Hot, With A Chance Of Storms

Hazy Afternoon

We just finished a wild week of seven straight days of rain here in the Northeast. These photographs were taken this past Tuesday when we had a small break in the rain. It was a particularly hot day, and a thick haze blanketed the area. I tried to capture that in the photos below. It was one of those afternoons where you just knew a thunderstorm was going to roll through, and sure enough it did.

What The Weather

Somehow all of my posts tend to mention the weather in one form or another. If it gets to be too much don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. My fascination with meteorology comes from the idea that you have to spend your time observing the current conditions and taking note of them. I can make a correlation between that in photography but I’ll save that for another day. I should mention that I used to watch the Weather Channel as a kid, tracking severe weather as it happened, I was borderline obsessed. I used to be afraid of storms as a child and I remember many a sleepless night as the flashes of light and cracks of thunder would keep me awake. These days I enjoy watching storms roll across the landscape from the west. It’s an interesting process that creates all kinds of atmosphere and drama, prime conditions for good photographs. We are fortunate to have a great big view of the sky from our dock, something I elaborate in greater detail here.


Foggy Mornings, Twenty Years Later

Foggy, condensation filled mornings are a common occurrence at the Pine Barren Man World Headquarters. Drenched windows make for an interesting subject, and I tend to stop and photograph them whenever the opportunity arises. I'm hoping that by the time I'm fifty I have enough misty window content to publish a photo book on them. I can see it now... Moist (Gl)ass: The Michael Mroczek Story. I know I have your interested piqued however,  the book is still a little over twenty years away so, for now, the foggy photographs below will have to suffice.


Early Spring Thursday

A few photos of the pups from this past Thursday afternoon. Everything was captured with the Fujifilm X-Pro2 + Fujifilm XF 27mm combo. 

Easter Weekend

Below are a few snapshots from Saturday afternoon. Victoria and I spent a majority of the day doing some light yard work while the pups chased each other around. The highlight of the day for me was the small 20-minute nap I was able to take on the dock around 2 o'clock. The weather was pleasant and the Sun was strong enough that I had a tiny bit of sunburn on my neck by the time we finished up. 

In regards to the images, they were all taken on a Pixel 2 by both Victoria and me. Three for her and likewise for me. On first glance it appears might I have overcooked these images in Photoshop but to be honest they just have a slight High-Pass filter over them to increase their sharpness for web viewing. The files that the Pixel produces are quite amazing, the dynamic range in some of the photos, especially the one of Jefferson in the sand is better than anything I can achieve with my trusty Fujifilm cameras. You can thank Google's machine learning software for that. 

I geeked out a little in that last paragraph, and I'm not expecting everyone to know what I'm talking about when I go on photography tangents. However, bonus points to anyone who reads those two links above and responds with something they learned in the comments below. At the very least I encourage you to read the Google Research link. It's a fascinating insight into the technology that powers the photography in our smartphones. 

Autumn Lake Winery

Last Thursday, Victoria and I visited autumn lake winery with our friends Shannon & Brandon. We're fortunate that the winery is right next to the lake we live on. We arrived around 2pm and were lucky to be the only ones there. At the present moment, Autumn Lake's tasting room is in a greenhouse on the property while they begin building a permanent building at the winery. A cool thing about the greenhouse is that during the day the plastic diffuses all of the sunlight that pours into the room. All of that soft light is a photographers dream! I had a great time sampling the wine on offer as well as taking a few photos of our afternoon.

I find it exciting that we have places to explore (and photograph) right around the corner from our house. One of the advantages of living a rural area as opposed to where I grew up is that there is a greater abundance of small farms, breweries, wineries etc. Many of these establishments take great pride in the product that they produce and there is often a deep connection to the local area. Having pride in your community and the people is a big factor in helping call a new place home, at least for me it is. We will be back to Autumn Lake in the near future, I can guarantee it.

