Tag Archives: Massachusetts

5th Annual Foxborough Street Painting Festival (Patriot Place, Foxborough, MA)

Date Of Event: May 18, 2019 (usually held annually on the 3rd weekend of May)

Location: 2 Patriot Place, North Marketplace, Foxborough, MA

Universally Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: 2019 Foxborough Street Painting Festival

Summary: Dozens of people stopped by Patriot Place to show off their chalk drawing skills for a good cause.

Each year since 2014, Patriot Place has hosted an art festival to raise money for scholarships.  This year, they raised $1,000 for the Gerald Roy Memorial Fund.  Gerald Roy was a public school teacher in the Foxborough public school system.  He retired in 2012 after teaching for 35 years.

The theme of this years festival was “Travel Destinations” and much of the art from the festival had to do with where the artists were from or where they like to or want to visit.

Some people were very creative about their favorite places!  Outer space!  Why, yes, I’d love to go there, especially these days!

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Other artists used other creative ways to describe their favorite places or places they would like to visit.  Derry looks pretty scary!

There were a total of 53 chalk colored works of art (I photographed 39 of them) by people from 21 cities and towns.

Patriot Pat was also there to greet the artists and guests.

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Patriot Place is a dog friendly venue.  Aspen is a service dog in training for America’s Vet Dogs.

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For this photo shoot, I relied mostly on Aperture Priority, or as my camera calls it Aperture Value.  Since the things I was photographing weren’t moving, I didn’t worry much about shutter speed.  However, I have noticed how shutter speed is important to control.  For instance, since it was a bright day, I didn’t need a slow shutter speed and while my camera adjusted accordingly mostly it didn’t always.  I think the places where there was shade confused my camera when I was using AV.  It’s actually easier to use manual mode sometimes.  Lately, I have been using manual mode exclusively, largely for this reason, and, of course, for objects or animals or people that are moving.  An example of this was the little guy high fiving Pat.  Since there was movement I had to use manual mode to slow the shutter speed down accordingly.  Now, I almost think I am cheating if I use AV (Aperture Value) because I’m not choosing the shutter speed and it doesn’t always choose the correct shutter speed.

While my shutter speed did vary (as I was using the AV setting mostly), I mostly used a 5.6 aperture with a 18 mm focal length and the shutter speed was in the 1/125 range.  I also kept the ISO at 100 as the lighting was not an issue for this shoot.

 

 

 


Taking Care Of Business: Women At Work (Springfield Museums, Springfield, MA)

Date Of Visit:

Location: Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History

Hours:

Monday–Saturday: 10 am–5 pm
Sunday:
 11 am–5 pm

Holidays

Closed: New Year’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Open: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Patriots’ Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day.

Cost:

1 Ticket = 5 Museums

Adults: $25
Seniors (60+): $16.50
College Students: $16.50
Youth 3–17:
 $13
Children Under 3: Free

Springfield Residents (with valid ID): Free – youth included

Special exhibit fees may apply to all visitors.

 

Parking: Free parking is available in the main parking lot and an overflow lot is located across the street

Universally Acceptable:

  • All buildings are accessible and equipped with accessible restrooms.
  • Accessible parking is available.
  • Mobility devices are allowed.
  • A limited number of wheelchairs are available in the Welcome Center and the lobbies of the D’Amour Art Museum, Wood Museum of Springfield History and GWV Smith Art Museum.
  • Due to ongoing construction, please ask our Welcome Center staff in advance for assistance in accessing the GWV Smith Art Museum.
  • For other questions regarding accessibility, please contact our security office at security@springfieldmuseums.org or 413-779-2156.

Dog Friendly: No

Website: Taking Care Of Business

Summary: A collection of memorabilia which showcase the women’s labor movement.

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The Taking Care Of Business exhibit at the Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA, pays tribute to some of our unsung heroes.  The exhibit shows how women have played an integral role in the work we do and how their roles have changed over time.

