Dancers at Sunset

I was getting antsy after a week of rain. I wanted to work on my Dancer’s at Sunset series that I had just recently started.


So, before I took a walk in the wet stuff just so I could get outside, I decided I would check the forecast one more time to see if any upcoming days were going to be dry. I knew I would most likely be getting soaked at work the next night but I wanted to feel the rain hit me without having a uniform on. Fortunately, I only got a bit drenched at work and there was no need to go for a rainy walk because the forecast called for clearing sky’s during the weekend!

I put out a general to see if any of my dancers would be interested in some sunset photos. Much to my surprise, I had eight of them show up. Well, seven really if we do not include my daughter. Britt will often, and usually reluctantly so, get the first shots in a series just because. More to test than anything, however we do turn out some really nice images like the one above.

The turn out.

The Sunset Crew
The Sunset Crew

I was very excited with the response but suddenly became very nervous. What would happen if I did not get them all in? Playing with a sunset means being on the clock. If the colors happen, they can go away just as quick as they appear. I guess that is why it is exciting, just mother nature doing her thing. No need to stress about it, there will be other days right?

Two distinct age groups and talent levels arrived, both on opposite ends of the spectrum. A great opportunity for some team bonding and I tried to make the most of it.Got some group shots of everyone and some posed shots of the younger ones before the older girls did their thing for me. Since I had to act quick, I under exposed the background and had one Speed lite set to 1/4 power and just adjusted the zoom pending on the number of girls in the frame. Nothing fancy

My Jumpers for the evening


The Captain.

SSCrew_PShepherd-35First time in front of my lens for this dancer!


And My Favorite, I have a feeling this one will go up on the wall.


My initial plan was to have everyone at the 20:27 sunset on the bay then move ocean side for the 21:48 moon rise. Impromptu plans rarely work out like you envisioned. A little late + a bit chilly x really dark = rapid loss of interest. All good though. I think the wide expanse of empty beach may have had something to do with it as well… time!

A couple of girls were able to stay long enough to capture some nice looks, but I found it very difficult to get the images where I wanted. Perhaps the darkness and focusing by flashlight had something to do with it.. and more importantly trying to keep detail in the moon while focusing on a person.

SSCrew_PShepherd-87I have already put out the word for July’s full moon. The beauty of that is we will be getting a full Super moon, and it is still going to be light out! Picture Perfect scenarios!

Thanks for stopping by, Till next time!


300 Scorched

So, I am giving my lecture and presentation to our new employees during orientation and I get a text from my wife. ‘You need to call me NOW!!!!’ Yes there were multiple exclamation points… What concerned me was the capital letters in now. Many of you are or may be familiar with my wife’s present condition so naturally I became a little freaked. When I called her and she told me part of our town was on fire I became less worried..even if it was only three blocks from our home. We live in an area surrounded by pine trees and sandy soil….and highly combustible during certain times of year.

Multiple Hot Spots
Multiple Hot Spots

As residents on the edge of the NJ Pine Barrens we are prone to some major forest fires every now and then. The last major one was 12 years ago. Over 1200 acres burned then but surprisingly only one house was destroyed, though many were severely damaged. I remember the huge ashes floating onto our lawn, I remember soaking our property and spraying our roof with the garden hose because of those pieces of ash.

This one “only” took 300 acres however it was much much closer and considerably more concentrated to major residential areas than the last one. In the back yards over 600 homes evacuated close. Through the efforts of the NJ State Fire Service and multiple neighborhood fire companies no homes were lost. There was some melted siding, destroyed fencing and smoke damage to many homes in the area but all remained structurally intact. Freaking amazing…While the forest guys were doing what they do best, the local departments were camped out in the back yards of the homes on the edge of the blaze. Again, an absolutely amazing job protecting the lives and properties of many families.

Less than half a mile away…the tree line runs the length of our street. This one area provided constant problems throughout the evening:

Ignition point
Ignition point

These guys were very active throughout the afternoon…

Copter drop
Copter drop
Fixed wing in on the action
Fixed wing in on the action
Fill 'er up
Fill ‘er up

There were three major spots trying to be contained and every now and then it seems one of them would flare up.

