New York State Fair Time!

It has been the longest in days between the end of last year’s New York State Fair and the the start of this year’s Fair. It really is the end of Summer. But, first, we have twelve days of fun, entertainment, farm animals and food…lots and lots of food.

Highlights from the 2014 New York State Fair in Syracuse, New York.

Highlights from the 2014 New York State Fair in Syracuse, New York.

I will be heading to the New York State Fair a few times this year so look for more photos of all the fun and people I come across.  See you at the Fair!

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View 365: Sharknado at ESTA

If they can make sharks fly, cars can be made to do the same. Below was the coolest car I photographed at ESTA Safety Park Dragstrip near Cicero, New York on Sunday, August 23, 2015.

The Sharknado Pontiac GTO racing at ESTA Safety Park Dragstrip near Cicero, New York.

The Sharknado Pontiac GTO racing at ESTA Safety Park Dragstrip near Cicero, New York.
Nikon D750/70-200VR, 1/30s, f/13, ISO 100, EV 0, 200mm Focal Length, tripod, cropped.

My goal was to push my panning skills some. Normally, I shoot the cars at ESTA at a shutter speed of 1/250 or 1/125. For shutter speeds less than that I used a tripod. I found at 1/60th of a second, I could easily get the cars but found the photos were not that much different than what I had done before.

When I dropped the shutter speeds to 1/30th of a second, I got the look I was going for. Much more background movement behind and in front of the dragracers.

Pontiac Firebird racing at ESTA Safety Park Dragstrip on Sunday, August 23, 2015.

Pontiac Firebird racing at ESTA Safety Park Dragstrip on Sunday, August 23, 2015.
Nikon D750/70-200VR, 1/30s, f/13, EV 0, 125mm Focal Length, tripod, cropped.

In using the tripod, I knew the panning motion would be smooth and level. I only needed to pan at the correct speeds. Remember, in motion photography, success is getting one or two photos out of a series of shoots. For instance, I took 300 panning photos and have selected 84 which might be good enough to keep. Once I edit those, I will end up with about 20 I feel will have that WOW factor when people see them.

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View 364: Return to Fillmore Glen

Almost two years to the day, I visited Fillmore Glen State Park again over the weekend. I wanted to revisit Upper Pinnacle Falls and photographic it differently. The first challenge to my goal was the Gorge Trail which, is the most direct route, was closed about half way to them. Taking the Northern Rim Trail gives one a good workout as the climb is up the gorge using steep switchbacks. The climb back down into the gorge was slippery and treacherous from the rain the previous night.

It was worth the effort. With the water flow much less than the last time, I was able to climb down on to a shelf rock next to the falls and set up my tripod. Moving the tripod around I found I liked a certain composition.

This time I brought along the B+W 77mm 3.0 ND 110 Filter to lengthen the shutter speed from fifteen seconds to over four minutes. This filter cuts down the incoming light by 10 stops. Here is the result.

Upper Pinnacle Falls at Fillmore Glen State Park near Moravia, New York.

Upper Pinnacle Falls at Fillmore Glen State Park near Moravia, New York.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 256s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 24mm focal length, tripod, 10-stop ND filter.

I got the effect I was looking for. What do you think?

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View 363: Saratoga Horse Racing

Start of Race 3 on the backstretch at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York on Saturday, August 8, 2015.

Start of Race 3 on the backstretch at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York on Saturday, August 8, 2015. Nikon D750/70-200VR, 1/3200s, f/4, ISO 800, EV +0.7, 78mm Focal Length.

Saratoga Race Course has hosted major horse racing events since 1864. The most famous racing horses in history have run there including Man’o War, Secretariat and this year’s Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, who is scheduled to run the Travers Stakes this year. The place has grown over the years and is often referred at as the Grand Old Lady. Crowds of over 35,000 often attend during the races run 6 days a week every August until Labor Day.

Thoroughbred horse in a stable stall behind the backstretch at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York on Saturday, August 8, 2015.

Thoroughbred horse in a stable stall behind the backstretch at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York on Saturday, August 8, 2015. Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 1000, EV 0.

