager to get back after a fresh snow, when the landscape might be softened and the rails enhanced.

To get images as sharp as possible I used the 35 mm prime lens. The township and local groups are in the process of turning some of the line into a hiking trail, and trees that had fallen across the tracks had already been cleared up on this, my second visit.

The image below is part of a panorama, made from five exposures with the camera held vertically, and stitched together in Photoshop CC. Chester Creek Branch Line was shot at 1/125, f8, ISO 500 at 35 mm.

Sun was shining on the trees in the background, and the mixture of yellows on the trees, blue in the sky and reflected off the snow, and browns and grays in the trees made for an image with too much going on.Changing it to black and white with a sepia tint has made the scene simpler and more understandable. Chester Creek Branch LineChester Creek Branch Line

Maple Buds on a sugar or silver maple on St. John Neumann circle at Neumann University.  Shot with the 60 mm (prime) macro lens at 1/640, f11, ISO 400, seven exposures at slightly different depths of focus were combined in Photoshop CC to create the final image.

Maple is WaitingMaple is WaitingMaple buds on St. John Neumann Circle, Neumann University

 

And finally we get to spring!  The crocus are wonderful with their built-in antifreeze.  You can find an image with snow (Snow Crocus) in the gallery.  But I was so glad to see the crocus fully out and open, spreading its flower to the sun and probably some pollinator.  I used focus stacking again, for Late Spring 2014, since the flower was quite deep, and one exposure would have captured only a part of the petals in focus.  Ten images were shot at 1/250th, f11, ISO 1600 with the 60 mm prime.  To reduce visual confusion, the leaf litter in the background was set to black and white with just a hint of color and a slight Gaussian blur. Late Spring 2014Late Spring 2014

 

Love to all!

Scott


January 2014 - Happy New Year

January 27, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Happy New Year 2014Happy New Year 2014Dark sky and bright stars over my house on the Pocono Plateau. Dear Friends,

I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to go out in my insulated clothes to photograph the icy beauty of the night sky above the Pocono Plateau and then return to warmth and companionship. I hope you have had joy in your life in the past weeks, and I wish you a 2014 filled with beauty and relationship.

My last photo on the Neumann campus in 2013 I had to wait for. I had taken test shots a few nights before, of the Christmas lights on the Mirenda Center, but not all of the lights were on, there were too many cars, and the contrast between a black sky and the bright lights was, well, boring.  As I walked to my car at the end of the last day of the school year, all was still; light remained in the western sky; and the lights in the creche were on. I quickly unpacked the tripod and shot several sets of photos, panning across the lighted trees and Center, with the camera on its side (vertical); using the Nikon 10-24 wide angle lens to get plenty of sky. (2.5 seconds, f11, ISO 400, 19 mm on the Nikon 10-24 mm lens.)  Stitched together in Photoshop and cropped to fit my monitor, the image is still the one on my desktop.  Clicking on the images, below, will take you to my ZenFolio gallery, where you can order prints. (Silent Night would look particularly nice on metallic paper.)

Click this link to go to my SmugMug gallery where you can download images sized for monitors or the iPad.

Silent NightSilent NightNeumann University's Mirenda Center for Sport Spirituality and Character Development, December 2013.

A week later I was in the Poconos, walking the dogs after dinner, and felt almost scared by the fiery glitter of the stars.  I set up the tripod behind my house, because stars, by themselves are not so interesting, unless they are seen through a pretty big telescope.

Winter Night over the Pocono PlateauWinter Night over the Pocono PlateauThe stars were bright on this cold December night in the Poconos. Adobe Lightroom 4.4 with some help from Photoshop did a great job of bringing out the stars in Winter Night in the Poconos (30 sec, f8, ISO 200, 10 mm)   For those who care, the software update from LR 4.0 to 4.4 made a big difference in its ability to brighten the stars without making the sky horribly grainy.  Still, next time I will shoot at a higher ISO to make better use of the available light.

A few nights close to zero in Philadelphia led to ice on the Schuylkill like nothing I have seen before.

