Capture The Color

Capturing The Color

Again this year the great folks over at Capture the Colour are sponsoring their “Capture the Colour” photo contest. 

And again this year I’m throwing my hat, er my images, into the ring.

Not remotely as well-traveled as many of my blogging friends, my travel is usually confined to the wild and scenic places of New Hampshire.

Enjoy the Color!

Red

Autumn Road

Autumn Road.

Though red is not the dominant color in this image, I chose it for the brilliant reds found in the foliage. Red is the reason, along with the yellows, oranges and golds, that so many flock to the region every fall. 

Autumn in New Hampshire is certainly worth traveling to. 

Yellow

Yellow rose petals on the brick sidewalk. Downtown Portsmouth, NH

Rose Petals On The Sidewalk. Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Blue

The brilliant white steeple of the North Church in Portsmouth, NH

North Church Steeple. Photographed during the “blue hour.”

Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Green

Above tree line, looking over Tuckerman Ravine towards the summit of Mt. Washington, NH

Overlooking Tuckerman Ravine from the Boott Spur Trail. The summit of Mt. Washington in the distance. Captured on my inaugural hike to the summit of the tallest peak in the eastern U.S. and “Home to the worlds worst weather.”

White Mountains, New Hampshire.

White

Winter wonderland. The snow covered mountains of New Hampshire.

Winter Wonderland. 

From the summit of Mt. Avalon, over-looking the valley below, Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range receiving the last rays of the setting sun in the distance.

White Mountains, New Hampshire.

From the mountains to the sea,

We have it all here. Without question, New Hampshire is worth a visit.

I’d like to invite the following bloggers, all of their photographs and travels I greatly admire, to take part, and with luck, win!

Tina

Zhang Wenjie

Julie

Paula

Lucy

All of the above create excellent imagery, and most travel way more than I will ever be able to. (Big bonus, only one of them is likely to kill me for including her :-D) I encourage you all to stop by their blogs and pay them a visit.

Five Minutes To Sunrise.

Sunrise, and a five-minute walk.

Sunrise over Baxter Lake in Rochester, New Hampshire

One of the things I love most about living on a lake are the ready-made photo opportunities it presents me with.

Even when I have no set plans to go out making pictures, all it takes is quick glance out the window to have me reaching for my camera and tripod.

With less than a five-minute walk bringing me to waters edge, there’s almost always time to make a picture.

*   *   *

Is there a place close to home that inspires you to grab your camera, even when you had no plans to do so?

Before There’s Fire.

 There’s Blue.

First Light On The Auto Road.

As a landscape photographer, I love good fiery sunrises and sunsets. A cloud filled sky that bursts into flame as the sun begins or ends its journey across the sky each day is something I hope for every time I head out to make photographs.

However, I don’t just show up a few minutes before sunrise and plop my tripod down, nor do I pack it all in as soon as the sun sinks below the horizon.

The reason I’m willing to get up as early as 1:30 a.m. for sunrise, or stay on location long after the sun goes down, quite often hiking several miles in total darkness, the trail ahead lit only by a small headlamp, is what happens long before sunrise and long after sunset.

Embrace the blue.

Twilight, often called the “Blue Hour,” offers some of the most appealing light of the day. Though not as dramatic as the brilliant reds, pinks, and oranges more often associated with sunrise or sunset photos, the subtle blue tones often give your photographs a more serene, peaceful, even moody feel that is equally worth capturing.

This time of day, with the beautiful, subdued light, is far too often overlooked, especially by beginning landscape photographers. Those arriving minutes before sunrise, or packing up and leaving the second the sun sets, have no idea what they are missing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Capture The Fire. 

Not only are the blue hours at each end of the day a wonderful time on their own to photograph, it’s during this time that I finalize my compositions for when the real show, the fire, begins.

Also, it has been my experience that actual sunrise or sunset often provides the least dramatic light of the mornings or evenings shoot. The best color, even the fiery glow so often associated with sunrise and sunset photographs, may very well occur 15-20 minutes before or after the sun rises or sets.

