Cover of Orthotown magazine featuring Dr. Jason Hartman.
The Creative Director at Orthotown Magazine contacted me to shoot a feature profiling Dr. Jason Hartman, DMD, MS of Sparks Orthodontics. Orthotown is a B2B trade magazine published by Farran Media. Sparks Orthodontics currently consists of ten locations throughout Central and Eastern Pennsylvania. My job was to take readers on a visual tour of the practice.
Patient area at Spark Orthodontics.
I began by shooting architectural details in the morning before the practice opened to the public. The bright and modern decor helps to differentiate Spark from other practices. I also used this time to determine the best location for the cover shot of Dr. Hartman and to set up lighting.
Upon Dr. Hartman’s arrival we jumped right into shooting the cover portrait. I had to make sure to leave plenty of space above and around him for the masthead and cover lines. When I was satisfied we had several options I struck the lights and moved to the waiting room where we did the staff shot.
Staff photo at Spark Orthodontics in Schnecksville, PA.
When the practice opened to the public my approach became more photojournalistic. I documented the doctor’s interaction with patients and staff. I also did equipment shots as Spark are often early adopters of new technology.
It was pleasure working with Dr. Hartman and his staff. From the time I spent there It was obvious that they cared for their patients and enjoyed their profession. We should all be so fortunate.
Newlyweds prepare to jump into Kennebec River for Trash the Dress photo shoot.
If you’ve been a photographer for any length of time it’s inevitable. At some point, no matter what your speciality, you will be asked to photograph a wedding. I shot a few weddings early in my career but now, I refer couples to photographers who specialize in them.
Never Say Never:
I received a call from my good friend Peter, who lives in Maine. He said his niece Libby was getting married and asked if I’d photograph her wedding. The ceremony and reception would be held at his mother’s home situated along the Kennebec River.My ties to that place run deep as I have been their guest many times over the years. I agreed to do it, happy to have the opportunity to repay their generosity and I could take a few extra days and make it a vacation. Stopping in Providence on the way up I picked up my son Wynn, to share the experience and to assist during the wedding.
It was a beautiful outdoor ceremony, the reception was held under a large tent by the river. The people, the location, the weather, the music, the food, were wonderful. It was the most enjoyable wedding I have ever attended, let alone photographed.
Newlyweds make their way to a canoe for a trash the dress photo shoot.
Wynn Plants a Seed:
Towards the end of the reception Wynn jokingly asked Libby if she wanted to do a “Trash the Dress” shoot the next day. Libby and her new husband Andrew talked it over for a minute and replied “Yes!”They thought it would be fun to go to the island and jump off the cliff into the river.
The plan was for me to photograph the” lovers leap” from a canoe. Wynn would paddle in the front, Libby’s Uncle Nick, would paddle from the back, I’d sit in the middle and shoot.
The Kennebec is a tidal river, only placid for a short period of time, at high and at low tide. By the time everyone was ready low tide was long gone and it would be several hours until high tide. We would now be fighting very strong currents. So strong in fact, that you needed to paddle upstream as hard as you could to counteract the current carrying you down stream as you crossed. If you miscalculated the trajectory you could end up below and on the wrong side of the island.
My crew paddled to the Island first so I could photograph the newlywed’s as they made their way across. Libby was no stranger to the river and knew just what she was doing. Andrew, on the other hand, just needed to have faith, and to keep paddling.
Newlyweds Andrew and Libby make their way to the cliff where will they jump into The Kennebec River.
Might As Well Jump!
Everyone got to the island without incident and we made our way to the top of the cliff. Andrew hung a Just Married sign then stripped down to his birthday suit but as the song goes, “You Can Leave Your Hat On.” Wynn, Nick and I made our way back our canoe as Libby and Andrew positioned themselves on the edge of the cliff, contemplating what they were about to do.
Once our canoe was at a reasonable distance from the cliff I double checked my camera settings and gave Libby and Andrew the go ahead. They counted to three then jumped. I fired off nine frames before they hit the water.
Newlyweds leap into Kennebec River for Trash the Dress photo shoot.
Libby, looking like The Winged Victory of Samothrace, after the jump.
Newlyweds Andrew and Libby with her grandmother Natalie.
A Word of Caution: Scenarios such as this can put subjects and/or yourself in danger. Weigh the risks and take necessary precautions. No Trash the Dress photo is worth risking life or limb. In this case I was confident my subjects and my crew were up to the task and that all would return to shore safely. My trust was not misplaced.
