It’s been snowing a little bit here in Wisconsin and yesterday I went out into the yard to see what I could see, but when I got back to the computer I realized I hadn’t posted all of what I shot in the fall. Doh!
Some of the most beautiful (and easiest) images came from my own yard. I don’t always get myself out of bed in time for the sunrise, but sometimes I do when it’s putting on a show –
The water isn’t always glassy smooth, but it is more often when the sun is just over the horizon. The wind hasn’t yet had a chance to get going. For both shots I used the dock as a tripod platform which I can’t do at all when the water is really moving (it floats). So far the fog hasn’t been around too much, but I like it in the second shot – just barely there.
Sunsets are easier and even though we face east, the light is still gorgeous. I lucked out with these images big time. The sun just lit up the far trees which were in the height of their autumn glory, the water was perfectly still and the sky was just the most amazing October blue. I love my backyard!
Normally I don’t go for such symmetrical landscapes, but who could resist? I wonder if Billy’s house has ever been photographed so much!
Of course it isn’t just the beautiful view that rewards my photographic eye. It’s the small things and the serendipity of nature.
I did not put that leaf there, honest. We took the dock out of the water just after I shot this, so it was like a sweet goodbye from the season. But not for this blog, there will be more fall images to come. Some pretty traditional, but some surprising and not what you think of when you think of fall color!
I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I just don’t finish processing stuff before posting. I’m a nut. These are from the Mt. Foss sunset session.
By now you know I have a fern habit and when I saw these I knew I had to try to work with them. I’m not 100% sold on this, but I was trying to work fast with the light that I had. I wanted them back-lit and I like the glowing aspect, but the sun isn’t in a great position. Moving though, gave me a lot of lens flare. It was too distracting, so I went with this offset sun instead. It’s handheld at ISO 500 and since I wanted those rays coming from the sun, it’s stopped down to f13. I wasn’t sure it would be enough, since this is a new lens, but I took a chance and it worked. In order to get those in your shots, that kind of star effect, you need to close the aperture down.
Usually the most color in a sunset happens after the sun sinks down past the horizon. I learned the hard way that sometimes the color takes a while to develop. The old adage “don’t pack until it’s black” is right on. If you have to hike back to your car in the dark, do it. Bring a headlamp or a flashlight and stay until you can’t see. It’s the only way to make sure you get the most out of the sunset. In the field I used an 8-stop graduated neutral density filter. I still use them because I think it helps me control the light better in-camera. In processing this one, I did notch the saturation up a bit (I think 15 on the sliders) and the luminance on the green and yellow channels, too, just to highlight that spectacular new foliage. I think it gives some much-needed depth in the foreground.
Anyway…sorry for the extra post. Sometimes I’m like a runaway train.
Hey all. I haven’t posted in a while, but today I’m back with some shots from last weekend when my husband and I flew to Ohio to spend a weekend with some friends. It wasn’t a photography trip per se, but I did shoot a little bit. We visited Killbuck Marsh which is a very large floodplain surrounded by farms. We didn’t spend a lot of time there though. We spent a bit more time at our friend’s ranch and so I’ve got a few shots of his neighbor’s ranch at sundown. Enjoy!
My eyes aren’t always turned downwards, finding tiny details to show to the rest of the world. No, sometimes I pretend I’m a landscape photographer. Here are a sunrise at the coast and a sunset at a lake. Unfortunately there were no clouds in the sky for the sunrise, but when I saw the clouds yesterday afternoon, I knew they’d light up well.
To many people the word desert conjures up images of dunes, rippling sand, cactus and brutal temperatures. While some of that might be true, many deserts are far from that. Their lushness and color just might surprise you. Even though I’ve never lived near one, I’ve always loved the desert. High desert especially. That’s one of the reasons I keep returning to the west. The immensity of it just gets to me. The ever-changing face of it. Here are some of my favorite desert images from my recent trip to California.
First is a sunset taken just outside Bishop at the start of Silver Canyon. Unfortunately no clouds came to play so I was very glad the earth brought its own colors.
