That moment....

… when you’re a Freshman on the varsity team, you’ve just scored in front of your family, on your home rink, against your biggest rivals.

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The player with arms raised in celebration is Garrett Kreiger (12), a Freshman forward on the Skaneateles High School (NY) Boys Ice Hockey Team. He is pictured just after having scored a goal against local rivals, Auburn High School as part of what’s known as the “Route 20” rivalry. This was Garrett’s 8th goal on the season, impressive not only for his age, but considering the depth the Lakers currently enjoy.

Skaneateles is currently ranked #1 in the state in Division 2 as part of Section 3 in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. Below are a selection of other photos from their 4-3 victory.

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Mother Nature

A few days ago I awoke to one of the most beautiful mornings I’ve experienced since moving to the Finger Lakes in July 2017. Overnight, temperatures had dropped into the single digits, also offering up no wind and a fine, dusting of snow. The results were breathtaking.

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The photos don’t nearly do justice to what I saw.

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A little history...

I was born in a small town, currently live in a small town, and there are times where my appreciation for that is reaffirmed in spades.

On Wednesday evening, my daughter and I found ourselves on a “Daddy/Daughter” date, dinner at Johnny Angel’s in Skaneateles for burgers and fries; we do this whenever my wife is out-of-town on business.

Tabitha was half-way through her black and white milkshake, talking about one of her favorite new Disney shows when a young man approached our table, saying, “Excuse me, are you the gentleman who takes the hockey pictures?”

It took me a moment, but I recognized the person as a player on the Skaneateles High School Boys’ team, even while I wracked my brain for his name. When I told him yes, he smiled, indicated he was a certain player on the team, and said he just wanted to thank me and let me know how much he and his teammates “appreciated everything I do for them.”

To appropriate an English expression, I was ‘gobsmacked.’

The player, who shall remain anonymous, was apparently having dinner with a friend, perhaps taking advantage of the scheduled game between Skaneateles and Homer/Cortland being postponed that evening due to bad weather. He took the time to come over, express his thanks, without any prompting or something similar.

For a bit of context, I’ve been photographing the Skaneateles H.S. Boys and Girls Ice Hockey teams since moving to Skaneateles in July 2017. I’d never photographed the sport before, but thought it would be fun to see if I could produce some good images.

You see, hockey has always held an interest for me, going back to when I was a kid. I was on skates pretty much as soon as I could walk, in large part due to the fact that, not only did I live in Lake Placid, NY (site of “The Miracle on Ice”), but my (late) mother was a former, professional figure skater was was part of Ice Capades for a number of years in the 1960’s. You can see some pictures of her below:

One of my earliest memories was skating on the tennis courts at the old Lake Placid Club, flooded and frozen for the winter. I also remember lessons in the practice rink at the Olympic Center, learning the difference between an axel and a salchow before I was out of pre-school.

My father, having grown up in Lake Placid and played hockey growing up, wanted the same for me. I remember we’d periodically go the practice rink to watch the local high school teams (Lake Placid and Northwood) practice, my father repurposing broken sticks for my use, picking them out of the trash and cutting them down for my smaller hands. FWIW, my first “twig” was a Sherwood, and I used it to knock around a puck on the ice at the flooded tennis courts.

In a manner of speaking, skating was in my blood… although my mother and father had distinctly different opinions as to how I should go about cultivating that. To make a long story short: My mother was concerned I’d get hurt playing hockey, that I wasn’t big enough. My father, saw no problem with my playing, something he’d done as a kid and felt would be good for me, joining a team and all.

Their difference of opinion resulted in something of an uneasy agreement: I would stick to figure skating for as long as it took me to become a good, strong skater, at which point, my mother would let me play hockey. Thing is, no matter how much I skated and improved, my mother felt I still had “more to learn.” In hindsight, it was clearly an attempt to keep me from playing hockey, something she ultimately succeeded in.

In 1981, when my mother FINALLY agreed to let me play, our family up and moved… to New Orleans, LA…. where there was one ice rink… in the entire state… and there was no hockey.

It wasn’t until the early-1990’s that I was reintroduced to then sport, as a spectator. I was attending college at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst when the school brought their men’s hockey program back, and I had so much fun watching the Minuteman play, usually getting spanked by the bruiser programs in Hockey East, and typically as part of a crowd counted in the hundreds… But, the sound of the blades on the ice, the smell of the area… it was all very familiar.

