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Anime Meets Native America   Leave a comment

 

Numerous words come to mind when describing the scene in Lancaster City today. Weird, surreal, and eclectic should suffice. Because today — all within the space of a few hundred feet — I was able to observe a Native American protest and Lancaster’s annual Anime convention-goers.

Anime, to save you the effort of a Google search, is a form of Japanese animation that appeals to both children and adults alike. The result is an annual gathering of individuals who dress the part of their (presumably) favorite animated characters. The costumes give the downtown a decidedly Halloween feel here in April.

The Native Americans on the other hand were protesting a planned natural gas pipeline that will cut through Lancaster county, along with other grievances such as casino corporations fleecing Native Americans, and discrimination against people of Native American descent.

And you thought Lancaster was only Amish people and outlet malls . . .

The result, in photographic form:

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Posted April 26, 2014 by ~ Bruce in People, Street, Uncategorized

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My Favorite Photos — 2013   8 comments

The past year was a pretty good one photography-wise.  It was aided immensely by two trips — a long weekend in New York City and a two-week trip to Utah.  The Utah trip, planned months in advance, occurred during the first two weeks of October and was severely disrupted by the federal government shutdown.  However, we were able to visit some spectacular areas not under federal management, and sneaked into quite a few national parks anyway.  In short, neither the vacation nor the photography suffered too much.  (But that is not forgiveness.  We are governed by children.)

Following are my favorite photos of 2013.  I hope you enjoy them.  And as always, thanks for following my photo blog and for your kind comments throughout the year!

January:  Canada Geese in flight; Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area (Pennsylvania)

January: Canada Geese in flight; Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area (Pennsylvania)

February: Tundra Swans at takeoff; Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area (Pennsylvania)

February: Tundra Swans at takeoff; Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area (Pennsylvania)

February: Snow Geese in flight; Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area (Pennsylvania)

February: Snow Geese in flight; Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area (Pennsylvania)

March: Grave, Unknown Soldier; Annapolis, Maryland

March: Grave, Unknown Soldier; Annapolis, Maryland

April: Sunrise over the Atlantic; Virginia Beach.

April: Sunrise over the Atlantic; Virginia Beach. No color saturation added.

April: Boardwalk and beach; Virginia Beach.  Digital manipulation.

April: Boardwalk and beach; Virginia Beach. Digital manipulation.

May: Street Musician, Central Market, Lancaster, PA.

May: Street Musician, Central Market, Lancaster, PA.

July:  Street scene: Washington Square Park, New York City.

July: Street scene: Washington Square Park, New York City.

July:  Street scene; Washington Square Park, New York City.

July: Street scene; Washington Square Park, New York City.

July:  Warehouse lights; New York City.  Digital manipulation.

July: Warehouse lights; New York City. Digital manipulation.

October:  Melanie is not impressed.  We hiked in anyway.  (Not a great photo.  Just a "screw you, Congress" photo.)

October: Melanie is not impressed. We hiked in anyway. (Not a great photo. Just a “What were you thinking, Congress?” photo.)

October:  Aspens at forest edge; Grand Canyon National Park, AZ.

October: Aspens at forest edge; Grand Canyon National Park, AZ. Digital manipulation.

October:  Eastern edge, Grand Canyon, as we hiked into the park toward Point Imperial.

October: Eastern edge, Grand Canyon, as we hiked into the park from a national forest road, toward Point Imperial.

October:  Point Imperial vista, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ;  It was just us at this overlook thanks to the shutdown.

October: Point Imperial vista, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ; We were alone at this overlook thanks to the shutdown. A 5 mile hike round trip.

October:  Milky Way on the horizon:  at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah.

October: Milky Way on the horizon: at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah.

October:  Milky Way rising; at Devils Den (near Escalante), Utah.

October: Milky Way rising; at Devils Den (near Escalante), Utah.

October:  Monument Valley vista;  Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Utah / Arizona.

October: Monument Valley vista; Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Utah / Arizona.

October:  Dunes at sunrise;  Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah.

October: Dunes at sunrise; Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah.

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October: Slot canyon; near Escalante, Utah.

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October: Slot canyon; near Escalante, Utah.

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October: Melanie exploring a slot canyon; near Escalante, Utah.

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October: Cisco (abandoned town); north of Moab, Utah.

October:  Cisco (abandoned town); north of Moab, Utah.

October: Cisco (abandoned town); north of Moab, Utah.

October:  Cisco (abandoned town); north of Moab, Utah.

October: Cisco (abandoned town); north of Moab, Utah.

October:  Desert scene; near Corona Arch (Moab Area), Utah.

October: Desert scene; near Corona Arch (Moab Area), Utah.

October:  Natural window; near Corona Arch (Moab area), Utah.

October: Natural window; near Corona Arch (Moab area), Utah.

October:  Three Sisters at Sunrise; Arches National Park, Utah.

October: Three Sisters at Sunrise; Arches National Park, Utah.

October:  Panorama; Arches National Park, Utah.

October: Panorama; Arches National Park, Utah.

October:  Desert scene; Arches National Park, Utah.

October: Desert scene; Arches National Park, Utah.

