Farewell to Summer, Cape May, New Jersey

Sue and I had a chance to escape for a long weekend at a beach house in Cape May, New Jersey. This is something we try to do every September as a sort of farewell to Summer.

The town itself is full of photography opportunities with splendid sunsets, and charming beach houses. Many are painted with bright Crayola colors. I brought along a tiny 37mm Hoya circular polarizer to help accentuate these scenes. 

On the first night, I found the colors of dusk even more spectacular than the actual sunset. The Olympus performed like a champ, focusing on my subjects in near darkness. 

The next morning I took my grad ND filter along and looked for ways to show the interesting architecture of the homes. The sun was largely obscured by heavy cloud cover, but it did break through on occasion. 

I just wasn't feeling the landscape vibe, so I turned my attention to a dog show on the boardwalk. Within a few moments we came across a really cute bunch of dogs sporting sunglasses. Anytime I'm photographing animals, wildlife, or even children, I get down very low. This puts you into their world and offers a much better perspective. The tilt screen on the Olympus came in handy here to compose from the ground.

Raindrops eventually fell, and since the camera is not waterproof I had to bail out and jog back to our rental. While these showers continued for most of the day, it set the stage for the next morning. I woke to crisp Autumn air, brisk enough for a sweatshirt, but warm enough to still wear shorts. I immediately noticed the sun bathing a tree in warm light and used the polarizer to do a before and after.

Before filter

Before filter

With Polarizing Filter

With Polarizing Filter

In addition to the great light, I was perhaps most interested in these large rain puddles from the previous day. By getting right up next to them, and getting down low, they almost appeared to be lakes, perfect for reflecting the surrounding homes. Pedestrians may have thought I was weird, but I've long ago stopped caring about what people think. Show me a great puddle with terrific reflections, and I'll happily photograph it until all angles are exhausted. 

My focus was then back to the light, and I found many American flags backlit on cute victorian porches surrounded by wooden picket fences. It reminded me of a Rockwell painting where you can practically smell the Apple Pie baking inside. 

As the breeze picked up from the ocean, I photographed a few more flags at f22 to create a sunburst. This is similar to squinting your eyes and looking at the sun. With the aperture opening closed down so dramatically, light scatters into impressive beams. 

I kept walking and found more homes, once again trying the polarizer to make the sky more dramatic. If you're not careful it's very easy to overdo the effect. I try to twist the filter until the effect is at its strongest, and then I back off slightly by rotating it the other way. I must admit, it's really amazing to have this kind of creative control on such a tiny camera. I saw a few other folks walking with their DSLRs. Yet, at no point did I miss having mine. In fact, I felt more creatively agile working with a small mirrorless body and a lightweight prime lens. 

TravelogueChris Corradino