A Moment Extended

Every once in a while as I am learning photography, I dive into longer shutter speeds.

You’ve seen photos at all different shutter speeds. At times the photographer wants to freeze everything in the frame with a really fast shutter; at other times, the photographer will try to get some motion blur with a bit of a slower shutter speed. Sometimes, with a much longer shutter speed, one can achieve something incredible and visually appealing.

This is my humble attempt at playing around with a longer shutter over the past year.

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Gender Reveal – June 1st, 2015

What a fun and creative photoshoot to reveal our first baby’s gender to the world!

Gender Reveal

It’s interesting to note that we took off our wedding bands for the picture in anticipation of the paint, but if you look closely, you can still see their indents on our ring fingers in that first image. Also, like my maternity shoot with the Muchas two weeks ago, I find that I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of recreating interesting and fun photographs from Pinterest or any other source.

Here’s a little tidbit of insight to the making of this photo:

– Two people
– One baby (in utero, preferable for this type of shot)
– DSLR (Manual mode) + 10-second timer
– Tripod
– Trip to Michaels
– Trip to A.C. Moore because Michaels failed us
– Solid white wall
– White T-shirt
– Pink puffy paint (If unsure of a shade, choose two or three to test on white paper first)
– Messy hands that cannot touch the camera. Inconvenient if the photographer is the one with the paint on his or her hands, as was this case.
– Messy shirt which actually bled through to the belly.


– Some quotes from this night:

“You pushed me forward. Stop it!”

“No, the heart isn’t right.”

“Dammit, I want the Scrabble tiles but I can’t in full faith post “ITS A GIRL” without an apostrophe.”

“Which pink is right?”

“What are you talking about? That’s not a heart!”

“Why are you pressing so hard? STOP IT!!”

“Am I on top or are you?”

“Push that button. Okay, push it again.”

“Hey, your flash didn’t go off.”

“Why are you opening your hands so wide?”

“Why are you not opening your hands wide enough?”


The Twins’ First MDW – 5.24.15

The Twins' First MDW

It’s always such a pleasure to see the twins, and even more so when they are down in our neck of the woods as we are an hour and a half away or so and it’s not exactly a hop, skip, and jump away for Katy and Bryan to visit.  It’s pretty incredible to have met these girls the day they were born, to watch them grow before my very eyes, and to see how bubbly and social they were this weekend, under a month before their first birthdays.
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McGrath Baby Shower – Part One – May 16th, 2015

"Little Wiz" McGrath Shower - Part 1

The morning showers and rain cleared up for a beautiful afternoon baby shower for Travis and Jonnelly this past Saturday. After weeks of planning down to the finest details such as the pink and blue cupcakes, the salt water taffy favors, the unique guest book, and the fun interactive games, it was beautiful to see friends and family from both sides come out in support of Travis and Jonnelly’s little bundle of joy. Although this was the first of two baby showers out of convenience for the distance for the two families (the first at the McGrath house for Travis’ family and friends), there was no lack of love and support for Little Wiz and his or her excited parents-to-be.
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Mucha Maternity Shoot – May 17th, 2015

Mucha Maternity 5.17.15

This was such a fun and exciting shoot! I don’t think the wife and I had laughed as much or as hard in a long time as we had during this shoot. Not even the “60% chance of an afternoon thunderstorm” could stop the sunshine radiating from this couple.
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Lopez-Biddulph Bridal Shower – May 9th, 2015

Lopez Bridal Shower 5.9.15

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending my friend Karen’s bridal shower. Our paths have crossed when we worked at the same school a few years ago (she teased me for wearing Polo shirts for most of new teacher orientation, and I teased her for showing up late with Dunkin Donuts coffee and being dressed for a day at the beach on the first day of training), and we’ve kept in touch since.
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J.A.B. at Shady Katie’s – May 8th, 2015

J.A.B at Shady Katie's May 8, 2015

Just Another Band rocked Shady Katie’s in New Jersey again on Saturday, May 8th.  Playing for an intimate, smaller crowd, the band brought the party to the scene and entertained all who came out.
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A Calm Spring Morning

One of the most peaceful times of the year, in my humble opinion, is sunrise on a warm May morning. It’s not too warm and not too cold, and the humidity that plagues New Jersey in the dog days of summer is nonexistent. The birds sing their songs as they proudly glide through the skies, and the sun brings back the warmth we seem to have forgotten during the bitter cold winter months.

I decided to try to beat the sunrise when I woke up at 6am on Sunday morning. I grabbed my camera, my 18-135mm lens for wider angles and establishing shots, my 70-300mm lens for a closer look at some wildlife, a vanilla yogurt for some sustenance, and I ventured out the front door.

