Cleveland Metroparks Centennial - Bradley Woods Reservation

The year 2017 is the 100th Anniversary of the Cleveland Metroparks. With that in mind, I am going to be attempting to visit as many of the reservations which make up the Emerald Necklace.

The first on the list of reservations I visited was Bradley Woods. This is the first time I have gone out to photograph in the year 2017. The weather outside did not make for great photographs so I decided to focus on detail shots and textures on the ground floor of the forest. 

I hiked two trails within the reservation, Bunn's Lake Loop within the Bunn's Lake Wildlife Area as well as the Pin Oak Loop. 

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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.

Handfeeding Chickadee's Behind the Rocky River Nature Center

Yesterday morning I took my parents out to the trails behind the Rocky River Nature Center in the Cleveland Metroparks to hand feed the chickadee's and see where I have gone to take all the songbird photos you see on the site. It was a very cold morning so the birds were not all that active. Normally I go out around 8 am and dump seed into one of the stumps just off the trail and the birds will all of a sudden flock out of no where. With it being so cold yesterday, we were able to get a few of the birds to come out and land on my parents hands.

The photos above are a couple of the ones which turned out since these birds are skidish and come in grab seed and then take off just as fast as they come in. They are extremely tame to the point they will come in and buzz your head and then will land on your hand. The second photo above in the set I am titling "Can't...Hold....On!" - in reality the bird was caught mid flight from leaving my mom's hand after grabbing some seed.

I highly recommend taking your kids out to the Metroparks with some thistle seed or seed and general and try to attract the birds. They are fun to watch flit around and listen to them sing their songs. It's nice to see that amongst the suburban area's there are some areas where people can still go out and enjoy nature.