Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Adventures in Photography: Just Like Heaven


 
 
 
 
Adventures in Photography: Just Like Heaven

Photography is expression.   Expression of emotion.    Photography is communication on a level that is not defined or tarnished by words.   It is a primal expression of the essence of the subject.

This image was made during the first sunrise that I had seen in Acadia National Park for nearly two years.   Acadia is a place that calls and beckons to me.   I have returned to its welcoming shores many times.   Always with great excitement! 

This day break was no different.   Waking at 3:45AM, I made my way to the renowned Otter Cliffs to enjoy the earliest sunrise in the United States.    My anticipation grew steadily as I noticed light clouds and fog on the horizon.   Clouds and fog often make for the most fantastic sunrises.   

As I travelled along Ocean Drive, I opened my windows to savor the fragrance of the pines and the sea.    My anticipation was almost palpable.   

Listening to the waves roll against the shore and hearing the small boulders churning with a deep rumble thrilled me.   I made my way to the water’s edge.   Quickly I set my camera and then I waited for nature’s show.

As the sky lightened, the clouds turned a multitude of hues announcing the impending arrival of the sun.   Looking to the east, I eagerly created an image as the sun broke the horizon.   I made a twenty second exposure to create an ethereal fog effect with the ocean waves.   This represented the timelessness of the beautiful scene before me.   Selecting f16, the sun’s rays were diffracted into a beautiful starburst. 

Witnessing the scene before me, I felt at peace.   There was vibrancy to the land and sea.   I was at ease with my surroundings and in harmony with the earth and sky.   Appreciating the moment and conveying these emotions in a photograph was my goal.

Later, while I was processing this image, I showed it to my wife Brenda.   With a sharp intake of breath, she exclaimed “It’s just like Heaven!”   At that point, I knew that I had succeeded.    Brenda was able to see and understand much of what I had felt that morning.   While I did not specifically try to convey my interpretation of Heaven, I was trying to share emotions and ideas that many associate with Heaven.  Timelessness and peacefulness were on my mind and I am often moved to pray and offer thanks when I witness the beauty of nature.   These feelings were made obvious in the resulting image.

This Month’s Tip:  Photography can be so much more than simply making a pretty picture.   Try to get in harmony with your inner most feelings.   Then find a way to tell your story.    Your images will improve and your experience will be enriched.   At its best, photography is about communicating your innermost spirit.

Greg Lessard will be leading a three day photography tour to Acadia National Park.   You can learn more about this trip by visiting his blog at: http://blog.greglessardphotography.com/2014/05/fall-photo-tour-in-acadia-national-park.html

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cape Cod Canal - Celebrating 100 Years!


The Cape Cod Canal was officially opened on July 29, 1914.   The idea for the canal is commonly credited to Myles Standish nearly 400 years ago!!   The journey through the canal saves shipping traffic over 100 miles and at least a day's journey.   To say that the canal has been a major improvement to commerce for Massachusetts and New England is an understatement.

Local community members formed a committee to plan a variety of celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the canal.   Perhaps one of the highest attended events was a firework show over the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge.   This fantastic event was sponsored by philanthropist David Mugar.  

In addition to lighting the railroad bridge, a firework barge was positioned near the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.   With two tall ships at the academy, the Kalmar Nyckel and the Mystic, there was a magical ambiance to the evening.   With the fireworks exploding over the academy docks, the scene looked like it was the set for a movie.



Making these images was a lot of fun and a little bit tricky.   The fireworks were being launched from two different locations.   Switching back and forth from one scene to the other was not ideal, but it did offer a little variety.   The firework show was so prodigious that it was hard to make an excellent exposure of the fireworks and the docks.   The docks and the tall ships were generally underexposed and the fireworks were overexposed.   Originally I tried for longer shots of 10 seconds or more in order to give plenty of light to the ships and the dock.  I had hoped to use a relatively low ISO to minimize noise.  There were so many fireworks, that long exposures were simply blowing out the highlights.   Using my Nikon D 7000 I switched to higher ISO's such as 1600 and 3200.  This allowed me to correctly expose the dock and the ships.   It also gave me the opportunity to isolate individual fireworks with shorter exposures of 1/5 of a second.  