One of the first exhibits at the museum has a collection of Girl Scout ribbons, patches and literature.

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The Girl Scouts patches, ribbons and other memorabilia are from a Connecticut Girl Scout the 1930s. One interesting thing about the Girl Scouts and their badges is how much they have changed over time.  Badges were once earned for sewing and domestic skills.  Now, Girl Scouts can earn badges in such areas as computer skills, robotics, entrepreneurship and outdoor activities.  The magazine is from 1967.

Since the museum is located in Springfield, MA, many of the items have a tie to the area.  These medical instruments and memorabilia from the school pictured below are from the Springfield Hospital School of Nursing.

 

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The items included in the display are a 1920s microscope, Springfield School of Nursing class rings from 1931, 1946, 1949 and 1959.  There are also bottled medicinal pills and alcohol, a cased thermometer, a nurse’s watch, cap and cap clips, a cased hypodermic needle, miniature balance scale for weighing medicines, ear irrigator, nursing school graduation pins dated 1895 and 1946, clamps, birthing scissors to cut umbilical cords, a Springfield Hospital School of Nursing handbook and a first aid guide.

The exhibit didn’t exclusively focus on the advancement of women in the workplace. The exhibit below displays the efforts of women during war time.  From helping to recruit people for the war effort, rationing supplies and working at the USO, women contributed greatly to support the war effort and the troops who served and came back.  In the display below there are rationing books, fundraising and recruitment literature and rationing stamps.

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Styles have also changed over the years.  The display below contains a variety of the headwear that women wore during the earlier part and middle part of the 1900s.

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Speaking of style, the styles of the women who served their country have also changed over time.  This uniform, a Pioneer Valley WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) uniform (circa 1944), was worn and gifted to the museum by Jean Fillion (Bates), Mailman Second Class U.S. Navy Reserve.  The purse was a nice touch.  At times, as I put this post together I had to keep reminding myself, “this was the 40s.”

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This uniform is the Springfield School of Nursing Cadet Corps uniform (circa 1945-48).

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Even before they were eligible to serve during wars, women have played a pivotal role in the military.  One of the groups of women who were mentioned in the placard at the museum were “The Sisters Of The Holy Cross” who were aboard the Confederate steam ship the “USS Red Rover.” Women also served as Navy Yeomen during World War I.

As you exit the exhibit, there is a blackboard for visitors to write the name of a woman who they are inspired by.  What name would you write on the board?

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The “Taking Care Of Business” exhibit is scheduled to be on display until August 25 of this year.


Bradley Palmer State Park (Topsfield, MA)

Date Of Visit: June 1, 2019

Location: 40 Asbury St, Topsfield, MA

Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset

Cost: Daily parking fee charged Memorial Day weekend through October 31

MA resident  $5

Non-MA resident  $10

There is a pay station located at the parking lot.

Parking: There is a parking area for about 50 or so cars.

Trails Size and Difficulty: 721 acres, easy to moderate

Universally Accessible: Yes, the main trail is universally accessible

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Bradley Palmer State Park Website

Bradley Palmer State Park Trail Map

Highlights: equestrian trails, meadows, plants, flowers, scenic views, wildlife, historic site, wading pool (June 26 – September 7 Open daily, 9:30am to 7:00pm)

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Named after noted attorney and businessman Bradley Palmer, Bradley Palmer State Park has numerous trails for cycling, horse riding or just hiking as well as beauty unmatched by most parks in the area.

There is a variety of wildlife at Bradley Palmer.  Snakes (garters mostly), frogs and toads and birds are abundant at the park.  I was careful to not get too close to the Fowler’s toad as it has poison glands that meet at the back of their eyes.  Actually, I had no idea about this while I took the photo.  It was only after I had somewhat foolishly gotten close to the frog, taken the photo and researched what type of frog it was that I found about this.  I am always careful to not disturb the wildlife though.  The only reason it looks like I was very close was because of my telephoto lens.  But it is something to keep in mind next time.

