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New Chapters in Life

Well, another late post but I have a really good reason for this one.  My brother got married this past weekend.  So I spent Friday РSunday at my parents.  Friday was spent helping setup the reception area, Saturday the wedding, and Sunday tearing everything down.

I remember the first time Eric meet Sara.  They went to dinner at Texas Roadhouse when I lived in Morgantown.  I remember him coming home thinking that he would not see her again as he felt he screwed up the end of the date.  Looking back on this it is a funny story.   When they walked out of Texas Roadhouse Sara opened her arms up to soak up the sun that was shining down on them.  Eric mistook this as she wanted a hug and hugged her.  After the hug, Sara said I love the sunshine, and Eric said well I love hugs.  He was so embarrassed over this and figured she thought he was a weirdo.

Five years later and they are still together now as Husband and Wife.  This was the first opportunity to use my new camera for something other than outdoor nature shots.  Being part of the wedding meant that I did not get any during the wedding but I did get some before and after the wedding.  All in all, it was a memorable night and all had a good time.  I gained a sister and extended family on her side and my brother seems happy.

I wish them the best in all their future endeavors with each other and look forward to seeing them both grow together and individually.  May they both have many many years together.

 

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Out with the Old in with the New Gear

Well, it seems that time has gotten away from me again. ¬†Well, we will just get right into today’s subject, ¬†I finally bit the bullet and bought my camera. ¬†After reading review after review for over the past month. ¬†See when I lost my other job I had 140 hours of PTO that got cashed out and since I had another job starting the next day I didn’t need to live off the money so I knew what I wanted to do with the money since I never got to enjoy my time off anyway. ¬†I wanted to buy a new camera, my Sony Alpha a200 is over 9 years old and is still kicking but I am finding it harder and harder to capture the images I want to take. ¬†Working with the outdated equipment I am surprised at the images I am able to capture. ¬†Coming in at 10.2MP I can only enlarge or crop my pictures so much and the images people are easily¬†able to capture takes twice as much work for me. ¬†Don’t get me wrong I like the challenge but there is nothing more disappointing than coming home and realizing that half your images are crap because of your equipment. ¬†This has been a great¬†starter camera for me and has been my buddy for 9+ years.

I don’t like to tell people I am buying a new camera because they sometimes take it upon themselves to tell me what I should or should not buy. ¬†Yes, most people are fans of their brand and I have loved Sony for a long long time. ¬†I don’t like being told that I shouldn’t buy the brand I am buying just because they like theirs. ¬†I would like to say if I didn’t like my camera or this brand I would have switched a long time ago. ¬†So you are probably wondering what did I buy. ¬†Well, I stuck with the Sony Alpha line but I have been eyeing the mirrorless line of cameras. ¬†They are small, light weight and just as powerful as their DSLR siblings, with the same sensors the only difference being no mirror and the size. ¬†Well, last October Sony releases their new a6500. ¬†It is a 24.2MP yep I just jumped 14MP on my camera. ¬†It has a 5 axis in camera stabilization which means, unlike the other competitors¬†I don’t have to buy stabilized¬†lenses I can use one with Optical Stabilization or without. ¬†I can buy adaptors¬†for other brand camera lenses and it will stabilize them also. ¬†My current camera has this feature although I am not sure if it is 5 axis but being able to use an older Milota lens cuts down on cost for me.

So you are probably wondering what did I buy. ¬†Well, I stuck with the Sony Alpha line but I have been eyeing their mirrorless line of cameras. ¬†They are small, light weight and just as powerful as their DSLR siblings, with the same sensors the only difference being no mirror and the size. ¬†Well, last October Sony releases their new a6500. ¬†It is a 24.2MP yep I just jumped 14MP on my camera. ¬†It has a 5 axis in camera stabilization which means, unlike the other competitors¬†I don’t have to buy stabilized¬†lenses I can use one with Optical Stabilization or without. ¬†I can buy adaptors¬†for other brand camera lenses and it will stabilize them also. ¬†My current camera has this feature although I am not sure if it is 5 axis but being able to use an older Milota lens cuts down on cost for me.

The new camera also has 425 phase-detection Auto Focus points which cover the majority of the sensor and not the center most part like most other DSLRs.  Then add to the camera that it will focus in on the subject in .05 seconds and I am sure to not miss a shot.  Considering how my current camera only has 9 auto focus points.

