A Long Cold Winter in New Jersey

Next time I decide to get a new camera I think I’ll wait until the springtime! It’s been a very long and cold winter here in New Jersey and it’s been difficult to get outside to take some photos.  It’s been snowing every other day for the past month and I found myself fearful of taking my camera outside to take a picture. I was afraid to get snowflakes on it. Will I ruin my lens? Can my lens actually operate in 0 degree weather? Perhaps a more seasoned photographer out there could advise me as to the wisdom of taking a really good camera out into bad weather. I guess a reasonable answer is, if no one took their camera out into the bad weather we’d have no pictures of the snow or rain. But how do you protect your camera and is it reasonable for a newbie to avoid extreme weather conditions?

My time has not been wasted during these harsh winter months. In between shoveling feet of snow and driving very carefully I’ve been looking for some keen camera angles and waiting for a break in the weather to snap a few winter scenes. Here are a few I was able to get the other day in about 36 degree weather (which felt quite warm!).

The picture below was taken along a walking path in the Saddle River County Park (Saddle Brook area) in NJ. What I liked about this picture was this small area where it was just water. The entire lake was frozen except this one little section and for me it was the first sign that Spring was just around the corner (11 days from the time of this post).

Winter in New Jersey

Winter in New Jersey

Here’s a picture of the entire frozen lake. The photo above was taken way down the other end of this picture. You can’t tell where the earth and water begin or end. What I like about this picture is the shadow of the tree branches on the snow. It reminds me of the roots of the tree below the surface.

Tree Roots in the Snow.

Roots in the Snow

Here’s another view of the frozen lake:

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The Thaw Begins

Even the bench can’t wait for Spring!

Reflections of Winter 2015.

Reflections of Winter 2015

Along this path:

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A Winter Path

We found this:

A Cozy Crazy Cabin in the Woods

A Cozy Crazy Cabin in the Woods

How nice is this?! I think this little cabin is the owner’s way to bring color and excitement to the not so colorful white world of winter.

Our walk this past weekend was nice, but my face was frozen toward the end of our walk. I felt a little rusty using my big fat new camera out in the cold, but I think I did ok. My camera didn’t freeze or stop working, nothing happened to the lens or buttons. It was my first “bad weather outing” with it. No precipitation was falling out of the sky but it was a bit windy and there was snow on the ground in some places. Nevertheless, my camera is safe and sound with me waiting for our next big photo shoot! LOL!

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My Big Fat New Camera Takes It’s First Picture (Beware! It’s not pretty!)

I always dreamed that if I ever got a DSLR camera, the first picture I took would be the Holy Grail of pictures. It would be the most beautiful picture I ever took in my entire life! I would show this picture to my family and friends, their jaws would drop open, while their eyes feasted on the most beautiful picture they ever saw.  They would look at me with eyes wide open and think, “Wow! She’s a natural-born photographer!” I would smile and beam and be a proud of my first DSLR picture.  It would be such a grand  picture it would go viral and its vibrant colors would flash across computers around the world! Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way. Oh yeah, jaws will drop open upon seeing this picture, and people will indeed contemplate my skills as a “photographer,” but not in the way I hoped. Sigh…here’s the picture:

Bad Buttons Pic

Wow, what happened?  If you’re wondering if my dog is okay, yes she is. I did think I flashy-thinged her and though perhaps I wiped out her memory after she got hit with that bright white blinding flash – and thankfully she can still see!  Yikes.

There is good news, besides my dog being okay. I’ve been practicing since I took that picture and I’m getting better already!!! One thing I like about My Big Fat New Camera is the controls are very user-friendly and I have a feeling the picture you see above is the worst picture this big fat new camera will ever take.

I can’t wait to share them with you! Here is a picture I took on the fly today (pun intended). I was trying to photograph a few birds in my yard today and I looked up and saw this plane flying over and I quickly snapped this picture. It’s not crystal clear, but I don’t know…It’s the best airplane photo I EVER taken in my life. Oh, I’m going to really like My Big Fat New Camera – a lot!

Small Plane Pic

My Big Fat New (but cheap) Tripod

Well, today I found out there is a whole lot more to photography than just My Big Fat New Camera and I will be talking a lot about that over the next few posts. Today, I used a tripod for the very first time, or…ummmm…at least I tried to use a tripod for the very first time. You would think this is a simple no brainer thing to use, but it wasn’t. (My Big Fat New Camera wasn’t harmed in any way – only what’s left of my pride!)

