Welcome to The Milunich Photography Blog.
You may find it interesting or you may not.
My purpose for this blog is to tell about what
I have been shooting and also share some tips
and ideas I may see along the way.
I had the intention of writing this to criticize a decision I did not originally agree with. This decision was made by the summer camp who I owe everything in my life to. They decided to paint over the signing and artwork left by previous campers in the cabins. Some of these date back to the 1960’s.
Let me start at the beginning. I started going to the camp following third grade. It was rocky at first but as I got older I learned to love the place. I eventually volunteered there as a Special Needs Assistant (SNAP) in high school which led me to my current occupation of Special Education teacher. I have a group of friends made during the many years attending music camp. Friends that I know if I called up would come help me if I needed it. So to me the walls of the cabins represented the memories of these weeks and summers of my past. With that I was appalled at the idea. I wanted my young son to see in the record of those walls the fun that his dad had once had there as well as those before him. I was hoping for a place that would have as a profound effect on him as it did me.
I set out on the day they were to begin painting to document these signatures and this artwork, to try to save it. I packed my son who is going to be two soon and we headed up. I met with a good friend who works there and he told me I had about an hour before the painting began.With my son in his carrier on my back I walked into the first cabin, North 2. This cabin I had stayed in twice as a camper in 1999 and 2001 and I had been a SNAP there many times. the memories came rushing like waves on the beach as I walked in. There were late night whisper chats, as well as getting yelled at more than a couple times for talking after lights out. There were memories of pranks, farting contests (we were teenage boys) and one particular time where a friend of mine fixed the toilet. I remember singing to the girls in the other side of the cabin. Evenings sitting down by the lake just before bedtime. There were many an hour sitting on the front porch while the special needs campers slept. I particularly remembered the one time my toes got painted by my fellow SNAPs. This one was particularly funny because it was one toe a day so they were mismatched and the following week i was going on a beach vacation with my family, that made for an interesting week. I a wandered the cabin I found my name, as well as many friends’ names as well. My son who was chowing on a scone from the dining hall was just looking around, every now and then telling me he saw a tree outside the window. I photographed both sides of the cabin and moved on to North 3. I only stayed there once and, like before, I was hit by the memories the way the wind comes up and catches you off guard. As I found my name and got the pictures I wanted I packed up and head up to the dining hall and wait for the painting to begin. I felt I wanted to witness the deleting of my history, of the history of the camp itself. When I go to the top I flipped through some old pictures of the camp I was using for another project and set out to work on that one. It was when I got to the main lawn and looked over the lake that it hit me, it may be the end of an era, but it was my thinking that made me think this was an error. I was looking at this the wrong way.
I had put so much emphasis on the idea of meticulously documenting my time there that I forgot my memories did not live in those walls but within me. I had more good times outside of them than in them. I was so focused on the physical representation of them I forgot that they were truly within me. I also realized that my son would go there and make his own memories. He would not have those memories because he would write them on the walls but because they would be written into his life story, just like me. He would benefit the same way I did from his experiences there. I also understood because the camp IS an ever evolving entity. Many of the buildings from the original camp are gone, but their message lives on. I am going to have to embrace the new in order to help the camp continue on with its message.
It was after this that I went back to the cabins to watch the youth group painting the walls. I could see that these kids were the current group of campers and they too, just like myself, were making their memories, even while painting of the material representation of the past ones.
