On a day like this…

Standard

1-23-14 schoodic btc

… 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?

1-23-14 schoodic5

Advertisements

Stopping off on my way home…

Standard

1-23-14 schoodic1

It was a very cold day as I made my way home from down east Maine after a work meeting in Machias. The light was fading fast, but I decided to try and get myself to somewhere with a pretty view for sunset, and Schoodic was in just the right place. I literally raced here – obeying the rules of the road of course – and arrived in the nick of time about 15 minutes before the sun went down. When I hopped out of the car and started exploring what is considered the quieter part of my favorite National Park, it was extremely cold. At one point I nipped a finger while locking a tripod leg, but because my skin was so cold, I didn’t feel the pain that usually accompanies such an event. Anyone who has ever experienced a hungry tripod lock knows how much it hurts, so you can imagine how cold my fingers must have been! This particular Acadia location, known as Raven’s Nest, consists of a couple of semi-hidden rocky ledges hanging over the Atlantic Ocean. For reference, that’s Cadillac Mountain off in the distance across Frenchman Bay – nothing original here, but quite a view nonetheless, eh?

Blueberry barrens

Standard

6-7-13 blueberry1

More from my recent drive down east. Maine is famous for its blueberry harvest… in fact, Maine’s 60,000 acres of blueberry fields produced 83.1 million pounds of berries in 2011. Much of the land near the coast of Maine is acidic and largely un-fertile, though indigenous blueberries seem to thrive in what can best be described as difficult growing and seasonal conditions. At this time of year, even before the berries start to show, the hardy barrens are a pretty striking sight, but when late summer and then the fall rolls around, the predominant color on the ground changes to a deep, deep red, and the view becomes absolutely stunning. Buzzing along the road, the winding dirt road leading through the blueberry barren caught my eye, and as always, I listened to the little voice in my head and turned the car around to stop and make a photograph. Not a Pulitzer prize winner, but I’m a big believer in taking every opportunity to practice whatever it is you enjoy doing. Getting better at anything isn’t easy, and you aren’t going to improve without doing… so I did.

6-7-13 blueberry2

A triple play

Standard

6-7-13 airline3

I recently made the drive to downeast Maine for a work event, and in doing so I used Route 9, a road known locally as the “airline”. I’m not entirely sure why it’s called the airline, but it probably has something to do with how much quicker people drive on it than other local routes. Fast-moving two way-traffic, winding up and downs, and around the corner twists and turns all the way, this stretch of road is notorious for accidents… both of the car-to-car, and car-to-wildlife variety. The road to Calais and/or Machias is one of the more rural parts of Maine, and it was no surprise that on this particular morning drive I spotted Moose hanging out near the side of the road on two separate occasions.

6-7-13 airline2

About half way to my destination, as I was speeding past a primitive rest stop, a large grove of trees off to the side of the road caught my eye. There was a strange and eerie uniformity in how the trees were arranged, and although these were likely planted intentionally, there was still something quite unique about the scene they created. I turned the car around, parked in the lay by, and made a couple of photographs with my iPhone. I’m a sucker for trees, and even more so when there are large numbers of them grouped together like there were here. So… here’s the scene three ways… black and white, straight color, and an in-camera movement shot… a triple play.

6-7-13 airline1