As 2015 comes to a close, I have decided to share my favorite images of 2015 and why they are special to me. I hope you enjoy these images as much as I do!My first image was taken this fall at Arlington National Cemetery. I was fortunate enough to be witness to the funeral of 3 Star General Frank E. Petersen, Jr. He was the first African American Aviator in the United States Marine Corps. He was also the first African American Marine General. The photograph holds a special memory for me and also marks an event in history. My next landscape is of New River Gorge in West Virginia. The photograph displays the vastness of this region and the beauty of the fall colors. This was my first trip there; I do plan on going back. As I was walking around the Great Sand Dunes National Park area, I saw this couple walking toward me. I used the trees to frame them and to demonstrate the size of the area. The woman was dressed in a white desert type outfit, like the kind you would see Katharine Hepburn wear in African Queen. They looked like they had been on safari.
The two images above are from the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. I had taken a trip out west in 2013 and passed this area without knowing what it was until after the fact. I knew we were going to be going past here again so I made sure we stopped. The bold, highly saturated colors stand out against the cloudless blue sky. My daughter enjoyed the fact she could “legally” paint graffiti onto an object and not be arrested. Her initials EM were boldly painted in yellow and I’m sure were gone by days end. What a great experience though!It was great to travel some of the back roads through Colorado and New Mexico. To see the sunset over the mountains was breathtaking. I saw all of the wooden structures in the field and pulled off the road to capture a few shots of the beautiful sunset. This cabin is in a very private area of Adams County, Ohio. I was hiking one day in early spring and stopped at the top of an incline to look around. When I looked behind me I saw the cabin’s red tin roof. It stood out from all of the branches and trees. This image is currently on loan to the Ohio Governor’s Office from 2015 – 2017.
The next 3 images are ones that I did special processing on to give the images an aged feeling or to enhance specific details in the photograph.I had taken a winter workshop in Oakland, Maryland and one of our stops was an Amish farm that gave sleigh rides. I processed this image with the On1 Photo suite. As I worked on it the scene became that of a Currier and Ives style “painting.” I used this as my Christmas Card this year. I photographed this old grist mill in Oak Ridge, North Carolina over Thanksgiving. While the original photograph was nice, I decided to add a little texture to the image and give it an aged feel. I used the On1 Photo processing system to bring out the details and to add texture to the photograph. My final favorite landscape image from 2015 is that of a Tabby Shack on Ossabaw Island along the coast of Savannah, Georgia. The leading lines of the road allows the eye to travel along these historical structures. This image was also processed with On1 Photo to give it an aged appearance.
I hope you enjoyed these images! Photographs capture our moments in time and bring back the memories connected to those moments.
Look for my other favorites of 2015!
The 8mm Rokinon fisheye lens is a great lens to capture landscapes and to create surreal images. There are definite advantages and disadvantages to using a fisheye lens. The photographer has to decide what adds to or takes away from the image.
Pros of using a fisheye:
Using the fisheye to creatively “bend” the subject is a pro of this fine lens. The clarity throughout remains intact. It creates a snow globe effect when used close-up.
When shooting with a fisheye lens it is possible to capture sweeping landscapes with a greater depth of field. The image quality and sharpness throughout the image is a definite pro. The photographer can also create surreal images with a fisheye lens.
Getting low to the ground will provide for interesting foreground in the image.
Cons of using a fisheye:
While the pros listed above are very positive uses, they can turn into cons if you do not want your subject to bend or curve. Even in the best case scenario you may end up with a slight curve on the edges. When looking through the viewfinder, move the camera up and down and watch for the bend. The image can be exaggerated or will look fairly normal as the camera is moved.
Photoshop and Lightroom have excellent lens correction features; with practice, lens distortion can be corrected or enhanced depending on the final vision of the photographer.
In the sunrise photos above you can see how the clouds curve, but the horizon is fairly level. It does make for a nice effect with the arching clouds. In the photograph of the boat, the horizon is curved and the foreground is bubbled toward the viewer. While this may not be a desirable outcome, the photographer has to decide if that is what the end result should be.
The fisheye lens definitely has its place in the photographer’s bag and there are many creative uses for it. Adding a slight curve to a photograph can enhance the image or provide an unwanted distraction to the viewer. It is up to the photographer to decide how to use the lens. If given the opportunity to try one; see what kind of images can be made!
Photography is a skill with infinite learning opportunities!