Washington Lake Park

Yesterday we decided to brave the cold and Victoria's cold, to take the pups out for a little walk somewhere new. Tori knew of a dog run in the next town over in Washington Lake Park so we packed the dogs up in the car and set off. I brought my X-Pro2 & the Fujinon 23mm f1.4 lens to snap some photos while the dogs ran around. The park was virtually empty so the whole trip was nice and relaxing. I wasn't feeling particularly inspired but it was nice to use my camera in a different setting and capture something new.

 
 

Just a heads up for everyone... I've started selling prints of my work. They are available for purchase here.

Early Morning Work

A few images from early this morning. Victoria was putting the finishing touches on a table that she had been refurbishing over the past couple of days. She had an hour or so of time to kill before starting work for the day. I took notice of how the light was soft and pouring in through the big windows in the great room, I quickly grabbed my camera and did some work of my own. 

First Snow

We've had snow on three separate occasions this week here at the Pine Barren Man World Headquarters. The surface of the lake has been frozen for the past couple of days. Here are some photos covering all of the meteorological events of the last week. Enjoy! 


A Light Morning

Light Inspiration

The other day we were having a little discussion in the Fujifeed Slack group about the Fujinon 27mm lens. We were trying to figure out where they lens stood between Fujifilm's other offerings of the 35mm and 23mm lenses. I have to admit that it isn't a lens that I use often despite owning it for the last 2 years. As a result of that discussion, I've been inspired over the last couple of days to incorporate this lens into my photographs on a more frequent basis. This morning I decided to put on a jacket and hat to take some photos off the dock at sunrise. What makes this lens easy to use is that it is equivalent to what the human eye sees. My goal this morning was to keep a narrow aperture and try to capture what I consider "normal things".

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Thoughts on the Fujifilm XF 27mm

One of the benefits of this lens is that it is much smaller than anything else Fujifilm has in his lineup. It's a great piece of kit to take out with you on a day where you want to keep things light. The beauty of this lens is that it is able to keep things in a relatable perspective but also capture intricate details that you might miss if you were looking at them in real time. The focal length of this lens has the distinction of sitting right in between wide-angle and telephoto. If you want one lens to put on your camera that is going to challenge you throughout the day it's this one.

Let's Take A Walk

We woke up around 7 am yesterday morning and the lake was covered with a thick, dense fog. The surrounding area is usually covered in fog most mornings so by now I have become accustomed to it. At first, I had brushed off the idea of going out to take a few pictures. I even went as far as to make myself a cup of coffee. After another quick look out of the windows, I decided to drag Victoria out of bed, grab my camera, and take a walk to the dam. The second we stepped out of the door I was glad we were outside. Not only was there a thick layer of fog everywhere, but there was also a nice coating of frost on every surface from the night before. As soon as we got to the lake the sun started to peek through the clouds and create some interesting light. After ten minutes we were getting a bit chilly out on the water and decided to head back home and make a second cup of coffee.

I suppose I can't complain about not progressing as a photographer while brushing aside the opportunity to go and make something new. One of the things my brother in law Chris and I, talked about over Thanksgiving dinner was the idea of breaking through the procrastination that comes along with photography. In order to have great photos, you have to put the effort into making great photos. It also helps to capitalize on opportunities when they arise. For example, the light in any given day is just right for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. Why not use that time to go out and make something instead of checking social media, playing video games, or watching TV?

Corvette Rebuild: Part 1

We are getting closer and closer to the day that my long lost love finally returns to me. My Corvette is finally coming back to life. It's been something close to two years since I have driven the car regularly. Two years of moving homes and changing jobs. Something that was once constant in my life has been missing for so long. Often times I find myself watching Corvette videos on YouTube and say something along the lines of “man I wish I had one of those cars…” Yes, on a regular basis I will have to remind myself that I do in fact own one of those cars. It's a very strange feeling indeed.

