Jake Egbert Photography Blog

Sea School Beluga Day

One of the best things about preschool at the Sea School is that the students get to spend time with sea critters. My son has come home with stories about petting sting rays, sharks, sea stars, penguins, and now, belugas. Once each quarter the students get to watch the beluga caretakers run the big white sea mammals through their daily routines. The whales make lots of "interesting sounds" that elicit giggles from the preschoolers. They enjoy tummy rubs from the trainers, and of course they eat loads and loads of fish and squid (the whales, that is, most of the children flat out refuse to eat raw squid and the staff members generally avoid giving tummy rubs to students...) It is quite entertaining to see the kids' reactions when a large beluga invades their personal space, or to watch a child shush a squeaking whale.

Up close and personal with a whale 

Shhh!  You're making too much noise! 

Spray it, don't say it 

Saying hello 

Flukes up! 

Waving goodbye 

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Harvard Rocks

Here are a few photos from a recent trip we took to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. I posted more words about this visit on our family blog, where as on this site today I shall keep the focus more on the photos.

I was happy that this photo captured the iridescence of this Labradorite

The rocks only held the smaller children's attention for a short time, then to the window they went!


Delighted to watch the Harvard campus

Bruneau Canyon Jasper

Three in a row

He's... right... there!!!

In the maze of old stuffed animals

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A Little More Sugar

A while back I posted a brief concert review along with a gallery of photos from the Sugar concert that I attended at Esker Point Beach. They are some of my favorite concert pictures and I even submitted a few of them in fair photography competitions this past fall with some success. Well, this week the band came across my blog post and photos online. I guess they liked what they saw because I am now featured on the brand new Sugar Band event website in their official photo gallery, and in the reviews section. There's even a link to my blog under vendors! I have to admit, it's a slick looking site and I am flattered to be included on it!

Who knows? I may even get a chance to photograph the band again sometime soon, this time by invitation!

Part of my concert review on the Sugar site... Looks pretty official, eh?

One of the many shots I posted before

The color version of the shot Israel picked for the background of my quote
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Salmon River Trail

I'm taking a break from city photography posts for today. In late October Grandpa, several grand kids, and I piled into the van and headed for the hills of Eastern Central Connecticut. One of my coworkers had described hiking on the Salmon River Trail in Colchester, CT and I was curious to see it. My kids love to hike our local nature trails and they really enjoyed this longer hike with it's steeper hills and scenic views.

The trail starts at the Comstock Covered Bridge, one of only a handful of historic covered bridges remaining in Connecticut, which is currently closed for renovation. For a short distance the trail follows closely along side the broad and shallow Salmon river which appears to be perfectly suited for fly fishing. Then the trail gains altitude until it eventually crests the edge of the river gorge, offering panoramic views of the colorful forested hills and rapids in the bend of the river, now far below. We could hear ATVs in the hills across the river, and smoke from a camp fire rose in stark white contrast against the darker woods.

We hiked a couple of miles and only turned around when it became apparent that we were going to be hiking back in the dark. We watched the sun dip over the horizon from the overlook. The ATVs had by then gone silent but the boisterous and festive voices of the riders carried clearly in the crisp evening air. The flash of fireworks created distant silhouettes on the smoke that still hung over and through the trees next to the river. We resumed hiking through the descending darkness, arriving back at the van just as the last remnants of light faded from the sky.

We'll have to come back next season to hike clear through to Day Pond State Park.

Salmon River, Colchester, CT

Mushroom City


Kids in a row

Light on the trail ahead

Sepia Sunset

This hiker loved being on the trail

Grandpa and his troop of hikers

This was about the last light I could capture with the camera

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Bunker Hill Monument - Boston

The Bunker Hill Monument sits atop Breed's Hill in Charlestown, MA (that's where the battle Bunker Hill actually took place). This granite obelisk stands an impressive 221 feet tall. The first major commemorative monument built in the United States, it is a reminder of the first major conflict between Colonial forces and the British in the Revolutionary war.