Spring Sunrise
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Eastern State Penitentiary – April 26th, 2015

Eastern State Penitentiary My wife and I decided to get out to enjoy the 65 degree weather on Sunday by going to Cooper River Park in Camden, NJ. It’s a nice park alongside the river, and there are always people out either biking, running, picnicking with their family, or walking their dogs. I packed the camera as I know there’s an abundance of diverse wildlife at different spots on the river and this time of Spring is prime time for wildlife in our area. Upon arrival, we saw there were two events already going on: a High School rowing competition and an MS walk. There were at least forty high schools there, which means their teams, buses, boats, and most of the athletes’ friends and family were in attendance alongside the river. As if that’s not enough people already crowding “our” park space, the MS walk with its thousand participants was about to begin. So, it follows that our calm and fun walk around the park was a no-go. We had the rest of the day ahead of us with no plans. We decided to go to Philadelphia, about a 20-minute drive, and see what happens once we are there. Feeding the Birds
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First Blown Away

I Have Finally Seen The Light

As I’m entering my second year of photography as a guilty-pleasure hobby (and my friends are starting to become unwilling subjects at various locations), I’m constantly drawn back to the first photograph I took which had blown me away. With a new DSLR and a new hobby, I found myself naturally comparing myself to others’ work. Other professional photographers on Flickr and other photography websites post such incredible images which I could only hope to achieve and emulate in this lifetime. I, on the other hand, have only taken mediocre and dull images around my neighborhood which impress nobody except my mother, who thinks any photo I take is a good photo. However, one day in September 2014, it finally happened. I found some inspiration and snapped a photo which, in retrospect, is one that compares to the greats to which I compared my work on a daily basis.

Let me set the scene for you.

My wife and I spent a night in Atlantic City in September 2014.  We typically go every few months or so and spend the night at our comped room at the Trop. This night was no different. We had some drinks and gambled a bit on the casino floor.  We had a delicious Carmine’s dinner and we were generally celebrating life together. We called it quits and went to bed around midnight, as we are not as young as we used to be. We watched some Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show as we dozed off to sleep with our stomachs full and hearts happy.

Since I am an English teacher by day, I am perpetually on teacher time. This means that I cannot sleep in past 6am. Naturally, I woke up around 6am and I could not fall back asleep. I knew my wife could sleep in for a few more hours, and I saw the first subtle rays of sunshine peaking out over the Atlantic from our room, so I decided to hit the beach with my camera as the sun began to rise.

AC Sunrise

It was a warm and calm morning, and it was the first time I really set out to capture a sunrise over the ocean. I took the above photo as I left the hotel and was hurrying down towards the waterline. It was one of my first photos of the morning and I was inspired by the beautiful colors in the sky. I liked the vibe that the trees added to the photo as their silhouettes stand proudly across the image. In editing, I don’t remember what I did (as I was still learning to navigate Lightroom at the time), but I know I immediately don’t like how the background lightens up behind the trees’ leaves. I find it distracting. But anyway, back to the day.

Here Comes The Sun

I played around with some angles, framing, forced perspective, and new ideas as the sun steadily rose over the horizon, dipping in and out of clouds.

Getting Up Early Is For The Birds

For the above photo, I made the attempt to include the seagulls in the shot in order to help add some dynamics and character to the photo.

Forge Your Own Path

I’ve read on many a photography website that when you’re fixated on one idea, you may miss the bigger picture and other details, so I forced myself to look away from this sunrise in order to find some other small details from the morning. Here’s one that stood out to me. The tire tracks are a stark contrast to the naturalism of the beach and sunrise.

Morning Dip

My eye for the seagulls came back with this silhouette of the gull on the water line. Other small details like seashells in the sand caught my eye.


However, none of these really wowed or impressed me. But then I came across the pier which juts out over the water. With the morning sun still low on the horizon and soft enough not to blind me, I saw the sun cutting through the pillars holding up the boardwalk. This was it. This was the first moment when I found something truly extraordinary. I started taking some photos, but I had to slow down in order to really think about my approach. I went through my settings and made sure everything was where it should be. The scene was tricky because the light source was getting very bright, but there were definitive dark spots which deserve just as much detail as the light.

Pure Imagination

My favorite part about the image isn’t so much the sun itself peaking through the pillars, but the way the light plays with the waves crashing against the pillars and the shore itself. The colors worked as well for me as we have the golden light of the morning golden hour.  Aside from the light, I loved everything about the water, from the light to the texture to even the subtle mist floating above it.

I Have Finally Seen The Light

I am sad to say that, at the time, I was not proficient enough in photography to confidently shoot this scene. I tried many different ideas and settings as I snapped away at this setting. I felt rushed since I knew the sun would only stay in this spot for a few more minutes or so before rising up too high and I would lose the direct rays of sunlight from this direction. I probably came home with about thirty different shots from this setting, all with different angles and positions rather than coming home with four or five precise and calculated shots. While I am thrilled with the outcome, I’m still weary of the mental place and approach which I had taken these under-the-boardwalk photographs.

Beach: This Way

After all is said and done, I decided I got all that I wanted from the morning and I would go back up to the room to check in on my still-sleeping wife. On my walk back to the hotel along the boardwalk, I happened to notice this shot (above), so I took the camera back out and snapped this one which, to date, is still one of my favorite scenery photographs I’ve ever taken.

This photo and this whole morning experience just goes to show that inspiration can come from any place at any time – whether planned or not.