Category Archives: New York

Discovering New FLT Section

It is always exciting to get out and try something new. The best new thing to try is running a section of trail you have never been on. I have been running on the Finger Lakes trail a bit the past couple years, but I have not gotten out to explore it as much as I would have liked to.

On the 4th of July holiday several friends and I decided to go run a section of the trail near Hammondsport, NY. This section of trail is also the ending of the Twisted Branch 100k, a race that I would like to run some someday I think.

One of the best ways to celebrate a holiday is to spend some time out on the trails with friends. I think it is especially fitting that on Independence Day we were out on the trails celebrating freedom to run and enjoying the freedom that I feel nowhere else than out on the trails.

 

2018 Walk A Mile In My Shoes

I may have met many of my friends through running but we are all so much more than runners. For me I am among other things a photographer. One of my friends I’ve met through running works in one of the most challenging fields you can, mental health. She puts on what I consider a very important community event. This year I was fortunate enough to be a part of this event again. I am always happy to find ways to use my talents to support our local community.

Walk a Mile in my Shoes is a community wide suicide awareness event held in Elmira, NY. This year was the 13th year this event has been held. Over 2,000 people attended this event to show their support for suicide prevention and awareness.

This is a truly moving event to be part of. Seeing so many people coming together to recognize the importance of such an important issue. So many people are affected by issues surrounding mental health either directly or indirectly. I am sure we all know someone who has experienced difficulties with mental health, and maybe we don’t even know that we do. This community event helps to show that there are people out there that support anyone who is experiencing difficulties with mental health.

Community events like Walk A Mile In My Shoes will help to break the stigma that unfortunately continues to exist around mental health. Mental health is something we need to talk about all the time. It is something that we need to make easy to discuss. That way when people struggle they can easily come forward and receive the help they need. It is sad that it often takes an act of courage to come forward to address mental health issues because of the way our society can treat those who are suffering the most.

I have learned a lot from people who have worked in fields related to mental health and from those who struggle with mental health.

Mental Health is a difficult subject to talk about. Despite my years of study and times spent with others on the front lines it really doesn’t seem to get easier.

I usually consider myself a pretty good writer and think that I can find the words I want especially regarding topics that are important to me or that I am knowledgeable and this is both. But still the right words are not there to convey the importance of this topic and the importance of this event to our community.

This event is simply a powerful and emotional experience. To see so many people come together who have shared perspective. People who have shared experiences. People who know how important just that one word or just that one person for support is. It is truly moving.

I am glad we have people in our community who know the importance of mental health and people who show up to support mental health awareness.

2018 STRC Trail Fest at Grist Iron

Last year I ran the first trail race put on by the Southern Tier Running Club. This year I was back again but not as a runner. I photographed the event and an event it is. This is truly as billed a Trail Fest. One day, 3 races. There is a 1 mile race a 5k race and a 10k race. I photographed each one. Then there are post race festivities including live music, food, and beer. It does not get a whole lot better.

Trail Fest at Grist Iron_May 06, 2018_629

Photographing one race can be challenging enough but photographing 3 races in a row is a different story all together. It was fun, exciting, and challenging just like running itself is. Photography at this point becomes an endurance sport in a way just like running. You have to be able to stay focused and not miss your shots. Look at what is in front of you and plan your moves just like on a trail run.

The first race of the day was the 1 mile race. I stayed relatively close to the finish line for this one and moved a little bit out into the field. I used my longest lens, my 300 mm, for this race so I could capture the runners as they approached in the distance. Then as they moved closer to the finish line I could take some nice close up shots that would also include some nice scenery of the trees and lake behind them.

Trail Fest at Grist Iron_May 06, 2018_165

For the 5k and 10k races I wanted to be farther out on the course so I could depict more of the scenery in my photographs. But I also wanted to stay close enough that I would be able to tell when each race stated so that I could have a sense of when to expect runners to reach me. I hiked out on the course a mile or so until I came to the edge of the woods. It was the perfect spot for me to set up for photographs.

I could see into the woods along the trail that came directly towards me so I would see the runners approaching me. Then the trail took a 90 degree turn and then another 90 degree turn. The trail basically snaked around me where I was standing so I could watch runners along the trail from multiple perspectives. I would be able to photograph runner’s running head on towards me then they would turn and they would be running perpendicular to me across my field of view. Then they would turn again and be running parallel to me again. All I needed to do was change my positioning and I could capture each runner and multiple places along the trail with different scenery. I was also able to see the runners clear across the field from me as they started the race in the first mile or two and photograph them there with my 300mm lens.

Trail Fest at Grist Iron_May 06, 2018_530

I really enjoyed photographing this event from this spot. It allowed me to be much more creative than I would otherwise be able to be. I used four different cameras during the 5k and 10k races. I took photographs from four different angles. I was also able take photographs with different scenery in the back ground and vary the composition of each photo by zooming in or out and they all came out very nice.