Fast forward a few decades, and you can usually find me at the Allyn Ice Arena, just offset and behind the goal, shooting through the glass to capture our local players in action… and they’re pretty, darn good. The Skaneateles Boys are currently ranked #1 in New York State (Division 2), while the women are similarly top of the heap; Skaneateles is a hockey town. I don’t get paid for much of what I shoot, but it is a lot of fun, and it’s been good to give back to both programs over the past year, passing along some photos to individual players and the booster club for both programs.

So, it’s fair to suggest that, through my hockey photography, I’m vicariously taking the opportunity to do something I missed out on as a kid. There’s a chance, down the line, that I might take a “Hockey 101” class or join a rec. league; I also recently bought my first pair of hockey skates. But for the time-being, I’m getting a kick out of standing along the boards and watching our young residents play.

As for the player who approached me: While I was humbled by his compliment, more than anything I was impressed with his character. He didn’t have to come up and say anything, and there are times where I am certainly of the “get off my lawn” mentality when it comes to teenagers, but this young man is good people, and it’s nice to see that, here in this small town ;-).





"Tension grows, the whistle blows, and the puck goes down the ice..."

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) high school hockey season started back in November, but I’ve only been able to photo one game to this point: The first game of the “Route 20” rivalry between the Skaneateles Lakers and Auburn Maroon. The contest was held at Casey Park in Auburn, NY on Thursday, December 11th, a close game that saw the visiting Lakers pull ahead with 3 goals in the final period to record a 6-3 win over Auburn.

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As of December 23rd, Skaneateles is the #1-ranked Division 2 team in the state, with an overall record of 8-1-1.

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Skaneateles has good balance across the roster this season, and will need it with some tough games coming in January, including a contest against McQuaid Jesuit, the #2-ranked team in New York in Division 1.

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Shooting through the glass is always a challenge, as is using an 85mm prime, but it’s great being so close to the action and I hope to shoot more of it in the coming months.

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Football season comes to a close

I had the opportunity to shoot my last two high school football games of the season for Syracuse.com and The Post-Standard a few weeks back, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) semi-finals for Class B (Skaneateles vs. Batavia) and Class AA (Cicero-North Syracuse vs. Aquinas). You can see my galleries for these games at:

http://highschoolsports.syracuse.com/news/article/5515169768539293215/cicero-north-syracuse-faces-aquinas-in-class-aa-state-football-semifinal/

http://highschoolsports.syracuse.com/news/article/5515168768524293244/skaneateles-snaps-17-game-win-streak-with-54-49-loss-to-batavia-in-class-b-state-semifinal/

Both games were played at Union-Endicott High School a few miles down the road from Binghamton, NY. Even with the hat, gloves, and long underwear it was cold. That being said, I was able to get some nice shots (All photos are © 2018 Advance Local Media LLC. All rights reserved):

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Unfortunately, my hometown Skaneateles High School did not advance to the State Championship, losing to a Batavia team driven by Senior RB Ray Leach, who… and I kid you not: ran for 474 yards on 50 carries, scoring 8 touchdowns.

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Cicero-North Syracuse kept things interesting, coming back from an early deficit, but eventually fell to Aquinas Institute of Rochester, NY, who went on to win the 2018 State Championship this past weekend at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY.

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With football done, I’ll be moving on to basketball and ice hockey as needed, or whatever freelance work may come my way.

To the rescue

My session with the Lowe family came about when another local photographer they’d hired unexpectedly was unable to do the shoot. Thankfully, I was able to help out on short notice and get some nice shots of their lovely family.

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Mom, dad, and their son were in town from Northern Virginia, spending time with family in nearby Marcellus. In all, four generations of family took part in the session.

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I’d hoped to do the shoot outdoors, once again taking advantage of the blanket of snow on the ground and otherwise beautiful setting, but Mother Nature had other plans and decided to dump rain the entire day. As a result, most everything was done indoors, not that the family seemed to mind.

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In the end, things came together and I was able to deliver some photos the client was thoroughly appreciative of, while I was grateful to help out and come to the rescue on short notice.

