All posts by Mark

Spring Is Almost Here

It finally was warm enough for a comfortable long hike so I went to Dawes Arboretum this morning to check it out.  The pond is still frozen over and the trails were muddy, but the birds were out. –

Pond at Dawes Arboretum In March
Bench overlooking the pond and island at Dawes Arboretum in early March.


Blue Jay On A Branch
A Blue Jay
Cardinal peeking out from cover.
Cardinal peeking From Cover


Pondering Before Spring

2 guys pondering things while watching a river.
Pondering while watching a river.

There’s a little park with a spillway close to my house that really isn’t much to see, but it’s nice to watch the water go over and during a winter thaw, the roar of the water drowns your troubles and cares away for a little while.

I don’t know what these 2 guys were pondering on the other side of the spillway, but as I was pondering, I noticed they were too. I kind of wished I had a pipe as it appeared to make the task more interesting.

I was pondering what to do with the upcoming Spring and how to get through what’s left of Winter.  I spent the better part of the Winter using my free time to study photography like  mad. I spent an inordinate amount of time learning some Photoshop techniques. I think it was a good investment of time because with my new skills, I can get more use out of the cameras I have.  Motorcycle season is coming up and less money spent on cameras leaves more for gas money to go explore.

I also spent a lot of time studying street photography. There’s a lot of argument in that genre of photography as to what  “street” photography even really is. I’m just a novice, so from my perspective, it’s just photographers that take a massive number of snapshots of their life as it unfolds before their camera. Out of those thousands of photos, some great photos emerge. That’s not to say that the thousands that don’t make the cut aren’t worth something. These photographers use each mistake to get closer and closer to the great shots. That style of photography suits me fine and I’m going to try more of it.

I’m giving up the dream of a really high end camera too. What a waste for what I’m trying to accomplish. I’m never going to be a professional. I’ve learned what professionals have to do to make a meager living and I’m not looking to turn a fine hobby into a job anyhow. The world has enough people trying to be professional photographers and judging by demand and salary, they need computer programmers more. I’ll leave the professional equipment for the professionals.

I’ll stick with a bridge camera. They don’t do everything well, but they do everything. The world of cameras is changing and certainly for the better. I’ll spend the money on books and experiences instead of equipment. The photos will be good enough for now.

So in short, the results of pondering that day was a rough map of where I want to take photography. I just want to record some moments from everyday life and I want to fill life with experiences worth taking photos of. Easy enough.

Sky Carp

I’ve never understood the animosity towards seagulls, commonly referred to as “Sky Carp”. Sure, they’re common and they can be scavengers, but these birds are highly adaptive survivors.

Seagulls on ice at Buckeye Lake, Ohio
Seagulls on the ice at Buckeye Lake, Ohio.

Today the snow let up enough to take pictures and these seagulls at Buckeye Lake were thriving in temperatures that were in the low 20’s.

I really started to enjoy watching seagulls when I first seen them in the deserts of California. It was freezing in January in the Mojave. The thought that anything could be thriving in such a inhospitable environment seemed amazing to me. I thought they were primarily water birds too, but it turns out that they are in just about every corner of the Earth, even Antarctica.

I’ve read that seagulls are a symbol of freedom. Maybe that’s why so many find them intolerable? That kind of hate without a good specific reason as to why attitude happens with freedom too.


A European Starling

European Starling
A European Starling

This a really common bird in Ohio called a European Starling. They are everywhere in downtown Newark, Ohio. They remain active throughout the winter too.

When this photo was taken, I was walking into work. This is one of the reasons I try to always carry a camera. Sure, it’s just a common bird, but it made me stop in my tracks and take a moment to enjoy natures beauty in an area where you really have to pay attention to find beauty.

It made me look up information about something so common that I really didn’t know much about too. I found out that they were brought here by Eugene Schieffelin, a wealthy industrialist. Like so many of today’s wealthy, they found it fashionable to fund junk environmentalism in the 1890’s too. In Schieffelin’s day, they thought it was a wise endeavor to import wildlife and plants from one area of the globe to another. Starlings have made a negative impact on the native birds and the effort proved destructive in the end. They’re still a beautiful and interesting bird to watch and photograph.

The Hooded Merganser Duck

Hooded Merganser Duck
A Hooded Merganser Duck taking flight.

