Oren Helbok at Pennsylvania’s Strasburg Rail Road with the Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8

Oren Helbok has been fascinated with trains since he was a kid growing up in the Bronx, when he’d head down to the local tracks with his dad, a skilled amateur photographer, and have picnic suppers. “My first photo was of a steam train, taken when I was 6 years old,” he says. “I was completely swept away by the engines.” 

Today, Oren’s fascination continues, and he now regularly heads out between 60 to 70 days a year to photograph the steam trains near his home in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. “The Strasburg Rail Road, which is the oldest continuously running short-line railroad in the country, is only about two hours south of me, and there are a number of other railroads that also operate steam,” he says. 

When he was a boy, the trains were all about the hardware. “Now that I’m older, I’ve realized the thing that’s most important about the trains is the people who are doing the work,” he says. “So while I still enjoy capturing pictures of the trains themselves, I also want there to be some connection to either the landscape, the places they’re traveling through, or the people working on the trains.”

Oren recently spent a full day at the Strasburg site with the Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 VC wide-angle lens. “This lens was recommended to me by a fellow photographer who said if I was looking for a stellar wide-angle lens, this was the one to try,” he says. “And it’s the best there is. What I was looking for was a super-wide-angle lens that I could use in a locomotive cab. I wanted to capture these guys at work, and I needed something that could get as much of that small space from inside as possible. The F/2.8 maximum aperture helps me out when the lighting isn’t great, and the Vibration Compensation (VC) feature is indispensable to counteract the movement on the train. Steam locomotives don’t ride like Cadillacs—they tend to bounce around, so the VC is infinitely helpful.”

Although he’s not trying to fool anyone into thinking his images are from another era, he does try to lend them a historical feel by eliminating modern distractions. “If I’m out in the middle of the landscape, for example, I’ll go out of my way to avoid a billboard or taking a shot right from the side of the highway, unless there’s some kind of story I can tell about how that train comes through that particular landscape,” he says.

As for how he photographs the people in his train photos, Oren tries to stay unobtrusive and captures many of his images from the back or the side, where his subjects’ faces aren’t in full view. “That’s not to dehumanize the work that’s being done, but to depersonalize it,” he says. “What I mean is, a photo isn’t necessarily about one particular person—that person stands for all of the people throughout the history of steam railroading who’ve done this job. I try to make my photos somewhat timeless that way.”

He did that with one crew member standing with his back to Oren. “That guy had been at work just 30 minutes, but it was August and one of the hottest, muggiest days I’d ever experienced down by the trains,” he says. “It was brutal. He’d already sweated right through his shirt. I wanted to show that aspect of the job without the distraction of his face or expression. I let the sweat speak for itself.” 

© Oren Helbok

24mm, F/2.8, 1/200th sec., ISO 1600

Oren enjoys showing the workers in their element, including when they’re hosing down and detailing the cars (a.k.a. the “spit-and-polish” job) and shoveling the coal. “The tight spaces I show here is exactly why I needed this 15-30 lens,” he says. “I wanted to capture as much of what’s going on as possible in a very small piece of real estate. I needed the big, wide view that the 15-30 offers.”

© Oren Helbok

25mm, F/9, 1/200th sec., ISO 640

© Oren Helbok

19mm, F/8, 1/200th sec., ISO 640

Every month, a locomotive undergoes what’s called a boiler wash, which is when the crew cleans out any accumulated gunk. “When you put water into a boiler and heat it up, if there’s any crud in that water, it can separate out and end up coating the surfaces,” Oren explains. “That gunk blocks various orifices you don’t want blocked and makes everything less efficient, so once a month they have to open up all of those plugs and wash the boiler out.”

The man seen here had just finished up that job. “I shot this in the engine house, so there was a significant amount of light coming from behind him from the building’s large windows on the left-hand side,” Oren says. “There were also some fluorescent fixtures running across the ceiling, but by this time of day, with the other track empty and no engine sitting there, the light was able to come in unimpeded. That helped give me just the right illumination I needed for this image.”

© Oren Helbok

30mm, F/2.8, 1/320th sec., ISO 2500

Sometimes Oren is even lucky enough to get some steam in the shot. “The photo of one of the crew working on top of the train was taken in perfect conditions for that kind of thing,” he explains. “With steam in particular, cold weather is best, as well as humidity. It was a seriously hot day, so I didn’t have that cold, but the air was so humid it couldn’t absorb anything else. That meant the steam, instead of vanishing, simply hung in the air.”

