Recharging at the Root Glen

Yesterday was muggy and half-sunny, half-cloudy.  And all I wanted to do was just grab my cameras and drive somewhere, drive as far as I could and just photograph to my heart’s content.

So what’s to stop me from driving to Oneida County and taking pictures at my alma mater, Hamilton College?

Not much.  Let’s go.

Two hours later, I was in Clinton, New York, on my college campus.  Man, every time I look around this campus, they’ve built something new or torn down something else.  Jeez, they’re turning the Minor Theater – where I spent four years in the basement, spinning LP’s as on-air talent for WHCL – into dormitories?  And what the heck did they do to the back of the Emerson Literary Society, my old fraternity?  It now looks like an office administrative building.

Well, as long as they didn’t plow over the Root Glen, I should be okay.

First off – I wanted to take some pictures of the iconic Hamilton College Chapel, the frontispiece of campus life.  First, I took a few pictures of the Chapel tower with my telephoto lens, and then converted three pictures into an HDR capture.

Hamilton Chapel Tower
Hamilton Chapel Tower through Bristol Campus Center stone arch. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50-300 f/4.5 telephoto lens, three images combined in HDR capture. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Urgh.  There are times when HDR works well.  This is not one of those times, this picture is bordering on “clown vomit” territory.  Must try harder.

I disconnected the telephoto lens and went with the Df‘s kit lens, a 50mm f/1.8G.  With that, I walked in front of the Bristol Campus Center, all the way up to Campus Road, and took this picture alongside the statue of Alexander Hamilton, whose initial loans founded the college back in the early 1800’s.  That’s right… 200 years ago, my college sold its naming rights.  Ha.

Hamilton College Chapel
Hamilton College Chapel. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens, three images combined in HDR capture. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Okay, enough of the HDR shots. Let’s do this right.  Straight on shots.

I like the idea of the tree leaves framing the Chapel tower, and come fall when the foliage changes, that will look super-impressive.  Just sayin’ is all…

So here’s a shot of the Chapel as one distinct image.

Hamilton College Chapel, Clinton, N.Y.
Hamilton College Chapel. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Yeah. Looks much better without the clown vomit HDR.

Um… Mr. Hamilton, sir, you’re getting lost in the trees.  Could you please move over to my left a smidge?

Hamilton College Chapel, Clinton, N.Y.
Hamilton College Chapel. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Thank you.

As I took photo after photo of this scene, two Hamilton College physical plant employees walked over to my location.  “Getting good photos?”

“Yes I am,” I replied.

“How many more photos you gonna take?”

“Why?”

“We’re going to redesign the sidewalk in front of the Chapel, and we have to mark out areas with this spray paint so that we have the new path of the sidewalk.  And we don’t want to get in your photo.”

“Okay,” I smiled, putting a lens cap on the camera.  “I’m done.”

Yeah, I didn’t just visit the college to take pictures of the Chapel and then head home.

There’s a much more beautiful part of the campus.

It’s called the Root Glen.

Hamilton College Root Glen sign.  Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Hamilton College Root Glen sign. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

The Root Glen is Hamilton’s natural arboretum.  It’s filled with flowers and trees and trails, and whenever I felt there was trouble in my life, when I felt that I couldn’t handle the pressure of being a student, I would spend some time here.  I would focus my mind and soul on the beauty of this pastoral area.  I would walk the trails, I would meditate on a park bench, I would remember that I’ve made it this far in life, and there’s no reason for me to think otherwise.

Yep.  The Root Glen was my location to recharge my batteries.

That, and to get some flowerful pictures.

But the Root Glen is more than a garden.  It has several walking trails, including some that span over a creek-carved ravine.

I snagged some pictures of the ravine… and although I used my neutral-density filter to try to blur the waterflow of the creek… there was barely enough water to count as a countertop spill.  Still, I did get this shot.

Hamilton College Root Glen
Hamilton College Root Glen. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens, Hoya ND400 filter. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Nice.  Yeah, it could have used more creekwater, right now that just looks like a trickle.  Heck, I could probably walk down there and…

Hmm.  Walk down there.

Okay, do I want to actually do that?

Ah, what the hell.  I didn’t drive two hours on a Monday afternoon to wuss out.  Besides, there’s one section of the trail where I can climb down to the base of the creek…

Yeah, you know I looked around.  Last thing I need is those physical plant guys walking by and telling me to get out of the creek, they’re re-routing the Root Glen.  Ha.

Okay.  One step down.  Two steps down.  Couple more steps down.

Made it.  You call this a creek?  I can step in this creek and the water only goes up to the soles of my shoes.

Hamilton College Root Glen, from the creekbase
Hamilton College Root Glen. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens, Hoya ND400 filter. Photo by Chuck Miller.

That will work for me.  A little time to recharge my batteries, get some ideas for future photographs, and maybe even more pictures in the fall when the foliage changes colors.

Yeah, I definitely needed this photo road trip.  It felt good.

And just so you know, I took some extra-special pictures while I was on this trip.

Want to see?

Sorry, you’ll have to wait.  I have to develop them.

I will say this.  If my plan works in production, as well as it did in hypothesis…

I may have a winner for competition season 2015.

Carissima, bruddahs.