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.
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