Delicate Arch at Sunset; Arches National Park, Utah.

Delicate Arch at Sunset; Arches National Park, Utah.

Posted January 5, 2014 by ~ Bruce in Landscapes, Nature and Wildlife, Street, Uncategorized

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah   Leave a comment

In early October, our reservations canceled at shut down Zion National Park, we decided to instead camp and photograph the dunes at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah.  As we were to discover, the state parks in Utah are fantastic and Coral Pink Sand Dunes is no exception.  Although the dunes are open to ATV riding during the day, they are off-limits to the vehicles until 9 a.m. — more than enough time to photograph them at sunrise.  And after all, sunrise (and sunset) is when you capture the beautiful colors and deep shadows that have made sand dunes attractive subjects to photographers since the invention of the medium.  That Melanie and I were the only people up and stirring as the sun rose only made the experience better.

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IMG_3223-1(Above)  This is actually a contrasty late afternoon photo taken shortly after we arrived.  I like how the hikers provide scale to the image.  As for hiking — well, I love hiking.  But not in sand. In fact, it sucks.  I’d rather take photos of other people hiking in sand.

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IMG_3353-1 (Above)  This is what the dunes look like at dawn, immediately after the sun rises over the nearby mountain.

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(Above)  Another sunrise “kiss” on one of the dunes, this one using a zoom lens.

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Sand_Dunes_Panorama2-1(Above)  This is actually two separate photos stitched together using the panorama feature in Adobe Elements 10.  I have some 5-image panoramas that would make fantastically big prints, but would be too long and skinny to display correctly on a website!  The technique is pretty easy.  Getting there before the sun is the harder part.

Twenty or thirty minutes later the light and colors were gone, replaced by Utah’s harsh sun and cloudless skies.  Photos like this are available to anyone —  providing that you can roll out of bed (or, in this case, sleeping bag) and get there before the sun!

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Posted October 22, 2013 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

Dark Skies and the Milky Way   6 comments

Our trip to southern Utah coincided with a new moon phase.  Having been out west before I knew that meant a beautiful night sky that we rarely, if ever, see on the east coast.  It also meant that I had the opportunity to try some Milky Way photography — something that has been on my to-do list for a long time.

Preparations were fairly straightforward.  I did some pre-planning by reading a few excellent celestial photography blogs, including David Kingham’s free online tutorials.  I also had the good fortune of meeting and spending an evening photographing the Milky Way with Jon Fuller, a photographer who lives in Moab and has been published in National Geographic Magazine (among other publications).  We collaborated with Jon and his wife, Paula, and both ended up with some fantastic shots in Devil’s Garden.  Finally, I also downloaded a very cool free app called Night Sky 2 Lite to my iPhone.  It allowed me to pinpoint where the Milky Way Galaxy would rise on the horizon, at 190 degrees south, between the constellations Scorpio and Sagittarius when we were there.  (Note that the Milky Way rises at different times and at different places depending upon the time of the year and your location on earth.  Early October was particularly convenient, as the galaxy rose shortly after sunset).

Although these are first attempts, below are four images that I particularly like, with my notes appended.  The gas cloud that you see in the photos below is what gives each image a “wow” factor.  Unlike the human eye, a camera gathers additive light for as long as you keep the shutter open.  This allows you to see things that the naked eye does not.

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(Above) Location:  Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah.  Exposure: 30 seconds; ISO 3200; Processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.

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(Above) Location: Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah.  Exposure: 30 seconds; ISO 3200; Foreground “painted” by Melanie Snyder with a flashlight; Processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.

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(Above) Location: Devil’s Garden (near Escalante), Utah.  Exposure: 30 seconds; ISO 3200; Foreground “painted” by Melanie Snyder with a flashlight; Processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.

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(Above) Location: Devil’s Garden (near Escalante), Utah.  Exposure: 30 seconds; ISO 3200; Foreground “painted” by Jon Fuller with a very large flashlight; Processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.

Posted October 20, 2013 by ~ Bruce in Travel Photography, Uncategorized

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Brother Joscephus & the Love Revolution   Leave a comment

Wait, what?  Brother Josephus and the Love Revolution?  That was my question when I checked out the band list for the city’s “Celebrate Lancaster” event on Friday evening.  The bottom line was that I had never heard of them, and I even wondered if maybe they were some local church gospel group or something.  I was not hopeful. And in the end, I could not have been more wrong or more pleasantly surprised.

Brother Josephus and the Love Revolution hails from Brooklyn and they are a high-energy, twelve-piece explosion of rockin’ soul music.  The energy on stage was palpable and connected with the audience like very few bands manage to do.  Combine outstanding guitar, keyboard, lead and backup vocals, with a lively brass section and more energy than a three year-old on a sugar high and you have an awesome musical experience.

Kudos to Brother Josephus and to the Mayor’s Office of Special Events for a fantastic Friday night show.  Here are a few photos that I hope hint at the fun and energy.  I wish I had arrived earlier and captured more images of the band.  But I’ve subscribed to their fan list, so maybe next time.