Now, this camera will take 6K video and compress it to 4K in-body. ¬†Not that I take video often and I will probably not even use this feature although who knows maybe I will be the next Youtube sensation. ¬†ūüôā ¬†The camera should be great for fast action shots as it will take 11fps for up to 30 seconds in JPG or 10 seconds in RAW before the buffer will fill up. ¬†Like I need to take 30 or even 10 seconds worth of pictures, it is just nice to be able to get a short burst of photos that I haven’t been able to achieve on my old camera, which would only achieve 2.3 frames per second. ¬†ūüėÄ ¬†But what is nice that the DSLRs that are hindered from their mirror is that I can move it down to 8fps and still have live view so that I can see where the subject is moving. ¬†Speaking of live view it is nice to look through the electronic eye viewer and see how the photo is actually going to turn out with my settings. ¬†No guessing how it will look the way it looks in the viewer is how it will be taken. ¬†One option I need to play around with is the Sony Memory app which I can use my phone for a shutter release, transfer photos, and use the Bluetooth of my phone to Geo tag my photos if I remember to use it. ¬†LOL.

As with anything of any cost I read and read and read and read until I can not take it this time it even included tons of youtube videos. ¬†Yes, I read up on the Nikon, and the Cannons. ¬†Yes in some areas they may excel slightly but none of them in my opinion and yes this is just my opinion came close to the overall package this camera had to offer. ¬†It is weather sealed, it is smaller than my old camera and weighs less too. ¬†Which when you do hiking you don’t like having a big old camera around your neck the whole time.

So before work on Wednesday, I got on to Amazon and I picked the bundled I thought would give me the best bang for the buck. ¬†For years with my older camera, I only had one lens a 18mm-70mm lens. ¬†Then here a year or two ago I picked up a Sigma 70mm-300mm. ¬†The kit I bought has a 16 – 50mm lens and a 55 – 210mm lens. ¬†Which should do me well until I start picking up some prime lenses also. ¬†It came with some lens filters, a bag, 2 extra batteries and a charger, memory card, some software and a flash. ¬†Now I don’t do a lot of photography with flash so not sure if I will use it or not but I am going to play around with it so I can see how it works. ¬†September 9th is my brother’s wedding and this camera will be going out on its first job and considering the reception will be in the evening I may need it. ¬†Then I picked up two more memory cards. ¬†So now I have a 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB which should cover anything I ever shot. ¬†¬†Normally I am not the type of person who buys protection plans but for the cost of this camera I did pick up a 3-year protection plan which extends the warranty along with covering drops and spills.

So here is to a new future looking forward to taking better photos or at least ones with more detail.  I have been watching HDR photography youtube videos I would love to give that a try.  May even take a stab at some video, and I am really looking forward to the fall season this year.  I need to practice with the sweep panoramic, and some other features this camera has.  Getting used to a new camera is going to take awhile and a lot of playing around until I fine tune my settings just the way I want them.  One thing I am not used to is having all these buttons on the back of the camera and being able to program each one of them.  So once I find what I like those will get updated.

You may be wondering what I am doing with my old camera. ¬†Well, it still takes pictures and for someone else, it would be a great camera. ¬†Since my dad is still using an old film camera and not a great one at that I am going to give it to him. ¬†I hate to part with my lenses that I have but I am not going to need them anytime soon and I can pick some up later. ¬†I thought about keeping it for a backup but why do that and just let it sit around when my dad may be able to go have some fun with it himself. ¬†Well, it is time to go practice some so I have the general idea on camera function before my brother’s wedding next weekend.

I want to thank you all for taking the time to read and I appreciate your being part of my blog.  Hope you have a wonderful evening or day where ever you are at.  Below are some shots that I got between rain storms here with the remnants of Hurrican Harvey.

Washington & Greene Counties Covered Bridge Festival

Wow hard to believe that the week is already coming to a close, just like the summer. ¬†With my new job and everything else in life, I haven’t nearly gotten to do what I had planned to do this summer. ¬†I had wanted to go do some more sight seeing and grab some photos of places in the state. ¬†But as all best-laid plans, these fell through. ¬†However, I am looking forward to one of the upcoming events next month. ¬† This weeks topic is going to be a little shorter than normal.

 

The Washington & Greene Counties Covered Bridge Festival.  This will be the 47th year of this annual festival.  Two years ago I got to go with some friends to go see this festival.   We made it to 4 of the ten bridges and had a blast doing so.   Growing up in West Virginia I knew of the Phillippi Covered Bridge, and have even driven through it myself.  I love Covered Bridges, as they are some of the last remnants of our history and how far we have come with Technology and design.  The festival is held the third week of September.  Each bridge has its own festival with different activities, crafts, food, historic reenactments, demos, and live entertainment.  There are 10 different covered bridge locations throughout the two counties for the festival.  The festival runs Saturday through Sunday 10:00a Р5:00p each day and Admission is free.