So, I decided that I’d take out My Big Fat New Camera and take pictures of birds in my backyard and of course I thought the tripod would be the best thing to steady the camera on, and of course I would “look” like a “real photographer” too!  (Feel free to laugh out loud – it’s ok!) Sadly, I would not look like a real photographer today. If you were here in my living room watching me try to put the camera on the tripod I think you would find that I looked more like I Love Lucy trying to prove to Ricky that she could be a photographer, because really now, who doesn’t know how to put a camera on a tripod?  Apparently I don’t. Let me explain.

Now, I know there is a little screw thread that fits into the camera itself. Check…ok…I get it…easy schmeasy. How hard could this possibly be? Not hard, but HOW do I do this? Do I screw the camera onto the tripod or do I screw the tripod onto the camera? I set up the tripod got the camera, set it on the thread, and kind of walked the camera around onto the tripod. Awkward, but I got it done. The camera is now firmly on the tripod! Hooray!

I gingerly released my grip of the camera to feel how steady it was, but I could tell if I let go the camera would flop over. Hmmmmm. Ok now I figured I had to tighten the various joints of the head so the camera would sit straight on the tripod. Well, no matter how tight I made the joints, the camera still flopped over. Well, there is a simple reason for this, it’s a Big Fat Cheap Tripod.

So NOW, I have to get My Big Fat New Camera off the tripod and (surprise, surprise) I can’t do it. So I pick up the tripod with My Big Fat New Camera still attached and I sit on the couch, hold the camera and turn the tripod upside down with its legs sticking up in the air and successfully unscrew the camera from the tripod. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

I read about how awful the tripods included in camera bundles can be and this certainly felt like a cheap tripod, but I didn’t want it to be awful! When I first unpacked the tripod I thought (or hoped) perhaps it was sooooo lightweight because it was a superior quality. (Yeah, sometimes my own thoughts make me laugh too.) Cheap is cheap and this tripod is not going to work for My Big Fat New Camera.

Oh, by the way here’s my first tip from user experience for all you wanna-be photographer’s out there. There is a lever on the platform where you screw the camera onto. When you pull that lever, it releases the part that contains the screw thread so you can screw that piece onto the camera and THEN place that piece onto the tripod. Yup…it’s that simple.

My Big Fat Love of Photography!

I’ve been in love with photography since I was a little kid all the way back in the 1960’s! I found one of the very first pictures ever taken by me. A pigeon on the streets of Jersey City. I took this photo with what I can only describe as a box camera that probably was new in the 1940’s. As you can see, my photo is very out of focus, but I remember being thrilled with it as a child! I TOOK THIS PICTURE!

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Little pigeon. Photo taken in late 1960s. Jersey City, NJ.

 

Below is a photo I took in the early 1970’s.  It’s a brand new World Trade Center taken from the rooftop of our apartment building on Kennedy Boulevard a few blocks away from St. Peter’s College. I watched the World Trade Center go up and saw them fall. My heart broke that day. I took many photos of the WTC over the years and I’m going to try to find them to post here. The domed building you see on the right hand side of the photo is St. Aedan’s Church on Bergen Ave in Jersey City. It’s a very beautiful church and I have many fond memories of my time attending that church. The large red building on the left hand side of the picture was known as the Goodman’s building. Goodman’s was a popular furniture store at that time. (I still have a small cedar chest from Goodman’s that they used to give to all the high school kids who visited during one of the senior class trip days.)

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World Trade Center early 1970s. View from Jersey City, NJ.

 

Both of these photos bring back really good memories and that’s one of the reasons I love photography! The wonderful snapshots of moments in time that bring back wonderful memories of days gone by. Events, people, family, friends, history, news, all recorded in colors and shapes on paper! Those shapes and forms are meaningless to some and priceless to others. It all depends on who’s doing the looking!

My new camera is on its way and I’m going to learn to use it like a pro! This blog will detail my journey from long time photography novice to an experienced Pro. I can’t wait to hear from folks who can impart their knowledge to give me the best tips to become the best photographer I can be!