Tag Archives: clouds

North West trails of Marsh Creek State Park

I captured these images during a fall walk along the North West trails of Marsh Creek State Park in Chester County, PA.

These images share some of the views during my 5+ mile walk, and thankfully, the there was no real rain to speak of during my outing.

Once again, the storm clouds added some drama to the scenes.

Hope you enjoy!

- Andrew
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Adobe Photoshop Retouching in Chester County PA

A Fall walk in the Peacedale Preserve

Some images taken during a late Fall walk in the Natural Lands Trust’s Peacedale Preserve in Chester County, PA.

There was a weather front moving through while I was there, which allowed for some very interesting cloud and lighting conditions, and several times, I was able to see some Crepuscular rays.

At one point during my walk, I encountered a real old-timer.

In the middle of the Preserve, there is a huge beech tree, at is 3-4 feet in diameter, and easily several hundreds of years old!

I don’t think I have ever seen a monster like this!

I was also extremely surprised with all the wooly bear caterpillar that I encountered. (Predicting Winter Weather: Woolly Bear Caterpillars)

During my walk, I had to avoid walking on over a dozen of these critters!

- Andrew
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Adobe Photoshop Retouching in Chester County PA

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Missing water – Day 2 (Park Rd point)

It has been 10 days since I’ve been out shooting any of the new shorelines along Marsh Creek Lake, so in my planning I wanted to explore an area that I kind of already knew.

Being a Google Maps junkie, I pulled up Marsh Creek State Park from my Favorites, and then the “The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE)” application to check the lighting, to help me to decide where to go on this day.

Looking South-West (Start)
Looking South-West (Start)

Within minutes, I had decided on taking a look at the point where the main facilities for Marsh Creek are located on Park Road. I had walked some of these trails earlier in the summer with both kids, and remembered seeing some viewpoints that I wanted to revisit.

When one first enters the park and looks out over the lake, one cannot be but astonished by all the missing water and new shorelines.

Remains of an old traffic cone
Remains of an old traffic cone

The parking lot that extends out the point, was blocked off, and I was forced to park in the main lot, which is self, was halfway closed.

No matter, I was expecting to do some walking today anyways, so I packed up my gear and headed into the parking lot towards the eastern trails.

When I got to the end of what appeared to be the Park, I noticed a trail heading down the hill, and I decided to follow it.

Clouds Midway - (North-East) 01
Clouds Midway – (North-East) 01

After a few feet, it became apparent that during hurricane Sandy, this trail had become a rushing stream.

At the bottom of the hill, I continued along some animal trails, and eventually made it to the shoreline.

I walked along the northern shore heading West, and as I walked, I was greeted with many items of visual interest.

The shoreline itself was a darker mixture of sentiment, and depending how far in you went toward the water, it became easier to sink. the shoreline around the dam consisted more of real sand, then this thick molasses of lake mud.

Clouds Midway - (South-West) 01
Clouds Midway – (South-West) 01

While walking and looking, I made the observation that there seemed to be more human trash, than what I had seen in my walks around the dam. I saw a lot of plastic bottles of various sizes, along with a couple of shoes, a folding chair, and even a deteriorated orange safety cone base.

As I continued, the clouds began to coalesce into a show of formations that I had never seen before, and I had a hard time capturing the magnificent shapes within the evolving jet stream.

Wood squid on shoreline
Wood squid on shoreline

At one point, there was this thin series of streams, that cut through the rest of the formation, and looks like a gigantic series of cloth folds, stretching from one horizon to the other. It was definitely one of those times when I wish I had a smaller wide-angle lens.

The shoreline steepen as I headed West, and I had to scamper up to the existing trail to the tip of the point. Eventually, I emerged to see a very rocky new shoreline, which I explored for trinkets and a shot or two.

Main concrete dock
Main concrete dock

I returned to the trail, and headed north searching for a new place to start another shoreline exploration.

The shoreline in this area was much wider than areas I have been in before, and is easily accessible because of the sand rock mixture. I also noticed many more tree stumps, which made for some interesting compositions.

it is very difficult to relay to anyone that has never been to these places, what a major change has occurred with this eight-foot drawdown.

Rental building
Rental building

Once familiar places, now looks so surreal and primitive.

As I stood on the deck of the restaurant, I took a series of panoramic shots, that I still need to process, in hopes to further illustrate this tremendous change.

Looking at my watch, I started back up the hill towards the parking lot and my car.

At the maintenance gate for the pool complex, I stopped to capture the final image of the day.

Swimming Park
Swimming Park

Winter has come…


  • Are there any local efforts to clean up the trash and debris while so much of it is easily accessible?

- Andrew
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Adobe Photoshop Retouching in Chester County PA

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First Day with ND 3.0 10-stop filter

As part of “Daddy Day Camp”, I took the kids up to Lionville Elementary School to practice their biking riding, in prep for taking off the training wheels.

We first started in the upper play ground, and after parking, I unloaded the bikes, and the kids were gone. I had to coach them a little, but with the follow-up tweaks after Sunday’s outing, both kids were doing much better.

