Monday, December 9, 2013

Killing Snowy Owls at New York Airports

My friend Shawn Carey sent an email about the killing of snowy owls at New York airports.   Here is an article about it

A petition has been set up to urge the Port Authority of New York and NJ to stop killing the owls.   Logan Airport has been successfully capturing and removing snowy owls for years with the help of Norman Smith of Mass Audubon   There is no reason that NY can't do the same thing. 

Please sign the petition here:

Please share this with your friends!   Thank you!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Adventures in Photography: Frozen Maple Leaves

On a recent adventure I was able to take advantage of many important outdoor photography mantras.  While I have mentioned all of these before in this series, they are worth repeating.   Photograph close to home.   Know your subject.   Photograph during the change of the seasons.   Scout your location in advance.   Get up early, stay out late.  

In late October, we had a hard frost in Southeastern Massachusetts.    Living in the heart of cranberry country, I knew that cranberry growers who had not yet harvested their crops would be scrambling to freeze their berries.   They would turn on their sprinkler systems overnight to coat the berries in ice.   According to the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association, this actually creates heat, protecting the cranberries from damaging frost.   

Armed with this knowledge, I played a hunch and went to my favorite bog.    I like it, because the owners do not take care of it.  This bog is perhaps the worst cared for of all the working bogs in my region.    This bog has many kinds of weeds which add interest to my images.   Rather than making images of pristine red cranberries floating on top of a bog, I try to show a beautiful flower or tall golden grasses growing among the cranberries.  

Perhaps my favorite weeds are sapling maple trees.   They grow approximately eighteen inches tall and their leaves turn red, orange or yellow in the fall.   The turning maple leaves look fantastic when they are surrounded by hundreds of floating crimson cranberries.  

When I arrived at the bog, the scene was even more beautiful than I had imagined.   The sprinklers had covered the entire bog in ice.   The tall grasses and maple trees looked like giant, colorful crystals.   I selected my long 200-500mm lens to isolate each weed and began to photograph.  

Perhaps the most challenging part of the morning was dodging the sprinklers.   At one point I even timed a sprinkler to be able to safely photograph a particularly colorful maple leaf.   I had approximately 30 seconds to make an image before I would get soaked.   Considering the air temperature was 33 degrees, I made sure to work quickly!

As the morning sun rose higher, the scene became more beautiful.   Four other people stopped and commented on the lovely scene.   Even a police officer paused during his patrol to take in the breathtaking view.   Soon, the sun warmed the air and the ice began to melt bringing a close to a beautiful morning.  

This Month’s Tip:   Most people assume that it is easy to make a great photograph.   The reality is that it takes a lot of planning, practice and patience.    While it may seem that I simply drove right up to a great scene, I had years of knowledge and scouting working in my favor.   Nothing can replace experience and persistence, so get out there and photograph!

Greg Lessard is a professional photographer.   You may view his latest portfolio, “The Glory of Massachusetts” at the Bridgewater Public Library throughout the month of December.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Photographers of Planet Earth

I was recently featured on the Photographers of Planet Earth website.   The website showcases photographers and asks them three questions.   Where do you live?   What is your favorite photograph and why did you become a photographer?   I chose my photograph of a snowy owl "At Attention".   You'll have to visit the Photographers of Planet Earth website to find out why I chose it!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Pre School Session

During the first week of school, all of the teachers in my district sit through three long days of meetings.   For me, this is a perfect opportunity to do some photography before school!

On Wednesday, there was a very thick fog that rolled over eastern Massachusetts.   I had gotten up early to photograph the sunrise.   The fog was so thick, that a sunrise (at least a visible one) wasn't likely.   Rater than be disappointed, I was ecstatic!  I love fog and snow.  They change the everyday landscape into something exotic and new!

My first stop was to see my "buds".   My "buds" are cows that I drive by everyday on the way to work.  They live on a small farm in Marshfield.   This morning they were hanging out by a beautiful tree in the fog.   This session was particularly difficult, because the light was so dim, that it was hard to record details on the black cows.   I raised my ISO, opened my f stop and slowed down my shutter speed.  Then I hoped that the cows would be still for a moment.  Their movements would cause them to blur in the image.  I was fortunate to make one image that I liked.  

