Places

The Virginia garden

Some years ago we were at a party given by friends of ours. They lived in a quiet neighborhood in McLean, Virginia. Since it was a garden party, I thought it only right that I take photos of the garden. Here they are. I still remember their hibiscus blossoms vividly and I think you will too. I have yet to see their equal: large, umbrous petals with lovely ridges.

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Places

Collingwood Picnic Area, Virginia

I hope I won’t spoil this little spot by telling you about it. On one of our visits to Mount Vernon, we decided to meander on down the road, following the Potomac, to see where we’d get.

We stopped at a place called Fort Hunt, which is across the river from Fort Washington (you can see a map of them here). I guess at some point these two forts were used to control water traffic toward the capital, but they weren’t in use anymore. They are now parks and they are open to the public.

As we continued driving south, a little place called out to us. From the road, it only looked like a little parking lot, and perhaps we were simply looking to stretch our legs once more — or something told us to stop. We did, and as you’ll see in the photographs, it was well worth it. The shoreline of the Potomac is special there. The river flows by quietly and you get these little ripples in the water that look wonderful in the light of the late afternoon. Round little pebbles of all colors are mixed with the yellow mud and brown sand on the shore, and when the light hits all of them just right, it makes for magical little vignettes that capture your imagination.

I didn’t have GPS with me at the time, so I had to guesstimate the location 10 years after having visited it, but after spending about half a day looking at maps and satellite imagery, I believe this spot is the Collingwood Picnic Area on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Perhaps it’s changed since we visited it and these photos represent a certain moment in time when things simply came together. I don’t know. I’ll let you rediscover the place. Enjoy the photos!

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Places

Objects and details

Something I often find myself doing during the winters is searching the house for things to photograph. Whether it’s something as simple as an object on my desk or something a little harder to spot, such as reflections in glazed porcelain, it’s always interesting to find a novel way to frame everyday things. Our cats often wake up from their slumber to find a camera pointed at them, and they’re surprisingly tolerant, far more than I’d be, were I to be in their shoes. I present you with a gallery of recent images. Enjoy!

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Events

On the evening of the summer solstice

It was the summer solstice a couple of days ago. On that longest day of the year, I thought it might be interesting to take photographs in our garden, just as the day drew to a close. I was especially interested in capturing the evening primroses, because we have so many of them this year, and because I was curious to see whether they’d open up sooner or just as dark fell, as is their custom.

Well, they didn’t open up sooner, I still had to wait until it was almost dark, but I found out something new; having never watched them open up before, I had a wonderful surprise in store for me. As it turns out, the blossoms open at a pace that can be observed live, without the aid of time lapse photography. It’s not as fast as a mimosa pudica’s reaction, but it’s fast enough for a person to stand (or sit) there and watch it open. Nature is wonderful!

I hope you enjoy this set of photographs. I took them with my PEN E-P3, whose IBIS mechanism was recently repaired by Olympus Czechia and is now working so well, it’s tempting to use it as my main camera. I plan to use it a lot more than before, that’s for sure. By the way, my setup included the M.Zuiko 25mm f1.8 lens and the lovely and inexpensive MCON-P02 Macro Adapter. It works with several more lenses from Olympus and it’s small and lightweight, so it even fits in your pocket.

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Places

Winter photos from our garden

It’s been a hum-drum winter, I’ve said it before. It barely snows, and when it does, it melts right away. The temperatures hover between 0-10° Celsius, so it’s neither warm nor cold, just kind of annoying. I don’t know where the winters of my youth went, but I hope they come back at some point. I’m talking about snow that stays on the ground for weeks and months, big, thick, frequent snow that keeps the top layers fresh… Those kinds of winters are now only found in movies and fairy tales.

Fortunately, we humans are endowed with a little something called optimism. We can always call on that spirit and make the best of what we have. So the snow melts quickly. So be it. I’ll photograph the melting snow. The falling water drops make for great macro photographs.

This nifty lens I just bought, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm, has a Macro button on the side, which locks it in Macro mode and lets me get right up to the things I want to photograph, as you’ll see below. Not only is it a versatile 24-100mm (35mm equivalent) zoom, but it’s also a macro lens when I want it to be.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm Side View with Buttons

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm side view with buttons

I always shoot in RAW format, on any camera that’s capable of it, but with my E-P2, I forgot how good the JPG engine was. During my early morning outing a couple of days ago, I shot both RAW and JPG together (there’s an in-camera setting for that) and then I compared the photos in Lightroom. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the E-P2’s color reproduction is very good and the noise reduction algorithms built into the camera are actually better than Lightroom’s. Yeah, surprise! I pixel-peeped those images side by side and the JPG files were cleaner and had the colors I wanted, straight out of the camera. Guess what I did next? I switched my camera to JPG-only mode.

The photos you’ll see here are SOOC: JPG files produced by the camera, imported into Lightroom, where I added metadata and exported with no modifications to the colors, exposure, contrast, etc. Other than the metadata, I added nothing. Full disclosure: I bumped up the exposure on three snow photos that came out a little dark, but that’s it. I think you’ll agree with me when I say this little camera is pretty good!

Raoul using the Olympus PEN E-P2

Raoul using the Olympus PEN E-P2. Photographer: Thomas Hawk

Enjoy the photos!

 

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Places

Photos from the US Botanic Garden in DC

Should you find yourself in DC, the US Botanic Garden should be on your list of places to visit. It’s right next to the Capitol so if you want a break from the buildings and the politics, step inside to look at the flowers and the plants, they’ll make for a welcome change.

And if you should find yourself in DC during winter time and you have children, then you should definitely visit, because they put on quite the toy train show there, every winter. I even recorded a video of it for you, which you can see in this post.

Enjoy the photos, there are 50 of them below!

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