Photography

FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER: Jay Gao

Jay Gao

Hometown: Stony Brook

Photographer: When empty-nested, I bought myself a Nikon D750 camera, my first DSLR, at the end of 2015 as a New Year’s gift. Before that, I had experience in using compact point and shoot cameras.

Favorite camera: Nikon D750, an entry-level full-frame DSLR. I love its strength in low-light performance. 

Favorite lenses: For wildlife, I mostly use Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary, and for travel I like to use Nikon 24-120mm f/4. When shooting flowers, I prefer to use Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G.

Favorite locations: I love to visit the Stony Brook Mill Pond and Stony Brook Harbor with my camera. It is a beautiful place all year round and there are so many kinds of birds. As a matter of fact, this is mostly where I have been practicing my bird shots. My other favorite spots include my backyard, West Meadow Beach, Nissequogue River State Park and Sunken Meadow State Park.

Have you entered any photo contests? I won first place in the 2018 Better Newspaper Contest of New York Press Association; was selected to exhibit in the Oversea Chinese History Museum in Beijing by the committee of the 4th World Overseas Chinese Photography Exhibition (2019); and won in the “China’s City View” theme of Impression of China photography contest in 2020, although the display was canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Favorite aspect about taking photos: I enjoy going out and shooting with my camera. In addition to appreciating and sharing of the beauty of mother nature, you can benefit from the fresh air and physical exercise.

Best advice to get that perfect shot: 

Go out often and enjoy. When shooting birds, pay attention to the background and try to get close to their eye levels. I mostly use these camera settings: manual mode (1/1200 s, f8 and auto ISO), single point continuous focus and continuous shooting. I love to use the back button focus.

‘Ballerina on Malecon, Cuba’ by Roni Chastain received an Honorable Mention (People Category) in last year’s contest.

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack has announced it is extending the deadline for submissions to its 27th annual photo contest to July 1 in light of the stay-at-home order that has been in place during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Garnering submissions from across the globe, the unique contest offers amateur photographers and students an opportunity to be recognized for their work, as well as the chance to make an impact on the lives of those who live at the 460-bed nursing and rehabilitation center. 

Winning photos are placed on permanent display in the Center’s Tiffen Photo Gallery for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike. 

“We understand that the many social distancing orders in place for the sake of safety may make it difficult for some contestants to capture the ideal shots they would like to submit. We are hoping to accommodate our many talented photographers by extending the submission deadline until June 15th,” said Dennine Cook, Chief Public Relations Officer at Gurwin, and creator of the renowned photo contest.

“We encourage all those participating to proceed with caution and take advantage of the warm weather!” added Cook.

Traditionally, a reception has been held at the Gurwin Center where winning photographers are presented with their cash prizes, award certificates and/or trophies. An award ceremony is anticipated to be held in the fall, with event details available at a later date.   

Applications are available at www.gurwin.org/about/photo-contest/ or by calling 631-715-2575.

This article was updated on June 12 to reflect a change in the deadline date.

Tom Caruso
Favorite quote: ‘Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.’ — Ansel Adams

FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER: Tom Caruso

Hometown: Smithtown

Day job: Professional Software Engineer/Development Manager, Broadridge Financial Solutions

Photographer: I developed an interest in photography at an early age, influenced by greats like Ansel Adams. My parents gave me my first 35mm camera in 1972 and my life was forever changed.

Favorite camera: The Nikon D850. I purchased it in December, 2018, and it’s an amazing camera with an incredible sensor.

Favorite lenses: I presently own two lenses for the D850. My walking around lens is an AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm 1:4 G ED and I found this to be a great workhorse giving me the flexibility I need for most shots. When I need tack-sharp images for macros or in dark settings I switch to my AF-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 G prime lens. Both lenses were refurbished by Nikon when I purchased them.

Favorite locations: I am fortunate to have several beautiful places near my Smithtown home and I visit them frequently to catch them at various times of day and different seasons. These places include Caleb Smith State Park Preserve, Long Beach, Short Beach, Blydenburgh County Park, The David Weld Sanctuary, Stony Brook Harbor, Stony Brook Duck Pond, Kings Park Psychiatric Center and Nissequogue River State Park.

Have you entered any photo contests? My first photo contest was the 2020 Friends of Caleb Smith State Park Preserve The Beauty of Caleb Smith State Park Preserve My image “Deer in Snowstorm” won Honorable Mention in the adult division. I also entered the 2020 Gurwin photo contest. The winners will be announced later this year.

Favorite aspect about taking photos: Landscape and nature photography gives me the opportunity to be outdoors. I love communing with nature and I am happiest when I am wandering in the woods with my camera in hand on a beautiful autumn day. Another aspect of photography I enjoy is knowing that my images bring happiness to others.

Best advice to get that perfect shot: There are a lot of photographic rules that we are told make a great photograph. I sometimes adhere to them but I shoot more on instinct. I know a great shot when I see it whether or not it follows the rules. Always keep your eyes wide open and moving when on a shoot. When in the wild with your camera you have to engage all your senses to find your next capture, not just sight. A faint sound of a crunching leaf turned out to be a snake which lead to one of the photos in this essay. The enormity of a forest can be intimidating but you have to see everything from the largest to the smallest subjects, from a mighty tree to a delicate spider web and all things in between. It is not enough to see the image for what it is but you have to visualize what it could become when post processing. If you do these things you don’t have to look for the perfect shot: it will find you. 

See more of Tom’s photos at www.tomcarusophotography.com.