After photographing the cows, I went to Scituate Harbor to photograph boats in the fog.   Along the way, I found a mourning cloak butterfly!   It was only a foot or two from the water, still covered in morning dew.   I was able to make a handful of images of this beautiful species.   I was quite surprised to see this butterfly so close to the ocean.   I usually associate this species with forests and my woodpile behind my house.   Mourning cloaks actually overwinter as adults.   They will fit themselves into crevices between bark on trees, woodpiles, and empty sheds to protect themselves from harsh winter weather.   It is always a treat to find one in my snowbound woodpile in the middle of February.   Of course, I always leave them in a safe place.  In March, they are often the first butterfly to be seen in the new year!

After spending some time with the mourning cloak, I returned my attention to the boats.   There are a number of beautiful boats to photograph in Scituate.  I focused on the row boats and dories.   The hardest challenge was to focus in the thick fog.   Autofocus was worthless, so I switched to manual focus, but that was not very effective either.   Finally, I turned on the live view and zoomed in as much as I could and then manually focused.  It worked very well!

The dory that I included in this post was shrouded in soupy fog.  By adding a lot of contrast, I was able to create a clear image.   It does not look the way I saw it that morning.   To me, this clear version is a superior image compared to the soupy fog version.   Yet, the emotional side of me still leans toward showing the soupy fog.   Sometimes as artists we have to make difficult decisions.   Which image do you prefer?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Star Trails and Horse Latitudes

Last night I led a star trails workshop with the South Shore Camera Club.   Fifteen of us went to a very historic barn, "Horse Latitudes" in Middleboro.   We discussed a variety of tips and techniques to make beautiful star trails.   Around 8:15 we started making images using intervalometers.   The sky was dark and the stars were bright.   With a little bit of light painting, we were able to illuminate the foreground, which was a beautiful barn with a rambling white fence.  

As the night turned colder, we were a little disappointed to see that Logan Airport had changed its approach pattern to go right over the barn.   A jet flew through the seen every few minutes.   Fortunately everyone took it in stride and continued to have a great time! 

Once everyone had their cameras up and running, the snacks came out.   I was impressed with how well prepared the camera club members were with their snacks.   Salami, fresh fruit, home baked cookies... these folks know how to brighten up a long photo session!

While we were spending a couple of hours photographing the stars, I used my laptop to teach everyone how to stack our images using a variety of editing tools.    I had photographed the same scene the night before and was able to show my editing process step by step.

Last night, it became really chilly.   Our lenses repeatedly fogged and everyone was dreaming of a nice warm fire.   The temperatures eventually fell into the 40's!    I was really proud of the group for sticking it out in the cold night air.   I think we all had a great time.  I know I did!

The South Shore Camera Club is a really nice group of people who are a lot of fun to hang out with.   It was really great to see so many familiar faces and meet some new people too!   I also would like to thank my friend Doug, the owner of the farm for letting us photograph his barn late into the evening.

The image accompanying this post was made as a test shot the night before the workshop.   The skies were partly cloudy.   The red color came from some light pollution that was reflected upon the clouds.   Rather than try to get rid of the red, I decided to enhance it.   The star trails were approximately one hour in length.   While I like the color version the most, I was tempted to see what it would look like in Black and White.   I am curious to see which version everyone prefers.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Adventures in Photography: The Return of an American Icon (Mayflower II)

            Mayflower II had been away from its home port, historic Plymouth Harbor, for a very long time.   Many locals, tourists and business owners had lamented her absence.   After a nearly 9 month hiatus for significant hull repairs, the grand lady made a glorious return to Plymouth.   She was greeted by hundreds of people loudly cheering as she arrived at her pier.

Mayflower II was first sailed to America from England in 1957.   After 56 years of service at sea, the ship is in need of repairs.   The first major repairs were begun in December of 2012 and were significantly delayed when the exact type of wood for the hull could not be readily found.     After many months, the repairs were made and the Mayflower II made her voyage home.   She was accompanied by the tugboat Jaguar, of New Bedford.

Captain Tim Brady of Plymouth graciously guided a press corps aboard his deep sea fishing boat, the Mary Elizabeth.   As we headed out of Plymouth Harbor to meet Mayflower II, Captain Brady shared his extensive knowledge and love for the history of Plymouth with his passengers.    Soon, he had us expertly positioned alongside one of the most famous sailing ships in America. 

