Explorations

Rushing water from River Cave in Cave River Valley Nature Preserve on a foggy, rainy day.

After many semi-local photo adventures, I thought I would update everyone on some of my travels and projects that I have done in my spare time. I really love to get out and see the areas around me, and have made it a priority to experience and photograph them. It’s only fitting that I start with January, since it’s the last time I updated.

A barn in Greene County.

A barn in Greene County.

A home from the Civil War era.

A home from the Civil War era.

 

 

 

 

 

During this time, the snow started to melt and Travis took me on a tour of the back roads of Greene County, Indiana. I saw the Tulip Trestle (commonly known as “the viaduct”) and the Yoho General Store for the first time. This area feels like a well-preserved time capsule of America’s past, which you can envision from the photos.

Tulip Trestle.

Tulip Trestle.

Yoho General Store in Solsberry, IN.

Newly renovated Yoho General Store in Solsberry, IN.

The Punch Bowl at Turkey Run State Park on Trail 3.

The Punch Bowl at Turkey Run State Park on Trail 3.

Speaking of the past, when I was little, my family camped at Turkey Run State Park. A few years ago, we went back to canoe down Sugar Creek for the day and hiked during the evening. I hadn’t been there since then, until this year. I’ve been there three times this year already: a day trip in March, a weekend camping trip in May and another day trip in June! The day I went in March was very cold and the ground and trails were still icy. The rock slabs near the Punch Bowl were covered with ice and I was scared to straddle the slabs in my new hiking boots because if I had slipped, my feet would go into the rushing stream underneath me. The rocks were cold and I didn’t have gloves, but with some help from Travis I was able to cross this tough part of the trail.

The ladders at Turkey Run State Park.

The ladders at Turkey Run State Park.

Then in May, a few friends and I camped for a weekend. I’m fairly certain that the first night almost hit the point of freezing but it had warmed up after that night. I even canoed down the creek that Saturday in a tank top since it was so warm. But every day we would hike tough trails all day and relax by the campfire in the evening—standard camping activities. We turned into gourmet camp chefs by cooking bacon-and-cheese covered bacon cheeseburgers, as in bacon and cheese was also infused in the burger. We did a LOT of hiking so it was worth it. We also cooked hotdogs and placed them in our grilled cheese press that we then toasted over the fire. The consensus was that cheddar beat American cheese.

Highway Bridge over Sugar Creek.

Highway Bridge over Sugar Creek.

But anyways, Sunday rolled along and we were about to do our last hike. We parked at the park’s inn and I started to pull out my camera from my camera bag. I knew the bag was slightly unzipped, but I thought the camera would be fine. Well, I had swung my bag a little too fast and my camera fell out. It hit the ground which broke the polarizer and LENS, a new Canon 18-135mm lens I had just bought before the trip! I was devastated, frustrated and just mad at myself. My friends sympathized with me and felt awful. The polarizer cracked all the way across, and the glass piece of the lens popped out of the lens barrel. I couldn’t bear to look at my lens for a while after that, it brought back painful memories.

The grounds of West Baden.

The grounds of West Baden.

Inside West Baden.

Inside West Baden.

So I was stuck with my Canon 7D camera and my 40mm pancake lens, not sure yet of what to do with the broken lens. The opportunity came up to travel to French Lick and West Baden with my mom and her boyfriend, Steve. I hadn’t been to that area before, so I was curious and wanted to see it, even though I only had the 40mm lens. For photos that I wanted to take with a wider lens, I used my iPhone 5, since it’s fairly nice and I still wanted to capture photos. The scale of the buildings of French Lick and West Baden are so grand that I HAD to use my iPhone, but even then it does not show how massive the dome of West Baden actually is.

French Lick.

French Lick.

After hitting up the hotels and the casino (It was my first time gambling in a casino. I lost money on slots.), we went to the German Café for a hearty lunch where we had platters of sausages and potatoes. My mom’s side is probably completely German and we have some family recipes but we don’t make the food often, so coming to this restaurant gave us a heavy dose of authentic German traditions and culture. The owners of the restaurant came from Germany and brought over as many German decorations as they could send, decorations of which they found at yard sales in their home country.

Old quarry off the back roads of south-central Indiana.

Old quarry off the back roads of south-central Indiana.

During my time in the towns of Paoli and French Lick, I learned a lot of cultural history of the area, the springs and the hotels. I thought the terrain of the area would be flat, boring and all farm fields. I was wrong. It was super hilly, lush, green and it was a pleasant surprise. Later that day, we went to Cave River Valley Nature Preserve to see River Cave which is part of the Blue Springs cave system. After a long hike down a steep gravel trail, I came upon a grassy meadow. In this area there are old abandoned cabins, washrooms and shelters where boy scouts have camped. The rushing stream runs through the middle of this meadow. I followed the stream to its source, which is the entrance to the cave atop the waterfall. It’s still closed due to the white-nosed bat syndrome. For decades the area was privately owned but now Spring Mill State Park owns it and seems to be preparing it for more public use in the future. I knew that eventually I would come back here to properly shoot it.

