Jake Egbert Photography Blog

Sailfest Fireworks - 2012

This was my third time watching the Sailfest fireworks in four years. The previous times I've watched from the waterfront district of New London and I was so close to the action that I struggled to keep the larger bursts in the frame. This year we found an ideal position from which to watch down at Fort Trumbull. There was much more space, fewer people, and two tall ships in the foreground, including the USCGC Eagle, which all added up to a great experience for me and the family. I'm pretty happy with how these shots turned out. Do you have a favorite picture from this gallery?
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4th of July Fireworks & Lightning

In accordance with annual tradition, my wife obtained a box of Wal-Mart's finest fireworks and we celebrated the 4th of July in grand style out in the driveway. The kids took turns writing messages with sparklers and flashlights and then we fired off the assorted fountains in grand style.

As we finished our fireworks show, the real fireworks began. A large storm cell rolled in and the kids camped out in the driveway to watch the lightning streaking across the sky accompanied by surround sound thunder claps.

No offense to our Wal-Mart fireworks, but Mother Nature seems to know how to put on a much more impressive show!

Girl with wings

Secret messages

Flashlight art

The grand finale

The real show
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9-11 Memorial

The evening before our latest trip to Manhattan, I logged in to the 9-11 Memorial website on the off chance that I might get reserved tickets to visit the site. I had tried and failed, on short notice, to get tickets in the past. We had to wait until after 4:30 PM, but we were able to get in without any trouble this time!

I wondered how my children would digest the experience as none of them are old enough to remember the day the towers fell. We've been to the site several times over the past ten years, and we watched several documentaries together as a family at the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center. As a result, my children were very aware of the significance of the 9-11 Memorial during our visit this time. It is always a bit difficult for me to sit through any of the documentaries as it brings back vivid memories of the devastation that I felt on 9-11-2001 when I saw the beloved Manhattan skyline and so many lives changed forever. Somehow it is easier for me to visit the site than to relive the news footage of the events of that day. And, I think the memorial will bring necessary awareness for generations to come of what occurred that clear September morning.

One of the specials we'd seen was about the design of the memorial with its pools, waterfalls, and engraved names. The kids were very interested in the significance of each small detail designed into the memorial.

It was a beautiful, if cold night, and we toured the site with reverence. We searched for a few names that we'd learned from one of the documentaries on the computer terminals they have set up for just that purpose and we located the sections where those names are engraved. Unfortunately, the names we found all happen to be located on the north edge of the North Tower pool -- the only side closed due to the construction on the Freedom Tower.

The new tower is rising taller and taller into its place in the Manhattan skyline and its floors are all lit up in red, white, and blue as a backdrop to the memorial pools and the growing inner-city forest of swamp oaks. One of the highlights for all of us was the survivor tree now located just to the west of the South Tower pool.

We were all humbled by the experience of visiting this beautiful memorial to one of the most impactful tragedies in our shared lifetimes. Of the many, many pictures I took, the following were the ones selected by my kids as being the "best" and most meaningful representation of our visit. If you ever get the chance to visit the 9-11 Memorial, I certainly recommend you take advantage of it.

South Tower Pool

The nearest row of swamp white oaks marks to each pool delineates the actual footprint of the original towers

The twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest man made waterfalls in North America

The Freedom Tower or One World Trade Center rises into the night sky

From the Memorial Jury's statement on selecting this design: "The 'Reflecting Absence' has made the voids left by the destruction the primary symbols of our loss"

The "Survivor Tree" is a callery pear that survived the destruction and was preserved for replanting.

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Christmas Time In the City

Despite warnings about record level crowds of tourists in New York City this holiday season we decided to try our luck in the Big Apple. We have guests in town for Christmas so we bundled up and headed for Rockefeller Center and the Christmas tree. There were crowds, but they weren't nearly as difficult to get around and through as I had feared.

