Friday, December 27, 2013

Monday, October 7, 2013

Adirondack Hike

Saturday October, 5th I woke up at 3:00 AM to ride with a friend five hours to the High Peaks region of the Adirondack park in NY. Our plan was to summit two of the 46 high peaks in the region on our hike. We planned to hike up Giant Mountain and then depending on time, as we had to drive back that night and wanted to be off the mountain before dark, hike Rocky Peak Ridge. Giant Mountain is the 12th highest peak out of the Adirondack 46 and Rocky Peak Ridge is number 20 on the list.

This was a new experience for me.  I had hiked a couple of mountains earlier in the year in the Adirondack region but both of them were well under 4,000 feet high and well under 2,000 feet of elevation gained during the hike. Both Giant Mountain and Rocky Peak Ridge are over 4,000 feet high and Giant Mountain has an elevation gain of approximately 3,000 feet during a three-mile hike. So, while I had a little experience on mountains it was nothing like this. I asked my friend to plan a hike that would be challenging and boy did he ever deliver.

We set a good pace on our hike up Giant Mountain reaching the summit in approximately two hours and fifteen minutes using the Zander Scott Trail route near Chapel Pond. Then we decided since we had plenty of time to get down before daylight and we still felt pretty good we would take the 1.2 mile hike down then back up to Rocky Peak Ridge. This was the most challenging part of the hike for me. There were many steep sections going both up and down requiring me to use trees and other handholds to help pull myself up or hold on while I lowered myself down. We rested for about a half an hour on Rocky Peak Ridge before heady back over to Giant Mountain and then back down off the mountain.

On the way back from Rocky Peak Ridge to Giant Mountain, the fatigue really began to set in for me. I was really struggling both physically and mentally to keep going. I needed frequent rests to gather myself. I really had to stop and get myself together physically and mentally. For a relatively short 1.2 miles back it felt like forever due to the challenging terrain. Realistically there was nothing I could do but suck it up and press on because I wasn't getting off the mountain without getting back over to Giant. We completed the round trip hike in approximately seven hours and twelve minutes. That seems like a pretty good pace to me considering the total distance was 8.4 miles.

The only downside to the trip was the weather. The temperature itself wasn't too bad. IT was in the mid to lower sixties for a high, which for me is good when I will be exerting myself quite a bit on a hike. But at the top of the mountain it was cold requiring us to don jackets to stay warm enough to stand at the summit and enjoy it for even a short period of time. The other part of the weather that made the trip a little disappointing was that it was completely cloudy. So from the summits of either mountain we could not see much of anything. Even the trees on the summit with us were partially obscured by the clouds. So, we couldn't enjoy the fall scenery from the summit, but fortunately along the hike up Giant Mountain there are many areas where the trail comes out of the woods into an exposed area where the surrounding area can be viewed from.

I try to take the positive view of the experience of not being able to see the scenery from the summit due to clouds. As we hiked up the mountain, we could see the peaks of the mountains around us and several of them appeared to be in the clouds. So in a way I feel fortunate to not have been able to have a clear view of the surrounding area from the summit. Anyone can get to see nice scenery. But you have to climb a mountain to get to stand in a cloud. It was quite an experience I could feel the moisture and see it. It obscured vision at just several feet.

I had a great time overall and I am looking forward to my next trip to the Adirondack region.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Trip to Adirondacks this weekend

This Saturday I am going on a hiking trip up to the Adirondacks with a friend of mine. The plan is to drive up and hike up a couple of mountains to the summit and then hike back down and head home. Originally, we wanted to make this a two-day trip leaving Friday and returning home Saturday night, but that did not work out. Going to the area of the Adirondacks we are going to hike at is a five-hour trip one-way for us. So to maximize our time that means leaving for our destination at 3:30 AM. I consider this a fair trade for what I am expecting to be an exceptional experience.


Earlier this year I undertook my very first trip to the Adirondack Mountains and I camped for a week by myself in the Long Lake area. It was such a great experience. I did a fair amount of hiking but I have never hiked as much in one day as we are planning to so I am looking forward to the challenge. I am also really looking forward to seeing the mountains ablaze with the colors of fall. I have a feeling it will truly be a sight to behold. I have seen photographs of the area in fall and the look great but everything is much better in person especially when it comes to nature.


Photographs of nature are great. That is why I am a photographer but nothing can compete with the real life experience and I always hope my photography will inspire someone to go out there into nature and experience it first-hand. Being out in nature is about as good as it gets to me, only made better by adding my wife and dogs to the mix.


For this trip, I am not planning much photography. This is a trip more for the simple enjoyment of nature and the experience. I am going to bring only one camera body with one lens attached to it and any photography I do will be with that simple set up.For most of the time the camera will likely remain tucked away in my bag only making an appearance when we reach summits or need a break.


