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 😉

Where I’d like to return to one day…

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The depths of winter have me reminiscing about a warmer place… Death Valley National Park in California couldn’t be any more different from Acadia, and probably because of that, I am very much drawn to it. When it comes to raw beauty, it certainly gives my favorite and more intimate national park here in Maine a run for its money. Sam and I visited this vast and wonderful national park a few years ago, and when looking back at our travels, I think it’s safe to say that we had ourselves the trip of a lifetime. In rather unusual conditions – it had rained in the desert about a week before we arrived – we experienced, among other things, the depths of the desolate salt-pan area known as Badwater, the iconic beauty of Zabriskie Point, and the incredible Mesquite sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells. And yes… that’s Sam silhouetted in the first photograph below.

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The recent rains had made some of the more desirable and remote locations within Death Valley inaccessible, so to make up for our disappointment and add to the adventure, we took a two-day detour out of the desert and cruised up CA 395 in the shadow of the Eastern Sierra. We marveled at the imposing height of a snow-capped Mount Whitney, we explored the unique the surreal landscape of the Alabama Hills, and we shared the incredibly still and tranquil area of Mono Lake with a pack of yelping coyotes. I, of course, made some landscape photographs along the way… as did Sam. Like I said… this is an area rich in opportunity for any landscape photographer, and it’s another area I would one day love to return to. Enjoy the original Jack-created soundtrack to the video 🙂

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A Window to the World

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I’m celebrating the fact that I actually got off my you-know-what and made a new landscape photograph – one that I’m actually prepared to share! I hadn’t visited Acadia in several months, but all that changed this past weekend when local photographer Chad Tracy and I cruised down to MDI for a quick photo expedition. Despite the below freezing temperatures and the biting wind, standing on the rocky shoreline of my favorite national park never felt so good!

I’ll share a few more photographs from what was a beautiful sunrise over the next few days, so stay tuned. After exploring a part of the granite “ledges” along the Loop Road near Thunder Hole, our original plan was to meander back toward Sand Beach to maybe do some long exposures with the surf. We got sidetracked though when I realized how close we were to this unique location, and since the sun was already up, I was excited to visit at a time when I wouldn’t get the willies from it being too dark.

The ecosystem within this sea cave is extraordinarily delicate, so Chad and I were extremely cautious about making sure to walk only on the solid rock. Although not a huge secret, and relatively easy to find, to further protect this little gem I made Chad swear not to divulge the location to anyone else. The approach to the cave – and the floor inside – was quite slippery and tricky to navigate, and to add to the mystique, this location is only accessible at low tide. It was quite an experience to spend some time in here, and as we looked through the window out onto Frenchman Bay, we appreciated the shelter from the chilly winter air. I like this photograph, and I’m going to add it to my portfolio.

If you haven’t seen my full portfolio yet – if interested – you can click on over and check out a selection of my favorite images on Acadia and Beyond (in addition to Acadia, I’ve shared images of Maine, Ireland, Death Valley, Yosemite). If you do visit the site, drop me a line… I’d love to hear your thoughts. If interested in purchasing from the site between now and the New Year, to save some cash be sure to type in the discount code “Acadia” when checking out. A bargain… Happy holidays!

And yes… I’m trying out a new blog theme. Feedback appreciated on that too 🙂

Thinking outside the box…

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… that is the camera viewfinder. So many iconic views are of broad, sweeping vistas, but when trying to capture this type of landscape within the frame of a camera viewfinder, much of the impact can be lost, especially if using a wide-angle lens. One solution to this problem is to shoot in panoramic format – either using a dedicated panoramic camera – or by using the magic of digital photography to get in a little tighter and then merge (stitch) several photographs together. Stitching multiple images allows you to go as wide as – if not wider – than your lens allows, yet still maintain the relevance of important elements within the composition. The result is a larger file with greater detail, and with that, an enhanced ability to print big. Most importantly, you also get to capture that expansive view in all of its entirety without being limited by the constraints of the camera viewfinder.

