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Tag Archives: detail

The latest sunrise of the year and unexpected frost

1411Today is my favorite day of the year to shoot sunrise, the sun rises at its latest time of the year since tomorrow we switch back off Daylight Savings Time. So today’s 7:30 sunrise becomes 6:30 tomorrow. I can handle getting out before 7:30, but 6:30 is always more of a challenge.

1473Even though I spent a lot of time in Vermont chasing fall foliage, I thought I would catch the end of the New Jersey version since the forecast was for clear skies this morning.

I was geared up to shoot the remaining leaves on the trees but when I got to the park there was a beautiful layer of frost on the ground.

Change of plans.

1358I walked around looking for unique patterns and great color before the sun hit, since I knew the frost would last only minutes once sunlight covered it. I found an area that had leaves from many different trees and the colors were really nice. I set up my tripod waiting for the sunlight to come over. I was looking for nice colors and found plenty of them and shot until the frost melted off.

I saw some nice leaves on a bush in the shade so I went over to check them out. The light falling on them was soft and warm and really brought out the color that was bordered by frost on the edge of the leaves. I worked my tripod around to get the composition I wanted and found myself standing there with a smile on my face. The soft light changed quickly and suddenly the best photo was gone but I got the shot I wanted and still had a smile thinking about how lucky I was to be the only person to have witnessed that fleeting moment of natural wonder.

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Shooting macros of leaves in my backyard

Maple Cells     As I was out early this morning getting some shots from the last blast of fall foliage, I was trying to shoot the sunlight coming through a leaf hanging on a tree. There was a very slight breeze but it was just enough to make getting a sharp photo near impossible. When I got home I noticed lots of colorful leaves in my yard, so I decided to backlight them.

red leavesI picked up some nice leaves and placed them on a glass table on my deck. I pulled out a small, portable flash, put it on a little light stand and stuck it under the table. I had my 100mm macro lens on my camera so I added an extension tube so I could get even more magnified shots. With the camera on a tripod, I shot straight down on the leaves, set the flash on full power and let it blast through the leaves. I had to guess at exposure but after a few shots I figured it out.

I love the way the cell structure of the leaves comes through with the strong backlight. I was shooting at f/28, so on some shots I needed a five or 10 second exposure to get enough light on the top leaf.

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Photo Tip: Light painting during the day

VisitorI was out in my favorite location in Pomfret, VT, looking for foliage photos and looking at a small set of birch trees. A single fallen yellow maple leaf had landed on the trees and provided a nice splash of color against the white bark.

Without the flashlight

Without the flashlight

But the light was pretty bad. I was deep in the woods and there wasn’t any light getting down to the leaf.

So I pulled out my flashlight and since I use my tripod for most of my photos I was able to do a long exposure which let me light the scene with my flashlight. Rather than illuminate it from the front with a flat light, I moved the flashlight to the side to give it nice modeling and texture on the tree. I like sidelight and backlight and use it whenever I can, so when I can control the light, that is what I aim for.

Usually most people think of doing light painting at night, but there are many times when kicking in some extra light can make a big difference in an image. It is good to have a strong flashlight handy.

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Last day of Vermont Fall Foliage Photography Workshop

black and redSeveral years ago I found this great little overlook in Bridgewater, VT, that has an easterly view of layers of hills all the way into New Hampshire. Each time I go there it looks different and I’ve made some beautiful shots from that spot. Today’s sunrise was pretty nice and shooting sunrise and hills can be tricky so I didn’t break out the camera, I just helped my workshoppers get the best pictures they could. And they did great, you can see some of their photos by clicking here.

After the sunrise, we went back into Woodstock to get breakfast and then did some photography at Billings-Marsh Farm, the only U.S. National Park that is a working farm, and then some shots around the village of Woodstock.

At noon it was time to say goodbye to my new friends, which always makes me sad. But it is great to know that I now have more people to visit when I make journeys around the globe.

