View 456: Erie Canal Park

Erie Canal Park Entrance Sign
Liz and Dave Beebe Erie Canal Park entrance sign in Camillus, New York on Sunday, March 21, 2021. The park was established in 1972. Thanks to canal wisdom keepers Liz and Dave Beebe, the park grew. Under their tutelage, the Sims’ Museum was built, the 1844 Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct was reconstructed and miles of nature trails established.

On the first day of Spring for 2021, I visited the Erie Canal Park near Camillus, New York for the first time. While the sky was blue and the air unseasonably warm, Nature had yet to start blooming and the trees were still weeks away from leafing out. This park was created in 1972 and owes much of its growth to its namesakes of Liz and Dave Beebe.

Sims' Museum at the Erie Canal Park
Sims’ Museum is a replica of the original Sims’ canal store at the Liz and Dave Beebe Erie Canal Park in Camillus, New York on Sunday, March 21, 2021. The museum is divided into sections for artifacts of the past, a gift shop, local history, display of an Erie Canal Barge, the 1800’s Room, exhibit on the building of the canal, a beautiful wall mural from the Canal’s past and several more.

Devoe Road crosses the canal and allows for trails on both sides. It gave me a nice view of the Sims’ Museum, boat dock and blue water of the Erie Canal.

Houseboat Catherine at Erie Canal Park
Houseboat Catherine is a small homemade Erie Canal houseboat and is 8 feet wide and 18 feet long.on display at the Liz and Dave Beebe Erie Canal Park in Camillus, New York on Sunday, March 21, 2021. This boat dates back nearly 90 years. Its history has had it all over central New York waterways from Oneida Lake to Oswego Harbor with stops on the Erie Canal.

This little houseboat has quite the history from starting out as a fishing scowl on Oneida Lake to a home for 30 years in the Oswego Harbor. Was even moved to a lot on land for years before ending up in the Erie Canal Park in 1976. Volunteers then restored it. Once the park starts doing tours again, you’ll be able to see inside this little houseboat.

Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct
Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct originally built in 1844 at the Liz and Dave Beebe Erie Canal Park in Camillus, New York on Sunday, March 21, 2021. An aqueduct is a water bridge for the canal boats to easily transverse the Nine Mile Creek. The aqueduct was rebuilt in 2009 using the same Onondaga limestone and yellow pine timbers.

The Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct was first built back in 1844 during the Erie Canal’s First Enlargement. The 144 foot waterway is listed as the smallest of the larger aqueducts and is on the National Registry of Historic Sites. It is the only restored navigable Aqueduct in New York State.

Erie Canal Towpath
People walking on a towpath in early Spring along an icy Erie Canal at the Liz and Dave Beebe Erie Canal Park in Camillus, New York on Sunday, March 21, 2021.

I shared the towpath with many other walkers and bikers on a perfect Spring day. There was a layer of ice in the more protected areas of the Erie Canal to remind me we are not done with winter just yet. Still, I breathed in the promising air of Spring and imagined canal boats moving along the towpath next to me.

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View 455: Spring Snow

The first day of Spring brought sunny skies and warm temperatures. As I was picking up my lawn after a long winter, I noticed the group of Snow Drop flowers in the bright light. These flowers have probably been blooming for a few days but this was the first time I noticed them.

Snow Drops at f/8
Snow Drop (Galanthus nivalis) on the first day of Spring in a backyard of a home in Baldwinsville, New York on Saturday, March 20, 2021. Nikon D750/50mm f/1.8, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0.

Not having a macro lens, I put a Nifty-Fifty (aka 50mm f/1.8) prime lens on my camera. I had to be careful to not get too close to keep the flowers in focus. I used different apertures to control the depth of field.

Snow Drops at f/4
Snow Drop (Galanthus nivalis) flowers on the first day of Spring in a backyard of a home in Baldwinsville, New York on Saturday, March 20, 2021. Nikon D750/50mm f/1.8, 1/800s, f/4, ISO 100, EV 0.

For these two flowers, I opened up the aperture to f/4 which put the background out of focus and popping the Snow Drops right at you. It was a little breezy so the resulting fast shutter speed helped to keep the flowers in focus.

How did you enjoy the first day of Spring?

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View 454: Hockey Action Portraits

This season I am trying to get close up photos of the players on the ice for the Syracuse Crunch to use if a player needs to be featured on their website or social media outlets.

Alex Green Action Portrait
Syracuse Crunch Alex Green (57) on the ice against the Utica Comets in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the Upstate Medical University Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, February 6, 2021. Syracuse won 6-1. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV +1.3, 140mm Focal Length.

I use photography holes cut into the protective plexiglass large enough for a lens and small enough to keep pucks out (so far!). Without thick and marked up plexiglass between me and the players, I can shoot with a faster shutter speed. This helps a lot when players get close to me.

Declan McDonnell Action Portrait
Syracuse Crunch Declan McDonnell (52) on the ice against the Rochester Americans in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the Upstate Medical University Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, February 20, 2021. Rochester won 3-2. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/5.3, ISO 6400, EV +1.3, 80mm Focal Length.

While sometimes they are not going at full speed, I still need to be ready when the players turn towards me.