Now I was able to grab my tripod and camera and set up for some shooting.

The wind was rather gusty, and was really nicely formed white clouds against a very deep blue sky, and I had my new filter… Tee hee! wink… wink…

With my first few shots, I felt like a complete amateur, because as I would set one thing that, I’d forget about something else, and the shot would be blown, but I got into a rhythm and finally began to click off some shots.

Most of these pictures were taken at ISO 100 f22 for 30 seconds to 1 minute, the tennis practice image was around 3 second, using the B+W 58mm 3.0 ND MRC 110M Filter.

At one point, I could hear Logan asking me why I was taking pictures of cars, as I set up for my shot looking north on Route 113 with the Devon Rd. intersection in the background.

He was very puzzled, and even more so, when I showed him the pictures later during proofing. The cars just disappeared!

While playing with my new filter, it became very apparent to me, that I was going to need to recalibrate my water shots, and how to do my HDR work with so much potential ghosting issues during processing.

But as they say no gain without pain.

So come back again, and see what new things I’ve done with this new filter of mine!

- Andrew
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Adobe Photoshop Retouching in Chester County PA

Cloud Hunting

As many locals will tell you, the past three days have been filled with some awesome looking clouds, and finally, I got a chance to go out and shoot some…

I had to stop at home to grab my gear, and I also jumped on Google Earth to get a quick idea of areas I wanted to check-out with the clouds being as inspiring as they were!

My first stop, was just East of Shamona Creek Elementary School, which is rather close to where I live, and having just photographed a similar scene just over two weeks ago, I knew that there was a nice overview both North and South.

Cloud Hunting hdr 04 (08/16/2011)
Cloud Hunting hdr 04 – South

The biggest thing that you notice missing, is the big bails of hay, which were one of the focus point in the previous Black and White image conversion.

From this scene, I walked across the street and up a small hill to capture the next image, and I am very happy to have been able to capture one of the birds that was out souring with the various up-drafts.

Cloud Hunting hdr 07 - North (08/16/2011)
Cloud Hunting hdr 07 – North

After this shot, I got back to my car, and headed toward the other side of the school, where I set-up and took some more shoots. (Note: I have decided to wait and HDR process those images when there is real snow on the ground!)

Backing up again, I continued West down Dorlan Mill Road to Creek Road (Rt. 282).

For those that have been following my blog closely, yes, this is the same Creek Road I explored on a Friday in the 101°F heat earlier in July, and very thankfully, it is much cooler this time!

As I drove North West on Creek Road toward Glenmoore, I looked at the Brandywine creek, making metal notes of how the water has risen some, and where I want to explore in the up coming months.

I continued through Glenmoore, and as I was driving and looking, I spotted the following cumulus thunderhead developing, and pulled over to the side as quickly as possible to capture this (7) image HDR capture:

Cloud Hunting hdr 28 (08/16/2011)
Cloud Hunting hdr 28

I took a couple of different angles on this, and as I was, an adult heron fly from right to left in this image, and disappeared into the woods behind the cat-o-nine-tails.

Jumping back into my car, I continued toward Elverson on Creek Road, crossing Manor Road (Rt. 82), and as I started up the small hill, I noticed a group of cows, laying on the ground resting with wonderful clouds in the background.

I quickly turned around, pulled over, and grabbed my equipment.

My fear as I approached the fence, was that all the cows were going to get up and head toward me.

Cloud Hunting hdr 33 (08/16/2011)
Cloud Hunting hdr 33 (08/16/2011)

But alas, the cows seemed content to stay were they were, and I was able to click a few frames before my camera just stopped working.


I wanted to continue, so I headed home to grab my AA battery pack, but by the time I got there, and back out my car, the clouds had changed into pending rain, which the area needs, but is no where nearly as interesting as it had been.

I called it a day, and started the process of transferring my images from the camera on to my computer for further processing.

- Andrew
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Adobe Photoshop Retouching in Chester County PA

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After working on the second image, “Cloud Hunting hdr 07 – North”, until 3am this morning, I woke up to find that it had been selected as “Image of the Day” by Parkesburg Today!

Changes in the weather…

Storm Clouds - UHES 266 tm
Storm Clouds - UHES 266 tm

It was another Saturday in the later winter, and there were reports that some rain was on it’s way, but by mid afternoon, the kids were too filled with energy to spent any more time inside.

So we packed up the car with Madison’s scooter and Logan’s bike, and we head up to Uwchlan Hill Elementary School to get some fresh air and exercise.

When we got there, we noticed two other families also had the same idea, and were enjoying the usually warm day.

As we walked around the school, playing on the various pieces of equipment, I was continuously pointing my camera to the sky, to capture all the dark storm clouds that were crossing our area.

At first, I let the camera’s sensors take care of the exposure, but in reviewing the images on the little LCD screen, I decided to switch into manual mode, with some setting as high as 1/4000 at F16 ISO 100, which was definitely underexposing the my captures bu 2-3 stops, but at the same time, giving more depth to the clouds as the flew by.