History is one of my favorite subjects.   Photographing reenactments of famous events is truly a joy.   Seeing these events as they may have looked hundreds of years ago is a fantastic way to bring history to life.  

As a photographer, I strive to make images that include only elements that look authentic to the time period being reenacted.    This allows the viewer the chance to “see” history as it may have looked.     In this case, my goal was to have the image appear as if it were 1620.   Keeping the background free of modern elements was a challenge.   Cottages on the shore, other boats, especially the tug and the passengers of the Mayflower dressed in modern clothes all distract from the “authentic” scene.

As Mayflower II made its way into the harbor, it was greeted by numerous sailboats that formed an impromptu parade.   Upon seeing this, I was immediately struck with a pre-visualization of a black and white image including Mayflower II with the sailboats trailing behind.   I momentarily abandoned my goal of making an “authentic” image and concentrated on the modern day beauty of the scene.    A few moments later, Mayflower II and the sailboats came together in a very pleasing composition.

Turning the corner into Plymouth Harbor, Mayflower II had Long Beach behind it, providing a very pleasing backdrop of sand dunes.   It was time to make “authentic” images.    Fortunately, Captain Brady slowed down his boat and allowed Mayflower II to run parallel to us.   This hid the tugboat from sight and provided ample opportunity to create beautiful images uncluttered by modern life.  

Soon, Mayflower II was greeted by the Plymouth Fire Boat, firing its water canon high into the air as a salute.   With the crowd enthusiastically cheering, Mayflower II reclaimed her place as the centerpiece of Plymouth Harbor.

This month’s tip:  New England is brimming with opportunities for recreating history.  Plimouth Plantation, Minuteman National Park, Fort at No. 4, Pow Wows, The Freedom Trail, Salem, Old Sturbridge Village and numerous other locations offer fantastic settings for creating beautiful “authentic” images.



Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Light From Above

Last night, I spent some time at one of my favorite locations, Scituate Light.   I could tell that there would be an excellent sunset, so I quickly gathered my gear together and headed to Scituate.  

The first weekend in August combined with Heritage Days is a crazy time to photograph in Scituate.   I spend a lot of time in Scituate, but rarely during the summer.   I wasn't exactly surprised by the amount of people in the harbor, but I felt almost overwhelmed.   Scituate Light may be the most famous site in Scituate.   On any given day, the light will have many visitors.   Last night, there were many people milling around, watching a beautiful sunset by the seashore.  

One of my favorite tricks to avoid the crowds is to get up early and stay out late.  I decided to wait long after sunset to watch the colors of the sky as it changed from dusk to night.   The crowds dissipated and the photography improved with excellent light played on the clouds above.  

I found my favorite composition of the evening when it had truly become dark.   Using the large boulders in the foreground to lead the eye towards the light, I created a series of 30 second exposures, that allowed the fast moving clouds to streak through the sky.   I waited for a whole in the clouds to arrive over the lighthouse to capture the stars above.

Night photography is one of my favorite mediums.   It is a lot like opening a surprise gift.   You never know exactly what you will get, but you know it will be good.  

With a warm wind blowing off the water it could not have been a better night.   As I left for the evening, I heard a very loud cricket singing its tune while the waves lapped against the shore.   Summer in New England is impossible to beat!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Robin the Vigilante

A family of red shouldered hawks has lived in my neighborhood for many years.   They are excellent hunters and take advantage of the woods and pond nearby.   I have photographed them calling to each other high up in tall oak trees, eating three foot water snakes and dive bombing me as I stood in my backyard, because they were nesting in the neighboring lot.  


This week I made one of my favorite images of the red shouldered hawks.   I happened to notice one of them perched on a pine tree in my backyard.   I got my camera and ran to my bathroom, which has a nice second floor view of my yard.   This put me at nearly eye level with the hawk.   I opened the window quickly and conveniently sat upon my throne.   Using the window sill and a towel as an improvised camera support, I was able to make some very nice portrait images of the hawk.


Then a brave robin arrived, alerting the entire neighborhood to the hawk's presence.  It was raising a racket and dive bombing the much larger predator.   Keeping both eyes open, I was able to focus on the hawk, while keeping an eye on the robin in a nearby tree.   Seeing the robin start its flight towards the hawk allowed me to know exactly when to start making images with the camera.   Without this technique, I would not have made a single successful photograph.