I got a pleasant surprise yesterday as I headed to the woods on the first nice Saturday of 2014, a small flock of strange looking ducks called Hooded Mergansers were in the Licking River at Blackhand Gorge near Newark, Ohio.

Usually, ducks pretty much ignore you, but these are a little more stealthy. By the time I got a bead on them, they started taking flight. My camera has a sports mode that rapid fires and it’s a big help with wildlife. The quality of the photo isn’t as good, but it’s better to get a photo than none at all. This photo was the only one that even had a duck in it.

This is the first Hooded Merganser I’ve ever seen. It’s quite a thrill to get wildlife that’s out of the ordinary and it always happens when you least expect it.

I Was Thinking I Was Having An Off Day And Then…

I’m in kind of a winter rut. It’s not really been fun weather to be out taking photos in and we’re still quite a ways from motorcycle season. My hobbies are on hold, but I still make the effort to get photos occasionally.

Today I had just finished taking photos of the the same old things in Newark and was about ready to head home when I seen something that made me really thankful. It was a person in a green monkey suit waving a sign for a flea market. God bless them for trying to make a buck, but I would not want to be the person stuck doing this today.

Green monkey in the snow waving sign for a flea market.
Person in green monkey suit waving to advertise a flea market.

Just a few more weeks and winter should start leaving us, I hope.


A Mustang Mach 1 At A Car Show

Mach 1 Mustang at car show in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
Ford Mach 1 Mustang at The 2013 Dixie Days Car Show in Mount Vernon, Ohio

I was looking for photos that make me think about warmer weather and this Ford Mach 1 Mustang did the trick. It was taken at The Dixie Days Car Show in the Fall of 2013 in Mount Vernon, Ohio.

Car show photos are something that I have not yet mastered, but I really like the results I get from a 50mm lens on a crop sensor Canon 20D camera. The lens is just enough to keep me from being right on top of the car and the crowd doesn’t realize that I’m shooting.

Strange enough, I find that people tend to gravitate in front of my camera at car shows. I don’t really mind, the cars are there for people to look at and not for me to take photos of, but I don’t concentrate of the photos I’d really like to take at the shows because of that. The hoods are always up which kind of ruins the photo too.

Not long now until decent weather as the temperature was 30 degrees today! We’re getting closer.

Fishing In The Fog

I’ve been fighting the urge to just stay out of the weather for a few weeks now. I’m just a bit bewildered by the cold we’ve been having at this point. It will be over in a few weeks now for the most part, but either I’m getting older and it effects me more or it’s just been a more brutal winter than usual.

It was a cold and foggy day back when winter started and this fisherman was still out doing what he loved and I bet he would tell you that the fishing is better in bad weather. The most enthusiastic fishermen will always make that claim.

Fishing on the Susquehanna River in Maryland.
Fishing in the fog on the Susquehanna River in Maryland.

14,0000+ Photos In Adobe Lightroom


Number of files in Lightroom.
Number of files in Lightroom

That’s right, I’ve got over 14,000 photos on my computer. It’s mind numbing, but I’m not alone. Many others must have the same problem because there’s a popular program called Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 that’s helping me manage it all. The realization that I had 15,000 photos was when I made a move from the more primitive Adobe Bridge and I had to pull all of the photos into the new program.

Adobe Lightroom is a combination of  a database and a companion to the more powerful Photoshop. After photos are moved into the Lightroom database, they can be organized and edited as a precursor to final editing in Photoshop. When I pulled the photos in, it was like watching my life pour into that database. Everything I’d found interesting enough to take a photo of in the past 10 years or so, was flowing through at a blazing speed. When it was done, I just had a feeling of “Wow, I want more of that, so that it lasts longer.”.

I started with more like 20,000 and quickly edited them down to 14,000. Quantity is far less desired than quality. I’ve got so many tht I can’t find the quality photos. I’ve just scratched the surface on learning Lightroom, starting with organization of images first. It’s a bit of a clunky program to learn as not everything is intuitive, but once you learn a few processes, the payback in time saved editing is well worth the effort.

Part of the drag of digital photography is the number of photos taken. That should be an advantage and it is if you have a powerful database like this to sift through and get the best quality photos.

Lightroom does much more than help organize photos, but this alone is going to make digital photography more enjoyable.