Place in the World by ERICA V.ERICA V. (The Daily Post)

For this week’s photo challenge, explore what it means to find your place in the world. Where’s your safe space? Where do you go when you need to feel inspired or cheered up? Do you prefer to feel cozy and comforted in a smaller town or do you thrive on the buzz of a big city? If landscapes aren’t your thing, you can even explore portraits by playing with scale or fashion.

lichen, spring, sourland mountain
Macro Moments Challenge #34 (Musin' With Susan)

Welcome to Macro Moments #34 and thank you to everyone who entered the challenge over the past two weeks.  I am delighted to announce this week’s winner, a newcomer named Preeti of  ATTUNED P…

Macro Moments was created by avid macro photographer, Susan Gutterman, to share the beauty of macro photography and learn from others photographers. A new challenge begins on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month. The winner’s photo may be featured on her blog and used as the banner in the announcement for the next challenge.

[exif id="26219"]

Susan Gutterman has invited me to participate in here bi-weekly Macro Moments photography challenge. If I may paraphrase Susan, Macro Moments is a place to share the beauty of macro photography and learn from each other. A new challenge begins on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month. Susan announces the winner from the previous challenge when posting the new challenge. The winner’s photo may be featured on her blog and used as the banner in the announcement for the next challenge.

The theme is Spring has Sprung. That coincides well with my Spring post from Sunday. That post was an entry for the weekly theme-based challenge by Frank Jansen.

I mostly shoot on the weekends. Weekdays I am occupied with work. We have had one sunny day this week and I captured some images of the crocus poking through the dirt. It was windy yesterday and I had a real struggle with my small subject vibrating in the wind. Hopefully, I'll have something worthy to post before April 4th.

I had hoped to share a new photo but ... spring has only just begun in this area. Two weeks ago, snow storm Stella dumped about eight inches of snow in the Princeton area. There is still ice and snow on the ground but I expect that today's rain will melt the rest of that.

The photograph I am sharing today was taken in April of 2016. I was on a hike in the Sourland Mountains in Hopewell, New Jersey. The hike was hosted by the Sourland Conservancy. I had just bought a set of Kenko auto-extension tubes and used the hiking opportunity to practice.

A lichen is a composite organism that arises from algae or cyanobacteria (or both) living among filaments of a fungus in a symbiotic relationship. The combined life form has properties that are very different from the properties of its component organisms.Lichen on Wikipedia

The challenge for me when shooting this lichen is that they were often found in damp areas of the woods, and low to the ground. This sometimes precluded the use of a tripod. But includd soiling my clothing. This patch of lichen was on a log which had fallen among the leaves and ground cover. Using the tripod was difficult. It was hard to get low down without kneeling in mud and wet leaves. I opted to shoot handheld in aperture priority mode. I used my AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX at f/8 using my Nikon SB-600 Speedlight flash to provide additional light. My goal was to capture both gametophytes (the low, leaf-like forms) and sporophytes (the tall, stalk-like forms).

Since I started shooting macro with the Kenko extension tubes, I have discovered that the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f1.8G is better for shooting macro that the AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX. The 35mm focal point is so close to the lens that I risk scratching the glass. The 85mm puts the focal point about half a meter from the front of the lens.

So, yesterday while getting some coffee beans at a Buy the Cup in Rocky Hill, I stopped to capture some macro photos. The blossoms were just starting to bud. I had my camera with me and snapped this image. I think it represents the topic. Spring has sprung.

Cherry Blossom Macro

Rock Brook, brook, water, snow, ice, trees, winter, rocks

[exif id="25406"]

For this month's Changing Seasons Monthly Photo Challenge I wanted to try something different. In the last two posts for the challenge, I did not set a focus. I would take photos during the month, of random various subjects and usually on the weekend. The result was that at the end of the month, I did not have a coherent set of images to represent the month. I want to try something different.

Starting with March I intend to add a weekly entry of events that transpired over the week. I may or may not have a photograph to include for that week. However, my hope it that I can capture my feelings about the month as it unfolds. I don't want to get to the end of the month and try to recall what my thoughts and feeling were weeks prior.

I also intend to focus on a specific subject. I think for a challenge entitled, Changing Seasons Monthly Photo Challenge, I really should be shooting a series of images. I want to show a change. There is a stream nearby, the Rock Brook, which I have photographed a few times in the past during different times of the year. I think it will be interesting to observe how the Rock Brook and the surrounding landscape, changes throughout the year.