A big thanks must go out to photographers Dennis Donohue and Robert Dungan who got me a backstretch pass which allowed me to photograph near the Start/Finish line and from the less crowded Backstretch. The Backstretch is also the home to the horses who come to Saratoga to race. I walked through a few of the stables in between races. The horses were curious about me and poked their heads out.

Thoroughbred horse Infinite Wisdom cooling down after the fifth race at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York on Saturday, August 8, 2015.

Thoroughbred horse Infinite Wisdom cooling down after the fifth race at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York on Saturday, August 8, 2015.
Nikon D750/70-200VR, 1/60s, f/14, ISO 100, EV 0, 150mm Focal Length.

You knew I could not resist taking a motion photo with all the horses running around. I took this panning photo at 1/60th of a second which gave a nice blur to the background and the horse’s legs. I did these on the cool down laps as I only had a few race starts on the day close enough to photograph. This is the reason the horse above is going in the wrong direction.

Thoroughbred race horses come out of the second turn during the running of the 2015 $1.25M The Whitney at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York on Saturday, August 8, 2015.

Thoroughbred race horses come out of the second turn during the running of the 2015 $1.25M The Whitney at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York on Saturday, August 8, 2015.
Nikon D750/70-200VR, 1/2000s, f/5.6, ISO 2000, EV +0.3, 200mm Focal Length, cropped.

Besides the Travers, the other big race at Saratoga is The Whitney which was run the day I was there. The winning horse gets a spot in the $5 million Breeder’s Cup held in November. The prize purse for The Whitney is not bad either totaling $1.25 million with the winner taking home 60% of it.

Spectators watch the races  on several screens in the backyard picnic area and can place bets at nearby windows at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York on Saturday, August 8, 2015.

Spectators watch the races on several screens in the backyard picnic area and can place bets at nearby windows at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York on Saturday, August 8, 2015.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 360, EV +0.3, 34mm Focal Length.

While many people watch the races at Saratoga from the grandstands or clubhouse, thousands spend the day in the Backyard Picnic Area where people are allowed in at 7AM to claim a picnic table and/or area. There are monitor kiosks located throughout the area for people to watch the races and locations to bet on the races. I witnessed people coming into the track with big or multiple coolers, pop-up canopies, blankets and folding chairs of every type. It was one big party in the backyard.

Not to long ago, Sports Illustrated named the Saratoga Race Course as the 10th Best Sports venue in the United States. After spending a day there, I completely agree and hope to go back again.

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View 362: Walk on the Wild Side

Back in 2013, I shared a few maps and models from the New York State Fair. Many times the projects behind them never get past that fancy looking stage. Today, I want to share with you one of those models which did come to life over the recent 4th of July weekend.

Views of the Wild Walk at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, New York which opened over the 2015 July 4th holiday weekend.

Views of the Wild Walk at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, New York which opened over the 2015 July 4th holiday weekend. Both photos where enhanced with MacPhun’s Intensify Pro software.

The Wild Walk takes guests thirty feet into the tree tops for a new perspective of the forest. Along the way, they learn about the birds, animals and insects which create the Adirondack biome.

Scenes from the Wild Walk at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, New York (from left to right): People walking into the Snag, people in the Eagle's Nest and a view from underneath the structure.

Scenes from the Wild Walk at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, New York (from left to right): People walking into the Snag, people in the Eagle’s Nest and a view from underneath the structure.

People can visit a larger than life Snag which shows how wildlife take advantage of dead trees for food, shelter, nesting and storage. The Eagle’s Nest is the highest point and gives a bird’s eye view of the surrounding Adirondack mountains. From underneath the structure you get an idea of the thirty foot height of the Wild Walk.

There are interactive activities for both adults and kids to try along the Wild Walk. The most fun was the Spiders Web.  There, entire families were having fun crawling about and jumping on a representation of a giant spider’s web high above the forest floor.

Families enjoying the Spiders Web on the Wild Walk at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, New York.

Families enjoying the Spiders Web on the Wild Walk at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, New York.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 900, EV +0.3.

The Wild Walk is part of The Wild Center near Tupper Lake in the center of New York’s Adirondack Park. Families can make a day of it by bringing a picnic lunch or eating at the center’s snack bar. To plan your visit, head over to the Wild Center website.

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