Photography, Hiking, Trailrunning and BS in my spare time

Archive for January, 2011

Take a walk on the Southside

Another cloudy, gray winter day in Pittsburgh had me looking for something to do.  I got in touch with Rich and we decided to try a little street photography down in Pittsburgh’s  Southside.  The weather had left the streets mostly empty and void of any portraiture street photography.  We busied ourselves with architecture and abstracts to kill the time.

Beehive Bathroom

Alley Graffiti

Old Door Abstract

Behind the Beehive


AFC Championship Steelers 24 – Jets 19

Went over my in-laws house yesterday to watch the AFC championship down in Larry’s Man Cave.  He did a really nice job of finishing his basement complete with kitchen but the highlight has to be a TV in the bathroom so you don’t miss a second of action.

Larry's Man Cave

Larry's Man Cave kitchen


Larry's Man Cave Bathroom

Pgh Ice and the KC Storm

Tuesday morning I woke at 4:15 to be on the road by 4:45 to catch a flight going to Kansas City at 6:45.  Leaving the house I noticed a nice sheen of ice glazing everything and almost fell twice on the way to the truck.  I made it to the airport without incident but some in the area had a much harder time than me as can be seen on the following video.  This video was from the Beechview area of town which I sometimes use as a an alternative way to work.

After leaving a delayed flight from Pgh, I flew to pick up my connector at BWI.  This I did not make and spent the next 6 hours stranded in the airport waiting on flights that were delayed due to the same storm that hit Pittsburgh.  I finally made it to Kansas City at 6:30 pm.  Upon arriving and meeting a fellow employee coming from a different part of the country he informed me that the talk of the town was an upcoming winter storm the following day.

Upon leaving in the morning for the power plant we were treated to a nice sunrise while heading on Missouri state road 24.  The proverbial calm before the storm.

Morning on MO-24 - Shot with Nikon Coolpix 220

After finishing our meeting and information gathering for a current job, we started back for the airport at 2:45pm – just as the snow started.  In the hour it took to get to the airport, conditions became very bad and almost blizzard like.  I took the following picture with a camera phone from 2 miles away from the airport.

Outside KC airport - Shot with camera phone

Much to my surprise, the flight was not canceled but just delayed an hour and a half and I eventually made it back to Pittsburgh by midnight.

One for the wife

My wife, Dyan, thinks I’m crazy with this photography stuff.  I really have her wondering after sitting outside in the snow to shoot a handful of little birds…she may have a point.


White Breasted Nuthatch

Canon 7D  70-200 F/4L @ 200mm

1/1000 @ F4  (60% crop), ISO 500


Black-Capped Chickadee

Canon 7D  70-200 F/4L @ 200mm

1/1000 @ F4  (57% crop), ISO 800


Female Northern Cardinal

Canon 7D  Tamron 18-270 F/3.5 – 6.3 @ 270mm

1/400 @ F8  (70% crop), ISO 125


Tufted Titmouse

Canon 7D  Tamron 18-270 F/3.5 – 6.3 @ 218mm

1/640 @ F8  (70% crop), ISO 320

Black Water Falls SP Hike

This past Sunday I decided to take a drive down to Black Water Falls State Park in West Virginia.  This area (Canaan Valley, Dolloy Sods, Monongahela National Forest, Otter Creek Wilderness) as of late has been a favorite hiking spot of mine.  This area is also noted for it’s harsh winters and high snowfall amounts.   I woke up at 4:40am and out the door by 5:00 for the two hour and forty-five minute drive.  The previous day had seen a lot of rain in the area so I was hoping the falls would be running high.  At 7:40 I was pulling into the lodge and was setting up for my first shots at Elakala Falls on Shays Run by 8:00.  After working the falls for an hour and a half , I decided to take a ride down to the sledding area to park and take a hike to Lindy Point.  After talking with a worker I had seen down there I decided to try a hike to Table Rock after Lindy as he told me that it was about a five mile one way.  Lindy was insanely windy and I had a lot of problems keeping the tripod steady.  After about 20 minutes and frostbit fingers it was off to Table Rock.

The hike to Table Rock is for the most part on an unmaintained forest logging road.  Due to the heavy rains the previous day in two areas where the “road” cuts across a small stream, these were now torrents about 30-40 feet wide.  I had to leave the road and move through the woods through about 6-10 inches of snow until I found narrower places to cross.  Other than one instance where I spooked a turkey in the rhododendron bushes that eventually got airborne  and ended up smashing into every other branch in the forest, the hike was uneventful.  The hike did end up being a total of 14.6 miles round trip which had me very tired at the end of the day.

After getting home and reviewing the pictures, I was not totally satisfied with any of them.  In an attempt to salvage something out of the trip, I put some of the photos into the following slide show video.

My First Post…

I’ve been thinking about creating a blog for a little while now and in particular a photoblog.  I would currently categorize myself as just a hobbyist.  My interest in photography started as a kid who just loved to look at photographs.  In particular for me – landscapes.  At the age of 11, I purchased my first SLR which was a Canon AE-1 Program.  This camera came with a 50mm F1.8 kit lens and I later purchased a Canon 100mm-200mm F5.6 zoom, a quantary 28mm F2.8 wide angle and a vivitar 2x teleconverter.  Along with some filters, a flash and a bag.  I still have this gear.  For about 15 years I used this set up but did not expand as costs can be very high to a teenager.  Eventually, I shot nothing but slide as developing costs were much less as I would review the slides and only print out ones that were “worthy”.  Around the mid nineties I got completely away from photography as being in my low twenties I just didn’t have enough time to devote to make it a worthwhile endeavor.  For the next 10 years the demands of a young family, career and renovating a house while trying to eliminate debt had kept me on the sidelines.  After putting myself into a comfortable spot in my life I was recently able to fully jump back into photography.  This started off with the purchase of Canon’s new T2i DSLR.  This camera both amazed me and frustrated me.  There was no consistency with many of my shots which left me wondering if I had a lemon or inferior lenses.  After being introduced to the son of a secretary I work with who is a photographer things started to click.  He had  just reminded me of many of the things I already knew regarding photography fundamentals but in reality was not practicing.  An example of this would be focal length/shutter speed reciprocal rule where if possible you always would like the shutter speed to be the reciprocal of the focal length – at 200mm have a 1/200 shutter speed min.  This pertains to hand holding and image stabilization has helped in allowing one to slow down the shutter by 2 or 3 stops beyond this threshold but I still try keep the shutter as high as possible without harming image quality too much with a high ISO.

My interest continues to grow and currently I’m shooting with a Canon 7D.  My lenses include a Sigma 10-20 F/4-5.6, Canon 50 F/1.8 II, Canon 85 F/1.8, Canon 70-200 F/4L , Tamron 18-270 F/3.5-6.3 VC and Canon 100-400 IS F/4.5-5.6L.  I also have an Induro carbon fiber tripod and a manfrotto ball head, Canon 430EX II speedlite and various other accessories.

Photo taken with a Canon AE-1P in June of 1992 (low res scan)

A sequoia in Yosemite NP

I’m in yellow on the right at age 23