We have had an extreme winter thus far. Over 4 ft of snow as of this last storm.
It has also been extremely cold. There are several parts of Long Island sound with significant blocks of ice cutting off fishing for many birds.
But there is a silver lining to this cloud. The weather conditions have presented many great opportunities to make images that we don’t often have in a normal winter. I plan on making as many images as I can!
I have to admit I am a Spring, Summer and Fall kind of guy. I like Winter, but in only small doses :-). Given how much stress New England is under with yet another snow storm due to hit today, I thought I would change it up a little and show some pictures of Spring.
So enjoy your day and stop fretting over sub zero temps. The warmth of the sun is not far away!
The east coast had fresh snow to deal with this weekend. Temperatures stayed cold all weekend and winds were minimal so many of the trees and bushes stayed coated in the white stuff. I tried to make as many “pattern” images as I could. Criss crossed branches with drifted snow on them creates an interesting design element. A difficult element to control when photographing patterns is DOF (depth of field). In most instances with good light, I prefer to utilize as much DOF as possible when photographing patterns in the snow.
When I made this image I was thinking about black and white so while in Photoshop, I used Nik Silver Efex Pro to convert the image to B&W.
The other area of interest for my photography this weekend was, you guessed it, birds. There is nothing quite like adding snow as an element in bird photography.
There have been many White Throated Sparrows at the feeders this year. I would estimate at least 12. The other big resident in terms of numbers is the Dark Eyed Junco which is a challenge to photograph in the snow. While the Juncos are plentiful, they are not in the numbers that we had last year.
I make it a point to work with my camera as much as possible. Even when my creative juices are not flowing I make it a habit of picking up the camera and trying to make some images. This week was a tough week for me, personally and professionally and to be honest, I had little motivation yesterday to pick up my camera or post a blog. So after dinner I decided to take a ride and see if the dusting of snow we just received and the holiday lights might give me some inspiration.
After driving around for a while I saw this Christmas Tree scene floating in a pond. What caught my eye was the eeriness of the floating lights on the snow dusted pond. Something out of a horror movie. The snow on the pond made the light reflection look like steam was coming off the pond.
I also like trying to make appealing blurs with holiday lights. There are several ways you can do this. One is to twist the zoom ring on a zoomable lens while making the exposure. The other is to set your lens to manual focus and when you are able to get the look and feel that you want, take the picture out of focus. I like the first method best however I find that it is most effective when the light is better than it was last night. That is I had no light since it was snowing!
I ventured out on a beautiful fall day with the intention of photographing fall migrants at the beach. Some would say I failed since I came home with few bird pictures worth keeping…..if any.
This is what I did come home with
So while some might say I didn’t make any wildlife keepers, I would say I spent a beautiful day outside trying!
This was the closest to a keeper I had all day
If it wasn’t for the gesture, I don’t think I would like this image either.
Well bad weather has gripped the North East. Wind, rain and cold are here resulting in most of the remaining fall color hitting the floor. If there were a silver lining in yesterdays rain clouds it came from the wet leaves and bark that resulted from the rain storm. The contrast created by the wet weather is truly awesome.
So next time you think there are no photographic opportunities just because the weather is poor, look again!
I think some of the best photographic advice I have ever received was “the best zoom you have is your feet”. There really are many ways this can be applied to becoming a better photographer. On a recent trip to Portland Head Light, our subject was clearly the beautiful light house during this magnificent sunset.
Here is a postcard view from on top of the rocks.
While the above image is ok, it wasn’t striking and after I returned from the trip, I decided (as I almost always do when I return from a trip) that I did not get THE shot I wanted and needed to go back sometime and photograph from a different location/vantage point.
However, what I did leave Portland Head Light with was one of my favorite images from my trip to Maine (below). It is an image of a photographer standing on a park bench, taking a picture of the U.S. flag at sunset.
An image created because I took the time to stop, turn around and move my feet. We have legs, and they are the easiest photographic tool to use. Why do so many of us stand in one spot when we make images?
On a recent trip to Maine, I had the pleasure of visiting a small coastal town named Bristol. One of the many attractions in Bristol is Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. The original lighthouse was built in 1827. This version didn’t last long because the mortar used in its construction as mixed with saltwater, causing the mortar to break apart.
The lighthouse that stands today was built in 1835 with mortar mixed only with freshwater. It seems like they got it right this time!
Here is one of my favorite images from the morning.
Another great vantage point to photograph this lighthouse from is down by the ocean. In order to get there you need to climb down some steep, wet rocks. Keep in mind it is pitch black while you are attempting to do this! Unfortunately I arrived after the best light but was still able to make this click. I especially like the reflection in the tidal pool. Only wish that pool was bigger.
This last image intrigued me because of the position of the flag, and the glow of the light around the lighthouse. Now that I look at it, I wish I had moved the tripod so the flag was a little more to the right of the lighthouse.
The last 2 images just don’t do it for me. They were good attempts but I guess I just have to go back to Bristol some time soon! It rarely happens that you are able to create the exact image you want the very first time. And with sunrise lasting only 30 minutes or less, you can’t get to every position around the lighthouse that you want. There are always sacrifices in life.
Last week was an important week for me. As many of you know I have been working hard on my photography over the last 2 years. My friends and family will tell you that my work ethic in most things I put my mind to is second to few others. So I have been working the last several months with a mentor, Moose Peterson. I pursued Moose as my mentor (I think he wanted to have little to do with me at first!) for several reasons. Most importantly because he has dedicated his life to using photography as a communication medium in a way few others have, by speaking on behalf of wildlife. The message he communicates is one of compassion and awareness for the wild heritage that is all around us but rarely appreciated.
The message he communicates best however is the love affair he has with his craft. That message shines through with every press of the shutter he takes. There is no better way of proving this to you but to tell you to look over his website and read his new book, Captured.
The reason last week was so important is that my mentorship with Moose is coming to an end and I wanted to impress him with where my photographic skills have evolved. Doing so was important to me partly out of pride and partly because he has become like an older brother. Moose balances constructive criticism with making sure I don’t get full of myself by letting me know my skills are still a work in progress. But at the conclusion of our week together and during the 9 hour drive home from Baxter State Park, I realized that the outcome of the images I had taken over the course of the week was secondary to the other lessons I have learned from Moose (I know you are all getting confused on which moose I mean!). Most importantly, that every image I take needs to be filled with passion for it to be worth the paper or memory card I used to store and display that image.
Our week culminated in Baxter State Park with the intention to photograph Moose during the rut. I have never seen a moose in person before and I had anxiously anticipated this trip. But a Nor’easter that rolled into the area seriously dented our plans. 1 of 3 days was a complete rain out and the other 2 were gently said, not very cooperative. To Moose, these events were taken in stride. His answer to my obvious disappointment and frustration was to go and do what he does well, turn lemons into lemonade. While finding moose was out of our control, making great images wasn’t.
The program I have been involved in with Moose is Master of Light Program. If you want to seriously take your photography to the next level, I strongly suggest considering this mentorship. BTW, its not for the faint of heart, its a lot of work but the rewards are worth it if you are serious about being a better photographer. And if you think being a better photographer is only about f-stops, exposure and focusing, you have a big surprise coming!