One of the mantras of photography is to be persistent.   Perhaps my favorite image of the evening was made with the last firework of the night.    Near the end of the firework show, I knew that I had made excellent shots from my original vantage point.   I took a risk and moved approximately 100 yards and reset my focus.   This allowed me to show more of the docks and tall ships, which truly made the scene!



Many photographers might be surprised to learn that I used f stop 2.8 for my final image.   Using one of my favorite lenses, the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8, I had positioned myself far enough away from the scene that it didn't require a large depth of field to make this image work.  The additional light helped to correctly expose the docks and it allowed me to use a faster shutter speed.  Night photography is often a game of compromise.   In other words, using a shallow depth of field allowed me to use a faster shutter speed.   In addition, I set my white balance to tungsten which helped to make a cooler blue cast on the images.

Post processing was easy.  I used Lightroom, Nik Color Effects Pro and Nik Viveza to adjust levels, minimize noise and to maximize sharpness.   Photographing such a unique event was well worth the effort!   For more info on upcoming Cape Cod Canal 100th anniversary events, visit this website: http://capecodcanalcentennial.com/events/

You can join me on a fall photo tour to Acadia National Park by visiting my blog here: http://blog.greglessardphotography.com/2014/05/fall-photo-tour-in-acadia-national-park.html

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Star Trails Over Jordan Pond


On my latest trip to Acadia National Park, I was acutely aware of time.   My family had one precious week to stay in one of our favorite places.   Our daughter was 9 months old and growing stronger every day!   The ocean waves at Thunder Hole were arriving approximately every ten seconds in a relentless pounding of the seemingly eternal pink granite shore line.   Every where we visited, time was on my mind.   It became a major theme in my portfolio of this journey.  

On my last night of the trip, I visited Jordan Pond to create an image with star trails.   This beautiful wheel of time has been spinning over Acadia for thousands of years.   It has presided over the glacial actions that formed this beautiful landscape.   It was present when the Abenaki people first visited these verdant summer hunting grounds.   The stars above are as close to eternal as we mere humans can comprehend.

This scene is one of the iconic, clich├ęs of Acadia National Park.   Two Adirondack chairs romantically overlooking Jordan Pond and the famous Bubbles has been photographed numerous times.   By photographing at night, I hoped to put my own spin on the famous scene.

This is the lawn that the wealthy and famous rusticators reposed on during the Gilded Age.   The most powerful Americans at the turn of the last century came here as a way stop on their journeys from one side of Mount Desert Island to the other.   They would drink tea and eat popovers to refresh themselves on their long carriage rides.  Today, one of the highlights of Acadia National Park is to enjoy a popover (I prefer them lathered in strawberry jam or ala mode:) and take in the incredible views from the lawn.   It is hard not to imagine Jordan pond a century ago.

Acadia is well known as one of the best spots for star gazing on the east coast.   The island hosts an annual star gazing festival each September.   The bright stars allowed me to make this star trail image even with a full super moon!   I often try to use the moon as a natural lighting source for my night images.   Of course, the brighter the moon is, the less bright the stars will appear to be.   It is a testament to the dark skies of Downeast Maine that these stars can be seen so clearly.

This fall I will lead a three day photography tour to Acadia National Park.   We will definitely visit Jordan Pond.  If the skies are clear, I will lead an optional night photography session during the tour.   I hope you will join me on this tour to experience the timelessness of Acadia for yourself.   To sign up for the tour, please call the South Shore Science Center at 781 659 2559.  You can find out more about the tour by visiting my earlier blog post here: http://blog.greglessardphotography.com/2014/05/fall-photo-tour-in-acadia-national-park.html

You can also visit the South Shore Science Center website here: http://southshorenaturalsciencecenter.org/event/photographing-acadia-national-park/








Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Surreal


On a recent trip to Acadia National Park, I was very fortunate to witness one of the most beautiful sunrises at Otter Cliffs.   There were plenty of clouds in the sky with just enough space for the sun to peak out and color the clouds and sea a very vibrant pink. 

There was one other person at this iconic setting to view this beautiful scene.  He and I could hardly believe that we were the only two people in America to witness this glorious moment in nature.   Just before the sun broke over the horizon, the pink of the sky was reflected onto the sea.   For a few brief moments, the land and sea was transformed into an other worldly scene.

