Getting out to photograph nature in 2020 has been challenging. I’ve become better acquainted with the parks near my home than ever before, but last week was different. My husband and I drove to New York City for a family visit. Seeing the family after a long wait was terrific, but it was also fun to visit the New York Botanical Garden and within it, the tropical plants in the beautiful Enid Haupt Conservatory.
Walking through the Haupt Conservatory, we were surrounded by ferns, palm trees, an assortment of cacti and lots of unfamiliar and varied green plants. Since it wasn’t crowded at all, we could take our time, and I could take photos!
Sunshine streamed through the windows at high noon, so conditions were perfect for Infrared Photography — my new creative pursuit. With a Sony a6300 camera converted to see only Infrared light and part of the visible light spectrum, only above 590 nanometers, I captured a dozen or so images. It was fun to have a fresh subject to shoot, and some new infrared images to process.
Here is one of my Conservatory images of (visibly green) foliage looking quite different in infrared.
Staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic knocked me off my constructive and creative track with wildlife and nature photography. I found myself absorbed with cooking, cleaning, gardening and pondering the uncertainties of when restrictions will be lifted. Seriously, how long can this go on? All of us have had the rhythms of our daily lives disrupted, yes?
I knew that if I could get myself to pick up a camera and begin exploring nature in my own backyard, so to speak, that I would begin to feel like myself again. I ventured out to the newly reopened Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh (masked and careful), and indeed the magic reappeared. My vision and my technical skills are intact! Here is the first image I captured.
When travel restrictions keep a photographer at home for months at a stretch, it’s a perfect time to exercise one’s creativity with new ways to process images in the archives. On this sunny day in June, I pulled up one of my favorite images of 2020: my daughter and son-in-law on a dog sled in Wyoming with a stunning background.
I was so happy that my dogsled, traveling just behind Courtney’s sled stopped in an opportune spot for me to frame her sled before tall pines, snow-capped mountains and a happy sky, blue with puffy clouds. And for just one second, Courtney and her husband Scott looked up at me and smiled. The triangular composition gives the scene balance and also offsets the white dogs.
Our winter adventures in Jackson Hole will give us some interesting options for holiday cards this year, and maybe a 2021 calendar. I’m sure your photographs from your family trips bring you joy at this time.
Are you finding ways to exercise your creativity during Isolation? I hope I can inspire you to play a little. Of course, first things come first: we pray, we clean, we prepare meals, we help our neighbors, we work remotely, we stay in touch over the Internet, we catch up on our sleep, we read, we exercise and then we do it all over again.
But for the first time in a long time, the rat race has paused. You can actually be patient when driving a car. You can smile and say hello to strangers you pass outside. You can reflect about life and how to live a better life when normalcy returns. And you now have time to be creative. It’s okay to amuse yourself — draw, write, cook — whatever pursuit suits you.
I have been experimenting with my Lensball, which I ordered in December, but have been too busy doing everything else until now. It is a carefully manufactured and polished spherical prism. When you take a photo of it, the image you see is reflected on the back and then the front of the sphere and it appears upside down. Don’t let this stop you. You can always invert the image in photo editing software if you need to. There are endless creative possibilities. (You just have to be very careful to keep the lens ball out of strong direct sunlight, as it heats up in about 2 seconds and can burn your fingers!) You can guess how I discovered this outdoors in southwest Florida.
“Alligator Nursery” are two words you don’t normally see together! This mother American Alligator owns this territory — has been lounging on this ledge for years, so it is no surprise that she has made this private corner the nursery for her babies. How many baby alligators can you spot in this photograph?
Mother gator tries to protect her young from predators, which include adult male alligators. Dad gator doesn’t hesitate to snack on the children.
This close-up of Mom Gator and four baby gators reminds me of the advice given to human mothers of newborns, “When baby sleeps, you should sleep.”
When visiting Florida, keep your distance from any alligator you see and don’t walk close to the edge of any lake or pond, for alligators are dangerous to humans and their pets. If the alligator is hungry, it will strike very fast without warning.
I always try to be open to a new way of seeing things. I had climbed to the top of the Vessel in Hudson Yards and taken photographs from many different angles. I was finished, and started to descend the stairs when this reflection caught my eye. Oh! I’m not finished.
If you viewed my previous blogs about Hudson Yards and the Vessel, you have an overview of the Vessel from the outside and from the top looking down inside.
Interested in visiting the Vessel for yourself? Take the New York City subway 7 train to the western terminus at Hudson Yards. Buy your tickets online ahead of time.
Early morning is a great time to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, because it’s not too crowded. On this cloudy and windy morning, I was a little sad that I missed the clear blue skies of the day before, but in the end I think the clouds enhance the image.
This photograph was shot with Sony and processed in Lightroom, Photoshop and Luminar 2018. Lightroom does a great job of correcting the distortion created by a wide angle lens.
Back to the moment when I walked the Brooklyn Bridge, winter is here! I had to hold on to my hat as I coped with the wind on the East River.
This wide angle photography taken inside New York City’s iconic structure The Vessel shows the beauty and rhythm of its geometry. Judging from the size of the people climbing the Vessel, you can appreciate its size.
In this image, you can simultaneously observe the Hudson River, the rail yards, the top of the Vessel, the intriguing blue circle at the core and the elevator track on the lower left. More on that blue circle later!
I feel the best aspect of the image is the symmetry of the staircases. Does the childhood board game “Chutes and Ladders” come to mind? The copper outlines really stand out against the dark grey flooring and glass panels. I just love this design!
You can find The Vessel in Hudson Yards by taking the New York City subway 7 train to its western terminus.
New York City has so many major tourist attractions, that a new iconic work of art and architecture can open without the whole world knowing about it. I’m talking about the Vessel in Hudson Yards, the new Eiffel Tower or Saint Louis Arch of the 21st century. It’s a unique structure: a circular copper staircase that you can ascend and admire the changing views and geometry of its structure from different angles.
The Vessel’s location in Hudson Yards is especially fascinating to me, since my daughter Erin, the structural engineer, worked on its foundation, which is a super strong platform over the train tracks adjacent to Penn Station. Imagine a platform that can simultaneously hold a skyscraper and a park! Long before I visited the site, I was amazed by the engineering behind this development.
While construction on many buildings in Hudson Yards is ongoing, the Vessel opened earlier in 2019 along with an adjacent mall anchored by the only Neiman Marcus in New York City. Numerous high-end shops and restaurants are open in the Mall, adding to the enjoyment of an outing to the Vessel.
You can buy entrance tickets to the Vessel online ahead of time that will give you admission any time on a particular date. If you wander over to Hudson Yards (convenient via subway), you can buy a same day ticket that grants admission for a particular hour, to prevent overcrowding.
I loved the Vessel, and will share several photos from my walk inside it. The Vessel is handicapped accessible with a cleverly designed elevator. Go ahead and put it on your bucket list!