In reality, the car getting hit was the best thing that could have ever happened.  The nose which was never in the greatest shape will now be completely new. By new, I mean new to the car. We were able to find an original nose from another '75 up in Connecticut. It will be a vast improvement from the nose that we pieced together back when we first restored the car in 2012. Another thing to be excited about is the suspension on this car. Two years ago when we swapped engines, we noticed that suspension and steering were in rough shape. Now that the whole front of the car is exposed we can go in and completely rebuild the front suspension. The rebuild includes all new polyurethane bushings, coilovers, and a rack & pinion steering setup. The steering rack is something I'm most excited about. It's a nice update on the old recirculating ball system that was originally on the car.

I'm really excited about being this close to getting the car back on the road. Things have moved quickly over the last couple of weeks and I wanted to share some photos and update everyone on the status of the car. It is difficult being two hours away from the garage so I made the most of Thanksgiving day at my parents. I took a few minutes to sneak away from the table and snap a few photos of the car. Stay tuned for the next installment which will feature putting the nose back on the car and possibly even having the car in the spray booth.

Portrait Work

Just a few photos from a little portrait session that I had with Victoria this weekend. I’ve been having the itch to make some new portraits over the last couple of weeks but with owning a new home, the weather being so nice I haven't really had the chance. So you could imagine when it was raining all day on Sunday I jumped at the opportunity to sit down for a few minutes and snap some quick photos of Tori. These are all taken on my X-Pro2 with an adapted Nikon 50mm lens. This lens renders really well and is surprisingly sharp for a 40-year-old piece of kit.  They were lit with a mix of ambient light and a single strobe through a softbox bounced off the blinds in the great room. It was my first time trying this lighting technique and I have to say is that I was pleasantly surprised. It's a technique that I would definitely recommend trying out and you could probably achieve similar results using a smaller light source like a Speedlight. Overall I'm very happy with the photos. Portraiture is the one area of photography that I think I could use a little bit of work in. It's rewarding to try something out and achieve a good result my first attempt.

I should mention that Victoria is not as sad as she always appears in some of my photos. There's actually a photo of her that was published on my Unsplash page that was used in all kinds of depression blogs a while back. There's a running joke between us that someone from her high school is going to stumble across these photos one day and think she's one sad person. I think that's a hilarious idea. In reality this can't be any further from the truth. She just happens to be really good at taking moody photos I suppose. Im grateful for the fact that she’s always willing to pose for me, I couldn’t ask for a better model.

10/21 Weekend Adventures

Hello friends! First, apologies for the confusing blog schedule this week. I know it's weird reading a weekend review on a Thursday, seeing as we're so close to the following weekend. Being exhausted from the eventful weekend and losing our power yesterday morning didn't make things any easier. I'm breaking some blog rules with my erratic schedule but as one of my coworkers would say: “Why do you care, on your site, you make the rules.. so don't be afraid to break them.” So with that said, let's review the weekend.

We had two new visitors to the lake house this past weekend. Tony & Jen made the long journey down from Jersey City on Saturday. They arrived in the early evening and stayed in the guest quarters until the late morning on Sunday. We tried to pack as many fun activities as we could into such a small amount of time. We went out for dinner at one of our new favorite places to eat, the Harley Dawn Diner, make a quick stop at a new brewery called Vinyl in Hammonton, and finished off the morning on Sunday with a brunch buffet at the Scotland Run golf club right here in Williamstown. Our guests also got to experience one of my favorite things here in the lakes, that early morning fog. below you can see a couple of photos that I snapped before they had woken up… to show them of course.

After the lovely couple left us on Sunday, Victoria and I spent the rest of the day doing little things around the house. She mowed the front lawn, I washed my car, and we started our long-term project of trying to grow grass in our front yard by laying down some seeds! You can read all about that fun project here. I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated as much as possible too. So now, on to the photographs. They are a mix of styles and processing techniques all taken on my trusty X-Pro 2. I’ve been trying to use the XF23mm lens more over the last couple of days. You can see some of the photos have a wider feel to them. Omit I’m happy with the weekend’s catch, and I hope you enjoy them too.

Michael

Pixel Perfect Morning.