Polar Vortex Meets the Schuylkill RiverPolar Vortex Meets the Schuylkill RiverSeveral days of polar weather produced unusual ice formations on the gentle Schuylkill River Cold Snap - looking north from the South Street Bridge, a day after the December cold snap broke. Like the photo of the Mirenda Center it is a photo-merge of 5 or 6 verticals using the wide-angle zoom. (1/160 sec, f11, ISO 200, 22 mm)  Compare it with a panorama from February 2013 from the same vantage point, shot with the 70-300 mm telephoto lens (1/250 sec, f11, ISO 200, 85 mm), as the piers for the walkways were just being finished.

Love to all,

Scott

 


Autumn 2013 - Power of Place

December 09, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Dear Friends,

It has been a busy fall for me, as it probably has been for you. But now that the leaves and flowers are covered by a coat of snow I can finally get you my autumn images.Images at various sizes for downloading can be found in my SmugMug gallery. Clicking on the pictures on this page will take you to my ZenFolio gallery where you can purchase prints, coffee mugs and more.
 
Arriving at Cabrini College early on the last day of October, I was entranced by the foggy autumnal scene, and the Adirondack chairs provided a sharp contrast.
 
I was given a small zinnia early in the summer, and knew nothing about them. But I planted it, and it was a strong producer of colorful flowers well into the autumn. Its close-growing flowers in their countless shades of yellow/orange were fascinating. Capturing the zinnia in pixels, however, was a problem of focus. How to simplify the gorgeous crowd of blossoms to an image with a sense of direction?
I tried using the focus stacking technique to separate this Zinnia Quartet from the background. By stacking half a dozen images at varying depths to bring the foreground blossoms into sharp focus, while leaving the background flowers pleasantly blurred. Unfortunately, the image as a whole lacks focus. A 12x24 print will look very nice in the right place, but as an atmospheric rather than as a work of art.
 

Zinnia QuartetZinnia QuartetZinnia and goldenrod - stacked focus

 

Eventually I realized that the most interesting zinnia was an older, partially desiccated flower with some insect damage. I put the old zinnia on its own layer and de-emphasized the background layer with a black and white filter and a bit of blur. Old Zinnia would look great as a standout on canvas or paper at 10x15.

Old ZinniaOld Zinnia

 
The flower beds at the Bala Cynwyd post office are tended by dedicated volunteers, with great results. I pass the post office daily and have been wishing, for several years, for a chance to capture the blooming asters at the same time that the maples are showing their fiery autumn color. It happened, at last, a few weeks ago. Asters in Autumn is still my current desktop favorite, and I hope you like it as much as I do. 
 

Asters in autumnAsters in autumn

 
Several other vertical photos from the set may make even better prints, but will not be as useful for desktop backgrounds.

Aster in ChargeAster in Charge

 

Aster in Charge, at left, should look nice in any size from 8x16 up to 12x24, possibly on a stretched canvas mount without a frame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Berries, below, will look best printed at 12x15 inches or larger.

Love to all,

Scott

Autumn BerriesAutumn Berries

 


Summer 2013

September 24, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Dear Friends,

  I took a lot of photos this summer on our trip to Niagara Falls, but none of those pictures made the cut for this blog.  For the most part, I chose to be a guy with his family rather than a photographer. My family might disagree.  What was clear to me, though, is that my artistic process takes time and thought and often solitude.  It is really difficult to separate what my normal waking mind sees - all of the interpretations and compensation that my visual center uses to make meaning of a landscape - from the color and shadow that the camera sees.  Walking along the cascades, for instance, downstream from the falls, the monstrous standing waves and rushing tumult of water is breathtaking and lovely. But most sill photos look like a windy day on the lake.

