I’ve Got Sunflowers on a Rainy Day

Rainy, humid morning. My initial thought was I’d slip on some waterproof shoes, a rain jacket and go stomping through Pomerance Nature Preserve but, when I opened the door and felt the oppressive, 95% humidity, I said ‘no thanks. I’ll just go early to the coffee shop.

Getting out of the car at Aux Delices I spotted the sunflowers next door at Porcelanosa and decided I could make them my subject for the day.

2021.08.19: First picture – lens fogs up just as I’m about to press the shutter release and suddenly I lose not only a clear shot, but also a bit of the focus

I ran into an unexpected problem early on: the humidity and relative heat outside the car caused my lens to fog up almost immediately when I removed the cap. The first pictures I tried to take (the one above being the first) didn’t come out so good. Patience, however, is not only a virtue but allowed me to wait until the temperatures of camera and outside evened out. Then, I was able wipe and keep the condensation off the lens and proceed.

2021.08.19: Sunflower seen from behind – after the lens cleared

Last year I had taken pictures of the sunflowers growing here using my iPhone. Today I had my Olympus with a 14-42mm lens which allowed me to get some decent shots from fairly close (about 7 inches), so I concentrated on trying to get some detail shots.

I know nothing, really, about sunflowers – or flowers in general – and, so, every time I take a close look at them I’m amazed by how otherworldly they seem…

… and by seeing something I’d never noticed before, like disk florets: the center of the sunflower pictured below is a field of flowers inside a flower! Maybe nothing new to anyone who knows anything about them, but it’s been all I can think about since I took these pictures, just adding to that otherworldly feel for me.

So, though I didn’t get to go on my usual morning walk, it wasn’t a water morning: I not only got to take some nice pictures, I got to learn something new as well!

Equipment: All pictures taken with an Olympus OM-D E-M5III (mostly set on auto) using an Olympus M.14-42mm lens at various focal lengths and edited using Snapseed on my tablet while drinking coffee.

Ordinarily I like to use aperture priority so that I can get some depth of field – for example, I would have liked to capture the church in the background in a couple of shots – but it was a bit breezy and the flowers just wouldn’t stand still for a longer exposure.

Thirteen Exercises – Part 3: Four Corners

INTRODUCTION/RECAP: I recently read an article called ’13 Creative Exercises…’, yada-yada, by Todd Vorenkamp, yada-yada, link to the article at the bottom, yada-yada, this is my attempt at the third exercise. (See this post for a full explanation)

Exercise 3: Four Corners

The instructions for Exercise 3 were simple: Choose one subject and place it, where it exists, in each corner of the frame for four images.

I can already hear your sighs of relief: whew! Only four images. Sorry, I took about fifteen! Cheer up, though, I’m only going to post eight.

It took me a while to get this one done because I had hard a hard time coming up with a subject to photograph.

My reading of the instructions were that it had to be something that either couldn’t move or, at least, wasn’t going to move while I was shooting it. Okay, fine: I could do another tree or some more mushrooms, but the whole point of my doing these was to move away from that. Then, the other day, I’m walking around town (Greenwich, CT) and spotted Melvin.

The gallery opens at 10:30 yet, here is Melvin: 6:30 in the morning, impatiently checking his watch, anxious to pick up that new sculpture for his foyer.

Melvin is a statue standing in front of Cavalier Ebanks Galleries (not his real name, I named him after my late father-in-law – both solid men). Always looking at his watch as if waiting for the galleries to open, he is possibly the second version of the statue – I’m pretty sure there was a different one in front of the gallery at it’s original location before it moved three blocks up Greenwich Avenue (I remember him wearing a suit).

I cornered Melvin in the four pictures below.

Exercise Image 1 – Lower Right Corner: Looking down Greenwich Avenue
Exercise Image 2 – Upper Right Corner: Ground level, looking at the gallery storefront from the street
Exercise Image 3 – Lower Left Corner: from beneath the sidewalk bench
Exercise Image 4 – Upper Left Corner: Looking up Greenwich Avenue

So, I promised (threatened?) eight pictures. The four exercise shots plus the featured and the introductory images make six, below are two bonus shots.

Bonus Image 1: Across from Melvin is Saint Mary Church built 1900-1905 of stone cut from local quarries.
Bonus Image 2: Looking across at St. Mary’s Parish House

link to 13 Creative Exercises article on B&H:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/tips-and-solutions/13-creative-exercises-for-photographers

Morning at Greenwich Point

2021.01.27: Looking East at the Long Island Sound from Tod’s Point beach (Canon Rebel T2i, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/30 s, ISO 200)

Greenwich Point is it’s official name, but almost everyone I know calls it Tod’s Point or, simply, Tod’s. Through the years it has been called by several names:

  • Prior to 1640 it was known as Monakawaye.
  • Some time after 1640 it became Elizabeth’s Neck – that name coming from Elizabeth Feaks one of the first settlers in Greenwich and who, ‘under the first Indian deed,’ became a part owner of the property.
  • Old Greenwich Point was the next name it had.
  • In the 1880’s and 90’s a New York banker started buying land plots on the point until he, basically, owned it all and it became known as Tod’s Point or, as Tod called his residence at the point, ‘Innis Arden’ (not the Innis Arden we are familiar with today in Greenwich).
  • In 1945 the Town of Greenwich bought the property and changed the name to Greenwich Point.

