Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mifflinburg (Union County) back roads

farm scenery, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

To some, Mifflinburg, in Union Co, PA is merely a speed bump en-route to Penn State.  It wasn't that long ago when there was even a McDonald's or a Sheetz. The town itself is old, yet well preserved, with old buildings and traditional stores on the main street.

My favorite thing about it is the back roads where Amish buggies are common sight and picturesque farms and farmland can be seen in every direction.

This shot was captured right after sunrise in the morning magic hour. A cold night left a bit of frost on the remaining pumpkins.

Spontaneously choosing roads was fun and challenging. With subjects and lighting changing by the minute, this area definitely deserves future visits and different back road explorations. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New York City - Open House New York

Met Life, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.
This was the 8th year that New York City has a weekend program, called Open House New York (OHNY), allowing access to private and public buildings for architecturally and design enthusiasts.

Historically it runs on Columbus Day Weekend. This year I toured a LEED Certified apartment on 85th Street. The Lucida apartment we visited cost about $5,000,000 or about $1M per bedroom.

The Chrysler Building lobby, normally off limits, was open for the day too. Still heavily guarded, but at least tolerant to the art deco enthusiasts it attracted.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Penn Ave, West Reading, PA (Fall Walk)

Curious Consignments, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

A fall walk on the avenue is a great way to enjoy splendid weather plus great eating and unique shopping.

This photo was taken at Curious Consignments where their inventory can change daily so they provide a never ending supply of interesting things to purchase.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Gring's Mill Rec Area

Gring's Mill Rec Area, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

Gring's Mill was the starting point for a walk on the Union Canal Trail along the Tulpehocken Creek.

Union Canal Trail (part of the Schuylkill Trail System) offers scenic views of Gring's Mill, Red Bridge (covered bridge), Berks Heritage Center, plus other sites depending on how far you venture.

Summer highlights at Gring's Mill include annual festivals and the Summer Concert Series held at the outdoor amphitheater on Sunday evenings, Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. Gring's Mill also hosts the Holiday Lights Program during the month of December.

Rental space is available for large groups, with numerous recreational activities.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Reading Railroad Heritage Museum

5513 engine, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

Following the memorable Hamburg Hamburger Festival, I passed the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum which was advertising later hours and yard tours for $5.

The museum has knowledgeable volunteers leading yard tours on the weekends; five on Saturdays and three on Sundays.

They have ambitious engine and train car restoration projects, plus the whole site design and landscaping.

I have a passive interest in trains, but the volunteers were so into the history, massive machines, and railroad culture that it was easy to share their enthusiasm about trains.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunflower Tunnel - Reading Public Museum

IMG_1086a, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

In August I learned that the Reading Public Museum created a sunflower tunnel.

It's the first year of a project where they arrange and layer varying heights of sunflower species in parallel rows. When they mature the tall ones will lean over forming a tunnel.

The bees and finches were loving the new food source too.

Of course, a visit to the museum wouldn't be complete without a stroll along the stream through their arboretum.

Mockingbird - Middle Creek Wildlife Reserve

Mockingbird, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.
Every August, I make a point to visit the Middle Creek Wildlife Art Show and reserve.

The visitor's center has colorful gardens full of insects, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Below the visitor center is a large wildflower field loaded with great photo subject matter too. Also close is a large lily pad covered pond with numerous species of dragonfly's and frogs.

This mockingbird buzzed me numerous times as I was taking macros in the wildflower fields. I guess she thought I was interfering with her collecting.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hay Creek - Tiger Swallowtail

tiger swallowtail, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

A near-perfect weather morning was all the encouragement I needed to get out for a photo walk with Max.

A little too late for sunrise and morning mist, but just right for the morning magic hour lighting.

Max and I walked the mile to Birdsboro Reservoir and lapped it. Still waters with vivid reflections were at every angle.

After the reservoir we headed down to the little dam on Hay Creek for some potential stream subject matter.

Joe-pye weeds (as pictured) align Hay Creek Road which is a favorite of butterflies and insects, but in the morning the road is shaded by the hills so not the best for photography. However, along the canal and by the stream were lots of sun lit joe-pyes loaded with butterflies.

Two hours flew by with just a little over 2 miles covered.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Teasel - Angelica Creek Park

Teasel, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.
Angelica Creek Park is small and subtle, but it packs in so much natural diversity.

Wildflowers, insects, birds are thriving here. Trails parallel the stream the length of the park and offer great subject matter for nature lovers.
Max and I visited on a mild temp (rare this summer) and breezy evening making macro photography especially challenging, but the ample lighting allowed for faster shutter speeds helping me get many good shots anyway.
We walked up and down both sides of the creek covering about a half mile in our short visit ending about 7:00PM.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

TD Bike Race - Philadelphia International Cycling Championship

Bike Race, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

TD Bike Race - Philadelphia International Cycling Championship has been a must see event for the past 26 years.

Good weather prevailed once again as it has for every year that I've attended.

A hot 90 degrees took a toll on the bikers during the grueling 156 mile 10 lap course. Lady cyclists compete on the same course for a shorter 57 mile race.

The vendor area is fun for you get to sample the latest nutrition bars, health drinks and other snacks. Lots of cycling gear is for sale as well as cycling culture.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Service (Sunbury, PA)

Patriotic House, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

Memorial Day is the day we remember the veterans, both living and passed.