Hawks and other large birds of prey are often attacked by much smaller birds.  Smaller birds will fight much larger birds, because they want to drive them away from their territory.   This protects themselves and their young.   The smaller birds are more maneuverable and can easily avoid a hawk on the wing; so long as they are aware of their presence.  


A primary tactic of many hunters is stealth.   This red shouldered hawk was patiently scanning my backyard for an easy meal, hoping to go unnoticed.   Unfortunately for the hawk, the robin served as the neighborhood watch and chased it away.


As I photographed this scene, my wife was quite surprised to see my improvised set up. Although, when it comes to photography, nothing seems to surprise her anymore.  I must admit that it was one of the most comfortable blinds that I have ever used!


This month’s tip:   Improvised blinds are often the best way to make great wildlife images.  From your car, crouching behind a tree, or from your bathroom window, staying hidden from view makes a huge difference.   The animals will stay calm and often ignore your presence, allowing you to observe them and make great images!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Osprey on Display

Now that my gallery exhibit is printed and hanging, the opening is over and the house chores are underway, I finally have time to photograph.   I have had a great week so far.   The stars of my latest adventures have been a local family of osprey.   The chicks have recently fledged.   One of them still has trouble flying.   It takes off like a drunken sailor and looks like it will crash at any moment, but it is quite able to scare the heck out of the local seagulls!

This family hangs out between four locations; their nest, two dead trees and some old pier pilings.  So long as I stay low and quiet, the osprey do not mind my presence.   The adult male is an excellent hunter.  On my first visit he brought home a nice striped bass to his fledglings.   I was thrilled to catch him in the act even if he had his back turned towards me.   He was exhausted and panting heavily from his efforts.   I often see him flying far out over the ocean in search of prey.  Sometimes he heads inland to a local pond.  While he is out, the female always stays in the neighborhood to keep a watchful eye on her youngsters.

I have enjoyed watching these magnificent birds on three separate occasions.   It is nice to see that the osprey population is reestablishing itself since the DDT disaster of the 1960's when more than 90% of the population was lost.   These osprey fledglings have been banded already, showing that local biologists are well aware of them.   They are approximately two months old and should start hunting on their own pretty soon.

My latest exhibit, "The Glory of Massachusetts" will be on display at the Great Ponds Gallery in the Lakeville Library until the end of August.  This exhibit features nearly 30 of my favorite images from across Massachusetts.  Click here to find out more information 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lead Story in the People Section of the Boston Globe South

Paul Kandarian of the Boston Globe wrote an excellent article about me and my exhibit "The Glory of Massachusetts."   The article is the lead story in the Boston Globe South's People section.   It includes a self portrait of me standing at Cape Royal on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  You can read it here:

The exhibit will be on display at the Great Ponds Gallery in the Lakeville Library until the end of August.  You can read more about it here:

The images displayed in the gallery are available for purchase.   If you would like to buy one (or more:) of the images, please email me with your request   The images can be made larger or smaller to fit your needs.    If you buy two framed images featured at the gallery there is a 10% discount.   If you buy three or more, there is a 20% discount.   Contact me today!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Thank you!!

Thank you to everyone who came to the opening of my exhibit "The Glory of Massachusetts."   It was fantastic to see so many people at the exhibit!   It was a pleasure to chat with so many old friends and new acquaintances.  Your kind comments are very much appreciated!   Thank you for coming out on such a hot day.

A number of people were curious about purchasing the images displayed in the gallery.   They are indeed available for purchase.   If you would like to buy one (or more:) of the images, please email me with your request   The images can be made larger or smaller to fit your needs.    If you buy two framed images featured at the gallery there is a 10% discount.   If you buy three or more, there is a 20% discount.   Contact me today!

If you did not make it today, the exhibit will be on display at the Great Ponds Gallery in the Lakeville Library until the end of August.

Thank you again to all who came out to see the "Glory of Massachusetts" today!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Adventures in Photography: Buck's Team

            Halflingers are one of the most beautiful breeds of draft horses.   Their long blond manes combined with their chestnut coats makes for a striking horse.    Famed for their gentle nature, halflingers were bred as small, but reliable draft horses in Austria during the late 1800’s.   Their small stature comes from their lineage of Tyrolean ponies.   They are quite common in the Alps of Austria and Northern Italy.