The chance to return to one of my favorite places and commune with nature rejuvenated a piece of my soul.   Seeing God's creation and witnessing his glory is truly an uplifting experience!   My hope is that you will view this image and be inspired to get up early for a sunrise or stay out late for a sunset and experience the wonder of nature too.

In October, I will be returning to Otter Cliffs as part of my three day fall photography tour that I will be leading for the South Shore Science Center.   There are still some spaces available.  You can read more about this trip here http://blog.greglessardphotography.com/2014/05/fall-photo-tour-in-acadia-national-park.html   I do hope that you will join me on what will surely be a fantastic adventure!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Adventures in Photography: Proliferation of the Wild Turkey


Adventures in Photography: Proliferation of the Wild Turkey

Eastern wild turkeys have been successfully reintroduced to Massachusetts.  After having been extirpated from Massachusetts for more than 100 years, the turkeys are now abundant.   Reintroduction programs from the 1970’s through the 1990’s have restored this bird as part of our natural heritage.

As a kid, a wild turkey in eastern Massachusetts was nothing more than a legend.   Like the bald eagle, the turkey was a myth.   The descendants of the Pilgrims had eaten all of the turkeys in Massachusetts.   I would fantasize about seeing wild turkeys and bald eagles much as the Pilgrims and Native Americans had.   Fortunately, due to conservation and wildlife management efforts, that childhood fantasy is now a reality.

According to Massachusetts government surveys, there are approximately 20,000 wild turkeys living in our state.   This is only fitting considering the history of our nation and the prominence of Massachusetts in the story of Thanksgiving.    

This spring, I returned to what I consider to be a hotspot for viewing and photographing wild turkeys.   There is a neighborhood not too far from Plymouth Rock that supports a very large flock of turkeys.   There are at least eight toms and over twenty females.    These turkeys comfortably avoid hunters during the spring by residing in the yards of local residents.   Fortunately for me, this makes them easy to photograph.

Using my car as a mobile blind, I will often spend my mornings witnessing one of the great spectacles of nature.   The mating ritual of the turkey is an amazing display of dancing, posturing and very colorful feathers and heads.   The male turkey’s head will turn bright blue while its neck will turn bright red.   The male will display his tail feathers as a fan and scrape his wing feathers on the ground while slightly shimmying his feathers.   The scraping of the wings creates a subtle rattle like sound.   

It is commonly believed that turkeys are stupid.  Among people in the know, turkeys are considered to be incredibly wily.   The intelligence of wild turkeys makes them a challenge to photograph.   A few tips for making your own image include using a long lens (300mm or longer), use your car as a blind, and look for turkeys during the mating season.   During the mating season, male turkeys need to display to attract females and they generally let their guard down, allowing a closer look than at other times of the year.

As always, treat all wild creatures with respect.   Please don’t harass any creature to make an image.   Many people want to make great action images of birds in flight.   Some people will cause the bird to fly which is never appropriate.   I can honestly say that my flight images have always come from patiently waiting for the bird to move on its own accord.   Sometimes that means waiting for hours…

This Month’s Tip:  If you are successful in finding turkeys to photograph, try to create artful images that communicate your feelings for this fantastic creature.   This will often occur after you have repeatedly visited the turkeys.   The more time you spend in the field, the better your chances will be to create a beautiful masterpiece.

Greg Lessard is a professional photographer.  You can join him on a three day tour of Acadia National Park this fall.   Visit http://blog.greglessardphotography.com/2014/05/fall-photo-tour-in-acadia-national-park.html to find out more.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Upcoming Photography Workshops


I will be leading a number of workshops in the next few months.  I do hope you will join me for some or even all of them!   To sign up for any of these workshops, please contact the groups I will be working with.   Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.  

The image accompanying this post is of the Margaret Todd, a four masted schooner that frequents Frenchman's Bay in Acadia National Park.   I will be leading a 3 day workshop in Acadia National Park this fall.   You can find more info on this trip and other workshops below.

Scituate Community Education Photography Workshops

Photography: Sunset at Scituate Light    Greg Lessard Thursday July 17th  7:00-9:00pm  at Scituate Light  $35.00 This is a sunset photography field class. 

