Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! And to all my friends outside the US, have a great day. I'll be heading up the hill in a couple of hours to eat roast turkey and visit with family at my brother's place, but before I go I'll leave you with some appropriate music. The first video is my own photos set to Peter Ostroushko's  "Heart of the Heartland", and the second is George Winston's "Thanksgiving". Enjoy!

Photo © 2009 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winter's Coming

It's the back end of November; the leaves are pretty much off the trees and the scenery is getting gray and brown and dreary, especially when it gets overcast and precipitates. We had some seriously unseasonable cold weather over the weekend, and now a truly wintry storm system is moving through the area today. We started out with light snow for a couple of hours, which changed to sleet, then to freezing rain, and finally just plain rain, with the temperatures still hanging around the freezing mark. As it moves out tomorrow morning it's supposed to change back to light snow. Yup, damp, raw, cold, gray, and dreary. The end of November is living up to its reputation!

I walked through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park with my cell phone camera this morning while my laundry was washing; the hike was at the peak of the light-snow-turning-to-sleet phase. Yup, dreary!

© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sunday Morning Downtown

I went wandering around downtown Shippensburg yesterday while my laundry was drying. It was an overcast, dreary morning, and by the time I went back to take the laundry out of the dryer and head home it was also starting to drizzle. Ah, November! I decided that color emphasized the dreariness even better than black and white because it's getting so raggedy and sparse. So here's yesterday's wander.

© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Applying Antiquity

I processed the shots from the other day as black & white and then had an idea - "antique" them in Photoshop, i.e. add film grain and sepia. The building shots worked the best, so here they are. Enjoy!

© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, November 08, 2013

Walking Around Town

I went walking around town today looking for things to catch my eye. Here are the results.

Twin small Victorians on N. Earl St., complete with gingerbread trim
Another Victorian, the Memorial Lutheran Church parsonage at S. Penn and E. Orange Streets
Sign on a historic building downtown on King St.
Carved wood decoration on the same building
The back shed next door
© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Fall Foliage in the Peace Garden

I went up to Shippensburg Memorial Park to take pictures of the Peace Garden in full Fall color yesterday (I took you on a visit there for Memorial Day 2012). It was a very bright, sunny day, which this phone camera doesn't deal well with, and the sun was in a bad place to get some very enticing shots without glare and white-outs. But I did end up with three shots that give a good indication of the beauty of the place in the Fall. Enjoy!

The entrance to the Peace Garden
Carved rock and Japanese Maple niche
Flowers and decorative greenery in the Peace Garden
© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Fall Foliage on the Rail Trail

I went walking up the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail yesterday; I noticed I'd never done a Fall foliage photo essay on the Rail Trail before and thought this vacation week would be the perfect excuse to fix that. I got farther up than I've ever gotten before, past the mile 6 marker and up to Oakville Rd. I took a lot of photos, and these were the ones that passed quality control. 

Near the beginning of the trail
A farm along the trail
The trail just path the farm
A farmhouse along the trail approaching Ott Rd.
Approaching Ott Rd.
Approaching Oakville Rd.
Turned around and heading back home
© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, November 04, 2013


“Nature is, above all, profligate. Don't believe them when they tell you how economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil. Wouldn't it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place? This deciduous business alone is a radical scheme, the brainchild of a deranged manic-depressive with limitless capital. Extravagance! Nature will try anything once.” - Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek 

"The extravagant gesture is the very stuff of creation. After one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down aeons of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with fresh vigor. The whole show has been on fire since the word go!" - Annie Dillard,  Pilgrim at Tinker Creek 

I was walking up King St. this morning and noticed that the Ginkgoes planted here and there along the street had changed. Last week they were still green, and on the weekend they finally turned  their characteristic autumnal fluorescent yellow. This morning something further had happened; it was as if they'd all given themselves a vigorous shake and let loose their leaves. At the foot of each tree were piles and drifts of golden yellow, so many of them that it almost reached the level of "too much."

I've been rereading Annie Dillard's work the last couple of weeks, and at the moment I'm making my way through Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. The impact of all those golden leaves strewn across the sidewalk reminded me of what Ms. Dillard had to say about Nature's extravagance. She's dead on target! The color alone is excessive, and then there's the amount of them. When you add them to the rest of the colors in the Cumberland Valley and on the surrounding South Mountain and Blue Mountain ranges, it's really more than is necessary. All variations of yellow, orange, and red decorating all the Maple, Ginkgo, Osage Orange, Oak, Elm, Locust, Black Walnut, Willow... Really, it's too much. All that color, all those leaves everywhere you look is overwhelming. It's really not necessary! But would we have it any other way? I don't think so. 