During the outing, I took around 350 images, and when it came time to edit them, I had to look very carefully, 1) because the images were very dark; 2) there were only subtle differences between some of the frames.

I was really surprised to find so few images with lens flair, especially considering that in many cases, I was shooting directly into the sun. What I found very intriguing, was some of the color halos that I was getting around the sun. It was easy to see that I was pushing the limits of the CCD on my camera!

After making my initial selections, I used basic Lightroom corrections to try and enhance the images, which worked in many cases, but I wanted to get a little more.

I then imported some of the images into Photomatix, where I applied mostly default settings in the enhanced tone-map section, plus added a little color temperature warmth to some of the captures.

Looking forward, I plan to use this underexposure technique again when faced with similar scenes, I only hope, that I will be able to hold the foreground detail…

If you are interested, more images can be found in my Flickr Photostream, under “Uwchlan Hills Elementary School (110305)

Andrew (SDC) - View my 'Uwchlan Hills Elementary School (110305)' set on Flickriver

Thanks for stopping by

– Andrew
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I drive by every day… add snow and ice…

110204 Rt 401 Field 001 - Cross County ski tracks
Cross County ski tracks (001)

Tuesday night (2/1), we got struck with an ice storm that came in from the mid-west and headed up to New England, and in the morning, many people and business were delayed, if not closed.

Both my kids were home from school, and we watched as the thick ice that had accumulated over night on the branches, slowly melt during the day.

By Thursday morning, the sun was out, and life was getting back to normal.

While driving to my client along Conestoga Road (Rt. 401) in Chester Springs, I noticed the bright sun was creating many interesting patterns and shadows in the ice glazed fields, and I was kicking myself for not having brought my camera.

This morning, my camera bag was packed and walked out the door with me, but the conditions were much different.

It was now an over cast day, with the anticipation of some more snow, changing into rain for the rest of the weekend.

After getting my kids off to school, I started off to the clients, hoping to salvage something from what I saw on Thursday’s commute.

As I traveled by the first field, some of my hopes had be dashed. The flat light from being overcast gave no texture to the scene, so I continued.

110204 Rt 401 Field 013
Cross County ski tracks (013)

When I got closer to the second shoot area, I noticed that some of the incoming storm clouds where lining up with the sun rise in a very interesting fashion, so I pulled up ???? Road, and quickly parked with my flashers going.

Getting onto the field was very interesting, especially in Business Casual Work clothes! – It was Friday… Dress Down Friday (DDF)

Anyhow, I was barely able to get in far enough to get into clean snow, because of what had been plowed into banks…

Also hoping that I was not going to lose a good shoe, made the whole experience, it all the more interesting….

Note to self – Next time, wear different shoes in deep snow!

In under 10 minutes, I was done, and heading off to my clients with very wet cuffs on my pants…

I did take a passing look at Shoot #3, but had to continue…

For the rest of the day, I was trying to figure out when I was going to be able to return for Shoot #3.

It HAD to be today!

Between the forecasted weather, and family life at home… When was I going to do this…

Then around 3pm, I was driving back home to meet my daughter, as she got of the bus.

As I got closer to the Shoot #3 location and was looking for a parking spot.

Guess who was sitting there…

The Townships finest.

How dare they take my Parking Spot!

I needed to get this shot!

Finally, I got home, greeted my daughter, and got her afternoon snack.

After about a half hour or so of unwinding, I mentioned that we needed to go out for our Friday afternoon errands, and that I needed to do something special.

110204 Rt 401 Field hdr 01 - Cross County ski tracks
Cross County ski tracks (hdr 01)

Blah, blah, blah… Some time passes…

I’m walking down Conestoga Road, camera attached to tripod, trying to plug in the remote trigger, waiting for traffic to clear…

The traffic clears, and I am able to cross the street.

From there, I scaled some minor snow plow hills, and into some fresh snow, where I place my tripod down, and at first, it was stable, but as I aligned the head some more, the whole tripod settled…

I made corrections by means of pushing deeper into the snow, and was finally ready to “expose film”…

Where was my remote my remote shutter release!

Reaching into my pockets… Nothing…

With camera/tripod in place, I back tracked my steps, and it was not until I got to the plow drifts, that I noticed my remote trigger in the middle of the road!

Checking traffic, I was able to retrieve the unit and see it had not be run over.


I got back to camera/tripod location, plugged in my remote, and did a series of exposures with both Single HDR (HDRs) and Multi-Exposure HDR (HDRm) in mind, which were all captured in Canon RAW (cr2) format.

I was done within 5 minutes and we were off on the rest of our errands…

Publicly, again, I want to thank Madison for putting up with her father’s insanity.

Tech Talk

The following paragraphs are more informational in manner.

Hardware –

  • Camera: Canon XTi
  • Film Rating: ISO 100
  • Aperture: F22 (or Max-ed)
  • Time(s): Varied (Hand Held and Tripod)

Software –

  • Adobe Lightroom (cr2 > dng + psd > dng)
  • Canon EOS Utility (WinTel)
  • HDRSoft.com Photomatix
– Andrew
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