Monday, February 28, 2011

Sunday in Black & White

As promised here are the shots from my Sunday constitutional that worked in b&w. Neither the fir cone nor the park bench worked very well as b&w shots; there wasn't enough variation in hue values among the elements of the shots to make interesting pictures. The other four worked quite well, though. Rather than use Photoshop's built-in b&w conversion function, I again went to the Exposure 2 plug-in to try out some of the classic b&w film emulations. The last three used the Kodak T-MAX 100 setting, a medium grain panchromatic film well-suited to detail in photos. The first shot used the Ilford HP5 Plus 400 setting, a film that deals better with varied lighting conditions, as this situation with both wooded and open areas would call for.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Constitutional

I did an almost literal walk around the block for this week's Sunday constitutional; I walked around Timber Hill, which my brother's house sits on. I went down Possum Hollow Rd., went along the Dykeman Walking Path and the Duck Ponds and then came home via Olde Scotland Rd. (on the other side of Timber Hill) and the other end of Possum Hollow Rd. Not a bad hike! [Note: All of these were processed in Photoshop using the Exposure 2 plug-in. For most I used the Fuji Velvia 100F setting, a film much used for outdoor vacation shots; for the first shot I used the Fuji Velvia 50 setting as it's somewhat brighter, which was need for a woodland shot like this.]

Another take on the Middle Spring Creek in the Duck Ponds park shot.

A bench on the walk around the northern Duck Pond.

A cone from a Balsam Fir growing in the Duck Ponds park.

South Mountain seen from Olde Scotland Rd.

A corn silage depot along the railroad tracks near I-81.

The western end of Timber Hill.

Tomorrow I'll show you the b&w versions of these, or rather the b&w versions that worked.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sight & Sound - Morning Fog

The fog rose up from the snow this morning in the rain and warmer air. It blew off when the high winds blasted in this afternoon.

What better song to go with this than Kate Bush's "The Fog", from her 1989 album The Sensual World?

Photo © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Come In from the Cold and Wet

Coming in from tramping in the snow and warming up by the fire reminds me of this poem from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. This is Bilbo's song in Rivendell at the end of the story.

I sit beside the fire and think
of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies
In summers that have been;

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun
and wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
that I shall ever see.

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring
there is a different green.

I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago,
and people who will see a world
that I shall never know.

But all the while I sit and think
of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
and voices at the door.

Photo © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More Snow

We got another 6 in. (15 cm) of snow last night, and after helping to shovel out this morning I went to visit two previous photo locations to get them in snow. Tomorrow I'll probably take a longer hike.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Closer Look

Sights seen along the Dykeman Walking Path and in the Duck Ponds park this morning. The macro setting on my camera got a good workout today.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Lonely Outpost

Yesterday I showed you this abandoned shack on Possum Hollow Road:

Here's the black and white version:

For those who have shown an interest in these things: I processed both pics in Photoshop CS3, using both Photoshop's built in controls and the Exposure 2 plug-in which emulates classic photography films. The color shot was processed using the Kodak Ultra Color 100 setting, and the b&w using the Agfa APX 100 setting.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger
[Note: Make sure to drop by the Just A Song blog for my latest entry there.]

Friday, February 18, 2011

Winter, but No Snow

Scenes from today's walk.

A stairway in the hillside behind the house.

An abandoned shack along Possum Hollow Rd.

Golden fields along Possum Hollow Rd.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Old Oak and Iron

I went out walking in our deceptive Springlike weather (it is still mid February, after all) and found my perfect shot at the end, when I got back home. I found these old, discarded barrel halves (formerly used as pots for shrubs) out behind the gardening shed down the hill from the house. And I played with them in the new toy, the Exposure 2 plug-in for Photoshop.

For this version, I applied the noon day sun lighting filter, and then applied the filter that emulates Kodak Ultracolor 100 film. The lighting brought out the weathered grain of the wood on the barrels, and the Kodak Ultracolor filter saturated and warmed the colors without actually mutating or exaggerating the colors in the original shot. The result is almost painterly and looks like a postcard from farm country.