White Session

My second session of the day was a family/maternity session for the White family in nearby Camillus. The sister of the mom-to-be initially reached out to me and gave the session as a gift.

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Once again, I was grateful for the flat light and light snow, allowing me to get some wonderful shots of this fun family. It was a bit of a tough go for their son, however, this as he’d taken a tumble in the morning and seemed a little suspicious about the new guy with the camera… that, and his silly dad.

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Once again, though, I had the chance to work with some wonderful people and deliver some images I hope they’ll treasure for years to come.

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Snow Day

The Campbells are another family in Skaneateles, getting the chance to photograph them the week before Thanksgiving on a snowy afternoon. Dad and I hit it off immediately with our mutual love of soccer, while mom and I talked a bit about our southern roots and family connections in Georgia. Between they, and their children, the session (while short) was good fun, and made for an easy session producing images fit for a picture postcard.

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Seriously, it’s as if a movie director said “Alright! Start the snow!”

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I have an easy job when the conditions come together and I get to meet people I hit it off with instantly. The Campbells and their children certainly qualify, and I look forward to the next time I can photograph them again.

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Let it snow

We had our first snowfall in Skaneateles a week or two before Halloween this year, but the real flakes didn’t start falling until November, and they were coming down in abundance the day I shot this family session.

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The Narins family are still pretty new to Skaneateles, but they couldn’t have been any nicer as they invited me into their home. With a fire in their fireplace and outside looking like a snow globe, the setting was undoubtedly picturesque.

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The Narins were the first of three families I photographed on the day, and it was a pleasure to capture their warm smiles and hospitality.

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"Going to the chapel..."

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to photograph my first wedding in Central New York, and thanks to The Sinclair of Skaneateles, I hope to be booking more for 2019. On Sunday, January 20, 2019, from 12 PM – 4 PM, I will be participating in their 2nd Annual Bridal Expo, one of over 30 premier vendors showcasing their wedding services including florists, chocolatiers, and great, local companies including She Rents Vintage. I was one of four photographers selected to participate and I’m excited to be taking part.

Photo courtesy: sinclairofskaneateles.com

Photo courtesy: sinclairofskaneateles.com

The Sinclair is located at the historicSinclair Chair Factory, built in 1871 on Skaneateles Creek. Approximately 2 miles from downtown Skaneateles, The Sinclair can host up to 200 guests and a variety of special events.

Photo courtesy: sinclairofskaneateles.com

Photo courtesy: sinclairofskaneateles.com

For more information on my wedding services, please contact me through the form on this website or etw419@gmail.com.

Senior Portraits: John

It has been raining for weeks here in the Finger Lakes, or at least it seems that way. The beautiful foliage we’ve enjoyed this year has, more often than not, obscured by raindrops, mist, and fog.

It was against this backdrop that I’d been trying to schedule a senior portrait with John, a Skaneateles High School student and top-rated boy’s lacrosse player who will be playing NCAA Division 1 next year for Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

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It was raining when I arrived at the High School for our session, and came close to postponing it (again). However, the rain stopped long enough to get in a short session, and some nice photos. John is a smart, polite, determined young man who would like to study business in college, and it was a pleasure working with him.

I just wouldn’t want to meet him on the lacrosse field… ever.

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Going into our session, I had a few ideas as to how I wanted to shoot John in his lacrosse gear. In particular, I wanted to get create a feeling an aesthetic that was consistent with the sport of lacrosse how I was first introduced to it, as a fan watching games on “the hill” at Boyden Field at the University of Massachusetts. At the time, the field had a natural playing surface, the being tough, fast, dirty and gritty. Understanding this, and taking into account the cloudy skies and colder weather, I wanted to convey this through John’s portraits.

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Black and white made the most sense to me, and I punched up the clarity, contrast, and grain to bring about the look I wanted. As it turned out, it served to render John’s eyes as darker, less vibrant… and looking really, really intimidating.

Despite the weather and the less than ideal conditions, it was a pleasure working with John, and I hope to get some nice action shots of him once lacrosse season rolls around next spring.


Robin & Brandon: A Wedding in the Finger Lakes

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure and privilege of photographing the wedding of Robin and Brandon in Skaneateles, NY. Robin is the sister of a client of mine, and decided to hold the ceremony and reception at a family home just down the road from me in my still “new’ish” home town.