The moon rises over Lake Lemon.

The moon rises over Lake Lemon.

A couple of days later and after a lot of online research and time spent trying to finagle the glass piece and the barrel of my lens, I shared my troubles and research with Travis. We bought some tiny screwdrivers then hunkered down and got to work. He finally fixed it, and I was over joyed! The night he fixed it was the night we had made plans to photograph the Camelopardalid meteor shower. Once he put the lens back together, we were on our way to Lake Lemon to shoot the stars, and hopefully some meteors. This wasn’t the first meteor shower we have gone out to shoot; we saw Perseid meteors in Tennessee last summer as well as at the fire tower at the Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area. So we sat and watched for meteors at Lake Lemon, but we didn’t think it was as much of a shower—or storm—as news sources said it would be. This night I wasn’t lucky enough to capture any meteors, but I finally got a shot of the Milky Way, which was just as exciting to me!

Milky Way.

Milky Way.

With my new lens back in working condition, I was antsy to shoot landscapes on landscapes. I took photographs of my friend’s family’s property when he hosted a Mario Kart party. (It’s an awesome game but I wasn’t that good, even with my Mario Kart 64 skills. I need more practice!) His uncle has a vacation home in Owen County on a small farm in the country which offers a beautiful view of the landscape.

Owen County countryside.

Owen County countryside.

Then I took my camera on a trip to Yellowwood State Forest (NOT Yellowstone). Like most of the places in this post, I’ve not been there before! It was a nice, warm day and I got some great shots of Yellowwood Lake.

Yellowwood Lake.

Yellowwood Lake.

Looking back at Yellowwood Lake.

Looking back at Yellowwood Lake.

Next came another trip to Turkey Run, and it felt like it was coincidentally on the hottest, most humid day of the year thus far. Luckily, some of the trails went into cooler canyons and provided some great, foggy photos. I’ve trekked a lot of trails here, and a couple of trails twice at this point, but after this trip I’ve almost completed every hike in the park! It feels like a great accomplishment, I think I have only one trail left…

Turkey Run State Park

Turkey Run State Park.

On July 2nd, Travis chose to hike the Peninsula Trail at Deam to Lake Monroe for his birthday. This was a trail I had been vying to go on for a couple of years, and at this rate with all of these other trails under my hiking boots, I knew I could handle it and was excited to hike it. It is 4.8 miles one way, so 9.6 miles altogether, which we had to do on a hot day! Because we are trail troopers, we made it to the lake (and back!). I had always imagined that the end of the trail would land on a pretty part of the lake looking west, and it does! It’s a rocky shoreline but fun to step on barefoot since the rocks are small and smooth.

Lake Monroe shoreline on the Peninsula Trail.

Lake Monroe shoreline on the Peninsula Trail.

There are camp sites dotted here and there, and someone before us had made couches out of giant rock slabs! It was realistic-looking as well as comfortable! We went on a day when the clouds were perfect, white and puffy like cotton. We both got great shots of the area including a timelapse for Travis to add to his personal timelapse project. I wanted to stay longer, but we knew we had to try to get back to the truck before sundown. We finished the night off with a Longhorn Steakhouse dinner (Travis’ favorite, and fortunately his birthday meal!) and it was so amazing and I was so hungry; rolls, salad, broccoli, buttery mashed potatoes and an 8oz. filet all eaten up by me! This day seriously couldn’t have gotten any better!

Looking west off of the Lake Monroe shoreline at the end of the Peninsula Trail.

Looking west off of the Lake Monroe shoreline at the end of the Peninsula Trail.

The next day we went to Solsberry to watch and photograph the fireworks. I think there’s only one stop sign in Solsberry, but these two streets that intersect were PACKED with people and cars! It’s such a tight area but it seemed like everyone in the county and surrounding counties came out to see the show. The normally quiet Yoho General Store was the epicenter of activity. It pulsed with country music over loudspeakers, and people crammed the building and surrounding area as they buzzed about and picked up food from nearby stalls and food trucks. We found a spot parallel to the store and sat on top of a hillside to best see and photograph the fireworks. The wind conditions were just right for the smoke to clear the area as the fireworks shot off, and the night wasn’t hazy or cloudy so our visibility was clear and our photos were awesome.

Palm Tree.

Palm Tree.

Firework Bursts

Firework Bursts.

My childhood home.

My childhood home.