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Posted June 30, 2013 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

The World In 1957   2 comments

Thanks to the despicable invention miracle of Facebook, I have been noting the recent and inexorable parade of classmates’ birthdays.  Like millions of others I type in the obligatory, “Happy Birthday, your name here!”.  A somewhat heartfelt gesture and momentary delay of my second swig of coffee.  Actually, birthday wishes are deeply ingrained in my morning routine of finding ways to avoid doing actual work.  After all, if there are no birthdays on which to comment I must find another 5-second avoidance activity to fill the gap.  Come to think of it, it practically ruins my day.  This is why I never follow through on threats to drop Facebook.  I’d have to do more actual work.  (To all my friends and relatives to whom I have recently wished a Facebook happy birthday, it was a heartfelt gesture.  No, really, seriously.  Ah, hell.)

I digress.  So as we stare down the barrel of our 56th such celebration I can’t help but wonder what life was like back then (or way WAY back then as my kids would say).  This happens once a year, and I really have no control over it.  I do Google image searches (I’m too ADD to read the content) and click on whatever catches my eye.  This usually elicits a bevy of Holy shit! responses.  This year I have the urge to share those Holy shit! findings.  Sorry.

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The world was, shall we say, a bit nuclear obsessed in 1957.  The U.S. detonated multiple nuclear bombs in the Nevada desert and even brought in Marines for a little live-action training.  Many of these blasts were within 65 miles of Las Vegas, which in that great American free-enterprise tradition created . . .

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. . . Atomic Blast Weekends in Las Vegas!  (Note mushroom cloud in background).  Yes, you too could pay premium rates for a room facing the test grounds on a scheduled blast weekend!  Radioactive fallout worries?  Wimps.  Go to the Jersey Shore if you can’t take a little radioactivity.

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But wait!  It gets better.  America had a “Miss Atomic Bomb” in 1957!  Her name was Lee Merlin, a Copa Room showgirl complete with cotton mushroom-cloud bathing suit.  Hah!  Take that Soviet Union!  You may have conducted 4 atmospheric nuclear tests in April alone, but our Miss Atomic Bomb was surely better than any furry-hatted Kremlin babe.

On a side note and as a photographer, I really appreciate the camera angle and use of perspective in this photo.  I mean, not only is “Miss Atomic Bomb” much more shapely and beautiful than anything the communists could conjure up, but she is apparently 300 feet tall and designed to strike fear into the hearts of every living Bolshevik.  Take that, comrades!

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Speaking of beautiful women (this is where I switch over to saying “beautiful women” instead of “babes”, lest my wife point out the error of my ways), just like today they were used to sell cars back in 1957.  Except, you know, with more clothes on.  A lot more clothes on.  And pantyhose.  And goofy poses.  Come to think of it, what the hell?

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On April 13th (Hi Denise!) the US Postal Service temporarily halted Saturday deliveries because of . . . wait for it . . . lack of funds!  On April 15th Congress appropriated $41 million (hah! chump change) and Saturday delivery was restored.  And who says history doesn’t repeat itself?  In the words of Yogi Berra (who was still with the Yankees in 1957), “It’s deja vu all over again.”

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In 1957 the schools in a place called Little Rock were desegregated.  As we all know (or should know), President Eisenhower sent several thousand National Guard soldiers to Little Rock to assist the kind citizens of Arkansas in complying with federal law.

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But in other news, Elvis decided to renovate Graceland and installed this metal music gate.  Because, why not?  When you’re Elvis, it’s what you do.

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Speaking of music and 1957, these guys were in a band.  It was called The Quarrymen.  Anyone else think McCartney looks like Alfalfa from The Little Rascals?

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And some guy named Ted Geisel published a book.  One that thankfully was the beginning of the end of the excruciating “See Spot run” method of teaching reading.

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But we were still a cranky nation because of things like this.

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So we held parades in Washington D.C. to show that we had things that could fly, too.

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And because we were really afraid of this . . .

A Swissman in Moscow Leonard Gianadda, 1957 (14)

. . . and of looking like this cheerful bunch . . .

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. . . the House Un-American Activities Committee held the author of this play in contempt of Congress for not ratting out his friends.  But he probably didn’t notice . . .

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. . . because he was married to this woman at the time.  I mean, God bless America!  Amiright men?

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But all’s well that ends well because we had a new toy called “The Pluto Platter”!  Of course those heathens in 1958 ruined it by rebranding it as the “Frisbee”.  But we 57’ers know the real name.

Happy Birthday, (your name here!) to everyone else born in that golden year of 1957!  The good ol’ days?  I’m not so sure.  And Holy shit!, do I feel old . . .

Posted April 12, 2013 by ~ Bruce in Signs of the Times, Uncategorized

Waterfowl at Middle Creek   Leave a comment

Yesterday was a relatively mild Saturday with soft sunlight, thanks to some high wispy clouds.  I decided to hop into the car for the forty-minute drive up to Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area.  I had heard from other photographers that the Tundra Swans and a handful of Snow Geese had already arrived.  Given the warm lighting conditions I hoped to capture a few shots of the beautiful Tundra Swans.  A bonus was when four Canadian Geese flew close by, angled nicely toward the late afternoon sun.  I was able to track them and capture four frames before they disappeared behind some trees.  Common compared to the Tundra Swans, Canadian Geese are nonetheless beautiful birds, especially in flight.