As I write this now in my office with my beautiful wife and son asleep upstairs it has been nine years since I was a camper there, I look back and realize the camp was more than the buildings for. It was the people. They were the ones who made it. They are the ones I will never forget. I hope that with these changes, although they may be hard for me, will bring new people to that magnificent place. With this I have to say I agree with the camps message:
“What Happens Here, Shapes Tomorrow”
Full Gallery here: http://www.milunichphotography.com/p447064597
With one final word to those of you who have crossed my path because of this wonderful place. First, thank you. Second I hope that you too can look back and remember that it was the people that made the place great, take those memories and cherish them and pass them on to the next generation. Always remember that in life it is the people who make the experiences and leave the lasting mark on you.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to do a time lapse video at Sky Lake Camp and Retreat Center in Windsor NY. this place was instrumental to me growing up and I always try and give back when I can. Even with it being the 3rd of April it was a cold night. It was the only clear night I could get while I was on break. (being a teacher does has perks)
So I packed my gear, for this shoot I packed a nice long extension cord, my A/C adapter for my Canon Rebel T2i and my Sigma 10-20mm lens. I also packed my tripod but more on that later in this post. After packing the car with gear during the day I had dinner with my wife and son. After dinner it was the usual routine of bath time for Gavin and then a bedtime story and bed. He went to bed and I grabbed my keys, gave my wife a kiss and headed up to Sky Lake
As I drove towards the camp the sky was slowly getting darker and when I arrived it turned to the mark blue hour just before total dark. It was cold and the lake was still frozen over. I grabbed my gear and make my way cautiously down to the boat dock. The was a tiny bit of ice and snow which made the trek a but more challenging that I had anticipated. I plugged in the extension cord on the upper level and tossed it down to the lower level just above the water. I plugged the camera in and got the settings dialed it. Now for the tripod... This tripod is a small lightweight tripod I bought for shooting waterfalls and to carry on my bag. I did not intended for it to be used for long exposures or in windy conditions. Seeing as the last time I used it was at the beach it took a bit to get it set up. (I will be obtaining a new tripod sometime, hopefully, if my wife allows me...)
Anyways I dial in the camera settings. ISO 1600, f/6.3 and 30sec exposure. Figured this would work and it did
So the next step was to hook up the shutter release and let it run. I shot 270+ frames. A little over 2 hours of sky. I also got to chat with my good friend who is the program manager while I was shooting.
When I returned home I had the fun of processing the images. After an overnight RAW conversions.(should have shot jpeg but forgot) I put them into a stack to create a startrails image which cam out awesome as you can see:The final step was the video. I uploaded the images in sequence into photoshop CS6 and used a 12 frames per second rate. The video is awesome and I cannot wait to shoot more of these.
I think everyone should try these. Time lapses can let you see things in a different way and also help you rethink the idea of time.
Sky Lake Info
Being a teacher I get to enjoy some time off. Mostly I spend it chasing my son around the house. Every now and then I get to take pictures. This morning I decided to take the Mr. Potato Head my son got from his grandpa for Easter and recreate an iconic saying.
The set up was simple. White shelves, a piece of mat board and a battery operated off camera flash.
I sen proceed to make the different poses need for Hear No Evil, See NO Evil, Speak No Evil. Once that was done I uploaded them into photoshop and made one images by combining the three.
After that I added words and a border. It was a quick fun project that can help someone get out of a photographic funk.
On Sept 1, I got the amazing experience to ride the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. This all began at the beginning of the summer when my brother asked me if I wanted to go because he got a deal on tickets and his wife gets motion sick so she could not go. So the planning went into motion. I found a baby sitter and started packing my gear. I had never shot a train rid before and I can only remember vividly 1 other train ride I had taken before. Needless to say I was super excited. The trip was going to give us a 4 hr lay-over in Old Forge NY so I had to pack light. I pack up my Rebel T2i sigma 18-50, Sigma 10-20 and a Sigma flash (I like sigma okay) Put them in my camera bag and stuffed that in a hiking bag with a swim suit, towel and my GoPro camera, I thought if I can mount it pointing out the window that would be cool.
Well the day arrive and I arose at 5:20 to shower and get dressed. At 5:45 I woke my sleeping toddler, something I never recommended, and carted him off to my mother-in-laws for the day. The day was going smoothly and for once I was actually on time. I arrive at the meeting point at the Mall in Syracuse. (I call it that because I have no idea of its actually named its changed and I cannot keep track) I was meeting my brother there because I was coming from Binghamton and my brother was coming from Rochester. The train was leaving from Utica so it made sense for use to meet and ride together that one leg. Well I get a message and my brother is running late, great I was hoping it would not be a waste of a sitter, even family isn't cheap for babysitting. Well long story short he picks me up and we make it to Utica at 9 am and the train leaves at 9:15. We get our tickets and meet up with two of my brothers friends who are Railroad enthusiast and we go to board the train. We sit down and I lament the fact I cannot open the windows to mount my GoPro camera to make a time lapse of the journey. My brothers good friend says “grab the GoPro and follow me” I do as asked and we exit the train car and go all the way up to the front engine. The conductor and engineer say hi and our friend asks if I can mount the camera in the cab with them. With a smile they say yes and I set it up. At this point I am as happy as a kid in a candy store. We take our seats and the train starts off. We chat and talk about trains and joke, usual banter for a group of guys. We then decided to get up and check out the open baggage car and look out through the doors. I snap some shots and it was fun. At this point we decide to hit the cafe car for coffee and a donut. We sit down in a table car which is right behind a really nice private car. We chat eat and banter some more. After a couple minutes a friend of one of our group asks if we want a tour of the private car. Why not sounds awesome. He takes us in and we get to see the restored wood and the sleeping cabins. It was beautiful. Then he shows us the “porch” and area with a railing on the end of the car open to the air. We walk out and it is right behind the second engine. It was exhilarating. We got wind and diesel smoke coming at us, it was loud and it was awesome. We are cruising through the mountains taking in the sights all around us until we arrive at the station. As we are departing the woman riding in the private car invites us to ride back with her since the people who rode up would not be riding back. We obviously accept.
