Monthly Photo Challenge: Urban Seasons/Cleveland — January 2016

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Cleveland, OH: July, 2014 at dusk.

 

Welcome to a new year! As indicated in my last post, this year I will be focusing on urban photography. Besides expanding my skills by delving into new territory photographically speaking, I hope to learn more about this, my adopted city. I grew up in the south and am told I still speak with a bit of a southern drawl. Relocating to Cleveland, OH,  a city situated on the shores of one of our great lakes, Erie, is a culture shock to say the least.  I work in the city but at times still feel like a stranger. Choosing to focus on the seasonal changes in the city seemed like a no-brainer for me. Little did I know how very different nature photography is from photographing city sights!

Unlike the organic lines, lights, shadows and shapes found in nature, urban landscapes are a juxtaposition of straight lines, harsh angles, crisp shadows, and all things concrete and metal. As you will see, I found it difficult to frame shots that didn’t look wildly distorted, tilted, and/or contrasty. I intentionally shot some photos at angles to hide the fact that I couldn’t get a good perspective no matter how hard I tried.

Another challenge to me was simply where to begin. I quickly discovered that going out to shoot photos in the city bewilders me. There is simply too much of everything: buildings, interesting streets, storefronts, lights, automobiles, etc. This month’s post is a hodgepodge of photos from different areas of the city. The black and white photos of the bridges and tavern were shot in an area known as “The Flats.” The color photos (with b&w thrown in) were shot in “Little Italy” and “Cleveland Heights.” Going forward I will choose one area of focus and concentrate in that area or on one subject. Otherwise I will get flustered and too discouraged to see this through to the end. Yes, this year will be quite a challenge. I hope you will feel free to offer constructive criticism as the year progresses. This project is a work in progress and is truly a learning experience for me. In other words, HELP! 😉

The photo that heads this post was shot a couple of years ago from a lakeside park looking east toward Cleveland after the sun had set. My plan is to use this as the header of each post in this challenge throughout the year, unless of course I get something better.

I hope you enjoy this months photos. I have mixed feelings, but look forward to improving with each month’s post.

As indicated last month, with this 2016 challenge I will highlight one photograph to “play” with, try something new, or edit in some way that will help me grow as well as enhance the image. This month I chose to experiment with the image I shot looking through the front window of my car (while stopped at a traffic signal). The window was still frosted around the edges as I peered at the red car in front of me.

I downloaded Picassa, a free post-editing program that I think will enhance my post editing skills, experimented with it and the following photo is what I came up with. Of course I never wrote down the steps to achieving the following photo so can’t comment much on it. I just fiddled with a few settings and here you see the finished product. Next month I will take better notes. Let me know what you think.

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My first post processed print using Picassa!

As you can see, I have a LOT to learn this year. I look forward to reading your comments and seeing your images, too. Have a great 2016!

 

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Monthly Photo Challenge: North Chagrin Reservation — December

You will notice this month that the images look more like a chilly autumn day than a blustery December winter. I am told that the unseasonable weather is in part due to the El Nino phenomenon. I suspect that global warming plays a role in the changing weather patterns as well. Usually by this time of year Cleveland, a city that sits on the shores of one of the northern Great Lakes, has seen quite a bit of snow. But this year has been unseasonably warm with a mere dusting of snow here and there thus far. Despite the uncharacteristic weather, the reservation is as inviting and beautiful as ever. I hope you enjoy these images as I wrap up this 2015 challenge.

 

 

 

A final post with the best or most representative photo of each month was suggested as a way to wrap up this year’s challenge. While the suggestion is an excellent one and would be a fitting way to end this year’s challenge, I am choosing to pass on that. To be honest, my mind and imagination is already at work planning and plotting how to approach 2016’s challenge.

For the coming year I plan to do something drastically different! I am a nature photographer, however my work takes me into the city everyday, most often the “hood” or what we used to call the “slum” areas. I prefer the term “hood” because it suggests places where people live and go to school and raise their children. I have never attempted urban nor have any experience with street photography. But when I am in the city, even in the low income, dilapidated areas, I see beauty. Maybe it’s in the intersecting lines of bridges and architecture, or patterns of light and shadow, or contrast between shabby and opulent, or even the surprising abundance of nature that is found in places where concrete and asphalt appears to obliterate everything natural. At any rate I am looking forward to stretching myself by expanding into new areas of photography. I will use the same format as I have used this year with the exception that from each month’s carousel of photos, I will highlight one photo for experimenting a different processing technique, hopefully something I’ve not done before. I hope you will join me on this journey into a new year’s monthly challenge.

May you have a wonderful new year. I hope to see you here in 2016!

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The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.