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Posted January 20, 2013 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

My 2012 Photo Favorites — Happy, Sad, and Everything In Between   8 comments

Last year I complained about the year-end penchant for “best of” lists, and then promptly offered my own 2011 photo favorites.  Without beating that dead horse again, here are my favorites from 2012.  Some are (I believe) strong images.  Others simply conjure up a strong memory — what I like to call “the backstory”.  Thanks once again to all who followed my posts and commented on my photos this year.  May you have the happiest and most blessed of holiday seasons!

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(Above)  For those of us who are Penn State alumni and fans, the year started under a cloud of scandal and daily revelations — each seemingly worse than the last.  The blue & white sky grew darker in January with the passing of Joe Paterno.  I took a day off to go to the memorial service.  The image above is just one of many captured that day.

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(Above)  Between mid-February and early March tens of thousands of waterfowl stop and rest at the Middle Creek Wildlife Refuge each year on their way back to Arctic nesting grounds.  Disappointed in the Snow Geese photos captured one particular February morning, this image of Tundra Swans made the pre-dawn trip worthwhile.

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(Above)  Every Friday between noon and 1 p.m. a street preacher loudly delivers his message from Penn Square in Lancaster City.  Any form of communication needs both a sender and a receiver.  Capturing both in a single shot made this image a keeper.

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(Above)  I love to photograph kids because they in turn love to have their pictures taken.  This little girl was part of a large crowd at Central Market on an unusually warm March day.  She was content to lick her lollipop and watch me take photos from about 30 feet away.  She never flinched when I pointed the camera her way.

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(Above)  In April, Melanie asked me what I wanted to do on my birthday.  I chose to visit Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.  An exceptional place for photographers or anyone interested in historical sites, we spent an entire afternoon there while I easily took over 300 photos.  I’m already anxious to go back next year.  This is a view of a dilapidated wing of the prison.  Each door represents a cell where a single inmate was housed.  The solitary existence encouraged repentance  of sinful ways, or so thought the Quaker-influenced administrators.

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(Above)  A peak into one of the solitary cells at Eastern State Penitentiary.

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(Above)  In May friends of ours asked me to volunteer my photography skills for a fundraiser to benefit Rafiki Africa.  I spent much of the time photographing the 5K race and awards ceremony.  In between official duties, however, I took advantage of the time to photograph these young dancers.

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(Above)  As I mentioned earlier, children tend to like to be photographed.  This young man certainly did.

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(Above)  May was also a good month for the music scene in Lancaster.  This image was captured on Music Friday.  I spent a good deal of time on my computer bringing out the ornate detail on this saxophone.  Melanie liked it well enough to have a gallery print made and it now hangs in our living room.

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(Above)  Earlier in the same evening of the saxophone photograph I was enjoying the guitar riffs by this guy.  These are five sequential shots captured within a span of ten to fifteen seconds.  I call it The Agony & The Ecstasy of a Lead Guitar Player.

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(Above)  For whatever reason, June and July were photographically barren months for me.  I managed to grab some decent shots of daylilies outside of a local church.

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(Above)  I broke out of the summer photography drought to the tune of 1,655 photos in August, thanks almost entirely to a twenty-day trip to Alaska.  This was a learning trip through a wonderful non-profit organization called New Community Project.  It was a no-frills and physically demanding trip.  (I loved it).  The trip started out touring Kenai Fjords National Park via boat.  The Alaskan coastline is spectacular.

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(Above)  And the sea life was equally spectacular, as well as a bit noisy.

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(Above)  The second leg of our trip to Denali National Park turned out to be equally beautiful.  We got out and hiked a lot.  My recommendation?  Get off the tour buses and off the deck chairs and get close to the land.  You’ll never regret it . . . as long as you stay far away from the grizzlies.

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(Above)  Another mountain shot from Denali National Park.  I love when there are small breaks in the clouds that provide spotlighting like this.

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(Above)  Vistas in Denali are awe-inspiring, but there is beauty underfoot too.  These grasses covered with early morning dew were too good for any photographer to pass up.

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(Above)  But the real reason most people travel to Denali is for the wildlife, whether it be ground squirrels near a river bed . . .

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(Above) . . .or Dall Sheep on a mountain top.  I love this photo as a stand alone image, but it is even more meaningful to me considering that we hiked about four miles (much of it uphill) to get to this location.

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(Above)  The third leg of our trip — and by far the most unusual and rewarding — was to a native Alaskan village above the Arctic Circle, called Arctic Village.  The people who live there and who hosted us are called the Gwich’in.  They live in the single most remote location in the western hemisphere, a 300 mile flight from Fairbanks, with the nearest road 150 miles away.  The land is ruggedly beautiful; the weather ranges from comfortable in the summer to brutal in the winter.  Our hosts were Charlie and Marion Swaney.  This is the view from their front porch in August.

