Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
With the first storm of winter arriving in New England, I took advantage of the snow and foliage being together in the same scenes. The trick was to find decent foliage and a worthy subject before the snow melted.
I was fortunate to find a number of excellent subjects. In addition to looking for snow and foliage, I started to look for agricultural scenes. New England is full of pastoral scenes. They can still be found in Eastern Massachusetts if you know where to look for them.
I was pleasantly surprised to find an old farm that I had not visited for many years, had cows on it again. They were making their way through a forest with wonderfully backlit foliage. While photographing the cows, I also saw some bluebirds and some yellow rumped warblers. What a great morning!
Saturday, October 29, 2011
A few weeks ago I went birding with my dad and our friends Robin and Dick. We went to a local hot spot that is known for having shore birds, even though it is more than ten miles from the coast. My dad had been visiting this spot regularly and wanted us to bring our cameras, because we could approach the shore birds within a few feet without disturbing them.
The shorebirds were congregating in large puddles to feed on insects, worms, and anything else that moved. My dad was able to make a shot of one of them eating an earthworm!
The foliage along the edges of the puddle created a beautiful yellow reflection. I decided to wait until the bird walked through the reflections to create this image. The golden reflection adds a lot of punch to this image.
On the walk back to our cars, we had an opportunity to photograph some monarch butterflies that had started their migration. They would pause on the wildflowers that lined the trail. I like this image, because the butterfly is surrounded by the flowers and the sun has beautifully back lit the wings creating a soft orange glow.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
This image was made at a local cranberry bog in Carver, Massachusetts. This has been a difficult year for foliage. It has been spotty at best. I have been keeping my eyes open for small stands of trees that display excellent color. This was one of the best spots that I have seen this year.
I had noticed this tractor the day before while making the photo of the yellow maple leaf that I posted in the Fall in New England blog post. The light at that time was not particularly good for the tractor or the foliage. When I returned for this image, I was pleased to see the contrast between the blue tractor and the red, orange and yellow foliage in the background.
This was the first of a handful of scenes that I was thrilled to be able to see and photograph on Sunday morning. It was great to go on a short loop through Carver looking for fall scenes. Exploring with a camera is one of my favorite things to do. It doesn't hurt to know the area and have an idea of places to look for certain themes. Scouting ahead of time is always a good plan.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
This image was made on the first day of our recent tour to Acadia National Park. The fog was settled in over the tarn. With just a little color showing on the trees, I used my 70-200mm lens to isolate just a few trees along the water's edge. This is one more example of taking advantage of bad weather to make a beautiful image. Getting out in the rain takes some extra preparation, but it is often worth the results. Bad weather makes for great images!
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Today I joined my friends from the Plymouth Digital Photograpers at the Old North Church in Boston. My friend Jean did a great job organizing this meetup. She arranged for us to enter the church before hours and we were able to go up to the balcony, which is usually restricted.
I was intrigued by the various flags that were posted around the church. Seeing the 1776 version of the Stars and Stripes with the autumn colors peeking through the windows was wonderful. Being in the church where such a pivotal moment in our history took place inspired me to try to photograph it as it may have been seen in 1776. Unfortuntaely, the radiator in the corner and the lightbox at the bottom of the blacony didn't conform with that thought. With a little photoshop magic, I was able to highlight the flag, which served to emphasize the importance of the church and to distract the eye away from the radiator. I also used a subtle touch of HDR to preserve the fall colors in the windows, which would have otherwise been blown out.
Revolutionary history has always fascinated me. I was thrilled to be able to visit this remarkable church.
Later in the morning, I visited Copp's Hill Burial Ground. I really wanted to show some fall foliage amongst the head stones. There were very few trees that had turned. Fortunately, there were a few yellow leaves piled up against one of the stones. Their contrast of bright color against the grey of the stone drew my eye to the scene. The scalloped carving on the stone reflecting the shape of the leaves also added more form to the image. The decaying foliage also serves as a symbol of what will be...
