Squires Castle Excursion

Today I ventured out to the North Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks to explore a relic left over from the Industrial Boom in Cleveland, OH - "Squire's Castle".

Thefollowing is a brief excerpt from the Cleveland Metroparks Website -

A point of historical interest is the remains of the gatehouse erected by Feargus B. Squire (1850-1932). Squire, vice-president of Standard Oil Company began assembling a country estate in the Chagrin Valley in the 1800s, gradually acquiring 525 acres. He built a gatehouse of stone quarried on the property, eight miles of gravel roads and a pond, but sold the property in 1922. Three years later it was purchased by the Cleveland Metropolitan Park Board as the heart of North Chagrin Reservation.

All that remains of this once eloquently decorated building is the stone shell left lifeless sitting on top of a hill, just outside the woods. The castle itself provides a great backdrop for photographers who photograph the architecture, or bringing individuals there for weddings, and portrait sessions.

My primary focus today was capturing the raw beauty of the stone, brick, and mortar which makeup the castle walls. The highlight and shadow areas vary widely across the building due to the open windows as well as the main entrance not having a roof.

With that in mind, I chose to shoot bracketed exposures using 3-5 images per angle which were merged into a HDR (High Dynamic Range) photograph later in post production.

The following are the results:

All images were shot in "RAW" format, and pulled into Adobe Lightroom 6 for the HDR merge and basic toning. After the HDR merge the photos were taken into On1 10 Effects Processing. All photographs were taken using a Canon EOS 70D, with a Tamron 10-24mm SP Lens.

This was definitely not my last visit to the castle. I plan to return at dusk for another round of photographs using speedlites/gels to illuminate the rooms and give a subtle glow to the building. I will also be returning to capture the blanket of snow which will eventually drape this old castle in a winter wonderland fantasy.

Long Exposures on Lake Erie

Tonight was the perfect night to head down to Huntington Beach to capture the surf.

The wind was blowing around 15 mph out of the NE. Tonight's waves were around 3-4ft coming into the beach. Tomorrow, in Port Clinton, it is supposed to be blowing 30 mph out of the N-NE. This is estimated to form approximately 8-10ft waves.

Gear Used:

I took my Canon EOS 70D, Tamron 10-24 mm SP Lens, along with a Neutral Density filter to allow for longer shutter speeds to blur the waves. To compensate for the longer shutter speeds, I brought along my Manfrotto Tripod, and cable release. The addition of those two pieces of equipment allow for crisp details on the stationary objects and blurring of moving ones.

Shooting Technique:

I was able to achieve exposure times of 2 to 8 minutes shooting at F/29-F/34. The shortest exposure time in the batch was 1/8th of a second (with no ND Filter) and the longest was 4 minutes (with 10 Stop ND filter).

Reflecting on a flight in an "Old Tin Can"...

I was going through some of my old journals tonight and came across an entry I made after my Dad and I took my Grandmother up in a B-17 Flying Fortress (Bomber from World War II).

Preface to the following story:

The story you are about to read begins in 1941 with a young man serving his country in the Army Air Corp. That young man was my grandfather. He served as a mechanic during World War II. The B-17 Flying Fortress was one of the many planes he maintained. I had the privilege of hearing his stories and learning about the memorabilia he kept from the war. Those cherished memories have driven me to learn more about World War II and the aircraft he maintained. 

1942 Portrait.jpg

Fast forward to the Summer of 2012...

My dad and I saw in the paper that the Yankee Air Museum brought in their B-17, "Yankee Lady", to the Grand Opening of the Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton. The day after the grand opening we went over early morning so I could take pictures of the B-17. We crawled all over the plane and I was able to get all the pictures I wanted without interruption. A collection of which can be seen below...

After I was done, we went over to learn about the flight experiences the Yankee Air Museum was offering. After a little bit of thinking, as well as some careful planning, we made up our minds that we were going to surprise a special lady with a ride. We headed back over to the table and signed up for an afternoon flight. Dad and I then headed back to the cottage to surprise Grandma with a "mystery trip".  Needless to say, she was in shock and broke down in tears of joy.

Once we completed the pre-flight briefing, we helped Grandma up the few stairs, around the belly gunner's turret to "radio room" in the center of the plane just aft of the bomb bay.

There is nothing to compare the feeling you get when you hear the four old radial cylinder engines fire up.  There is one thing which tops that feeling... That would be seeing the look of joy on your grandma's face when she gets to experience a flight in the type of plane her husband worked on 71 years ago.

Grandma's reaction right after the plane engines began to come to life...

Grandma's reaction right after the plane engines began to come to life...

The entire flight was super smooth. The only way we knew we had taken off was looking out the window of the aircraft. The take off and landing were smoother than what you feel in the modern planes.

Once we were airborne, they allowed us to move througout the plane. While Dad and Grandma remained in the radio room, I made my way up into the nose of the plane and back into the tail section. In the nose, it was noisier than I expected due to being in front of the engines with air rushing around the plane.

You get a totally different perspective of Lake Erie and the Islands when you are up at altitude. It was cool seeing Cedar Point and the Lafarge quarries from the air. You don't really understand how landlocked Cedar Point is until you see it with a birds eye view. 

The video below you will see a birds eye view of Cedar Point and the marina from the tail section of the plane.

This was one of those once in a lifetime experiences. There is nothing that can be said to describe the feeling of seeing the inside of an old war bird, let alone taking a ride in one. I get chills still thinking back about this day. This will be one of those special moments I will never forget for as long as I live.