 

There are also numerous equestrian trails for horse riders to take their horses on.

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There are also open fields with obstacles for horses to make jumps.

 

In fact, it is the open areas with long trails that make Bradley Palmer so special.  There are so many pretty trees and flowers along the trails which are located along the Ipswich River. I could walk along the seemingly endless trails just taking in the scenic views along the way.

 

There are also historic buildings at the park.  Palmer had constructed a mansion called Willow Dale where he resided.  The building was restored in 2007 and is used for wedding receptions and other celebratory events under the name Willowdale Estate.  I didn’t take photos of the remodeled building as there was a wedding reception taking place there during my visit.

There is also an old abandoned building at one of the entrances to the park. I’m not sure what it was originally used for (perhaps a horse barn as Bradley Palmer enjoyed horses).  But, it is fun to think of it as being the home of a gnome or some other fantastical creature.

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 Bradley Palmer is a dog friendly park.  There is more than 720 acres for you and your pooch to explore.  Luke, a 7 year old, Tree Walker Coon hound, had fun on the trail.

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The one thing that made this shoot somewhat challenging (despite the birds who kept flying away before I could shoot them) was the lighting at the park.  Sunlight can be very difficult to work with.  Frankly, it is often easier to get a darker image and fix it in post production.  An over exposed photo can be very hard to “fix” later.  This is why it’s important to get the photo right in the camera whenever possible,

There are two easier ways to avoid getting too much light in your photo: come back later and (time permitting) shoot the photo at a later time when the lighting may be better or try to position yourself in a different angle where the light may be less harsh.  Those suggestions may seem obvious but sometimes the most obvious ideas do not always come to mind, especially if we may not have time to shoot the image later in the day.

When I took a beginner photography class, the teacher told us to shoot at 5.6 “because he said so.”  While it is obvious that this is not always the best setting to use, I did notice I shot most of my photos at 5.6 or 4.0.  Of course, it will vary upon where and when and the environment you’re shooting in, 5.6 is a good place to set your camera at and you can always adjust from there if you’re unsure what setting to use, particularly for beginners.

In a future post I will share some thoughts on photographing birds.  You know, the least frustrating part of photography ( :


The Boardwalk (Newburyport, MA)

Date Of Visit: June 1, 2019

Location: 36 Merrimac St, Newburyport, MA

Hours: the boardwalk is accessible everyday from dawn to dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: There is plenty of parking (over 100 spots roughly) that can be paid for at kiosks at the parking lot

Universally Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: scenic, monuments, art, replica of historic ship

Summary: In addition to its scenic views, the boardwalk in Newburyport has a variety of memorials, markers and art for every visitor to enjoy.

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Art, memorials, history and scenic views and a few surprise attractions await you at the boardwalk along Newburyport.

Originally constructed in 1977, the boardwalk had a makeover in 2002.  It is now universally accessible.

Fittingly, during my visit the Nao Santa Maria, a tall ship replica of the Santa Maria, was in port.

 

The 200 ton ship, which was designed to replicate every feature of the original Santa Maria, set sail from Newburyport JUne 10.

There are numerous memorials, monuments and other historical markers along the boardwalk.

This memorial is dedicated to the crews of two different ships. the crew of the Heather Lynne II, a 45-foot fishing boat out of Newburyport that capsized off the coast of Cape Ann on September 5, 1996 when it struck a long cable connecting a 272-foot barge to the tugboat it was towing,  Captain Jeffrey J. Hutchins, Kevin Foster and John M. Lowther lost their lives on that vessel.

There is also a plaque on the memorial dedicated to the crew of the FV Lady Luck who were lost at sea during the evening of January 31, 2007. Captain Sean P. Cone (24) and Crewman Daniel R Miller (21) were lost when the ship sank off the coast of Maine.

 

While the anchor, wheel and sheet of paper titled “Let A Payer Be Said”are common types of articles used for memorials, I found the lantern to be especially touching.