I've been to the monument several times before but this was the first time we happened to arrive before closing time. As it turns out, when you visit during normal business hours you can climb the 294 steps that rise in a tight spiral to a small observation deck at the top of the monument. My two boys hiked with gusto, counting off the conveniently labeled stairs on their way to the top. The three-year-old mentioned a few times that it was "a lot of stairs" but he didn't slow down until he hit the traffic jam that began on the last four steps. He certainly seemed less winded than I did by the experience!

Bunker Hill Monument from a few blocks away

Tall Tower / Short Boys

Looking up

Looking down. An steam powered elevator was used to lift construction materials up the center column but it was removed in 1844 to the detriment of out-of-shape photographers with mountain goats for children.

Resting up in preparation for the trip back down those 294 steps!

The Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge is visible through the smudged and weathered windows at the top of the monument in the last light of the day

During a celebratory firing in 1821 a hole was blown in the side of the cannon on display on the observation platform

Down we go!

The Bunker Hill Monument is at the the north end of the Freedom Trail, a fantastic self-guided walking tour through all the historic highlights of Boston. Just follow the red brick line through the city (not shown here because I was practically standing on it to take this).

A candid capture of the family also inadvertently captures some Bunker Hill lovin' that I didn't notice until I downloaded these at home...

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USS Constitution - Boston

October 22, 2011 we took my parents to visit Boston and one of the highlights of the trip was touring "Old Ironsides" at the Charlestown Navy Shipyard. The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world (there is one older commissioned war ship in England, HMS Victory, but it is in permanent dry dock and no longer afloat...)

The sky was a bit threatening, which made for some pretty good contrast in the cloud cover. Last time we climbed aboard for a tour the top deck was covered by a canopy and the masts were not in place while they were doing some sort of maintenance. This time the ship was moored with its bow pointed towards Boston Harbor, and its masts were all in place. Another difference this time was that they didn't limit the size of each tour group. This meant that there was a much shorter wait but the tour was a bit less extensive than when they send smaller groups through.

Probably the biggest difference, though, is that last time I wasn't shooting on manual settings. This means my below-deck shots now have much better exposure and contrast without popping a flash. What do you think of them?

Tall masts reaching into gray skies

Sepia life ring

Our energetic enlisted tour guide, proud active member of the US Navy

I don't think the cannon mounts were meant to hold little boys, but don't tell him that

Stairways to the upper deck

I was amazed to get a shot of our tour guide and an otherwise empty deck as our group filed back up the stairs

Rows of cannons

The coils of rope are almost decorative

Tourists are encouraged not to play with the cannon balls

My son takes a turn steering the ship

Hello? Anyone down there?

Looking out into Boston Harbor

Not everything about the visit to the ship yard was positive, though. After the tour I stood at the stern of the ship taking in the entire scene. Imagine my dismay, nay, dare I say HORROR, when I spotted some clown greeting Navy personnel and walking around like he owned the place!

Raise your hand if you find this photo disturbing.
(Note to parents: If you wallpaper a young child's bedroom with circus clowns, they may just grow up loathing them... I'll have to ask my brother some time if that's true. Of course my wallpaper featured Butch Cassidy and a bunch of cowboys and I still don't care for those that dabble in the clowning arts.)

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Wall St. - Occupied

Ok, I think this might do if for photo posts about New York City for a while... We'll see.

On the day I encountered the Occupy protesters in September I took a walk down Wall Street past the New York Stock Exchange, still not expecting the barricades or the police presence that brought foot traffic to a near gridlock condition. The protest movement was still pretty new and the atmosphere outside of the exchange was electric. There were hundreds of police officers in the area and the expectation of trouble was palpable. I didn't see anything that approached violence, but I sure heard a lot of the local business people complaining about the crowds, the barricades, and the police presence.

Near the end of the trading day the intersection in front of the NYSE was kept clear except for police officers and limousines

To keep the street clear, all foot traffic was barricaded down to the narrow sidewalks

More cops than traders

A couple of NYPD's finest texting to maintain their sanity while guarding the bull

Tourists still lined up for photos with the bull, they just had to reach over a fence to do it

Freedom Tower on Sept. 21, 2011

Compare the progress on the new tower's construction in this shot taken on December 16, 2011

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Occupy Wall Street

On September 17, 2011 the Occupy Wall Street protest movement began in earnest in Zuccotti Park just a couple of blocks away from the New York Stock Exchange and the World Trade Center. On September 21, 2011 I wandered right through Zuccotti Park, completely unaware of the Occupy movement and the purpose behind the large group of protesters covering the entire city block.

