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.

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. 

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?

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

Labor Day Laborings

What a wonderful labor day we are having here in the lakes. You couldn't ask for more perfect weather. We started off the weekend with lots of wind and rain but since yesterday afternoon the weather has really improved.  Today is one of those days when it's so nice that you can't think of anything to do because you can do everything. Or maybe that just happens to me? I like to call these my idea generation days. They are an opportunity to turn my mind off and let it invent all kinds of schemes and scenarios. I can have a wild imagination at times so coming up with new ideas for things not hard for me. However I do struggle to remember everything on occasion. If only I had some sort of blog to keep track of my thoughts...ha ha ha. I've also been kind of slacking over the past few weeks in regards to my photography. Perhaps it's one of those end of season slumps. Or on the other hand, a creative discipline is like a muscle that requires constant exercise to help keep it fresh and ready for action. Right now my photography muscle is a little out of shape I'd like to think that writing all of this down is that exercise though. Writing a blog may not be the best way to improve my photography compared to actually going out and taking pictures, but it plays a small part. It's like the stretch or warm up to the real exercise. The best that I can do right now is to buckle down and just keep going. There’s only one way to from here.. and that is up.

Details, Minor Details

Yesterday morning I decided to take my cup of coffee outside and play with Scarlett. Mornings like this are just perfect for photography. The air is thick and humid. All of the greenery around here is covered in a layer of dew. Perfect little subjects for my camera.

Forcing myself to write on a more frequent basis has caused me to start focusing on all of the tiny details that surround me on this giant rock that orbits a ball of flaming hydrogen we call the Sun.

Slight correction to my post from Monday evening. I have no clue why I titled it as a "Wednesday Walk" when it was quite clearly a Monday.. I'm surprised no one caught that. 

A Monday Walk

Below are a few photos from a quick walk Victoria and I took with Scarlett this evening. Surprisingly this was the first time that I have been down some of the side streets in the neighborhood. Without sounding too smug and snobbish, I'm quite happy that we moved here. The community is one that I've always dreamed of living in since I was a teenager. Sorry Mom and Dad, Roselle is a nice place but it was never for me. Things are much quieter here, the air is a little fresher, and the nature is I little more er...natural. I don't want to make this as long as my last two posts so I'll stop it here. 

On a side note, I'm beginning the tedious task of cleaning my music collection up and moving it to Google Music. Its safe to say that my strong bond with iTunes is dying a slow death. 

Mike Check

Hello? Is this thing on?

I have not updated this site as frequently as I would have liked. Eric L'Heureux you were right about me starting a blog for the second time. (Inside joke) You're not alone there buddy, even Victoria asked me last night why I haven't posted anything in a while... I didn't have an answer. She mentioned that I had been taking a lot of photos recently but with nothing to show for it..and she's right. Even leaving my camera at work on the long holiday weekend didn't slow me down. I used my phone and was pleasantly surprised by the results I obtained. My response to her after a few seconds of thought was " the photos are there but there's no story, no context." ... a weak excuse. 

The idea that there's nothing to write about is kind of bullshit, there's always something going on. Every story might not be the most exciting thing in the world but thats okay. One of the things that i think troubles creatives (I hate saying that) is that we are constantly trying to one up what we did last. This can lead to a lot of indecisiveness, in this case a stagnant blog. Something I say all the time is "well I have a lot of great ideas but I just don't have the time to implement them." Bullshit I have the time, I just have to sit down and figure it out and plan out what it is I want to do. Here's a thought maybe the key to writing a successful blog is just writing itself. Sitting down and writing something everyday is better than not writing anything at all. A good blog covers the day to day of someone's life with all of the exciting and boring moments that go along with it. In short, the key is consistency. The practice of second-guessing yourself and putting your ideas on the shelf and saying "well I'll do it later" in some ways is the anthesis of a good blog.

I also have to keep reminding myself that this site doesn't have to be about just photography, or have any photos at all. The title is Pine Barren Man.. not Pine Barren Photographer.  The content should be about me and what it's like to live here, not about one aspect of my life. I'll admit, it's easy to use the photos as a crutch. People like them, and it's easier to take a good photo than it is to write a good story. This site, like my photography shouldn't be dictated by what followers like. As an artist, I have to do what I like first, and then the rest will sort it out from there. 

In conclusion I just have to do what I want to do.  This is my sandbox with my toys and I could make the rules. It is time to stop second guessing everything. If there's one craft that all artists have mastered, it is the art of making excuses. Now more than ever, it is easier to have your head turned and your confidence crushed, thanks to social media. There's always somebody out there more successful than you, so you just have to do your thing. This post reads like a rant but really it's just me talking to myself. My hope is that whoever reads this gets something from it. 


While sitting at lunch today I posted a photo to Instagram titled Undulations. The title references the wave like appearance clouds take on when the Sun is setting. Immediately after making the post I could hear the beginnings of a trance mix I had downloaded a few years ago. It was conveniently named. .. The History of Trance. A full eight hours of little snippets of trance tunes. It covers the genre from it's early days into the modern era. Quite the journey. The clouds in my photo pair well the soft melodic sounds of that mix. What amazes me even more is the fact that its possible to get that lost in the moment while sitting in the break room at work...I digress.  

I've always been a firm believer in the idea that you can pair music with photographs, similar to the way one would pair a glass of wine to their meal. One of my favorite ways to relax involves sitting down with my laptop, putting on my headphones, and editing some photos. I'll often tailor whats playing to the type of photos I'm editing, letting the music influence the directions my pictures take.  

We've had some spectacular sunsets here in the past month, so I've rounded a few up for everyone to enjoy. While you're viewing these photos I suggest listening to something that pairs well, preferably something soft and melodic.

Sun Showers

Evening thunderstorms gave way to a setting sun that tried it's best to peek through the clouds. The colors in the sky shifted to hues of red and orange. The air was thick with moisture as raindrops fell on the lake. A calm 45 seconds as we stood on the dock making photographs. 

Photo Tip: Reducing your exposure by one stop really brings out the details in sunsets. 

Photo Tip: Reducing your exposure by one stop really brings out the details in sunsets.