For this b&w version I again applied the noon day sun filter and then applied the Kodak Tri-X 400 film emulation. The Tri-X slightly exaggerates the contrast and adds just a little ISO 400 grain; it gives this shot a bit of a bite, some edge, and makes the barrel halves jump out from the background.

I really love this plug-in!

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

That Face, That Face, That Fabulous Face!

Toward the end of my hike Sunday this lovely immature Red-tailed Hawk flew past me and settled on a tree limb several yards ahead of me and then watched as I walked under her (I'm saying her because this was a big bird despite being obviously only about 8 or 9 months old, and female Red-tails are bigger than the males) when I went to where I could catch her from the front with the sun behind me. She didn't seem to be at all afraid or nervous, but she was very curious, stretching her head from side to side, stretching it up, cocking her head to the left and to the right, looking at me from her left eye and then from her right. She was still there on that limb when I finally decided I'd got enough shots of her and went on my merry way. This view is the best of the shots I took.

And of course, all I could think of while editing and processing this shot was the marvelous song from Mel Brooks' musical version of The Producers - "That Face", sung by Matthew Broderick. So here it is.

Photo © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Quirky Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yes, I've been playing in Photoshop™ again!

Being me, I can't do a Valentine's Day post with just a picture; there needs to be music as well. That's where the "quirky" part kicks in, because I chose two Willie Nelson tunes.

Considering that he made a career out of his songwriting, it's interesting that the song that became Willie's signature love ballad was a song written by somone else entirely. "Always on My Mind" was written by Johnny Christopher, Mark James and Wayne Carson Thompson. It was originally recorded by Brenda Lee and later by Elvis, but it was Willie who made a #1 hit of it in 1983, winning a Grammy for himself (Best Male Country Vocal Performance) and two Grammies for the songwriters (Song of the Year and Best Country Song). Now he sings it at every one of his concerts, and when you mention "Always on My Mind" people don't think of Brenda Lee or Elvis; they think of Willie Nelson.

And then there's my favorite Willie Nelson tune - "Crazy". He always sings it, but even Willie admits that his version isn't the best one. The version that he and everyone else has tagged as the classic is Patsy Cline's. On the evidence and by popular acclaim (including Willie's), this song and singer were a match made in heaven. And I have to admit that not only is "Crazy" one of my favorite songs, but Patsy Cline ranks in my top 10 favorite female vocalists.

As an added attraction, I've also included LeAnn Rimes' version of "Crazy". I'm not exactly a fan of hers, but her treatment of this classic is spot on. She's also respectful of Patsy Cline's version and doesn't go over the top with it, as others have. It may not be in the same league as Patsy, but this is still a version worth listening to.

Well, you can't say I didn't warn you about the quirkiness.

Photo © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cumberland Valley Rail-Trail

Today I decided to tackle at least part of the Cumberland Valley Rail-Trail. This is an old, decommissioned rail bed which has been converted to a walking/biking/equestrian trail that runs for 11 miles (17.7 km) from Shippensburg to Newville. I walked to Duncan Rd., which is marked as 3.6 miles (5.8 km) from the trail head, before turning back.

For the first mile of the trail it skirts the southern fringes of Shippensburg University, and there are evidences of student use along that part of the trail, like multicolored birdhouses which look like they were part of a class project.

There are memorial benches all up and down the trail offering rest for weary feet and legs. This one was in the Shippensburg U area and dedicated to a now-deceased professor. I find it interesting that these benches were handmade from store lumber and the messages were carved and painted by someone who was obviously a volunteer. I'm so used to the memorial benches in Newport and along the East Bay Bike Path in Bristol, Warren, and East Providence, RI being commercially available benches with cast bronze memorial plaques that these handmade benches were very touching, evidence that this trail is truly a community effort.

For the first 2 miles (3.2 km) the trail is surrounded by woods, with only brief glimpses of fields and farms beyond the trees. One of those glances revealed this pony calmly grazing in the snow.

But close to the 3 mile (4.8 km) marker the northeast side of the trail emerges from the trees and offers wide-open panoramic vistas of the farms of the Cumberland Valley and the next mountain ridge beyond them.