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An Evening at Pilgrim's Landing

One evening back in July I was headed home pretty late from work and I noticed distant lightning flashing against what appeared to be a very clear night sky. I was up late already so I grabbed my camera and tripod and headed for Pilgrim's Landing on the Connecticut River near my home. Here are a few of the pictures I captured from the river's edge while an impressive storm front approached but never really arrived (I guess it passed to the North of us). It was sort of eery standing in the dark watching the clouds and the distant lightning while I waited for camera exposures. I was using a small flashlight and every time the light touched the shallow water it became a roiling mass of tiny eels. I assume they were American Eels as I know they are native to the local rivers. Unfortunately, my attempts to photograph the eels didn't turn out very well in the low light.

Bridge to Old Saybrook

Very similar to the first shot, this exposure resulted in a completely different color temp. I struggled to choose between these two shots for a fair photography contest... I chose this one and won a third-place ribbon at the Guilford Fair.

For a dark cloudy night, there were sure a lot of stars showing through


The canoe landing
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The Dark Night - In Irene's Wake

I have always been impressed by the sheer number of stars I can see on a clear night here in Old Lyme, CT. However, the night sky that followed Hurricane Irene was particularly impressive. With power out all day Sunday for miles around there was almost no discernible glare on the atmosphere from ground lighting. With flights in all the surrounding major cities grounded, there was not a single jet visible in the sky and no con trails anywhere.

I shot some long exposures and was mesmerized by the results I was getting.

In the earlier pictures you can see windows in my home lighted by a battery powered lantern on the ground floor and by a green glow stick in the upstairs bedroom (I couldn't even detect the light upstairs with my naked eye). The intermitent rows of clouds were really moving across the sky and the trees were still being whipped around by the wind. I left the shutter open while I went into the garage to rummage around in the minivan for my earphones (might as well listen to a book while standing for minutes at a time in the silent pitch-black night) and I captured the red LED arm band I was using to see the camera settings along with a surprising 90 degree shift in the direction the clouds were moving.

I captured the Big Dipper, Polaris, and the Little Dipper in several shots and then decided to see what I could get by shooting a few of the infrequent cars that ventured by on the highway.

I set up on the edge of the highway and started my first shot there, wondering how long it would be before another car wandered past. I was just settling in when the big street light right over my head burst suddenly (and loudly) to life, blinding me and nearly causing an involuntary bowel release! The house across the street was the next to explode in a blinding flash, followed in quick succession by each of the other homes on my street. I quickly aborted the shot I was making, certain that all the extra light had ruined it. Turns out I consider that particular shot a keeper. It serves as a reminder of how it felt to be standing out alone in the pitch black night after a day full of uncertainty and destruction when, against all odds, the power was restored. The adrenaline from the initial shock of the light and noise (ever noticed how loud street lights really are?) was soon replaced by an almost euphoric joy! We lost power early in the morning and based on the hundreds of downed trees we'd seen in the area I was convinced we wouldn't have power for days or weeks. (In fact, four days later there are homes within a mile of us that still don't have power.) Cell service was out and since we're on well water we didn't even have cold showers to look forward to in the coming days.

With the power unexpectedly restored my late-night photo shoot was abruptly ended. I headed back inside to reconnect the fridge and freezer to the house current. I plugged in cell phones and set alarm clocks. Then I spent over 20 minutes getting our well pump restarted.

What a day!

Latern in the Window

90 Degree Wind Shift
This shot was long enough to show the apparent rotation of the stars around the North Star off to the left of the frame.

Clouds fleeing over the neighbor's house

None of our trees fell in the storm, luckily

Big Dipper, Polaris, and the Little Dipper

Another shot of Ursa Major and about a million stars.
Can you tell which one is the North Star?

I like the effect of the lighter branches whipping around in the wind.


Long exposure rudely interrupted by the sudden restoration of power!

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After the Fireworks

After the sparklers and the fireworks had all burned out it was time to clean up. I left my camera on long exposure while we gathered up the leftover singed casings. I was pretty happy with a few of these. Do you have a favorite?

This was a shorter exposure where the stars appear pretty crisp.