A flare up being knocked down

As things settled down a bit I received a guided tour of a contained area from some friends down the street

Section of aftermath
Section of aftermath

And then! One breaks out behind us in the state park. I was personally OK with the ones down the street, the wind was blowing away from the homes but there was no telling what this new one, out of no where, was going to do. Resources were immediately deployed and  containment was quick.


Once it got dark things were a bit eerie. Unable to see the smoke and more importantly unable to see what direction it was traveling we packed our bags just in case….Then a flare up very close to the suspected ignition point happened.

Flare up
Flare up

Wowowowowowowowwow! Later on in the evening, @10 hours after it all began the police removed the first roadblock from the corner. There would be crews working all night long but having our street opened made sleeping much easier. For me anyway. I am a bit desensitized to all the madness because of what I do but I can not even imagine the feeling those families closet to the fire felt. We got very lucky in this one. Let’s hope when the next one happens we are just as prepared and just as lucky.

Thanks for stopping by, Till next time….

Attack of the Harmless Bee

I wanted to take advantage of a day off and a minor decrease in temperature to give attention to some flowers that were in need of dead heading. The bed in which I was working are frequented by Bumblebees. Lots of them. They love the Cone Flowers. Every time I reached for a stem a bee landed right on top the flower, as if anticipating what the clippers were about to do, in order to get the last drop and spec of pollen left in the dying head. It was quite comical vying for space among the insects. I started feeling guilty taking away their food so I left a few piles for them until the new growth fills out…Just makes me wonder what they were thinking and if they were really doing this on purpose. Hey, you never know…..

BumbleBee_pSp-3 BumbleBee_pSp-4

It is the tiniest ones that could hurt the most


And since camera was in hand and I paused to allow someone to build their home.

Bird House_pSp

While this next capture has no birds or bees, I am liking the way it looks.

BumbleBee_pSp-5A quick one today, need to get back to my chores…

Thanks for stopping! Till next time

A Whirlwind Finish

A three week whirlwind of dance has come to a close and with it the end of our dance season. The end of June was the annual recital beginning with dress rehearsals,

"Secrets" Dress rehearsal Run

Followed a couple of days later with a weekend full of sold out recital performances,

Godfather _pSp

A couple of rehearsals and lots of packing for the next week then off we went to Nationals in Ocean City MD. I was not able to take pictures during the national competition. This is a whole other story which I will be leaving alone, but as always the team was amazing and scored very well for all their routines!

During my downtime from being a dance dad I was of course chasing the light. I had intended to recruit some dancers for a sunrise shoot, but at this time of year the sun rises way too early for me to stick to such a request. 5 am wake up is not my idea of a good time during a week of no work, I can not imagine the girls wanting to do it on a day they had to dance. Nevertheless, I did manage to arise early enough on one day for an attempt at getting an Ocean City sunrise. Had a small problem with some clouds getting in the way thus eliminating 95% of the color; and this turned out to be the theme of the week for me for sunrise:

Sunrise_pSpand sunset:

Sunset _pSp

I am still on the hunt for an undisturbed sunset over the water photograph, being on the east coast I need bay views but by the end of the summer I hope to have what I am seeking. Not only did the sun hide during the color hours it did a bit of hiding during the midday hours as well!

This is a view down the strip on a very stormy day from our room on the 15th floor:


Friday was the final day for competition and after all responsibilities were taken care of, it was time to do a little sightseeing! First stop was the boardwalk section at the end of the island. Ocean City has two distinct sections in their two and a half mile long boardwalk. The classic and the modern. The classic section is your typical wooden planked boardwalk with arcades and shops, a bit run down looking, old if you will.

The modern section was more to my liking. While it also had your typical boardwalk retail stores it was upbeat and filled with some quite interesting looking and uniquely named shops.

One place that I feel I have visited all too often:

NutHouse_pSpQuite tasty and recommended. An art gallery that took it to the extreme:


And some street performers that rocked! This dude is not only very talented he is also really funny and engages the crowd quite well. He can be found at The Reid Show:



Musical Performers, A large sand art display,

Last Supperl _pSp

and a few illustrative artists also were present. Our favorite artist was actually someone who uses spray paint for his pictures. We were blown away with this process and the resulting detail so we ended up purchasing one of his works. He can be found here, be sure and check out the videos. Good times.