After that weekend, I had taken a long break from photo adventures partly due to the fact I had to prepare myself to move out of my apartment and back to my mom’s house, and then she sold our family home to downsize, so thus I moved again and helped her with that. In June, she had fallen and broke her wrist and during the time of the move she wasn’t able to lift more than 20 pounds. Once we started settling in, I went out to the lake to shoot the Perseids meteor shower and took my friend Isaiah with me. Again, we saw some meteors but I hadn’t captured any on camera. The moon was just barely full since we had a super moon the night before and I think this created too much light for my camera. Although I couldn’t shoot any meteors, we took the opportunity to create some portraits of one another. I even came up with an idea for a later photo project on the ridge next to where we were. So hopefully that is soon to come.

Me.

Me.

Isaiah Ashba.

Isaiah Ashba.

Last but not least, I felt like I needed a great location to capture, a photo I wanted to submit to the Kelley School of Business photo contest. The contest was open to students, faculty and staff of the school (of which I qualify as a staff member) and there were 4 categories: Travel, Landscape, Kelley/IU Life, and Miscellaneous. The contest allows you to enter one photo for 3 categories only. I had thought about what photos of mine that I should enter, but I really wanted something new and different from what I had. I decided to go back to the Cave River Valley area and shoot the cave and stream again, since I knew I wanted to shoot that location again anyways. The day I chose to go was very humid and it rained as I drove down to Mitchell, IN. I had Google Maps on my phone but I didn’t have the address to the cave, I just used my recollection of how we got there the first time and didn’t have any problems driving to it. I hiked back down the gravel path with my zip-up hoodie covering me and my camera bag, and I held onto my tripod in one hand and umbrella in the other. I made it to the stream and took some long exposure shots of it (with a new polarizer since I cracked my previous one) all while staying under my umbrella. I was very patient with moving from one angle and location to the next, since I had a lot to juggle and risked my camera getting wet by either the rain or the stream just by being there. The humidity poured out of the cave and rose above the lower stream and created mystical photos which worked to my benefit and added to the scene. The moss on the rocks and logs seemed to glow green and overall the images turned out beautifully! I chose the featured image of the blog post (it’s also the last photo in this post) as an entry to the contest.

Looking downstream from River Cave.

Looking downstream from River Cave.

Looking back on all of these adventures keeps me empowered; I get to see where all I’ve been and how I’ve grown and developed through the journey. I’m lucky that I get to photograph it all, share it and keep the memories in my mind and my digital scrapbook. So far, the year has brought many fun opportunities to explore and I hope that they keep coming! Thank you for reading such a long post, and keeping up with me on this trail of sorts!

Rushing water from River Cave in Cave River Valley Nature Preserve on a foggy, rainy day.

Rushing water from River Cave in Cave River Valley Nature Preserve on a foggy, rainy day.

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Happy New Year!

Canon 7D with 40mm f2.8 lens

Now that it is 2014, I’m proud to present to you:
A new website!
A new camera!
A new blog template!

How exciting my tech life is these days.

New Website
I created a new website, HaleyMBrown.com, to showcase my photo and video work and provide an official way of contacting me, since now I have a new business email address (haley@haleymbrown.com) through the website. The website has been live since summer, but I haven’t made it known through this blog yet, so I thought now is a great time to share. It’s very visual, very media and I like it. Teal, turquoise and red are my favorite colors and I used an image that incorporated those colors from the background of a teleprompter that I had photographed on a prior shoot. I thought this photo represents what I do professionally very well: photography, video, teleprompting, production, all of that and then some.

New Camera
I have craved a new camera for quite some time now, especially since I’m a videographer and editor at my job. Since I work on high quality equipment at my job, I thought I should also invest and incorporate comparable gear into my freelance/hobby life as well, which will benefit me in the long run anyways. I felt like I pushed my older camera’s functions to many extremes, and it was starting to limit what I wanted to do such as more low-light and night photography, as well as time-lapses and VIDEO! Right before 2013 ended, Lorne, who I work with for Perfect Cut Productions, offered me a great deal on his Canon 7D + 40mm f2.8 pancake lens + accessories and I felt like the deal was too good to pass up, even though it was all of a sudden and right after Christmas. It was time to upgrade my equipment. And fun fact, I’ve actually used this camera many times on set with his crew so I knew it was in good hands prior to me buying it which tends to be a fear when buying (gently) used gear. So the deal worked, and now I’m able to offer photo and video services at an even higher quality than before! Plus, it’s a new toy for me and I’m eager to work on new projects, of course.

New Blog Template
Lastly, to round out my media upgrades, I unveil the new blog template that I just recently changed. To me, this layout feels fresh and bright and coordinates well with my website. Some of the previous blog posts may not be formatted well with the new layout, since I designed the original posts to work well with the former layout, but I’m doing my best to update those. I get to figure out how best to display my images within posts and what works well with my new layout. If you find any bugs with my blog or my website feel free to email me or drop a reply on here; I’m pretty quick about finding the solution.

