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Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online
Spring Detours 
By Jim McGee

Come on, admit it, you really didn't do much shooting while the snow was on the ground and the frost was in the air did you?

We all tend to shoot less during the winter months. Even if you're in a part of the country where the weather is a bit milder. After all the foliage isn't very good and we somehow get wrapped up in other things - especially around the holidays. As a result we all get a little rusty photographically.

Now the buds are on the trees and the smell of spring is in the air. So I present to you a simple little photo exercise to indulge the spring fever we're all feeling and to shake the rust off your photographic skills at the same time.

Leave for work 45 minutes early or plan on coming home late one night this week. Then instead of taking your normal route home from work detour off onto those little back roads that seemingly lead off to nowhere; and start looking for things to shoot. 

I did just that yesterday when driving back from a meeting and I was surprised at what I found just minutes off a highway I'd driven for years. After work that evening I did the same thing and was again pleasantly surprised at what I found just off the beaten path. Even in busy New Jersey you'll find old barns and pastoral scenes. 

And there will be surprises. Who would have thought I stumble on a herd of alpacas in New Jersey! It's truly amazing what you can find when you take your mind out of commuter mode and start searching out images.

This is the time of year it really pays to keep a camera in your car. You never know what you might stumble across. And it doesn't even have to be your full SLR rig. These shots were all taken with a little 3 megapixel DiMAGE XT. Since this is mostly an exercise in shaking off the rust and working on your eye and composition, big megapixel counts and high end glass needn't be part of the equation.

So indulge your spring fever. Get some new roads under your tires and some grass under your feet. It's time to get out and shoot!

The First Flower of Spring

Driving along the lakeside I spotted this lone flower. The first flower of spring. 

Three days later it had been joined by dozens of others.


Pastoral Scenes

A young alpaca gallops across a field in southern New Jersey. 

Alpacas in New Jersey? It's amazing what you can stumble across just minutes off your normal commuter route. It turns out these docile animals once raised by the Incas are becoming popular in the U.S. for their fine wool and gentle disposition.

Kirby's Mill

The light was failing when I came across this old mill. These old buildings are great to explore photographically because of all their small details.

Standing by the water's edge I was wishing for a 24mm lens and a polarizer so I could take in the whole scene and get some detail back into the bland sky. This is a spot I'll come back to when the foliage has filled in a little more. 

Another Old Mill Building 

This one was an old manufacturing facility dating back to the 1800's. It has a weathered look that reminds me of buildings I've seen out West. The angles formed by wracked old windows and the etched detail of the old clapboards can be interesting subjects to play with.

Details, Details, Details

The star punched out of the hanger on this old sliding door hardware caught my eye. These kinds of subjects are rich in contrasting textures like the rusted iron and weathered wood, which makes them good subjects for black and white prints. The image on the right is simply gray scaled. Some dodging and burning could yield an interesting print. 

All shots using Minolta DiMAGE Xt. Some shots were underexposed 
1/3rd to 2/3rds stop to increase saturation.

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