Often in the past, before I decided I’m willing to forgo sleep in pursuit of a good photograph, I’ve missed out on the best color simply because I wasn’t ready, not there early enough, or called it a day too soon.

All it took was a time or two watching the best light of the day occurring while I’m still getting ready, or worse, still in my car. Or after I’ve put away my camera to head back down the trail, then having the sky ignite with no possibility of capturing it, to get me to decide I needed to get there earlier and stay out later.

This next series of images will hopefully illustrate my point and motivate you to get out there a little earlier, or stay a little later.  These were all taken the morning of August 18th of this year. Sunrise was at 5:53 a.m.

In this first image, taken 41 minutes before sunrise, at 5:12 a.m., I could see hints of color, and great looking clouds. Even this early I knew that this was going to be one heck of a sunrise!

Hints Of Things To Come.

This second image, shot at 5:41 a.m., still 12 minutes before actual sunrise, was the highlight of my morning and made leaving my house at 2 a.m. more than worth it. You want to talk about a reason to get up early? If a sunrise like this doesn’t push you to get out early, nothing will. I don’t think I’ve ever photographed a more brilliant, dramatic, awe-inspiring, sunrise since I picked up a camera. It’s going to take a lot to top that sky.

Fire Over The Ridge. Sunrise In Crawford Notch, NH

And now in this last image, with a capture time of 5:46 a.m., notice how much less dramatic and vibrant the color is. Not only was this only 5 minutes later, showing just how fast the light can change, it was still 7 minutes before actual sunrise.

Compared to the above photograph, let’s just say this one is “lacking.” Of course on any other day, if this were the only photograph I made I’d have been pretty happy, it’s still a darn good sunrise sky. Not all sunrises or sunsets are going to look like the one in that second photo. But on this particular day, this one is clearly second class. And from this point on the quality of light quickly went down hill.

Mountain Silhouette At Sunrise

Here are a few other tips for your next blue hour adventure.

The more popular the location is with photographers, the earlier you should try to be there. There is nothing worse that having to join a chorus line of photographers all vying for the best spot to set your tripod.

- These are likely going to be long exposuresI hope it goes without saying, but a tripod is a must.

Graduated neutral density filters, hard edge for well-defined horizons, like a seascape, and soft edge for when the horizon is interrupted by mountains, trees, etc. will help balance the usually darker foreground with the brighter sky, enabling you to capture the scene in one exposure(of course blending exposures and HDR are also options).

I strongly recommend the rectangular type that slips into a holder on the front of your lens. That way you can vary the position depending on where you want the horizon in your photo, as well as the angle. Stay away from the circular type that thread directly on your lens. Unless of course you plan to place the horizon dead center through the frame in every shot.

Last, and maybe most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the show. No matter your skill as a photographer, there is something about watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset unfold before your eyes that even the best photograph can’t capture.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree

Footloose and fancy free, without a care in the world.

Most people know, or at least assume, I’m a pretty serious guy when it comes to my photography. That is until they look at my feet.

It’s pretty hard to take life too seriously while wearing my Fivefingers. I run in them, I have them on when I wade right in to photograph water lilies, the salty waves crash around them standing in the surf awaiting sunrise, and they’ve been to the summit of Mt. Washington, the highest mountain in the eastern U.S.  The only thing they haven’t seen is snow. Yet.

I wear them everywhere.

I have to thank Paula for the inspiration for this weeks theme. Until seeing her post I really wasn’t sure what I where I would take this weeks theme.

Going The Extra Mile

The World Is Awash In Great Photography.

From a deep blue, almost black, in the foreground the mountain layers fade into the distance. Becoming a paler shade of blue as they recede towards the horizon. The sky above layers of deep orange where the mountains meet the sky, fading to a pale yellow.

 

In these days of digital and the internet, learning the art of photography has never been easier. With so much information available with just a few keystrokes, mastering the technical side of photography is pretty easy these days.

