When I looked at what Frank had chosen for the challenge this week, I felt a bit disheartened. I have captured no sunrise images in 2019. The last sunrise I photographed was in October of last year.
I know it's March, but I think Winter and Fall are a few of the best times of the year to capture sunsets and sunrises. The air is often crisp and clear with just a few clouds to add some drama to the scene.
I even started using an app, The Photographer's Ephemeris, that would help me forecast what the sky would look like in the morning. It worked sometimes.
One of the reasons I may be photographing the less often in the early morning is that last year, my contract with the State of New Jersey ended. The commute to Trenton was relatively easy. Trenton is local. It was easy to take more scenic routes to the office, stop and capture anything that caught my eye and not be late for work.
After my contract ended, I started contract work for a bank. They have offices on Wall Street and Iselin, New Jersey. The commute to "The City" is almost two-hours long. When I travel to the Manhattan office, I start commuting very early. Before sunrise. I can see the daybreak from my car or the window of the train. When I drive the 50 minutes to Iselin, the sun is just starting to fill the sky. Because of traffic and these longer commutes, I have no time to dawdle at Carnegie Lake.
But what about the weekend and Wednesday and Friday when I work from home?
Over the last few months, I have been staying up late and getting up late. That's unusual for me. In the past, I was usually up at sunrise or just before dawn. I was always excited to start the new day. I would make coffee, stare out the window and watch the sunrise over the forests in the backyard. Sometimes I would what was about to unfold in the sky and I would rush to grab my camera and drive to the closest open area — usually Carnegie Lake — to capture the scene.
I miss my mornings. I think tonight; I'll skip attempt to return to my old routine; early to bed, early to rise.
These images are from a set I captured last October at Carnegie Lake. I drove over to the lake before sunrise and sat in my car until the sun started to peek out through the clouds. It was a cold morning. I used aperture priority bracketing and created an HDR image in Photomatix Pro.
This morning I convinced Bhavna to take a walk with me along the Raritan and Canal Park Trail. The sun was out, the air was ... well cold, but I wanted to find some images for Frank's challenge keyword, "Growth".
We slid on a few layers of clothing and drove over to the park entrance just off Mapleton Road on the border with Princeton and Plainsboro. I fully expected to find nothing but leafless trees and my first image was just what I expected.
We walked along the inner trail closest to Carnegie Lake and talked about our youngest going off to college this fall, our future travel plans, life etc., while I kept an eye out for "growth". We passed a young Asian couple going the opposite way. The man wore a Michigan beanie hat and we spoke briefly. It was a gift from his brother in Michigan. I mentioned that I completed my master's degrees at the University of Michigan.
Bhavna and I walked past Harrison Street to Washington Street then turned around for the walk back.
We found the young couple still wandering near the water's edge. I heard what I thought was a bird so I approached them where they were standing. I was hoping I might get a photo of the bird.
They were tossing rocks onto the frozen water of the lake. The rocks bounced around making this very cool noise that sounded like a laser or chirping bird. The sound seemed to depend on the size of the stone and where he threw the rocks.
Underneath the ice, the water of the lake isn’t solid. The ice vibrates up and down, similar to a drumhead or cymbal vibrating after being struck. The lake amplifies the sound which we heard as chirping.
I found this video on YouTube showing what it sounds like. It's so cool!
Bhavna saw some holly shrubs so we stopped so I could take some photos. We continued on our way. That young couple must have walked past us because they were in front of us taking some of something in a thicket of fallen tree branches. They called out to me excitedly. They had discovered some interesting mushrooms growing on the fallen branches.
I had finally found the growth of photography I was seeking!
The mushrooms were growing in clusters and stuck out from the sides of the dead tree branches like little shelves. According to my research, these shelf mushrooms are a parasitic wood tree rotting group. However, the infected trees provide nesting sites for birds and squirrels. These rots attack the top of a tree, the heartwood inside, and the base of the stem. The tree stem often breaks as a result even though the tree is still alive. The mycelium, body of the fungus, decomposes chemicals in the tree cells.
After photographing our find we drove to the REI store to get some hiking shoes for me and Bhavna. In the past we have "hibernated" for the winter, staying inside to avoid the cold. I wanted to find ways past that to enjoy the outdoors even in winter. That means dressing in layers so we could take hikes in the Sourlands Mountains or along the D&R Canal towpath. Last month, I bought some clothing for this purpose.
I hope that being outside during winter, pushing past my discomfort and loathing of the lifeless grey of the skies and the tree line, will help me grow my photography skills.
There wasn't much fall colour in the area until this week. I was concerned that we would have a repeat of last year. Last year, the fall colours came in late and were short-lived. Most of the trees turned at roughly the same time, leaves turned brown the trees were bare within two weeks. I had hoped to take my camera out to Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve for an early morning long exposure shot across the lake. It was not to be. I overslept.
From my kitchen window, I could see a purple sky developing over the hills. Lake Carnegie immediately came to mind.
I was not disappointed but I did not dress warmly enough. It was cold. I took bracketed shots of each scene. These are HDR images created in Photomatix Pro. The colours are a bit intense but Bhavna liked the result so I am happy.