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(Above)  And this is the view from the banks of the nearby Chandalar River.  The land you see across the river is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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(Above)  This is Charlie Swaney, our host.  An outdoorsman supreme, advocate for the Gwich’in way of life, and all around great guy.  Charlie welcomed us into his home (or in Melanie’s and my case gave us a nice piece of tundra to pitch our tent on) and he taught us more than I ever thought I’d know about the caribou herds on which his people depend.

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(Above)  This is Marion Swaney.  Charlie’s wife, camp boss, and our host too.  She has lived in Arctic Village her entire life, along with approximately 140 other Gwich’in.

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(Above)  This is Charlie’s grandson, Little Charlie.  He only stopped by for a few minutes, but once again showed a child’s interest in my camera.

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(Above)  And this is Derek, Charlie and Marion’s nieces child.  Derek was a constant at the Swaney home and came along with us to the hunting camp.  He was my little buddy for much of our stay there, and I somehow found myself giving him lots of piggy-back rides whenever we hiked uphill.  Derek was a big part of the reason that I lost 8 pounds in twenty days despite eating a high calorie diet!

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(Above)  Speaking of hunting camp . . . this was the view when we got there.

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(Above)  And this was the view when the sun was setting around midnight.  Those mountains are part of the Brooks Range in the Wildlife Refuge.

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(Above)  One of the highlights of our arctic trip was when we did a fairly long, arduous hike into ANWR and up the side of a mountain.  Here you see Melanie taking in the view with her camera.  The day was also a highlight for Charlie because he spotted a small group of 25 or so caribou on a neighboring ridge — the first caribou sighting of the season.  Caribou mean sustenance to Charlie’s people.

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(Above)  The arctic is a land of water, spruce, mountains, and vastness.  It is not a place for novices to walk around without a guide.  We were all happy to stay with Charlie, even if keeping his pace was exhausting.

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(Above)  One of the surprises in Arctic Village was meeting this young lady, a college intern from New York named Madeleine.  She was an assistant to Sarah James, an activist village elder.  This photo was taken inside a historical Episcopal Church on a chilly August day.

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(Above)  By September we had returned to the lower 48 and I was wandering around Lancaster City once again.  Turning the corner onto Prince Street I spotted this meditating woman near the upscale Prince Street Cafe.  The juxtaposition between the meditator and the khaki-and-blazer cafe patron (who I believe is actually one of our county’s commissioners) was too good to pass up.

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(Above)  On that same day I was sitting and listening to this man play his native flutes outside of Central Market.  When this young girl and her family (out of view) stopped to listen too, the image was obvious.  Sometimes you just sit there and the photos come to you.

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(Above)  Later in September — at another Music Friday event — I ran across this young woman named Ali Taylor.  She has a big time voice and a fledgling music career.  You can hear a song or two here.

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(Above)  The same evening I photographed Ali, this band was playing on the main stage.  I never saw “the eye” inside the trumpet until I downloaded the photos later.  Serendipity.

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(Above)  In October we drove across Pennsylvania to Erie to visit a friend.  We took a few extra hours to visit a state park and see the great lake.  The cloudy conditions actually made the foliage “pop” in this photo.

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(Above)  And of course Melanie had scoped out all the lighthouses on the shores of Lake Erie.  So here is a nod to my wife and her love of lighthouses.

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(Above)  The last “keeper” of the year came at the end of October, in our own backyard.  Although the color version is nice too, I find that the form of the flower and the background fence boards work better in black and white.

So there you have it, three dozen of my favorites from 2012.  I hope you have enjoyed them too.  Thanks for looking!  Peace out.

Posted December 20, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

Alaska Trip (Part 9) — Gwich’in Hunting Camp   1 comment

As my friend Rob reminded me, I haven’t posted anything here for a while.  I’ve been doing a lot of photography work — and even had a couple of my photos selected for a 2013 regional calendar — but there’s no doubt I’ve neglected Photoriety.  So if hurricane Sandy doesn’t bring the power down (it’s raining sort of sideways at the moment) I’ll pick up on one of the highlights of our trip to Arctic Village, namely our visit to the Gwich’in summer hunting camp.

Hunting camp was a 4 to 5 mile hike “up mountain” to a plateau overlooking the valley where the Chandalar river separates Gwich’in land from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and a couple of miles below the peak of the mountain on which we camped.  It is a breathtaking view as well as a breath-taking climb, and our visit to hunting camp was one of the primary reasons that I lost 8 pounds in twenty days.  That I shed those pounds despite eating half a dozen of Marion’s stolen-recipe biscuits is testament to the level of exertion.  Four of us did twenty miles in a twenty-four hour period.  If that sounds self-congratulatory, well . . . I guess it is.  I don’t think I can ever thank David Radcliff enough for challenging me both physically and mentally on this trip.  I’ve shed a total of 30 pounds in the last ten months, and if I ever start to put them back on I’ll just go on another New Community Project trip.  As David says, “No charge for the weight-loss program.”

So here are photos from our treks to and around hunting camp.

(Above)  Several of our group head up mountain.  The Gwich’in hauled food and gear up to camp on ATVs for us, although Melanie and I decided to carry our gear up on our backs (part of the challenge).  Gotta say, my wife is quite a trooper.

