Head in the clouds

During the last 10 years of my career the amount of air travel was a big motivator for retirement. In the past 2 years I’ve only made 2 trips by plane. However, I do miss the occasional inspiring view from above. I see a few photogs doing nice work with drones but I have zero motivation to buy one.

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Shadows are always a part of the story in a photograph. Sometimes the shade of the subject is all that is needed in the frame. I like the context this image can add to a story as either a beginning an end or even a transition.

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Moments of solace when looking out the window were one of the few benefits of becoming A Million Miler. Not only is this a nice moment in time it is a nice moment in space. The winglet silhouette & the edge light on the wing define the perspective. The position of the Cheshire moon in relationship to all of the other components especially the town below provides depth. The glow of the sunset on the horizon of the entire atmosphere is almost impossible to see from the ground.

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A perk of all the travel was upgrades. The title of this is Coming Home in 4F! My brothers & sisters flying every week will understand. Some travelers may prefer the more visually dramatic approach into PIT that brings them over downtown. I preferred coming in from the West where the view allowed you to see the more a more rural environment. Seeing the waning of winter as spring is on the cusp, is always a wonderful sight.

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I never had any desire to pilot a plane. However, I thought it would be neat to drive one around on the tarmac.

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On the 54th Floor in DTW the fireworks from a barge on the river below me provided a very unique vantage point. Sparkling explosions displayed almost at eye level was something I never expected to see. Being able to add foreground building on the side of the frame & having Windsor Canada, as background provided a wonderful balance.

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Being able to work with talented professionals was a big thrill of my career. Flying with Cherokee Helicopters for a Kenny Chesney Concert was fantastic!!! His craft was designed for stability & he had the eye of a photographer. The best shots were when I pointed the camera & he flew the helicopter. The client was happy with the shots we got.  However, the best shot didn’t fit the format of the show. On a test flight in the early afternoon Cherokee came down the Monongahela, over the Ft. Pitt Bridge & dropped down to approach Heinz field. The rivers around Point Park were filled with boats.

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Inspired by the work of David Burnett & Leni Riefenstahl I saw an opportunity at a track & field event to float a person in the air. It also happened to be a personal best pole vault for the athlete. I consider this an example of preparing to be lucky. OBTW I respect the art of her work but can’t condone her collaboration with The Third Reich. Your reputation is elevated or, in Leni’s case, destroyed by those you associate with.

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Miami sure has changed since I first saw it on the Jackie Gleason Show. Unfortunately this aerial image now creates a sense of significant concern when I look at it. With the seas rising & the potential of more powerful storms the risk & the downside to everything in this image is a nightmare. We must listen to the power of nature.09 copy
8 years after Katrina the Louisiana lowlands coast appears recovered from what the storm had done. On final to MSY from about 8K feet I couldn’t help but reflect on the big picture of how powerful nature can be. Seeing the world from the window of a silver tube provided me with a view that reinforced my perspective on the importance of doing my best to respect the environment. We have impacted the climate & we must take responsibility to do better. OBTW later on in that trip human error caused the lights to go out in the Super Bowl. We can’t control everything!

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This is one of my favorite pictures where the sky is a subject. The simplicity of a fragile bubble floating with the contrails of a plane miles above dissecting it is a perfect example of chance. The dual reflections are of the sun by the peak of the Washington Monument. Photo credit Jessica Kuntz. Her view of the world is one I respect.

A cure for cabin fever

Since I am not a fan of winter I have little motivation in outside activities when the weather is cold. However, my camera inspires me to get out of the house.

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Opportunities the weather provides inspired me to put on a few layers & head outside in an attempt to capture the environment. One thing about cold weather I do enjoy is it makes me feel alive. My senses are more attuned to the world around me because so many routine things are different. The iconic Bell Tower of Chautauqua Institution shrouded in winter fog is the result of a few degrees of temperature difference between the air & the frozen lake. The atmosphere muffled the voice of the clocks bells while the frozen lake reflected their chimes. The overcast sky reinforced a mood of solitude.

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A challenge of doing photography in the snow is choosing subjects where the weather is either a primary or supporting character in the frame. In some cases the overall lack of color enhances the scene. I have been envisioning options on how the Allegheny Observatory, with its unique shape, could be shot. Initially I thought the domed shape would be emphasized, as other subjects were almost monochrome. However the tree, still with some leaves on it, provided a complementary form & with hint of chroma.

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Living just North of the 40th meridian, snow is not uncommon but it isn’t a constant element of winter. In my minds eye this snow-covered house takes me to a place further north where snows of winter are constant till the spring thaw. It also conjures a place of warmth to escape the cold. When you can capture the environment you can influence the viewers mood.

04 I love Pittsburgh’s many quirks. This is s favorite. Having cleared the public street of snow, the effort of a persons labor is “claimed” as a parking place by simply putting a chair in the space. While some may see this as taking something that doesn’t belong to them, most respect the work of others & don’t park there. That is pure Pittsburgh.

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I gave up fishing almost 50 years ago & have never contemplated ice fishing. In search of some interesting shots & talking to the fishermen about their sport I took a stroll on a bay I normally enjoy from my boat. What struck me after I left the shore was the sense of community the huts created. I also noticed that just like the diversity of boats used for fishing in the summer their was a wide variety of tents or shelters. I really enjoyed walking around this neighborhood.

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Not surprising ice fishing is something for a father & son to enjoy together. This dad hadn’t been ice fishing since he was in Cub Scouts. With his sons in Cub Scouts he decided it would be a good way to spend time together. They were having a grand time.

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The reward of this fisherman is more than what is on the end of his line. He is with friends who have been close for much of their lives. The camaraderie is more important than the catch. The device in the lower right of the frame is a sonar device, showing the depth of the water & movement of the fish. Just like any hobby or sport, toys make the activity more engaging. When I asked why they choose this particular spot I was told they had studied contours of the lake bottom on the internet and got GPS coordinates before coming onto the ice.

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For some, the solitude of nature & escaping the routine of daily life is reason enough to drill a hole in the ice & drop a line in the cold water. On this day with bright sunshine I set my exposure at 1 stop brighter using a center weighted weighted zone. When I had first read about this technique it seemed counter-productive until I better understood the process of how the camera interprets the scene.

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About a mile away from the village of fishermen I saw a familiar yet out of place shape. With the same sail rigging as kite-boarding on water you can snow board on ice. I would love to have a young back & knees to try kite-boarding but I have no desire to try the winter version of this sport. Water is soft…ice is hard.

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My first impression when I saw this person on a bike was why? But after watching him for a while with fat boy tires on his bike I said why not? He was paired with the novice kite-snow-boarder providing support & advice. This enabled him to keep up with his friend as the wind blew him away.

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The beauty of Nature can mask the dangers. Over 1 dozen barges broke away from their moorings on the Ohio River & came to rest on the Emsworth Dam. The powerful flow of the water holds these 300 ton steel flatboats against the structure. This then provides a place for ice to build up creating problems to the locks, which are critical to the movement of river traffic. When I see things like this my mind immediately goes to the workers who are responsible for solving the problem. Largely taken for granted The Army Corps of Engineers provides an important service to all of us. BE SAFE!