Friday, April 25, 2014

Waterside Woolen Mill- Attic

I recently visited the Waterside Woolen Mill with a Dave Hammaker Photography tour. The mill is one of the oldest operating woolen mills in the US. In 1806 John Snider built the mill on the bank of Yellow Creek in Morrison Cove, Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

My interest in the Mill was twofold: Photography and historical manufacturing. Certainly this location will warrant another visit to pursue both. While this location is similarly tweaks my interests as the Silk Mill in Lonaconing, Maryland, it has a more "lived in" feel as much of the equipment still operates and is in use today. The mill has all the equipment, dating back to the late 1800's, needed to process raw wool into woven products. More on that in future posts as I descend from the attic in the photo journey.

After a very early departure from home I arrived at the mill before the other photographers who would have all day to explore the four story building. I was meet at the door by the current owner Dennis Wile, who took me on a brief tour of the place. Denis suggested I start in the attic as it warmed up quickly. With spring being late this year, the locals were looking forward to a pleasant day after yet another frosty start. It didn't take long to shed my jacket after starting in the attic. The early morning light was fantastic shining through a window in the far end, the side and three copulas in the roof.

The first scene that demanded attention was from the far end of the attic. The opening photo was from the right of here.

Thousands of old bobbins are stored in the attic. The wool was spun into yarn onto these bobbins which were then loaded one at a time into the loams to weave wool blankets. 

Part of the power train from the third floor intruded into the edge of the attic.

Ropes, an old production tag were among the many things left in the attic.

A smallish elevator shaft connect the floors of the mill. Presumably used to transport materials during the manufacturing process. Bulkier items were hoisted outside the end of the building using ropes and block and tackle. Access to the attic is through the door shown below. It has the earliest date found in the mill. The stairs are very narrow and steep.

Next time, I'll continue my exploration on lower floors.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Going to the Birds

A few bird grab shots from around the farm lately: About a month ago, this swan appeared. It looked to have some sort of leg injury as it hobbled around. The swan is walking well now but has hung around- either at the pond or in the wheat field. He is big, makes a Canadian Goose look almost small.

Speaking of geese, these two were in no hurry to get out of my way to work a week ago. Must have been the last pair to pack up and head out. They were rough on the wheat crop last winter, eating a couple of fields right to the ground. Good riddance. I can remember in the 70's that to hear a small flock fly over was a remarkable event. Now we have too many of them it seems.

Every now and then I just happen to have my camera when these little blue birds sit still on a fense post long enough to photograph. Twitchy little things.
The eagles still torment me, perched in the tree all most all the time but never allowing me to get even remotely close enough to photograph. Then there is the pair of hawks that moved in last year- I need to look up what kind they are again (grey to brown with a white band on the tail)- they are also rather elusive. As usual, the Red Tails are further afield now that the Osprey are back. They will be back this fall once the Osprey head back south for the winter. We are covered up in Turkeys also- what remarkable eyesight they have as well. While I don't consider myself a bird person by any stretch of the imagination, you can't miss the variety flitting around.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Nesting Time

I am just getting around to posting about the Osprey this year. They typically fly in from the south during the second week of March. After arrival, it takes them about a week to settle in. Then the pair begin to tidy up and rebuild the nest. By late March the mating ritual has begun (I missed that this year as Donna and I were away). While both birds are active in the nest building (here the male is placing a stick under his mates watchful eye), my observation is that the male usually brings in the bigger sticks while the female tends to stay closer to the nest and bring smaller sticks and fluffy material (straw, etc.) for lining.

Forked sticks present a challenge to arrange. It may take a couple of days to place one to their satisfaction. Here the female is working on a forked stick. It is impressive how large of a stick they can carry. I have seen the male fly in sticks easily six feet long and 2 inches in diameter. I have seen both birds work together to place a particularly difficult stick. Within a couple of weeks they have built up their nest 8 to 10 inched higher.

I arrived a recent morning just in time to see the male fly in with a corn stalk to add to the lining on the nest. Their flying skill never cease to amaze me. Even with a slight breeze, he places the stalk precisely. As the nest nears completion, the female spends more and more time at the nest preparing to lay eggs. During all this activity the male also is doing the fishing for both, bringing in a number of fish a day to share with his mate.

