Catching Lightning Bugs

Catching Lightning Bugs

It's that special time of year when the Lightning bugs (or fireflies) are coming out and looking for their mates. That's right, these little critters are flashing around the field in an attempt to attract a mate. While they're out the kids and I thought we would have some fun and take their picture. 

After the sun had set, but while the sky was still burning orange to the west the pasture came to life. Not just lightning bugs, but they're the most fun to chase around when you're a kid! Even if you're prenending to be an adult.

1274 - Lightning Bugs - Dusk Landscape

Appreciating that not everyone gets the opportunity to chase lightning bugs through a field at will I thought it would be fun to grab my Insta360 Nano. I captured some 360 video as we chased these awesome little insects around the yard, check it out ...

One of the things I keep telling people about this camera is how convenient it is to pop onto your phone and just start recording. Not only that, once you hit record you can just hold the camera in your hand and pay attention to what you're doing. I keep telling people, you gotta give it a try! Instead of staring at the screen you get to enjoy the moment AND watch it later. 

Under the Stars

Under the Stars

Growing up here in the Lancaster County countryside I remember being able to see the stars as a kid. No particular night stands out to me, but we've always had a sky full of stars when the clouds cooperate. Now that I'm older I understand that not everyone gets to experience a starlit sky without a considerable amount of effort and planning. 

I always enjoying sharing my photos of the stars. I'm not the best night photographer, but it is a challenge I like to experiment with now and then. With some of the 360 gear and software that came my way this winter I'm very excited to have some fun experimenting as the nights become more tolerable. Long waits for long exposures is a lot of fun, but it's not my favorite thing to do on cold winter nights.

 

Back when I first got my Nikon D5100 I was very excited. Finally, oh finally, I had a camera that would be able to capture the stars. It was actually the first thing I tried to do with it. I had no idea what I needed to do, it was my first time operating a DSLR, and yet ... there they were. All three of them! By some twist of really dumb luck (or some say "natural intuitive ability")* I managed to capture a picture of three blurry stars in the sky. The next night in an attempt to recreate the same stupidity I meticulously returned all of the settings to where they were the night before, and for some reason I couldn't seem to capture a single star. Which kickstarted my efforts to actually learning how to use this fancy new camera.

I only really use the D5100 fro 360s these days. Below is a 360 I captured one night last summer. At the end of the lane the white fence surrounds a one room Amish/Mennonite schoolhouse. To the right of the lane you can see the silos of the neighboring farm silhouetted on the Horizon. My localized and modern take on Starry Night. As a salute to one of my favorite artists of course.

 

VR Brings YOU into the field with me ...

This year I have been spending a lot of time and energy on 360 photos and videos. I've been fascinated with the medium for a few years now. I think it's a very interesting way to  Below are a few recent experiments where the basic idea was to convert 360 photos into 360 videos with the intent to create more depth to the experience. It's about as close as you're going to get to the experience without me actually bringing you along for some stargazing. 

These experiments were both a lot of fun to capture, and I always seem to walk away with more inspiration for next time. For the best experience I would recommend finding a Google Cardboard or other VR headset to watch it on YouTube!! 

Light City Baltimore

Light City Baltimore

It's time again for one of the coolest events I've ever attended! It's a short drive for those of us here in Lancaster County, but it's definitely worth it! I would even recommend it for folks further away than us. I'm talking about the Light City event in downtown Baltimore.

When I heard about the first event last year I instantly knew I would like it. Afterall, photography is essentially the process of capturing light. So an entire festival devoted to light is right up my alley. The festival is a full fledged takeover of downtown Baltimore. In addition to the light art installations sprinkled around the city there are a number of mini-events focused on innovation in electricity, and a fair amount of music to get the feet movin.

As the first city to embrace electric street lights Baltimore compliments the festival nicely. The inner harbor also provides a fabulous environment with the rays of light flickering off the surface. It also opens the conversation on the innovative work that is going into cleaning the harbor and the Chesapeake Bay every day.