I first met Dave Harrod at The Miquon School where his daughter Nina and my son Wynn were classmates. Neither one of us were beekeepers back then. We lost touch after the kids graduated from Miquon. It was a pleasant surprise to meet up with him several years later at one of The Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild meetings.
Wanting to get back to my Beekeepers series I messaged Dave asking if I could photograph him working at his apiary. He replied yes and said to meet him 10:00 am Saturday at The Saul School.
The Saul School is a magnet school that specializes in agricultural sciences and is located along Henry Avenue in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia. The school gives Dave a place to keep his bees and in return his bees pollinate Saul’s crops, flowers and fruit trees.
Dave Harrod working his apiary at W.B. Saul School.
“Better Suit UP”
It was a hot and humid morning so I hoped to get away with not wearing my bee suit, it is possible at times. As I approached the hives Dave called out that I had better suit up. He said he was really disputing the hives and that they were in a bad mood. I heeded his advice.
Aside from the suit being hot it’s not easy peering through a viewfinder while wearing a veil. Nor is it easy changing camera settings wearing thick gloves. On the other hand it’s hard to take photographs while writhing in pain from multiple bee stings!
Dave taking a break in a grove of trees for shade and to escape angry attack bees.
In an attempt to re-queen hives in the Guild’s apiary Dave had inserted Queen excluders into some of his hives. A queen excluder is a screen that restricts the queen’s travel to the boxes at the bottom of the hive. This causes the bees in the upper boxes to create a new queen that can later be moved to a queen-less hive.
While Dave’s day job is in finance he earned an MFA in Photography from University at Buffalo. At times our conversation veered away from beekeeping to cameras we have owned, darkroom techniques and the merits of film vs. digital. He offered to let be borrow his Kodak Master View 8×10 camera. I thinks its time to take him up on his offer!
As a child my son’s passions were art, architecture and soccer, photography was his Dad’s domain. It wasn’t until I taught a pinhole workshop at his school that he made his first photograph. Later, I gave him a 35mm point and shoot which he personalized by covering it with bug stickers. I loaded it with a 36 exposure roll of film and not fifteen minutes later he was back for another roll. That little camera is still tucked away in a drawer in the kitchen.
I began experimenting with digital photography using a Nikon Coolpix. I later purchased a Canon D30 and gave the Coolpix to Wynn to preserve my film stash.
My strategy worked for a while. He’d shoot as much as he wanted then download the photos onto his Mac G3. Then one day I asked him if he needed fresh batteries because I knew the Coolpix was a power hog. He dug through his backpack but couldn’t find the camera. “ I must have left it at school,” he said.
A week later he came home and pulled the camera from his backpack. He told me he had it with him when he and his friends where hiking in the woods and that a girl had tripped and injured her knee. In typical Miquon School fashion everyone dropped everything and rushed thegirl to the office for first aid. The Coolpix had spent the week outside, along a trail in the woods, in the rain. I did appreciate his honesty.
The Coolpix survived a week in the elements, what did it in was a broken battery door from the toss of his backpack onto the sidewalk.
Later, Wynn got an iPhone and of course, aside from the ability to text and make phone calls, it had a built in camera. For several years the iPhone was all the camera he needed. With each new iPhone version the cameras got better and better as did the photography related apps.
When Wynn went off to college I gave him my old Canon 20D. Not wanting to give up any of my L series lenses I bought him a used 35-80 kit lens. Coming from an iPhone he found the 20D’s settings and menus confusing. The LCD was too small and the kit lens was too slow. The iPhone remained his camera of choice.
For the past couple of years I have been collecting film cameras. Some, people have given to me, others I find in thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales. I still carry a torch for film, especially black and white. I shoot with these cameras occasionally and still maintain a darkroom. You can see some of my recentb&w work “Thanksgiving Day Parade” in a previous post.
Wynn mentioned he had friends at RISD that had done film photography when they where in high school and that they would like to try it again. I sent Ryan a Pentax ME and an Olympus OM-2 to Skye for their birthdays.
This got Wynn to thinking maybe he’d like a film camera too and that maybe he’d like to have it for his trip to Paris over spring break. I thought it a bit risky, taking a used camera you have never used before on such an important trip. Then I decided, what the hell, he would be taking photos with his iPhone too.
While I had multiple cameras I could have given him all were 60’s or 70’s era manual cameras in need of some amount of restoration and I wanted to give him a camera with at least one auto exposure mode for insurance.
