Chasing Vibrant Sky

Walk To The Sun

In landscape photography no matter how beautiful the scenery being photographed, having a dramatic and vibrant sky can be the difference between a so-so and a So Good! photograph.

Forget about clear skies.

For the most dramatic skies with the most vibrant colors you need clouds. Not just a few little wisps of clouds either, you need enough clouds in the sky to capture the fiery light of the rising sun.

The down side to chasing vibrant, dramatic skies like in these photos is quite often I come away with nothing.

Let me explain.

When chasing vibrant sky I pay close attention to the weather and incoming/outgoing weather fronts. Living on the east coast of the U.S. I look for passing storm fronts that are moving out over the ocean around sunrise, my hope being that the sun, or at least some of its glowing light, will reach the distant horizon before the leading edge of the storm does. If all goes as I hope I may come away with photos filled with beautiful scenery and vibrant fiery sky.

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All doesn’t always go as planned though. In fact I would have to say that I have lost my gamble with the weather more often than I have won. Sometimes the clouds beat the sun to the horizon, dashing any hopes of a colorfully vibrant sky, and the times the forecast is wrong and the clouds or storm passes leaving me with clear blue, and rather boring to my taste, sky.

However when I do get lucky and win, I often win big with skies like the ones seen in the accompanying images.

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Tips and tools for capturing your own vibrant sky.

1 – Get an alarm clock and use it! You’re going to need to get out of bed early, very early depending on how far you are from your chosen destination. I plan to be on location at least 30 minutes prior to actual sunrise. Some of the most dramatic light you’ll capture happens well before the sun actually peeks over the horizon, and there’s nothing worse than watching that glorious color materialize, and subsequently disappear, while you’re still in your car.

2 – Be set up and ready. Weather fronts can pass quickly giving you a very small window of opportunity to capture what can often be fleeting. Sometimes you may have 5-10 minutes or more of the most spectacular sky you’ve ever seen. Other times you’ll be lucky if it lasts 2. If you’re still fumbling around setting up your camera and tripod it could be over before you’re ready.

3 – Filters are your friend. There is likely to be quite a bit of contrast between the brightness of the sky and the brightness of the foreground. There are two ways to deal with this. One is to take multiple photos with one exposed for the sky and one exposed for the foreground then blending them in Photoshop. The other, and my preferred method is the use of graduated neutral density filters (GNDs) while in the field. My two favorite, both from Singh-Ray, are a 3-stop soft edge GND and a Daryl Benson 3-stop reverse GND. Of those two the reverse GND gets the most use because I photograph seascapes so often.

With GND filters you can more closely balance the exposure across the scene which in turn lessens the amount of post processing time per image. Basically, the more right you get in camera the less fixing and fiddling you need to do in the computer.

If you’d like to see more Vibrant, click HERE to see what everyone else is doing for the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Give Lens Flare The Finger!

Have you ever taken what you thought was a killer landscape photo only to get home and find it unusable, ruined by the dreaded lens flare?

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Some lens flare is good, think of those light rays emanating from the sun.

Some  lens flare is bad, like the big balls of color in the photo above.

Would you like to know how a few simple steps taken while in the field, combine with a few equally simple steps taken during post processing can pretty much do away with lens flare?

Check out my article on Craftsy.com where I show you how to go from this…

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…to this,

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By giving lens flare the finger.

Seasons Change.

Days grow shorter, night falls cool and crisp,

The landscape becomes awash in color,

A last show of defiance before white.

Autumn in New Hampshire is late this year, not according to the calendar of course, but when it comes to the spectacular fall foliage the region is known for, the north country is only just beginning to change. The conditions for this were set in motion in the spring and carry thru until now. But the color is coming…

For more Change, check out the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Forces Of Nature

Long exposure image of The Basin, Franconia, NH

Patience

 Nature has a design known only to her,

Slowly revealing her artistic intent with the passing of ages.

As the river flows, sculpting the landscape,

To the Forces of Nature even the granite succumbs.

*   *   *

Rocky Gorge, Autumn Fog.

And Now, By Popular Demand.

Over the last few years I’ve often been asked if I offer workshops. The answer has always been, “Some day.”

I’m pleased to announce that “Some Day” has finally arrived!

Whether you’re looking for a private one-on-one or a small group experience, I can taylor a workshop to your needs.

Seascapes, both morning and evening, along the rugged New Hampshire seacoast, I do that.

Or is photographing the historic charm of a classic New England seacoast town more to your liking? Let me be your guide as we walk around the Portsmouth, NH area in search of iconic New England architecture.

Waterfalls, waterfalls, waterfalls. The White Mountains of New Hampshire has some of the most picturesque waterfalls to be found anywhere.

From roadside to secluded, my June 19-21 White Mountain Waterfalls workshop and photo tour may be just the thing for you.

And then there’s Autumn.

Fall in New Hampshire is a sight to behold, with its vibrant color and mountain views, you’ll experience the spectacular beauty only autumn in New Hampshire can provide. From October 4th to the 6th I’ll be hosting a small group of photographers and helping them capture some of the beautiful color people come from the world over to witness.

For more information on rates or to reserve either a spot on one of my scheduled workshops or a private one-on-one experience, please visit my Workshop page.

As always, don’t hesitate to Contact me.

The Reward As Orange Fades To Blue.

Winter Light.

The view at 4,802′.

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There are 48 peaks on the official list of New Hampshire summits with an elevation of over 4,000 feet. Mount Moosilauke is #10 on that list. “The Moose,” is also the western most peak to be included on the list, and one I had yet to climb.

My reward for the effort, a snowshoe hike on a gorgeous brilliant winter afternoon under a clear blue sky, was to watch the sun as it set over windswept mountains and a moonlit hike back to the car.

As orange,

Winter Sunset, Mount Moosilauke

fades to blue.

Capturing Sunset, Photographer On Mt. Moosilauke

Big, But How Big?

Just how grand is that landscape anyway?

Franconia Ridge From Mt. FlumeAre those mountains in the distance some of New Hampshire’s tallest, or just a few small hills? Without anything in the photo to provide a reference of scale it’s really hard to say for sure.

So what’s a photographer to do?

Simple, by incorporating something of a known size, like a person or a building into your photos you’re more easily able to give viewers a sense of scale in your image.

Fly Fishing At Sunset, Stonehouse Pond.

The fly fisherman standing in his canoe helps to give an idea of just how tall the granite cliffs along the shore of Stonehouse Pond are. (Can’t see him? Click on the image to see a larger version and look for the fisherman along the far shore towards the right side of the image).  

A lone hiker rests on his way to the summit of Mount Washington

Mt. Washington is the tallest peak in the northeast. Having my friend Glen, seen here taking a break on our way to the summit last July, gives an idea of just how big the mountain is. And how much farther we have to go before we reach the summit.

Washington And The Ravines Above Joe Dodge Lodge

Here’s another shot of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, (the peak in the center of the frame), shown with the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Joe Dodge Lodge in the lower foreground. The lodge, the cars in the parking lot, as well as the roadway all provide scale to the mountains looming over them.

People and buildings aren’t the only thing to use to give a sense of scale. Anything of a commonly known size will work.

For more interpretations of this weeks Weekly Photo Challenge, click HERE.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

Mid-Stream. Mad River, Farmington, NH

Surround yourself in nature’s silence.

Close your eyes, release your thoughts.

Let serenity wash through.

Enjoy the Serenity