The following day we made our way to Assateague Island to check out the wild horses:

Graze_pSpThere are about 105 of them on the island and we managed to come in contact with about 20 of them. They do not get spooked by humans but have been known to bite if you try to touch them. Just imagine the look on the face of a visitor when they pull into a trail head parking area and see this:

Respecting the Handicap Spot-pSp

We saw one that was limping and asked a park ranger if they intervene at all. They will only intervene if an animal was injured by human interaction. If the horses fight and one gets hurt natural evolution is in play. Fair enough. This is definitely a place we will be visiting again to do some camping. Maybe we will even have a few visitors stop by for dinner…I was incredibly thrilled with some of the shots I captured of these magnificent creatures. Off to the printers we will be going.

We took a beach trail as well, did not see any horses on that one but came across a road (Baltimore Avenue) that was washed out in a 1962 Nor’easter and devastated the entire area as well. Much like Sandy did to the Jersey Shore last year.


We met this little guy at the information center:

ScreechOwl _pSp

A day concluded, a wake up and a trip back home. Part of our short jaunt includes a ferry ride spanning a 17 mile channel from Delaware to New Jersey. I was hoping to have some Dolphin photos but they stayed out and away from the boat so I only was able to capture one as it was swimming. No jumps today…The jetty’s on the Delaware side are very nice aesthetically and I did manage to capture this image which eluded me on the way in.


Have a great summer, thanks for stopping by! Till next time…

A Handheld Moon…

Every article I have ever read on how to take pictures of the moon stresses the importance of a tripod, a cable release, a minimum of f14 and a shutter of @ 1/5ish second. I do not think I have ever seen a post about taking a photograph of the moon without using your tripod. Maybe they are out there somewhere, I just have not found any. While a tripod is critical as the moon is rising, two hours into its nights journey it is absolutely capable of being shot hand held.

My sudden discovery of being able to get a respectable shot of the moon hand held came purely on a whim. I had gone down to the bay to catch the full moon rising over the water. The park I intended to set up in was still closed because of Miss Sandy so I had to move down the road a bit and find direct access. I had no idea that there was a specific name for this April full moon – The Pink Moon – or as I have just discovered a moon with a partial eclipse occurring. My wife tells me it is also know as the Wind Moon. Wow, think I am a bit sheltered? I think I may shelter myself intentionally because of my field of employment (perhaps a blog on that some day?). But before that tangent develops back to this moon stuff.

Over the Bay

f32, 4 seconds, iso 400, ND filter

There are times when you absolutely, unequivocally, without a doubt need to use a tripod. I had the ND filter on because I wanted long exposures and in this case four seconds was about as slow as I could go before she became over cooked (hence, blow out or too bright). I figured that would help with the bay as well. The moon moves very fast… times I did not know if a little blur was from tripod shake (most likely) or movement from the moon. One of these months I will experiment with really long exposures and see how fast it really appears.

Done for the evening and arriving at home, as I backed in my driveway the moon was saying hi to me through the trees.Tempting me to shoot more. Conflicted I was. Had things to get done before Elementary came on. I watch four shows on TV, that is one of them. Easy enough decision when you are unpacking your car and the camera is in your hand. I found a clearing and took a couple of shots sans tripod. I was surprised at how they came out. I was even more surprised when I got them on the computer and noticed they actually had detail in them. A late night to come….

After Holmes and Dr. Watson concluded out I went…..

I had a 200 prime on my camera. This is uncropped to give you the actual view I had.  f5.6, 1/200

UncroppedK, looks every other moon shot but it is hand held and their is shape and detail.

So I took another one with a slight adjustment: f4, 1/200. And a little bit of crop….

f4, 1/200

Back to a 5.6 and now totally impressed when I zoomed in on the viewer.

5.6 1/200

Concluding with an f6.3 and just blown away. Fully Cropped.


Why did I not know this? Why didn’t anyone tell me this was possible? How may times did I pass up a moon shot because I did not want to get a tripod out of my car? I guess it is: learn the rules, break the rules, the rules are just guidelines anyway… I love learning new things! Even more so when I discover them myself rather than from an educational source…..The simple pleasures are the best……

I am an ocean boy, I love the water. Before I retired for the night I checked what time the moon was rising the next day. Perfect. Late enough for me to perform my dance dad duties and get to the beach just before it rises. But I shant bother you with more moon pictures before signing off, just a picture of the moonlight.

Moonlit ocean  Thanks for stopping by! Till next time…