Old Caboose

On our recent Vermont trip, we ate at a wonderful restaurant converted from a Victorian-era train station. And outside was a prime piece of local color: an old caboose resting on a rail fragment, possibly a remnant of the very line that ran past the depot in the old days.

And since an aged machine calls out for a sense of its own history, I applied a few Topaz filters in post-processing to bring the viewer back in time.

Topaz Adjust is probably the filter I make the most use of outside of Photoshop’s standard effects. If you’re interested in checking it out for yourself, click the link in the sidebar to find out more.

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/13, 1/100

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Back Alley

The Twilit Lens is often billed as “From the Corner of Your Eye.” That was literally the case with this shot. This past Saturday, my assistant literally had to call my attention to something I might have walked right past: this amazing view down a side alley.

The USA is far too young to have the true concept of deep architectural age such as we see in the magnificent cathedrals and neolithic ruins of the Old World. But nevertheless there seemed a profound and thoughtful quietness in this scene, as if the buildings were waiting for something. Time seemed frozen, for not a speck stirred within these borders. Our footsteps and the snap of our shutters seemed an injection of life into the solitude of stone.

Exposure Data: ISO 1250, f/22, 1/80

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Thinking Statue + Spark Cropped

If my readers will recall, I first picked up my Lensbaby Spark back in January, and it’s since become part of my standard kit. Of course I’d heard the stories long before about how Lensbaby has strong brand loyalty and how photographers gush about the creative options it gives you. So I decided to try it.

Now, the better part of a year later, I find myself growing equally loyal. One of the challenges of making great photographs is to bring as much attention to your subject as possible. The combination of the “sweet spot” and the bokeh created by the Spark does it in a very natural way. Besides, working that little concertina-like bellows makes my photography even more hands-on than usual. In short, it’s a lot of fun!

It’s available for purchase on Amazon at Lensbaby Spark for Canon

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Ruined Butterfly

Not long ago my fiance found a butterfly in a parking lot. It had expired and was fluttering like a leaf in the wake of passing cars. Her heart went out to it, but she also knew I would want to see it. After she brought it home lying on some tissue paper, I sat looking at it and thinking how similar it was to many buildings I’d photographed: intricate and beautiful yet eaten away by the relentless elements and time.

Using a mag-lite for backlighting and some coarse cloth to help diffuse it, I set my camera to aperture priority and took a fairly long exposure to bring out the delicate wings. A little adjustment in Photoshop was used to to tweak the colors.

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/5, 1/5

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Vanguard Tripod and Coal Cellar

The funny thing about ruins is how… well… “ruinous” they are. Sometimes they are so run down that a photographer might fear for her safety if she enters too deeply in.

This abandoned coal cellar is a prime example. Set amid a ghost town in the middle of a national park, this place looked about ready to collapse at any moment. And yet the sunlight shining in was so interesting, I knew I would kick myself if I failed to get the shot. That’s why I was glad I’d brought along a very special tripod.

The Vanguard Alta Pro, available from Amazon by clicking Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT Aluminum Alloy Tripod Legs with Multi-Angle Central Column System, allows for the detaching of the central post and reattaching it at an oblique angle. For the above shot, this meant that the camera could peek into the cellar while I remained outside. A wireless shutter release completed the ensemble and allowed for a shot that still provokes my thoughts today.

Never forget to observe safety first when exploring these haunting old buildings.

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Ruin in the Hills

When I look at old photos, ones that are yellowing, crumbling, dusty, I can’t help comparing them to my own work.

Because I love old things. I actively seek out ruins and aging structures because I wonder at the hidden history of our world, the things that will never be recorded in any textbook: the memories and events that centered on the rearing of barns and houses, the families and neighbors that flourished and vanished, leaving the buildings behind to sag and weather under the twin hammers of time and the elements.

And some day the structures too will vanish and only the images will remain. What memories will they create?

Exposure Data: ISO 200, f/8, 1/320

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7D Amazon
I’ve mentioned the Canon EOS 7D on this blog before because I can’t say enough good things about it. And now that I’ve become an Amazon affiliate, I have an extra incentive to talk about my beloved workhorse. ;)

I chose the 7D to be my main camera for several reasons that are important to me as a professional. First of all, as you probably noticed if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, I often take my camera into places where debris is likely to fall on them and where there are some sharp edges, rocks, and other detritus that has the potential to pummel a camera body. Second, since my interests include wildlife, a high burst rate is a must. Third, my workflow is helped by the ability to customize the 7D’s menus so I can quickly get to functions that I use a lot (card formatting and flash settings are the ones I use the most).

And since the 7D Mk II is supposed to arrive in September, Canon’s lowered the price on this camera. So now is the time to bag one for yourself!

If you decide that the 7D is for you, I’d very much appreciate it if you used my Amazon link to buy it. Yes, I do get a commission if you use my link to purchase the 7D from this post. A shameless plug to be sure :), but frankly I would love to be responsible for a fellow photographer purchasing this particular body. And hey, feel free to drop me a line and tell me about your experience with it. I’ll swap stories with abandon!

To purchase the 7D, please click this link: Canon EOS 70D 20.2 MP Digital SLR Camera with Dual Pixel CMOS AF and EF-S 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS STM Kit

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