The Beauty Around Us

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Posts from the ‘Photography’ category

Never Say Never

When I purchased my Olympus OM-D E-M1 mirrorless interchangeable-lens compact (MILC) camera in September 2014, I said that I would not buy another camera ever again.  Never say never!

I ordered a new camera on Sunday, March 3rd.  My new camera is the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, which arrived this past Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 pm.  See how exact I am about the arrival time?   

This was me, waiting for Federal Express (photo obtained at

My new camera, before the unboxing

My new camera has been around for awhile.  It was released in November 2016, about 3 years after its predecessor.  I am keeping my Olympus OM-D E-M1 — as a second body.  

Here is a comparison between the two cameras.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 vs. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

My new camera has several improvements, compared to its predecessor.  I am looking forward to photographing birds with my new camera.  I should have more success with birds-in-flight, given the faster auto focus capability.

There is a ripple effect, when a new camera is purchased.  Since purchasing the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, I also made the following purchases:

• the Kindle Edition of “Mastering the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II” by Darrell Young,

• a Lexar Professional 128GB Memory Card, and

• a second Olympus BLH-1 Rechargeable Battery

I anticipate the purchase of additional memory card(s).

I plan on my new camera being the last camera that I purchase in my lifetime.  I won’t say never, though!

Little Voice in My Head

Image obtained from YouTube

I started a new project today, as a result of Flickr changes that I discussed in my previous blog post.

The majority of the photographs in this blog are embedded Flickr images. If I delete the original Flickr images, the embedded Flickr photographs in my blog will be deleted as well. In essence my blog photographs are held hostage by Flickr!  Recently I paid for an additional 1-year subscription to Flickr Pro; however, I do not wish to pay indefinitely for a Flickr Pro subscription.

My project, beginning today and continuing throughout 2019, is to download (and then delete) Flickr images embedded in my blog.  I will upload the downloaded images into my blog in their proper place.  Eventually my Flickr account will be devoid of all images, and I will either limit my photographs to 1,000 images  or delete the account.  Hopefully, I complete this project by November 1, 2019 — the day on which my Flickr Pro subscription would auto renew.

This project is a BIG undertaking! I have 1,474 blog posts to act upon!

I wish I had paid more attention to the little voice in my head, when I first started my blog. That little voice in my head kept asking “what if Flickr is no longer a viable hosting site for pictures in your blog, what then?”


On April 23rd I received an email announcing that Flickr has agreed to be acquired by SmugMug.  I was informed that nothing would change immediately with regard to my Flickr account.

On September 19th I received an email notice that my 1 Year Flickr Pro subscription would renew on October 19th at the current price of $49.99 billed annually.  I had been a Flickr Pro subscriber since October 2008 and had paid $24.95 annually for the subscription.  The last time Flickr changed Pro pricing was when it re-introduced Flickr Pro at $49.99 in July 2015. At that time Flickr rewarded Pro members with a promise of a two-year protected price. The current subscription price of $49.99 is not an increase in price. Flickr is merely bringing grandfathered Flickr Pro members to the current Pro rate. It was nice, as a Flickr Pro customer for a number of years, to be grandfathered in 2015 for 2 years at the price I had been paying ($24.95).

As of September 19th a Flicker Pro account provided unlimited, full-resolution uploads; ad-free browsing for both myself and my visitors; advanced stats; industry discounts including 15% off Adobe Creative Cloud; the Flickr Auto-Uploader that allows me to automatically back up my photographs both on my computer and on my Apple devices.

A Flickr Free account at that time provided 1TB full-resolution uploads.  In September I was using only .22 TB of storage. Once I reached the 1TB storage limit, there was nothing stopping me from opening another Flickr Free account and making use of the 1TB full-resolution uploads.  A Flickr Free account did not include ad-Free browsing, advanced stats, an auto-uploaded or industry discounts.  None of the limitations of a Flickr Free account bothered me. At first I thought the Adobe Creative Cloud discount of 30% would be useful.  The discount is for the more expensive Adobe CC plan (approx. $50/month) that includes programs I have no use for.