Below are a few images that I think illustrate the experience.

From what I picked up by observation, I gather that I actually agree with some of the major points of the Occupy "agenda", whatever agenda really exists. I mean who doesn't side with those opposed to corporate corruption driven by greed. Mostly, however, it seemed like the movement was pretty much open to anyone with a beef against anything. I felt that if I were to sample any five protesters, I'd get five very different descriptions of what the movement was really about.

Most of the protesters appeared dedicated and energetic. They had covered most of the sidewalks surrounding their camp in the park with colorful and creative cardboard signs, some of which were carefully crafted, others of which were crudely scrawled in magic marker. There was a makeshift kitchen set up in the middle of the block and the "active" protesters were gathered toward the east end of the park right next to the bus stop. Old men played flutes, young men wearing joker makeup smoked hand rolled cigarettes of dubious composition, a large group of musicians played percussion on whatever they had available from snare drums, to buckets, to skate boards. More than one of the female protesters boldly wore... well, not much of anything, and friends, there are some things you just can't un-see. I learned there are also things you can't un-smell; this when I moved in close to a group of participants listening with rapt attention to an outspoken and zealous opinion leader wearing a red tie -- no showers in Zuccotti Park, I presume!

Overall, I guess I was left with an impression that the movement consisted largely of peaceful, unwashed, disorder.

My favorite sign of the day

Are you pretty enough?

Play your drum, or whatever else you have at hand


One Sign (Made Cheap!)

Where's Waldo... Don't look too closely or you might just spot someone smokin' something "medicinal". Oh, and a couple of unwashed naked people...

Some Wall Street types showed their contempt for the protesters by marching directly over the signs on display

Drawing inspiration from the Bible

The American Dream

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Liberty State Park

Here are few of my favorite shots from a September visit to Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ. These were some of my earliest sepia conversions in Lightroom. Loooking at them three months later they now strike me as slightly "over processed" but still interesting.

Manhattan Island from Jersey City

The Communipaw Terminal with it's deteriorating ferry docks is the NJ gateway to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty

1 World Trade Center - September 21, 2011

Lady Liberty over Ellis Island

Ellis Island - Black & White Conversion

Statue of Liberty

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Empty Sky: NJ Sept. 11th Memorial

In keeping with my recent New York posts I continue with another. I suspect there are a few more yet waiting to be published...

In September of this year I had the opportunity to visit the Empty Sky: New Jersey September 11th Memorial at Liberty State Park. I come back to this area often as I lived in New Jersey for two years back in the mid 1990's and several months of that time were spent right here in Jersey City. I came to love the view of the Manhattan skyline visible from nearly everywhere in the eastern part of the state. I am still not used to the absence of the towers.

I was not aware of this memorial's existence prior to my arrival at the park. I just wanted to look at the city skyline and to let a friend of mine see the Statue of Liberty for the first time. I like it, though. I'm sure I'll go back again, and likely more than once.

Reflecting on an empty sky where the towers once stood

1 World Trade Center or Freedom Tower as of September 2011

Beams from WTC

The two walls of the memorial are the same length as the base of the twin towers. The height of the walls reflects the proportion of the towers if they were lying on their sides.

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Trinity Church & Wall St.

On our recent trip to NYC we also visited the Wall Street area of Manhattan. We walked around and through Trinity Church and then headed down Broadway to see the iconic Wall Street sculpture Charging Bull. Unfortunately, the bull is still under constant police surveillance and barricaded to prevent anyone from approaching it. We walked back a few blocks until we could skirt the truck barricades and crowd-control fencing and walk past the front of the New York Stock Exchange, a tree that appears bigger than the one at Rockefeller Center, and Federal Hall.

Many of the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters have moved on now that Zuccotti Park has been cleared out (eventually I may get around to posting some of the pictures that I happened to take during the first week of the protests back in September). Anyway, the police presence at the NSYE is considerably smaller now but the barricades there, just like at the bull, still remain in place. I suppose most of the cops have migrated north with the crowds flocking to Times Square and Rockefeller Center.

