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Snakes, History and Other Things

June 23rd, 2013

Snakes, History and Other Things

This past month I took a family vacation to the Shenandoah. When I shoot vacation photos, even though they are spontaneous, I am always questioning light and composition. I delete a lot of photos now that I use digital-don’t have to pay someone to develop my bad shots anymore.

Some of my all time personal favorites are in this month’s batch. We stayed at a remote resort(I use that word loosely). The photo of the canoes was taken one morning on their lake which had beautiful views of the Blue Ridge. The plantation photo was shot our last day at Ashlawn-President Monroe’s home. It’s a very modest farm compared to Jefferson’s Monticello which it looks down upon. The garden bench was composed at Monticello. It personifies Spring to me.

Several of the photographs were taken at Robinson Nature Center, just around the corner from my home. The blooming thistle, the Middle Patuxent River, the lens flare in the forest and the snake. So why the snake? The Simpsonville Mill Ruins are located on its site. Columbia used to be called Simpsonville. In fact Verizon still uses that name instead of Columbia. Maryland is known for its mill towns-a fact I did not know until Robinson came into being in 2011. This snake was resting and molting on the frame of the old ruins the morning I caught this photo. The staff at Robinson has done much work over the past year and a half to remove debris so we can see this relic from the mid 1700’s. It amazing that it is almost in my backyard. This rat snake appreciates this little piece of important Maryland history in her own way. So my photo is a nod to that.

I hope you enjoy my photos this month.

Discovering your Photographic Niche

May 19th, 2013

Discovering your Photographic Niche

For those of us who love looking at pictures, we know that many well known and famous photographers focus on one or two specific areas of photography. Annie Leibovitz shoots mainly portraits. Ansel Adams’ speciality was California landscapes especially Yosemite. Galen Rowell was a well known landscape photographer. It’s not that these photographers didn’t shoot anything else, but they specialized in one or two areas.

This makes sense to me as a photographer. This way one can become an expert at taking photos in one or two areas of concentration. Many of my photo buddies like to go to the wildlife refuges to shoot birds. I tag along and practice my bird shots especially when they are in flight. My photo mentor specializes in architecture so he has photo walks that include many of the monuments and buildings of Washington DC. I love these walks. I get to see DC through my camera lens and am able to pause and reflect on the majesty of America’s symbols.

My volunteer work at the local nature center can include events where there are children. This is a whole new area for me, and one I am not as comfortable shooting. But when I view a child’s face through the lens and see their wonder when looking at an insect, I am reminded of my own childhood when so many firsts happened. Catching that innocence in a photograph is truly an art-one I aspire to.

From my galleries, you can see that I have not found my speciality yet, but I am sure having fun trying. My new photos posted this month include the Capitol at twilight, ospreys and eagles, cherry blossoms in DC, and several sunrises over the Atlantic in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

I hope you enjoy viewing my photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Seeing the World in Black and White

April 21st, 2013

Seeing the World in Black and White

I usually shoot photos in color because that is what my digital SLR defaults to. Long gone are the days where we bought film either in black and white or color. Now we can post process in Photoshop and turn any photo into a black and white photo. On occasion I will turn my photos into black and white especially when visiting a historic site. By looking at them, I can visualize the events that took place there.

Recently though I have looked at all of the photos I choose to work on in the post processing stage, and the result of this effort has been eye-opening. In many cases, looking at black and white gives me a whole new perspective on the photo and its subject matter.

When looking at architecture, like my photos of the Hampton House Plantation in Baltimore Maryland, I see the strength and majesty of the buildings. When I view photos with people in them, like the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk in my gallery, I am reminded of the snapshots of my parent’s and grandparent’s youth; very nostalgic to say the least! The most stark results I see though are with wildlife-sunsets, birds, animals, and plant life. The lack of color in my sunset or geese and heron photos does not diminish their beauty. I believe it enhances it.

This month I have created a whole new gallery of black and white photography. Please take a look and enjoy seeing life without color!

150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

April 6th, 2013

150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

If you have followed my website, you are aware that I love to photograph historic sites, but Gettysburg stands out, especially during this milestone year. Its hallowed ground was a major turning point for our country, for photography in general, and taking photos of wars, the dead, and battles in particular. So in honor of this important part of our history, I am creating a gallery just for Gettysburg.

Rather than espouse my views on this battle and how it changed us as a nation, I am going to list some well-known and little known facts below.
Please enjoy these tidbits as well as my new gallery on the Gettysburg Battlefield.

• The Battle of Gettysburg ended General Lee's northern invasion.
• The 3-day battle (July 1-3, 1863) had the largest number of casualties in the Civil War.
• When President Lincoln dedicated the National Cemetery after the battle in November 1863 with his now famous Gettysburg Address, he redefined the war's purpose.
• More than a third of all photos of soldiers taken during the Civil War were taken at Gettysburg
• Photography's newest technology, wet-plate images, was used.
• While Matthew Brady made a name for himself during this war, his staff of 17, which included Alexander Gardner and Timothy O’Sullivan, took most of his 3500 photos.
• Matthew Brady is considered the father of photojournalism. His photos inspired future generations of combat photographers.
• Except for First Manassas, Brady did not take photos of the actual battles, as photography at that time required the photographer to be close to his subject.
• At the end of the war, Brady tried to get the US government to purchase his photo collection called the Gettysburg Project. They refused, and finding no more buyers, the debt Brady incurred bankrupted him.
• Brady had a studio in Washington DC. The building still exists, and I pass it often (it is near the Navy-Archives Metro Stop).