Whenever I am in the Washington DC area I always pay a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. For me, Arlington is a humbling experience. Each marker represents an individual…son, daughter, father, brother, sister…who has fought for our country. On the day I was there they were cleaning the headstones, no wonder it always looks pristine! I watch people look and observe, it is a place of reverence. There is a sense of respect and honor. If you ever visit Washington DC put Arlington into your plans.
My friend Julie went on this trip with me and she had never been to Washington DC. I promised to show her the highlights which included a stop at Arlington National Cemetery. We arrived at approximately noon and we walked through the visitors center then out into the cemetery. Our first stop was JFK’s place of rest. I do remember when he was shot and watching the coverage on our old black and white television. It was a sad feeling, although I was very young at the time it is a memory that has stayed with me for my entire life. Then shortly after was Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King.
My first impression when I visited Arlington several years ago has not changed. It is overwhelming to take it all in at once. The only sounds heard at JFK’s grave were the clicks of cameras and the mechanical sound from the cell phones that imitate the sound of a shutter opening and closing. We walked to Robert Kennedy’s grave. When looking at JFK’s grave then going to Robert’s there is a stark contrast. JFK’s resting place is more elaborate whereas Robert’s is very modest. They both have walls with engravings of their famous speeches. Robert’s site has a fountain, but it was not functioning while we were there.
As we continued our walk to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I noticed 3 canons at the foot of the staircase. I told Julie they must have something special going on because the canons are not a normal site at the cemetery.
I always go to see the changing of the guard. It is a solemn event. The young men who guard the tomb have dedicated their lives to this charge. It takes much discipline to be a guard. The honor that is bestowed and entrusted on those who serve their country in this capacity is more than what words can ever describe.
The precision in which the guard walks his 21 steps and the “click” you hear, often sends chills through my body. When the new guard comes into the hallowed ground he is inspected, head to toe, his rifle is checked, they walk in cadence with the guard who is watching the tomb.
Just as the changing of the guard ceremony ended I heard fighter jets in the distance. I raised my camera and started clicking away. I saw the 3 jets flying overhead and I told Julie, “This is not a normal occurrence, I wonder what is going on?” In just a few moments after the new guard took his post a canon was fired. I knew then there was something else going on at the cemetery that was of high importance. Moments later it was announced they were going to do a changing of the wreath ceremony. Only one other time have I witnessed this. I told Julie she was very fortunate that she was here to see this.
The canons continued to fire during the wreath ceremony. We started down the hill and we chose to go the less traveled path to make our way back to the visitors center. As we came around a turn I saw a hearse (we had seen one earlier in the day so we figured there was a funeral). I also noticed two Marines standing at the entrance to the road. There was a funeral. We made our approach, and I saw numerous troops, an honor guard, and a band gathered in the distance. My jaw dropped. As many times as I have been to Arlington I had never witnessed a funeral. However, this was not an ordinary funeral because of the shear numbers of military present. This explained the fly-over and the canons. I stood quietly while they gave the 21 gun salute and the playing of taps. The photojournalist in me was itching to take pictures and all the while kicking myself for not bringing my big lens that day. I started taking a few photographs here and there to commemorate this moment. The one thing that stood out for me was the red flag with 3 white stars. My guess was a 3 Star General. This was a big deal!
On the way out of Arlington I looked up the funeral schedule for the cemetery. Unbeknownst to me I had witnessed the funeral of a historical figure in our military. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. was the first African American Marine Aviator and the first African American Marine General to serve our country. General Petersen died on August 28, 2015 in his home. Petersen joined the military in 1952 and flew in over 350 combat missions in Korea and Vietnam. He received the Purple Heart after his plane was shot down over the DMZ in Vietnam. In 1979 he was promoted to brigadier general; he earned his 2nd star in 1983 and his 3rd in 1986. He fought many barriers in his life and he was quoted as saying, “When someone says you can’t or shouldn’t do something, I go ahead and try it to see why the person didn’t want me to do it.” The Marine Corps was the last branch to get a black general; Petersen said, “Just to be able to say you kicked down another door was a great sense of satisfaction.”
October 30, 2015 will always remain a special memory for me. My dad had great respect for those who served and fought for our country. He always was insistent that when I went to Washington DC I should go to Arlington and watch the changing of the guard. He would have enjoyed this visit so much if he could have been there. I thought of him often that day. He always became emotional during taps. I am so proud of our service men and women who dedicate their lives to serving our country. They give of themselves to fight in battles that many of us do not understand. God bless our troops and our country. Protect and watch over all of our soldiers.
A few extra photographs from Arlington National Cemetery.