At the end of a busy day they both take a moment to rest before he flys back to the river for another fish. By the second week of April, she has begun laying eggs and is sitting on them almost the entire time. Yesterday after he brought her yet another fish to eat she wanted a break from sitting. After making a big fuss, he settled in on the eggs for a while so she could stretch her wings for a bit. Since the male is much more skittish around people it took some cajoling on her part. She is much more used to people and sits tight when eggs are in the nest. They are graceful and efficient flyers. Should another Osprey cruise by too close (seems to happen fairly often) or a Bald Eagle, she will launch off the nest with shocking speed to defend her nest. I saw her pin a Bald Eagle to the ground a couple of years ago and repeatedly attack until I thought she might kill him. The Eagle barely escaped with his life by limping to the tree line. So now we wait for something to hatch.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Poverty Beach Repose

I recently found this image from a couple of years ago floating around on my hard drives. I had taken a workshop with John Barclay at Cape May, New Jersey. The workshop was the weekend after our busy fall season ended and I was exhausted. The first day we went out to shoot all the old Victorian houses there and I just couldn't get into it mentally. The next day, as I recall, we did some ocean scenes similar to this and we left very early to shoot the 59th Street Pier in Ocean City. We experienced epic light and my spirits were revived considerably. The morning after the workshop concluded, I choose to get up early way before dawn in the cold and wind to try again at this location along Poverty Beach. At first I was disappointed seeing there would be no clouds. A bald sky is generally considered to be not worth photographing. Many would have packed it in and headed back to the warmth of the hotel. The tide was up and I had gone to the trouble to bundle up in four layers of clothes so I decided to stick it out and hope for the best. So glad I stayed as this has become one of my favorite images. I am drawn to the minimalist composition and contrast of color across the sky and sea. I selected an exposure of 25 seconds to smooth the waves but still leave some texture in the water. I have shown the Black/White version in the past and I include it here for your comparison.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Stand Still

High on the bucket list of locations to visit during the Charleston trip was Botany Bay. The beach here has suffered severe erosion resulting in dead trees standing in the ocean. Quite a visual juxtaposition. The place was once part of an old plantation. Now it is a natural resource area managed by the state of South Carolina.

After considerable research to pin down the location, Donna and I drove down from Charleston to check it out one afternoon. At the front gate everyone entering has to register before proceeding. The parking lot appears after about a two mile drive in. Then it is a half mile hike over the marsh to the beach with the famous trees. We encountered an extremely high tide, according to the volunteer monitoring the beach area. The rules are best summarized by, "Look but don't touch." We wandered around, exploring the beach to make a basic photo plan for when I returned. After following the weather for the week, I determined the next morning offered the best chance of some sunrise clouds. On our drive out, we took the long loop to see the historical remnants of the plantation. At one stop, Donna got a bunch of pictures a large white egret just off the road. The man at the gate informed me that the gate would open at 6am.

The next morning at 4:15am I got up to make the hour plus drive over. I arrived first at the gate and it did not open until 6:30. By that time there was a long line of photographers waiting to enter with the same objective in mind. The large group behind me stopped at the marsh to catch the spectacular red sunrise reflection. I was sorely tempted, but knew if I stopped, I would miss what I came for. On to the beach! As predicted (I have a handy tide app on my phone), the tide was especially high resulting in quite a scramble over the downed trees to get into position. I really wanted to go further up the beach but time was running out so I picked a spot I had identified on the recon. I wore boots hoping that would suffice. Wrong. Should have brought the waders or waterproof foot ware. I could easily have gotten nearly waist deep to compose what I had in mind. But then how far does one want to risk going into the surf with a few thousand dollars of gear?

As always at sunrise, the light is fleeting and one must work fast and decisively. Especially considering that each exposure took 6 or 7 minutes to make. The only way to portray smooth water is to use a very dark filter to create the long exposure. You can't tell from this image, but the surf was one to two feet high as it crashed ashore. I had a new 10 stop ND just for this purpose. Compose. Take some test shots. Figure the exposure (there are apps for that). Attach the filter carefully without dropping it in the ocean. Check for spray on the lens. Shoot. Repeat. Before you know it, the sun is up, the tide is out and it is late morning already. It makes for a very exciting morning. Maybe next time I'll talk Donna into the early start to come along? Because this is one of those places you just have to return to.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ravenel Bridge

For our 34th Anniversary, Donna and I went back to Charleston, SC. We had not been back there since we honeymooned there. We had a wonderful time visiting and photographing many of the sites in the region including this magnificent bridge. After a couple tries finding a good vantage point and some help from local photographer Kate Silvia we succeeded.

When Donna and I arrived, there was a small crowd already lined up to capture sunset. It soon became apparent that sunset would be cloudless and bland. So they all packed up and left. But I thought an image during the blue hour, after sunset, would have potential especially because the bridge is well lit. I had received a 10 stop ND filter for Christmas ans I was anxious to put it to good use. The result was about a 5 minute exposure to smooth the river. As luck would have it, during the exposure a tug, lit up light a Christmas tree, passed under the bridge towing a massive crane on a barge that just cleared the bridge. The tug and barge is unseen except for the streak of light trail. I used the Long Exposure Calculator app to calculate the exposure time. There are a number of apps available for this function, but I prefer this one for the built in timer that makes use a breeze.

We had a wonderful trip don memory lane and look forward to returning someday. Hopefully well before another 34 years go by!