I look forward to sharing more about this trip with you when I return.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tribute To Cami

This is a sad time for my wife Debby and I. Yesterday we had to make the toughest decision that any animal lover ever has to make. It was time to allow Cami to move on to the next phase of life. Cami now waits for us at Rainbow Bridge. The ravages of lung cancer and hip dysplasia were too much for Cami and it was clear that she was not the happy enthusiastic dog she had always been.

While I am deeply saddened by this turn of events I am trying not to dwell in the loss, but remember the life and times we shared together. Now I am more thankful than ever for my obsession with photography. It has provided me with a way to keep the memories of happy times fresh in my mind so I can be uplifted by Cami's spirit by looking at her photographs. It's funny because over the years as a photographer I have shared many photos of Cami and always tried to pick out the ones that were the best quality to share. But sometimes those great photos that look just right don't tell the whole story. Its the odd picture here and there that looks a little goofy or that you just took for the heck of it with no planning or thought that truly depicts a life. So below I have posted many pictures of Cami, many of which I probably haven't shared before. Some because they weren't "good enough". Some just because I have so darn many. Here are some of the photos that to me represent Cami's life.

This is a photograph of Cami when she was a puppy. Such an adorable little bundle of fur. She always had that cuteness factor.

This photo represents what my wife and I now call the awkward phase. She has gotten taller and longer but hasn't filled in yet. We thought she was so cute then, but when we looked back at the pictures later we always thought she looked so goofy compared to when she was fully grown.

Cami has always loved being out in the snow. Just prancing around the yard looking gorgeous.

With her thick long fur it was never a problem to just lie down and relax in the snow and just enjoy the weather. She never cared about what we humans complain of as bad weather.

She always looked like a smiley happy dog.

This was just one of those moments that just happened and was so cute. Cami just decided to lie down right in this bed of wild flowers and I could not resist taking a photo. Cami was always so photogenic and willing to sit for a photo.

Cami was always so playful and happy. She could always find a way to have some fun. One day she sat under our oak tree in the front yard and just started ripping the leaves off the branches. She was having such a good time. I had never before seen a dog do that and I still have never seen another dog do it.

The snow does not bother Cami at all. She always just sat there soaking it in and laying and rolling in it. I think if we didn't have her come back in, she would have stayed out in the snow forever.

Cami always made the most out of everything. Normally going down to our pond to get a drink of water, but what do you do when the pond is frozen over? Of course you just lick the ice.

One of Cami's defining characteristics was always the huge blaze of white fur up her chest and neck. The fur was always so thick and soft. I love how you can see it just billowing out in this photo.

Cami was never above rolling around on the ground for a good back scratch.

Cami liked to walk around the yard and survey the area before finding a place to settle down. Her happy tail always help high and wagging.

Despite my wife's insistence prior to owning a Bernese Mountain Dog that they are quiet dogs, Cami was always quite the barker. She even had this strange howling like bark. You would think she was calling out the the rest of her pack.

I just love this photo.  I think she looks so noble in this image. I didn't even remember seeing it before as I was looking through all the pictures. That is why I will always love photography. It has allowed me to enjoy moments I had with her that I don't even remember.

Happy Cami. She always sat and cooperated so well for me when I took her picture. I was always able to get nice profile photos of her. I think she just humored me because she new it was my crazy human obsession.

Cami always loved to spend time down by the pond. That was one of her favorite places to lie down and relax on a regular basis. Step one go get a drink of water. Step two lie down and relax a while.

I love this image for one little thing that you might not be able to see. In this shot you can read her name on her name tag. I just thought that was cool.

I have always thought Cami had gorgeous eyes. I tried over the years to get a good shot of them and this is probably the best one I ever got.

Cami was always so alert and focused to every noise around her.

Cami and Buck asleep on the floor. She was so small compared to her big brother. 

Cami and Buck we inseparable as puppies. They were always together.

They even still cuddled sometimes when they got bigger.

Cami and Buck loved to play in the snow together.

Cami with her brothers and sister down by the pond on a nice winter day.

Cami and Mojo playing when Mojo was just a puppy.

Cami and Buck at the park. This was a hard day because it was when we began to realize that we just couldn't do all the same things with out dogs that we used to anymore.

I don't think I have any more photos of Cami after this day. I love her some much and always want to remember her, but you could see in her face that she was sick and I made the conscious decision that I did not want to remember her that way. I simply didn't want to be looking through pictures and be reminded of how she was sick and the toll it took on her. I wanted to remember her with the happy pictures.

