Spending a little time…

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4-10-14 websitecover Lately I’ve been spending some time exploring my portfolio of landscape photographs. Though feeling physically and mentally much better between rounds of Chemo, I still haven’t quite mustered up the energy to spend much time outside, never mind having the oomph to be out early or late capturing any new good light on the landscape with the camera. That leaves me fondly reminiscing about some of the work I’ve already done, and as I do so, I get to spend a little time perusing my web site – and you know what that means… yes, tweaking.

As you can see from the screenshot above – http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com – I’ve abandoned (for now) my attachment to a single strong black and white coastal image in favor of a more eclectic, colorful, and assorted view of what is distinctly Acadia National Park – after all, there is so much to see in Acadia, why not show her off in all her glory?

We’ve had a lot of incredibly generous local support in response to our little medical emergency, and as a way to say thank you, Lori and I have been selecting prints that we think people might appreciate, and we’ve been ordering and delivering them as thank you gifts.

I’ve learned that it’s one thing to conceptualize, experience, and actually create any one of my photographs, but I have to admit, following the process through to where it physically gets printed and held in hand – whether it is printed on canvas, paper, or better yet, on metal – it is quite exhilarating to hold a piece, especially since many of these pieces to date have merely been images on the screen.

I’ve a couple of big pieces being printed on metal on the way as “thank you’s” to our friends, and I’ll be sure to grab a pic of what they look like “in-person” as it were when they arrive. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in purchasing from what I believe is a new and improved web site, please use the discount code “chemo” when in the shopping cart area – despite it’s not-so-nice meaning, it will get you 25% off any purchase 😉

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In search of a foreground element…

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*Taking a break from the Chemonotony 😉

Here’s a rare sighting of me in front of the camera! Not from recent times, this is from the fall of 2002… wait, let me go check that. Ayuh, seems like this was made by my friend Monty all the way back on 9/14/2002 – now that’s quite some time ago! This little vignette of a scene gives a good idea of what it takes for me to come away with a likable photograph.

Nice backdrop – check (The Beehive in Acadia National Park)

Nice light – check (I’m in the shadow of Great Head, and as the sun rises from behind it, the Beehive is slowly bathed in warm color)

Nice composition – here’s where the challenge begins! Those are my bare feet in the chilly Atlantic Ocean showing a definite willingness to do what it takes to get the photograph 😉

So… when attempting to create a pleasant composition, one of the first things I look for is an interesting foreground element. For some strange reason, I seem to be drawn to vertical compositions versus landscape oriented scenes. Don’t get me wrong… I always look for – and enjoy discovering – landscape compositions that showcase the width of particular scenes, but there’s something special about the effect that can be derived from using a wide-angle lens in portrait orientation. A wide-angle lens can make foreground elements seem larger than they actually are, and by making them appear closer to the camera than they really are, it can also help create depth from front to back within the scene.

Anyhoo… this is why – when composing a landscape photograph – you’ll likely find me (even in 2002) scouring the ground in search of something interesting that might help introduce the viewer to the scene and hopefully compel them to curiously explore my composition further. In the photograph above, you’ll notice my sturdy tripod plopped apparently randomly right in the middle of a bunch of jagged rocks that are littered across the edge of the shoreline. The boundary of where the ocean meets the land is eternally intriguing, one that uncovers and reveals infinite possibilities. In the shot below, hopefully I was able to unearth some of those wonderful possibilities?

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As the sun rises…

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…it lights up the granite cliffs of Acadia National Park. From a rocky perch high above the Atlantic shoreline, I spent a wonderful, crisp morning witnessing the dawn of another day. Before sunrise, there was a subtle, almost blue hue which bathed the landscape, though I had a feeling, if patient, that some nice light would eventually climb above the clouds that were hugging the horizon, and that the scene would come alive.

