Agnes Caruso Photography

Photography


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Renaissance Festival 2018

If you come in the morning, you are likely to run into the King and the royal court at the entrance.

In the morning a bridge can be enchanted, just imagine your picture on this bridge with sunlight coming through the trees.

The morning is so beautiful at the festival, just walk around and find a quiet spot, not so difficult when you come early and you can just sit down, observe and rest.

 

Throwing axes in the Stupid Hat Area is pretty popular. And it is not just for the fellows! If you like music, there is plenty live music, just take your pick.

Giant soap bubbles are plenty fun for everyone and you can take quite spectacular images through the bubbles.

Once you have seen acrobats, plays and all the other fun, you can just sit some more and relax.


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45th Virginia Scottish Games

Virginia Scottish Games take place every year in The Plains, VA. This year was 45th Anniversary of the games. It was packed with entertainment, competitions and fun for two days. There were athletic events, music and dancing competitions, Clan Parade, Band Parade, and lots more. The day was filled with lots to do, with special events for children to keep the youngsters occupied.

However, some kids were proudly taking part in the main events. This little fellow in the picture on the left, marched proudly with the bands across the big field.

Opening Ceremony was preceded by the Clan Parade. This year it looked a little different than in previous years as the narrow entrance to the athletic field became even narrower with bands gathering to enter the field after the Clan Parade. However, nobody seemed to mind and everyone found their way.

As the clans were leaving the athletics field, the bands entered marching up to the top of the field.

The bagpipers and drummers marched up and then down the field  after doing an elaborate turn in the middle of the field. And as you can see above, the little bagpiper is marching on with the band! Keeping up with the grownups could not have been easy but he did not seem concerned or distracted.

Music was all around even after the Band Parade finished. There were bagpipers practicing, playing, bands were practicing some more for the competition.

There were also live music performances and included Glengarry Bhoys, Chambless & Muse and Glencoe Lads and Friends. For the lovers of fiddling, there were fiddling performances as well in a fiddling tent not far from the Highland dance competition.

Dance competition was tough with the sky clearing, and temperatures increasing, it got very hot very quickly. Dancers were sweating it out on and off the competition floor. Below are just some of the images from the competition. While waiting for their turn come competitors were going over the steps in their heads and moved hands in the air as if they were the feet.

I tried to capture dancing action from the competition. These are just some of the shots I took, trying to illustrate a range of movements on the dance floor.

As Athletics is an integral part of the games there was lots of action on the field: heavy weight toss, light weight toss, caber toss and sheaf toss. With so many events going on, I did not get around to all of them but here are some of the images from the weight toss events.

You can see more images from the Virginia Scottish Games on my website. If you are interested in using any of the images or if you like your own photos please contact me.

 

 


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Focus on sunsets – Part 3. Travel or not to travel?

A not so unusual question is “Travel or not to travel?” to photograph beautiful sunsets. I will hope to give you some idea of what you can achieve from your own living room or for that matter close by where you live. And before you say “my view is nothing like that”, there are still tricks that can let you photograph sunsets by just walking a few minutes down the street, up to the top floor of the building, into a garden or park… I hope you get an idea. If you live in a city take a look around see where the sun sets and how you can get a good view. If it is from your apartment, it makes it very easy.

The below series of images are from a living room of an apartment complex. My camera is always ready to be picked up for a photoshoot, so if you are serious about capturing moments in life make sure that yours is also.

The second set of two images show quite stunning texture of the clouds, fabulous color and light. There was no travel involved and the pictures turned out very interesting.

If you do travel to some of the most amazing National Parks, there are sites which are recommended to see at sunsets or sunrises. Look at the maps, ask the rangers, check on the web. While travel photography and landscape photos are frequently astounding, remember one thing, the photographers frequently spend a few days trying to capture this one perfect moment you are admiring now. When you travel, most often you may not get a perfect weather, too many or too few clouds. So can a beautiful photo be taken during a normal family travel? Yes, just try to focus on what and when to photograph. Plan ahead of time where you want to go and explore some photos online to try and figure out what would be the best spot to get the view you want. Once you are on site you will probably change your mind, as to what you want to photograph.

Before my trip to Arches National park I knew of two locations I definitely wanted to photograph. The first, perfect for sunsets – Windows at Arches and the second, for sunrises – Delicate Arch. Sunset was quite interesting with few clouds over the arches but the setting sun changed the illumination of the rocks, altering the color.

 

 

The moment of the perfect light on the rocks. Stunning color lasted just a few seconds.

This image was taken while waiting for the sunset light to focus on the windows. Colors are very different, partly because of the angle of the sun but also due to the clouds in the sky.