There is so much more to say about this event, but the best source of information can be found at LightCity.org. I would highly recommend downloading their smart phone app too. It's very helpful in navigating visitors to all of the installations, music, and other events. 


2016 Light City Mashup Video


360 fun on Instagram


 

2016 Photo Gallery


Safe Harbor Dam

Safe Harbor Dam

Last week we had a bit of a warm snap and we very excited to get out of the house and explore a little. Once of the places we visited was the safe harbor dam. I had a very particular photo I was after that day. Too soon for details, but we'll just say it had to do with the Conestoga River Inlet to the Susquehanna River. Fun stuff coming up this summer!!

That's where you'll find the Safe Harbor Dam, sitting just above the inlet in Conestoga, PA. The massive gravity dam and hydroelectric power station is one of three concrete gravity dams along the Lower Susquehanna River from the Great Depression-era. It's 75ft tall, and 4,869 feet long, and at the time of our visit the river flow was 66,000 cubic feet per second!

Brookfield Renewables purchased the dam a few years ago, but continue to allow public access for fishing out on the bridge. A sign on the property directs inquiries to pa@brookfieldrenewable.com. Here's a snapshot of their rules:

Safe Harbor Visitor Rules posted on the staircase to the point at the Conestoga River Inlet.


360 Video:

Come take a walk with me on the stoplog bridge! I had my Kodak SP3604ks with me to capture the Public Fishing area in 360! Have a look around:

Flat Video:


Photos:

Safe Harbor Dam viewed from the point where the waters of the Conestoga River join the Susquehanna River.

That massive trestle stretching over the Conestoga River will one day in the next few years connect the Manor Township section of the Enola Low Grade Rail Trail with the southern portion of the trail that stretches all the way to Atglen. As you can see, the point where the Conestoga River meets the Susquehanna is popular for fishing. The shore of the point can be access via a staircase below the visitor parking area.

Skyline Drive 360 - Reading, PA

Skyline Drive 360 - Reading, PA

The first blog post of the year and it isn't even going to be about Lancaster. We rang in the new year with some sick days here at home, so we haven't been getting out much yet. Anxious to get out, but also needing to avoid the cold, we took a little drive up to Reading, Pa so I could capture a 360 video of the infamous Skyline Drive.

Since getting my SP360 setup back in December I've been looking for unique spots for 360 experiments. 360 Video definitely has a bit of a learning  curve, BUT I like to share what I capture as I continue to learn. I've been converting a lot of the videos to tiny planets and such for Instagram. Be sure to follow along over there to see what I'm up to!

 

I find Skyline Drive to be very interesting. We make it up to the area quite a bit throughout the year. In this video I drive down from North to South passing the William Penn Memorial Firetower, a few Overlook pull-offs, and of course the Reading Pagoda. While some of the stonework and other features are in need of repair there is lots to explore and discover, and tons of photo opportunities. Just check out the slideshow below from my Skyline Drive Gallery on http://dochterdigitalmedia.com.

Photo Gallery


Videos

The first video is the 360 driving footage from the north side of Mount Penn. After turning onto Skyline Drive from McKnights Gap Rd I pulled over quickly to turn on the camera. So I began recording at the Northernmost edge of the Park property and filmed until just after passing the Reading Pagoda.


The second video is shorter than the first and flattened. While trimming for Instagram I selected some of the highlight portions of the drive and controlled the perspective using Insta360 Studio.  While I enjoy 360 and using VR headsets three is still much to learn on my end and many advances to come in the technology. I think flattening the 360 footage using Insta360 Studio is a great way to utilize the advantages of 360 video in a format most people use to consume their content (i.e. not looking around frantically with a giant thing strapped to your face). I hope you've been enjoying these short 360 clips. Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you think.


For more details on what is available to do on Skyline Drive, as well as information about the Reading Pagoda, The William Penn Memorial Firetower, events, and more simply visit http://www.pagodaskyline.org/