Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sail Boston

"Sail Boston" was here from June 17 - 22. The previous "tall ships" festival was 17 years ago!

I grabbed my camera and a few lenses and headed off to see if I could capture the spirit of it. I elected to not venture across Fort Point Channel to the Fan Pier, Fish Pier, and the Seaport World Trade Center (a.k.a. Seaport District) side of Boston, where it turns out, many of the ships were docked. It was a really hot day, and the masses of crowds coming over the bridges kind of scared me away. There were still plenty of people on or near Rowe's Wharf where I spent a portion of my time. From Rowe's, Central, and Long Wharfs, I was able to see some of the ships, albeit at a distance, that were docked in the Seaport District. While I have some misgivings about what I may have missed, I ended up capturing some views of Boston on a hot summer day that I would likely not have otherwise obtained. The truth is that these tall ships look about 1000 times better when they have full sails up and are sailing in the water. When docked, the sails are (mostly) down, and they don't quite have that same majestic beauty.

 This is a Netherlands vessel, the Europa, docked at Rowe's Wharf:


Some of the "scene" at Rowe's Wharf:

Rowe's Wharf Scene

I asked these police officers very nicely if I could take their picture. They said yes, but from the looks of the gentleman on the left, I'm thinking maybe he would have preferred I move on elsewhere. I thought they looked very professional in their official outfits.

Officers On Duty

The World Trade Center has a lot of flags, which on this day were behind substantial rigging.

International Rigging

I got a shot off of the popular Esmeralda, just before yet another tourist cruise ship blocked my view.


This guy jumped in the water on a $100 bet from a friend. The Boston Harbor is indeed where one normally does *not* see anyone swimming, but this guy made a quick $100. He just had to make it to the next pier, and it wasn't that far away.

Betting Swimmer

At one point I saw this police boat barreling along, with lights flashing. Hope they fixed whatever the problem was.

Environmental Police

This ship seemed a bit small to be classified as a "Tall Ship" but I liked the way it looked, especially from this particular angle.

View From a Pier

Here's a famous Boston clock, seen from Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.

Clock Tower

Kids in public fountains on a hot day? How can you beat that?

Invisible Partner

I watched this street performer for a short while during his last act.

Street Performer Smile

Line Up Those Hips

Yes, he really ran and jumped over all those people, while doing a somersault in the air. Well done!!

Midair Flight

Sprinkler Wash Cycle

Fountain Highlights

Here's a closer crop of the previous image:

Fountain Highlights v2

Fountain Cascade

Tall Sails

All photos © 2017, all rights reserved.  Contact me for licensing or to order prints.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


After reading up online about "how to photograph fireworks" - there are several sites that claim to have the recipe - I decided to give it a try. This was a new adventure for me. Photographing fireworks provided a good opportunity to go outside my current photographer comfort zone. It turns out that almost every setting on the camera is completely different to photograph fireworks: manual mode, fixed ISO and f-stop, focus fixed at infinity, tripod required, and *really long* exposures.

Nearby Milford was one of many local towns with a fireworks display last night, and so off I went, to "fight the crowds" and get some fireworks photos. Turns out the crowds weren't too bad. The hardest part was realizing as I got close to the venue that the police had closed the street from cars, and so I had to park about a 15 minute walk away. Not a big issue, though I do have an older kind of heavy tripod, which made the walk a tad more challenging.

My Olympus camera has three different long exposure modes: bulb, "live time", and "live composite." Also, it's got a built-in fireworks scene mode. I tried 'em all except for bulb, which requires one to hold the shutter button down for the entire shot. Live time is the same as bulb, except one pushes the shutter button once to start the exposure and once again to end it, which is a lot easier. Live composite mode is a unique special mode Olympus makes available in some of their cameras. I'm pretty sure no other major camera manufacturer offers it. In live composite mode, one first sets a time, which is the time of each picture. I tried 1, 2.5, and 4 seconds, which are all recommended values for fireworks. When the user first presses the shutter the initial "background" shot is taken. Then when pressed again, the composite sequence begins with each shot adding to the image, but only where pixels are brighter than the existing. This is equivalent to the Photoshop "lighten" blend mode. The nice thing about this approach, is that the background doesn't get over-exposed. I can check the progress of the image on the camera's LCD screen and watch as each fireworks explosion "adds" to the image, stopping the composite exposure when it looks about right.

Alien Invasion
25 1 sec exposures at f/11

Echo Burst
13 x 1 sec.

Special Orb
3 x 1 sec.

Las Vegas Neon
12 x 1 sec.

Double Fountain
17 x 1 sec.

19 x 1 sec.

18.7 sec.

Sky Filler
11 x 2.5 sec.

8 x 4 sec.

Green Ghost
6.8 sec.

Red Feet
Fireworks Scene Mode, 4 sec.

Crowd Pleaser
23.7 sec.

All photos © 2017, all rights reserved.  Contact me for licensing or to order prints.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Life is a Tree Full of Cherries

By some wonderful quirk of fate, we happen to have the most enjoyable cherry tree in our very own front yard. Not only is it pleasing to behold, it serves up massive amounts of delicious tart cherries this time of year.

Photographing the tree and its cherries is an annual challenge of mine. While prior years have yielded some okay photos, I've not been overly pleased with the results. This year, I chose to make an extra effort to see if I can display the cherries in a way which really shows off their "cherriness." You be the judge, but I think at last I've succeeded.

Note that the cherries are not quite fully ripe in these photos, and that is why their color leans toward orange, rather than true red. Even in the two days or so since these photos were taken prior to this post, they have turned just a bit more red, and less orange. I think the deep orange color shown here gives them a kind of translucency in the sun and gives them more "pop."

Take a look. They are as yummy as they appear. Go nature!

Portal to Cherries

Sun Drenched Cherries

Cherries Up Close and Personal

Cherry Burst in the Sky

Semi-hidden Cherries

Sky-backed Cherries

Cherries Coming At You

Points of light becoming round diffuse blobs is sometimes referred to as "bokeh" in a photograph. This is a side effect of the background of the image being beyond the current depth of field (area of the picture which is in focus.) The quality of an image's bokeh refers to the smoothness or harshness of the out of focus background blur. It doesn't need to contain smooth round blobs, but if there are any bright lit areas in the background, that is how good "bokeh" typically makes them look. Often this renders photos more pleasing to the eye, and is usually preferred to having everything in sharp focus. However, having the entire frame in focus can be perfectly desired for, say, a wide landscape/scenery shot.

I don't really know who's reading this blog, so I occasionally describe such nerdy photography details as this. If you already know about "bokeh", or don't really care, and just want to look at the pictures, my apologies for the interruption:) After checking out the overall image, look at the bokeh in this next photo.

Dancing Cherries

Cherries Above

All photos © 2017, all rights reserved.  Contact me for licensing or to order prints.