(Above)  We didn’t leave for camp until evening and arrived after 9:00 p.m., although there was still plenty of light left in the day.  The colors and scenery were exceptional, but I had to wait several minutes for my heart rate to come down before I could take this photo.  It was markedly cooler up here than down at the village.  That point was driven home the next morning when I stripped down to my skivvies and washed up in a nearby stream.  Now that was breath-taking!

(Above)  The log pole structure served as our kitchen area.  The plastic sheeting is used to enclose the structure and smoke / cure caribou meat during hunting season.  Thin strips of meat are suspended on the poles while a small fire burns below.  This sheeting was no longer usable, so before we left we tore it down and took it back to the village for disposal.  Ground squirrels in particular will sometimes attempt to eat the plastic, with fatal results.

(Above)  The only other “permanent” structure was this canvass sidewall tent where our Gwich’in hosts Marion, Marie, Derek, and Deena slept.  Here Melanie stands near the tent for a little shelter from the cold wind.

(Above)  Melanie photographs out toward ANWR while we wait for the food and kitchen supplies to arrive.  It was approaching 10 p.m., we had hiked 4 to 5 miles up mountain, and hadn’t had dinner yet.  Photography was a good distraction from hunger!

(Above)  Nay Quoy accompanied us up to camp and slept about 100 feet uphill from the main structure.  His job?  Keep an eye out for any approaching bear.  Two years earlier, Marion had shot and killed a grizzly that was circling camp and acting aggressive.  Nay Quoy was quite at home sleeping out doors.  He made a nice little “nest” in the tundra grass, curled up, and covered his snout with his long bushy tail.  I suspect that sleeping in 30 degree temperatures is a piece of cake for the dogs in Arctic Village.

(Above)  After dinner we were treated to a midnight sunset.  These mountains are part of the Brooks Range in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  Melanie and I were exhausted, but would not have missed this show for anything . . .

(Above)  The next morning Derek was up and ready to go.  He followed me down to the stream when I fetched water, which provided me with the opportunity to carry both the water and Derek back up the hill.  It was just the beginning of a rigorous day.

(Above)  Marion Swaney got a fire going in the morning and made a pot of “cowboy coffee” — pot, water, grounds.  Filters?  We don’t need no stinkin’ filters!  The coffee was delicious and, thankfully, hot.  Spit out the grounds or chew on them — your choice.

(Above)  We took two hikes that day — a four mile round trip hike to the top of the ridge and back in the morning, and then a 12 mile round trip hike to another mountain overlooking Old John Lake in the afternoon / evening.  The morning hike provided us with this view of Arctic Village and the Brooks Range mountains in the distance.

(Above)  No grizzlies, only ground squirrels on our morning hike.

(Above)  On the afternoon / evening hike, Jim, David, Judith, and I were treated to more spectacular high-elevation scenery.  We were well above tree line for most of this hike, and we were glad for the cooler temperatures considering all the climbing we were doing.

(Above)  David (holding camera), Jim, and Judith on the peak overlooking Old John Lake.  It was a spectacular 360-degree vista.  We ate some power bars and trail mix and got ready for the six miles (mostly downhill) back.

(Above)  Jim – carrying the rifle — follows David and Judith on the trail back toward hunting camp.  After 16 miles in one day, I’m sure my friends all slept as well as I did that night!

Posted October 29, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Landscapes, Nature and Wildlife, Uncategorized

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Self-Published Book — Selected Black & White Images   1 comment

I have put together a book of selected black & white images from the past 25 years.  You can see an online version here.  There is a “View Fullscreen” option in the lower right hand corner that makes it easier to view.

I hope you enjoy the preview!

Posted October 5, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

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Alaska Trip (Part 3) — Glaciers and Orcas   6 comments

Okay, so we’re on “Part 3” and still on the first day.  Sorry about that.  I’ll try to streamline it when we hit Denali.

Anyway, back on the boat . . .

(Above)  Aialik Glacier from . . . a long way off.  The scale in Alaska is so mammoth that I really had a difficult time judging distances.  The trees along the shoreline give you an indication however.

(Above)  Aialik Glacier as our ship closed in.  Still difficult to judge the distance and size.

(Above)  How about adding a boat for some size perspective?  Yep.  That’s a 400 foot high wall of ice, and we were probably still a quarter-mile away from it.

Oh yeah, it sometimes does this (random but pretty cool YouTube video).

(Above)  Some friendly (they’re waving to us) and intrepid kayakers making their way through the floating ice.

(Above)  The blue color of the ice was amazing.  And the ice in the water “fizzed” as oxygen trapped in it for thousands of years was released.

(Above)  As a photographer I really appreciated the subtle lighting and colors, but ice cracked like thunder from time to time.  Enough to make me jump and snap me out of concentrating on photography a few times.

(Above)  Almost all of Alaska’s glaciers are receding as the earth’s climate warms.  We have to solve this fossil fuel thing.  We simply have to.  There’s no other choice.

(Above)  One more shot as we departed for the trip back to Seward.  Even two-level boats look tiny in comparison to Aialik.