It also takes time for me to grow to know and love a place, to know when the light is good on that flower, to develop an affection for that chimney and its shadow. Or it may be weeks, even years of passing a tree, in spring and fall and snow before the clouds are fluffy and the flowers are bright, and I think - now! As we walked around Niagara Falls under an overcast sky and crowds of sightseers, I thought, "Wouldn't it be a luxury to have days or months here to wait for the time when the wind might blow the spray south and the sun might sparkle on the waves and the droplets might shine with rainbow colors and I might be in the right place to capture it?"

You may visit a few vacation photos from the gorge of Watkins Glen State Park and Niagara Falls in the selected photos gallery on Smug Mug.

The clouds were fluffy and the sky blue when I happened by Blakeslee Methodist Church in Blakeslee, PA in the Poconos. Captured with the help of the Nikon 10-24 wide angle lens I bought for the trip to Niagara Falls.

Blakeslee MethodistBlakeslee MethodistBlakeslee Methodist Church, Blakeslee, PA

I can't claim to have been in solitude at Citizen's Bank Park as we sat in the upper deck along with friends from Nashirah (the Jewish chorale of Greater Philadelphia, who had just sung the National Anthem). But I had plenty of time to gaze out across the park, with the setting sun lighting the sky and the distant skyline of Philadelphia rising over the outfield on a perfect August evening. Six images with the 10-24 mm lens, merged and straightened in Photoshop.

August in the BallparkAugust in the BallparkAugust in Citizens Bank Park - Phillies vs. Colorado Rockies
Panorama from 6 images

The zinnias were a gift that I decided to plant near the goldenrod and milkweed patch in my backyard. Who knew they would do so well? As I write this, the goldenrod has burst forth, and I hope to give you a photo update. Zinnia and Goldenrod is available in the Summer 2013 Smug Mug gallery as a horizontal, and makes a great desktop background!  You will find the other images there, as well, for free download. But to purchase prints and support this blog, please click on the images you see here. Thanks!

Backyard ZinniaBackyard ZinniaGoldenrod florets wait patiently, while Zinnia blooms brazenly

Shalom!

Love to all,

Scott


Perspectives #20: Beauty is Interesting

July 22, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Dear Friends,

  Alexis Madrigal wrote recently ("Follow your own Curiosity," Medium, May 23, 2013) that his most popular writings were the pieces that he personally found most interesting, that paying attention to what the "public" wanted ultimately made his writing less interesting to himself and to his readers.  It would be nice if that were true! I am sometimes surprised by the photos people like.  I would like to know, so please write me, post in the guest book,  or leave comments in the galleries.

On the day I shot Cupola Blossoms, below, the sky was brilliant, the flowers stunning, and I was near Grace Hall on the Cabrini College campus, so I looked for a way to combine all three in one image.  After a few dozen tries I hit on this combination, shot with the 60 mm macro lens at f16, 1/250th at ISO 400.  You might think that shooting at f16, a very narrow aperture, would give me a large depth of field and make everything in focus. Focusing on the blossoms so close to the camera, however, results in a very small depth of field, and the narrow aperture is required to get the whole blossom cluster in focus.

Cupola Blossoms is available for download as a desktop background with the flowers on the right so they won't clash with your left-side desktop icons. As usual, you will find the downloads on my May 2013 SmugMug gallery. To purchase prints and other photo covered items, and to help support this blog, click on any of the images below to visit the Perspectives by Scott galleries.

Blossoms surround cupola against blue skyCupola Blossoms

The red bud blossoms - these are also on Cabrini campus - form a gentle purple lace in the distance, but seem rather bug-like and ugly to me when I draw close. It was not until I moved very close to a single blossom that i became really interested and entranced. When focusing this close, the resulting in a depth of field so narrow that not even one blossom could be completely in focus. I layered two exposures with focus at slightly different depths to produce this somewhat in focus Red Bud Blossom. Wind or camera motion made it impossible for me to line up additional layers this time. I will try again next spring. (60 mm, 1/320 sec at f14)

Magnified image of red bud blossomRed Bud Blossom By the way, the pictures you see in the blog are from my ZenFolio site and are adjusted for printing; they are brighter than the images to in my SmugMug gallery, which are adjusted for display on the computer screen.  

 

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