This monument is dedicated to the men and women of the United States Coast Guard.  The monument was dedicated on August 4, 1989 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Coast Guard.  The inscription, in part, states the people of Newburyport dedicate the plaque, “to the men and women of the United States Coast Guard who have courageously and faithfully served the nation for 200 years. For two centuries their labor has saved lives, buoyed our channels, ensured safe operation of ports and vessels, protected our shorelines from smugglers and defended the nation in every major war.”

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Newburyport, MA, has a very close connection to the Coast Guard as you will see in the following monument just off the boardwalk.

Along the Waterfront Park next to the boardwalk is this marker which states the United States Coast Guard was born with the launching of the USRC Massachusetts on July 23, 1791.

 

It’s interesting to note the Coast Guard’s initial primary responsibility was to enforce tariffs and prevent smuggling.  Their role has certainly expanded since then.

One of the great things about the boardwalk is there are lots of places for people to sit.

A bench and sitting area along the boardwalk is dedicated to Mayor Peter J Matthews, the 57th mayor of Newburyport who served from 1985 to 1987.

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Also, chairs are set up for weary travelers or just photo opportunities.

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There is also this maritime symbol along the boardwalk in case you get lost.

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I tried asking this guy for directions.  But, he wasn’t much help.

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Markers along the boardwalk point out historic areas of interest.

 

Of course, there were lots of maritime vessels in the Merrimack River that runs along the boardwalk.  The first boat is the Raven, the Newburyport Fire Marine 2 vessel.

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The views of and from the Waterfront Park are very pretty.

 

There was also art, lots of art, along the boardwalk during my visit.

The following works of art were located at the Somberly’s Landing Sculpture Park along the boardwalk.

Rick Rothrock constructed “Eastern Portal”out of marble.

 

Wendy Klemperer constructed “Elk” out of steel

 

Robert Motes constructed “An Imaginary Place” out of stainless steel

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Gillian Christy constructed “The Space Within, Buds” out of stainless stell with a powder coat

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Dale Rogers constructed “Another Good Day” out of stainless steel, steel and stone

 

Leashed dogs are welcome on the boardwalk.  And there were plenty of cute dogs on the boardwalk during my visit.

Mortimer is a very agile 3 year old Staffordshire mix.

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Peak is a super friendly 7 year old Australian Cattle dog Pointer mix.

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And, if Mortimer or Peak get thirsty walking along the boardwalk, the boardwalk has a special drinking fountain for them.

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Brews And Dogs (Towne Taproom, Agawam, MA)

Date Of Event: May 4, 2019

Location: Towne Taproom, 378 Walnut St Extension, Agawam, MA

Hours: the event usually starts at 12:00 pm

Cost: Free

Parking: There is parking behind the taproom and there are parking lots in the area.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Of course!

Website: Towne Taproom (Facebook)

Summary: Towne Tap hosted their monthly “Dogs And Brew” event.  

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Towne Taproom has gone to the dogs.

Locally crafted beer wasn’t the only thing on tap at Towne Taproom earlier this month.

In addition to their musical entertainment, karaoke and trivia nights, Towne Taproom has been holding “Brews and Dogs” events which allow dog mom and dads to bring their furry friends to socialize.  Just make sure they are socialized and leashed.

A food truck from 4 B’s Mac & Cheese was also there and outdoor seating was available.

There were a variety of dogs at the event.  And, as you can tell by what some of the dogs are wearing, the first 50 dogs received a Towne and Taproom bandana.  The event raised funds for Baystate’s Pediatric Palliative Dog Therapy Unit.

Below are some of the visitors to the big event!

Penny is a 2 year old toy poodle.

 

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Rhodes and May (from left to right) are 5 year old labs.

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Elliott is a 5 month old Australian Cattle dog mix.

 

 

 

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Missy is a 5 year old Cavalier and Pekingese mix.

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Freya is a 2 year old Newfie.

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Mia is a 12 year old Boxer.