Abundant Wildlife in Florida

March 16th, 2013

Abundant Wildlife in Florida

Normally I would not choose a state to blog about especially since I do not live in Florida. But I am making an exception. I have family in both southeast Florida and southwest Florida so I travel to this state frequently. When I go, I always take my camera even if I think I may not have an opportunity to shoot.

Already in 2013 I have been to both coasts. On my second trip to the Naples area, I did not think I would have an opportunity to take any photos, but as you can see from my recent website additions, I scored! I was not only lucky enough to capture this picture perfect sunset, but I saw abundant wildlife including a very grainy photo of a Great Horned Owl and its baby (https://www.facebook.com/kathiandkim).

I also visited the Naples Botanical Garden (http://www.naplesgarden.org) for the second time. If I lived in this area, I would be shooting photos here often. It is an awesome place especially for photo enthusiasts who love to shoot wildlife and landscapes. It has a large wetlands area plus water lilies set in a variety of natural settings ( see photo in my wildlife gallery). I arrived early in the day and captured alligators, herons, ibises, and egrets, even a snowy egret. I watched for over an hour a group of these wading birds eating and fighting over territory. I even stood within four feet of a little blue heron (in my wildlife photo gallery). Since I had been to the Gardens before, I knew when to arrive and where to go first to optimize my shoot. Homework, especially when it comes to unpredictable nature, is always important. This way a photographer has a chance of capturing the unusual and hard to get photos.

As I review the photos on my website that I share with you, I realize that a good portion come from southern Florida just above the Everglades. While Florida is ranked fourth in this country in population, it has much unspoiled land. I am fortunate to be able to visit this part of Florida several times a year. In the coming months and years as we, as a society, grapple with the effects of climate change, we need to just take a look at photos like the ones on my site to remember that our wildlife habitats are very much affected by our indifference. The number one rule of any wildlife photographer is to leave each area visited untouched or better than it was before your visit. I follow this rule religiously even if it means not getting the once in a lifetime shot. I always want there to be a “next time”.

Using My Photographic Skills to Help Others

February 20th, 2013

Using My Photographic Skills to Help Others

I am always trying to find ways to get wide exposure for my photos. One personally satisfying way I discovered early on was to combine my volunteer activities with my passion for photography. Many of the photos I include on my website are part of shoots where I share my photos with the not for profit organization I am shooting. Colonial Williamsburg (http://www.history.org) and Robinson Nature Center in Columbia, Maryland (http://www.robinsonfoundation.org/about/robinson-nature-center.html) are two such places.

With Colonial Williamsburg I do it on an informal basis. When I visit, I send photos to the Foundation, and I post them on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/kathiandkim), and their Facebook page.

With Robinson Nature Center, I have a more formal arrangement. Since I am located two miles from the Center, I volunteer my time as the event photographer for programs. I also walk the grounds, the trails, and the river area on my own time, shooting wildlife and nature. In turn, these photographs are used as records that help the Center learn more about the species that inhabit their land. In addition, Robinson has the ability to document all of their programs. They also post some of the photos on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/RobinsonNatureCenter?fref=ts). As a non-profit organization, they get credit for the volunteer hours, which help immensely with funding and grants.

I thoroughly enjoy these events where I can participate by doing something I love and also contribute to an organization I believe in. I am involved in my community in a rewarding way that fits my lifestyle. I have spent many a quiet hour or two, walking the beautiful trails, camera in hand, just waiting for the right opportunity to find a new photographic subject. Sometimes, it may be plant life and insects, and other times, it may be waterfowl on the river or the very cool ruins of the Simpsonville Mill. (http://www.robinsonfoundation.org/about/history/simpsonville-history.html)

Shooting photos with a purpose has much more meaning to me now that I can give back to my community and have fun doing it.

Planned Photos and Photos of Opportunity

January 9th, 2013

Planned Photos and Photos of Opportunity

What’s the difference? The definitions are somewhat subjective. This month I have uploaded some photos of Ft McHenry, Antietam Battlefield, which observed the 150th anniversary of the battle this past September, and Colonial Williamsburg. All of these shoots were planned. I knew I would get some flag photos at Ft McHenry, some battlefield shots at Antietam and some photos celebrating Grand Illumination (which kicks off the holiday season) at Colonial Williamsburg. What I did not plan for was the stormy clouds over Antietam that day, making for a more dramatic sky. I also did not plan on being at Ft McHenry as the sun was lowering (4 hours after I arrived), thus capturing some very cool shots of the starburst sun and the American flag. And many photos at Colonial Williamsburg were unplanned (like the one of the sun setting) as I was there for four days.