© Oren Helbok

30mm, F/7.1, 1/1000th sec., ISO 250

Of course, he also had to grab a shot of the person at the top of the train crew hierarchy. “The engineer is the one who’s in charge,” he says. “He’s got his hand on the throttle and is the one who gets to drive the engine.” This was another chance for Oren to hold his camera outside the car as the engineer peered out of his own window, offering a more intimate environmental portrait. “At this railroad, they’re trying to provide a very particular experience for their customers, without modern items getting in the way,” Oren notes. “That’s why this engineer looks like he could’ve stepped out of another time period. All of the guys who work here dress the part and look authentic. Maybe once in a while you’ll see a crew member with keys attached to a caribiner, but that’s about as anachronistic as it’ll get.” 

© Oren Helbok

30mm, F/11 1/250th sec, ISO 200

Another experiment Oren’s been dabbling in: capturing pictures of the landscape while he’s riding in the train. “I won’t look through the viewfinder in those cases, but rather hang the camera out over the gate and either use Live View or just shoot away and hope for the best, based on what I’d already seen with my own eyes,” he says. “In this one in particular, you not only have the lines of the railroad car itself, but the lines in that field next to the train car. In Lancaster County, there are a lot of Amish farms, and they regularly plow their fields and create those lines. The VC on the 15-30 was critical here to keep everything sharp.”

© Oren Helbok

15mm, F/10, 1/400th sec., ISO 1000

Capturing the whole train itself against the context of the landscape is another way Oren put the 15-30 to the test. “I had set myself the challenge of going out the entire day with that one lens, and using it not only in tight spaces, but also in wide-open areas,” he says. “I wanted to make the most of it in completely different situations. So yes, I show a train here, but it’s a train against that landscape, with that huge sky filled with cumulus clouds. That gives a whole new angle to the story I’m trying to tell.” 

© Oren Helbok

15mm, F/13, 1/400th sec., ISO 400
The railway’s bicentennial is coming up in 2032, and Oren is already in prep mode. “It’s going to be quite the party,” he says. “I’m extremely fortunate that I have so many options in steam railroading within a couple of hours of my home. I’ll have my camera ready!” 

To see more of Oren Helbok’s work, go to his website https://www.wheresteamlives.net/ or Facebook www.facebook.com/oren.helbok/photos.

Customer Spotlight – Jersey Dave

 

Welcome to our ninth Bergen County Camera Customer Spotlight. This monthly posting features a customer who’s made an impression on us. They might have grown in their understanding of photography, gained a mastery of the craft and / or have become a strong advocate of our way of doing business in the world of photography. During the next month you will see this customer’s images displayed on our digital signs in store, in our emails, blog posts and social media. We hope you both enjoy and are inspired by this new addition to In Focus and look forward to your comments and suggestions. 

Jersey Dave is this month’s customer profile.

All of Dave’s images are taken on a Yashica T4 Super D, using Portra 400 or Tri-X 400 film. 

Please enjoy a few of Dave’s images in the gallery below.

Here is a word from Jersey Dave: 

“Photography has always been something that’s sparked my interest. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been interested in maintaining memories and have always wanted to do my best to document them.  About four years ago, I started to take my photography more seriously.  I decided to pick up a point and shoot film camera and haven’t put it down since. It was a life changing experience for me; it gave me the opportunity to document people and places most important to me on a daily basis. During these last few years, there hasn’t been a day I’ve left home without it. Having that camera on me has forced me to see the world in a way that most people do not. It helped me find the beauty in every moment, whether good or bad. It has made me appreciate life more than I ever had in the past.  I can’t tell you how many rolls of film I’ve processed throughout these last few years, but what I can tell you, is that Bergen County Camera has been there for me through it all. I’d like to give a big thank you to all the staff at BCC who continually work hard to help me bring my photography into the world for people to see. You guys rule!”

-Jersey Dave

For more of Dave’s work, check out his instagram @JerseyDave01

Upcoming Photography Classes – November

Here are Bergen County Camera’s upcoming classes for this November:

Tickets may be purchased online, or in store.  

