Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

The red-winged blackbird sings loud from the marsh ~

Singing The Song Of Spring

 

The loon’s haunting call echoes through the evening stillness ~

common loon spreading its wings to shake off excess water after surfacing from a dive.

Verdant patterns emerge from soft wet earth~

Waves

Snowmelt swells swift running streams~ 

green plant in flowing water

Spring

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

Good times in Tuckerman Ravine.

There is a very high threshold that would need to be met when it comes to weather I’d consider too extreme to venture out with my camera.

Though honestly, if I think there’s a photograph to be made I don’t think there is weather too extreme.

And even when the weather doesn’t play nice, like this past Sunday when a couple of friends and I hiked into Tuckerman Ravine on New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, we were still able to have some fun and enjoy a fine spring day in the mountains. High winds, blowing snow, limited visibility and all.

This was our sunrise.

Tracey, Adam, And The Weather In Tuckerman Ravine

Waterfall Season Is Almost Here.

Intimate close-up of an upper pool at the popular Sabbaday Falls.

Longer Days Ahead.

The sun is rising earlier and setting later, a sure sign that Spring is on the way. With the onset of Spring my attention is inevitably drawn to waterfalls. One of the great things about living in the state of New Hampshire is the abundance of waterfalls that can be found around the state. Luckily, one usually doesn’t have to drive very far to find them either. Whether it’s a popular named waterfall in the White Mountains, one where you may have to wait your turn for the best shooting spots, or the little known unnamed falls scattered throughout the state. Large or small, they’re everywhere and Spring is the best time to photograph them.

 

Tucker Brook Falls with Boulder.

The Etherial Flow.

 Soft, silky, like cotton candy, however you describe it, that silky flowing appearance of the water, so common in waterfall images, requires a long exposure. I generally want at least a 1/2 second exposure, but  5, 8, even 10 seconds or more isn’t uncommon. Because of these long exposures, the most important piece of equipment you’ll need for your waterfall photography is a tripod. For capturing the flowing water while rendering the surrounding scenery as sharp, a good sturdy tripod isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. Besides camera and lens, my tripod is the one thing that never gets left behind. This goes for any of my landscape photography, not just waterfalls.

As the Mad River in Farmington, NH, cascades over a bright green moss covered granite ledge, it shoots down a natural flume carved into the rock over the centuries. As it reaches the bottom of the flume, it enters a small pool and from there disappears into the forest beyond.

Controlling The Light.

A Circular Polarizing filter(CPL) is another must-have in my camera bag. Not only does it help remove the glare and reflection from the surface of the water, wet rocks, and leaves that may be in the photo, it also reduces the light coming through the lens by 1 1/2 to 2 stops. Reducing that light can help you achieve those longer exposures on brighter days. At times the light will still be too bright to allow a slow enough shutter speed even with a CPL in place. This is when a neutral density filter comes in handy. I carry a 4 stop square ND filter made by HiTech. This filter  is designed to slip into a filter holder mounted on the front of my lens, but I often just hand-hold the filter in place. ND filters are available in several variations, both glass or resin slip in type, and round screw on style with as much as 10 stops of light stopping power. Becoming more and more popular are Variable Neutral Density filters, screw on filters that can be adjusted by rotating them to give from 2 to 8 stops of light reduction. As with most anything, you get what you pay for so buy the best you can afford. Another tip with screw on filters, buy a filter that fits your largest diameter lens and then buy step up rings to fit it to your lenses with smaller diameter filter threads. That way you don’t need to buy multiple expensive filters in different sizes to fit all of your lenses.

The Blinkies Are Your Friend.

While shooting waterfalls I always pay close attention to the histogram to help avoid blowing out the highlights. I also turn on the “Blinkies” the highlight alert warning that flashes in the image preview. Overexposed highlights will flash as black, and you want little if any in the photo. I say little because if you’re shooting in RAW, as you should be, a small amount of overexposure can be brought back with the highlight recovery slider in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw, or other RAW converters.

The Weather At It’s Best.

Is not the best weather for waterfalls. The best time to photograph waterfalls is on grey overcast days. This will give you nice even lighting across the falls, enabling longer exposures, and more importantly, helping to reduce hot spots on some of the white water on the falls. Trying to get a decent exposure when part of the fall is in the shade and part in the sun will result in either a lot of blown highlights (there won’t be much detail in the flowing water, but it shouldn’t be a featureless bright white either), or a perfectly exposed waterfall surrounded by dark blocked up shadows. The nice even lighting of an overcast day makes getting good exposures almost easy.