So, doing all that sounds perfectly good in theory, but in practice it is a bit challenging. One of my goals when I photographed this race is to try to get a photograph of everyone who is running. So transition and planning becomes very important. How will I move from photographing at one angle with one camera to using another camera at another angle and still another perhaps at a different angle or distance. This all has to be done on the move in real time as runners are approaching and passing you by.

Trail Fest at Grist Iron_May 06, 2018_709

You have to get a feel for you equipment and how long it takes to move from one camera and one position to the next. You have to have a preconception of what you want to include in each photograph. For me at this location there were several flowering trees that I wanted to include as the background of most of the photos so I planned to take shots as runners approached each of these landmarks. You have to often be aware of multiple runners at once. As one runner is approaching one landmark another runner is approaching you. Which one do you photograph in which order so that you don’t miss any of the shots? How many of the runners do you group together on wide angle shots so that you can compose a nice scenic shot and include all the runners and not miss anyone? These are all thoughts and calculations that are going on in my head as a photographer in the moment sometimes subconsciously. It doesn’t always work out but I would say the vast majority of my photos turned out as I hoped they would.

This was all done basically sight unseen. I had a vague memory of some of the course from last year, but this year’s course was going to be very different for a variety of reasons. I had not been able to go up and preview the course prior to the race. I basically walked around and found a spot I liked minutes before the race started and then started thinking about how I wanted to photograph the runners as the race was happening around me. I am not sure if that says I am a bad planner or a good photographer for having it happen that way and being able to pull it off, but even if it was less than ideal it worked out ok. There might be a few things I would do differently but those are lessons learned for the next event.

Trail Fest at Grist Iron_May 06, 2018_858

Another part of the experience that has benefits and drawbacks is that since I found such an ideal spot that allowed me to take a wide variety of photographs of each runner from multiple angles, is that it allowed me to take a wide variety of photographs of each runner from multiple angles. Meaning I was able to take a ton of photos. I took a large quantity of photographs, over 3000. I could have taken many more if I had chosen to. I was under the impression that I had done a good job on limiting the sheer volume of photos I took until I started reviewing them on my camera after the event and realize just how many I had taken. Capturing all those images in and of itself is great and I love having so many photos to share with people but what it means for me is more work. It is time consuming to transfer all the photographs from each memory card to my computer. I probably need to do some hardware upgrades there at some point. Then I have to upload all those photographs to the internet to share them with the runners and the race organization. That takes time and websites don’t always cooperate or make it easy to upload large numbers of files all at once. So it becomes a slow time consuming process. But it is a process that I love none the less. Then there is the process of editing photos and sharing them which is also fun but time consuming and with 3000 plus photos it will be a while before I get through them all and share any significant number of edited photos.

Trail Fest at Grist Iron_May 06, 2018_2080

All said this was a great event full of great people from the runners to the volunteers to the organization putting the event on and the host site.

Thank you to Southern Tier Running Club for having me out to photograph your event. Thank you to Grist Iron Brewing for hosting. Thank you to the volunteers for making this happen. These events don’t happen without volunteers. Thank you to all the runners who went out and got after it on the trails. I hope you all had a great time and I hope you enjoy the photographs.

Trail Fest at Grist Iron_May 06, 2018_2503

 

Kicking off a new venture

I have been planning to take my photography in a new direction for a while now. What I have been wanting to do is teach photography. I have been thinking about this and developing plans for a while.

Now is the time I will be kicking this new venture off. I will be starting off by volunteering to lead two, one hour long nature photography workshops at the Corning Museum of Glass. We will be walking around the campus at the CMOG and looking for interesting things to photograph and talking about nature and photography.

If you are looking for something to do this Saturday join me at the Corning Museum of Glass from 1 to 2 PM or from 2 to 3 PM for a nature photography workshop.

Following this I will be adding more workshops I will be offering. Follow me here or on Facebook for more information regarding upcoming events. You can contact me through my website or social media with any questions you have.

These photographs are just a sample of what we can hope to see . I photographed them on a short walk around the CMOG recently.

Hope to see you Saturday.

You can find more information about the event at Corning Museum of Glass

Run to clear the mind

Today was a tough day. Another dog with a trip to the vet. Another dog with a cancer diagnosis. That is two dogs with two cancer diagnoses in two weeks. Sometimes it just seems like life keeps kicking you.

When we got home I just need to do something. I couldn’t just sit at home with my thoughts. I needed action. There was no action I could take to help solve our dogs current health issues, but I needed to be active. I needed to get up and try to get my mind shifted into a different gear.

I got my running gear on and headed out the door for a run. I really didn’t feel into it at first. I was tired. In addition to the mental fatigue of the day I had been running  a lot the last few days. But I needed to be running now. I needed to feel that state that all runners know where you just get out there and get going and your mind clears and you are just out there and your mind body connection just takes over and you feel that peace that comes with running. But it just wasn’t happening for me.