And that was as far as I got today. By the time I got to Duncan Rd. I'd walked 5 miles (8 km), including the walk from home to the trail head, which would make it a round trip to 10 miles (16 km). That's enough of a hike for a Sunday constitutional!

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Toy

I found a Photoshop plug-in called Exposure that emulates film, and includes some classic photographic media like calotype and daguerreotype. Some of the old Kodak and Polaroid films weren't always faithful to the original colors and created some interesting photos, but I decided to start off with some classic stuff to apply to a self portrait (the faded corners vignetting is my own touch).

The calotype version. Calotypes were created by developing the photo on paper coated with silver iodide.

The daguerreotype version. These were exposed on a copper sheet with a thin cover of silver and developed by exposing it to mercury vapor. This was the earliest type of photographic print.

And what better to go with the title of this post but Lene Lovich's "New Toy"?

Photos © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sight & Sound - Childhood

More crowded shelves today, this time from the sunroom, which is mostly inhabited by the toys and such that my niece and nephew have outgrown. Color was the only way to go with these; b&w just didn't work for this.

And the perfect musical accompaniment for this is the Toy Symphony (also known as the Kindersinfonie - Children's Symphony) by Leopold Mozart, Wolfgang's Papa. Enjoy!

Photos © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sight & Sound - Crowded Shelves

Music: "Julia's Cupboards", by the (now defunct) Freemantle, Australia group Bungarra. The song was written by guitarist/vocalist Rick Martin for his wife Julia, also a vocalist with the ensemble.

Photos © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Details, Details

I got fascinated by some architectural details on a walk down King St. this morning. The first three shots are of details on a 19th Century gazebo built over a now-dry spring, including one of the cast concrete benches on the brick path around the gazebo.

A little farther down the street was a brick building with a carved wooden faience and doorway that caught my eye.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, February 07, 2011


Behold Halyomorpha halys, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. This house is full of them; in fact many houses throughout Pennsylvania are. It's an invasive pest species that was introduced to the area around 1998 (first observed in Allentown in that year), probably hitching a ride on an imported plant from its home in China. And in Fall they come indoors for the cold months. They're a constant presence here, and I finally decided to creep up on one in macro mode and get a shot.

The whole time I was shooting this bug I had the sounds that the giant ants in the movie Them! made running in my head. Afterward I remembered a piece of music I have here that would make the perfect soundtrack for one of those '50s giant-insects-mutated-by-the-atomic-bomb movies, trance musician A Produce's "Insect Justice", from his 1995 CD White Sands. So, a creepy critter and some perfect atmosphere music to go with it. Enjoy!

Photo © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, February 06, 2011

A Belated Anniversary Tribute

February 2 is the late Eva Cassidy's birthday, and I usually do an online tribute to her (you can read last year's here), but I somehow missed it this year. I picked two photos I've done which reflect the mood Eva's music puts me in and added the YouTube video of her signature song - her arrangement of Harold Arlen's and Yip Harburg's "Over the Rainbow". Happy birthday Eva. We really do miss you.

Photos © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Sepia Saturday - Childhood

I don't actually participate in the weekly Sepia Saturday theme, because these two shots are my only old photos. And even then the sepia was added by me with Photoshop. So this is probably the only Sepia Saturday post you'll ever see from me.

This is my family circa 1958. That's me on the right in my argyle sweater-vest, doing my best Calvin (see Calvin and Hobbes) imitation. The shot was taken by my Grandmom Ethel in their old rowhouse in Baltimore. Below is a shot of me at one year old, taken in Grandmom's back yard.

And just to keep with the childhood theme, here's "Puffin' Billy" by Edward George White, in its original recording by the Melodi Light Orchestra. For those of you across the Pond, this was the theme to the BBC Light Programme's "Children's Favourites" from 1952 - 1966. But for those of us here in the US, the tune is best known as the opening theme of the iconic children's morning program "Captain Kangaroo", which ran from 1955 to 1984. Enjoy!

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger