Sylvan Lake

Whenever the Montgomery Friends of Open Space Farmers Market is in session Shaan works as the assistant farmers market manager. The market normally runs from the summer into the early fall but sometimes they host a winter market. Today's winter market is in the Montgomery Municipal Centre not far from their previous location in Skillman Village Shoppes. Due to the many suggestions from market customers, the market will be held at the new location for the foreseeable future.

After I dropped Shaan off, I drove over to Skillman Park hoping to find something interesting to photograph. The sky was overcast and the air was cold. Fortunately, there was no breeze.

Before Skillman Park transformed into the green space I enjoy today, it had a beginning as the New Jersey State Village for Epileptics. Opened in the early 20th century, Skillman Village was designed as a self-sufficient community specifically for the care and support of individuals with epilepsy. The village, nestled in the Skillman area of Montgomery Township aimed to provide a nurturing environment where residents could live, work, and receive medical care.

Sylvan Lake, Skillman Park
Skillman Park · 24 February 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

The location was chosen for its countryside charm and proximity to transport links, ensuring a community-like setting for the residents. The plan was for the village to be self-sustaining, with residents playing a key role in its maintenance. They managed a variety of agricultural operations, including a dairy farm, pigsty, and poultry farm. The village boasted orchards filled with apple and peach trees, alongside fields of tomatoes and other crops.

Sylvan Lake, Skillman Park
Skillman Park · 24 February 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

To support such a large community, the village was equipped with all necessary systems right on site. A sophisticated water system with wells, a water tower, and a treatment plant was established to meet the needs of the residents. Before the era of refrigeration, ice from Sylvan Lake was harvested and stored in a large ice house by the lake to keep food fresh.

Regardless of the time of the year, I am usually drawn to the area near Sylvan Lake.

Weekly Journal

Tuesday

During the pandemic, Bhavna and I talked about how when it was safe to do so, we would take some road trips to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, perhaps with a stop in Boston to visit some of our college days favourites. I wanted to satisfy my urge to photograph lighthouses, and Bhavna wanted to experience the romance of the New England coastal towns.

Now that most of the North East are vaccinated, it seemed like the right time. It's cooler up north, so a trip to Maine would help us escape the heat and humidity of a New Jersey summer. It seems that everyone everywhere had the same idea.

New England resorts are booked through the end of October. Hotels like the Marriot have raised their rates to almost resort levels. My brother-in-law planned road trips to Tennessee. On Sunday, he mentioned that even the usually budget-friendly Holiday Inn has rates one would expect if staying in a hotel in Manhattan or Philadelphia.

But I think we really need to getaway. What to do?


Tuesday 29 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 17000 sec at f/1.7 | ISO 400

I'm bored with breakfast. Every day it feels like I eat the same things. Part of it is that my mornings are busy, and I am too lazy to make something, but it's also partly because I have not returned to some of the routines I had pre-pandemic.

Pre-pandemic, I alternated between a few places to get coffee and breakfast on the days I worked from home. Sometimes I went to Bagel Barn for a bagel, egg and cheese bagel sandwich or bagel with a schmear of cream cheese. It's excellent with a coffee from Buy the Cup. Sometimes I drove into Princeton for a muffin and cappuccino from Rojo's Cafe. If time permitted, I sat outside on Palmer Square. On Friday's, if my morning calendar allowed it, I drove into Hopewell for a sit down slow breakfast of grits and collard greens.

I am wary of using the word normal, but I miss these routines. I think it's time for a reset.

Last on the Card for June

I think this is the first time I am linking to the Last on the Card challenge. According to Adobe Lightroom, the last image pulled in before July 1 is this one. The photo has not been edited or post-processed in any way. But that begs the question. Given that my Fuji X-T2 can use in-camera film recipes to apply certain effects to a JPEG before an image is recorded, can I use the straight out of camera JPEG for this challenge?

beer
Tuesday 29 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1640 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 400

Wednesday

No one can amass millions of followers on a person blog in a matter of weeks. That is something that can only happen on a social platform like Instagram or TikTok. And that's why most people don't go down the personal site path. Most people are not chasing freedom of expression. They're chasing fame. Quantity over quality seems to be the law of the modern web. ~ Manuel Morale

Thursday

Two years ago, I started photographing migrating Warblers in southern New Jersey. I rented a Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens and did my best. These photographs are not significant compared to other photographers, but they are precious images to me.

