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Persistence and the end of summer – POTD

Labor Day has come and gone.  Summer doesn’t officially end until September 22, but for most Labor Day is the unofficial end of what many consider their favorite season of the year.  I, again like many folks, equate the summer with the beach.  Right, wrong, or indifferent….that’s what I do.  And it occurred to me just this morning that on all my social media platforms, this blog included, I’ve neglected to share a single beach scene or any non-Pittsburgh photo that just screamed summer.  Perhaps that’s because, for the first time and years, I visited zero beaches.  None.  Zip, zilch, zero.  But that’s okay.  I had an awesome trip to Disney World, took a nice long weekend family trip to Ohio, and had a couple trips to Washington, D.C. sprinkled in there as well.  They were all great times and in many ways they were better than a trip to the shore.  All that being said, though, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share a photo from the beach.  So with no further ado, please have a look at my absolute favorite beach scene I’ve ever photographed.  Persistence North Myrtle Beach South Carolina Ocean Sunrise c web blog srgb

The above scene was taken at the inlet at the border of North and South Carolina in Cherry Grove, Myrtle Beach.  Each morning the tide would fill the inlet and upon its retreat create some of the most amazing, intricate, and unique patters in the sand I’ve ever seen.  I can’t wait to get back…who knows – maybe a fall beach trip is in order!

Pittsburgh Blues – POTD and TBT

Pittsburgh Blues North Shore Reflection blog

Today for my photo of the day and Throwback Thursday, I’ve chosen my oldest photo of Pittsburgh that I offer on my website or at shows, “Pittsburgh Blues.”  It was taken all the way back in 2010.  I say that somewhat in jest – the photo was taken almost 4 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.  Anyhow, I took this photo from the North Shore about an hour after the sun had set.  It was a bit past blue hour, but as you can see it is still quite blue and cool.  Along with this photo, I took away a couple other things.  The first was that a long, or longer, exposure really helps to smooth out the reflections on a body of water.  At this point in my journey of photography, I had experimented with long water exposures, but mostly waterfalls so it was fun to try it with larger body of water that was moving, but not quite “rushing.”  My second takeaway was that night photography, especially in the city, will trick your camera’s sensor into underexposing your photo due to the bright city lights.  Set that exposure a little longer and you can really pull out the detail of the skyline while still keeping those highlights in check.


West End Moon – POTD

Earlier today I posted a poll over on Facebook to find out what folks would rather see…a photo of the Super Moon or a photo of the fog that rolled through last week.  I was expecting a Super Moon landslide but the fog held it’s own and the surprising contender wasn’t even an option…BOTH!  The Super Moon ended up winning so here it is! West End Moon - Pittsburgh Skyline Photograph Last night was an exercise in patience mixed with opportunity meeting preparation…or as some might call it, a bit of luck.  I spent a good hour on the West End Bridge waiting for the super moon to rear its 14% larger and 30% brighter head.  Just as the sun was beginning to hide and the moon should have been popping out the clouds moved in.  I could see the writing on the wall and it wasn’t a story I wanted to read.  I stayed anyway.  The clouds were close to the skyline so I thought maybe I’d catch the moon further in its arc above the city.  Luckily, though, the clouds parted and the moon was quite visible from the time it peaked above the skyline.  Thanks to some prior planning I knew where the moon would be rising and positioned myself accordingly.  When the moon finally came out to play, it glowed with a brilliant pinkish hue at first and turned to orange as it continued to rise, eventually turning bright white as you would normally see.  It rose very quickly and it was quite challenging to work the scene, but thanks to that bit of preparation, I was able capture a few photos of the beautiful scene before me.  As a photographer, a little preparation mixed with a little luck can take you a long way!

Adams Falls – POTD

After a heavy rain or the spring melt, this rock in the foreground is normally covered in water.  It was relatively dry this weekend allowing for some unique and intimate photo ops.

After a heavy rain or the spring melt, this rock in the foreground is normally covered in water. It was relatively dry this weekend allowing for some unique and intimate photo ops.

Adams Falls in Ricketts Glen is the lowest waterfall in the park.  It’s not the smallest drop, it is just the lowest in elevation.  It doesn’t lie on the Falls Loop Trail where the vast majority of the major falls can be found.  It’s actually quite easy to get to which is surprising in a sense because I always that the most beautiful places where the most difficult to get to 😛

Upon doing some research on Ricketts Glen upon my return from my trip, I learned that the flow of Kitchen Creek was actually quite low.  The lines in the rocks you see in my photo are only visible with the water level is low.  Most of the photos I’ve seen of this location, in fact, feature a heavier flow.  More water falling would mean that I would not be able to catch this perspective.  While shooting, I never had thought about the water level being higher and how it would effect my camera placement and setup, but looking forward I’m excited for a heavier rainfall so I can explore some new compositions.