Since I have a camera in hand most days when I venture out, many photos are ones of opportunity, and I would guess that is how some great shots come about. We can sit all day at Conowingo Dam (in Maryland) and watch eagles, shooting away with our cameras, but the elusive one of the eagle grabbing a fish out of the water just happens on the eagle’s timetable not ours. We hope we get it, but we never know when or if it will happen.

This month I included several photos of opportunity. Last April during Washington DC’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival, I visited the new Martin Luther King Memorial (it opened in August 2011). It wasn’t until I viewed those photos on the computer, that I saw how powerful the two images were together. Similarly, over Thanksgiving weekend, I visited Maryland’s Science Museum. The morning sky was boring and gray, but as I was walking up the stairs of the museum during the early afternoon, I spied the Inner Harbor through the barred windows. I was very pleased with the results.

Please take a look at my planned photos as well as my photos of opportunity that I uploaded this month. And as always, enjoy!

This Photographer has a lot to be Thankful for

November 23rd, 2012

This Photographer has a lot to be Thankful for

As I write this blog on Thanksgiving, after feeding our backyard birds, squirrels and deer, I realize that as a photographer I have a lot to be thankful for.

Most of my recent photos were taken on public lands, and the National Park Service cares for most of those lands. Sometimes, as Americans, we take for granted all that is given to us. I know I do. I am awestruck when I visit Harper’s Ferry and not only experience our past there, but view the Great Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers as they converge. I am humbled when I spy a Great Blue Heron at Bombay Hook or Blackwater Wildlife Refuges. I am quieted when I walk the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg and Antietam. And I am blown away every time I cross the Golden Gate Bridge and view all of her surrounding lands.

As you view my photos, many of which are taken on these public lands, please take a moment to reflect on the greatness of our land. Better yet, take a day trip or longer and experience these wonders for yourself.

Oh and by the way, did you know that the NPS is responsible for taking care of the White House grounds?

Here is a link to the National Park Service http://www.nps.gov/index.htm.

And do enjoy!

Autumn is Here and the Livin is Easy

October 23rd, 2012

Autumn is Here and the Livin is Easy

I am taking liberties with my blog title. I so love autumn, and I have been going on photo shoots every few days. I have really witnessed falls’ colors transform before my very eyes, and it’s not over yet.

As I blogged last, our first foray was a vacation to Colonial Williamsburg. A few colors were peeking out. While focusing on a photo essay on colonial life, I took frequent breaks to check out the local wildlife. I spent my days learning the birds’ habits. I was out at the magic hours just before sunset and just after sunrise. My photo of the mockingbird and swan attest to my success in capturing these creatures. I have added both to my new bird gallery. I also surprised a skunk. Unfortunately he surprised me too, and I did not get a good photo of him or her.

Next up was the Shenandoah National Park. Wow! That’s an understatement of the beauty there. It was a first, and we arrived and left before peak color and before the crowds. You can view some lonely roads in my new autumn gallery. The mountains were spectacular. A view of the Blue Ridge at sunset is included in my nature and wildlife gallery. I shot photos at sunset, sunrise, and all hours in between. And we were only there for 24 hours! I also captured photos of the abundant deer. Very sweet(when they aren’t eating my garden flowers).

Finally my new photos include another first trip. This time to Bombay Hook in Delaware. Here the fall was showing in the wetlands. The weather ran the gamut from poring down rain to blue skies and sun peeking through. The weather gave me a chance to shoot for over six hours. You can view some stormy photos, autumn colors and much wildlife. My personal favorite was of a Great Blue Heron taking flight. There are two pictures of that bird. You can see those photos in my nature and wildlife gallery or autumn colors or birds galleries!

Next up is Harper’s Ferry and the C&O Canal at Great Falls. I will be sharing those photos in the next few weeks. Stay tuned. But for now take a peek and enjoy the fall colors!

Summer Is Almost Over...

August 26th, 2012

Summer Is Almost Over...

And my favorite time of year to photograph is coming. I love autumn, not just because of the colors, but the light is awesome to work with. With shorter days, there is so much more to experiment with. And the colors change throughout the day as the light changes.

I hope to travel to many places nearby like the C&O Canal, the Civil War battlefields and the lakes in my town of Columbia, Maryland. First up is a trip to West Virginia in a few weeks. While the leaves are not transforming yet, the days are getting shorter. That leaves me more daylight hours to shoot. Yes, you read that right! With the less harsh light of the long summer days, there is actually better light to play with

My spouse and I are traveling to Colonial Williamsburg at the beginning of October for a week. One of my favorite places to shoot photos. They say shoot what you know. And with my many visits to CW, I know the history as well as the behaviors of the towns folk. I practice my people shots as well as my sense of place when I am visiting. The whole town becomes my laboratory. And I have so much fun creating photos that tell a story. With its rich history, it is important for visitors like myself to share in the Colonial Williamsburg story.

Check out their website at http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com.

Also check out my You Tube video of my last visit
http://youtu.be/oaVAG_SvbaA

 

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