THIS IS THE YEAR!
I’ve said that before, haven’t I?
Over the last few years, instead of being envious of my friends who ventured into to mountains, returning with spectacular photographs, I was going to hike to the mountain tops to make my own. But there was always something in the way. Lack of proper gear to hike in the frigid, wind-swept mountains, also, while always smoldering, I seemed to lack sufficient “fire” to give me the final push. Always something holding me back.
This is THE year!
With my friend Nate, the summit of Mt. Avalon in New Hampshire was a good place to kick it off.
2013 Is Going To Be A Great Year!
Awaiting The Launch.
Not long after sunrise, large groups of photographers gather for the morning launch of the hot air balloons at the 2010 Pittsfield, NH Hot Air Balloon Festival.
Canon EOS 1D Mk IIN
Canon EF 50mm f1.4
iso 100, 6 seconds @ f11
Grand mountain vistas, spectacular Autumn color, and a beautiful mountain top sunset,
are what I wanted for my trip to the White Mountains to capture fall foliage images this past Sunday, but what I got was rain. Not a heavy rain, but on and off, mostly on, showers all day long. And when it wasn’t raining, there was always a steady drizzle. Not that I minded much, the color in norther New Hampshire was spectacular! And the overcast conditions really made the colors all the more vibrant and saturated. The colors were popping in the Whites, that’s for sure!
Silver Cascade, Crawford Notch, NH.
(Arguably the most spectacular falls in the White Mountains that you can see from your car).
Stay home where it’s dry?
Not likely. With a tight schedule, and a short window of opportunity for the best fall color in White Mountains, I wasn’t about to let a little rain put a damper on my plans. I packed a few towels, several plastic bags of various sizes, and I headed north.
As soon as it became clear that the weather wasn’t going to cooperate, one word popped into my head, “Waterfalls!” New Hampshire’s White Mountains are loaded with waterfalls of all shapes and sizes. I haven’t photographed many of them, and none of them in Autumn, so if I couldn’t capture the mountain top sunset I had hoped for, then a few nice waterfalls surrounded by some spectacular Autumn color would have to do.
Lower Falls on the Swift River, Albany, NH.
(Not quite peak color yet. In the summer, Lower Falls is a very popular swimming hole, and the rocks and water would be covered in people)
Ripley Falls, Hart’s Location, NH.
(This was my first visit to Ripley Falls, but unfortunately it was a short one. Since the rain was getting a little heavier, I took off my sweatshirt and grabbed my rain jacket. All day long I was constantly using a micro-fiber cloth to wipe rain drops off the front of my lens. I kept the cloth in the front pocket on my sweatshirt, guess where it stayed after the wardrobe change. I was only able to make three exposures before I lost the battle with rain drops on my lens. This was the only “keeper.” In an effort to keep the rain at bay, I held my hat over the lens, so of the three exposures I made, one had my fingers in it, and another had the bill of my hat, both deleted)
“No Swimming.” Rocky Gorge, Swift River, Albany, NH.
(My favorite image from a wet day in the mountains, and my favorite so far of Rocky Gorge).
Tips for shooting in the rain.
Keep it dry, as much as possible anyway. Unless you have a weather sealed camera body and lenses, try to keep as much moisture from them as possible. While there are many commercially available rain covers on the market, I went the DIY route with large clear plastic bags to help keep the elements at bay. Though if it was only a light drizzle, I just kept a had towel with me to periodically wipe the camera down. I also took the camera out of whatever bag or “rain cover” it had been in and set it on a towel on the car seat while driving between locations, giving the camera a chance to dry out a bit.
Keep a micro-fiber cloth handy, and use it. Constantly check the front element of your lens for water droplets. There isn’t much worse than having to delete that “winner” shot because you didn’t notice the water drop on the lens.
Use a circular polarizer when shooting on rainy, foggy days. It will help remove the glare from wet foliage, and really make the colors pop.
Finally, if it isn’t already, get your gear insured. Adding it to your homeowners or renters insurance is pretty cheap, and takes some of the stress out of shooting in potentially camera killing conditions, knowing that should anything go wrong your gear is covered.
Focus on the intimate.
With even the lowest peaks in the White Mountains with their heads in the clouds, grand scenic images were all but impossible. A good idea is to focus on small portraits of the beautiful color before your eyes.
Be careful, use your head, but most of all, don’t let a little rain keep you from that fall color. It’s only here for a very short time, enjoy it while you can.
This is also part of Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Challenge, the theme is Foliage. You can see more entries here.
Straight out of “Landscape Photography 101.”
Now here’s a theme I can sink my teeth into. A strong foreground element starts your visual journey into the photograph, with the main subject in the distance, the destination.
(from my favorite water-lily hot spot)
Winters Cold Embrace.
(I was particularly drawn to the apparent reflection, rendered in ice and snow, of the distant mountain)
The First National Park East Of The Mississippi River.
Over the July 4th holiday my family and I finally made it to Acadia National Park. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. A quick drive through the park on our first day however, told me the four days we were going to be there would not be nearly enough time to uncover all Acadia has to offer.
It’s going to take many visits throughout the seasons to fully enjoy, and photograph, this wonderful National Park.
Here are a few of the scenes I was able to capture on my much too brief visit.
Seen here from just past Monument Cove on the Park Loop Road, Otter Cliffs is one of the first places in the U.S. to receive the suns rays in the morning. Often photographed, Otter Cliffs and this section of shore line, along with its amazing natural stone-work, yields composition possibilities too many to fathom. While the subject may be the same, with so many possibilities for composing an image, making this place your own should require little effort.
The Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Club.
No trip to Acadia would be complete without a trip to the summit of the tallest peak on the eastern seaboard. For almost half the year, from early October to early March, Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the United States to see the rising sun.
Here, a family sits looking out over the Porcupine Islands in Frenchman’s Bay, patiently awaiting the rising sun.
And The Crowd Sang Out.
Membership in the Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Club has but one requirement: experience sunrise from the top of the mountain. Not too tough, as long as you’re willing to get up early enough, and in the summer that means around 3:30 a.m., and be at the summit in time to greet the sun.
As the sun crested the horizon, the members of the Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Club, their numbers many and who had sat there peacefully, surprised me with a loud cheer! Hearing it brought a smile to my face and made me want to shout out as well. An outstanding start to the new day.
The club was much less exclusive than I had thought. Normally when I’m out shooting a sunrise I have the place all to myself. Or at least the only other people there are a few other dedicated photographers willing to forego sleep in pursuit of the perfect sunrise. On Cadillac there were dozens of people, many dozens. While I was the first one there that morning, I’m sure if I had gone back to the parking lot I would have found it full to over-flowing. Only on Mount Washington in New Hampshire have I seen a larger crowd up this early eagerly awaiting the sun.
The sun just crests the horizon with Frenchman’s Bay and the Porcupine Islands in the foreground.
And Then I Was Alone.
Or so it seemed. The sun was fully above the horizon, and the light going fast, by 5:30 a.m. Too early to head back to my campsite and wake my wife and daughter, so I lay back on the pink granite slope to relax and enjoyed the morning. By 6 a.m. I had the summit of the mountain all to myself, there wasn’t another human being around. But I soon found I was not alone. As I began my descent, this lovely whitetail doe was kind enough to pose for me.
Whitetail doe on the slopes of Cadillac Mountain.
Bridges Of Stone.
In the park there are 45 miles of gravel carriage roads, built between 1913 and 1940, and financed by John D. Rockefeller Jr. as a gift to the park. The roads are only open to foot, bicycle, and horse traffic. These carriage roads often travel over one of the 17 stone faced bridges, 16 of which were also financed by Mr. Rockefeller, found throughout the park. This one below, on Stanley Brook Drive, with its three arches and amazing detail, is my favorite of the ones I’ve seen so far.
One of the 17 stone face bridges in Acadia National Park.
Not Just For Photographers.
Acadia National Park offers opportunities not just for photographers but for outdoor enthusiasts of all types, from hiking, cycling, horse-back riding, swimming (if you dare brave the frigid Atlantic), and rock climbing. Otter Cliffs is a popular destination for the latter. Myself, I’ll photograph it safely from a distance, thank you very much.
Rock climbers on Otter Cliffs.
I have only had the chance to process a few of my Acadia images. As I work my way through the rest I’m sure I’ll be sharing a few more. In the mean time, if you find yourself in New England, Acadia National Park is well worth the visit.
Third times a charm.
June 24th, 2012 was going to be the day I photographed sunrise from the summit of Mt. Washington, NH. The mountain on the other hand was not informed of this plan and did its best to thwart the effort.
The tallest peak in the Northeastern U.S., Mt. Washington’s claim to fame is being “Home to the worlds worst weather,” where on April 12, 1934 a wind gust of 231 mph was recorded, a record for the highest wind speed measured on the earth’s surface that stood for 76 years, until 1996 when Cyclone Olivia snatched the record away. The summit is also shrouded in fog an excess of 300 days a year.
Somewhere in that cloud is the summit.
Not far after we passed the 5 mile mark on the auto road, we were directed to a pull-out, the summit was completely fogged in and it was suggested we go no further. From past experience, I wasn’t going to argue. The first time fellow photographer Denise Ryan and I tried for a summit sunrise, we waited hopefully as the fog teased us with the possibility of clearing. It didn’t. As I recall, neither one of us pressed the shutter button that day. Lesson learned, if the summit is in the clouds, head down.
A tough act to follow.
On this years adventure I was accompanied by John Vose of Jericho Hills Photography. John’s wildlife photography is outstanding, take a look when you get a chance.
Anyway, this year I was going to better last years photographs, plain and simple. Easy right? The first two images in last weeks Weekly Challenge post are from last years attempt at sunrise on the “Rock pile,” as Mt Washington is affectionately known. Shouldn’t be too hard to top those, just be on the mountain for sunrise, piece of cake.
Not so much as it turns out. Remember those 300+ days I mentioned, this was one of them. The clouds obscuring the sun to the east weren’t any help either.
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, at least initially. The sunrise was a non event, with clouds off to the east all but blocking out the sun, add to that not being able to get as high on the mountain as I would have liked, and almost all my enthusiasm was gone. My unrealistic expectations for coming away with photographs topping last years was in hindsight, foolish. I shouldn’t have even been trying to “top” last years photos, I should have concentrated on making this years. Looking at the images from this year, on their own, I’ve become pleased with the results. The sky may not be as dramatic as last year, but overall I think the the images are basically good.
In a first for me, I’ve actually included a person in one of my photographs.
“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
- Ansel Adams
All the photos below were made, “created” if you will, not simply taken.
To me, taken implies I just showed up and happened to be pointing my camera in the right direction at the right time. Made however, conveys the effort that went into the creation of the photograph. From choosing the subject and composition, to the willingness to be on location at 3 in the morning or kneel in an icy mountain stream, all to capture the image you have envisioned.
Moments before sunrise from just below the summit of Mt. Washington, NH
As the sun peaks above the horizon, it sets the sky on fire. Mt Washington, NH
A foggy sunrise over New Hampshire’s granite coast. Rye, NH.
Early light over the salt marsh at Odiorne Point, Rye, NH (9 image pano)
My suggestion to you is to get out there and create!
Attempt Number One.
I love living on a lake, no surprise there. When I got my first camera, four years ago this month actually, one of the first things I knew I wanted to photograph was a sunrise over the lake. So one morning I grabbed my camera and tripod and went down to the beach closest to our house. There are a few boulders just a few feet from shore that I knew would be just the thing for that all important foreground element.
Being new to photography then, I figured all I needed to do was be there around sunrise, point my camera in the general direction of the rising sun, and wa-la, award-winning sunrise. Well it didn’t take long for that bubble to burst and realize that it takes just a bit more than that.
This is my first attempt, more of a “blue hour” photo than a true sunrise, but the clouds came in and this was as clear as it got.
It’s also pretty obvious, to me at least, that at this point in my journey to becoming a photographer I needed to learn a thing or two about composition as well.
My second effort didn’t turn out much better. If it wasn’t for the fisherman in the boat I’m not sure I would have kept the two images from this particular morning that have so far escaped the delete key. Not the most horrible photo I’ve ever made, but I don’t see any awards or sales orders in its future either. I do love the golden glow on the rippled surface of the lake though, so there is that going for it.
Third time’s the charm. I was all set to head to the seacoast in the morning, but just didn’t feel like getting up early enough to make it for sunrise. So I settled one more time on the lake.
One of the biggest reservations I have about putting much effort in shooting this lake is the utter featurelessness (is that even a word?) of the far shoreline. It looks like someone took a giant pair of hedge trimmers and went nuts. Not a hill or mountain in sight, just a straight, flat treeline. I was going to need a great sky, along with my already chosen foreground element to make it work to my satisfaction.
Yesterday morning it happened! And I almost missed it, can you believe that? I got up at 5 a.m., stepped out on the deck, looked up, seeing mostly clouds I seriously considered going back to bed. Then, while having my coffee I looked through the trees toward the lake and saw the horizon to the east was open. Not much, but enough to make me grab my tripod and camera bag and make a fast walk to the closest of our beaches. Knowing that with only a sliver of open sky at the horizon, things could be spectacular, but they would happen fast and be over quickly, I didn’t waste any time getting to the water’s edge.
Mother nature did not disappoint, and the sky lit up just as I had hoped. It also came and went as quickly as I had anticipated, so I was glad I picked up the pace when I did. At best, I had 7-10 minutes of the most glorious sky I have yet to photograph over “our” lake. And the reflection on the surface of the lake, I’ll just let the photograph speak for itself…
And to think I almost drove an hour to the coast…
The road through the forest.
I’ve never been down this road past this point…
…because when I get here and look right, I see this.
Through the mystery hole.
I could spend hours photographing the contents of my favorite Jefferson, NH abandoned barn. Unfortunately, unwilling to trespass, I’m limited to the view through the windows.
Or, as is the case with “Horse Nails” above, through the “mystery hole.” The small square hole between the two windows on the side of the barn below. I would love to know what the hole could have been used for, so if any of you “barnologists” out there have any ideas, please let me know.