This was a bit longer and captured two aircraft.
(Also, more lights were on in the house as the little people were scrubbing off the deet and heading for bed.)

Nice Evening

You can see the beginning of star trails in this longer exposure.
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The Best Fireworks Nineteen Dollars and Ninety Nine Cents Can Buy

Being that we can't buy real fireworks (legally) in our area I am pretty stingy with the amount of money I am willing to shell out for ground-bound fountains. That doesn't mean we didn't enjoy our little fireworks display. I was a bit disappointed that even the whistling devices were missing from our assortment this year, but my wife and the neighbors did not miss them!

Up close and personal with the *Giant Golden Shower*

Smaller than a AAA Battery...

Ooh, Sparkles!

It looks like the street is spewing lava.

Four AAA fountains

A few more tiny fountains

The *Grand* finale
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Graffiti on Fire

As part of our 4th of July celebration we broke out the sparklers and covered the neighborhood in brilliant temporary graffiti!

I asked one of the kids to bring me a flashlight while I was getting set up for sparklers and fireworks. Success!

Ghostly feet all over the street

The flaming swirling vortex of doom!

A 3D signature?

This one *is* a signature

Possibly my favorite of the sparkler set
Stay tuned for the fireworks show!
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Night of the Super Moon (Continued)

Here are a few additional shots from March 19, the night of the Super Moon. These pictures do not necessarily feature the moon so here they are in their own separate post! Do you like any in particular?

The crane on the left was in constant motion as it dredged the bottom of the harbor bringing up bucket after bucket of dripping mud.

Similar to the first shot but a much closer crop of the yacht club light house.

Steel water

Lynde Point Lighthouse over the reeds.

I left this exposure open long enough to capture a few stars and quite a bit of light flare. Blurry or interesting?

Super Full Moon

The Super Full Moon or Perigee Moon was the huge and bright over the Connecticut River

On March 19 the full Moon was rumored to be closer to the earth than it will be again for the next 20 years meaning it was going to look bigger than normal. I did a little research and learned that the giant Moon was going to rise shortly after 7:30 PM on Saturday the 19th. We found a spot on the shore of the Connecticut River in Old Saybrook to watch it. There was a bank of low clouds on the horizon so we didn't see the Moon until it was a little higher in the sky than I was hoping but it was still pretty large and impressive.

Several other photographers had the same idea as we did. As I was perched with my tripod at the end of a long dock I enjoyed listening to the bantering of an older couple set up only a few steps away from me. There were grumblings and expressions of frustration as he snapped picture after picture with his huge telephoto setup. They would peer at the digital display and I'd hear her say, "Oh, that one's blurry again." "That one was too long, it's blurry again!" My favorite was her muttering under her breath, "I can just see tomorrow's headlines, dear: Old Couple Found Frozen to Death On Dock in Old Saybrook! Can we just go now?" I was sort of sad to watch them pack up and shuffle back to their car and I wonder if any of their photos turned out.

Of course, none of the pictures I took of the Moon itself impressed me much. The Moon is usually so bright that I find it pretty difficult to capture in any detail. This night it was particularly bright. In most of these pictures the Moon is just a too-bright spot in the sky but I still like the overall results, particularly with all the docks at the yacht club and the glassy water of the Connecticut River.

The long exposure created a unique mirror effect on the water

The lights of Niantic and New London reflect pink on the clouds on the left side of this shot.

Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial

We made a trip to Vermont to see if there are still any colored leaves up here. We missed the peak leaf season but it is still beautiful. And cold! It dropped to 34 degrees just after dark!

We stopped at the Joseph Smith Jr. Birthplace Memorial in Sharon, VT. I was hoping to get there in time to shoot some photographs at sunset... Well, we missed that by about a half an hour. After the visitor center closed up I got out the tripod to play around with some night photography.


In this long exposure I was hoping to get some star trails around the North Star. You can see some starting, but the monument is so bright that any longer exposure would have washed out even more than this.

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