Thriving Camellias

It was near 85 degrees here in Southeastern North Carolina yesterday and this morning it was 35!  Tonight the forecast is for a low in the 20’s.  The roller coaster weather is driving my sinuses crazy but the Camellias are thriving. Almost overnight, it seems, we go from blooms burned by the freezing temperatures to a new round of buds and flowers. 

These were all taken with a Nikon D750 Camera fitted with a Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 lens.  Manual exposure, spot metering, f/4 aperture and an ISO setting of 160.  Gotta run, the Daffodils are blooming. Thanks for the look and have a large weekend.  See you next time.

The Falls of The James: Richmond, Virginia

The picturesque  James River winds its way through the center of Richmond, Virginia for 7 miles.  From Bosher’s Dam west of the Huguenot Bridge to Mayo’s Bridge, better known to Richmonders as the 14th Street Bridge, downtown,  the river marks its fall line, making it the only place in the country where you can thrill to kayaking or rafting a class III and IV whitewater rapids, then walk to a downtown bar and have a beer.  I wouldn’t reccommend shooting the rapids with a camera in order to get some pretty amazing scenes as there are plenty of vantage points to experience the whitewater without getting soaked, but as the saying goes, whatever floats your boat. .

For my visit this past week, I concentrated on the river ‘s trek through downtown, shooting from several vantage points: the north bank of the river as seen from the Canal Walk (worth a day of shooting alone),  from the new pedestrian bridge across the river that takes you right over rapids and from above thanks to a friend’s apartment with a fabulous view of the river.

All of the above shots were taken with one rig, a Nikon D750 camera fitted with a 24-120mm f/4 Nikkor lens. Spot metering was used throughout taking my reading from either the sky (away from the sun), or the water and as is my usual practice, an  ISO as low as possible.

The James River is reason enough to plan a photography trip to Richmond but you’d be smart to plan a week here.  Books have been written on this picturesque, historic and modern city so do some research and make it a point to get here and stay a bit.  Your camera will thank you.  As always, thank you for your visit to my blog.  Happy shooting this coming week and Safe travels.  See you next time.

Prime Time for Winter Flowering Camellias

As January wains, the Camellia Japonicas are approaching their prime blooming season.  These shrubs need to be located in a sheltered location to protect the foliage but also the flower buds.  Once they bloom, the flowers are incredibly hearty and can withstand low tempertures, but the buds are very fragile.  Here on the farm. the Camellias, most  are over 75 years old, are located under Lob Lolly pines and right behind the Azalea beds.  We’re expecting temperatures dropping into the teens and low 20’s which will likely damage even well protected shrubs, so I wanted to get some shots before the deep freeze sets in.

While these shrubs are exposed to filtered light during most of the day, the afternoon sun reaches them directly.  For that reason, I usually wait until late afternoon , after 3PM before I venture out.   As is my usual practice, I use the lowest ISO setting I can get away with while shooting at f/11 or f/8 if possible.   I  almost always use spot metering taking the light reading off the bloom itself, and usually will use manual exposure and, of course, I use a tripod.   These shots were all taken with a Nikon D750 camera fitted with a Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 Micro lens.  “Micro” is Nikon-speak for Macro lens. Unlike many, I prefer the 60mm because I like to work close to the subject.  For insects, butterflies etc, I use my Nikon 105mm Micro. I always shoot in RAW because it allows me more control over white balance, light and color.  I use the RAW conversion panel in Photoshop Elements.

As always, thank you for visiting, and happy shooting.  See you next time.


Very Early Quince

Time was, we never saw the Japanese Quince bloom until late February,but now with the new normal, it shows up in January.  If we keep going at this rate, it’ll be around at Christmas time.

Japanese Quince is the common name for this spiny shrub but its also native to Korea, China, Bhutan and Burma. I first noticed the small red buds breaking out last week.

I’ll be going back to grab some shots when the flowers are fully open, but with the scarcity of color in the winter months, I’m obsessed with grabbing every pixel of color I see. I used two cameras for these shots. a Nikon D700 fitted with a 60mm Nikkor Micro (Macro) lens and a Sony A6000 fitted with a Sony Zeiss 16-70mm lens. I’m heading back to the ancient Camellia beds now. The Camellia Japonicas are really hitting their stride now and I need to grab some shots before the really cold stuff bites them. As always, thanks for the look and have a good week ahead. See you next time.

Gales At The Beach

The day proved to be something of a paradox. It was a pretty winter day.  There was no rain, a few clouds, the sun was out and it really wasn’t that cold, but the wind was ferocious.  Gales approaching 35 miles an hour sent the wind chill plummeting, whipped up the usually tranquid waves along the Bogue Banks and created a minor sandstorm on the beach.  So you might ask, why on earth did I go.  Well, I have found over the years that the best time for photography on the coast is when there is something going on with the weather, in this case, the wind. There is nothing more boring to me than to be on a beach with a camera on a bright, sunny, cloudless day. The second reason is that I like the beach in the winter; the sheer isolation of it and the pale, neutral tones.  I suppose you could say, I got what I was looking for.

The wind picked up shortly after daybreak bringing  out two hearty kite flyers who turned their backs to the blowing sand and sent their kites sailing over the ocean.

Even they gave up after a while as the wind began kicking up clouds of sand and driving it up the beach.

Fortunately, I had brought along a thick windbreaker, goggles and a stocking hat.  The camera, a Nikon D750 is well sealed but I took no chances, wrapping it and the 24-120mm f/4 lens in a large zip bag with only the front of the lens with UV filter attached, exposed to the elements.  All in all, an interesting outing that netted some decent keeper shots, but I was worn out.  Just standing up to the battering wind was exhausting, let alone trying to walk against it.  Thank you for visiting and looking.  Comments are always welcome. Have a good week ahead.  See you next time.

Black and White

The first photograph I ever took with a 35mm slr camera was a black and white shot of the Jefferson Memorial in the midst of cherry blossoms in full bloom along the tidal basin in Washington, DC in 1967.  The film was Kodak Tri-X.   Monochrome has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years.  The major photography magazines devote at least one issue a year to monochrome, film and digital.  Should you care to go retro, black and while film is still being made and film cameras are readily available including what many consider the ultimate 35mm film camera, the Nikon F6.  Why shoot black and white?  Frankly, I think some scenes are much more dramatic when shot in monochrome.  When I’m out on a shoot, I usually pack my old Nikon F-100 loaded with Kodal Tri-X,  if only to revisit my photography roots.

Which are film and which are digital?  The first and third shots are film shots scanned and converted to digital. The second and fourth are digital.  Kinda difficult to tell isn’t it?  Film or digital, putting monochrome into your photography mix can give your photogaphy another dimension.  Thanks for looking and have a good week ahead.

Camellia Curtain Call

Moderating temperatures have brought cheers from the forest of ancient camellias here.   They’ve all put on their best faces for an encore.

These were all taken in late afternoon light filtered by the tall Loblolly Pines and Dogwoods that share the space. The first two shots were taken with a Nikon D700 with a 60mm micro lens, , the third with a Sony a6000 using a Zeiss 16-70mm lens and the fourth with the same Nikon D700 rig. I always use the lowest ISo setting I can possibly get away with, f/8 or f/11 if possible and a tripod.

2018 marked my 50th year in photography and I have learned several things I will share with you.  Cameras come and go, good glass endures. There is no substitute for being there.  Buy a good tripod and use it. Find the sweet spot in your lens. Your best photograph is the next one. and be careful out there.   Have a healthy, safe and prosperous New Year.  See you next year!