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My mom’s dog Holly is a year and a half ptibull mix

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Mia is a 13 year old Boxer.

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Rhino is a 4 year old Great Dane.

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From left to right is Bruno, a 4 year old Cocapoo rescue from Texas and Olive an 11 year old Golden Doodle mix from Boston.

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Towne Taproom plans on having these Brews and Dogs event on a monthly basis.  But they encourage people to visit their Facebook page to find out when they will be held.  See you this summer for a few brews and dogs!

 

 


Baby Animals On The Shaker Village (Hancock Shaker Village,Pittsfield, MA)

Date Of Visit: April 13, 2019

Location: Hancock Shaker Village, 1843 West Housatonic St, Pittsfield MA

Cost: Adults    $20 ($18 for Seniors, AAA members, MTA cardholders, and active and retired U.S. Military)
Youth     $8 (ages 13-17)
Children (12 and under) are free

Hours:

Hours mid-April through late-June 10am-4pm

Summer and fall hours July through October 10am-5pm

Parking: There is one average sized parking lot with additional lots for overflow parking

Handicapped Accessible: The Visitor Center, restrooms, galleries, store, cafe, and all meeting spaces are wheelchair accessible. Compact-dirt pathways and boardwalks throughout the Village provide access to the gardens and grounds, as well as the mile-long Farm & Forest Trail, which also features interpretive signage. Some buildings in the historic Village are wheelchair accessible via ramp, including the Round Stone Barn and the Trustees’ Office & Store. Keep in mind, however, that most buildings in the historic Village are NOT wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available free of charge with advance reservation

Pet Friendly: No, but service animals are allowed.

Website: Hancock Shaker Village

Highlights: historic homes, animals, educational tours, demonstrations

Summary: The baby animals have arrived at Hancock Shaker Village.  In addition to the baby animals, there are tours of the historic homes and educational opportunities for visitors at the village.

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Spring in New England can only mean one thing: baby animals at Shaker Village!

Each year, dozens of animals arrive at the museum for the new season. The animals are housed in the appropriately named Round Stone Barn.  The barn, which was built around 1839, was burned to the ground December 1, 1864.  One hundred tons of hay, ten bushels (roughly 93 gallons) of provender and two adjoining sheds went ablaze during this fire.  It was rebuilt during the mid 1870s.

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Sheep, goats, pigs, chicken and other animals were present during my visit.  People were encouraged to go into the pens with the animals and pet them or take photos.

But, there weren’t just babies at the village.  Older animals, in some cases the mom and dad of the babies, were also at the museum.

Being located so close to the mountains and countryside of New York (we actually drove through New York for a brief period of time), the views from the farm were beautiful.

The farm also includes historic homes.  The self guided tour has signs with information about each house with background about each place.

One of my favorite buildings is the Blacksmith’s shop.  The Shakers made all of the metalwork used for their buildings.  In the Blacksmith’s shop, which was built in 1874, a blacksmith conducts demonstrations of how they make the hardware they use.  He was the third generation blacksmith in his family and the last.  No one else in his family wanted to continue the blacksmith trade.

There is also a room with tanning vats, a cider press and a turbine.

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But my favorite buildings from that era were the homes, offices and stores.  The Trustees Office and store and family living quarters housed the souvenirs people would buy during their visits.  It was also the place where people on business trips could place orders for goods.

The buildings and sheds on the farm give the premises a very old time feel.

There was also a play area for children where they could play with toys from that era and play with other toys.  There was also face painting, horse rides and a balloon shaping artist.

The only really difficult part of the photography session, besides the animals moving when I took their photos, was photographing the blacksmith.  It had all of the elements of a challenging photo shoot: low light, motion when he used the tools to make the hardware and the fire which was in stark contrast to the low light in the room.  I wanted to show the flame on the stove and the light on the tool he was using.  So, I didn’t want to boost the ISO or aperture too much.  So, what did I do?