Gabriel Fortier Action Portrait
Syracuse Crunch Gabriel Fortier (9) on the ice against the Rochester Americans in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the Upstate Medical University Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, March 6, 2021. Rochester won 4-2. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/5.3, ISO 6400, EV +1.3, 85mm Focal Length.

The key to a good action portrait is to catch the player with their head up with little background clutter and the frame as filled as much as possible so little to no cropping is needed. This gives the Crunch media people the best image possible.

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View 453: Back in Action

On March 11, 2020, I was driving home from photographing an American Hockey League game between the Syracuse Crunch and Utica Comets in the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, I was listening to the NHL Network SiriusXM channel in my car. The news of the National Basketball Association (NBA) shutting down their season because of the threat from the COVID virus was breaking. By the end of the week both the American and National Hockey League seasons had been “paused”.

Not only did the professional teams but all the high school and collegiate teams I covered for local newspapers had their seasons cancelled. I went from photographing three to five games a week to none for the rest of 2020. Then, the news came the Syracuse Crunch would have a shortened season of 32 games starting on February 6, 2021. I was asked to photograph their home games. No fans, skeleton staff, scouts, some local media and COVID precautions in full effect.

After 332 days, I was back in action! However, in very different circumstances. No contact with the players allowed and a fanless arena.

Syracuse Crunch and Rochester Americans playing an American Hockey League (AHL) game in a fanless Upstate Medical University Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

It is an eerie feeling watching AHL games with no fans except for those who put their likeness in the seats as cutouts. It is interesting to hear the players yelling to each other or Officials yelling at the players. The game operations people do pipe in music, sound effects and even crowd noise after the Crunch score a goal but it is not the same.

Syracuse Crunch Alex Barre-Boulet (12) celebrates his goal against the Utica Comets in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the Upstate Medical University Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, February 6, 2021. Syracuse won 6-1. © Scott Thomas Photography

The players are doing their best as it must be hard without the home fans cheering them on. Fans are cheering but from their homes as most of the Crunch’s home games are being televised locally.

Making the best of a strange situation, I can roam the whole arena and photograph from different locations without worrying about getting in a fans field of view. For instance, this photo was taken from a seat along the glass which is usually filled with season ticket holders.

Syracuse Crunch goalie Spencer Martin (30) in net against Rochester Americans Michael Mersch (28) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the Upstate Medical University Arena in Syracuse, New York on Monday, March 1, 2021. Syracuse won 4-3.

Last game, I set up in the end of the rink the Crunch were skating towards. It also meant I was shooting through the protective “glass”. In doing so, I needed to process the digital photos differently by adding a slight dose of the Dehaze slider in Adobe’s Lightroom Classic photo processing application.

Syracuse Crunch Taylor Raddysh (18) skating with the puck against the Rochester Americans in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the Upstate Medical University Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, March 6, 2021. Rochester won 4-2.

As the world and the United States slowly moves towards normalcy with vaccines being more available (I get my first vaccine shot later today, in fact), the hope is the AHL will return in October for a normal season with fans filling up the Upstate Medical University Arena at the Onondaga County War Memorial and all the other league’s venues.

Until that happens, I will be covering the Crunch’s home games every Saturday night until early May. If you can watch the games, you might see me.

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View 452: Christmas Trees of Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World goes all out for the Christmas Holiday including fabulous Christmas tree displays in their themeparks. These are the displays from December of 2019.

While you may not see the Magic Kingdom Christmas tree on the annual televised parade down Main Street USA on Christmas morning, the tree is in the square when the the cameras are not rolling.

Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree
Christmas tree on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida on Wednesday, December 4, 2019. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/160s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

Over in Epcot, the tree is found at the start of World Showcase when using the walkway from Future World. It features decorations from all the countries surrounding the World Showcase Lagoon.

Epcot Christmas Tree
The World Showcase Christmas tree at night in Epcot during the International Festival of the Holidays in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida on Friday, December 6, 2019. Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/30s, f/3.5, ISO 6400, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Christmas tree used to be located outside the entrance until a couple of years ago when they moved it to an island on Echo Lake. Last year, I overstayed my welcome and hung out late until the lake became a mirror on a warm, calm night.

Hollywood Studios Christmas Tree
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Christmas Tree reflected in Echo Lake at night in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida on Thursday, December 5, 2019. Nikon D750/16-35VR, 5s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod, Cropped.

Over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the Christmas tree remains outside the park as not to upstage all the beautiful trees within. It features ornaments of all the animal and bird species found inside the park. Underneath the tree are unique gifts with famous animal Disney characters like Tigger, Winnie the Pooh and Piglet.

Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Christmas tree at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida on Sunday, December 8, 2019. Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

If there is a common theme among the featured Christmas trees of each park, it is Big to fit the size of Walt Disney World. Guests enjoy all the trees and love to get their photos taken with them to create family memories for years to come.

If you are interested in more information on a Walt Disney World vacation, contact my wife by clicking her email address below merrie@dreamsunlimitedtravel.com 

Walt Disney World Travel Consultant

She has been booking and planning Disney trips and cruises for satisfied travelers exclusively for over 20 years.

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