Within minutes sun is hiding beyond the horizon, beautifully colored windows become dark and uninteresting. At the same time cloudscape on the horizon is capturing everyone’s eye.

In order to finish this sunset series, I wanted to share one more image with you. This one is a Lumia 950 image of lake Champlain in Vermont. Great destination for those from outside Vermont. However, if you live close by, this can be your perfect sunset location. The sun is going down behind the mountains on the west bank of the lake but the light is still visible in the sky.

Enjoy taking pictures of sunsets and if you take any, you can tag me in your images on instagram.

 

 


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Focusing on sunsets – Part 2, sunsets in California

I hope you enjoyed the first part about sunsets. This time we will head out to California for some really stunning sunsets. My two favorite places in California are San Diego area and Malibu beach. Both offer really amazing sunsets as you will be able to see.

Let’s head to Malibu beach with its great views. The beach is quite long and on both ends enclosed by a hill. What you can visualize on a photo will depend on the position of the sun, especially if you want to capture it going down over the water. Taking a wide angle lens can be helpful as you can create a very unique view. My favorite subject on this beach are the lifeguard towers, creating  beautiful silhouettes on the orange to red sunset light.You can also capture birds in flight as in the second image.

San Diego area is definitely great for photographing sunsets. You will meet lots of people coming to watch the sunsets in La Jolla, Del Mar or Solana Beach. They are different every day and very beautiful. The golden sea of one day turns into a dark red sunlight disappearing beyond the horizon.

Solana Beach is another great place to see sunset and the difference is that you can capture a very tropical image, complete with the palm trees. View of the beach is relaxing and peaceful.

You can see most of those images on my FineArtAmerica site or on Picfair in the landscape collection. They can be licensed or purchased from both sites.

The last of the Sunset series, coming soon, will focus on some unique shots of sunsets from Virginia and from Arches National Park. It will show that even when you do not travel far you can still take amazing shots of sunsets.

 


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Focusing on sunsets – Part 1

Sunsets are probably one of the most photographed subjects. What makes sunsets so attractive? Obviously colors and light, but frequently there are also clouds and their texture or shape that makes the images unforgettable. Many tourist attractions or scenic views attract crowds every day to admire the setting sun. It is often hard to find a perfect spot to pick for taking pictures.

What makes a spot perfect? A place allowing you an unobstructed view of the sky, a city skyline or another particular feature. Remember that moving along your location may reveal a very different view. Also turning a camera slightly from the same point can deliver a very different image. Therefore, even if you have been to a particular spot before, every day and every sunset is different. You can see below how different are the four sunsets. All are taken in Arlington, from the same spot in a little different direction to best capture drama in the sky.

 

Framing your view is important, what do you want to show in the image besides the changing color and light. Are there any shapes, buildings, trees, anything interesting that can play a central role in your photograph? Remember that each sunset only happens once and what you are trying to convey is a particular moment, one that cannot ever be reproduced. It is important that if someone looks at your picture they can relate to the moment you captured. There has to be something that makes it unique.

As the sun sets there is less and less light. So two things become important, having a fast lens and a tripod. Wide angle lens can help in capturing sunset or sunrise, many of those are also fast lenses. The above images were all shot without a tripod and through glass, so not under the best conditions. Using a Canon EF85mm f/1.8USM lens gives enough angle and allows to take pictures at relatively slow speeds.

City skylines and glass skyscrapers offer a great subjects to photograph at sunset. There are two ways of doing it.

One way of shooting a sunset, is to capture a moment when it happens and is spectacular. You can see examples of those types of shots below, San Antonio on the left and New York on the right. In NYC, a late afternoon stroll to Times Square was rewarded with this image of sky looking like a fireball. In this case I did not use any image enhancement for the NYC picture, it was extremely dramatic without a need for any additional changes. On the other hand, in San Antonio, I was strolling back towards the hotel, when the reflection in the windows captured my eye. You can see how different floors of the building reflect different colors of the sunset. When I turned around, the sunset was spectacular with amazing colors and textures. Finding the right angle and putting a camera on a tripod was a race, which I think I won with the below image of the sunset in San Antonio.

 

 

The second way, is to pre-plan your sunset trip to a scenic location around the city, set up and wait till the sunset starts happening. This is a well tried approach and beautiful shots can be made, especially when there are clouds in the sky. Skyline of Seattle and New York show different lighting conditions and directions of the shots. In Seattle, Kerry Park is one of the best places to see a sunset, as it offers an unobstructed view of the city. A panorama image taken from Long Island towards Manhattan shows just one of the great places to photograph a sunset in NYC.