Detail, Eiffel Tower, Paris
Luckily, a few days before Wynn would leave on his trip, I found a Canon AE-1 program at the local thrift shop. It was in great shape and came with a fungus free, 50mm 1.8 lens. It even came with an owner’s manual. When I got it home I installed a new battery and everything worked perfectly. The program mode was a big plus, I would rather he concentrated on content, light and composition than on technical issues.
I shipped the camera along with five rolls of 36 exposure Tri-X which he could send back to me for processing, printing and scanning when he returned. For inspiration I sent him a link to photos of Paris by Andre Kertesz. I told him to not come back with ANY unexposed film.
It wasn’t until the day of his flight that i realized we had never had a discussion about flying with film and x-rays! I texted him while he was on the train to the airport and he texted back that the film was in his suitcase and that it would be checked. I told him that was the worst pace for it as the x-rays for check bags is much stronger and would surely fog the film. He removed it from his suitcase and at the airport he asked for hand inspection.
Here’s what Wynn had to say: Having the AE-1 Program in Paris was a blast, it really gave me the motivation I needed to go into full tourist mode. The AE-1 ended up giving me exactly what I needed, a camera that was super easy to operate, light and durable, and yielded exactly the kinds of photos I was looking for – images that look like they could be prints from IKEA. I’m excited to continue to use my new film camera but am hesitant to take it out without a special occasion. If you would like to send me a roll of film my address is 02 College Street, Box No. 0617 Providence RI, 02903
Bantam Branded Lionel boxcar used for class on marketing and branding.
When my son, a junior at RISD, asked if I’d come up to photograph his final projects, I didn’t have to think about it long. It would be nice to spend time with him and I welcomed the opportunity to explore Providence further. Wynn had created Bantam Market, a fictitious agricultural company for a marketing & branding class. He chose to illustrate the branding guidelines booklet using a Lionel train and buildings bearing the Bantam Logo and graphics. I had helped him to dig the train and buildings out of storage when he was home for Thanksgiving. He placed them in a bucolic diorama he had constructed from builder’s foam, lichen and faux grass.
Rooftop garden created using Lionel building for Marketing class branding an agricultural company.
It was heartwarming to see. When Wynn was a child we spent many evenings working together on a layout in the third floor guest room. The layout has been down for years and all the trains and accessories have been packed away. I’m amused that these toys from a shared past have been resurrected for the purposes of academic achievement.
As I photographed the diorama on a cluttered table in the industrial design studio, some Photoshop work was needed to remove elements of the shooting environment. While I could have used my laptop Wynn got me into a computer lab with 27” iMacs and I much prefer a larger screen and more powerful processor for this type of retouching. Not surprisingly, as we were at a design school, I had full access to the Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Once the skies were added I reduced saturation, boosted clarity and applied gradients to reduce sharpness to enhance the miniature look.
After several hours of work the cursor began flying around the screen closing windows and shutting down Lightroom and Photoshop! Wynn went to the IT office to investigate. It turns out there was someone new working there. While remotely shutting down unused station #1 he also inadvertently shut down #10, which happened to be where I was working. Fortunately I had saved everything and was back to work in no time. I added mountains and skies in the backgrounds then lit up the headlight and added smoke to the locomotive.
Other aspects of the diorama included a market with rooftop garden and a hotel with billboard featuring Bantam Market’s slogan “Hello Neighbor.” You can read more about it in Wynn’s own words on Behance.
Bantam Market Diorama featuring Lionel train and buildings.
Bantam Market Diorama featuring Lionel train and buildings.
Despite having lived in Philadelphia for over thirty years, this was the first year I was in town for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. I decided to go because I’ve been getting back into street photography and I knew there would be ample camera fodder there.
One advantage to photographing an event like this is that people generally don’t mind being photographed. They’re out in public, they’re in a good mood and many are taking photos themselves. Confrontations are less likely to occur at a public event than when you just snap someones photo on the street. However, there was one technique I did employ, that was to take someone’s photo then lower the camera and look beyond them as If I was photographing a float or a balloon behind them. It worked every time.
The Very Hungry Catepillar balloon, Thanksgiving Day Parade, Philadelphia.
I’ve been collecting film cameras for a while now and for these photos I chose a Canon EOS-1 with a 35mm lens. I liked the idea of using just one camera and one lens which would be limiting yet freeing at the same time. Limiting as I had only one angle of view to work with. Freeing because I had less gear related decisions to make and since the camera was small and light I could move around easily and react faster than if I was carrying a lot of gear. I loaded the camera with Tri-X as that’s what I had on hand. I used a 25A Red filter for dramatic skies.
