Saturday, April 30, 2011

Adventures in Photography: Maple Sugaring in Central Vermont

Seeing the popularity of my story "Adventures in Photography: Sailing Aboard the Margaret Todd" , I have decided to start posting all of my Adventures in Photography series here on my blog.

This article is the first in a monthly series that has appeared in the Freebird Times newspaper. With a circulation of 60,000 copies per issue, the Freebird Times can be found throughout Southeastern Massachusetts. If you live outside of Southeastern, MA , check back here each month to see the latest article.
The intent of this series will be to highlight photo opportunities throughout New England, while offering tips on how to improve your photography.

Adventures in Photography: Maple Sugaring in Central Vermont

Entering Rick Wright’s sugar shack is akin to stepping back in time. The heat from the wood fired boiler warms all visitors, while clouds of steam from the boiling sap rise toward the open roof. The sweet aroma of maple syrup wafts into your nose and saturates the senses. With a smile and a nod, the Yankee farmer welcomes you within.

In no time at all, Rick and his kin manage to make their guests feel as if they are part of the family. Conversations abound around the wood fire, ranging in topics from the farmer’s almanac to milk prices and especially the Red Sox. Nothing could be finer than spending a day with such genuine folk.

Producing maple syrup is a family affair. The Wrights have been producing syrup for five generations. More than seventy years! Jake Wright, Rick’s father, was a young boy when his dad built the shack in 1938. Now in his eighties, Jake still helps by gathering the syrup with his daughter in law Beverly and his two grandsons Andrew and Joel.

Gathering the sap is an arduous process. It begins in late February when the Wrights don snowshoes to place 900 taps into 700 maple trees. Traveling through snow several feet deep, they hook up miles of plastic tubing that carries the sap downhill towards the sugar shack.

Unfortunately, not all of the trees can be hooked up to the lines. Collecting the sap from these outlying trees is a team effort. The entire family, including Jake, walks from tree to tree draining sap buckets into five gallon pails.

Once the sap is gathered, it must be boiled. This takes hours of time and cords of wood. After the first few gallons of syrup are produced, the sugar house conversation is enlivened with a Green Mountain treat. Fresh doughnuts dipped in hot maple syrup. Nothing tastes better on a chilly winter afternoon.

The Wrights sell most of their syrup to nearby restaurants. Some of it however can be bought at Jake’s home off of Route 12 in Bethel, Vt. The next time you are in the area, stop by, say hello, and pick up a quart. It will be the sweetest deal you make all year.

This month’s photo tip: Simplify. Try to isolate your subject as closely as possible. Many people include too much in their images. This clutters the photo and can confuse the viewer. This photo of a drop of sap coming from a sugar maple tree boils the story down to the basic elements. It communicates directly to the viewer that the image is about sap coming from a maple tree. Keeping just a small amount of bark in the image is enough to suggest the importance of the tree, while eliminating the need to include the entire tree.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Nice Article was Written About Me in the Middleboro Gazette

A very nice article was written about me in today's edition of the Middleboro Gazette.
You can read it at this link:
Thank you to James Davis and Lindsay Dion for such a nice article!

I have included some fun photos from the session that I was teaching to my friend Maureen Begin, a fellow photographer and member of the Plymouth Digital Photographers Club. We were working on abstract flower photography.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Flowers, Clowns, and Cute Dogs...Oh My

On Saturday, I spent the day at the Williams Trading Post in Middleboro. They were having their season opener and invited me to photograph the event. The Williams Trading Post is a gardening/antique shop that has been in business for more than 50 years!

For a photographer, this event had plenty to keep me busy. Color abounded from the flowers to the clowns. Everyhwere I looked was a feast for the eyes. I have posted a few of my favorite images. They are heavy on color and the cute factor!

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Sweet Dreams" Awarded Second Place in the Scituate Arts Association Annual Juried Show

My image "Sweet Dreams" was awarded Second Place in the Scituate Arts Association Annual Juried Show. "Nauset by Moonlight" was also accepted into the show. Both images will be on display at the Scituate Arts Association Front Street Gallery from Tuesday April 12th through Saturday April 23.

Sweet Dreams is an image of a sleeping sea lion that was made in San Francisco last summer. You can read more about this image here:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Two Images Accepted into the Fine Art of Photography at the Plymouth Guild for the Arts

Two of my images have been accepted into the Fine art of Photography Show, presented by the Plymouth Guild. The images are "Reflections - Bass Harbor Light" and "Connemara Ponies". They will be on display at the Plymouth Guild throughout the month of April. For more on this show, you can read the following article:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nauset by Moonlight Selected as Weekly Pick on Nature Photographers Network

My image, "Nauset by Moonlight" was selected as image of the week for the Man and Nature gallery of the Nature Photographers Network. NPN is a group of some of the best photographers from around the world. I am constantly amazed by the images created by the NPN members. I am thrilled that one of my images was honored by such a prestigious group.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

She's Gonna Love This Stick

This morning, after visiting my favorite flock of turkeys, I was fortunate to find a mating pair of osprey. They were renovating a nest on top of a telephone pole next to a cranberry bog.

The male had found a stick that it was bringing to the nest. It circled by the nest two or three times before it dropped the stick in the nest and flew away. This was one of the best opportunities that I have had to photograph osprey up close.

I am particularly pleased with this shot, because the eye of the osprey is tack sharp and the lighting was excellent. The mid morning light shows through the feathers on the bird's wings, making them translucent. I used aperture priority on ISO 800 with a -.3 exposure compensation dialed in.

You can view more of my bird photography by visiting my website here:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wile E. Coyote

I went to Thompson Street this morning to work on next year's calendar. I had hoped to find some turkeys. Instead I found a coyote!

This coyote was an excellent hunter. I watched it for more than an hour. During that time it caught at least ten mice. I was thrilled to make some nice images of it as it jumped through the air to pounce on its prey.

I photographed the coyote from my car. It was quite wary of humans. Twice, other people pulled up and got out of their cars to photograph it only to scare it away. Fortunately for me, the coyote came back both times after the other people left.

Patience is essential for wildlife photography. One photographer stayed for about five minutes and was likely able to make some nice portrait shots at a distance. By waiting, I was able to photograph the coyote in action and make a portrait shot when it was much closer.

It was a pleasure to watch this coyote. Some of the shots look like they could have been made in Yellowstone, not Massachusetts. Of course we were missing some buffalo...

To see more shotos of this coyote and many other beautiful images, visit my website at
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