As this story draws to a close, I wanted to share an image from Durham, NC, taken from the parking lot of the Southpoint Mall. I am sure you are thinking why this location? An explanation is simple. As I was driving along the road I have noticed the most gorgeous sunset one can see, colors, clouds everything so perfect. There was just one problem, I was on a highway, no way I can stop and take pictures. By pulling into the mall parking lot I was able to capture at least some of the beauty of this evening. It is not the perfect image one might want but it captures a unique moment in time.

The bottom line is do not get discouraged when it looks like you may miss a beautiful moment, try to capture it. If you are lucky enough to not be a driver, you can attempt taking pictures from the car. This requires a bit more than just a good eye, it needs a steady hand, good road and a bit of luck. Taking pictures from a moving car that is a separate topic, that I hope to get to later this year.

And to leave you with something actually not accidental for a sunset, here is a sunset in Toronto, Canada, over the lake. Enjoy and I will be back with more images of sunsets.

 


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Washington DC Car Show 2017

Car show is an event that seems to attract a wide range of audiences everywhere. Obviously not everyone is getting excited about the same things or even looking at the same things. However, it is hard to dispute that it brings crowds. It was not any different earlier this year in DC. H04A1480

There were plenty of new concept cars, some with new fuel, some extra small, some self driving. Pretty much something for everyone. Toyota showed some really interesting concept cars on the floor. On the left, Toyota FCV Plus Concept. On the right, a Toyota i-Road, not sure if that is still a car or a fancy tricycle. They both look small and you have to judge for yourself if you would want to drive one of them.

A more advanced Toyota Mirai, a hydrogen fuel cell car, was also shown. You could actually see how hydrogen makes this car go.

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Hydrogen fueled engine of Toyota Mirai

The future is already here and you can buy one of those cars. They are a little pricey and you can only drive them in California. So for all those of you in other parts of the country for now you can just look at the pictures.

Among the concepts was Huyandai autonomous Ioniq. Looking just like the rest of the Ioniq line it is well equipped with LiDAR system allowing for autonomous driving. At the same time still looks like a normal car.

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Another interesting feature was presence of a lot of small cars. From a smart car, through a selection of other small vehicles. While they are not for taking long trips, they could be adventageous for driving and parking in a city.

However, not all cars were small, concept, there were also the special ones. Those that we love looking at, some of us can even afford them and they always draw crowds.

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The DC car show was not all just about the cars. It was also about fashion with creations by KennyKAS Custom that were part of the The ART-of-Motion display. Beautiful creations, super patient models produced just a superb display.

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Don’t worry if you missed it, there will be next one coming. It is always fun to see the cars, sit in at least some of them.

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Cherry Blossom Festival – Washington DC

Cherry Blossom Festival last week was spectacular. The cold snap a week before did not seem to stop the flowers. The weather this spring though is very variable. Saturday was sunny but Sunday turned out to be overcast. While many photographers do not like bright sunlight for taking the pictures, in case of the cherry blossoms it is nice to have just a little sunlight. The contrast you can get between beautifully blue sky and white or lightly pink flowers does not have to be super sharp. Hiding under the trees when taking photos makes them lit up very gently, just like those pictures taken in 2009.
 

One unbelievable part of the Cherry Blossom Festival is the number of people coming. Everyone taking pictures with whatever tool they have, mobile phones, iPads, compact cameras, SLR cameras, or professional cameras. There were tripods, monopods, selfie sticks, the trick was to not bump into anyone or hit anyone with your gear.

 

As it was quite warm and calm, people were on the water enjoying the views, taking pictures and getting tangled up in blossoms.

The main question is: in how many ways can you photograph the blossoms and Washington landmarks, how many shapes do the trees have? I would say as many as there are people looking at them. Everyone will take different pictures and have a different point of view. Here are some of mine:
Cherry blossoms

Washington monument

There were not just cherry blossoms, there were also beautiful tulips and kids as well as adults hiding between them. There were also some magnolias still in bloom.

Tulips

 

Some people came all dressed up in beautiful outfits, kimonos, colorful dresses like the lady in a picture above. There was lots of color contrasting with the white and pink flowers present everywhere. Girls in white dresses, colorful dresses, boys in black suits. Everyone wanted to take a memorable image to take home.

Cherry Blossom Festival is a great time to spend outdoors with your family or friends. Just be prepared for crowds, relax and take it easy.

 

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Renaissance Fair

Soon after the Scottish Games I went to my first Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, Maryland. The Festival is amazing, it allows you to experience something really different from your regular everyday life. As soon as you pass through the gates you become a part of the feast in Revel Grove, a village in Oxfordshire, England. Why? Because, this year’s story line was the Royal visit by King Henry VIII and Queen Katherine of Aragon in Revel Grove. You can see the King, Queen, the royal court and foreign guests. They are definitely enjoying themselves.