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It was a stunning (albeit, warm) September afternoon in the Finger Lakes, the setting both feeling and looking like a summer garden party thanks to the abundance of flowers and elegant setting/styling by She Rents Vintage; the scene would not have looked out of place in a Country Living spread.

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It was very much a casual, comfortable affair where the laughter was easy and smiles abundant. This was the case from my arrival around 12:00pm as the bride got ready, through the end of the dinner, a picnic-style BBQ courtesy of the always good Dinosaur BBQ.

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As has been the case with other weddings I’ve photographed, my goal was to document the day much as a photojournalist would cover an event, using candid shots to compose a narrative with as little intrusion as possible. The smaller wedding and venue size made this challenging at times, but the access and trust afforded by the family of the bride and groom allowed me to capture the spirit and feeling of the day.

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The word that came to mind in how I pictured the day was “classic,” from the suspenders and smart bow ties of the groom and his best men, to the antique couches and elegant place settings. The color palate was warm, but subdued; the bride’s dress was simple, elegant lace… it wasn’t stuffy, and it made for some great photo opportunities.

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For purposes of the photo essay I made for the bride and groom, I chose to desaturate the colors somewhat, using an “antique” filter to enhance the warmth, but stopping short of a full-on sepia tone for the day. While it was an exceptionally clear and bright day, muting the colors made the most sense, picturing something that was very much, ‘vintage.’

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I’m grateful they agreed to let me photograph their special day, one you can see more of by checking out the full, photo essay of Robin and Brandon here.

Gridiron

September in Central New York (CNY) means many things, in my case, spending Friday evenings on the sidelines of a high school football field. Last year I had the opportunity to photograph area games as a contract freelancer for Syracuse.com, and am happy to say I'll be doing so again for 2018. 

The current season kicked off with a Section 3, Class B matchup between Skaneateles and Marcellus, two local rivals separated by a bit over 6 miles on Old Seneca Turnpike. Skaneateles, came into the game having moved up from Class C where, in 2017, they won the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHAA) State Championship. Marcellus, expected to be one of the strongest teams in Class C, is still dealing with the loss of Matthew Norris, a Marcellus player who tragically lost his life this past summer on a one-car automobile accident.

My official game photos and the game report can be found here:

http://highschoolsports.syracuse.com/news/article/-7249074294819533134/defending-state-champs-flex-muscles-in-return-to-class-b/

 

Skaneateles went on to dominate the night, beating Marcellus by a score of  42-9. Additional photos can be found below.

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Headshots

In addition to doing some wedding videography over the last few weeks I've also been busy taking headshots for a number of clients, including a number of musicians and singers.

Lana Stafford is a talented flutist and flute teacher who performs and works in the Syracuse, NY-area. You can learn more about her here:  https://www.lanastafford.com/

Lana Stafford is a talented flutist and flute teacher who performs and works in the Syracuse, NY-area. You can learn more about her here: https://www.lanastafford.com/

Robbie Padilla is a pianist and music teacher who also works and performs in the Syracuse-area.  You can learn more about him and hear some of his music at:  https://www.rpadillamusic.com/

Robbie Padilla is a pianist and music teacher who also works and performs in the Syracuse-area.  You can learn more about him and hear some of his music at: https://www.rpadillamusic.com/

 

 

 

Lakeside family fun

Made a drive down the east side of Skaneateles Lake yesterday evening to photograph members of the lovely McMullen family on a gorgeous summer evening. Their property has been in the family for generations, with members coming together this evening from as far away as Germany. 

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The late afternoon sun was beautiful but presents challenges when trying to get wonderful, backlit photos... I was also standing right on the edge of the dock when I took some of the images, and it would not have been good form had my Canon 6D and I taken an unexpected dip.

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Aunts and uncles, moms and dads, and an al fresco dinner to follow the session. It was a pleasure getting to meet the family and I hope they enjoy the photos as much as I had taking them.

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Love is an open door

On May 14, 2018 I was privileged to photograph The Child Center of NY as they celebrated their 65th Anniversary at their Annual Gala, held at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York, NY.

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Emcee Sunny Hostin, co-host of The View and ABC News Correspondent, led nearly 400 guests through a moving and inspiring evening that opened with a performance by the guitar group from Ps 182, followed by a heartwarming rendition of “Children Will Listen” by musical theater students from Is 237, accompanied by Broadway star Jessica Fontana.

