Saturday, March 28, 2015


It's Spring-Not Spring time. By the calendar it's after the Vernal Equinox, but the temperature when I was out this morning was around 25º F (-4º C), and even colder with the wind, and there were occasional snowflakes drifting here and there from time to time. It's officially Spring, but the woods in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park are a tangle of bare branches and vines, with not a leaf or a bloom in sight. The predominant colors are gray, brown, and tan; it's only the touches of red from the bridges and the benches, and also from the brambles, that add some vibrant color to the scenery. It was these reds that decided me to keep the photos in color rather than black & white, because those few touches of color emphasize the bleakness of the general scene.

What's ironic is that it sounds like Spring. The air was full of the songs of Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Goldfinches, and surely they mean Spring. I guess it's a hopeful sign that Spring is just around the corner, these Spring migrants singing their hearts out in the cold, cold air amidst a bleak landscape.

© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Walking in Spring Hill Cemetery

While checking my overnight email and catching up on all things Internet this morning I decided that I hadn't been over to Spring Hill Cemetery in a while. And since we don't have any Spring color yet and today was looking overcast and gloomy, I decided to stay in yesterday's black & white mode. So after all was done. I put on my boots and my coat and hat and headed out the door.

And got a surprise. It seems we got a dusting of snow overnight, and there were still some drifting flakes in the air. When I'd gone into the kitchen to get breakfast together it had still been dark, and I hadn't been near an uncovered window since then, so I'd had no clue. But not to worry, it just added to the mood that made b&w perfect for today's shoot.

I focused on general shots rather than on individual gravestones, plus views of the mountains from the cemetery, both Blue Mountain to the north (the second shot below) and South Mountain (the other two mountain shots). All in all I'm pleased with today's shoot; it captures the mood of the day perfectly. Enjoy!

© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Monday, March 23, 2015


I decided to play today, channeling Edward Weston again but, like Mr. Weston, keeping it in black & white this time. These are the shots that passed quality control.

Family portrait
Shell #1
Shell #2
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Vernal Equinox 2015

I know, the Vernal Equinox is tomorrow. But I'll be at work, so I'm posting my annual welcome to Spring today. Besides, it's supposed to be snowing tomorrow, so it'll be looking even less Springlike for a day or two. It's chilly today, too (it was in the mid 30s [around 2º C] when I was out and about), but that hasn't stopped at least some signs of Spring from appearing.

Of course, I went over to the Dykeman Spring Nature Park to take note of any Vernal omens appearing. There were lots of birds in their breeding plumage singing their seasonal songs; I heard (and in some cases saw) Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Bluejays, Cardinals, Song Sparrows, Tufted Titmice, Chickadees... It was quite a symphony. But they were also very good at staying out of my camera lens. Still, I got some shots today.

A male Red-winged Blackbird in the wetland. These guys are a surer sign of Spring than the Robin, because some Robins stay the  whole year round
But of course there are more Robins now, another hint that Spring is springing
A breeding pair of Mallards by the north duck pond
There are little bunches of Daffodils springing up all along the Dykeman Walking Trail
Still, despite the little touches here and there, Winter drab still dominates the landscape.

And there you have it, the little touches here and there announcing that the change of season is about to happen. So welcome Spring!
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Or to give this post its full name, Les études dans l'abstraction - studies in abstraction. I set out to find objects and/or scenes that taken out of their context could be seen as an abstraction. I've done this before, back in the old days on the old, and my inspiration for this kind of photography has been the work of Edward Weston, whose abstract studies of everyday and natural objects and the human body have always fascinated me. What I did today was look for things whose abstract potential caught my eye, and focus on elements which could lead to abstraction while setting up the shot and while processing in Photoshop. The following are finished copies of what worked best.

The Drape - This is a curtain in an apartment window along King St. What caught my eye was the pattern of the folds in the material, so I focused on that in the processing. I tweaked the color and the contrast and ended up with this.

Hommage à Jackson Pollock - This is a zoom shot of the water flowing over the rocks on a section of Gum Run. The flow of the water and the underlying colors are what caught my eye, and while processing in Photoshop I found that emphasizing the colors in the rocks and plants, tweaking the contrast in "curves", and playing in the sharpening tool gave me this Pollock-esque look.

Rings - Tree rings always make a good subject for abstraction, so I took the shot. In Photoshop I emphasized the colors in the wood, tweaked the contrast in "curves", and applied some Gaussian blur to soften all those edges in the rings.

Calligraphic Ripples - It was the ripples on the surface of the north duck pond in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park that caught my attention and made me want to see what could develop. Tweaking the color and contrast on this shot made me realize that the light reflecting from the ripples greatly resembled painter Mark Tobey's "white writing" work, which he based on Chinese calligraphy. So in a way this is another hommage, this time to Tobey.