The hard part for me is when there is motion and low light.  You want to use a fast shutter speed to photograph motion (500 or higher).  But, when there’s not a lot of light you need to use a slower shutter speed.  I didn’t have my tripod with me (and the museum doesn’t allow tripods on their property).  So, I used a fast shutter speed (500) and lowered my aperture to the lowest setting (3.5).  To make up for the lack of light I boosted my ISO to 2000 which is pretty high.  I knew that I could add noise reduction to address the noise or grainy photo from the high ISO in the editing process (which isn’t without its drawback that I will address in a future post).

It was important to capture the motion without seeing any blur and I wanted to make sure the fire looked as realistic and was an accurate display of what I saw, so I went with a high ISO.  Even if I did have my tripod with me it wouldn’t have been very useful as I needed a fast shutter speed rather than a slow shutter speed to capture the motion of the blacksmith.  You can always adjust the image by using noise reduction and using a higher or lower contrast and exposure setting when you edit in LightRoom or PhotoShop, although you do want to get the best photo as possible in the camera to avoid having to edit it too much.  I did end up using a low exposure in LightRoom to show how dark the room was when I took the photographs and to highlight the light from the fire.

Below are some of the photos of the blacksmith which show how I had to adjust the settings to capture his motion and the light from the fire.  As you can see from the photo, the high ISO (2000) allowed me to capture both the motion of the blacksmith as he used the pulley to add oxygen to the fire to keep it going and you can see the sparks clearly from the fire.  The noise reduction tool unfortunately can take away some of the details.  But it was a give and take.  I used the noise reduction to get rid some of the grain from the high ISO knowing that some of the features (like the background) may be a little dull.

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2000 ISO, 18 mm, 3.5 aperture, 1/500 shutter speed.

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2000 ISO 18 mm 3.5 aperture 1/500 shutter speed

I had to use a fast shutter speed (500) to capture the motion of the tool he was using without getting any blur and I sacrificed my ISO (technically I probably could have used a lower ISO, and I do have some photos of the blacksmith with an ISO of 1250).  I think I was playing it a little too safe with the high ISO

I ran into the same situation photographing the animals.  The barn was not well lit and the animals move around a lot.  I just had to use a high shutter speed (500 or 1000) and a low aperture (3.5 for most shots) and I was able to keep the ISO relatively low (around 400 for most shots) .  Again, I was able to use the settings in LightRoom to add color and bring out some contrast in the photos.

Shooting outside was not too hard, especially since I had some cloud cover which prevented sun glare and other issues you can run into when the sun is bright.  However, I have to fess up that I did have a 640 ISO (I should have bumped it down to 100 or so) because I forgot to adjust it after photographing the animals i the barn.  So, always check your settings when you’re changing locations at a photo shoot!

 


Lake Atlantic Invitational Surfing Competition (Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester, MA)

Date Of Event: April 6, 2019

Location: Good Harbor Beach, Thatcher Rd, Gloucester, MA (about 45 mins northeast of Boston, MA or 1 hour and 30 minutes southeast of Concord, NH)

Summary: 26 surfers entered the first Annual Lake Atlantic Invitational Surfing Competition.

Websites: Lake Atlantic Invitational

Gloucester Beach Info

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Hang ten!  Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, MA, was the home to the first Annual Lake Atlantic Invitational Surfing Competition earlier this month.

Twenty six surfers from the Gloucester area came together to show off their skills. The surfers went out in groups of 3 or 4.  And each group was represented by a different color which represented a different heat.  The order of the flags were changed so that each group (heat) would get a chance to begin surfing in a different order.  But, the groups were judged individually.

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The top three surfers won one of these cool trophies.

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Since I arrived about an hour before the competition began, I decided to take some photos of this beautiful place.

