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Arcanum Level 5 Preparation

I was sick of complaining about the shitty weather. I may hate winter with the core of my very being, but as my wife said to me yesterday, “It is what it is.” To level up in the Arcanum I needed 10 new images.

So I cleared out my driveway and headed off “somewhere”. My plan was to visit every place I normally visit in the spring and summer and see what it looked like in the winter. It sucked. I don’t normally do black and white. I don’t think in black and white. I love colour. Lot’s of it.

I spent two and a half hours walking around my “neighbourhood”. These locations are all near my home. About 10 minutes to drive from one place to the other. Tripod, Nikon D5100 and Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens. I had my iPhone streaming Spotify music to my Harmon Kardon Bluetooth headset. Trance music helps my creative process. Check out Armin Van Buren and Paul Oakenfeld.

I captured a total of 40 images of which only 14 were presentable (from my perspective). For the Level 5 assignment, here are the ten I submitted to the Arcanum Cohort to review.

I captured elements of the Kingston Millstone Historic District, Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, and the middle section of Princeton University.

Three image HDR of Kingston (old Kings Town) Mill House on the Old Lincoln Highway Bridge over The Millstone River. The Mill was built in the 1800s. After combining the images in Photomatix I cropped the result and added perspective correction. I then pulled the image into Nik’s Viveza and adjusted the saturation on the red parts of the house.

NIKON D5100 20150124 3968 69 70PHOTOMATIX

The Millstone River between Kingston and Rocky Hill along River Road divides the Kingston Mill Historic District in Princeton Township (Mercer County) from the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park and Historic District.Kingston Greenways

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With white and grey everywhere why not leverage it? A three images HDR (Photomatix). I pulled the HDR into Nik’s Silver EFX Pro and applied one of the presets for the final result.

NIKON D5100 20150124 3979 Edit

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I drove from Plainsboro back through Kingston and down to Faculty Road near Princeton University. I had not walked this trail before and I thought perhaps I would find something of interest.??I was disappointed. I’m sure it’s a beautiful trail in the spring, summer and fall. Single image pulled into NIk’s Color EFX Pro.

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I drove from Faculty Road and parked on William St. on the northwestern end of the Princeton University campus. Why not get some architectural images? I have lived in the area for fourteen years. Nothing changes. Even the new buildings are built to match the architecture and feel of the old buildings. Unless you see it being built it’s hard to tell what is new and what is old.??This is a three image HDR (Photomatix). I pulled the result into Nik’s Silver EFX pro and adjusted perspective in Adobe Lightroom.

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The image HDR, treated in Nik’s Silver EFX Pro, then cropped to focus on the door itself.??Many of the older Princeton University campus buildings have these doors, seemingly place randomly on the perimeter. I have no idea where they lead.

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I walked up Streicker Walk to McCosh Walk toward McCosh Hall. Three images HDR, Silver EFX Pro, cropping.??There was a metal post near the doorway just as you enter the arch. I spent some time with Photoshop’s content aware-fill and clone stamp tool to remove the post. I think I did a decent job there.

NIKON D5100 20150124 4042 3 4PHOTOMATIX Edit

Three image HDR (Photomatix) pulled into Nik’s Silver EFX Pro. Lot’s of cropping and straightening. This is an image taken from inside the courtyard of East Pyne Hall facing toward the church.

NIKON D5100 20150124 4056 7 8PHOTOMATIX Edit

It took me over two hours to complete my “walk” about. I walked back toward Washington Road and stopped for a “quick” photo. I have photographed this door in the summer. The stone is usually covered with ivy.

NIKON D5100 20150124 4059 60 61PHOTOMATIX Edit

Three image HDR (Photomatix). I pulled the image into Nik’s Viveza and boosted the saturation, contrast and structure of the door and the lamp.

Photographic Binge Eating

You know that type of photo: amazing locations, wonderful light, colorful sunsets, starry skies, waterfalls, ocean waves, tropical beaches, brilliant colors. Most of them revealed a mastery of technique, accurate choice of location, delightful composition, masterful post-processing. Each one of those photos could have won a contest, get printed on a calendar or poster, graced the pages of a magazine or got a million likes on social networks. There was even a photo that was almost identical to Peter Lik’s Phantom, the most expensive photo ever sold.

And yet, after having seen the slideshow roll around three or four times, I was disgusted and wanted to throw my jug of beer at the screen. I even contemplated giving up landscape photography and picking up some other genre. That much beauty had left me numb and a feeling not unlike how you feel after binge eating a ton of chocolate or sweets.From “Will the Real Landscape Photography Please Stand Up?”

One of the Arcanum assignment involves doing an analysis of 10 images from at least three photographers I admire. After looking around on 500px I felt exhausted and dejected. My images are shit compared to what I found.


So being unsettled and wanting more out of life is not a millennial problem or a hipster problem or a ‘whatever new word marketers are using to describe young people’ problem. It’s really a problem of being ‘plugged in’ all the time, and never being given the freedom to shut off.

Because society has a problem with leisure. The idea of sitting around doesn’t sound sexy. Winners never quit. Go hard or go home. Always be closing. Or some shit like that.


You need a break. Just retire. Then start on something new. You may fail. But ultimately you’ll thank yourself later.Paul Cantor

I agree. I have nothing to add.

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