While the bright, morning sun was cheerful, it presented challenges as far as photography was concerned. Challenges like high contrast, strong backlighting and lens flare. While the camera has multiple auto exposure modes, I shot on manual using the Sunny 16 rule and opened up a stop & 1/2 for backlight subjects. As for lens flare, I could move into the shadow cast by a building, wait for a balloon to cover the sun or just go ahead and shoot, letting the flare do what it’s going to do.
Aside from the marching bands, floats and balloons there were plenty of subjects of interest just off the parade route, subjects like the ubiquitous, Philly Jesus and a Free Hugs guy. When I’m out shooting I always try to remember to look behind me. That’s often where the better photo is. And yes, I received both a hug and a blessing, can you ever get enough of either?
Philly Jesus at Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade
Cyclist spectator with floating Christmas wreath.
Free Hugs at Thanksgiving Day Parade, Philadelphia, PA
–> Sunday, April 30, was Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. Anyone who takes a pinhole photograph on WPPD can upload one image to their gallery which hosts over a thousand images from 53 countries. There is no entry fee, no judging, no rights grabs, no advertising, no prizes. Just a celebration of lensless photography.
It’s been five years since I participated, not for lack of interest but because I didn’t have the necessary chemicals on hand or the weather was not conducive. This year was different. I selected a camera, had paper to produce negatives and developer and fixer for processing. While it was overcast, it was bright enough to produce a good exposure and it wasn’t raining.
I had a box of 8×10 paper that I cut in half and loaded into 4×5 film holders. Not only was this economical but the large paper negative could be contacted printed, or scanned and inverted in Photoshop. Another option would be to peel the emulsion from the backing and print the negative using an enlarger.
Another advantage to making paper negatives is that processing can be done in trays under a safelight, using only developer; stop, fixer and a short water wash. As you can see the image coming up in the developer you can quickly evaluate both exposure and composition. The paper was outdated so I added a bit of liquid orthozite to the developer to minimize fogging.
As I hadn’t shot paper negatives in a while I limited my subject matter to the backyard. By staying close to home I could leave the camera set up while I ran into the darkroom and processed the negative. If that negative wasn’t quite right I could go back to the camera and recompose or vary the exposure time.
Determining pinhole exposure times can be tricky as the apertures are tiny and the photographic paper has an ISO of around 3. I took readings with a handheld light meter. Using a pinhole exposure slide rule, I found the suggested exposure for my f/419 pinhole, 8 minutes!
4×5 Speed Graphic Pinhole camera
–> The Speed Graphic is perfect for pinhole work. It produces a large film or paper negative. It can zoom from wide angle to telephoto depending how far I extend the bellows. It can be used in either horizontal or vertical orientation. I can load multiple film holders and stay in the field as long as I like. The flip-up eyepiece and wire finder aids in composition. It folds up for easy transport and with the exception of the bellows, is anything but fragile.
I purchased laser drilled pinholes from The Pinhole Resource to remove any doubt concerning the quality and size of the pinholes. I also bought two additional lens boards from eBay so I could have a choice of 60mm,160mm or 240mm focal lengths.
Unfortunately, the cloth shutter stopped working shortly after I purchased the camera. I now use a refrigerator magnet as a shutter.
If you participated in W.P.P.D either this year or at some time in the past, leave a comment with a link to you image. If you haven’t participated yet but would like to in the future, just remember it’s always the last Sunday in April.
Dr. Deb Delaney, University of Delaware, Presenting “Take Time to Smell the Roses.”
Pro Bono, Latin, meaning “for good.” When it comes to shooting for free, you need to do what feels right for you. If there is a cause you believe in and you want to donate your time and expertise, that’s up to you. In my case, I volunteered to document the 7thannual Philadelphia Beekeeper’s Symposium held at Temple University. Everyone working the Symposium was a volunteer. I had also donated several photos to be included in the program, one of which appeared on the cover.
Samuel Ramsey, University of Maryland, dispelling beekeeping myths.
My wife, my son and I are beekeepers and we have benefited greatly from the educational programs offered by the guild. We have become friends with many of the guild members and I have been photographing them for my Beekeepers of Philadelphia series. It was good to see previous subjects and to meet new potential ones.
I got to a attend a Symposium that I would have paid to go to otherwise. I received photo credit in the program and on social media as well as links to my website. Both the president and the communications coordinator thanked me at the event and again later, by email. I received the satisfaction of knowing that in a small way, I am helping other beekeeper’s and maybe the honey bee population at large.
If you have ever considered keeping bees why not check out Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild website for more information and maybe even register for a class!
Meghan Milbrath imparts knowledge from 25 years of beekeeping.