I just love this next one. It’s the same sunset, but with the hill in shadow and the sun lighting up that terrifically fluffy plant. I have no idea what it is, but I love it. I think it’s the ribbon of trail leading up and out of the frame that makes it so magical for me.
Ok, so this next one isn’t so much desert as mountains, but in the Sierras they go together. The colors in this are just amazing and again, made up for the lack of clouds. I think this is my first ever shot of alpenglow – that pink glow of wonderfullness on the snowy peaks.
Of course the desert is not all soft colors and gentle hills. It’s mostly a harsh environment that takes willpower to survive in. Except for the sunrise shot, the others were all taken with a pretty stiff wind blowing. So much so that my long exposures lack clarity because my lightweight, travel tripod wasn’t heavy enough. That wind was nothing. A few days later in Mono Basin we had steady wind in the 20 mph range with frequent gusts up to 50mph. Unreal. It made it very difficult to deal with and I worried that my camera would be clogged. The grit flew everywhere! Up my nose. In my eyes. I swear it took 10 minutes to rinse my hair in the shower that night. Mostly it was pumice from the volcanoes that created this whole valley. It’s so light that it flies in wind.
Anyway, these next two shots are taken right near the Mono Craters. It was one of the only times the harsh light actually worked in my favor. The fire was recent; in the last couple of years and not a thing is growing yet. Nothing. Zip. It was pretty creepy actually because other than the unrelenting wind, nothing moved or made a sound. No birds. That was the most noticeable. Compare it to the next shot where the desert has come back after a much earlier fire.
The proximity of a big lake, mountains and desert makes for some extreme weather. No doubt these clouds had something to do with the wind. Aren’t they great? Like the clouds that hid the alien ships in Independence Day.
Not the most intimate of portraits. Believe me I felt my visitor status the whole time I was out there. So overawed by it all I had very little time to really get to know it. Besides that I had to balance my photography with our vacation and not drive my ever-patient husband crazy. Only once during the whole trip did I feel my photo mania irritated him, so I dialed back and we were good.
From time to time I go meet up with a few other local photographers. We are all part of the same flickr group and it’s pretty much the same core of people who go to them. We usually try for a sunrise. Winter shooting seems far more popular. Probably because sunrise is at 7am instead of 5. Sunday was such a day. Of course I got about 2 hours worth of sleep the night before. I hate that. Couldn’t get comfortable. I’m coming down with something and kept coughing. The cats kept bugging me. It was brutal. After getting up and reading for a while, I finally went back to bed and was able to sleep for a couple hours. After a bit of a Plan A snafu, we ended up at Adams Point on Great Bay (one of our usual locations) and I got this –
Jeff and I trekked across the meadow heading for the milkweeds hoping for some interesting side light close-ups. I wasn’t feeling it though. Didn’t like any of the compositions I was able to get and didn’t feel like changing lenses for the 10th time (I should have brought my 65-200mm zoom, but had the straight 135mm f2.8 instead – mistake!) so switched tactics instead. Looking up out of my tunnel vision, I saw this beautiful vista. The sun had crested the treeline, but it wasn’t very high and so there are still shadows on the snow. I love the blue of those shadows against the soft pink of the sunlit snow. And the vertical lines of those naked milkweed plants break up the horizontal in an interesting way. The rolling hills and the trees give interest all through the shot. And the sky is equally soft all adding to a hushed, tranquil feeling. Think of it as anti-HDR.
Instead of using my graduated neutral density filter in the field (because my hands were already cold enough) I decided to use the same tool in Lightroom. I added just a little bit of underexposure and saturation in the sky and treeline. Just like a physical filter would have given me. Normally I like doing things in camera, but I just didn’t have the where-with-all yesterday.
I still haven’t gotten a decent sunrise or sunset at this location. Every time I go the sky refuses to cooperate. No clouds or no color. It’s like a conspiracy. Luckily there’s plenty of stuff in the foreground to work with. Here are some from previous shoots –
Boring sky with no clouds, but plenty of color…just look at it reflected in the ice there. That shot is almost straight out of the camera. A little contrast adjustment and I think some sharpening. Now look at this next one – great clouds, but zero color. Sunset bid almost fail. Luckily there was enough interest in the sky for a monochrome. I walked around until I got some other elements to include and later had to climb up that oak tree because the bank was too muddy and slippery.