Even the artistic side has become easier. Not necessarily to master, that I think takes an ability to “see” the world in ways other people don’t, a skill that isn’t easily taught. I’m talking about creating well exposed, decently composed photos, above the level of snap-shot. This too has become much easier with the advent of digital.

Look At Me, Look At Me.

Getting your beautiful photos seen is now a piece of cake too.  With sites like Flickr, 500pxFacebook, and of course I can’t forget WordPress, after you’ve learned to make your photographs, getting your images seen by a wider audience than your immediate friends and family is simple. With free sites like these, establishing a web presence is no longer reserved for the advanced amateur or working pro.

Standing Out From The Crowd.

Pink Water Lilies. Bellamy Reservoir.

There is of course a downside to this ease of learning and sharing.  When everyone with a camera is calling themselves a “photographer,” how do you get your images noticed? How can you as a photographer, more importantly, how can your photographs, stand out from the crowd?

Who wants to just have their photos seen?

Who wants to be just another pea in the pod?

Not me!

I want my photos to stand out and make people take notice! I want “Ooooohs!” and “Aaaaahs!” I want people to be drawn into the image, unable to immediately look away. No “brief-glance-then-on-to-the-next” photos for me. If any of my images don’t inspire the viewer to stop and look deeper into the photo, then I feel I’ve failed with that image.

Being good is not good enough.

So for me the answer is simple. You need to “go the extra mile” when making your photographs. Both literally and figuratively, putting in that little bit (okay, sometimes a lot) of extra effort that most people are too lazy, or not imaginative enough think of, can mean the difference between a “ho-hum” photo just like everyone else’s, and something truly different and spectacular.

Get Up, Get Out.

For “Sunrise Mountain Layers,” (top image), first, I was up at 1 a.m. this past Sunday, and on the trail by 2:15. Then it was up a steep, boulder strewn trail, in pitch blackness, lit only by the headlamps worn by myself and my hiking companion. Finally, about two hours later, still 20 minutes before sunrise, I set up my tripod and waited for the scene to unfold.

I have every confidence that few ,if any, saw the sunrise as we did that day. And by putting in the effort, I was there to capture it.

Jump Right In.

Here’s another, slightly less strenuous, though definitely more wet example of “going that extra mile.”

We’ve all seen photos of water lilies before, right? Probably even taken a few yourself, though most likely high and dry from shore I’ll bet. Have you ever thought of emptying your pockets and getting right in the water with them? For “Pink Water Lilies,” I was kneeling in water about 3 feet (1 meter) deep, with my camera on a tripod just a few inches above the surface.

I get a lot wet, and a little muddy when I photography water lilies, and I think my water-lily photographs are different from most because of it. No strenuous pre-dawn hiking involved either.

Be Persistent. 

Another way to go the extra mile is to be persistent.

For a captivating, one of a kind image, unless you’re very lucky, one try is almost never enough.  I’ve been to the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge in northern New Hampshire at least a half-dozen times, one of my all time favorite locations in the state. It’s a 2 1/2 – 3 hour drive, each way, followed by an almost 2 mile hike in to Cherry Pond. Then it’s hike back out, in the dark, followed by the long drive home. Even with all that, I’ll keep going back because I have yet to capture “THE” photograph that sets mine apart from others I’ve seen of this awe-inspiring place.

Standing out takes work, so get to it!

Portsmouth, NH Photo Walk

One of the brick paths, with a white bench on the left, leads deeper into the Prescott Park garden. A bright red, leafy plant dominates the right foreground, with the garden seen deeper into the frame on a misty morning in Portsmouth, NH

This Saturday, July 13th, I’ll be hosting my first ever photo walk in beautiful Portsmouth, NH.

Colonial era homes, beautiful gardens, lobster boats, busy Market Square, plenty of things to keep your shutter finger busy. And that doesn’t include all the shops and restaurants!

If you’re in the area please joins me for a fun, and free, day of exploring this picturesque seacoast town.

I’ll be meeting a few hardy souls in Prescott Park for sunrise, where I’ll then wait for those less inclined to get out of bed so early, before then wandering the town looking for photographic inspiration.

Click HERE for more details.