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I’m not a birder but I like photographing them

egret reflectionI decided to host a photography workshop in Florida based around photographing birds, not because I get excited seeing birds but because I love the challenge of getting a special shot. A mug shot of a bird bores me. Seeing another photo of a bird sitting on a branch or looking around doesn’t do a thing for me. So I always strive to get something different, something that shows personality, something with composition, something that has more elements than just a bird. And I push that upon all my workshop participants.

line of pelicans

So I was happy today to get some decent shots during the first full day of the workshop. Yesterday afternoon we went to a preserve east of Orlando that was pretty nice. This morning we made the trek west of Orlando to a county park that is well known to birders and photographers and saw lots of different birds. We missed seeing a bobcat by five minutes, another photographer was happy to show us on his camera what we missed. A woman told us about a pond in Lakeland that has lots of friendly birds, like these pelicans, so we stopped there too.

You never know what is around the next corner, which is one of the things that keeps me heading outside.

See a photo gallery from Loren’s Florida photography workshop.

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Learning about the New London, NH, area

20130816-LEF_128320130816-LEF_1252I have spent a lot of time scouring the backroads of Vermont looking for great photo locations but I haven’t crossed the Conneticut River much to see what is in New Hampshire. After a recent workshop I got an invitation from Mary to show me around the New London area and I took her up on it today. There are several lakes and large ponds in her area and very few near me in Vermont. We started the day a bit after sunrise and caught the mist rising on Little Sunapee Lake, it was a beautiful day and there is plenty to shoot there. We drove around the lake to an esker created by the glaciers that nearly cuts the lake in half. OK, I didn’t know what an esker was either and Mary explained that it is sand and gravel deposited by a river flowing under a melting glacier. It made a nice background and good place photograph Mary on the trail.

20130816-LEF_1383We went to several lakes and ponds and I learned the New England difference between a lake and pond is not the size but the depth. In theory, light can hit the bottom of a pond but not a lake. She then took us to Muster Field Farm, a collection of historic buildings that are preserved on a farm that was where the local militia was mustered and trained, thus the name. By the time we got there, the light wasn’t great, but I was amazed by the boards on a barn, I’ve never seen boards that wide, it took only eight to cover the barn’s side.

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Sunflowers look good even without the sun

Sunflowers in Hillsborough field.

A friend told me about a field of sunflowers that are in perfect bloom. I like sunflower fields and since I am going to be in Vermont for over a week, I figured the sunflowers might not look too good when I get back. Even though the sun wasn’t out, I went to the field late in the day and shot away.

The sky was pretty cloudy with a few blue spots, so I initially tried keeping the sky out of the photo. Since the sun wasn’t shining strong, many sunflowers were bowed down for the night and the ones still looking up were beginning to droop.

As it happens so many times, the photo I had envisioned before I got there wasn’t doable, so I had to try something else. I went back to the Jeep and got a strobe and umbrella reflector so I could be sure there was good light on the sunflowers. I under exposed the overall scene about a full stop and made sure the strobe was outputting the right amount of light for a proper exposure. I like the dramatic effect it created.

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Cape May looking good on a bright spring day

I decided to spend the day in Cape May, which is my favorite place in New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy destroyed most the of the New Jersey shore last fall but spared Cape May. It looks like some of the main beach is missing but none of the structures, including the boardwalk, were seriously damaged.

Cape May has been a tourist destination for decades. The small town is at the southern tip of N.J. where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Delaware Bay, and is known for the large number of Victorian houses. There are so many the entire town is on the National Historic Register.

The houses make for fun shooting, I walked around and concentrated on the gingerbread trim, fancy gables and great architecture. The houses are known as the “painted ladies” of the town because of all the great colors that are used on the houses.

Cape May is famous in the birding world because it is a stopping point on the Eastern Flyway. In May, thousands of horseshoe crabs come ashore in the Delaware Bay to lay eggs and thousands of birds stop while migrating north to gorge on the eggs before finishing their migration. It is an amazing sight. Today it was too early for many bird shots, but birds are only one of the attractions of Cape May. I did have a great experience with a swan and goose near the lighthouse. Read more about it.

Walking around got me excited for the photo workshop I’m leading in Cape May on May 16-19. There is so much variety that we will all end up with new photos in our portfolio.

