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Sylvan Lake in Skillman New Jersey

Starting the job search after ten years with the same company can be mentally exhausting. I've spent time thinking about what should and shouldn’t be in my resume — searching online for work that matches my skills and interest. I've also been doing a lot of thinking about whether or not I want a full-time job or re-join the ranks of the freelancers. With so much going on, my mind was a jumble. I needed to clear the machine. I decided to take a drive to Skillman Park and walk about a bit.

Skillman Park is one of Montgomery Townships newest parks.

The property originally consisted of three large farms. These lands were purchased by the State of New Jersey for the establishment in 1898 of the “New Jersey State Village for Epileptics” at Skillman, during a time when there was no known treatment for epilepsy. The village layout was designed by noted Landscape Architect/Engineer Charles W. Leavitt in 1901. For many years it operated as a self-contained “town” that consisted of hospitals, housing, farms, maintenance areas, schools, a theatre, a power plant, a wastewater treatment facility, cemeteries, and an on-site landfill. It was one of the first such facilities in the United States.

In the mid-twentieth century, with the discovery of medicines for the treatment of epilepsy, the facility’s focus shifted, and it became the New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute. Most recently, and until 1998, the property was known as “ North Princeton Developmental Center” or NPDC, a New Jersey Department of Human Services’ residential psychiatric care facility.

I parked my car on one section of the Lakeview Drive circle and walked down one of the abandoned roads. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to be there but … I was hoping to find something interesting. I did. I found Sylvan Lake.

The lake was very dry, but I could imagine that it must have been quite full during recent storms and it’s banks were deep. I spent a few minutes sitting on piles of broken concrete staring down into the lake and past it into the horizon. The air was crisp and refreshing, with a slight breeze. I found the quiet I was seeking.

The image is a three bracket HDR (Photomatix Pro). I applied the FixelPix “Grit” free Lightroom preset and then some additional work in Nik Software's Silver EFX Pro 2.

Week 13: First Mug

A few years ago on Flickr I started following a California photographer and barista who posted a photo each day of his first cup of brewed coffee. For some reason he came to mind recently when I started using my new coffee grinder. I decided to take a photo of the first cup of coffee brewed in my new grinder. This will be my second photo and I'm not sure I'm starting some sort of new project but I'll continue taking photos -- maybe vary the scene a bit -- until I get bored with doing so.

The coffee is Tonx Quilanga De Loja, from the Fapecafes Cooperative in Ecuador. It's been sitting in a vacuüm sealed bag since February 10th. Not ideal I know but I wanted to use it with the new grinder and procrastination set in ... etc.

Incidental note: I took a look at dogmilque's blog and noted that he's got Tonx in his blogroll. Perhaps us coffee drinkers are geeks of a kind.

This is a three image (-2/0/+2) HDR processed in HDR Efex Pro 2.


This weekend Scott Wyden-Kivowitz arranged a studio lighting session hosted by Dynalite in Union, NJ. The event was limited to 30 people. I was fortunate to be among the thirty. Scott started the afternoon with a presentation called " Photography Studio Lighting On A Budget" before handing things over to Dynalite's Jim Morton.

Designed and manufactured in the USA, Dynalite has earned its reputation as the flash equipment with power and performance in a small and lightweight package. Professional photographers from around the world choose Dynalite to satisfy a variety of demanding lighting needs. But there’s more to it than that.

Daryl Meek, a photographer from Hillsborough, arranged for a model and a make-up artist. Our make-up artist, Joanna, applied make-up to model, Gianna Esposito while the photographers looked in wonder at the 79" RiME Lite softbox. That thing is huge, dwarfed only by the 90" version. While Gianna was getting her makeup complete we started shooting our other model, Robert.

I borrowed a Nikkor 85mm 1.8 D from Gevon Servo and got to shooting. I've never seen such excellent images from my Nikon D40! I have Paul C. Buff AB800s and PLM Umbrellas but the light from the RiME Light is beautiful. Daryl managed to persuade Joanna to model for us and I got a few shots of her as well.

The event was a potluck so in between shots I munched on hummus, samosas and sandwiches and quaffed my thirst with Kohana cold brewed coffee. Thanks again Gevon!

The photo was post-processed in Adobe Lightroom and Portrait Professional.

Equipment used:

  • Dynalite SH 2000 Blower Cooled Studio Flash Head
  • Roadmax Power MP800 Powerpack
  • Rime Lite GB79 Grand Studio
  • Nikon D40
  • Nikkor 85mm 1.8D
  • PocketWizard Plus X
Johanna—Nikon D40 + Nikon @ 85 mm, f/11, ISO200
Joanna—Nikon D40 + Nikon @ 85 mm, f/11, ISO200
Joanna—Nikon D40 + Nikon @ 85 mm, f/11, ISO200