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Here are a couple of examples of what I mean… these are both from the Zabriskie Point overlook in Death Valley National Park, California, and were made on 7/30/07 at about 4pm local time in what were admittedly far from epic lighting conditions. The first photograph is a single shot – shot at f11, 1/160 sec, iso 100 using a 17-40mm lens at 17mm (generally considered pretty wide) – the resulting tiff file is 23.4 megapixels and at 200 ppi, I can squeeze a 17 inch x 11 inch print out of this one.

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In the panoramic image above, I used a total of 12 separate images – each shot in vertical orientation at f11, 1/160 sec, iso 100 using a 17-40mm lens, this time at a focal length of 40mm – the resulting tiff file is 88.1 megapixels and at 200 ppi, I could squeeze a 46 inch x 16 inch print out of this one. I used to have to manually and tediously “stitch” panoramics like this together by manipulating Photoshop layers and masks, but luckily many post-processing software options now automate that task quite easily. Like I said, there’s a significant difference in the quality of the larger file… the detail is sharper, the view is wider in scope, and the printed file is literally much bigger in size!

Twiddling my thumbs

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As I sit here twiddling my thumbs in anticipation of the first snow covered landscape photography opportunity of the winter, I do what most photographers do… go back into the archives to see if there are any images I might have missed the first time around, or any that I might be able to post-process better after all this time. Here are a couple I came up with of a big rock in Yosemite National Park, hands down one of the most beautiful parcels of land I have ever seen…

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Dumpster Diving

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Well, not really dumpster diving… more like combing through the archives. It’s always fun to take a walk down memory lane, and when you carry a camera around with you, well… there are lots of memories created to return to later. Just recently, as I was wandering through an old hard drive where RAW images from a trip to Yosemite in 2010 are stored, I came across a series of photographs that I hadn’t yet processed. Every now and then I’ll encounter a broad and grand vista, one that is hard to capture in one shot, even with a wide angle lens. In this type of situation, I’ll sometimes turn the camera on its side to portrait orientation, and then pan across the landscape making several tighter shots, with the intention of merging the images together into one panoramic photograph later when back at the computer.

Yosemite National Park is one of the most spectacular, majestic and remarkable places I have ever seen. Truly breathtaking landscapes are around every corner, and on this particular morning Sam and I were in the high country, making our way up, over, and through the Tioga Pass from Lee Vining to Tuolumne Meadow. The reflection of the Eastern Sierra in Tioga Lake was a jaw-dropping scene, one that not only reminds me of what was a great trip with Sam, but also of some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever experienced. The pano above is made up of about 10 separate images, and is actually quite large… I could probably print it 50 inches wide if I wanted to (and if I had a wall to hang it on), and the wider, single-image view below shows you how challenging it is to include everything you want to from a scene like this in one shot.

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On display…

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I have been looking for a way to display/house my photographs for a while now, and although I like the ability to create a WordPress gallery right here on the blog, it wasn’t quite fitting my needs. So… I decided to create another web site to display my photographs. Choosing a domain name, organizing content, and choosing which photographs to include… I quickly learned that there’s lots to think about within this process.

I’ve always made photographs for my own pleasure, though I really do get a kick out of sharing them online with others. I enjoy the comments and conversation they generate, and just lately I’ve begun to have prints made. There’s something special about having an actual print in your hands… sort of like that tangible feeling you get when thumbing through a tattered old paperback versus reading digital text on an e-reader. I wanted to be able to have prints made right from within the web site interface, and I also wanted to be able to make them available for purchase. Would anyone even want to buy prints of my photographs? Who knows? This is a question I have wrestled with enormously, but after much angst and self-doubt, I finally decided to dip my toes in the water.

I love to spend time and photograph the landscape of Acadia, but I have also had the good fortune to travel a little bit and create some great memories from places beyond my favorite national park. I thought about including my own name in the domain… davidpattersonphotos or something like that, but I just didn’t like the sound of it. Anyhoo, I settled on http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com – I feel like it kinda captures where I’m at with my photography.

So… Acadia and Beyond it is… some of my favorite photographs. I’d love to know what you think about the design, organization of content, and choice of photographs on display… thanks.