            Bob Buck, a resident of Middleboro, raises halflingers.   He graciously allowed me to photograph his team as he plowed his vegetable garden on a hot day in May.    These two halflingers were the oldest in Buck’s stable.   They worked up quite a sweat plowing through the rich emerald fields of spring.

To create this image, I wanted to show nothing of the modern world.    This meant carefully including only the horses and the trees in the background.   I made sure to keep an eye out for other objects from the farm that would give the scene away.   In the original version of this image I accidentally included Bob’s shoe and the lower part of his leg covered in blue jeans.   This was too modern for what I had envisioned, so I cropped the image even tighter.

Having the background of the green grasses and trees was not an accident.   Once I had spotted this area on the farm, I asked Bob to turn his halflingers by that spot again and again.   He obliged for about a dozen turns.   This gave me plenty of opportunities to refine my images and wait for the perfect moment.   Working with people and animals requires patience and sometimes with the right models, they will work with you to create an even better image.

This image shows Massachusetts as it once was.   I am fascinated with history and what life may have looked like in days gone by.   Imagine how an old farm might have looked in 1776 or 1660…   By carefully including only elements that may have been seen in the past, I have created an image that represents my imagination of history.   Can you imagine a hot spring day, with vibrant green grass and aspen leaves being backlit by golden sunlight?   A farmer with two beautiful, hardworking horses headed down a lane of freshly plowed earth, drives off into the distance.   No cars, telephone poles, cell phones or modern signs of life.   Just a man with his team…

This Month’s Tip:   Don’t be afraid to create or even recreate a scene.   Sometimes you can get a second opportunity at that once in a lifetime image.   If the moment passes and you weren’t ready, see if you can arrange the elements of the image to try again.   In this case, I knew what I wanted and I directed Bob towards a particular spot on his farm again and again…   It was definitely worth it!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Patriot Ledger Posted a Nice Article About My Upcoming Exhibit

This evening, Sue Scheible of the Patriot Ledger wrote a nice article about my upcoming exhibit "The Glory of Massachusetts".   She posted it on the Ledger website and included a video interview from the "Photographing the Beauty of the South Shore" exhibit in March.  You can read the article and see the video here:

"The Glory of Massachusetts a Photographic Journey" will be presented at the Great Ponds Gallery in the Lakeville Library from July 20 - August 30.   The opening reception will be on July 20 from 11am - 1pm.   The exhibit will feature 30 of my favorite images from Cape Cod to the Berkshires.   I will also present writings about the stories behind the images.   For directions to the Lakeville Library, click here:

I hope you will join me at the opening on July 20.   Thank you again to Sue Scheible for writing such a nice article!

The image accompanying this post is called "The Light Within".   I made this image on New Year's Eve after a fresh snowfall.    I was fortunate that the owner of the barn was willing to let me play that evening!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Whole Page in the Gazette!!

Today, the Middleboro Gazette published an article about me and the opening of my latest exhibit at the Great Ponds Gallery at the Lakeville Library.   They dedicated an entire page to my article and photographs!   I have been truly lucky to have a lot of fantastic press from the Gazette over the years.   I am truly thankful for all of the support that the editor, Jane Lopes and her staff have given to me!   You can read the article and see the photographs here:

My latest exhibit, "The Glory of Massachusetts a Photographic Journey" will be on display at the Great Ponds Gallery in the Lakeville Library from July 20 - August 30.   The opening reception will be on July 20 from 11am - 1pm.   The exhibit will feature 30 of my favorite images from Cape Cod to the Berkshires.   I will also present writings about the stories behind the images.   For directions to the Lakeville Library, click here:

I hope you will join me at the opening on July 20.   Thank you again to Jane Lopes and Matt Ferreira for such an amazing article!!

The image accompanying this post was made at Rockport Harbor in 2011.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Glory of Massachusetts Exhibit Opening

I am proud to announce the opening of my latest portfolio, "The Glory of Massachusetts."   The portfolio will be presented at the Great Ponds Gallery in the Lakeville Library from July 20 - August 30.   There will be an opening reception on Saturday, July 20 from 11am-1pm.   Light refreshments will be served.

The portfolio will feature thirty of my favorite images that portray Massachusetts from Cape Cod to the Berkshires.   The portfolio will include some of my classics as well as newly released works.  In addition, the presentation will include the stories behind the images and their subjects.  