Close up of crushed steel block at The Steel Yard, Providence Rhode Island.
Summer was coming to an end. Once again it was time to make the pilgrimage to Providence, Rhode Island to move Wynn back into the RISD dorms. Just like last year we rented a Dodge Caravan and stuffed it to the roof with Wynn’s belongings. What we did differently than last year was to leave a week earlier to avoid Labor Day traffic. In addition, rather than book yet another drab hotel room we booked accommodations on Airbnb, which by the way, was founded by RISD grads. We booked a loft at The Steel Yard, a non-profit, industrial arts school located on the campus of what was formerly The Providence Iron and Steel Company founded in 1882.
Home Sheep Home Pagoda
We had planned on leaving by noon but by the time the van was packed and we pulled away from the curb it was 3:00 in the afternoon. After a long but uneventful drive, we pulled into the gated parking lot of The Steel Yard. It was dark so any exploration of the campus would have to wait until morning. Not to mention we were tired and anxious to see the loft.
Close up of crushed block of aluminum at The Steel Yard, Providence, RI
The loft, set in a reclaimed factory building, was amazing. The lower level had hardwood floors, spacious open area with full kitchen, two bedrooms and large tiled bathroom with a huge bathtub and pedestal sink. The upper level offered two additional sleeping nooks and a TV alcove complete with sofa and plenty of cushions. Many of the loft’s original appointments had been retained, like the heavy metal doors on one bedroom and copper plated sliding doors on the other. Many reclaimed objects, both decorative and functional, have been artfully incorporated into the space. The loft received 50 five star ratings so if you need to stay over in Providence I highly recommend it.
Rough brick buildings and gantry cranes.
After a good night’s sleep I was awakened by sunlight pouring into the bedroom through two large windows. I’ve never been much for sleeping in and this morning I was anxious to explore our surroundings. I got dressed, had a cup of coffee, grabbed my camera and stepped out into the alleyway.
“Hoss,The Boss” iron furnace.
I walked the campus under gantry cranes and past brick and metal buildings. I passed sculpture gardens and ornate handmade fencing. Toward the back of the property sat a rusty iron furnace named “Hoss” which was surrounded on three sides by rectangular blocks of crushed metal. Some were identifiable, like bicycle parts, old lockers or chain link fencing. Others gave no clues as to their original form or function. Either way they looked really cool and yielded my favorite photos from the outing.
Steel Yard Logo on wall
As an industrial design major Wynn will definitely be working there as The Steel Yard has close ties to RISD and he plans on attending the Halloween Iron Pour.
like to include people in my photos to add scale and interest but unfortunately there were no classes or events happening while we were there. Guess that just gives me more reason to go back.
The plight of the honeybee has received quite a bit attention in the media lately and for good reason. Honeybees are directly responsible for, or help in the pollination of 30% of the food we eat. Since 1990 the honeybee population has dropped by 25%. Researchers are calling this Colony Collapse Disorder and are trying to determine the causes.
Climate change has caused flowers to bloom earlier, sometimes before the bees come out of hibernation. Pesticides used in farming, particularly neonicotinoid’sare toxic to beesand they are losing habitat due to development. Last but not least parasites, especially the Varroa mite, spread viruses and weaken hives.
Varroa destructor is a parasitic mite that attaches itself to the back of a honeybee sucking on its blood. This not only weakens the bee but spreads diseases like deformed wing virus. Some researchers believe Verroa mites are responsible for the majority of hive losses in the United States.
There are chemical treatments for Varroa mites but placing chemicals inside the hive is not ideal especially when there is honey in the hive that you will want extract at some point in the future. Many beekeepers try more natural methods of mite control like breaking the brood cycle of the hive as Varroa lay their eggs inside the brood chamber along with the bee larvae.
Wynn installing Purdue queen
Entomologists at Purdue University collected dead mites from the bottom of hives in their research apiary. Inspecting the mites under a microscope they discovered some were missing one or more of their eight legs. Apparently as the bees helped to groom one another they would chew off the mite’s legs to detach it from the other bee causing the mite to bleed out and die.
For each hive in the apiary the researches counted the number of dead mites and noted the number of mites that had missing legs. It was decided that the Queens from the hives with highest number of mites with missing legs would be used in the breeding program in hopes of rearing hives with aggressive grooming characteristics baked into their genes.
This would be the ideal scenario, future generations of bees that could mange Varroa on their own without the need for chemicals.
The Purdue Queens are beginning to make their way around the country and we were lucky enough to get one from our local queen rearer.
Clicking on the main photo will open my Beekeepers gallery in a new window.