(Above)  On the way back we came across a family of Orcas.  I believe the large dorsal fin on this one indicates that this is the primary male of the pod.

(Above)  I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get a bit closer to them, but the captain was (rightfully) cautious of intruding.  I see a 400mm or 500mm lens in my future.  Anyone have a couple thousand dollars to loan me?  :o)

(Above)  I can’t remember the name of these birds.  We had a real birding expert in our group — Paul Brubaker.  I’m sure he could tell us off the top of his head!

(Above)  One more sea lion photo.  This one was obviously looking for attention.  You could hear him/her hundreds of yards away over the noise from the boat engine.

(Above)  About a half hour outside of Seward — as we started our journey to Denali — we stopped off at Exit Glacier.  Here’s your obligatory tourist photo of Bruce and Melanie.

(Above)  People from our group stand near the glacier and give some perspective as to size.  All along the trail up to the glacier were signs showing were the glacier had extended to in past decades.  Again, what is happening to our climate needs to be reversed.

(Above)  Dirty, blue, and beautiful.  No saturation added to the photo.  That’s the actual color my camera captured.

Peace out.

Posted August 23, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Landscapes, Seascapes, Travel Photography, Uncategorized

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Alaska Trip (Part 1) — 20 Marvelous and Tiring Days   3 comments

We just returned from a nearly three-week trip to Alaska.  This was not your typical Alaska vacation trip — it was a learning tour.  Actually, two separate learning tours with an organization called New Community Project.  NCP is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2003 by David Radcliff — our learning tour leader — with the encouragement and financial support of other like-minded individuals.  According to New Community Project’s website:

“Our neighbors are struggling, the earth is a mess, many people don’t seem to know or care, and we all wonder what we can do about it.  Our mission: to provide resources that challenge us, experiences that change us, opportunities that channel our passions, and a community that gives us hope.”

How does Alaska fit in, and what did we do?  The short version:  We hiked.  We ascended mountains.  We camped in tents.  We took sink baths and stream baths.  We improved a handicap-access trail in a national park.  We cleaned a church . . . in a native Alaskan village . . . above the arctic circle.  We cooked.  We ate caribou stew and PBJ’s.  We washed dishes.  We used an outhouse.  We learned about native plants.  We learned about an ancient noble culture.  We learned that you run from a moose but you stand your ground against a grizzly (yeah, good luck with that last one).  We carried a rifle for protection on some of our arctic hikes.  We talked to Gwich’in elders and soaked in their wisdom, and shared in their sorrows and frustrations as their world slowly changes.  Most importantly, we talked to each other . . . about our individual lives and our shared concern for our earth and its inhabitants.  And that’s only a part of what we experienced.

Oh yeah, and I took a lot of photographs.  Somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000.  I promise not to post them all.

To begin, here are a few photos from my first hour with camera in hand.  The location was Seward, Alaska — our jumping off point.

(Above)  Melanie and I were up early so we decided to walk down to the waterfront.  This photo was my reward for getting my butt out of bed.

(Above)  We snagged a couple of coffees and watched the commercial and charter fishing boats head out.

(Above)  Not an eagle.  Just a plain old seagull . . . flying across a foggy Resurrection Bay.

(Above)  Weather vane, monument, and mountain tops peeking through the early morning fog.

Posted August 22, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

A Target Rich Day   5 comments

Some days I just carry my camera around and find absolutely nothing to shoot.  And then there are better days, like today . . .

(Above)  Before I even made it downtown I spotted these backlit maple leaves at St. John’s Episcopal Church on West Chestnut Street.

(Above)  Then an hour or so later I spotted these purple coneflowers on Queen Street.

(Above)  There were lots of musicians down at Central Market today.  This guy was playing his harmonica, with cigarette at the ready.

(Above)  This afternoon I spotted a whole garden of day lilies (one of my favorites to photograph) near Buchanan Park.

(Above)  And finally, while taking our Golden Retriever (Penny) for a walk, a hawk landed on a fence while we were walking down an alley near our house.  I rarely take my camera on walks with Penny.  Today I did, and this was my reward.  A good day of photography indeed!

Posted June 16, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

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Before and After   Leave a comment

Someone recently asked me if doing post-processing of my photos made that much of a difference in picture quality.  The answer is an unqualified yes.  As an example, below is a photo that I took on Friday evening.  The one on the left is straight out of the camera.  The one on the right is after about two minutes of working on it in Adobe Lightroom 4.  Simple adjustments were made to brightness, contrast, and color tone.  Then I used the brush tool to brighten and clarify the detail on the bell of the saxophone.

I can’t remember ever posting a photo straight out of the camera.  And given what can be done with software — the modern-day version of the dark room — I doubt that I ever will.  Software doesn’t necessarily create a false image.  Sometimes it allows me to reproduce what my eye really saw.

Posted May 20, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

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False Arrest   Leave a comment

NYU student Alexander Arbuckle believed that the New York City police were being unfairly portrayed during recent Occupy protests.  So he decided to do a photojournalist project by creating a video designed to show the police activities in a more positive light.  He was arrested while filming and charged with a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct for standing in the street and blocking traffic.