The weekend of 19th and 20th of September was a Pirate weekend, and there were many pirates of all sizes, shapes and forms.

However, pirates did not completely take over. There was lots of entertainment, with The Sirens, The O’Danny Girls, Cu Dubh to name a few. And music was not the only thing you can enjoy. There were short versions of Shakespeare’s plays, acrobats, juggling, jousting and many other attractions.

Shakespeare would have been proud watching those short versions at the Globe Theater.

A lot of action and entertainment was at The Joust Arena with the Return of the Black Knight Joust. Horses and knights were all action on this hot day in a very dusty arena.

In all the excitement there were moments just worth seeing, here are a few of my favorite moments from the festival.

I enjoyed the time at the Renaissance Festival and if yo have not been to one, go and have fun!  Huzzah!


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Virginia Scottish Games – 2015

Labor Day weekend was the time to go and seen what the Scottish are up to in Virginia. And there was plenty to see at The Plains: athletics, highland dancing, bag pipe bands, clan parade, sheep dog demonstrations and much more.

This was my second time at the games and I enjoyed every moment of them. One of the highlights in my eyes was fencing demonstration from the Virginia Academy of Fencing. As you see, starting early is a key to become a good fencer.

However, you get a bit more fun when you can actually pick up the sword.

Learning to defend yourself can actually take some time. I should know, used to fence a little some time ago. If you never tried it, go for it. Fencing is a cool sport, can leave you with some bruises but it will teach you some valuable lessons. There were also other opportunities to explore sword fighting and get a personal introduction.

Central stage of the games were the athletics events: stone toss, heavy weight toss, hammer throw, caber toss, sheaf toss and weight over bar. The caber toss in amateur competition ended in a tie and had to be broken by attempting to toss the professional caber! It was definitely fun to watch. It takes three men to get this caber upright and only one guy to toss it.

The athletics field became for some time a central stage for the Clan Parade. Capturing the marching clans was an interesting task, as you wanted not to be stepped on while sitting on the grass. Here is a mosaic composed from the parade and a few special shots that seem to warm the heart.

The parade was closed by the pipe bands marching down the center as well. One of the bands turned away from me but the second was heading right for me! So a quick scramble to get away.

As it turned out a photographer needs to watch out or the band is going to walk right over you!

Pipe bands sounded great and created a great atmosphere. Although not everybody agreed with that statement!

It has been very hot over the weekend so being able to rest a little was a good thing. One place where you could rest was under a big tree to see the sheep dog demonstrations. The sheep and dogs did not seem to mind the weather as much as people did. There was plenty of action to watch with amazing explanations as to what is really happening.

If you were tired and thirsty, there was plenty of drinks to enjoy, great lemonade, beer and you could always pick up some tea pots and make your own. Sit back and relax.

Finally, there were some pretty spectacular participants and some famous people, OK not really people, but still famous cut-outs.

I had a great time and hope to see you next year!


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Arches National Park

A long drive from Denver Colorado across the Rockies brought us to Moab, a gateway to Arches National Park. This area is very popular with tourists so make sure you book your accommodation well in advance. There is a lot to see in Arches, including a visitor centre with exhibition on geology of the area. It explains how the arches were and are being formed. You can drive yourself around the park or use a shuttle. In peak season you may find that parking will be a problem. However, driving does allow you to stop whenever you want in many of the pull over spots, overlooks and parking areas.

While the national park is great to visit at any time of the day, sunrise and sunset are the most amazing times provided there are not too many clouds. You will be able to see some areas best at sunrise: e.g. Great Wall, Delicate arch, or at sunset: e.g. Park Avenue or windows.

Hike to Delicate arch is quite long so you have to allow enough time and in some places there is a need to pay attention, so you stay on the path. This hike is worth the effort, especially when it is not cloudy. The morning I was there it was cloudy but we had a moment of light and this is what it looked like.

However, not all mornings were great, the next day sunrise did not really bring the light we were all hoping for, despite that there was still time to take some interesting pictures.

During the day there is plenty to see in the national park, I spend quite some time wandering around the dunes and broken arches.

Colors you will see in Arches are amazing, they will vary depending on the weather and time of the day. The area is quite dry so you will see lots of desert plants, including cacti. In May they were just starting to flower. There are also beautiful textures and occasionally you can see animals hiding in between the rocks or among the plants.

You need to bring food and water with you as there is nowhere to get food, but water can be topped up in some places. Remember that the area is the desert and going out for a hike with no water is not a good idea. While lots of hikes are short, there are quite a few medium and long ones, so pretty much a little bit for everyone.