This is such a great way to enjoy a day or two learning about history and having fun.  If you are in the area check it out.  It will be held this year on September 16 & 17, 2017.

Seneca Rocks

Good morning all, sorry for the delay this week in writing my blog. ¬†Life sure does have a way of getting in the way. ¬†After an extremely busy week, I needed a few days to recoup. ¬† I am just thankful I can work on this in Monday evening and have WordPress Schedule the posting. ¬† This week’s blog is on Seneca Rocks located in Pendleton County West Virginia. ¬†I have only been to this location a handful of times and have yet to really explore the area. ¬†Typically it has been while passing through and to take enough time to grab a few pictures.

Seneca Rocks are the only “true peak” on the East Coast of the United States and are inaccessible except by rock climbing. ¬†This is one of the best-known attractions located in West Virginia and is a popular challenge for rock climbers. ¬†Seneca Rocks are part of the western flank of the North Fork Mountain rising nearly 900 feet above the Seneca Creek. ¬†The rocks are erosion-resistant Tuscarora quartzite with the thickest part being 250 feet.

The first European visitors of the regions were surveyors who passed through the area around 1746, with the first settlers arriving 15 years later.  In 1853 a well-known writer and magazine illustrator David Hunter Strother sketched the rocks.

In 1965 the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area was established within the Monongahela Nation Forest by the U.S. Congress and the rocks themselves were purchased in 1969 from the heirs of D.C. Harper by the federal government. ¬†In 1978 the original visitor center was opened however during the flood of 1985 the center was severely damaged, and in 1992 the center was destroyed by arson. ¬†In 1998 the current center was built and is known as the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center. ¬† On October 22, 1987, the “Gendarme” pinnacle of the Rocks fell to the ground.

Rock climbing is a popular activity for this area.  There are over 375 major mapped climbing routes which vary from 5. degree to 5.13.  There are two climbing schools (Seneca Rocks Climbing School, and Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides) located in Seneca Rocks training prospective climbers in beginning and advanced rock climbing.  The south peak of the rocks is the tallest peak east of Devils Tower in Wyoming and is only accessible by 5th class climbing.  Since 1971 there have been 15 deaths while climbing the Rocks.   In 1943 and 1944 the U.S. Army used Seneca Rocks to train mountain troops in assault climbing in preparation for action in the Apennines of Italy.  When the training was completed they left behind an estimated 75 thousand soft iron pitons, some which can still be found on the rocks to day.

 

Ohiopyle State Park

Wow, we find ourselves at the beginning of another week and the end of the weekend. ¬†This past few weeks have been extremely¬†busy, but will hopefully be worth it in the end. This week’s blog is going to be on the Ohiopyle State Park. ¬†Now don’t get too confused this is not in Ohio but in Pennsylvania in a small town yep you guessed it Ohiopyle with a population of 59. ¬†This small town is a bustling center on the weekend when the tourist flock to the area for the outdoor recreations.

Ohiopyle State Park is located in the southern part of the Laurel Ridge.  The park encompasses around 20,500 acres.  The main attraction of the park is the rushing waters of the Youghiogheny River Gorge, which is pronounced as Yawki-gay-nee which has said to have some of the best whitewater boating in the eastern United States.  The first inhabitants of the area were the Monongahela Native Americas who were a clan of the Mound Builders.

The area actually started becoming a tourist area once the National Railroad was built in 1811.    Then the construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Western Maryland Railroad accelerated the progress of timbering operations.  These railroads helped bring the tourist to Ohiopyle.  The round trip fare at that time from Pittsburg to Ohiopyle was one dollar.  In 1963, the town entered its current chapter of tourism.  The whitewater company called Wilderness Voyageurs began their commercial whitewater rafting on the River.  This was the first company to offer commercial whitewater rafting east of the Mississippi.

The park is open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset.  However, the overnight areas are only open during specific seasons and hours.  The park has a lot of different activities that one can enjoy when visiting the area.  There are two natural water slides in the park, picnic areas with tables, grills, and restrooms.  Of course, there is the Whitewater Rafting along with Fishing, and Hunting.  There are numerous areas for Rock Climbing, 79 miles of hiking trails.   The park has over 27 miles of biking trails, 25.2 miles of Mountain Biking trails, and 11.6 miles of Horseback Riding Trails.   The park has around 200 campsites and is open from April to mid- December along with Camping Cottages.  However, winter does not stop the activities in the park.  During the winter anyone visiting will have beautiful winter vistas, but the park offers 33.9 miles of Cross-country Skiing trails, a hill for sledding, and 15.9 miles of trails for Snowmobiling.