For more information on the Great Ponds Gallery at the Lakeville Library, please visit this link:  For directions to the Lakeville Library, please visit this link:

I have compiled these images for nearly a decade and I am looking forward to sharing them with you!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Duxbury Beach Photo Walk

I will lead a free photo walk at Duxbury Beach on Thursday, July 18 from 9:30-11:00. No registration is necessary. This workshop is sponsored by the Massachusetts Audubon South Shore Regional Office and the Duxbury Beach Reservation, Inc. We will meet at the Duxbury Beach parking lot. The parking lot is across the Powder Point Bridge on the right. Be sure to tell the harbormaster you've come for the Mass Audubon program.

During the workshop, we will go for a short walk along the beach and look for subjects that catch our eye. Along the way we will discuss a variety of photography topics including composition and exposure. All levels of photographers are welcome. Beginners are especially encouraged to attend.
For more info call 781 837 9400.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Photography on the Wing

Today, I led the second part of "Photography on the Wing" for the Mass Audubon. We applied techniques for bird photography that we discussed on Thursday night during part 1. We started in a blind where we observed both barn and tree swallows. It was nice to be out of the rain.

Once the rain dissipated we made our way to an old apple orchard where we spotted yellow warblers and red-winged blackbirds. Along the way we observed more swallows, mourning doves, bluebirds, bobolinks, Canada Geese and their goslings, and an osprey. We were patient, lying low on the ground to reduce our profile and to get at the bird's eye level. After a couple of hours, we were able to see many birds, discuss many techniques and make many excellent photographs!
Barn swallow bringing construction materials to the nest.

Tree swallow singing in the rain.

Bluebird on guard duty.

Male bluebird looking good for the ladies.

Mourning dove couple out for a morning stroll.

Dapper morning dove posing for the portrait.

Yellow warbler looking pretty amongst some apple blossoms.
Red-winged blackbird celebrating spring!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Adventures in Photography: Kayaking the North River

My good friend Glenn Silvia recently invited me to kayak with him on the North River.   We put in at the Hanover Canoe Launch on the Indian Head River and paddled more than twelve miles to the spit in Scituate.   At the end of a fantastic journey, we took the kayak out at the Driftway Conservation Area on the Herring River.

Along the way we saw many different birds including a kestrel, a common goldeneye, great egrets, phoebes, yellow legs, osprey, red breasted mergansers, common mergansers, and numerous cormorants.   In addition to the birds, we also saw a small colony of harbor seals that were sunning themselves on docks near Damon’s Point.

We passed under a number of interesting bridges and paddled by many parks.   Traveling down the river offered many new and interesting perspectives.   In many cases we were able to see scenes that we had passed by many times before in our cars.   Being low on the river in some ways limited our view and in many ways enhanced it.   We were able to get close to the birds and habitats that we usually would only see through a telescope or binoculars.

For more than two hundred years, the North River was the home to many shipbuilders.   From the mid 1600’s to the 1900’s, the shipwrights along the North River built hundreds of sea worthy vessels.   They ranged in size from 20 tons to more than 450 tons.  One of the most famous vessels built on the North River was the Columbia, the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe!  Today the town of Norwell maintains many plaques that mark the sites of the former shipyards.

Photographing from a kayak offers many opportunities and many challenges.   The first challenge is to keep the camera equipment dry.   Using a watertight stuff sack, I was able to keep my camera and lenses reasonably dry.   After the trip, I made sure to clean all of my equipment with lens cleaner.  The North River is a tidal river and the salt water is especially corrosive.  

The second challenge is keeping the camera steady enough to make sharp shots!  When possible, bring the kayak to a complete stop and hold it steady.   Using a high ISO makes a big difference.   ISO 400 in bright sunlight is a good starting point.   Try to achieve a shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second or faster to insure sharp images.

Kayaking and photographing the North River was a fantastic adventure.  It was a trip that I had hoped to take for nearly a decade.   Floating along the river was a great way to spend a warm day in April.  Visiting seals eye to eye is an experience I will never forget!

This month’s tip: Try new perspectives.   Photographing from especially low and high vantage points often makes for excellent photography.   In this adventure, I took advantage of traveling on the North River to get a unique vantage point.

Greg Lessard is a professional photographer.   You can join him at his next workshop “Photography on the Wing” at the North River Sanctuary of the Massachusetts Audubon Society.   To sign up, call 781 837 9400.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Houdini the King Eider and his Vanishing Act

Yesterday, I went for another look at the king eider.   This turned out to be the best session with him yet.  He displayed a wide variety of behaviors with many interesting views.