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Soft pre-dawn light on the Acadia granite shoreline

A quick glance ninety degrees to the left where the sun was rising presented the scene below… captured in HDR mode with my iPhone, you can see how the clouds on the horizon subdued what might otherwise have been a pretty sunrise. I waited for the sun to get high enough in the sky to peer over those clouds, and the result was a familiar glow on the Acadia granite shown in the last photograph in this post. A high tide – or better still – a high tide that coincides with a big storm – would make this scene much more dramatic, but as with most mornings spent watching the sun come up in Acadia, I can’t think of a better place to be.

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On a day like this…

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… I love my remote release. It was cold when I made this photograph – somewhere in the low single digits or maybe even zero – but when you add the wind chill whipping in off the ocean, I was glad that I didn’t need my camera-operating fingers exposed to the elements any longer than necessary.

A remote release allows me to control the pressing of the shutter without having to fumble with gloves and bare fingers in the freezing temperatures, and it also permits me to trigger the shutter without touching the camera and risking moving my equipment. Even the tiniest of nudges as you manually depress the shutter with your finger can introduce “camera-shake” and ruin a photograph – moving the camera even ever so slightly might result in a not-so-sharp image, especially if you plan on printing big. I usually take my paranoia in this regard one step further and engage the mirror lock-up feature on my camera – one squeeze of the remote to lift the mirror, and a couple of seconds later a second squeeze to fire off the exposure. By using this technique, I’m minimizing the chances of the elements coming together for an epic sunrise in a beautiful place, only to return home with a slightly blurry photograph due to vibration.

So there’s the technical reason why I use a remote release, but it also provides me with a myriad of creative options, one of which I especially enjoy. As the light fades and exposure times naturally lengthen, I like to choose the size of the aperture, set the camera dial on bulb mode, and experiment with the length of the exposure. Adding a 6-stop neutral density filter will lengthen the exposure time even more, so I choose an appropriate aperture size (usually between f11 – f14), and use my remote to trigger the shutter, holding it open for anywhere between a few seconds to a few minutes. As colors deepen and movements are condensed through the longer exposure, results can be pretty interesting. Oh yes, and perhaps most importantly, I get to sit back, relax and soak in the scene without having my body hunched over the camera holding the shutter button down by hand.

In the photograph below, the outgoing tide is rendered smoother than it actually was, and the high clouds streaking overhead appear much different than if I had chosen a typically faster shutter speed.

You could spend a lot on either a tethered or a wireless version, but the remote cable release I use is a simple knock-off purchased on Amazon for about $6. Despite the low cost, it has become one of the most used and valuable pieces of equipment in my bag. I love the creative options it provides, but on a day like this, my fingers also appreciated the comfort and convenience it offers. Do you use a remote release? if so, what are some of the creative ways that you deploy this little gadget?

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A different angle

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In this location, I can usually be found hunkered down somewhere back near where the ocean meets the round rocks, since that spot gives you a view of the Atlantic Ocean and majestic Otter Cliffs. On this occasion however, I’m a little further along the Boulder Beach shoreline, looking back over my shoulder at a different angle. Looking in this direction doesn’t give a striking view of the cliffs, but the round rocks this location is renowned for are still there, and I love those steadfast trees standing guard over the scene.

Sights (and sounds) of Schoodic

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A nice place to spend some time. Though a still image can take me back to a place I have visited and sometimes even remind me vividly about that experience, it’s merely that… an image. Here’s a little bonus where I hit the record button for video… the sights (and sounds) from Raven’s Nest in Acadia National Park, Maine.

Soothing…

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This location faces Frenchman Bay and the open Atlantic, and as you can see from the shape of the jagged shoreline, the ocean has definitely left its mark over time. High tide on this particular icy day was scheduled to coincide with sunset, so I was hopeful I might see (and photograph) some big waves in good light. Neither the big waves nor the good light really materialized, but I didn’t mind. I always enjoy time spent in Acadia National Park, and on this occasion, an exposure of 39 seconds helped smooth out both the ocean and the sky to create for me what is a very soothing image.