Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall Photography Workshop in Acadia National Park

I recently lead a Mass Audubon tour to Acadia National Park in Maine with John Galluzzo. We photographed for three days. With a Nor'easter roaring through the Gulf of Maine, the first two days were very wet. This shot was made at the end of the second day. Our group had been patient and persevered through the rain to see this glorious sunset!

I was very proud of our group. Despite a lot of rain, no one complained. In fact, we managed to have a lot of fun and we photographed all day. Much of the time we spent in forests where the trees helped slow down the rain. The rest of the time we diligently wiped our lenses clean and kept our cameras covered in plastic bags.

This image is a prime example of why it pays to photograph in stormy weather. While this shot looks sunny and relatively pleasant, it was still intermittently raining! Often times the edges of rough weather can produce fantastic atmosphere and light for outstanding landscape images. So grab your rain jacket and get out there!

This trip was outstanding. We learned a lot about photography and nature while sharing a lot of good natured fun and camaraderie. Thank you to John and all of the participants for making this trip so enjoyable!

Our trip was so successful that John and I are now planning a trip to Glacier National Park next summer. I will post the details once we finalize our itinerary. Thanks again to everyone who joined me on this adventure!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Swift River Reflections

The Swift River in NH is one of my favorite places in New England. Swimming in the summer is outstanding. Photography in the fall is even better! In the morning and the afternoon the sun reflects off of the fall foliage, making fantastic colors upon the water. The rocks strewn about the river become visible as the water lowers late in the summer. These rocks are fantastic anchors for a beautiful composition with flowing water.

As I was making this photograph, I heard a quiet crunch in the forest behind me. I was so focused on making my shot that I didn't pay it any attention. I continued working on this shot and then I heard another crunch. It was a little louder this time, but it still didn't concern me. So I kept shooting. On the third crunch, which was much closer and significantly louder, I decided that I better look to see what was behind me...

Much to my surprise I was standing only 15 feet away from a young bull moose! He was staring back at me as if to say, "Who the heck are you?" I quickly fumbled to get my camera settings ready for a shot. Unfortunately, he was hidden behind some small trees. I made two very unsatisfactory images. Then he turned and walked away as quickly and quietly as he came.

I was disappointed to have missed the shot, but I was ecstatic to have seen the moose! Photographing the fall colors, while standing in the middle of the Swift River and seeing a moose was exactly why I had got up at 2AM to be there. It doesn't get better than that! This was a great start to a great day!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kancamagus Sunrise

On Saturday, I got up at 2AM to drive from my home in Middleboro, MA to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I wanted to arrive in the mountains by sunrise to take advantage of the early morning light on the fall foliage. It was worth the effort.

The sunrise was incredible! There were dark storm clouds blowing through. Their purple color reflected the golden rays of the sun, combining for an intense fluorescent pink. I was fortunate to notice this east facing vista in the dark. Many other photographers noticed it too and soon there were a number of us waiting for the sun to put on its show.

After the sun had risen, I spent the rest of the day photographing the Kancamagus Highway and the more northern Crawford Notch. I will post more images soon and relay my experiences with a young bull moose and also tell about my trip to the Mount Washington Cog Railway.

Other than noise reduction and sharpening, this image was not digitally enhanced. I did use a graduated neutral density filter, which helped to even out the light of the sky with the darker foreground. Grad ND's are one of my favorite tools. Many people have replaced them with HDR, but I still enjoy using them. I also prefer to get everything right in camera. This means less time spent post processing my images and more time out in the field.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Into the Black

After a long day in Yosemite Valley, we were trying to get back to our accommodations when we ran into the ever present traffic stoppage for road repairs. These stoppages would average at least a half hour. As soon as you were stopped, the tradition would be to get out of your car and visit with the other motorists who were stopped with you. We met a lot of people this way.

On this evening, we pulled into a scenic overlook and watched the last light of day play itself out over Yosemite Valley. As I turned to get back into the car, I noticed the moon rapidly setting over the western mountains. I hurriedly changed lenses and composed a shot. This is one of only four shots that I made before the moon set below the mountains.

Watching the moon set was a fantastic, near mystical experience. While I had been photographing the dusk over the Yosemite Valley, the pace car had come back and led all of the motorists into the mountains. This left Brenda and I in perfect peace to enjoy the evening. Seeing the moonset was an unexpected thrill and the perfect way to end the day.

In order to make this image, I chose to use my Tamron 200-500mm lens. I usually reserve this lens for wildlife, but in this case it was the perfect choice for magnifying the moon. Camera Settings: f22 1.6 seconds.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sleepy Sea Lion

When we booked our trip to San Francisco, I first thought of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then I thought of the sea lions that live at Pier 39. These sea lions have been crowd favorites for years. On my first trip 12 years ago, I became fascinated with the sea lions. So I was very eager to have the opportunity to visit them again.

Fortunately, the sea lions were at the pier in big numbers. They were however taking a nap. Not much action going on. Despite their lazy afternoon nap, there were still some great images to be made.

Its important to remember that wild animals are not here to put on a show for us. Far too often as photographers, we get frustrated when animals don't pose just so or they fly away too soon. I try very hard to appreciate the animals as they are. Often, if they are not being particularly useful subjects, I will patiently wait for them to change their behaviors. Sometimes this works to great effect. Other times it means that I have spent a long time waiting for something that doesn't happen. Either way, I have spent time observing nature and that's why I am there in the first place.

I was thrilled to spend some time with the sea lions at pier 39. They will be at the top of my list for future trips to San Francisco.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Glacier Point

On our first day in Yosemite, Brenda and I went to Glacier Point for sunset. Needless to say it was breathtaking! We watched in amazement as the alpen glow worked its way up the face of half dome, eventually disappearing for the evening. From this perspective it is easy to see why Yosemite inspired John Muir and countless others. This beautiful region could be no less than the catalyst for our national park system and the modern day environmentalist movement. Imagine what it would look like today if this valley had not been preserved for future generations. Would there be a five star hotel on top of half dome? Maybe. At one point, there was a hotel at Glacier Point. Natural wonders of this magnitude should not be in the sole posession of one man or corporation. It should be preserved for all people of all generations.
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