Lightroom 1 – November 8th – $50 – Learn the basics of Lightroom and get started creating a workflow. This course will cover organizing and importing in the Library module as well as keywords and collections.

Basic Digital Photography – November 14th – $50 – Join BCC’s John Tworsky and Paul Carretta for a 2 hour introduction to Digital Photography. This class is designed to provide the basics of digital photography regardless of the type of digital camera you are shooting or even if you are looking to buy your first. Topics to be covered include basic camera operation, batteries, storage media, card readers, choosing a resolution, compression, limitations and advantages of digital photography, making prints & enlargements, and storing & archiving images. Of course there will be plenty of time for questions at the end of the presentation.

Intermediate Digital Photography – November 15th – $50 – Join BCC’s John Tworsky and Paul Carretta for a 2 hour continuation of Basic Digital Photography. This class is designed to provide the next step in your digital photography learning. Topics to be covered include exposure (f-stops, shutter speeds, ISO), using shutter speeds to control motion, using f-stops to control depth of field, and ISO to control sensor sensitivity. We’ll talk about composition, tripods, monopods, self timers, keeping your images safe and more. Suggested Pre-requisite: Basic Digital Photography. Of course there will be plenty of time for questions at the end of the presentation. Course handouts include test your knowledge assignments, basic class reminders, special offers, computer tips and helpful programs.

Basic Photoshop – November 28th – $50 – Join BCC’s John Tworsky for a two-hour class introducing Adobe Photoshop. This course is for first time and beginner Photoshop & Element users and will cover computer & program requirements, acquiring images, image formats, storage considerations and a basic overview of the capabilities of Photoshop. Examples include opening images, rotating, preparing images for email, preparing images for printing, image adjustments (brightness, contrast & color), fixing crooked images & scans and printing multiple images on a single sheet of paper. Although this class is presented on a PC, all information will carry over to the Mac.

Eventbrite - Bergen County Camera Classes 2017

Free Saturday Focus Sessions – November

Focus sessions are Free and take place in our store from 9:30 am – 10:15 am. Focus Sessions are mini classes and discussions and classes about photography. All sessions will allow for questions and answers. Please bring your camera and any images along that you have questions about. Please share your thoughts for future focus sessions in the comment box below.

No RSVP necessary – Free for everyone – Please bring a friend!


Hit the “Like Button” to let your friends know. Have suggestions for future focus sessions? Feel free to leave a comment.

Here’s our upcoming Focus Sessions:

October 28th – Halloween Photography

November 4th – Lakota Wolf Trip Review

November 11th – Salute to Veterans Day

November 18th – Ellis Island Trip Review

November 25th – No Focus Session

December 2nd – Photo Expo Saturday – Early Bird Specials

 

These are free events – bring a friend along if you’d like.

Share with your friends on Facebook – Click the Like button below.

Hope you can join us!

Fly Fishing in Wyoming with the Tamron 70-200mm

Fly Fishing in Wyoming with the Tamron 70-200mm

Growing up in Colorado, and now a grad student at the University of Wyoming, Ben Kraushaar has spent his entire life immersed in the great outdoors. He’d always been interested in taking pictures while enjoying Mother Nature, but it wasn’t until 2012 when this casual hobby captured more of his attention.

“I’d decided to hike the Colorado Trail, a nearly 500-mile backpacking trip that starts in Denver and ends in Durango,” he says. “I wanted to document the journey, so I finally invested in a relatively decent camera. My goal was to fly-fish the whole trail and take photos the entire time. After that trip, I published an article about my experience in a fly-fishing magazine, and that was the catalyst for all of my future adventures.”

This summer Ben indulged both passions in Wyoming, where his girlfriend, Anna, was conducting fieldwork. To capture photos on this fly-fishing trip, he used the new Tamron SP 70-200mm VC G2 lens, which he says was invaluable for its focal-length range and Vibration Compensation (VC) technology. “With the 5-stop image stabilization on this lens, it made shooting handheld much easier—and I primarily shoot handheld when I’m fly-fishing,” he says. “It’s too much to haul a tripod into the backcountry. The VC proved especially helpful, as I generally have to use a really fast shutter speed to slow the bend of the rod down to freeze it. The best fly-fishing photos are also generally in lower light, so having that VC allows me to use that faster shutter speed in those lighting conditions to freeze the scene.”