Prothonotary Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler | Sunday 19 May, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 400 mm | 1500 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 4000

Kunj Tirvedi has been photographing wildlife - lions, tigers, cheetah, elephants, etc. - around the world for over two decades, mainly in Africa (Serengeti, Samburu, Kaziranga, Madagascar, Mauritius, Tanzania), America (Argentina, Antarctica, Florida), Europe (Iceland, Norway) and Asia (India, Sri Lanka). He's put together a two-volume bounded portfolio book of his bird photograph, simply entitled "Birds, My Portfolio". I am fortunate that Mr Trivedi's daughter is a good family friend, and she loaned me both books.

Thursday 1 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1125 sec at f/1.7 | ISO 2000

The book starts with a foreword that introduces the photographer and explains the purpose of the books and the care and effort put into selecting each photograph and identifying each bird. Though there is no index or table of contents, the book is broken down into sections featuring specific birds - rollers, bee-eaters. I agreed with Kunj Trivedi when he wrote in his book that the "Lilac Breasted Roller was my favourite bird...". The lilac-breasted roller is stunning. But one of my favourite photographs is one of an Indian Roller in flight. Others are the European bee-eater and Fischer's Lovebird. Their colours remind me of the wooden fishing boats of the West Indies. The photographs are stunning. The book contains over 400 photos.

One more thing about which I am thinking. When will I produce my photobook, what shall I put in it, and who will "read" it?

Friday

I've had an ongoing debate about electric vehicles (EV) with my friend Johnny over the last several months. Unfortunately, there's no economic incentive in the USA to push for bikes, e-bikes, scooters etc. A dedicated bicycle infrastructure requires almost no maintenance, vehicles are incredibly cheap to buy and run, insurance for accidents is irrelevant, and health improvements means fewer hospital visits.

In addition to providing a more affordable and more efficient form of alternative transportation for riders, e-bikes actually help improve things for everyone. While e-bike riders can directly benefit from lower transportation costs, perhaps quicker commute times, and free parking, more e-bikes on the streets mean fewer cars. And fewer cars means less traffic.

I'm writing a bit tongue in cheek, but promoting bicycling could lead to an economic recession. With very few notable exceptions, the USA government won't prioritise cycling infrastructure.

Electric bicycles certainly can't replace all car trips but e-bikes continue to outsell electric cars massively around the world. The growing number of e-bike styles and the emphasis on e-bike utility mean that an increasing number of people are trading a second car for an electric bicycle. If I worked from home regularly, Bhavna and I could get by with just her car and with me using an e-bike for trips around the area.

orange cat
Sir Alphonso Mango | Friday 2 July, 2021 | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 4.25mm f/1.8 | 130 sec at f/1.8 | ISO 640

At first, Alphonso Mango was like, "Please, play with me".

orange cat
Sir Alphonso Mango | Friday 2 July, 2021 | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 4.25mm f/1.8 | 135 sec at f/1.8 | ISO 640

Then ... he was a bit more forceful. "Get off the computer. Play with me now!"


The Last Word by Flounder Brewing Co | Friday 2 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7 | 1/1000 sec at f/4.0 | ISO 400

This evening Bhavna and I picked up a few slices of pizza from Joe's and headed over to Flounder Brewing for a few pints of ale. While we dined, we were surprised to see Jim D. and Kath D. sitting at another with a group of their friends. They came over to say "Hello," and we ended the evening with a few pints at their table. It turns out that Jim's friends, Rob and Tammy, live in our neighbourhood at the other end of Blue Spring Road.

Saturday

I let Alphonso Mango play outside on the deck. It's enclosed. Bhavna and I sat outside so we can keep an eye on him. He had so much fun sniffing around and exploring and hiding under the house plants.

Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 100 mm | 1640 sec at f/5.0 | ISO 1600
Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR @ 100 mm | 1640 sec at f/5.0 | ISO 640

In the evening, Bhavna and I drove to Conclave Brewing for a pint. We visited Conclave only once during the pandemic, choosing to sit outside. Today it was raining, so we sat inside. We ordered food for delivery from a place called Pork Chops BBQ. The menu was an odd mix of Filipino, Spanish, and Portuguese food. I ordered a paella platter and a serving of fried plantains. Bhavna had a salad.

Saturday 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 50 mm | 190 sec at f/1.0 | ISO 6400

Sunday

Today was a whirlwind of activity. We went to the Brick Farm Tavern for an outdoor BBQ. The chilli cheese dog was delicious. The experience was like being at a BBQ at a friend's house. We didn't have to do any cleanup after.

Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1400 sec at f/9.0 | ISO 400
Sunday 4 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1950 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 400