While visiting make sure you visit some of the waterfalls the park has to offer.  I know only being there twice I have gotten to see the Cucumber Falls and the Ohiopyle Falls.  However, there are other falls like the Upper and Lower Jonathan Run Falls, the Lower Sugar Run Falls, and Fechter Run Falls.

Hopefully, sometime in the near future I can make another visit to this wonderful park and find the rest of the waterfalls.  If not that gives me another excuse to go again to this beautiful and serene area.  Even if you just want to get out for a hike this is the perfect place.  The quietness of nature is one place that anyone can go and relax and enjoy all the beauty that this world has to offer.

Coopers Rock State Forest

Wow hard to believe it is already Sunday again. ¬†This past week has been a whirlwind of activity. ¬†I am officially working from home but due to the new contract and training new staff, I have worked on average 12-13 hours a day. ¬†Which I do not mind too much as I am working from home and I do not have to leave the office to go let the dog out and feed her and then head back. ¬†I don’t have to deal with traffic on the roads, and I can get up dress casually (shorts and t-shirt) and get to work. ¬†Which means that I am getting to sleep an extra hour in the morning. ¬†LOL. ¬†Well, enough about that let’s get on to today’s subject of Coopers Rock State Forest.

The first time I had heard about this State Forest was when I moved to Morgantown to attend WVU.  Since then I have visited the State Forest at least once a year, as my friends and I always try to have a picnic.  My favorite time of year to visit is the fall, as you probably already know by now Fall is one of my most favorite times of the year to take pictures.  The trees of the West Virginia mountains become the flowers of our views as the trees are displaying their vivid colors of oranges, yellows, and reds.

The original structures of the State Forest were built during the Great Depression, between 1936-1942 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).  Most of the structures were built using wood from the American Chestnut trees which have nearly been wiped out due to a blight.  There are 11 structures in the State Forest that have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Coopers Rock State Forest consists of 12,713 acres which are bisected by I-68.  The forest serves mainly as a recreation and preservation area but is used for other uses such as forest research, timber management, and watershed and wildlife protection.

The park gets its name from the main over look which is a rock cliff that provides a panorama of the Cheat River Gorge.  There are other bands of rock cliffs that line the Gorge and provide numerous overlooks.  There is a maze of enormous boulders and cliffs and trails that fascinate hikers.

The State Features nearly 50 miles of trails, picnic pavilions, picnic area with picnic tables and charcoal grills, a play ground area, a 6-acre pond, and a camping area.  The campground is open from April 1 РOctober 31 and features 25 sites with electric hookup a shower house and Wi-Fi access for registered campsites.

From December 31 through March 31st the park is closed to vehicular traffic but is open to bike, snowshoeing, and foot traffic during this time frame.

 

Sunsets

I am going to apologize up front this week’s blog is going to be a little short. ¬†Life has really thrown a wrench into my path these last few weeks. ¬†I work for a company as a contractor for the Government. ¬†Which means we are on contracts for so many years and then we rebid. ¬†Being part of an 8A Small Business this is typical life. ¬†However, the contract I was on was lost due to a lower bid from another company. ¬†We found out last week that most of our last days would be 7/20, with the exception¬†to a few of us working until the 28th. ¬†Tuesday the new company came in for training and for the transition¬†of the contract. ¬†I found out Wednesday I had a job with the new company. ¬†I would finish out my time till the 28th on the current contract and then move over to the new company, however, this changed and I started with my new company on Friday. ¬†Thursday & Friday they meet with more of my co-workers, and slowly some of my family are coming back into the ranks with me. ¬†It has been a hard week saying good bye to people who you have worked closely with for 1-4 years. ¬†People who you look forward to seeing every day and do things with outside of work. ¬† ¬†I look forward to the new chapter in my life getting to know my new co-workers from SparkSoft Corporation and growing my knowledge base and skills. ¬†Like my mom says God closes doors for a reason. ¬†Now off from this bit a news and on to today’s blog.

My favorite thing about the day is the starting and ending. ¬†I love the colors of a sunrise in the morning bringing a fresh new day into my life. ¬†The only down side is I am either driving or sleeping when during the sunrise. ¬†ūüôā ¬†So the next best part of the day is the colors of the day ending. ¬†Showing us that there is still something to look forward to no matter how bad the day has been. ¬†It is kind of like the day is telling you, thank you for being with me and showing its gratitude through the multiple colors of the celebration of you completing another day. ¬†So here are some photos I took during one such sunset. ¬†I hope you enjoy them.