The beach is only a short drive from Boston, MA.  However, if you plan on visiting this gem during the summer, it may not be as easy as you think.  Click on the link above to view the parking policy during the summer.  In short, you need a sticker to park in the limited parking lot.  You can apply for a sticker if you live out of town.  But Gloucester residents get priority.  Unless you are a resident of Gloucester (and have a parking sticker to prove it), the best times to visit may be before Memorial Day or after Labor Day.  Or, during early spring when it’s absolutely freezing.  That’s what I did!

Most of the surfers came from Gloucester or the Gloucester area.  However, one of the competitors, Jake Danzer, 20, came all the way from New London, CT, where he attends the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Alex Debreceni, from Dunstable, MA, was one of the surfers competing that day.

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There were other photographers at the surfing competition including the people who brought this drone to photograph the surfers in the water.  But, this dog would rather play with it.

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While it was pretty cold (in the 30s and 40s for most of the morning) and there was an evident wind that made it feel even colder, the waves weren’t all that, well, wavy.  The surfers did their best to show off their skills.

But, they all weren’t successful.

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Of course, I could no better.  And, just like in life, it doesn’t matter if or even how many times you fall.  What matters is how often you get back up on your board!

The winner of the competition was Colby, 18 of Gloucester. Rhodes Cole, of Rockport, came in second and John Lane, of Yarmouth, Maine, came in third.

Good Harbor is a great place to take your dog.  However, make sure to visit only during the designated times (unleashed dogs are allowed October 1st to March 31st ).  One of the reasons for this is to comply with state and federal laws that protect nesting areas for piping plovers.  Animal control arrived while I was leaving.  So they do enforce this regulation.

Despite the regulations, I did see quite a few dogs at the beach during the competition.

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Gracie is a 1 year old Lab mix.

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Boss is a 3 month old Cane Corso

A recent feature to my posts which I am trying to make a regular part of them is to explain the settings and methods I used to photograph my shots.  This was a tricky one for me.  I wish explaining photography was easy.  Unfortunately, it can be a little complicated, especially when you try to boil it down.  So, I have highlighted the places where I show the settings I used and any other important tips.  But, to gain a better context of why I used them and how it may help your photography, I would suggest reading the entire passages.   And this one is fairly long.

When writing these tips I always think what would I have wanted someone to tell me when I first started photography.  I learned a lot from trial and error and I would like to help others avoid having to learn this way whenever possible.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not by any means an expert photographer and I have really only been using manual mode and other modes outside of automatic for about 7 months now.  So please leave a comment if you notice I misrepresented or omitted some info.

Motion and sunlight.  They can be the most difficult elements to photograph in any photo shoot, especially for beginners.  But, just like anything else, once you get you get it.  The only way to understand and overcome these challenges is to shoot when these things are available  It’s not hard to find these things.  Shoot a 5K or a marathon.  Or, if the parties are ok with it, and they usually are, shoot some kids or adults playing basketball, baseball, tennis or some other sport.  Or, shoot birds, dogs or other animals.  They always seem to be moving.

To be honest (and I always am about photography), I could have and probably should have used a tripod.  It helps steady your camera and avoid blur when you’re photographing motion.  But, I was being  a little lazy, if I’m going to remain honest.  I, like many photographers, I like to move around, especially when photographing motion, and tripods can sort of slow you down.  But, I do recommend using a tripod when photographing motion.

Photographing motion requires a faster shutter speed.  I generally used the AV (Aperture Priority in Canon or AP in some other cameras) mode.  This allows the photographer to control the aperture and ISO while the camera controls the shutter speed.Given what I’ve mentioned above, fast shutter speed is very important when photographing motion and the AV mode is not the best mode to use for these types of shoots.  Frankly, it doesn’t do a good job handling motion always.  You’re much better manually adjusting the shutter speed.  This brings up one of the scariest two words for many beginning photographers: manual mode.