 

 

Monthly Photo Challenge: North Chagrin Reservation — October

Wow. What a change a few days makes! We are now definitely into the fall here. The temps have begun to drop. We saw our first snow fall of the season yesterday and it has still been “spittin’ ” snow today though there is no accumulation. The jackets and coats have come out and the thermostat was turned up to warm the house. Personally I experience a little grief about this time every year. I thrive in the spring and summer months, so this transition into fall (and eventually winter) triggers a bit of melancholy. Having said that however, spending time at the reservation reminds me of the glory of every season, which boosts my sagging spirit. I really tried to capture the fall feeling and gorgeousness of this place this month.

As an aside, today is my birthday. I don’t do big parties or celebrations. We tend to find simple, meaningful ways to mark life events around here. With that in mind, my birthday treat to myself was to drive out to the reservation and spend hours this morning roaming, meditating, photographing, and rejuvenating. Some of the photos posted today were taken this morning. What a wonderful way to start the day! I hope that you, too, find meaningful ways to spend your days. Enjoy this month’s collection.

 

 

The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.
The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.

Monthly Photo Challenge: North Chagrin Reservation — September

It is hard to believe that we are already to September with the Changing Seasons Monthly Photo Challenge. I took time to review the preceding eight months of going to the reservation with the intent of “noticing” the changes, photographing what I noticed, and sharing images with you in the hopes that you, too, would fall in love with this wonderful, magical place. This month witnessed the apex of summer — North Chagrin is as lush as it will get, the flowers are going to seed, the first hints of autumn are emerging, birds are beginning their migration south — but it’s beauty and wonder never wanes for me. I tried to capture the feeling of this transition to autumn in the photos this month. Exciting for me is the fact that I saw and captured fowl that I have never seen before at the reservation. What fun! This month I organized the images into two galleries simply because I could not limit myself to just 20 (or less) photos of this place that I love so much.  Please forgive my self-indulgence. North Chagrin Reservation is THE place I go to when I can (2 or 3 times weekly) to revive my soul and energies. 😉

First are images of the end of summer flora and fauna found at North Chagrin. Enjoy!

The second gallery depicts the profusion of birds that make North Chagrin Reservation their summer home, or maybe a “passing through” place between the wilds of Canada and points further south. I am excited to share these photos because there are many that are first time photo ops for me. One, the Green Heron, I have tried to capture (photo-wise) for years. This was the year for that beauty! But you will also see multiple shots of an Osprey, also a “first catch”, as is the Cormorant. Then there are the beautiful usual geese and Great Blue Heron (that has already headed south by now, I believe). The Red Winged Black Birds are ubiquitous year round.  Enjoy!

So that does it for September! Next month will be full of autumnal colors, I am sure, as October will be the first full month of Fall. Thank you for stopping by and perusing the photos of this wonderful place. I hope you have enjoyed it.

The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.
The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.

 

Monthly Photo Challenge: North Chagrin Reservation — August

It has been a wet, cool summer; the wettest on record I am told. Despite that however, the Reservation is lush and lazy as one would expect in the month of August. I found it more challenging to photograph this month. There were many other demands on my time. But I think these photos will give a sense of how the changing seasons continually transform this special place. And you will notice that the frogs are back! They are in a different location, but even so the kids love to crawl on the sculptures, frogs and snake. Enjoy!

The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.
The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.

Monthly Photo Challenge: North Chagrin Reservation — July

This month has been abnormally rainy and cool for this part of the world. It hasn’t felt much like July at all. Sunny days are few and far between. Although the days are dreary more often than not, the excessive rains created lush landscapes throughout the area as evidenced by the following photographs. These photos were taken this morning. I was pretty much alone as I walked through the meadow and along a paved trail to Sunset Pond. Although the sky was overcast I was able to get a few good shots. Regardless the weather, North Chagrin Reservation remains one of my favorite places to “get lost” in.

The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.
The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.

Monthly Photo Challenge: North Chagrin Reservation — June

It is hard to believe that this month marks the mid-point of the year. The official start of summer (for those in the northern hemisphere) is just a few days away. North Chagrin Reservation seemingly burst into a lively, lush, and beautiful “Gan Eden” (Garden of Eden) overnight, coming after a long, bitter-cold winter. This continues to be the place I escape to when my work day ends in the city and I need to recharge my battery. The sounds of nature abound — birds chirping, bees buzzing, water rippling, breeze rustling, crickets chirping. Did I miss anything? I wish I had the capacity to add the accompanying sounds for each of the photos in this month’s portfolio. Alas you will have to use your imagination.  At any rate, I hope that these images do justice to this special place.

 

https://cardinalguzman.wordpress.com

The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.
The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.