Beauty so overwhelmingly expressed may be excessive and extravagant, but it makes going out the door every Fall morning a joy. Long live extravagance!

© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, November 03, 2013


The bad news is - my camera is dead. I got caught in a mini hurricane on the way to work Friday morning and it got soaked along with me. I tried several drying-out methods, but it's a deadster. And I can't afford a new camera at the moment; I make enough money to pay the bills and eat fairly healthily, and occasionally afford a Kindle book or an iTunes album, but that's it. When tax return time comes I'll be able to get something like what just died, but that looks to be sometime in February. 

So that leaves me with the built-in camera in my smart phone. Now, don't mistake me; it's a good camera for what it is. It's a Samsung Galaxy S4, 5" screen, 12 megapixels, a 4x zoom, and some at least rudimentary controls. But it has some serious limitations: the f-stop setting seems to be limited to ƒ/2.2 (at least, I haven't yet found something that lets me change the f-stop), which is awful shallow and created problems with faraway objects. Related to that, the focal length seems to be limited to 4.2 mm; again, very, very shallow. Both of these mean the panoramic mountain, meadow, and farmland shots I like to take will be problematic at best because of a lack of focal depth; I've tried and had limited success, but it's sporadic and iffy. And I won't be able to use anything I take with the phone camera in any of my calendars or photo books on; print standard resolution is at minimum 150 pixels per inch (ppi), and this camera is stuck at the web standard of 72 ppi, which makes awful prints. And there's no way to control ISO ratings, which are automatic but all seem to be below 100 ISO, which means I can't adjust "film" speed to the lighting conditions; no low light shots without flash, which I do really well and like working with.

There are other limitations with have more to do with my own working style. I can't use it for low light, no flash shots for another reason - there's no way to use a tripod with this thing. I do note that there's a night setting in the Modes menu, and I'll have to play with that and see how it works. But I also use the tripod for other things, like slow shots using neutral density filters to turn waterfalls and fountains into flowing silk. Which brings up the next limitation: no way to attach filters. It was a really bright day today and I would have loved to have been able to use my circular polarizing filter to tone things down a little and get rid of glare. No way to attach filters means I also have no way to use my teleconverter or wide angle lenses. And worst of all, at least for me, is no macro setting or way to attach a macro lens; which means for the time being my ultra close-ups of bugs and tiny flowers are out. That hurts!

So for the time being I'm going to have to learn how to use the limitations of the Samsung's camera for my online stuff to keep from going crazy until February. Especially this week, since I'm on vacation through next Sunday and plan to hike around a bit. I did some playing today to see what I could do or get away with. Some of the shots I got give me hope that there are ways to work with the limitations and get some decent shots. Here are the results.

Fall color in the swamp in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park. This sort of middle-distance focus seems to work well.
The path around the swamp in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park. Middle and close focus works well.
The upland meadow with Blue Mountain in the background. This worked surprisingly well, and I was surprised at how well the mountain turned out. But those trees in the middle go in and out of focus, and that bothers me.
Organic objects on my Earth Altar. This camera excels in this kind of indoor photography.
A terracotta dragon candlestick in my workroom.

© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Fall Color At Last

Finally, the color is popping down here in the valley! This is Day One of my 9-day vacation, and I was walking around town today doing errands and getting these shots with my cell phone. I'm using my cell phone because my vacation has started out with a disaster. Yesterday morning on the way to work I got caught in a downpour which wasn't supposed to have happened for several hours. As a result not only did I get soaked (except for my upper body, protected by my umbrella), but everything in my shoulder bag - which includes my camera - did as well. I had thought the bag was waterproof, but I guess not. So at the moment my camera doesn't work. My friend Arleen said burying in dry rice does wonders for wet electronics, so my camera is now buried in 5 lbs. of dry rice, hoping for the best. Meanwhile, here is what I have for you today, given the limitations of smart phone cameras.

Branch Creek at King St.
On South Fayette St.
On South Queen St.
On Walnut St.
© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger