Yoga Tree Loves Snow!

Yogawhite may just become a color of choice!

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The Lady in Snowdress

When I saw this morning that the snow was sticking to trees with all the beauty that provides, it was clear that a visit to my lovely Yoga Tree was in order on my way in to work…

As you can see, the stop was very worthwhile, as she is positively radiant among the white!

Worcester’s Best Chef Competition – pt. 1

Good food, fierce competition

As many of you know, this past Sunday I had the pleasure of photographing the Worcester’s Best Chef Competition.

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The stage is set!

This was the 9th edition of this annual event, which has become extremely popular with everybody in the area, who might be in the mood for trying some extreme gourmet bites prepared by the best local chefs.

The event is broken down into a couple of phases.  A limited ticket sales VIP phase allows those folks who want it a little quieter to enjoy the delicacies during the first hour of the event.

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Chef Ken Zhang focused on the task!

This is followed by the open tasting time, which lasts about two hours.  By the end of this time, all votes for the attendees’ favorite dishes need to have been cast.

There was an abundant variety of amazing offerings from local restaurants, ranging from quail to scallops, tenderloin, just too many to list here (I will share some photos of a number of the dishes in a future post).

The line for just about every restaurant booth was long, but that was no reason to be deterred, as there was plenty of food for all attendees.

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Chef Christopher Bairos adds honey

Next, the judges’ choice and people’s choice award winners are announced, as well as the dessert competition winners; the latter competition is between regional high schools that have culinary programs. The desserts were excellent!

Then the grand finale event kicks off: an Iron Chef style 30 minute cooking competition with ingredients from a mystery basket!

This year, most of the ingredients were locally sourced with a winter squash, lamb and local cheese, as the key elements.

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Chef Bill Nemeroff plates

It always amazes me, how much these talented chefs can accomplish in a mere 30 minutes.  They didn’t even look rushed, as it didn’t come down to the last couple of seconds to get their dishes on the 7 plates for the judges.

There were several approaches taken by the chefs in tackling the ingredients to come up with a cohesive dish.  The winter squash was the first item for each chef to prepare, as it takes the longest to cook to a point where it becomes ready for a plate.

During the competition, you could tell that each chef came to certain decision points, where they weighed their options.  The chef would either stand for some second contemplating their next step, or go over to the pantry to look for inspiration in the great stock of ingredients.

As I had the privilege of being able to photograph the competition on stage, I also had the pleasure of enjoying the aromas that were being developed in each chef’s dish; I’m sure each dish tasted as good as it smelled.

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Eating in judgment!

After the judges, some of whom are previous Worcester’s Best Chef Competition winners, finished tasting and conferring, Chef Bill Nemeroff of the International Golf Club and resort in Bolton, MA, was declared the winner.

Congratulations to all chefs, as each performed magnificently!

Dogstar Thursday – vol. 2

Water, water everywhere!!

Last week’s image was of a Golden Retriever clearing a jump on a nice, sunny day.  Today’s photo shows you that agility competitions are not always blessed with wonderful weather, but the contest continues!

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Exploding Rain!

This shot came from a competition in Broomfield, Massachusetts, held in October of 2006.  The morning conditions were abysmal with rain and wind sending everyone looking for a place to stay dry and warm.

None of the weather could hold back this Border Collie blasting through the chute and sending water flying everywhere!!

Technical Details

This shot was taken with a Canon EOS 1D MkII, using a 70-200 F2.8L lens.  Due to the weather, I had to push the ISO up to 1600, so that I could get this shot at 1/400 second at f/4.5.  Clearly, it’s not a perfect image, but it got the sense of the day across rather effectively.

Yoga Tree in Autumn

She’s wearing a coat of many colors…

I may just have to do a series of posts of the Yoga Tree in her various seasonal outfits; I’ll have to think how I want to organize it, but for now…here’s a little taste!

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Yoga Tree in Autumn

As you can tell from this image, she’s progressing in dropping her leaves, which have beautiful shades of color at this time of year.  It’s almost, as if she is stretching out of a slumber that was induced by the blanket of leaves that she carried during the Spring and Summer months.

Looking forward to hearing what you think of this image!

Wednesday Wonderment – pt. 2

Folded right, we can turn over a new leaf…

The Wednesday Wonderment series examines some of the things that amaze and inspire me; lots will be in nature, but there may be some surprises.

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Perfect Folds

“What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.”
― Albert Einstein

Today’s image is all about structure.  Nature provides us with a dazzling array of structures that are optimized for the function that they perform.  Such is the case here with this palm leaf, which is perfectly folded to provide the strength needed to support its size, which allows it to capture as many of the sun’s vital rays as possible.

Structure that lends strength is seen in many places in nature, maybe none more dramatic than the giant sequoias.

There is also beauty in these forms beyond just the functional aspect; this beauty has us coming back time and again to appreciate a level of perfection that is rarely achieved in human endeavors.

What structure in nature is your favorite?  What draws you in when you look at it?

Thank you for reading this post; I hope you enjoyed it!

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D MkIII with a 17-40mm F4 lens.  F-stop used was f/8 at 1/25 second, ISO 640.

M-Theory

Strings abound!

As today’s Tuesday Technique Topic is part 1 of 3 on abstract photography, as I have approached it thus far, it might be nice to share an outlier from this part of my portfolio with you.

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M-Theory

The title of this image is a reference to the theory in physics that unifies all consistent versions of superstring theory.  If we look deep enough into the underlying structure of all that surrounds us, its structure shall become apparent and reveal the great secrets of the universe.

Technical Aspects of the Image

I created this image using a zoom-blur technique with an exposure time of appr. 1/3 of a second.  The camera I used a Canon EOS 5D MkII with a 24-105 lens.  It took about 3 or 4 attempts to really get the effect that I was looking for, as I wanted the stringiness to come through while acquiring the speed of the universe throughout the edges of the image.

Hope you enjoy this little exploration of the universe.

TTT – Abstract Photography – Ep. 1

Opening a view to alternate realities.

As part of the new schedule, Tuesday’s will get a regular feature titled TTT: Tuesday Technique Topic.  At the suggestion of one of my wonderful readers, I’m starting with the topic of Abstract Photography, as I have approached it.

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Brush Abstraction 1

A significant amount of photography attempts to capture the reality we see around us, often in the best possible light.

As a result, most of the advances in photography have been aimed at achieving ever higher fidelity in capturing this reality.  In digital photography, sensors have become more sensitive causing ISO ranges to expand, white balance is corrected ever more accurately and many other innovations have been programmed into the complex computers that we call digital cameras.

Of course, this is a good thing, as it has allowed photographers to get much more satisfactory results in capturing all matter of subjects under a wide variety of conditions.  Moreover, today’s digital cameras provide their users with a sense of instant gratification well beyond that of even the near-instant output of Polaroid cameras.  The added bonus of being able to delete a poor image has brought many people to photography on a scale that dwarfs the success of even the legendary Kodak Brownie camera.

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Cryptomorphosis 1

One side effect of this renaissance of photography, is that the digital diluvium of imagery may give one the impression that everything ranging from the mundane to the sublime has been recorded by someone somewhere.  How many times have you heard someone say, as you proudly show them your work, “I have a photo of that, let me show you!”, and they bring forth their smart-phone to show you their record of what you thought you were the first to see through your viewfinder?

I have to admit that there have been numerous times that I looked at a scene in front of me, weighing how I might want to photograph it, and felt the pressure to come up with a novel approach to creating the image.  Yes, each individual photographer views the world in their unique and personal fashion, but is it enough differentiation to satisfy our creative urge?  Personally, I refrained from photographing certain scenes that might be considered over-photographed.  Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick, ME, comes to mind; this may be the “most photographed” lighthouse on the East Coast of the US.  It was years before I came up with a treatment of this lighthouse that told a story that I saw.

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Connections

Rather than replicating the great work that has been done by many photographers before me, I started looking for an alternate take on the world around me.  Yes, I still photograph what all of us see around us in the standard manner of faithful reproduction of the scene.  However, from time to time, I have been doing some experimental photography to try and reveal some of the things that our eyes don’t see, but that are still there.  After a little more than a year of experimenting, and learning some new tricks that can be performed with a zoom lens or through camera motion and careful timing, I have started to pull things together into a more unified portfolio of abstract photography.

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Portal

The goal of this portfolio is to show some of the layer underneath the immediately visible; a layer that I see from time to time, when I look at the world through more of a mind’s eye.  This view is exposed only when I manipulate the camera or the lens, and never through post-capture processing; also, no special camera software or firmware is used.

These images come to me when I am on location and are inspired by the sense of mystery that I derive from that location.  What first started as pure experimentation has evolved into a new set of skills that uncover previously hidden insights.  An image unfolds in front of me as I visualize it, and I plan an approach on how to capture it.  The success rate is not 100%, but the results are interesting and encouraging in exploring new avenues of creativity that may otherwise remain cryptic.

The subjects that I have approached with this experimental methodology have ranged from fire to flowers and urban landscapes.  Each set of subjects evokes their own, specific set of moments in the space-time continuum that ask to be recorded in a particular fashion; some have rendered surprises and few have been disappointing.  There have been times when several attempts were needed to find the right balance that extracts the correct alternate sense from the subject; each subject has a series of alternate views that can be uncovered through opening up to the flow of energy that emanates from it.  Many more await discovery.

In next week’s episode of TTT, I will describe the details of the process that I use to create the images seen here and in my abstract images portfolio.  I hope you don’t mind waiting until next Tuesday for that post.  In the mean time, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them.

As always, thank you for reading my blog!