This yellow maple leaf caught my eye. It was in the middle of a sea of bright red cranberries and dark blue water. The color contrasts were fantastic! I had scouted this bog the night before and knew that it held a lot of potential.
My favorite cranberry bogs are the ones that are slightly overgrown, but are still in active use. I love to see the maple saplings turn red, orange and yellow in the middle of the bogs. Finding wildflowers and grasses of all colors and sizes in the bogs, adds a lot of interest and beauty to any composition. I often drive by a well tended bog. For me, the more weeds a bog has, the more beautiful it is.
Over the past few years, I have made many images of leaves, flowers and grasses in cranberry bogs. This may be my favorite image. The strong contrast between the colors is stunning. I usually see red and orange maple leaves in the bogs. This yellow leaf seems exceptionally rare, making it even more captivating to me.
For this image, I used my Tamron 200-500mm lens that I usually reserve for wildlife. This allowed me to get a close up shot to minimize distracting elements surrounding the sapling. Minutes after this image was made, the sapling was plowed under by the farmer harvesting his bog.
Creating this image was the culmination of a fantastic morning that started with a walk on the Freedom Trail and a visit to the Old North Church. Fall in New England. It can't be beat!
Friday, October 21, 2011
Just a few short hours after making some beautiful moonlit images from the top of Mt. Cadillac, we had the opportunity to return for some sunrise images. The contrasts between night and day was obviously striking and very rewarding!
Sunrise is always the most magical time of day. It is the symbol of new beginnings and opportunities. It can be an incredible moment of soul searching and reflection. Viewing the sunrise from Mt. Cadillac is especially powerful.
The first rays of the new day (in the U.S.) can be seen from the top of Cadillac Mountain, warming the island studded Frenchman's Bay. During summer, the white throated sparrow celebrates the new day with its beautiful song. In the fall, brisk breezes bring cool autumn air with the promise of winter. Anytime of year is exhilerating. Once the colors start to play across the sky, the grumpiness from the early wake up is long forgotten. The heart stirs and the soul begins to sing with a vibrancy that can't be supressed. The view from the top is worth the effort!
On each trip there is always groans of "You want to get up when?" and "We won't get coffee until what time?" This is usually followed by a collective sigh and often some more grumbling. Then, once nature has put on her show, come the breathtaking moments that make everyone realize that their sacrifice was worth the lack of sleep and the delayed caffeine fix. Nature has a way of soothing over such worldly concerns. Nothing else seems to matter. The fringe hours of light are what nature photographers live for. Too often we trade those hours away for some extra sleep in a comfy bed. Moments like the one pictured above are to be cherished. Make a point of getting up early and greeting the sun!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I am happy to tell you that the Beauty of Billingsgate Farm Calendar 2012 is nearly sold out! There are only a few copies left. You can pick yours up at Billingsgate Farm, located at 6 County Road (Route 106) Plympton, Ma 02367. The calendar can be purchased for $13.99. While you are there, be sure to buy some fresh apples and pumpkins.
This image is one of my favorites from this calendar. It was made in July when there were dozens of butterflies visiting the zinnias at Billingsgate farm. It was a blast photographing all of the different species of butterflies on the colorful flowers. I have many wonderful images from these morning photo shoots, but the bee flying in the background made this image stand out from the rest.
My friend Gil found this spider on the side of the Park Loop Road, during our photo tour of Acadia National Park. It was laying out its web and didn't mind posing for us. The early morning light was perfect for this spider. The wind however was quite a challendge. With a little patience we were able to make some nice images.
My basic approach to photographing an area is to think big and look small. We had just photographed the sunrise at Otter Cliffs. This is one of the most iconic scenes in New England. It speaks of the grand landscape. Once the sun was up, we turned our backs to it and enjoyed the warm early morning light upon the coast. Gil demonstrated the look small approach by noticing a tiny detail like this spider. Many people were still photographing the grand landscape of the coast of Maine. Both approaches are excellent, but it amazes me how much nature has to offer for those who seek it out!