At the station we depart and check out some of the other trains and cars they have as well as a classic car show in the parking lot. It was so interesting to see these pieces of American history around us (Well the some of the engines and cars may have been Canadian at one time but we won't hold it against them) Now came to the how to spend the lay over. I will cruise over that since this is about the train. Different friends of my brothers were at a cottage nearby and picked us up, we had lunch had some beers and went out on the boat, good way to spend an afternoon.
Back at the station I take some more pictures as our engine arrives and hooks up. We board and make our way to the private car. We sit down on the “porch” again this time there is bother behind us but rails and scenery. It was amazing. There is one crazy thing about riding there, the clouds look like they are chasing you and when you stop it feels like the rails keep moving. We had unrestricted views of the mountain scenery all around us. They even brought us beverages while sitting out there. I can now add and cross something off my bucket list, drink a beer while riding on the back of a train through the Adirondack mountains. I snap some more pictures and chat with our host and the crew. We decided to sit in the sitting room inside the car for the last half of the journey and it was very relaxing. We said farewell to our hosts in Remsen and continue on.
Upon arriving in Utica we bid farewell to the rest of the crew and climb into our car and head back to Syracuse. After a quick, late fast food dinner My brother and I depart and I head home. I make it home a little before 11pm and fall fast asleep.
This experience is one that I will never forget. The volunteers who work that line are absolutely the friendliest, knowledgeable and passionate people I have met. Photographically it gave me something new to try and it was awesome. I know I will continue to ride that train and as my son gets older it will be something we both do. I hope as you read this you think about taking a ride. My experience is not typical but being able to ride the rails and relive history is something everyone should experience.
Adirondack Scenic Railroad information
On the way up
At the Station
On the way back
So I have been wanting to go to Chimney Bluffs State Park for a while. this may be because I have yet to go to the ocean with my trusty Canon. I finally got the chance this pas April and it was a good time.
I decided to go in the afternoon on April 12. I wanted to try and get the sunset over the lake and the bluffs. I packed up my son Gavin because my wife was working and headed to my parents because they so graciously offered to watch him in the short time between my wife getting out of work and me heading up there. I know some out there might say "why not take him with you?" I was going to but I had never been there and well was not sure how infant friendly the trip would be. As he gets older I plan on taking him to lots of fun places and teaching him to shoot as well. Now back to the story at hand.
I hit the road with my Rebel T2i and my full assortment of lenses and P series filters. It wasn't a bad trip but I still do not like how the highway is set up in Syracuse. Made it to the bluff trail parking lot. First I set out along the water, it was not a sandy beach but rather rocky with an interesting assortment of rock colors. Walked along and shot a bit. It was nice wind was blowing the small waves were crashing.
Next I decided to head up the bluff trail. I had seen on the map there were stairs going to the train, so i thought cool this should be too bad, wrong. It was 7 steps and then a very steep trek to the top. Once at the top I sat down and took in the view high above the lake. It was very peaceful. Walked along the edge just taking everything in. Nice and peaceful.
After traversing down the trail i decided to check out Sodus Point and the two light houses. The modern one was nice out on the peer and so I decided to try and shoot using my infrared filter. This isn't usually a problem but I do have to turn off the autofocus once I screw the filter on because it looks nearly black. Shot an 8 minute exposure and decided to check out the old light house. Drove over and shot that very neat place with good views.
As it was getting late I headed back to the bluffs. I started shooting the sunset and waves and it was nice...
...until I realized my autofocus was still off, lot a couple pictures, but managed to get some keepers.
The drive home is another story I do not want to get into right now.
All in all it was a good trip I recommend anyone who may find themselves in the area to check it out.
Oh yeah here are the pictures
From the beachFrom the top