20171023_172449-01.jpeg

Even worse while I ran my phone fell out of my arm strap, which has never happened before, so I ended up having to carry it. How annoying right? Well that’s what I thought. I am not normally one who believes in the saying that everything happens for a reason, but in hindsight I think my phone fell for a reason.

Shortly after my phone fell I a came across a deer standing in someones yard. Normally I would have just waved hi to the deer and kept on running. But I actually had my phone in my hand so I stopped to take a photo. The deer didn’t even move when I stopped and snapped a few photos.

20171023_172420-01.jpeg

Since the deer just stood there I took a few more photos and I leaned ion a little closer. Still the deer didn’t move. I took a step closer to the deer. The deer took a step towards me. To cross from the road to the yard I had to descend and ascend a small ravine. I thought surely doing that would scare the deer away, but no. For every step closer I took the deer approached me too.

20171023_172439-01.jpeg

Before I knew it I was face to face with a deer, a wild deer. First time for that. I never thought I would have that happen. The deer kept walking closer to me and I kept taking photos. The deer leaned right up to me and sniffed my hand that was holding my phone. I felt his nose and his whiskers on my hand.

20171023_172424-01.jpeg

This was just the experience I needed on a day like today. I love nature and a nice up close and personal experience with wildlife was just what was called for. It helped me get out of my negative frame of mind. My mind shifted into a different gear. I felt happy for the first time today. I remembered all the good things that will still be there when my heartache is over. It may take some time but it will happen.

20171023_172423-01.jpeg

After my encounter with the deer my run went much better. My spirits were lifted. I felt better. My running felt better. I didn’t feel so fatigued. I felt stronger. I was enjoying this run that at until that point had been kind of miserable. I didn’t run hard or fast but that wasn’t the point. The point was to get out and feel my muscles work and let my brain work through things and now that could happen.

20171023_172513-01.jpeg

There are not many things better to help you get out of a funk than a run and some nature.

Babysitting Foster Puppies

When your wife has a huge heart you end up babysitting someone’s five bottle feeding foster puppies so that they can go to a wedding.

So I took advantage of an opportunity to get some adorable photographs. It is hard to take a photo of these tiny puppies that isn’t cute. Adorable subjects make my job easy.

Photographing Mendon Mauler

One of the reasons I love trail running is that it brings me closer to nature. Trail running gives me another reason to get outside and enjoy nature. Even better trail running encourages me to explore areas I might not otherwise visit. Trail running also allows me to cover more ground in a shorter time than I would be able to on a regular hike, so I see more nature on one trip than I would be able to without running.

Mendon Mauler_June 09, 2017_24

As a photographer and a runner my mind is in constant conflict. Run as best you can Vs. Stop and take a photo. I love taking photographs of nature even more than I love running through it. So, I’ve developed a strategy to be able to do both as equally effective as possible. I found the perfect hydration pack that allows me to carry water and fuel as well as my camera and cell phone, the Nathan VaporAir.

You might be thinking how on earth are you fitting a camera in a hydration pack? I am able to do that because I have a Nikon 1 J4 specifically for easy travel. It is about the size of a cell phone but bulkier and fits right in one of the front pouches. So, now on almost every trail run my pack and my camera is along for the ride.

Mendon Mauler was a tough race for me. One of the longest trail races I have run to date. It was also a race that started at 6:30 pm. I don’t usually run in the evening. And the temperature at start time was around 80 degrees. I do not like to run in the heat and usually avoid it at all costs.

The first 4 mile lap felt brutal in the heat. When I got to the end of the first lap I could have decided to stop at 4 miles and boy was that tempting. Being done and getting out of the heat sounded like a very good idea. But I had sign up for the 8 mile run and I was committing to the 8 miles and passed on the opportunity to finish at 4 miles.

Lap 2 felt much better. I was tired and slow but the temperature started to drop as the sun went down. I was actually cold for half of the second 4 mile lap. Then I cam to all the hills and warmed back up. The course was challenging for me. No huge hills but a lot of short steep inclines and declines. They were just burning up my legs.

Near the end of each lap there is a steep incline followed by an even steeper decline covered in slippery rolling rocks that defy description on the decent. It can really only be experienced as you try to maintain your balance on the slippery sliding rocks under your feet.

Mendon Mauler_June 09, 2017_15

I decided that this spot would be the perfect spot to stop and take a break for a minute. Stop. Soak in the nature. Remember why I am out here and remember why I love doing these things that most other people probably think are crazy. I got out my camera and composed a few shots of the incline as a fellow runner ascended. Then a paused again at the top to compos a few shots of the sights from the hi-point before I descended. It was then that I was really happy about my decision to go another 4 miles. Without putting in the extra effort I would not have been able to capture these nice images.

Mendon Mauler_June 09, 2017_27

Then a relatively short time later came the part I was now really looking forward to. The finish line and a chance to rest, re-hydrate, eat food, and reunite with my friends that also ran the race. I was also able to capture some nice photographs of the sun setting on Mendon Ponds Park.

Mendon Mauler_June 09, 2017_35