Being someone who used to get dizzy just thinking of using manual mode, I understand the trepidation some may feel.  It really isn’t as daunting as it may seem, though. Basically, you want to use similar settings you would want to when you’re in AV mode (or even automatic mode) and adjust the shutter speed accordingly.  As a general rule, I usually use a 500 or 1000 shutter speed (that is one five hundredth of a second or one on thousandth of a second) when photographing someone running or moving briskly.  It’s important to note that some cameras may have different shutter speeds depending on the model being used.  I used a 800 and 1000 shutter speed (again one eight hundredth of a second or one one hundredth of a second) to photograph the surfers.  Since there was so much light I went up to a 6.3 and 7.1 aperture for most of the photos when I zoomed in (3.5 to 5.6 when I wasn’t zooming in).  This was, in part, due to the lens I used.  The aperture for my lens will only go to a certain aperture when I zoom in.  If you use abetter (more expensive) lens you can sometimes use a smaller aperture when you zoom in.  I had to work on the settings in Lightroom in post since they did come out a little dark.

It’s also important to keep in mind that showing blur can be OK in some situations.  If you’re trying to show a bird hovering, for instance, you may want to show their tail blurry while the rest of their body is still.  I actually did this by mistake.  I used the wrong shutter speed and I received the results I just mentioned and people actually liked it.  You can see what I mean by the photo below.  Granted, I would have preferred to use a higher shutter speed and I wasn’t going to post it in my previous Facebook post.  But, some of my friends and family told me that by showing the motion the blur was OK, particularly since the rest of the body of the bird is in focus.  I used a shutter speed of 250 (or one two hundred and fiftieth of a second) shutter speed for this photo.  I should have used a 500 or higher shutter speed.

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Some other photographers will also show blur on purpose for effect when photographing vehicles passing by (you may see those photos of streaks of light which become evident when you use a slow shutter speed while vehicles pass by).

This website gives some very helpful tips and a useful chart to determine which shutter speeds to use: phototraces shutter speeds.

Sunlight is the other challenging part of photography, somewhat ironically.  When I first began photography, I used to think sunlight was not only ideal but essential to good photography.  Now, I hope for overcast skies.  The reason for this is sunlight can cause everything from sun glare to difficult shadows.  I always found it interesting and annoying when my automatic flash would turn on during a perfectly sunny day.  This of course had to do with the shadows which the sun can create.  To avoid this I always use AV or manual mode.  Remember to use a higher aperture if it is a particularly sunny day (5.6 or higher generally).  I also use a lens hood to help prevent sun glare. Another hack is to go to automatic mode, seeing what the camera suggests to use for settings and using that as a guide.  However, this is only a guide to get you in the right ballpark.  You can adjust it from there.  Also, if you camera hs a live view option you can preview what the photo should look like as you adjust your settings. Also, last but certainly not least, make sure to adjust your settings in the camera’s light meter. Make sure the line matches up to the middle of the spectrum.  Keep adjusting your settings until it is there.  

Just to touch briefly on lens hoods.  While using one recently I found that it was being picked up in my photos and causing the corners of my photos to look black and I had to crop the photos more than I would have liked.  To avoid this, you may need to make sure your lens hood is in a “12 o’clock” and “6 o’clock” position.  Once I made this fix it prevented the hood from being picked up by the lens.

One last tidbit I would like to mention about sunlight is the golden and blue hour.  Named for the colors of the sky (when clouds are not present) during the hours just before and after sunrise and sunset, the blue and golden hours are ideal for photography.  In fact, some photographers will only photograph during these times. However, realistically, yo cannot always avoid photographing during the non goden hours.  In fact, most of the events I photograph take place during the worst possible times for photography.  The best ways to handle sun glare and washed out photos is to use a lens hood, avoid shooting at or close to the sun and using Lightroom or Photoshop to compensate for shots that may have a lot of sunlight in the photos.

All is not lost though when it comes to shooting in sunlight.  In fact, you can use it to your advantage. For instance, the sun shimmering off objects like water can be very pretty.  Or, a ray of light poking through the clouds can make for a good contrast.

I hope these tips have helped and please leave me a comment to let me know if you like (or do not) this feature of my posts or if you have additional tips to add.