I cancelled my Flickr Pro subscription on September 19th.  I would get along fine with the Flickr Free account.

Not having a Flickr Pro subscription was short lived. On or about November 1st Flickr announced a change that would directly impact me.  Beginning January 8, 2019, free accounts will be limited to 1,000 photos and videos. Flickr Pro will continue to provide unlimited storage. I have several thousands more pictures and videos than the 1000 picture limit of a Flickr Free account. Additionally the photographs contained in this blog are linked to Flickr. It would be an impossible task for me to remove thousands of pictures from Flickr and maintain my blog and Flickr connection.

I renewed my Flickr Pro subscription on November 1st.  I am certain there will come a time when my blog will no longer exist.  I can’t see myself (or my heirs) paying indefinitely for Flickr Pro and my WordPress blog.  Until that time arrives, though, it is business as usual!

I obtained the following screen shots from Flickr.


Papalia Family Photo Session

I conducted a family photo session yesterday afternoon, my first since late December last year. My friend Janice messaged me about a month ago.  Janice wrote that she was having a surprise 60th birthday party for her husband John.  She asked if I was available to take a few family photos.  I was available and accepted the photo assignment.



John arrived at his surprise birthday party,
accompanied by his oldest son and one of six grandchildren.


All five children and six grandchildren celebrated John’s 60th birthday.

_LG25519Papalia Family

John celebrated his 60th birthday with not only immediate family members.  Some of his extended family shared in the celebration as well.

Untitled-1Papalia Immediate and Extended Family

_LG25526John, Janice and their six grandchildren

Thank you, Janice, for thinking of me to photograph your family.  You have a wonderful family!  I hope that John enjoyed rest of his birthday surprise.

Picturesque Red Barn Torn Down

On Wednesday, February 14th, a woman by the name of Anne contacted me via private message at my Linda Gross Photography Facebook page

Anne: Please contact me about photo(s) of the Cochranton red barn…thank you.

Anne provided me an email address and telephone number.

MeWould you please leave a comment on the particular barn that you are asking about? Thank you.

Anne responded this morning to my question.

Anne:  This barn has now been prepared for “relocation” on the Cambridge Springs Riverside Hotel site. Brew pub planned by Jason and Deanna Howles. It had 3 cupolas and sat very close to a narrow dirt road going up Bell Hill….very sentimental for me as sight of it meant we were almost to my grandparent’s home…now I am 78!

After a quick search for “barn” on my Flickr photo page, I found the barn to which Anne referred.  Anne’s description of the barn, as having 3 cupolas and sitting very close to a narrow dirt road, helped tremendously.  Another quick search, this time on Google, yielded the following article regarding plans for a brewpub at the former site of the Riverside Inn located in Cambridge Springs, PA.  The historic Cambridge Springs Riverside Inn was destroyed by fire in May 2017.

I wrote back to Anne.

MeI stopped posting to Linda Gross Photography in July 2015. I photographed the red barn picture to which you refer on March 12, 2016.  Picture(s) of that barn may be shared on my The Beauty Around Us Facebook page, which replaced Linda Gross Photography. I didn’t look on that page, preferring to search for “barn” on my Flickr photo site. I have two pictures of the barn. I believe it is the barn to which you refer.

I shared the two barn pictures with Anne.

Here is the barn, as it stood on March 12, 2016.

_LG20125 4x6Cochranton Red Barn
March 12, 2016

The barn has now been torn down.

I telephoned Anne and informed her that I had found pictures of the red barn to which she referred.  The reason Anne contacted me was to ask if she could purchase a print of my picture.  I am emailing Anne a copy of the picture, free of charge, so that she can make the requested 5×7 print.

I never know what sharing a photograph on the Internet will bring to me.  The sharing of a barn picture made MY day today, which happens to be my 62nd birthday, as well as the day of a woman whom I know as Anne.

Christmas Eve Family Portrait Session

On December 14th I received a message from Jayme, one of Bob’s coworkers.  Jayme shared his sister-in-law’s Facebook Post with me, which read:

“Recently found out that my entire remaining family (27) will be together on Christmas Eve. We missed other opportunities for a complete family photo in the past and now have lost some. I am looking for someone willing to come and photograph our group on Christmas Eve. I understand how busy everyone is, but thought i would try. Recommendations Please.”