The organizer's and participants of the Sunbury parade and service made this the best I've ever attended.

While the entertaining Sunbury Band sat in the blazing heat, the parade was marching well over a mile to the cemetery for the final memorial service at the Sunbury Cemetery at 4th and Spruce St.

The period fashioned people symbolized the extent of our veteran history dating back to the 18th century, reminding us of the sacrifices that have been made for 100's of years to preserve the beliefs of this country.

The music, passage and speeches were touching and appropriate.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tick Removal (Simple Technique)

Insects breath through their skin. This acts to suffocate them.

Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and swab it for a few seconds (15-20), the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away.

Petroleum Jelly works the same way I'm told.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Union Township Recreation Area

Swallowtail Flock, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

Max and I bounded down the river bank and startled a large flock of swallowtail butterflies on the shore of the Schuylkill River and I didn't get one shot off.

Hoping that they would return after walking the loop, about 2 miles and an hour later, this time we sneaked up on them for a great set of photos.

The Union Township Recreation Area is a fairly new spot carved out a natural area along the Schuylkill River. It has a boat ramp, high loop trail, and some lowland trails.

The Thun Trail shares part of the loop trail along SR724.

It was about 80 degrees, but the smell of honeysuckles, wild roses, and berry bushes will be my everlasting memory. However, after breathing the pollen for awhile Max and I both started sneezing and continued until we passed through the heavily pollinated area.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Birdsboro Reservoir (Spring Afternoon)

Birdsboro Reservoir, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

An afternoon photo walk with Max was long overdue and the Hay Creek Watershed was the perfect venue.

It was 74, sunny, and nearly bug-free. The lighting was rich, as you'd expect for about 6 PM.

I parked at the gate on Hay Creek Rd (aka SR82) and we walked about 1 mile to the Birdsboro Reservoir. The lake was calm and reflective. Little swallows were buzzing the surface feeding on the surface flies.

The road's shoulders that were cut back last year are growing back too so I expect to see more macro opportunities this summer and fall.

Throughout our walk we passed mountain bikers, hikers, and fishermen.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hot Rod Classic Car Show (VF Outlet)

Camaro Z28, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

Vanity Fair Outlet (VF) was the setting for the Hot Rod Classic Car Show. About 75 hot rods added color and flair to the mall parking lots.

Onlookers of all demographic backgrounds came out to enjoy the sites. Seems like vintage quality is ageless.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Jenkins Arboretum (Spring)

IMG_4628, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

John, and I met at 8:30 AM for a warm, humid, spring morning photo shoot at Jenkins Arboretum. Lack of a breeze is good for taking macros, but makes you a sitting target for pesky gnats and mosquitoes. We sprayed almost all possible exposed skin with bug repellent, so the bugs annoyingly focused on the ear canal or eyes.

Jenkins Arboretum was splendid. Lots of color from the azaleas and spring wildflowers made for abundant photo subjects. The pond/bog area is great too, but since it's completely fenced in, getting close to the water's edge is not possible.

We hiked nearly the whole 1.2 mile paved trail collecting hundreds of colorful shots. Jenkins labels most trees and plants so identifying the flora is easier.

It's a well thought out place that makes for seasonal, even weekly or monthly visits a different experience. Time of day effects fauna behavior so staggering when you go will afford a variety of sightings.

In April 2009, they opened their LEED certified visitor center. Renewable and "green" in every respect possible, this building is a great example of the latest and practical sustainable architectural design.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Reading Museum Spring Gardens

IMG_3631a, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

The Spring blooms probably started a week or two early due to the mild "hot" weather.

As in prior posts, the Reading Public Museum grounds are worthy of a photo walk. The whole Wyomissing Creek trail offers a variety of subject matter too.

Max and I headed out late morning, still about 45 degrees, and our first walk in a long time. He was thrilled by the outing with it's hundreds of new smells to explore.

This was a challenging shoot, for a steady breeze, cold hands and energetic dog were constantly pulling or pushing against my one-handed shooting technique with my new Canon SX20.

Lots of bright light, fast shutter speeds and just enough breaks in the wind allowed me to shoot a number of representative shots.

I bought the Canon in December 2009 and am still getting used to the numerous features and heft of this model. No real complaints, just a new learning curve.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Philadelphia - Winter Photo Walk

Independence Hall, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

A mild (50 degree) winter afternoon was the perfect climate for a leisurely photo walk in Philadelphia.

The route I took was over 3 miles in 3 hours. From Broad St, east on Walnut St to Independence Hall, to Chinatown, to City Hall and back to Broad St.

City walking is really one the most interesting settings I can think of for the subject matter is nearly limitless. Architecture, statues, parks, people, and street scenes to name just a few.

Lighting challenges are present as well due to tall buildings and low sun angles and the early sunsets in winter.

An observation about Starbucks is that I believe that you can't finish a cup of grande before you walk upon another Starbucks.

Max stayed home for this outing, so I had a free hand available to drink coffee.

New Canon
Around Thanksgiving, I replaced my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28, with the Canon Powershot SX20 IS. A heavier, bigger ultra zoom, I am still learning the features and limits of this model.

This camera has a big grip, feeling more like an DSLR then any other ultra zoom's I've owned. This is the 5th digital I've owned. It's powered by 4AA "rechargeable" batteries, which adds to the heft, but also makes it convenient.