The wind was calm, so there were minimal waves.   The eider preened and chased other eiders, creating many excellent opportunities for photography.   Twice, the eider rose up to stretch his wings in full view.  I was very happy to create this image.   It was one of two photographs that I had hoped to make when I set out to find the eider.

This king eider is very elusive.   He often hides behind other eiders and frequently changes the direction he is swimming.   If you take your eye off of him for even a second, he is capable of disappearing.   It is almost as if he is a magician.   At the end of the morning, there were six people watching him.   I took my eye off of him for a moment and he was gone.   I was not happy with myself for losing sight of him.   A few seconds later, the other five people all exclaimed in surprise that he had simply vanished.   I think I will call him Houdini from now on!

Don't forget to sign up for my bird photography workshop with the Mass Audubon.   You can get more info at this link   To sign up, please call the North River Sanctuary at 781 837 9400.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My Images are Being Featured at the Photographic Impressions Gallery

I am happy to announce that my images are being featured at the newly opened Photographic Impressions Gallery in North Easton, MA.   Owned by photographer Al Merrill, the gallery displays many beautiful images of quintessential New England scenes.  

My first image that will be offered for sale at the gallery is the very popular "At Attention".   This image is one of my favorites from my recent "The Year of the Snowy Owl" portfolio.   The snowy owl was the first that I had ever photographed.   I was extremely excited to find this owl and make a wonderful image of it!  

The Photographic Impressions Gallery is open Thursday through Sunday.   It is located at 14 Center St., North Easton, MA.   Please visit this link for more information   I hope you will visit the gallery soon to see all of the beautiful images and purchase one for your home or office!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Grand Canyon Hummingbird and Bird Photography Workshop

This hummingbird was enjoying an early morning visit to a patch of wild penstemon near Cape Royal on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.   I had stopped to photograph the beautiful red flowers.   As I was setting up a composition, I heard a faint helicopter like buzz, just above my head.   Suspecting a hummingbird, I slowly moved to a better position to spot the tiny bird.   Sitting still for a few minutes, I watched the hummingbird set up a pattern of feeding on the penstemon, chasing off another hummingbird, sitting in a tree and feeding all over again.   Being patient, I was able to make a few nice images of the hummingbird when it flew within a few feet of me.   After a few minutes, I waited until the hummingbird flew into a nearby tree and I quietly left the penstemon patch.  

This was yet another exciting moment on my journey to the North Rim.   As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I was truly surprised with the mountainous forest vegetation that is on the North Rim.   I truly expected it to be a desert.   Instead, I found an oasis in the upper elevations that resembled the Rockies.   Finding this hummingbird was truly a delight!

On May 9 and 11, I will be teaching a two part workshop on bird photography for the North River Wildlife Sanctuary of the Massachusetts Audubon in Marshfield.   The workshop will meet at the North River Sanctuary on May 9 from 6-8PM.   It will meet at the Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary on May 11, from 7-9AM.   The fee for both sessions is $25 for Audubon members and $30 for non-members.   You can find out more about the workshops at my earlier blog post  You can sign up for the workshop by calling the North River Sanctuary at 781 837 9400.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Keen Mink

This mink was very busy hunting along the coast.   It was dodging in and out of rocks lining the shore.   Every so often, the mink would poke its head up to look around.   It was keeping an eye on the humans that were walking nearby.   As the mink made its way, I went far ahead of it and waited for it to approach me.   The mink moved very fast.   Fortunately, I had guessed that the mink would spend a moment in the shade of a cedar tree.   That moment lasted for less than 30 seconds, but it was long enough for a quick portrait.   Soon the mink was on its way.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Inner Canyon View

This is an early morning view from Cape Royal on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.   The ridges in this image are more than 7000 feet tall.   Cape Royal is nearly 1000 feet taller, providing a commanding view over the surrounding canyon.

It is an awe inspiring view where one can easily be caught up in thoughts about time and history.   The layers of sandstone eroded away to form a canyon over millions of years.   Our life span is but a brief moment compared to the millennia that it took to create this astounding view.