Only he wasn’t in the street — he was on the sidewalk.  On Monday, a judge dismissed the charge after multiple videos taken during the arrest showed that Arbuckle never left the sidewalk.  In fact, the videos showed that all the protesters were on the sidewalk too.  The only people blocking traffic in the streets were the police.  Arbuckle appears to have been singled out for using a video camera.

“It was a total fabrication,” Arbuckle said. “When I was first arraigned in February, they offered me an ACD [Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal]. It would have been nice to have everything over and done with, but it would have been an acknowledgment of guilt, and I knew I wasn’t guilty.”

The fabricated arrest story was told under oath by the arresting officer.  That is perjury.  Will the officer be held accountable?

Posted May 18, 2012 by ~ Bruce in America in Decline, Uncategorized

Another Musical Saturday Morning   Leave a comment

Nothing like sunshine and pleasant temperatures to bring people out to Central Market, especially the street musicians.  The music this morning was great for anyone who took the time to listen.  I’ll never understand people who simply walk by a musician and drop a dollar in the case.  Stop and listen.  Seriously, life is better when you do.  They don’t play just for the money.  They play because they love it.

(Above)  Rockin’ with a ukulele.

(Above)  This guy was playing some great Led Zeppelin licks, so I struck up a conversation with him.  He asked what was my favorite Zeppelin tune and I said “Kashmir”.  So he tuned his guitar to DADGAD like Jimmy Page used to and played Kashmir.  Fantastic!

(Above)  I’ve photographed this guy before.  In fact, his photo is on the cover of my self-published book, A Year In The City.  Today he was playing a song I hadn’t heard in years — What’s Going On, by 4 Non Blondes.  He sang it well, and it sounded great on the acoustic guitar.

Posted May 12, 2012 by ~ Bruce in People, Street, Uncategorized

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Foggy Playground   Leave a comment

Before the beautiful sunny day for yesterday’s Rafiki Africa African Festival and 5k Run, we had a cool and foggy spring morning.  Before the sun burned the fog away I was able to capture this backlit playground at the school a few hours before the run started.  Processed in Adobe Lightroom 4 and converted to the cream-colored black & white preset.

Posted May 6, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

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Bonus Photography   2 comments

This morning I had the privilege of photographing Rafiki Africa’s African Festival and 5k Run.  I had been approached more than a month ago by our friend and neighbor, Tom, to document the event, which I was happy to do.  Melanie will be writing more about the Rafiki Africa event in a future blog.  For now, it will suffice to simply say that it was a fun, energetic, and really remarkable day.

I’ve photographed charity events before.  I enjoy putting my hobby and passion to good use, but it’s not exactly artistic photography.  I simply sort through and find the best photos, burn them to disc, and then turn them over to the event organizer.  However, today there was a little something extra that always makes the photography more fun — children.  In this case, with face paint and dancing too.  Out of 600+ event photos (I haven’t even looked at them all yet), I couldn’t wait to download these two “bonus shots” based on what I saw in the viewfinder.

Definitely what I consider to be “bonus photography”!

Posted May 5, 2012 by ~ Bruce in People, Uncategorized

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Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia PA   4 comments

My wife asked me what I wanted to do this past Sunday, my 55th birthday.  I chose (somewhat bizarrely according to my next door neighbor and friend, Tom) to visit one of the photography spots that has long been on my must-see list, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.  ESP operated from 1829 to 1971, and is now a Philly tourist attraction.  A national historic landmark, ESP was “home” to such notables as Al Capone and Willie Sutton.  Founded on the Quaker principles that any man could see the errors of his ways with enough solitude, reflection, and penitence, Eastern State Penitentiary apparently had a hard time convincing its residents as evidenced by the number of escape attempts through the decades.  This included a twelve-man escape through a somehow undiscovered 97 foot long tunnel in 1945.

The photography opportunities at ESP are wonderful, but are best obtained with the benefit of a tripod and long exposures due to the low lighting in the cells and hallways.  Every photo below was taken with a tripod, some exposures pushing 30 seconds.  Many of the images are three photos (0 EV, +2 EV, -2 EV) merged together with Photomatix HDR software.  That is one of the reasons that I ended up with 208 photos in approximately 5 hours (and that’s after erasing poor exposures on site).  I highly recommend Eastern State Penitentiary for any photographer or history buff.  I’ll be going back since I only covered about half of the grounds during our visit.

All photos: Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA (my photographer’s agreement requires me to say that!)

Posted April 16, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Architecture, Travel Photography, Uncategorized

Photoshop Elements Action: Instant ColorBar   1 comment

Earlier today I found a free photoshop elements action called Instant Color Bar.  Truth be told, I’m not exactly sure what to do with it — but I love how it allows you to isolate the various colors in an image.  If nothing else it could be used to help select appropriate colors for matting and framing.  Or maybe to identify similarly colored images for display grouping.  But really, it just looks cool.

Many thanks to Rita for sharing this action for free, and for her great blog The CoffeeShop Blog.  Drop by and check out her site if you have a chance.

Here are some examples that I cranked out in less than half an hour:

Posted April 8, 2012 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

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