I thought this image was rather appropriate with Halloween just around the corner!
Monday, October 17, 2011
On my recent tour to Acadia I went to the top of Cadillac Mountain with a couple of the workshop participants for some night photography. The moon was shining and providing some nice light over Frenchman's Bay. We also used a flashlight to paint the foreground in.
The wind was gusting rather strongly. More than once I was nearly blown over. Fortunately, we were able to duck behind a wall at the edge of the parking lot. In an effort to keep the camera from shaking in the wind, I would huddle around it after I tripped the shutter. This is an effective technique that helps to keep images sharp even in bad weather.
Finding new ways to photograph Acadia National Park is always a challenge. While I am sure that night photography has been done from the top of Mt. Cadillac before, I have not seen any other images like this one. It was worth staying out late and braving fierce winds.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Today was the first day of a three day workshop to Acadia National Park. It rained pretty hard for most of the day. Some of the participants were pretty bummed out and desperately wanted to see the sun! I was pretty excited about the opportunity that the "bad" weather provided.
Bad weather often means great photos. The fog today provided a great chance to create some moody images. My favorite image of the day was of a red maple leaf on a rock in a shallow stream. While I have been known to place a leaf on a rock or birch tree to create a still life image, I honestly found this one as you see it.
The red of the maple leaf drew my eye to the image. I had to work hard to find a composition that I liked. It was too easy to completely center the leaf. With this composition, I was able to position the leaf slightly off center. The water flowing by adds a mysterious elemental etherealness to the image. Not a bad image for rainy day!
Monday, October 10, 2011
I recently participated in a night photography workshop in Plymouth, MA. It was time to brush up on my night photography skills and learn the latest tips and tricks from an expert. Lance Keimig is a renowned night photography specialist. He led us to the Plymouth waterfront on a mild night in late September.
After giving us some basic instructions on how to make great images at night, Lance set us loose to wander all over the waterfront and downtown Plymouth. I headed towards the Mayflower II.
The Mayflower is an icon of all that is Plymouth, the Pilgrims and the settling of this great country. It has been photographed millions of times. Even at night. Yet, I wanted to make a unique image that would stand out from the rest.
Fortunately, I had recently met one of the caretakers of the historic sailing vessel. He was a very kind gentleman and allowed me to photograph from a nearby dock that was usually off limits. This dock afforded me a unique angle from water level.
Of course, photographing at night from a dock, created a whole new series of challenges. Most night photography requires long exposures from 15 seconds to up to six hours or more. While the camera shutter is open, the camera must remain still and usually the subject needs to remain still as well. Any motion on the part of the camera or the subject will create blurs in the image. Sometimes the blur due to motion can be desirable. For my image of the Mayflower, I wanted everything to be tack sharp. The dock however and some of the boats in the foreground were gently rising up and down on the swells in Plymouth Harbor. A long exposure would not work.
With a few adjustments to my camera, I was back in business. I raised the ISO from 100 to 1600, gaining four stops of light. Then I lowered my f stop or aperture, from f8 to f 2.8, gaining three more stops for a total of seven stops of light! This resulted in a shutter speed of ½ second.
With some patience and careful timing of the waves, a crisp shot could be made. The trickiest part would be to time the shot to start at the height of the incoming wave. There is a brief moment at the top of a wave where upward motion suspends and you will remain still for a split second before descending with the wave. My goal was to make my images while I was briefly suspended at the top of each incoming wave.
In addition to correctly timing the waves, I made numerous images of the scene to insure that I had at least one that was sharp. Upon review at home, I found that many of my images were perfectly sharp.
Some of the workshops participants were surprised that I could make a shot at ISO 1600 with very little noise in the image. My camera is a Nikon D7000 which is fantastic for shooting at high ISO’s while keeping noise to a minimum. This camera is less than a year old. Many older cameras can not shoot as well at high ISO’s.
This Month’s Tip: Trying new techniques can help keep photography exciting. Night photography is a great way to see classic scenes with a fresh perspective.