And since I'm calling these "études",  which means "studies", and since Frédéric Chopin composed a series of studies for piano which he called "études", I thought I'd add one here to finish out this post. Enjoy!

Photos © 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, March 13, 2015

In Between

Another single day off with lots of errands, so my only photos were taken going to and coming from the grocery store. Most of the shots were taken in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park and emphasize the still bland wintry (but now without snow after a week of warmer temperatures) colors of the landscape. But wait for the last shot - some signs of Spring are appearing.

This Canada Goose and Mallard hen were part of the traffic on the north duck pond
The bench at the top of the Upland Trail
A view of Blue Mountain from the upland meadow
A scene worthy of Andrew Wyeth on the upland meadow
And after all that brown and tan and gray, I spotted these flowers growing along Orange St.
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Another Train

On the way to the grocery store today I stopped by the Dykeman Spring Nature Park duck ponds and was surprised to find some visitors there - a Canvasback drake, a Bufflehead drake, and a Scaup hen. Unfortunately the Canvasback was gone by the time I got out of the woods and close enough to photograph, and the shots of the Bufflehead and the Scaup just didn't work. Oh well...

Time was passing, so I headed up to the railroad tracks to take he shortest route to the grocery store, and my luck was in. A train! Yes, I have a thing about trains, not just as a mode of transportation (although I do prefer traveling by train over other modes), but also from a historical sense (trains have played such an important role in the building of the US) and for the fact that their abandoned tracks always lead to interesting places. So here's today's train.

The engine rounds the curve above the Dykeman Spring wetlands
It was a long train with a lot of cars
This car has been sidetracked for over a week now near the Baltimore Rd. overpass. According to a sign on the other side of the car, it's too tall to make it under some of the local underpasses. Oops!
This time I think I'll include a little train music. This tune is called "Puffin' Billy" by Edward White, and was used as the theme for a children's show on BBC radio; the title comes from a nickname for old trains in Great Britain. But if you grew up in the US in the '50s and '60s you'll recognize it as the theme song for Captain Kangaroo. 

Photos © 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Saturday, March 07, 2015


As I noted in my last post, that bit of snowfall Sunday was followed by warmer temperatures and some rain. And then on Tuesday the cycle started again, beginning as a mix and overnight into Wednesday it changed to all rain, which melted all the new stuff and made a good start on all the old shovel and plow piles and the deeper in-the-shade patches. The forecast for Wednesday night and Thursday was for the temperature to drop pretty radically and then for a storm to pass mostly south of us and give us a quick dusting to 3 inches before moving off  by mid day Thursday and ushering in frigid temps. Well, they were a little off on that one. Yes, the temps dropped off suddenly overnight, but we didn't get any snow right away. It didn't really start until about 4 am, and when I headed off to work a little before 6 am it had put down a little dusting that wasn't sticking to the streets, and I figured the whole thing was a bust. But it didn't stop snowing; instead it started snowing harder and the temps started dropping some more, and by the time it tapered off around 4 pm we had gotten 8 inches of nice powdery snow. 

Since I was at work I didn't get a chance to do a photo shoot, but Friday morning I didn't have to be to work until 10, so I got some shots to show the result of our little surprise. I filled the feeder station out back and the birds started ganging up almost as soon as I went back inside.

Just to give you an idea of how much snow we got
One of the Dark-eyed Juncos who were feeding on the spillage from the sloppy Sparrows
A Mourning Dove also cleaning up after the Sparrows
House Sparrows at the tower feeder, creating the mess below
Walking to work later I took some shots along the way, but this is the only one that ended up looking interesting.

A retaining wall and a row of Yews made an interesting pattern in the snow

Given the forecast for the next week, this looks to have been the final snowfall of the season, although it's never safe to bet on such things in March. Still, this looks like it might be my "Farewell to Winter" post. Now we wait for the Sprig flowers!
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Winter Is Still Here

It's snowing again. It's not Boston, and we haven't really gotten a lot of snow for this area this Winter, but there was still patchy snow on the ground (and some of those patches were 5 or more inches deep, depending on how much shade or sunlight affected the spot) and today's snow is evening things out some and making things look pretty again. It won't last long, though; the forecast is for it to change to a mix of sleet and freezing rain this afternoon and then all the way to rain later tonight. Oh well... At least for now it looks pretty again. I decided I needed to walk through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park at the height of the snowfall, so here are some scenes from the walk. Enjoy!

A Northern Flicker up in a tree along the Dykeman Walking Trail by the ball fields
A stream winds its way through the snow in the wetlands
Up on the upland meadow looking from the western end
Looking across the wetlands as the snow comes down harder
The wetlands with the Purple Martin house
A stretch of the Dykeman Walking Trail
Branch Creek between the ball fields with its "bridges"
And finally back home, looking across the street at the gazebo
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger