So, after we enjoyed some lunch at the Monarch's Restaurant we decided to continue on. Dad had read about the Bridge of Flowers and thought it might be fun to visit.
As we drove along we passed Old Deerfield, which I made a note to visit on another journey. Old Deerfield looked like a colonial era with lots of the original buildings that were once there. I'll be back to check it out sometime for sure.
So we continued on until we reached Shelburne Falls which is only about 20 minutes north of Magic Wings (from the previous blog post).
This was a small town build around the falls. It looked like more of a industrial type town. So we walked around a little.
These mosaics were all over the town so I took a few photos.
I was curious to see the falls so I headed in that direction. We were told that depending on the time of the day we would either see the falls or the potholes. These are potholes that were made by glaciers centuries ago.
As you can see the water was being redirected at this time to showcase the potholes.
In this photo you can see the bridge on the right side. If you walk down main st. that is where you end up. When you cross the bridge you arrive in a new town.
Behind that bridge you just saw there is a smaller stone bridge which is the Bridge of Flowers. This is taken from the opposite side.
So we then headed back to walk along the bridge. As expected there were a lot of flowers there to see. How neat that you could walk from one town to the other via this garden walkway.
This was a neat little town with a ton of history behind it. I enjoyed walking around and seeing the bridge of flowers. I'll have to make another trip out there as there are other nearby sites to see as well. Fun times!
My dad is up visiting with me this week. And yes, he is also big into exploring. So we decided to head out to western MA. We visited two locations, but the second will be left up to another blog post.
Our first stop was to Magic Wings in South Deerfield. I while ago someone had mentioned it to me as the go to place to take photos of butterflies. I had always wanted to go, but had just never made it there. From what I could tell from their website I knew that I'd probably like it. I really like taking photos of butterflies and just let them do what they do. This is what I call true photojournalism - watching, waiting and then taking the shot.
When we arrived I saw that it was a very large place and was anxious to check it out.
When you walk in the main entrance you have a large common area with tables to sit and relax. You have the gift shop and information desk to the left and to the right you have a cafeteria area. Through the gift shot is the entrance to an exhibit and that leads into the main butterfly room. I was not expecting the exhibit area and found many reptiles and insects to take photos of. My dad wanted to go check out the butterflies, but I was busy checking out all the reptiles. The room started to fill up with people so I eventually made it into the huge butterfly rooms.
If you're not a reptile person please skip further down to see some awesome butterflies.
- All these photos were taken with the 60mm Fuji macro lens.
These are some of the tiny frog eggs floating about.
These two look like they are sun tanning.
I like this one because this guy is looking at his buddy attempting to climb.
At this point I decided to head into the main room. This place was larger than I expected. There was a small pond, a presentation area, a pagoda and several benches to sit and enjoy the butterflies. There were hundreds and hundreds of butterflies there. And, many seemed tamed as you could walk up to them and take their photo without them taking off immediately. I also found that they had some birds there as well. And I was happy to see a few reptiles on display as well.
I admit that I didn't take many photos of the plants and trees there. But most bushes, trees, plants were taller than I was. Often times you were looking up to see some butterflies. There was so much to look at and even with families and kids walking around it never felt crowded.
This is the Atlas Moth. These guys are always so majestic. The ones I've seen are usually this size with a wingspan of about 14-16 inches.
This guy was chilling so I had to take a couple of him. The second was taken 10 minutes later when I made my way back there.
There were several of these feeding stations around. I was lucky enough to see this little guy there.
This guy was the king of the hill.
And this is mr Finch. In this photo I'm probably around a foot and a half from him and he was just looking around.
Here's another one near their feeding station.
I'm not joking when I saw that I could have stayed there another hour or two whether it be in the reptile area or checking out all the butterflies. I even think I saw a parrot at one point and a chameleon. And there was a koi pond there as well. But when you're hungry you have to go eat.
So we decided to go next door to the Monarch's Restaurant. The service and food was very good.
After a late lunch we headed out for our second stop of the day.
Much like many photographers I started out taking photos about the house, with family and locally. I really enjoyed taking photos of flowers and nature and was just happy playing around with my new camera.
As I learned more and had a better understanding of my camera I started to take photos of people as well. It was intimidating at first, but when I got a great photo I found it was a lot more rewarding to getting a nice capture of a flower.
I continued to practice and found that I wanted to get better. I took some average photos and some great ones, but I was still learning a lot about light. And, I found that taking photos of moving subjects was also a challenge. But, I wanted to figure it out.
In early 2011 I felt like I was ready for the next step. At this point I had done several portraits and covered some family events and was confident in myself. I also knew that I wanted to continue to challenge myself. Through a local photography club and a lot of research online I decided I wanted to try out wedding photography. It sounded like a big undertaking, but the challenge excited me. I felt I was ready to give it a go, and to be honest, I never considered doing this on my own quite yet.
So, I teamed up with a fellow photographer and I went along with him to do a wedding on Martha's Vineyard. If I recall I had a lot of questions for him leading up to the wedding. Of course I wanted to know what was expected of me and to be able to produce some nice images as well.
Following are a few photos from that wedding:
This was a fantastic experience for me and left me with one thought: I want to be a wedding photographer!
But, I knew that I still needed to improve and to learn a lot more.
Shortly after I went on a search for a wedding photographer who might be in need of a second shooter. I knew I could learn a lot from someone with years of experience and who might have a few weddings I could help them with.
I was very lucky to find a local photographer interested. We met and talked photography for a bit and soon after I was hired. I was thrilled! We did 5 weddings together and I learned a lot and had a lot of fun.
Key things I learned:
1. Where to be.
This might sound silly, but knowing where to position yourself throughout a wedding is very important. You never want to be in the way of another photographer or constantly having to dash across the room because the couple decided to face the opposite way. I've learned to scope out the hall or church really quickly to plan where I might stand throughout the ceremony. When working with second photographers its also good to know where you would like for them to be as well.
2. To be super aware of changing in lighting.
This can be pretty obvious when taking photos outside an then moving indoors for the ceremony and vice versa, but as the wedding day moves quickly it can get tricky. There were a couple times early on that I forgot to change my settings when I went outside and used a very high ISO. I did make sure that my exposure was correct, but the photos were not optimal given the settings I used.
3. Shoot three photos of important moments.
There are many important moments in weddings from the kiss, to the exchanging of rings to the cake cutting. To make sure you have a shot in focus, with good lighting and just at the right moment I learned to take 3 photos of the same moment, and no more. Early on I was told not to "shoot and pray". This is when you take dozens of photos hoping to get the right photo.
4. Photos in focus are most valuable.
Its true that a photo with a lot of grain, or cropped improperly can be adjusted in post processing, but taking a blurry photo and making it great is near impossible. Adjusting settings during a wedding can be stressful enough, but getting non-blurry photos was something to always pay attention to. This is something I learned to pay attention to immediately.
5. The 30% keeper rule.
I don't know if this is a universal rule or not, but it makes a lot of sense. Personally, I think it should be about 35%. Once all the photos were taken and we had the chance to go through them I was told we should have a 30% minimum keeper rate. This means from all the photos you took on the day 30% should be non-blurry, different and with proper settings. I will admit that when I started I was closer to 25%. But, by the time we were done working together I was closer to 35%. It was very nice to review my images together and get tips on what went write vs what went wrong. I noticed that some of my settings weren't optimal. Lightroom does a great job of filtering which camera, lens, and settings you use. I learned a ton from these critiques.
6. How to bounce flash properly.
In lower light situations I knew that flash would get me better exposure and allow me to use a lower ISO which equaled more detail. I knew how to bounce flash, but in some circumstances (smaller spaces) it was very tough to not get those deep shadows. I was told to remove my diffuser and to use a bounce card instead. Also, I found that I could lower the flash power and still get great fill light. This really helped me to take photos with flash with more confidence and my batteries lasted longer as well!
7. Battery life and SD use.
I mentioned this earlier sort of, but working a full day as a second photographer allowed me to get a good sense of how any memory cards I would use and how many batteries my cameras and flash would use as well. So, going into future weddings alone I had a good idea of how much I needed to bring with me. Going from a photo session to a wedding might leave you stressed out if you don't know exactly how many batteries and memory cards you need to have with you.
8. Learning my style.
Although this is still developing I learned a lot from working those weddings as a second photographer. I was always happy to be photographing the details, and candids. I didn't feel the pressure of being a primary photographer, but was still kept quite busy taking other important photos. I also started to make the transition from zoom lenses to prime lenses which gave me shallower depth of field, worked well in low light and let me get more candid photos without being as noticed.
9. I love photographing weddings.
Most of all this opportunity allowed me to realize how much I love weddings and being able to photograph them. Early on I knew that weddings aren't for everyone. I heard lots of stories of how stressful and chaotic they can be. I heard that nothing goes as planned and that sometimes lighting is awful. And although some of this might have been true, I truly enjoyed it. To me it felt like taking all aspects of photography that I enjoy; people, candids, scenes and macro, and having a full day to capture it. It has and will continue to challenge me as no two weddings are the same, but will always be fulfilling.
10. How to be a good primary photographer.
Over time I started taking on my own weddings and also brought on a second photographer. Having had this experience myself I knew better what to look for when I was interviewing candidates. Also, I had a good understanding of how to direct them throughout the day and how to have their work help me complete the full story of the couple's day.
I honestly feel that I would not be as good a wedding photographer today if I had not started out as a second photographer. I can understand feeling like you can make a lot of money doing this, if done properly, but you should be well prepared to deliver quality photos for this special day in a couple's lives. Also, this experience has also allowed me to help advise other young photographers looking to take a similar path into wedding photography. You can dive into doing a wedding with zero experience, but I would not recommend it. I will always recommend educating yourself first and possibly learning from someone else. And for some, being a second photographer will let them know that wedding photography is clearly not for them, instead of figuring that out half way through the ceremony.
Today was an off and on rainy day. I wanted to venture out somewhere, but also didn't want to rained on. I'd been wanting to go to Logee's again to pick up another Meyer Lemon plant and today ended up being the right day to do it.
Logee's Greenhouses is a fantastic I spot I discovered a couple years ago when I was looking to build up an edible garden in my home. They are located in Danielson, CT close to RT 395. I have a four season sunroom that I thought would be perfect and would allow me to continue growing my plants through the harsher winter months here in New England. A local store recommended Logee's for their variety and quality and I headed into Connecticut to check it out. Since that day I regularly get their catalogues, which are free when you sing up for their newsletter, and have recommended them to countless people all over the US. But, I will say that if you are local, it is worth a visit. Their staff is very friendly, knowledgeable and allow me to take photos of their wonderful inventory! If you enjoy plants and flowers you would also feel like a kid in a candy store. There is just so much to see there. Every time I visit I find new plants/flowers I hadn't noticed before.
So my purpose today was to get myself a Meyer Lemon Plant. These are fantastic as they do better in cooler climates, can be grown indoors, and fruit year round! So, even if you can't find much use for lemons their flowers produce a great aroma and you'll be happy to see flowers on them even throughout the winter, if kept indoors of course.
From the street this is the sign you will see as you approach Logee's.
From the parking lot area this is what you see as you walk up to the main entrance. The store is located in this part of the building with the gift store adjacent. Then you walk through and enter the first greenhouse. Note that about 98% of the plants you see in both greenhouses are for sale! So its always fun to walk around and browse.
You'll notice right away that the aisles are pretty narrow, but its only because there are so many plants to showcase. This plant really caught my eye as I was walking along.
The best thing is that each plant is labeled and basic information is provided. Especially with fruiting plants they will you approximately how big they will get, what zones they are good for, how much sun light they require and when they fruit.
There really is so much to look at here so I'd stop from time to time to take a quick photo of something that caught my eye.
This is a passion flower. I just find these awesome. They have over a dozen varieties of them at Logee's. Some are cold hardy to Zone 4. MA is zone 6 so that means they can withstand Canada weather easily. But, make sure you check the label to see which one. This photo is of one they had growing on the wall of the greenhouse. There were four flowers all over. From what I was reading they also produced a passion fruit, but these were all too small to have them. I was really curious to see what those were like as in the photos they looked like tiny watermelons.
Walking around another part of the greenhouse I found a passion fruit!! I was pleased to be paying attention and noticed a flower like the one above, but red in color. And there were several of these fruit all over as well. Really cool. These are a little larger than a golf ball.
Walking around further I saw this hanging plant with very interesting leaves. I had seen it before, but never with flowers so I had to take a photo.
But, that is only half of it. There is a whole other greenhouse off of this one. So I made my way over there as well.
This greenhouse housed a lot of the larger plants and edibles as well. If you look in the back you can see a huge loquat tree with fruit on it.
In the middle of this greenhouse there is a bench. So you can sit, relax and enjoy the plants and trees around you.
In the midst of the large trees and plants there were also smaller ones as well. This room had a lot of succulents and small plants for the house as well.
This is a path way on this side of the greenhouse where a lot of the smaller plants were hanging out enjoying the sun. At the far end you would find a lot of the succulents.
At this point I had my two plants and was ready to head out. I'm sure if they were open much longer I would have stayed wandering the whole place taking photos. I picked up the Meyer Lemon and the Finger Lime plant. And I picked up some soil from them as well. Another successful and fun trip to Logee's.
I highly recommend Logee's whether you need to purchase something for your home or just to spend an afternoon wandering amongst some awesome and exotic plants. You can visit their website and request a free catalogue at www.logees.com.
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