It’s a large property (about 140 acres); not as varied in the number of walking trails as, say, the smaller Pomerance; but still rich in things to see and do. There are:

  • the beach
  • remnants of the old Innis Arden estate
  • beautiful gardens maintained by the Garden Club of Old Greenwich
  • wildlife: deer, egrets, cormorants, seagulls, (pesky) Canadian geese, and horseshoe crabs come on shore on the beaches (unfortunately many die on the rocks, too)

On most days you can see Manhattan from the Point; on clear days (and evenings) that view is amazing!

The best thing about the point: the sunrises! Almost everyone from Greenwich with an Instagram account has posted at least one picture taken of the sunrise from Tod’s Point. Scroll through mine and you’ll find a period two summers ago when there were at least three almost every day

2021.01.27: Snow on the Beach at Tod’s Point (Canon Rebel T2i, 18mm, f/16, 30.0 s, ISO 200)

I took a walk there this morning to see what the beach would look like after last night’s snow. I wanted to get there before sunrise (7:09 today), though not expecting much from it because of the clouds. I was fortunate that the skies cleared up enough to get a few decent pictures, though.

2021.01.27: Fire, Water and Snow – Rising Sun at Greenwich Point (iPhoneXR, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/117s, ISO 100)

Because of the shoes I wore, I didn’t do much more than walk along the shore this morning experimenting with different shutter speeds and playing around.

2021.01.27: Spume at long exposure (Canon Rebel T2i, 24mm, f/16, 10.0 s, ISO 200)
2021.01.27: Spume via iPhone (iPhoneXR, 24mm, f/1.8, 1/29s, ISO 800)

2021.01.27: The Pavilion at Tod’s Point (Canon Rebel T2i, 18mm, f/16, 30.0 s, ISO 200)
2021.01.27: Took an 8 second exposure in which I ran in front of the lease and stood there for about 4 (Canon Rebel T2i, 24mm, f/24, 8.0 s, ISO 200)
1925 – J. Kennedy Tod from The Quarterly Magazine; July, 1925 (Vol. XIX, No. 4); published by the Columbia University-Presbyterian Hospital Alumnae Association

SIDE NOTE/FUN FACT: in 1906 Mr. & Mrs. Tod began offering the use of Innis Arden Cottage and a location on the property called ‘the Camp’ for the use of nurses from Columbia/Presbyterian as a weekend/summer getaway for a fee of $1.00 paid to the school. The practice continued well after his death in 1925 until at least the late 30s. The alumnae publication, The Quarterly Magazine, often published small pieces by some of those nurses relating their experiences at Innis Arden, including the time they tried to sing a song of thanks to Mr. Tod outside his office. Tod, being a very private man, did not open the door.

Pomerance Reserve, Cos Cob, Connecticut

2021.01.26: Cos Cob Pond, Pomerance Reserve

Originally the property of Ernest Seton, one of the founding pioneers of the Boy Scouts of America, the Town of Greenwich (Connecticut, USA) acquired this 100+ acre property in 2002 and developed it into a public park with a handful of trails through woods and ruins of the old mansion and buildings. It is almost seamlessly connected to the Montgomery Pinetum, adding another 60+ acres of paths.

2021.01.26: Morning sky on the trail at Pomerance Reserve

Except for a few signs pointing to either Orchard Street (east) or the Montgomery Pinetum (west) scattered here and there, one could easily get lost their first couple of times wandering these trails which criss-cross each other without much else in the way of guidance – I did my first time out and, then, once again showing the place to my niece when I thought I knew every path. Quite embarrassing.

2020.12.27: Wood Pecker, Pomerance Reserve, Cos Cob, CT

What I love about this place:

  • It’s less than two miles from home so, in the Spring through Fall I often walk here,
  • It’s set off far enough from the busy part of town so that, even on the periphery of the park, mostly what you hear are birds, the wind and running water,
  • There are neat ruins of the old mansion and other structures [history buffs: Barbara W. Tuchman wrote The Guns of August while living here! I read this book in my late teens – I didn’t read very much of anything in those days, so it brought forth a sweet memory to see that fact noted on one of the plaques on the standing outer wall shown below]
2020.12.27: Ruins of the old mansion, called ‘Wyndygoul’
2020.12.17: Bridge connecting Wyndygoul to another part of the property

More recently I’ve been taking my camera for a walk there to take long-exposure photos of the water running through the brooks and off of Cos Cob Pond. I’ve only recently started taking pictures like this so, though I love the results so far, I know I’ve a bit to learn about setting the right shutter speed, aperture and selecting the best ISO setting (that digital cameras have an ISO setting is still baffling to me, but I understand it).

Below are a few I took today & one from earlier this month (you can find more on my insta (cheap plug): https://www.instagram.com/joearf). Enjoy and let me know what you think – very open to and appreciative of constructive criticism and tips.

2021.01.02: Runoff from Cos Cob Pond, Pomerance Reserve
2021.01.26: Ice, Nature’s Jewelry. Pomerance Reserve, Cos Cob, CT
2021.01.26: Running Water, Pomerance Reserve
2021.01.26: Running Water, Pomerance Reserve