Jayme wrote to see if I would be interested in this photo assignment.

After asking Jayme a couple questions regarding the photo session, he gave me his sister-in-law Stephanie’s phone number.  After conversing with Stephanie, I agreed to photograph her family at 7:00 pm on Christmas Eve.

Munch_FamilyMunch Family
(Click on this image for a larger-size photo)

I photographed the family as a whole and then each individual family unit.  Stephanie had hoped that all 27 family members would be available for the family photo.  One individual, however, was not able to make it to the Christmas Eve festivities.

I am so glad that I agreed to conduct this photo session.  The Munch family was enjoyable to be around and fun to work with.

East Syracuse NY to Mt. Morris NY

We spent 3 days and 2 nights in the East Syracuse, NY area.

We checked out of the Best Western East Syracuse, after breakfast, on Monday July 3, and were on our way home shortly before 8:00 am.

On our way to East Syracuse on Saturday, we stopped at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.  We stopped at the wildlife refuge once again on our way back home. I am so glad that we visited Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. I put my new camera lens to good use, as we drove around Wildlife Drive.

New camera lens, you ask?  I just realized that I hadn’t shared on my blog that I purchased a new camera lens.  I waited for well over 1-1/2 years to purchase this camera lens.  At first the camera lens wasn’t in stock.  Then I didn’t have the money available to purchase the lens.  Finally, everything came together to make the purchase.  I purchased an Olympus m.Zuiko ED 300mm f4.0 IS Pro lens, specifically for wildlife photography.  Coupled with a 1.4x teleconverter, I have an effective focal length of 840mm!  My new lens arrived on Friday, June 30, the day before we left on our weekend getaway.  I need to use the lens more to increase my proficiency in its use, but I am very pleased with the images that I captured at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

_LG22411Bird ID needed

_LG22424Osprey in Flight, with seaweed attached to its claw

_LG22428Are these birds American Coot?

The highlight of our visit to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge was the sighting of two American Bald Eagles.  One eagle flew off to parts unknown, but one eagle landed in a tree not far from where we were on Wildlife Drive.

Bob took this photograph of me, while photographing the eagle.

And to think I didn’t want a moon roof, when we were car shopping. I didn’t want to spend the extra money. The car on the lot that we liked came with a moon roof. I am glad that we got a moon roof, because it enabled me to capture a couple good photographs of the eagle!

_LG22462American Bald Eagle

My new camera lens is a keeper!
These two eagle images are the best pictures I have ever taken of an eagle!

We sat and watched a group of Canadian Geese farther along on Wildlife Drive.

_LG22481Canadian Geese, quietly enjoying the pond

The quiet didn’t last for long!

_LG22482Noisy Canadian Geese!

_LG22487This duck had one of the Wildlife Drive ponds all to herself.

_LG22499Great Blue Heron

We stopped once again to admire the newly installed eagle monument.

_LG22529The eagle monument was built in honor the the 40th anniversary of New York State’s bald eagle
reintroduction program, which largely happened at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

_LG22532The eagle monument is visible from Interstate 90.

Leaving Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, we drove to Mt. Morris, NY.  We ate lunch at Brian’s USA Diner.  We selected this restaurant for lunch, based on its positive reviews. Yes, as stated by reviewers, the service was quick and friendly. Bob ordered a Reuben sandwich with Onion Rings. I ordered pulled chicken in a hoagie bun with potato salad. The restaurant reviews indicated that the portions were large. I agree. My pulled chicken hoagie sandwich was huge! My potato salad was heaped high in a small bowl. At first, Bob’s Reuben sandwich looked average size. He said, though, that there was lots of meat in his sandwich, so much meat that he could barely taste the dressing. Reviewers raved about the taste of the food. The food tasted okay, nothing really to boast about. Nothing to complain about either.

After lunch, we drove to nearby Letchworth State Park.  I will share details and photographs of Letchworth State Park in the next (and final) blog post I write about our East Syracuse NY weekend getaway.


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