Telling the story of a full day of fly-fishing means paying attention to every aspect of the sport. “It’s more of a lifestyle than an individual event, so there are plenty of things associated with it that can serve as subjects,” Ben notes. “Whether it’s photos of people camping, getting ready to fish, or the actual act of fishing, there’s plenty of versatility in terms of the tale you can tell. You also can’t neglect those amazing landscapes in front of your camera, or the close-up shots of the fish if you’re lucky enough to catch one.”

Ben typically heads out in the late afternoon or early evening for his fly-fishing adventures. “The best fishing is during those times, and that coincides with the best light,” he says. “I don’t mind shooting in midday if it’s overcast, but when it’s sunny, it’s hard to reduce all of the shadows. I shoot all natural light, mainly because carrying extra lighting equipment would be difficult. Since I’m also fly-fishing, I usually have my rod and other fishing gear, so I try to keep my photography equipment to a bare minimum.”

The 70-200 G2’s maximum F/2.8 aperture helps Ben set the scene as he wades, often knee-deep, into the water. “When I’m shooting a photo of someone casting a line, I try to use a low aperture like that F/2.8, especially when there’s a busy background,” he says. “Whether it’s trees or bushes, that low aperture helps blur out the background and isolate my subject. It also eliminates noise when I’m trying to get a silhouette of my subject against a blue sky or the water.” 

Ben’s biggest challenges when fly-fishing? Besides that less-than-ideal lighting during midday fishing expeditions, it would be the natural perils that come with the sport. “Sometimes the rivers are really slippery,” he says. “I have to do my best to try not to fall in and ruin my equipment.”

Which leads to the important matter of Ben keeping his gear protected. “I’ve yet to drop my camera in the water, but I have dropped five phones,” he laughs. “Sometimes I can tuck my camera in my waders a bit, so when I’m walking and splashing in the water, it’s not getting very wet, but the moisture-resistant build on this lens helps immensely on dreary, drizzly days. Sometimes my favorite photos come from when I’m out in the rain or snow, so having that water resistance is clutch and gives me the confidence that I’m not damaging my gear.”

Here, six of Ben’s images from his trip to the Cowboy State:

© Ben Kraushaar
200mm, F/2.8, 1/400th sec., ISO 400

This is a photo of my girlfriend, Anna. She’s a wildlife biologist. She always likes wearing colorful bandannas to keep the sun off her face and neck, and she’s shooting me a little glare here because I’m taking her picture. What’s nice about the 70-200 G2 is its capabilities as a portrait lens. With that F/2.8 aperture, you can achieve appealing bokeh and create some beautiful portraits.

© Ben Kraushaar
190mm, F/2.8, 1/400th sec., ISO 400

This photo of Anna catching a trout was taken on a river near Pinedale. It was evening, so the gold reflection on the water is from that last golden light in the sky. The river was mostly in the shadows, but the sun was really low, so I was able to capture all of those yellow-orange tones. 

I was standing up on a hillside for this shot. At that higher perspective, I was able to get nothing but water next to her in the frame. If I’d been positioned lower, I would’ve gotten the bank on the other side of the river, which would’ve taken away from the photo. I was at 190mm, so I was zoomed almost all the way in.

© Ben Kraushaar
200mm, F/2.8, 1/1600th sec., ISO 100

© Ben Kraushaar
70mm, F/2.8, 1/3200th sec., ISO 100

These next two photos show Anna casting a line, which means I had to try to freeze the action, as I discussed earlier. Usually, the line and the tip of the rod are moving really fast, so to freeze that and not get any blur of the line or rod, you have to shoot really fast. I usually end up shooting 1/1000th or faster for fly-fishing. Having that F/2.8 maximum aperture at 200mm allows me to get really tight and isolate my subject. 

© Ben Kraushaar
116mm, F/2.8, 1/640th sec., ISO 100

When you’re out on the river, there are an endless number of potential objects to shoot through and use as frames for your subjects. It’s really fun to play around with. In this case I blurred the greenery in the foreground a bit, which made an effective frame for Anna as she was wading away from me.