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Those Vermonters know how to look for the positive

As I was walking out of the South Woodstock (VT) Country Store after chit-chatting with the woman behind the counter, she said “At least it is warmer today.” That’s what I love about the spirit of people in Vermont, it was 14 degrees at noon, and she saw the good side of it. Yes, 14 does feel pretty good compared to the 20-below the night before, but I love being around people who are thinking about the positive side.

Earlier in the day I went past an old barn I had seen the day before. I loved the old doors askew and the little icicles hanging off the roof. When I was there the previous afternoon, the sun was around the side of the barn. I knew it would look better with early morning light hitting the old wood.

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It isn’t not a snap dragon, but don’t tell the orchid

I was photographing this morning along the D&R Canal in Griggstown, NJ, with my Meetup group. It is fun going out with other people and taking photos.

During my days as a news photographer, I always noticed that the photographer who got away from the pack and wasn’t standing around chatting with the other photographers was usually the one with the best photos at the end of the day. I’m noticing that with our meetups too. Now some people are there to meet other photographers and get photo tips, which is great. But some are there to make the best photos they can and that person is rarely bunched up with the others.

Today I spent most of the time talking to others, showing them what I was shooting and thinking and answering their questions. I then wandered over to a nice little flower garden and got out my macro lens.

I saw this orchid growing tall above the others, so I moved in and started shooting. I liked my initial shots of one stem isolated against a dark background. I loved the way the rising sun was backlighting the stem and shining through the pedals. I thought I had my shot.

When I looked even closer, there it was: an orchid face! It looks like a dragon coming at me.

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An afternoon along the canal

Old tools are visible inside a building along the D&R canal

I spent the afternoon with my good friend and photographer Nat Clymer wandering along the D&R Canal in East Millstone and Somerset, N.J. Nat lives nears the canal and knows the history and most of the people along it. There are several old buildings in various places along the canal that served as houses or vantage points while the canal was in operation many years ago. In fact, Nat used to have his office in an old canal house in Kingston.

A canal house is reflected in the water.

The houses are pretty neat but they have a major flaw, they are near the water and when the big floods came from Hurricane Irene last year and Floyd in 1999, many flooded up to the second floor. Most have been repaired but a few need tons of work.

Nat and I stopped a couple of the canal houses to look around. Nat has photographed the canal and the people around it for years and is preparing for a show in the fall and gathering some fresh scenic shots and I was just hanging out, making some photos and enjoying his company. I liked the reflection of one canal house in the water, so I spent some time working on a shot of it. The colors turned out pretty good.

Across the street from the canal at Blackwells Mill is an old studio that was used by an artist Nat knew. The man dies a few years ago but Nat has several of his paintings. The building got hit pretty hard by the flood and the man’s sister hasn’t been able to restore it. His tools are still hanging in a window as ivy creeps up the side of the building. It a classic look at Americana and I hope it stays for a long time.

Near the studio was a solitary tiger lily with the sun shining on it. Almost everything behind it was in dark shadows so I framed the shot so only the flower was illuminated. It looks like it is growing out of the darkness.

A tiger lily grabs the sunlight.

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Making new friends at sunrise with hot air balloons

A hot air balloon floats directly overhead.

In Quechee, Vt., there is a fun little balloon festival each year. This morning I met a new group of friends from the Quechee Camera Club Meetup group for the sunrise launch.

It is a nice group of people interested in photography. There are a few pros but mostly people learning and experimenting with photography. It is good to see people get out and just have fun shooting and learning and not be worried about getting the shot that sells.

I’ve photographed lots of hot air balloons over the years. When I was 20 and working at the Muncie, Ind., newspaper, I had the assignment to shoot a festival’s sunrise launch, mainly because the other, older photographers didn’t want to get out of bed that early.

The balloon launch site was right across the river from where I lived. Being 20 and still in college, getting up before the sun on a Saturday wasn’t my normal schedule, so I was awakened by the noise at the festival. I looked out the window and they were starting to lay out the balloons. Yikes, I had overslept, so I grabbed my gear and hopped in the car and headed over. I got there as they were starting to inflate the balloons.