However, I also started a personal photography project for 2017. I am photographing some of the lighthouses of New Jersey. I may use imaged from that project for the Changing Seasons Monthly Photo Challenge.

March 4th

brook, water, trees, winter, rocks

I have lived in Skillman, Montgomery Township for almost sixteen years. That's the longest I have lived in any one place and almost as long as the amount of time I lived in the West Indies. I love my township. There are many parks and streams and the rolling hills remind of the rolling hills of St. Vincent1. One of my favourite spots in the section of the Rock Brook, along Hollow Road, just north of Camp Meeting. There is a small patch of dirt on the northbound side of the road just large enough to park a vehicle.

Rock Brook,brook, water, trees, winter, rocks[exif id="25391"]

The Rock Brook is just below, after walking a short distance through the trees. As the name suggests, this brook is mostly filled with rock. This section of Montgomery Township, a small area at the foot of the Sourland Mountain Range, is unique in geology, history. The Rock Brook is prone to flooding and heavy stormwater flow and is part of lands preserved by the Montgomery Friends of Open Space.

brook, water, trees, winter, rocks

I visited the Rock Brook today. It was cold outside, about -4ºC (~ 25ºF), and windy. I wore several layers and my photography gloves but I still felt cold.

March 11th

It snowed yesterday. I am not sure for how long or how much snow. The office building where I work had very few windows and my office is located near an interior wall. I didn't see the snow until the end of the day. My guess would be that the area had about three inches of snow on the ground. The parking lot had no snow but the cars were all covered with powder.

brook, water, trees, winter, rocks

Saturday morning, after breakfast, I decided to visit the Rock Brook again. Looking outside my window I could see that the grass was still covered with snow and I hoped that I might get some unique images of the brook. I drove over to the spot on Hollow Road and parked just above the Rock Brook.

As I grabbed my camera I looked down through the leafless trees to the water. There was just enough snow on the rocks and some parts of the brook were frozen over. The sun poked through the tree line providing both shadow and light across the water. I walked through the trees mentally planning my shots. The frozen snow crunched under my boots. It was cold and there was a slight breeze.

brook, water, trees, winter, rocks

I did my best to capture and frame the images from the same spot as the previous week. However, it was hard for me to remember the exact spots and the snow cover made it even more challenging. You can see that the framing was not quite the same.

I tried to move quickly; setting up my tripod, getting the exposure readings from the camera, calculating the shutter speed for the ND filter, attaching the filter, and shooting three images.

It was about -6ºC outside. I wore three layers of clothing and although my feet were comfortable, operating the camera meant exposing the area of the glove covering my thumb and pointer finger. I tried to minimize the exposure to the cold and stayed out as long as my fingers could handle things. That was about thirty minutes.

brook, water, snow, ice, trees, winter, rocks

I liked all the images I captured so ... here's the gallery.

Rock Brook, brook, water, snow, ice, trees, winter, rocks[exif id="25405"]

Rock Brook, brook, water, snow, ice, trees, winter, rocks[exif id="25407"]

March 19th

I didn't go to the Rock Brook today. This weekend I completed a group photography workshop where I was challenged by being forced into a photographic box -- time limits and focal length limits. By the end of the workshop, my approach to photography was transformed. While walking around completing the challenges that our instructor had assigned the group I started thinking about my approach to the Changing Seasons Challenge.

Firestone Library, Princeton University
[exif id="26283"]

What if I didn’t return to the Rock Brook? What if I slowed down, spent some time thinking about I wanted to say with my images, and focused on the story I wanted to tell about March?

Besides the Tuesday Photo Challenge, I am participating in a monthly photo challenge called [Changing Season]. It was almost the end of March and I wanted to capture some photos that portrayed the Princeton University in March. There are a few iconic — aka, heavily photographed — images of the university. The Firestone Library is one of them. So is East Pyne, Nassau Hall, and the Princeton University Chapel.

Why black and white? It was a sunny day, but I wanted to convey a sense of "historic". Honestly, I don’t think I accomplished telling the story about Princeton University. Something is lacking. What do you think?

Holder Hall, Princeton University. I posted a dramatic version of this image in an earlier post.
[exif id="26281"]

  1. There are significant differences. St. Vincent's mountainous area is the ridge of a dormant volcano, La Soufriere, and the vegetation is tropical. ?

The Changing Seasons Monthly Photo Challenge is a blogging challenge by Cardinal Guzman. Each month I will post at least one photography that I think represents the month. Sometimes I’ll post a set of images.