I also like the composition of this image (the whole walking-away narrative), because with fly-fishing, there’s a mysterious aspect to it. People will often post a picture of themselves fishing somewhere, and they won’t want to give their location away because it’s a sweet spot. So having just a hat in the photo, or someone looking away, adds to the whole secretive nature of the sport. 

© Ben Kraushaar
70mm, F/2.8, 1/2000th sec., ISO 100

We were at a lake near Dubois, Wyoming, and we came upon this scene with this one huge, random boulder. If you look around the rest of this area, it’s pretty clear of any sort of rocks, yet here we had this one beast. I wanted to take a landscape shot, but by putting a person into it, I was able to create a sense of scale. With this lens, you can zoom out to get a wider view or get the subject tighter in the scene by pulling the background in closer.

© Ben Kraushaar
200mm, F/2.8, 1/2000th sec., ISO 100

This is a photo of one of my girlfriend’s collaborators on her research project; she’s also really into fly-fishing. Here’s where she’s holding up the ultimate prize—a fish she caught. Sometimes you can spend over an hour trying to figure out what fly to tie on or what the fish are eating, so when you finally do catch a fish, it’s a very rewarding experience that proves you solved some sort of puzzle.

When that happens, the atmosphere changes from super-quiet peacefulness to animated excitement. I wanted to document that energy, and the emotions she was showing through her facial expressions, when she got to finally hold the results of all her hard efforts. By zooming in to 200mm, I was able to capture that moment.

To see more of Ben Kraushaar’s work, go to www.benjaminkraushaar.com

Customer Spotlight – Andrew Weatherly

Welcome to our eighth Bergen County Camera Customer Spotlight. This monthly posting features a customer who’s made an impression on us. They might have grown in their understanding of photography, gained a mastery of the craft and / or have become a strong advocate of our way of doing business in the world of photography. During the next month you will see this customer’s images displayed on our digital signs in store, in our emails, blog posts and social media. We hope you both enjoy and are inspired by this new addition to In Focus and look forward to your comments and suggestions. 

Andrew Weatherly is this month’s customer profile. Please enjoy a few of Andrew’s images in the gallery below.

Here is a word about Andrew Weatherly: 

For Andrew, art is a tool for personal and social growth.  He believes that art is a medium he can use to advocate for people with disabilities.  Andrew is a painter, poet and photographer.  He chooses the media which offers him extraordinary avenues for self-expression while sharing his own insight and perspective with the viewers.  Andrew’s work is available through the galleries of Art Lifting, Inc.,(www.artlifting.com) and Heart & Sold, UK (www.heartandsold.org.uk).  Information  and current exhibits can be found at www.andrewweatherly.com.  Andrew does not let the fact that he was born with Down Syndrome deter him from developing his passions.

Recent exhibits and juried art shows  include: ArtsAbility 2017, Malvern, PA,  Bergen Performing Arts Center, Sandy BennettGallery, Englewood, NJ 2017; Arts Unbound, No Limits, Montclair Museum of Art, Montclair, NJ 2017; Art Lifting Inc., Starbucks Limited Edition Gift Cards, December 2016; Thin Optics, 2016; ArtsAbility 2016, Malverne, PA,  2016 Leesa Dream Gallery, NYC, 2016 Heart & Sold ~ Salford Museum, England, Morristown Medical Center, Healing Arts, Morristown, NJ 2016, 2015 Heart & Sold, NYC, Arts Unbound, “2016 Winter in Summer”, Orange, NJ; Closter, Ft. Lee and Teaneck Public Libraries,  2014 Kennedy Center’s V.S.A. International Emerging Young Artists, The Journey, Washington, DC, Art Lifting, Inc., Cambridge, MA, Arts To The Avenue – Greenwich, Ct., Belskie Museum of Art & Sciences, Closter, NJ and  Cape Cod Museum of Arts, Brewster, MA.  Andrew’s poetry exhibits include VSA NJ 21st and 22nd Joyce Indik Wordsmith Competition and “Voices of Peace Poetry, Veterans for Peace & Arts Foundation, MA.

In 2014 Andrew was selected as one of 15 Emerging Young Artists for the Kennedy Center’s V.S.A. International exhibit, The Journey, for his painting Winter WorldsThe Journey toured in major cities throughout the country following it’s opening at the Ripley Center of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.