Here's to Cami. A great loving dog who was always happy and affectionate. You will always live on in our hearts.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Incidental Photos

I woke up this morning and went outside to play with the dogs. I got them running around the yard and Caspian was chasing and retrieving his toy. After we all got tired out I decided it was time to let them in. As I was letting them in I realized we had a rose that had just bloomed and the sun was shining on it perfectly. This has been the only rose that has survived the deer so far this year so I decided now would be a good time to go put and photograph it. I was happy when I got out there and saw that there was still dew on the rose and the other flowers in the yard. So I took a "few" photos. 300+ photos later I decided to go back in the house. Sometimes the most enjoyable photo sessions are the ones you never intended to have.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Caring for older or sick dogs

It seems to me to be one of life's cruelest twists of fate that humans are so long lived and animals that are so devoted to them have such short life spans. Our dogs are our consummate companions. In many ways they embody the best things that humans should aspire to be. Yet we don't have enough time to spend with them on this earth to learn those valuable lessons.

Due to the different breeds of our dogs and the life spans that imparts on them three of our four dogs are nearing the end of their natural lives in the same time frame. My wife and I have been aware of this impending situation for some time now. Unfortunately it has been sped along as our seven year old female Bernese Mountain Dog was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. The prognosis from our vet is not good. They estimate only two to four months to live. 

We also have a seven year old male Bernese Mountain Dog, who is the litter mate of our female and were brought into our home together and a fourteen year old female Siberian Husky mix. Our Husky has times of pure joy where she seems like a puppy but time has clearly taken its toll on her. Our male Bernese Mountain Dog has hip dysplasia that has increasingly robbed him of  mobility.

Today I wanted to do something nice with a couple of our dogs so we took our two Bernese Mountain Dogs to the park to just hang out and sit by the pond. This seemed like a nice idea to me. A little time to relax and enjoy each others company. While it was a nice time it also reminded me of how little time we have left with our treasured companions. It was clearly evident that they could not enjoy the trip as they once had due to their physical ailments.

Fortunately though slowing down all of our dogs seem to be happy and in good spirits. They are always ready to play and snuggle. The quality of life they have is of utmost importance. It would be great if they could live longer and stay with us, but that would be selfish. I will not do anything medically that while possibly giving us more time with the dogs will simultaneously compromise their quality of life. 

The most challenging thing for me is that we as humans must make these decisions for ourselves on our companion animals behalves. I think every day that only if my dogs could talk and tell me what they want and what they need we could truly make the best care decisions for them. Humans can assist in choosing their treatments and determine what course of action if any they want taken. If only our dogs could help us with this.

If only our sick dogs could say to us "I love you , but its time to let me go."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A project that I have had in my mind for a while has been to do a photo book of dogs in the Finger Lakes region. The book would showcase dogs in all aspects of life from shelters, to family pets, to working dogs, and show dogs. I have been slowly building up a portfolio of photos that would fit in this type of project and I think I am ready to start really get down to work on it more seriously and try to make it happen in the relatively near future.

I would really like to photograph some working dogs doing their jobs that they were bread for. If you have a working dog such as a herding dogs that tends a herd or a hunting dog that you take hunting for example and would be willing to allow me to photograph it for this project please comment on this post or otherwise get in touch with me.

This would be best if you live in the #FingerLakes region of #NY or the Northern Tier of #PA.

#Dogs #Photography #DogPhotography #DogBook #Book #PhotographyBook

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Devastating news for our dog Cami

Received some pretty devastating news today. Our dog Cami has been having a lot of health concerns over the last several weeks. She hasn’t been eating much lately so after trying a wide variety of food with very little being eaten we took her to the vet. The vet initially thought she may have been having a bad reaction to the pain meds she was on resulting in an irritation of her GI tract causing her to not want to eat. She prescribed some antibiotics and gave her a couple of shots. I was glad to hear this diagnosis from the vet as it gave me hope for Cami’s recovery and return to good health. But something in my gut told me that it was something more than that. After several more days of Cami not eating she went back to the vet this morning for a more extensive work up. My wife Debby was going to drop her off and then I was going to pick he up when I got out of work. Fortunately Debby ended up staying at the vet. The vet was able to determine very quickly that Cami has lung cancer and Debby was able to take her home so she didn’t have to stay at the vet’s for any unnecessary time. Sometimes being right is not a good thing. I love our vets they always lavish love, attention, and empathy on our animals when they are there and I appreciate all the work they do as they patiently answer our questions and provide us with the information we need. I am glad we have been able to find such great veterinarians to provide wonderful care for our animals as I know they will work tirelessly to guide us through this difficult time as we decide how best to care for Cami.  I am glad that at least for now Cami still seems very happy and active despite her reluctance to eat so I am hopeful we will have more time with her. So now Debby and I will summon the strength to confront the difficult times that all animal lovers must go through as our beloved companions face the ends of their all to short lives. We will do everything in our power to make sure she has the best life possible for what time remains.