Cape Royal is truly a spiritual place with a timeless quality.   It is easy to become captivated by this beautiful canyon.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cape Royal Sunrise - Wide View

On my first morning at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, I was able to watch the sunrise in complete solitude.   I am still amazed at how often I can be completely alone in some of the grandest landscapes on the planet.

Cape Royal is a 40 minute drive from the Grand Canyon Lodge.   It was a peaceful drive down a long, winding and dark road.   As I made my way down the trail by flashlight, I could see the faintest of pre-dawn light to the east.   As that light began to intensify, I discovered one of the most amazing views I have ever seen.   The Grand Canyon in all of its glory at first light.

As the morning wore on, I spent nearly two hours at Cape Royal enjoying one vista after another.   Eventually, I saw other people on the trail.   They were seeing a beautiful landscape too, but they had missed it.   The show was over and they would never know the difference.   With an uplifted soul, I photographed a beautiful patch of Indian paintbrush; the best that I had ever seen.  

Soon I was driving back towards the lodge, but not before I made a few more discoveries along the way.  The columbine were also in bloom and a few hummingbirds were visiting the forest as well.   This journey was amazing and I am truly thankful to those who had the foresight to set aside this unique wilderness for all to enjoy!

Yesterday, I posted another image made from the exact same location with a telephoto lens.   Please compare these two images to see which one you prefer.  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Layers...Grand Canyon Sunrise

In the summer of 2011, I was able to spend a glorious morning all by myself at Cape Royal on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.   Its amazing how few people get up to see the sunrise, particularly in beautiful locations like the Grand Canyon.   Its never easy.   Staying curled up in a warm bed always makes a strong pitch.   It is almost always worth it.   I have seen hundreds of sunrises and can count on one hand the amount of times that I came away disappointed.   That doesn't mean that I always see a great sunrise.   Far from it.   I do thoroughly enjoy the calm peacefulness of dawn.   If the sunrise doesn't pan out, there is usually something else to be found that is beautiful in its own right.   For those few days that I was disappointed, I firmly believe that I didn't look hard enough or I simply missed it.

This sunrise was the start of an amazing day.   I photographed wildflowers, hummingbirds, thunderstorms and amazing landscapes.   What could be better?

The North Rim was truly captivating.   I enjoyed the canyon views, but what truly impressed me was the forests and meadows.   I expected to see deserts when I went to the Grand Canyon.   It was however, a beautiful mountain ecosystem similar to the northern Rockies.   I found it to be a very intriguing juxtaposition to the desert of the inner canyon.

This image was created with a telephoto lens.   Telephoto lenses will compress the scene in front of you.  In this case it made the ridges of the canyon seem much closer together.   It also allowed me to minimize a relatively boring sky.  Tomorrow I will post the same view photographed with a wide angle lens.   The contrast between the two is striking.   Both images are beautiful.   I will leave you to decide which one you prefer.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Montana Mountain Goat

Reviewing old files can be a lot of fun!   This image was made during my workshop in Glacier National Park in 2011.   We saw plenty of wildlife.   I joked that we were close enough to shake hands with the mountain goats and bighorn sheep.   As you can see, it was not much of an exaggeration!

This mountain goat lumbered off the side of the mountain and walked right in front of us.  Many of the mountain goats are habituated or maybe oblivious to human contact in this area of Glacier.   While I jest about shaking hands with the goats, we made a point of keeping our distance.   Mountain goats have gored more than one person who has come too close.

This morning was the first morning of our trip.   We saw an incredible sunrise, at least a half dozen big horn sheep, a half dozen mountain goats, a deer eating glacier lilies, hoary marmots, pika and some of the best mountain scenery on the planet.  It was the beginning of an amazing journey.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Merganser Extravaganser!

On Saturday, I found four pairs of red breasted mergansers that were beginning to court.  These colorful birds usually don't allow you to get very close without the use of a blind.  On this evening, they were too involved with impressing the opposite sex to care about a strange photographer on the shoreline.   They continually chased each other back and forth, often swimming within ten feet of me!

With the sun setting, the lighting could not have been better.   The temperature was warm and spring was in the air.   For nearly an hour, the mergansers put on a show, with the males showing off a strange dance and calling to impress the females.  

This was an amazing opportunity for close up images of birds that are usually very skittish.   It was one of my favorite moments in nature.   The tranquility of the setting, combined with the extraordinary viewing experience of the mergansers made for a very memorable evening!
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