I had been challenged by the newspaper to get a ride in a balloon and get photos from that vantage point. I think they told me to do that because I was the new kid and willing to do anything. I walked from balloon to balloon asking if anyone had space for me. I talked my way into a basket and was floating over the countryside within 15 minutes after getting out of bed. It was a memorable experience and I got good display on the front page of Sunday’s paper although newspapers didn’t have color photos then.

So in Quechee I decided to concentrate on the colors. I have plenty of shots of balloons floating, so I wanted to try something different. The sun was just coming up over the trees as the balloons inflated. I shot mostly with my telephoto lens to come in tight on colorful patterns and balloons shapes that overlapped each other. I used my extreme wide angle to get right up against a blue balloon that was about the same color as the sky as another balloon took to the sky.

After the balloons floated away, I sat down with some of the other photographers and had a good chat about photo things. Plus I had a fresh-baked cinnimon bun, life doesn’t get better than that.

More photos are on the meetup group site.

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The classics cars return to Somerville

A classic grill.

Each Friday night during the summer classic cars show up on Somerville, NJ’s, Main St. and take over the town. There isn’t just a few, the town is packed with old cars as hundreds show up.

With the cars come the spectators and the photographers. Lots of pictures are taken and many look the same.

I grew up in northern Indiana, a few miles from Auburn where they built Duesenbergs, Auburns and Cords until the great depression wiped them out. Duesenbergs may have been the best cars ever built. After all “it’s a doosey!” They were custom made and only the super-rich could afford them. They cruised at around 140 mph with their huge turbo-charged engines. Each year on Labor Day the cars return to Auburn for a grand weekend.

The gathering in Somerville isn’t the Auburn festival, all the cars in Somerville don’t cost as much as a Dusenberg, the most expensive being a 1931 that sold for $10.3 million last year. But the cars are fun to photograph and tonight I focused on the grills and details of the old cars. Today’s cars just don’t have the design and intricacies of the classics.

See more photos at SomervilleToday.com

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Give me sunshine and a dandelion

The beauty of a dandelion.

It doesn’t take a whole lot to make me happy.

Today was a beautiful Vermont day with great sunshine. I got out my macro lens and tripod and walked through the yard to take a close look around.

I shot some fiddleheads, new ferns that many Vermonters eat, but was too happy with what I was getting. There was a steady breeze and the fiddleheads kept moving, making it hard to shoot with long shutter speeds.

A fiddlehead fern.

I saw some large dandelions close to the ground, so I got down on my belly and looked close. I was working with my 100mm macro lens but it couldn’t focus as close as I wanted to get, so I added an extension tube to allow closer focusing and larger magnification.

When I got in extremely close to the regular old dandelion, I saw the beauty that most people don’t take time to enjoy. I photographed several different dandelions, they each looked different.

It makes me wonder why most people call them weeds and dump poison to kill them off.

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It is mud season in Vermont

Mud season in Promfret, Vt.

They there are six seasons in Vermont. You have spring, summer, fall, then there is stick season after the leaves fall and before the snow arrives to start winter. After winter and before spring is mud season. That’s when the snow is melting and the frost is leaving the ground.

The dirt roads become an adventure. If you live on one, you have to make sure your fuel oil tank is filled while the road are still frozen because heavy trucks are not allowed on the road during mud season.

I was out this afternoon seeing what critters might be around. The roads weren’t too bad, they were soft and rutted. The roads maintained by the township are designated with a “TH” like TH27. “TH” stands for Township Highway, which is pretty funny since they are the some of the smallest roads you will ever drive.

I was on one in Promfret that was barely wide enough for two cars to pass. I went through several rutted areas and pulled up on a large mud pit. It was the width of the road and at least 50 yards long. The ruts looked to be axle deep, so I figured I better put the Jeep into 4-wheel-drive. As I headed into the mudpit a pickup truck approached from the other direction. He stopped at the end of the pit since I was sliding and slipping my way through the mud.

The Jeep handled the mud well, the wheels spun a bit but it didn’t take long to get through it. When I got to the other side, I noticed there were three people sitting in the pickup truck. They all were grinning and the driver had a huge smile. He gave me a thumbs up and headed into the mud. I’m guessing they were betting on whether I made it through the mud and the driver won.

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