We took a short stroll with the pups this morning. We made our way towards the end of the street, near Ashley & Ryan's house, then turned back towards our house.  I'm assuming most of you readers aren't familiar with the layout of our neighborhood but it goes something like this: Our street, South Shore Drive, runs along the side of the lakes and has no outlet. Most of our walks consist of us walking down the street and turning back towards our house which is situated at the beginning of the second lake.

So.. as we turned back towards the homestead this morning, I could see the Sun peeking through the trees. I then made the decision that we should walk past the house and walk over to the dam that separates the two lakes. I'm glad we did, as the sunrise was absolutely perfect this morning. The lake was perfectly still and smooth like glass. I only had my Pixel with me so I snapped a few photographs to add to my Instagram story. I liked them so much, I decided to do a little write-up and post them here.

It's kind of hard to believe how far smartphone photography has improved in the space of a few years. It seems like only yesterday that I was scoffing at the idea of taking a picture on a cell phone, while I walked around with a giant Canon 7D around my neck. The hardware side of things has steadily improved over the last 10 years, but ultimately there is only so much information that you can pack into a tiny sensor. Where the true future of phone photography lies is on the software side of things. Computational Photography is the future of the photographic industry.


A word from the Editor: I'm quite happy with the traffic to the website this past month. There have been over 500 visits in September with almost all of them occurring in the last week, in large part to the Corvettes In Color post. My goal for the next month is to match that 500 number and perhaps even break 1000 by the end of October, so wish me luck. I'd also like to hear from you readers. I try to remember to turn the comments on for each and every post, but now an again it slips past me. I encourage everyone to leave a comment, like this post, share it on social media, or just plain old tell your friends y'all.  Let's try to grow this thing as big as possible.

- Michael

The Door Is Always Open

7:23 - Its Saturday morning, I'm having my morning coffee, casually flipping through some photography blogs, and videos on YouTube. That's when I get the itch, that creative itch. It's this feeling of knowing that I have to have some sort of creative output today for it to be a good one. I look outside and I can just tell it's going to be a nice day, but I know that we're only going to get a couple hours of “good” light. Deep down I know that no one wants to see another photo of the lake and trees outside at high noon… I need to get more creative than that.

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7:48 - I decide it's time to grab my camera and just hang out in the living room for a bit while I finish those last few sips of coffee. The light coming through the big windows in the great room is soft, I snap some photos of my laptop and coffee cup. They are satisfactory, but not groundbreaking. It’s the kind of stuff you would expect to see on a blog whose name is play on words of the name Pioneer Woman...

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8:01 - By now I have conceded the fact that nothing is happening this morning. The Photo just isn't there, and if I try and force something, it will be to obvious. Perhaps it's time to make another cup of coffee and get on with my day. I’m sure that something come along. The day is just getting started right? As I walk over to the coffee machine something from the laundry room happens to catch my eye. The morning sun was filling the room with light and the glass on the door is completely illuminated. The door is slightly ajar and a sliver of that unobstructed light is bursting through the jam. I quickly run back into the great room and grab my camera. I began to make a series of exposures at all different types of settings. I have my photo for the day.

 
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Now I know my laundry room door is not the most exciting thing in the world. But this just goes to show that when the light is just right, something that is dull and ordinary can be transformed into something interesting. As the Earth orbits the Sun, and the seasons pass, the light is always changing. The door is always open for new ideas. 

A Reflective Morning

I'm keeping this post short today for the sake of consistency, it's an attempt to generate some blog writing inertia. I'm actually writing this post as I watch our new dog Jefferson eat his dinner. We have to feed him in a separate room at the moment because Scarlett can agressive when food is around. Who knows, maybe this 10 minute portion of the evening is what ignites my quest to write more. Anyway, here are three photos taken this morning as the sun was coming up. There are just some lovely pink and purple hues in that morning sky. All of the photographs we're taken on my trusty X-Pro2 with the XF23mm lens, using the Velvia film simulation. They're also the JPEG files straight out of the camera with a slight tone curve applied in Lightroom.