Stream flowing from the base of Garwin falls, dappled sunlight is hitting the evergreen tree trunks on the bank

(The image of Garwin Falls, above, is a perfect example of what can happen when part of the falls is in the sun. Because of this there are several spots in the white water of the falls that are much brighter than I’d prefer)

Adventures In Composition.

**Let me start by saying that safety should be your primary concern when around swift running water, especially during the height if Spring runoff, and on the slippery rocks along the riverbank.**

That being said, a willingness to get a little wet, maybe more than a little, can often be the difference between your images being “me-too” copies of every other photograph of that particular waterfall, and being truly unique photographs you can call your own. Always with an eye towards self-preservation, more often than not, I can be found standing, even kneeling, and occasionally sitting, in the water downstream of my chosen waterfall.

Be careful. Be sure to empty your pockets(this one is very important, your iPhone probably won’t enjoy a swim). Give it a try. You’ll dry off on the hike back to the car. Just remember, no photograph is worth risking your safety.

Odds And Ends.

Here are a few pieces of equipment that, while not necessities, can make your waterfall photo adventures easier and more enjoyable.

Remote Shutter Release. Sure you camera’s self timer will work, but a remote means you don’t have to wait for the timer to count down. (Yes I am that impatient).

Knee Pads. My knees aren’t getting any younger and kneeling on stream side rocks and stones doesn’t help. Available at any home improvement store for little money. Not just for waterfalls either, they’re always with me when there’s no snow on the ground. Your knees, and pant legs, will thank you.

Micro Fiber Lens Cloth. If like me you find yourself kneeling in the water below a waterfall you’ll also find yourself dealing with a water drop or two finding its way onto your lens. There is nothing worse than getting home to find that “Winner” image ruined by a water spot in the middle of the frame. Check your lens often, and gently wipe it off.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

New England at its finest!

There are four reasons I love being a photographer in New Hampshire.

Spring.

A large moss covered, sunlit rock dominates the foreground of this image of Tucker Brook falls. Remnants of a late April snow storm can be seen on the forest floor. A long exposure gives the water flowing over the falls in the left background a soft, silky look.

As is typical of New England weather, the stream-side rocks and surrounding forest was covered in 6 inches of  late April snow the day before I made this photo. The remnants of which can be seen is the forest beyond the stream.

Summer.

Closeup of the pink cone flower, the orange tipped yellow seeds radiate from the center of the cone. Bright pink petals circle the central cone.

In the summer, sunrise comes too early, and sunset too late, but there are flowers, oh yes, plenty of flowers. Whether in my yard, deep in the woods, or waist deep in a pond, flowers of all kinds are one of my top choices for photographic subjects.

Autumn.

Looking north from the exposed granite summit of Foss Mountain in Eaton, NH, the vibrant Autumn colors show a beautiful palette of red, orange, and golden yellow foliage painting the mountain sides. Streaming pink and purple cotton candy clouds top the scene. Mount Washington and the Presidential range can be seen in the distance towards the upper left of the scene

The colors of Autumn, there is no single better reason than Autumn’s glorious color to live and photograph in New England!

Winter.

The Presidential Range, including Mt. Washington seen in late winter over a frozen Cherry Pond in the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge.

My second favorite season, after Autumn, Winter provides some of the best photographic opportunities. As long as you’re willing to brave the cold.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal

Renewal = Spring .

Though it’s hard to imagine, with winters icy grip, and its cold white coating of snow, just around the corner, for me when I think of renewal, I think of Spring. Spring is the time of renewal. Soon after the snow melts the wildflowers will begin to emerge and the young animals and birds will soon begin to be born. A new generation is about to commence.

Coming soon…

…to the Spring-time forest near you.

Painted Trillium

Close up of the white petals, with the band of deep pink at each petals base, of a painted trillium.

Pink Lady among the birches.

Pink Lady’s Slipper orchid.

Pink lady's slipper orchid standing next to a small white birch tree, the hint of another flower can be seen in the softly out of focus background, along with the leaf littered forest floor. Dappled sunlight lights the foreground flower seemingly from within. 

The Next Generation.

And soon there will be four.

Canada goose eggs sitting safely in their down lined nest.

Close up of four off white canada goose eggs, all nice and cozy in their down lined nest.

Siblings.

A pair of black bear cubs and their sleeping mother.

A black bear cub stands against a tree, front paws on the rough bark, appearing to look right out of the image and directly at you. It's sibling looks up, almost as if looking up in awe at an older more experience brother, from its comfortable resting place, nestled snuggly against  their sleeping mother.