As a whole, I think they work well to showcase some of the reasons why Adams Point is a nature preserve and also hosts a marine lab. It’s not going anywhere and the pack ice is forming, so one day maybe I’ll get my wish – good color, good sky, pack ice and fog. A girl can dream.
Part of the joy of shooting in the winter in New England is dealing with the cold. Mostly it’s just a matter of the right clothing, but a photographer lives and dies by her eyes and her hands and it’s the hands that suffer most. I think I need to get some of those pocket chemical hand warmers because damn, it’s freezing out there.
The other day I went to shoot this sunset on the nearby lake Massabesic.
It freezes pretty solid in the winter, but wasn’t quite there yet. It was making lots of noise though – cracking and groaning as if trying to have a conversation. I love the noises it makes. Still the ice that was there was interesting which was good because the only clouds in the sky were at the horizon. Those slightly higher ones above were there at first, but the wind pushed them out of the scene. It was the wind that killed me. By the time I shot these –
my fingertips were so numb I couldn’t turn on my headlamp for the hike back to the car. I had to put my thumb in my mouth to get the feeling back. I did warm up on the way back though, and so it wasn’t permanent, but wow, I haven’t been that cold in a while. Looking back on it, I should have worn some long underwear under my pants, but I didn’t. Torso-wise I was pretty well covered. Brain fade. I’ve been meaning to slap some pipe insulation in my tripod legs, but keep forgetting that, too. Constant contact with that frigid aluminum is hard on the fingers. Getting back into the swing of winter takes me a while I guess. Winter photography is its own reward, but I really shouldn’t put myself at risk the way I do.
Anyway, these were shot with my E-30 and ZD 12-60mm as usual and I overexposed by about a stop for each one. I dragged my old Bogen tripod because it’s better in the field than my travel one and I wasn’t walking far. I also used a polarizer and an 8-stop graduated ND filter. I recently read on another photography blog how passe these are, but I disagree. The author went on to say that he’d manipulated his final images with Photomatix. How is that different from manipulating them in the field (apart from my frozen fingers that is)? I can’t say I see any difference in the result. Use the tools that work for you I say.
And stay warm!
This time an old quarry up in the White Mountains in North Conway. It was collectively known as the Redstone Quarry and had several faces and cutting operations. The area is huge and I needed many more hours to shoot there to get all of it. Up until the late 1940s it was an active business with hundreds of skilled workers and its own boarding house not far away. Now both the quarry and the boarding house are abandoned and falling to pieces.
Here are some of the rough columns it produced along with one of my photographer buddies –
The stones were turned on enormous steam-powered lathes like this one –
Here’s a detail of one that was outside of the falling-down house (I LOVE the snow) –
And the rock face itself all frozen over –
In the upper left you can see some of the guide wires that made up the derrick used to hoist the blocks off the face. It was powered by a huge steam-engine in a building next to the quarry. Here’s the top of the building – now collapsed –
The sunset was pretty good from the top of an enormous slag pile –
Even when I’m not on vacation I can’t get excited about getting out of bed before the sun comes up. As a photographer I know I should and not doing so is somewhere between stupid and insane. So why would I drag my ass out of bed before 7 on vacation?
For this –
and this –
There are a few more in the SmugMug gallery, but you get the idea.
I didn’t start out at this location. We went what we thought was a good spot based on talking to tasting room folks. Keep in mind that it was full dark when we got there so imagine our surprise when what we thought were rows of vine trellises turned out to be just rows of dirt. Yeah, that’s photogenic. Luckily my brain was sort of turning over at that point and I remembered a winery we’d visited the day before and the road leading up to it. It was hilly. It might even be facing in the right direction. Better still it was close. Nothing like racing the Earth’s rotation for a photo.
So we headed over. By now there was a little light and we could at least tell that the field was planted. Oh and joy there are even trees. Even though I couldn’t get as close as I wanted without trespassing, I think things came out pretty well. I hoped for a better sky, but the subject really is the vines and how they light up so spectacularly, so it didn’t really matter in the end. Better than rows of dirt.