Quiet and calm

After dropping Shaan at the Winter Farmer's Market, I redirected my photography plans from Sandy Hook to Zion Crossing Park.

Shaan needed a lift to the Winter Farmer's Market organised by the Montgomery Friends of Open Space (MFOS) at Village Shopper strip mall. As the associate manager, Shaan was responsible for setting up the MFOS tent by 8 AM and assisting vendors in preparing for the market. My initial plan was a photography trip to Sandy Hook with my Nikon N2020, hoping to capture the lonely stillness of Gateway National Recreation Area. However, after dropping Shaan off, my enthusiasm faded, partly due to the gloomy, overcast weather.

I shifted my focus to Zion Crossing Park, near the Skillman and Hillsborough border, just off Hollow Road. The park, with its quaint waterfall, seemed an appropriate subject for my Nikon N2020. While absorbed in this spur-of-the-moment photo session, I remembered the Spectre app for iOS devices to simplify long-exposure photography. This app is good at capturing light trails and silky water effects, perfect for the setting. However, I met a hiccup – I had forgotten my Glif tripod attachment for my iPhone 11 Pro.

After a moment of consideration, I improvised. I found a small stone, just the right size to wedge between the Arca Swiss bracket and my iPhone. This makeshift setup allowed me to experiment with various shutter speeds, with four seconds producing the best results.

The winter scene was somewhat bland, but that's expected for this time of year. This is a scheduled post, so you might be reading this in January, months after I wrote this post.

Falling for Zion Crossing Park

Autumn at Zion Crossing Park in Montgomery Township offered vibrant foliage and tranquillity.

Zion Crossing Park is one of my favourite places in Montgomery Township. I visit several times yearly, especially in the Spring and Fall. During the global pandemic, Zion Crossing Park became a refuge. Here, I connected with the natural world and escaped the complexities of daily life. It became a place to de-stress and forget my worries.

After photographing the area around the lake at Billie Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserver, I went home, making a mental note to visit Zion Crossing Park. I watched the Formula 1 United States Sprint Race, and then, still tired from the disappointing early morning trip to Cape Mae the day before, I fell asleep. I woke up at 3 PM, just before the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix started. The race ended around 5 PM, and I rushed to Zion Crossing Park. I was concerned that I would not have enough light to create the photograph I had in my head.

I had expected crimson and golden leaves to carpet the ground, creating a vibrant mosaic. However, most of the leaves had washed away down the Rock Brook. The usually gushing waterfall was diminished.

I enjoyed the smell of the crisp autumn air as it filled my lungs. At the pond's edge, I focused on the scene, the vivid colours of the foliage contrasting beautifully with the mostly cloud-free sky reflected in the pond. The gentle rustling of leaves and the flowing water created a soothing symphony, providing a sense of serenity.

I used a Hoya PROND1000 filter for a long exposure capture. Once in Adobe Lightroom, I applied some adjustments to bring out the colours of the leaves. I also did some editing in Luminar Neo.

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Sun-Kissed Meadow Beauty

Dandelions are hardy and can grow almost anywhere, even in poor soil. I love seeing the bright yellow flowers in fields, lawns, and gardens.

As I finished my walk through Zion Crossing Park and headed back to the car, Bhavna called. We had only one car, and I had the car for the day. She was ready to get picked up from work.

The sun from behind the clouds cast its bright light on the small meadow. The grass was invaded with colonies of dandelions. Dandelions are hardy and can grow almost anywhere, even in poor soil. I love seeing the bright yellow flowers in fields, lawns, and gardens.

Many see dandelions as a nuisance, as they can quickly spread and take over a lawn or garden. But dandelions are beautiful. Lawns are stupid, vain, useless and wasteful. But dandelions have anti-inflammatory properties and can treat various ailments, such as indigestion, high blood pressure, and acne. The root can be roasted and used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute.

Dandelions are edible! The leaves can be used in salads or cooked like spinach, while the flowers can be used to make dandelion wine or even fritters. I would love to try that, but the lawns in my development are not a good source. The association landscaping maintenance crew sprays everything with a pesticide.

There is a small covered picnic table on the meadow amongst the dandelions. I keep reminding myself to pack a basket and do a late afternoon lunch with Bhavna.