More Projects
My tech life is always a work in progress, which reflects how much media shifts and evolves over time, but it’s something you can always use to improve your skills, challenge yourself and achieve creative results, which keeps media exciting! My New Year’s Resolution? To take more photos and video!

I know that later this month, I will help out on set of a featurette produced by Tugboat Pictures, and I also have a couple of photo sessions in mind for portraits/headshots. So I look forward to shooting more and in turn posting about my experiences and projects, accompanied with photos from my new camera!

Thanks for keeping up to date with my work.

Lights, Camera, Exercise.

Shooting a music video on the roof overlooking Rose-Hulman's football field.

Video production.

Although I was in media-related majors, I didn’t have production classes in college; I had basic shooting/editing projects in an Intro to Journalism class. This past weekend, I got to see and learn how Perfect Cut Productions produced a music video for Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Sports and Recreation Center. I felt completely useless because I didn’t know how to assemble anything on set and would have hindered the crew further behind schedule, but that’s not what my job was anyways. Instead, I spent each day photographing behind scenes. I shot the crew at work and of their candid moments, images they could use for marketing/advertising purposes.

The whole crew: Nick Maudlin, Evan Richardson, Lorne Golman, Steve Mech, Michael Bennett and Alex Guevara.

Music, Red Bull and a blurry haze of exhaustion

Key elements needed for production sets that I learned: Red Bull, iPod/stereo, candy and chips. These provisions fueled the team for the 15-hour workdays and were much appreciated by everyone. Shout-out to Perfect Cut for the transportation, snacks and meals such as dinner at the local Mexican restaurant.

Sure, a music system of some sort is obvious for the set of a music video, but an upbeat, energetic and comical playlist helps heighten the crew’s work ethic and overall mood throughout the day especially when the days drag on and the tensions through exhaustion begin. If I could create a playlist for this post that would match what we rocked out to, I would. However, WordPress doesn’t have that sort of technology, I don’t think, so instead I’m going to include turquoise, italicized links for you to check out as you read to get an idea of what we used as motivation and inspiration.

Possible scene from "Silent Hill"

On the first day we drove up there, Friday the 17th, the entire drive seemed like we were in the movie, “Silent Hill,” because of the dense fog we tunneled through along the highway. Eerie.

The first day had scenes that included cool hand scanners, a faculty basketball game, Rose-Hulman’s elephant tusks circa 1959, the Vince Lombardi Trophy won by Super Bowl XLI Champions the Indianapolis Colts, elephant mascots and “Gators,” the men’s varsity locker room and finally a night-time jib shot of the building’s entrance at night complete with hyped students and Steve Mech, our talent for the video.

Night shot in front of the SRC.

The GoPro camera makes an underwater debut.

For Saturday morning, we started off with high dives at the pool. Lorne, the director, changed into his SCUBA equipment and shot Steve underwater. Steve, who was wearing weights, said, “I’ve always wanted to do this after seeing Pirates of the Caribbean,” and began walking underwater from a five-foot depth downwards to about eight feet.

“This is the tale of Captain Jack Sparrow, pirate so brave on the seven seas.” –Michael Bolton/The Lonely Island

Next came shooting a pick-up football game, the catwalk above a conference championship track meet, a fluid mechanical engineering lecture, cheerleader stunts and we finished on the roof overlooking the football field at night. I hope Steve conquered his fear of heights by this point. Before this night, I don’t recall ever seeing a silent and reflective group of guys. The roof, the football field, cold weather, a clear night sky and “Paradise” by Coldplay on blast makes for a humbling, thoughtful moment we got to experience both individually yet together.

Sunday was our final day of shooting—a frigid wind chill morning where we had to shoot outside in front of the SRC. Later we shot the weight room which included lifting weights and running on treadmills.

“I-I-I work out.” –LMFAO

We proceeded with shooting racquetball, karate, swing dancing and dance aerobics. Even with the usual down-time here and there, I feel like it was quite an active day.

Rose-Hulman's dance aerobics club dances to "Jai Ho."

Group critique.

Now to wrap up, I really enjoyed being on set and watching video magic happen, making new friends with the Perfect Cut team, and having access to basically wherever we wanted at Rose-Hulman’s SRC because it gave us really cool location/shot opportunities that I know will make this music video interesting and quite frankly AWESOME. Also, much thanks to Michael, Nick and Alex, the guys in the background who continuously assembled and disassembled the lights and hauled the equipment. Without them, we literally wouldn’t have gotten around, and I wouldn’t have such sweet lighting in my set photos.

Once Perfect Cut edits and completes the video, I’ll post it in another blog entry, so please be on the lookout for that.

And as always, go to my > Flickr < account for extra pictures, because you won’t want to miss them.

Side view of Rose-Hulman's Sports and Recreation Center.