Trinity Church - Looking South on Broadway

Ashes from a thousand candles

Bull Pen -- The Charging Bull sculpture is guarded and fenced off from tourists

Now that's a Christmas tree

George Washington surveys the NYSE from the steps of Federal Hall

"Integrity Protecting the Works of Man" -- Pediment sculpture by John Quincy Adams Ward

Hello, there George

Trinity Church looking west up Wall Street

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Carlo's Bake Shop - Hoboken

Carlo's Bake Shop sits nearly hidden on Washington Street (or I guess it has technically been renamed Carlo's Bakery Way) in Hoboken, NJ. You might walk right past and completely miss the little shop... if it weren't for the crowds of people lined up for a city block and half, that is. Thanks, in large part, to the successful TLC special "Cake Boss" people come from miles around for a chance to elbow their way up to the glass cabinets and sample cupcakes, chocolate cannolis, lobster tails, and countless other pastries.

As we wandered through Hoboken a couple of weeks ago, however, we discovered that the line that morning consisted of a mere five people! We glanced down the block, but there was no sign of the typical queue along side the CVS. A stop at the bakery was not even in our plans (we were headed to Manhattan) but you just don't pass up on these treats when there's no line to get in. It's just not done!

So, we waited in line for mere minutes before we were ushered in. Then we realized that there was no line because half of Hoboken had already crammed themselves into the tiny bake shop! I understand that this is typical and part of the mystique surrounding the Carlo's experience. Somehow the cupcakes taste better if you have to fight your way up to the cabinet, pushing, shoving, biting if necessary... Somehow, the chocolate on the cannoli tastes even richer after being crammed into a box by a loud, gloveless Italian-American bakery clerk!

Are the pastries overrated? Maybe. But you won't convince my kids of that! We enjoyed every last crumb!

This photo is taken thousands of times a day in some form or another

Longing... For so long!

Mmm... Chocolate!

La Famiglia

I want the blue one!

The Crowd. Some were patient and kind. Some were not.

Are these really worth standing in this line for?

Worth it!

Darth Vader prefers the dark cakes

Lobster Tail

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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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Kids and Kites

One way to salvage a cold windy picnic for the kids is to produce a kite that flies like a dizzy swallow all hopped up on Red Bull and turn them loose! My friend Jared produced just such a kite and several kids miraculously and immediately forgot all about the cold for the better part of an hour!

This kid nearly joined the kite in the wind coming of Long Island Sound.

The kite just flew tight dive-bombing corkscrews at random

It'll be right back for...

...another strafing run

Lean into it, or fly with it!

This pass leaves little smiling bodies strewn about the Harkness Park lawn

Smile at the wind
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Harkness Park Seascapes

Here are a few shots from Harkness State Park taken at a windy picnic I attended in the middle of October. A few of my friends have already seen these none of them made it to my photo blog... until now, that is. You like?

B/W Conversion

Wedding Pavilion - Too Windy for Vows

Texture and Light

My favorite of the day.
This is probably the highest surf I've yet seen on Long Island Sound. Usually our waves are small.

Probably too similar to the last one to justify posting but I like the way it is framed so here it is anyway...
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Lynde Point Lighthouse Sunset

I was scanning through photos tonight and these shots of the Lynde Point Lighthouse in Old Saybrook caught my eye. On October 6 I was headed home from baseball practice with my son and we just had to stop and capture this sunset. I set up a tripod and let my 8-year-old trip some of the 6 to 10 second exposures, so I guess he technically took a few of these. I have to admit I am thrilled when I see my kids getting excited about this stuff.

We missed the really brilliant moments of the sunset by about 5 minutes so as good as these look they could have been incredible.

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Boston LDS Temple - 11-11-11 - Again

Tried this yesterday and the pictures didn't upload correctly. This is my second attempt today to post them and it looks like this time the photos might just come through...

I just processed a pile of pictures I took of the Boston LDS Temple on 11-11-11 and here are a handful of my favorites. I may post a few more later as I only made it half way through the batch.

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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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