In Search of Fog – POTD

Infinity Beyond South Side Pittsburgh Fog blog

Today was a long time coming.  One of the best natural elements or weather conditions to shoot in is, in my opinion, fog.  I’m always on the look out for it.  It adds an eerie mood to a photo and really translates well to monochrome.  The best fog I can remember in the city was late in 2011 and ever since I’ve been waiting for it again.  Well it came today…and it came with a vengeance.  I’m not going to get into great detail here today because I’ll be using the photos from today for my Kickstart blog post next Monday (sorry, no Kickstart today as I was unable to make it out last week 😦 ).  Anyhow, it was a pretty productive morning, starting on Mount Washington hitting three different overlooks, but the fog was far too dense.  I’m not one to miss an opportunity so I set out on a mission…I was going to shoot this fog.  I headed south and landed at the Smithfield Street Bridge.  It’s a great little bridge as the concrete barrier allows you to climb up and set up shop.  For this particular image, I wanted long and drawn out light trails.  The sun was rising quickly so my shutter speed was getting shorter and shorter.  As my exposure gets shorter, so go my light trails.  Luckily I was able to catch a few buses who didn’t have a problem speeding.  There quick pace allowed for a 2.5 second exposure with a nice elongated light trail.  The finished produce is actually two 2.5 second exposures stacked on each other.  Enjoy!

North Shore Bikers – POTD

North Shore Bikers Pittsburgh Trail Blog

Generally speaking, I like my photos of the city to be without people.  That may sound counterintuitive as cities are created by people and are intrinsically needed for the city to thrive, but that’s just how I prefer my photos.  That being said, every so often I get a request from a client wanting people to be in a few photos.  They don’t necessarily need to be the largest element in the frame or even prominently featured, but they want a human element present.  Sometimes (not all the time) I get pretty excited about these requests.  To me it represents a challenge and an opportunity to leave my comfort zone, if only for a few hours.  For this particular photo the client wanted bikers and they would probably prefer them on the North Shore Riverfront Trail.  Great!  I love the North Shore.  However, this photo was a bit of a struggle compositionally and there were lots of outtakes from several spots along the river.  I finally settled on a little open patch of grass below PNC Park.  I sat there, camera in position, waiting…and waiting…and waiting.  Bikes would pass but at the same time they’d cross with a jogger or another biker coming the other way.  After several attempts these two bikers crossed my path and I had the shot.  Personally, I think this photo would be very off balance if the bikers were not incorporated and that human element really completed the composition.  What do you think?

A REAL DREAM – Photo of the Day (POTD)

Cinderalla's Castle at Walt Disney World is a spectacle to see.  The reflections you can catch on either side (from the bridge to Tomorrowland or the bridge to Liberty Square) coupled with the lights at night paint (or photograph) one of the prettiest pictures you can imagine in the parks!

Cinderalla’s Castle at Walt Disney World is a spectacle to see. The reflections you can catch on either side (from the bridge to Tomorrowland or the bridge to Liberty Square) coupled with the lights at night paint (or photograph) one of the prettiest pictures you can imagine in the parks!


Hi there.  Any Disney fans out there?  Well there’s certainly one sitting at the keyboard typing what you’re reading!  I love just about all things Disney.  My favorite movie of all time is The Lion King – not my favorite cartoon, not my favorite Disney movie, but my favorite movie of ANY genre!  I love the parks.  I love the merchandise.  I love it!  And since I love all things Disney, as a photographer it stands to reason that I would love taking photos at Walt Disney World.  Well, guess what…I certainly do!  Walt Disney World has always been a dream to me.  I walk in to the parks and I know I’m there.  I know it’s real but I feel like I need to be slapped back into reality because it seems like a world completely enveloped in fantasy.  Maybe that’s what I love so much about it.  It is an escape.  Furthermore, with photography I feel like I can take it a step further.  I can portray the world I’m experiencing in an even more fantastical sort of way.  Ever seen the movie Inception?  That’s photography at Disney for me, a dream within a dream.  Only for me, I’m 100% sure it’s all real!

Winter’s Light – Photo of the Day and TBT

Welcome to the first edition of “Photo of the Day” here on the JP Diroll Photography blog.  My plan is to write a little blurb about a photo each day (almost 😉 I’m sure there will be days here and there that I’ll miss) and post it to to my social media sites as well as here.  To that end, I want to take a minute to thank all of you for the support for this idea.  I had mentioned on my Facebook page about the possibility of doing this and the overwhelming majority of you essentially said…”Go for it” or “I’ll definitely check it out.”  So again, thank you!  I hope you enjoy this endeavor.

Winter's Light

Without further ado, here is my first photo of the day (POTD from here on out!).  As it turns out, today is Thursday, but you all know that!  What you may or may not no is that Thursday is a widely considered “Throwback Thursday,” or TBT, on many of the social media platforms, especially Facebook and Twitter in my experience.  So I decided I’d kill two birds with one stone and make my very first POTD my very first TBT as well.  The photo you see above is called Winter’s Light.  It was taken on a very cold, snowy Saturday in January.  The reflection is surreal.  The sky is full interesting clouds.  And that light illuminating the Andy Warhol Bridge, well let’s just say I’ve never seen light so beautiful on that bridge since then.  And I spend a lot of time on the North Shore, and I do mean a lot!  Now I’ve shared this image a few times before across my various social media outlets, and if you’ve ever gotten a business card from me then you’ve certainly seen this photo.  It’s kind of my brand, if you will.  And for good reason.  It holds a very special place in my heart.  It is the first photo I received a great deal of attention for and gave me the confidence to continue down the path of becoming a photographer.  It made me want to MAKE photographs instead of TAKE photographs.  It ultimately helped my vacation become my vocation…or is it the other way around 😛 ?  For me it’s a bit of both!   Ever since this photo, it’s been pretty much full throttle and I don’t intend on easing up off the pedal any time soon.  I want thank each and every one of you reading this for the support and I hope you’ll join me on the ride!