Publications include “The Art Beyond A Syndrome”, by Andrew Weatherly and selected poetry in       A Room of Golden Shells, Woodbine House.

Find more of Andrew’s paintings, photos, and poetry at his website, andrewweatherly.com

Shooting the Last Frontier with Vinit Mode and Two Tamron Lenses

Two Tamron lenses accompanied Vinit on his trip to the Last Frontier: the Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 VC and the SP 150-600mm VC G2. “I definitely wanted to have the 150-600 with me for taking pictures of wildlife,” he says. “And I found it useful for other logistical reasons. For example, when you’re in Denali National Park, you can’t take your private vehicle into much of it, so we were on a bus. Shooting through bus glass can be tricky, but my handheld pictures of the snowcapped mountains through the windows came out amazing.”

Read more

October 7th – Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk

Join us for our Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk on October 7th at 9:30.

You can register for the photowalk here.


Our group will gather at Bergen County Camera before we head out on our walk.  Abby Passman, from BCC, and Jared Powers, from Canon USA, will lead the walk. We will explore downtown Westwood with it’s shops and window displays as we make our way down to Veteran’s Park.  Here we will take some time to photograph the beautiful park setting with a grand bandstand, old tree with carvings and many other treasures to discover. The group will then head back to Bergen County Camera for lunch and a photo contest.  Canon USA will provide lunch for all attendees while we print out a 5×7 print of your favorite shot.  The prints will then be judged by Jared and one person from BCC.  We will award some great prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place! The prints will remain on display at Bergen County Camera through the following week.  Come join a great group of photo enthusiasts and pick up some new tips to enhance your photography!

Some info on Jared Powers from Canon

“Jared gained a solid background in documentary photography while in Melbourne, Australia before going on to photographmusicians around the globe. Before moving to New York, he was the Chief Photographer for a major cruise line handling Pacific and Caribbean routes. Upon landing in the Big Apple, he began managing photographic retail operations and training photographers for high profile clients, such as the NY Yankees, NY Mets or the U.S. Open venues to name a few. When not out training on new Canon products, you can find him behind the lens most likely in some hidden corner of a city, deserted road or forest.”

Upcoming Photography Classes – October

Here are Bergen County Camera’s upcoming classes for this October:

Tickets may be purchased online, or in store.  
Basic Photoshop – October 2nd – $50 – Join BCC’s John Tworsky for a two-hour class introducing Adobe Photoshop. This course is for first time and beginner Photoshop & Element users and will cover computer & program requirements, acquiring images, image formats, storage considerations and a basic overview of the capabilities of Photoshop. Examples include opening images, rotating, preparing images for email, preparing images for printing, image adjustments (brightness, contrast & color), fixing crooked images & scans and printing multiple images on a single sheet of paper. Although this class is presented on a PC, all information will carry over to the Mac. 
Lightroom 1 – October 17th – $50 – Learn the basics of Lightroom and get started creating a workflow. This course will cover organizing and importing in the Library module as well as keywords and collections.
Basic Digital Photography – October 24th – $50 – Join BCC’s John Tworsky and Paul Carretta for a 2 hour introduction to Digital Photography. This class is designed to provide the basics of digital photography regardless of the type of digital camera you are shooting or even if you are looking to buy your first. Topics to be covered include basic camera operation, batteries, storage media, card readers, choosing a resolution, compression, limitations and advantages of digital photography, making prints & enlargements, and storing & archiving images. Of course there will be plenty of time for questions at the end of the presentation.
Intermediate Digital Photography – October 25th – $50 – Join BCC’s John Tworsky and Paul Carretta for a 2 hour continuation of Basic Digital Photography. This class is designed to provide the next step in your digital photography learning. Topics to be covered include exposure (f-stops, shutter speeds, ISO), using shutter speeds to control motion, using f-stops to control depth of field, and ISO to control sensor sensitivity. We’ll talk about composition, tripods, monopods, self timers, keeping your images safe and more. Suggested Pre-requisite: Basic Digital Photography. Of course there will be plenty of time for questions at the end of the presentation. Course handouts include test your knowledge assignments, basic class reminders, special offers, computer tips and helpful programs.

 

Eventbrite - Bergen County Camera Classes 2017