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Jessica was later joined on stage by her husband, Tony-nominated Broadway (Cinderella) and film (Frozen) star Santino Fontana, for a highlight of the evening, “Love Is An Open Door.” Tony Award-winner (Rent, Wicked) Idina Menzel closed out the event with a medley that culminated with a group-sing of “Let It Go.”

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Speakers included the evening’s honoree, Emmy award-winning chef Lidia Bastianich, who passionately spoke to the event’s theme of Finding Your Voice; Asian Outreach Assistant Program Director, Omar Kazi, recipient of The Child Center’s annual Russell E. Carson Visionary Award for embodying the theme of building up young people to achieve their potential; and longtime Child Center client, Frantzcia Saintil, who movingly spoke of her journey.

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A blustery proposal

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a gentleman from NYC who was looking to hire me to photograph a surprise wedding proposal, specifically in Syracuse and someplace outdoors. His thinking was that The Gazebo at Onondaga Park would be a good idea, right around sunset where the light would be beautiful.

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Well, things didn't go exactly as planned. First, he had planned to buy roses for his soon-to-be fiancé, but flower shops and any number of other stores are closed on Sundays in Central New York. He asked for my help, so I made a run to Wegmans, bought every red rose I could find (there were not many), and with great help from my wife, put together a bouquet. Second, while the gazebo would have made for a great spot to pop the question, Syracuse Department of Parks and Recreation had yet to put in the footbridge across the water to the gazebo, requiring me to call an audible and suggest a beautiful, nearby stone bridge. Finally, while the weather had been lovely and warm in the days leading up to the proposal, the evening turned out to be blustery and cold, to the point where I actually brought hand warmers

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All that being said, things worked out in the end, with the lovely couple having the park (and proposal location) to themselves yesterday evening.

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It was a wonderful moment that I felt privileged to have chronicled, and I wish the future bride and groom a happy life together.

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Dropping the puck

Thanks to the media relations staff with the Syracuse Crunch, I was given the opportunity to photograph my first, professional hockey game on February 9, 2018. Syracuse was facing off against the Hartford Wolfpack in regular season American Hockey League (AHL) action at the the Oncenter War Memorial Arena

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I was able to work opposite the Crunch team photographer, shooting through one of the cutouts in the glass along the corner boards. This was so much nicer than trying to shoot through dirty glass at a high school rink, with the overall lighting being much better overall. 

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The speed of the players and pace of the game was much, much quicker than the high school games I'd photographed to that point, and had to be hyper-vigilant to know where the players and action were lest my camera get nailed by a stray puck or player.

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To protect my Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8 IS USM, I borrowed a suggestion from Toronto Star NHL photographer Steve Russell, fashioning a flexible lens hood out of a rubber gasket from the hardware store I bought for less than $3. It did the trick (not that I had to test it), and is a neat hack I'll certainly put to use again.

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While the full frame of the 6D is nice, especially when paired with the 70-200 it is FAR from ideal for high speed, sports photography; the fps is way to slow. Next time, should the opportunity present itself, I'd like to rent a 7D mark II, not just for the much faster frame rate, but for the added reach the crop sensor will provide. All in all, not bad for my first, professional game.

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Early evening maternity session

The Dempseys first contacted me about doing a maternity session in early October, hoping to do something outside and, in particular, taking advantage of the local fall colors or foliage. 

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Unfortunately, not only were the colors rather muted this year, but the weather and schedule conflicts conspired to push the desired session further and further down the calendar.

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While it took some time, we were finally able to get together the week before Thanksgiving, taking advantage of some great early-evening light out at the Skaneateles Conservation Area. 

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While there wasn't much in the way of fall color and the temperature was hovering around freezing, everything came together in the end and I was able to get the photos seen here. Both they and their son were troopers and I appreciate the patience and good humor; I look forward to working with them again.

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Pre-Halloween family outing

Had the chance to photograph the lovely Peck family this past Friday on the Charlie Major Nature Trail in Skaneateles, NY. While the fall colors have been somewhat muted this season, the late-afternoon light helped bring out some of them just a few days before Halloween. The Pecks have strong, local ties to the area and I had a blast getting to photograph them.

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