Photography:  Scituate Harbor Walk    Greg Lessard Thursday July 24th 6:00-8:00AM     $35.00 We will meet at the Morrill Band Stand & walk approximately 1 mile while photographing the beauty of Scituate Harbor.

To sign up for these classes and for more info visit  http://www.scituate.k12.ma.us/index.php/district-information/district-news-archive/759-scituate-community-education-summer-session?highlight=WyJjb21tdW5pdHkiLCJlZHVjYXRpb24iLCJjb21tdW5pdHkgZWR1Y2F0aW9uIl0=  and click on the tab “Summer Classes”

Mass Audubon Photography Workshops

1 781 837 9400

August 5th Driftwood, Feathers and Seashells at Duxbury Beach 9:30-11AM Free - Please call to reserve a spot.

August 9th Powder Point Bridge 6:45 – 8:30PM $10 members/$12 non-members  Please call to reserve a spot.

October 2 6-8PM Fall Photography Techniques Mass Audubon North River Sanctuary 2000 Main St., Marshfield, Ma $16member/$20 non-members  Please call to reserve a spot.

October 9 4:30-6:30PM Fall Photography Field Session Bay Farm Duxbury - From Route 3 South: Take Exit 10 and bear right onto 3A North.  Turn right onto Parks St.    Bear left at the fork onto Loring Street.   Continue onto Loring St. past Bay Road.   Parking will be less than half a mile on the left.   $16 member/ $20 non members   Please call to reserve a spot.  

October 16 4:30-6:30PM Fall Photography Field Session Sampson Forest Kingston - across from 70 Elm St., Kingston, MA   $16 member/ $20 non-member   Please call to reserve a spot  

October 23 4:30-6:30PM Fall Photography Session Norris Reservation, 10 Dover St., Norwell, MA $16 Members/ $20 non members Please call to reserve a spot

October 30 6-7PM Fall Photography Presentation and wrap-up. The top images of every participant will be presented in a slide show with a peer conversation of what makes the images work well. Greg will also answer any remaining questions about Fall photography. North River Sanctuary, 2000 Main St, Marshfield, Ma   Please call to reserve a spot.   Free to anyone who signs up for one of the previous four sessions.

South Shore Science Center

Acadia National Park Fall Photography Trip Have you ever caught the sunset at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, or the sunrise at Otter Cliffs? How about the fall foliage on the Bubbles? Or first light from the top of Cadillac Mountain? Have you ever had the popovers at the Jordan Pond House? All of these opportunities and more are available on our first ever fall digital nature photography trip to Acadia National Park on Maine’s Mount Desert Island. Our director of education, John Galluzzo, will be joined by professional nature photographer Greg Lessard for this three-day digital photography adventure (Friday, October 17-Sunday, October 19).

A $75 non-refundable, non-transferable deposit is required at the time of registration. No cancellation refunds will be issued 6 weeks prior to the program unless we can fill your space. Single supplement $90. Full fee covers all transportation, lodging and park entry fees. Payment in full is required by September 17, 2014. Contact John Galluzzo at jgalluzzo@ssymca.org for an itinerary.

Event: Photographing Acadia National Park

Start: October 17, 2014

End: October 19, 2014

Cost: $375.00

Phone: 781-659-2559

 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fall Photo Tour in Acadia National Park

I am happy to announce that I will be leading a photo tour for the South Shore Science Center to Acadia National Park.   The tour will be from October 17-19.   We will visit many of the highlights of this fantastic island right at the peak of the foliage season.

During the three day tour we will be among the first people to see (and photograph) the sunrise in the United States.   We will stay in historic Bar Harbor, photograph iconic Otter Cliffs and we will visit a quaint fishing village at sunset.   Acadia is a beautiful land with an undeniable
charm.   Photographing Acadia is always a highlight of my year!   I hope you will join me to see why.

The price for the tour is $375, which includes all transportation, lodging and park entry fees.    We will be joined by author and naturalist John Galluzzo, who will help us appreciate and understand our natural surroundings.

For more information, please visit the South Shore Science Center's website here:
http://southshorenaturalsciencecenter.org/event/photographing-acadia-national-park/

To sign up please call the South Shore Science Center at 781-659-2559.
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