I like macro photography, getting up close and taking a different look at things. Today was my second macro photography workshop this month and it was a lot of fun, as usual.
I start off with a presentation and then set up five studio situations that anyone can do it at home. It is a great way to keep the skills sharp and have fun when you don’t feel like going out and fighting the weather.
I like putting a lemon in a glass and adding seltzer or mixing oil and water and seeing how it looks up close.
One of my favorite shots is putting glycerin on plexiglass and putting objects underneath and shooting the refraction. Peanut M&Ms are my favorite candy to eat and photograph, the colors are very cool.
At Chittenden Reservoir in Vermont there is a pretty little island about 300 yards off shore. It is a favorite place for photographers and I’ve photographed it on many occasions at different times of day and different seasons. I decided to try it at night and use a large flashlight to illuminate the island using a technique called light painting, where you pass the light over the subject many times during a long exposure, I usually do 30 seconds. So tonight I started about 30 minutes after the sun went down and shot for the next hour. There was only a slight breeze which gave me the nice reflection on the water. Then I was lucky to have a shooting star which gave me a beautiful final touch. This is one exposure with only minor adjustments in Lightroom. As the sky got darker I needed to bump my ISO up to 400 and I was shooting at f/5.6.
It is always sad to come to the last day of a workshop when I have met so many fun, nice and interesting people, but the 2016 edition of my Vermont Fall Foliage Photography Workshop came to an end today. Eight participants came from all over the country to enjoy Vermont’s beauty and hopefully improve their photography skills. My friend Nat Clymer joined us on Tuesday to share his photographic knowledge, it was great having him here.
We headed north today during my Vermont Fall Foliage Photography Workshop, to check out the area around Groton and Peacham, which has some of the best scenery in Vermont. There are a couple of ponds in Groton State Park that are amazingly scenic and they didn’t let us down. I’ve been there when the color was better but we still made some nice photos.
One thing that always strikes me about Vermont is how welcoming the people are. While in Peacham we were photographing around a church and a neighbor came out to show us some wild turkeys walking through his field toward us. Peacham gets tons out of town photographers and I’m sure many walk through this guy’s fields without thinking that they may be stomping on a fence, but he invited us come into yard to photograph his cows and the approaching turkeys.
While in Peacham, workshopper Steve Minden took a fun picture of me in the town’s information booth.
As the week goes on the color gets better at my Vermont Fall Foliage Photography Workshop. We hit several of the local hotspots and found some nice color and cool scenes.
We have a great group with two people from California, two from Florida, one from PA, Ohio, NY and CT. It is always fun to watch a group of people who don’t know each other quickly meld together with their common interest of photography.
This is the first shooting day of my annual Vermont Fall Foliage Photography Workshop at my home in Woodstock, VT. The weather this summer in Vermont has been hot and dry with drought conditions prevalent throughout the state. Early predictions were that it would be a bad season for foliage but it looks like it is just running late, like two weeks late. During the scouting I did last week, I found several pockets of beautiful color but there is lots of green showing in most areas.
So we are focusing on the nice areas, which will mean more driving than I like to do but it gives my out of town guests a good chance to see a lot of the Vermont countryside. We ventured north on the famous Rt. 100 and stopped at a cool barn along the road. It took some work but we were able to line it up with the color in the hills. It was a great way to start off the workshop.
Later today is the start of my annual Vermont Fall Foliage Photography Workshop, which I run out of my house in Woodstock.
I’m lucky that this year I have a couple of professional photographer friends who are joining me for part of the week. This morning Ron Lake arrived from his Connecticut home. Ron and I did a workshop together this summer in Tuscany, Italy, and next summer we are leading a workshop in Provence, France.
Ron got here early so we’d have a little time to shoot before the workshop started. We went over to a lovely grove of birch trees in the next town east of Woodstock. I’ve been there many times and it always looks different. This time there were beautiful little purple flowers growing throughout the grove. Ron was mesmerized by the combination of white birch trees, green grass and purple flowers. We spent a couple of hours shooting and Ron was wanted to stay longer but we had to get back to make final preparations for the workshop. It was fun getting there and shooting with a friend.
Today was the last day of a great Tuscany photo workshop. It was a long, hot week in Italy filled with great memories, making new friends, eating wonderful food and photographing spectacular scenes.
Tuscany is known for its light and it didn’t disappoint, we were out at sunrise and stayed up late shooting the Milky Way. We covered lots of territory, saw medieval towns with amazing buildings, rolling hills in the countryside covered with wheat and rolls of straw cut after wheat was harvested, vineyards and, my favorite, the cypress trees.
I love making beautiful landscape photos and I was lucky enough to get some decent shots. I also enjoy photographing people and the Italians were gracious when I asked them if I could make a picture of them. They weren’t so polite when driving a car but they always gave me a tender smile when I pointed at my camera and aimed it at them.
Some of my favorite photos are in the slideshow, I hope you enjoy them.
The rolling hills of Tuscany are filled with wheat and it is being harvested as we tour the countryside in my Tuscany Photography Workshop. Toss in a few unique trees and great early morning light and it is a perfect recipe for beautiful photos.
We got off the main roads and got the rental cars mighty dusty as we kicked up the dirt while finding unique places to photograph. Our GPS unit didn’t always find the road we were looking for but it made for more adventure as we got off the beaten path.
We were looking for the long shadows coming across the hills, giving them shape and depth. Deep blue skies added to the scene when I could isolate a tree that was in a wheat field.
I arrived in Italy yesterday for my Tuscany Photography Workshop that starts tomorrow. I’m doing the workshop with friend Ron Lake who has been to Italy many times. We got off the plane after an overnight flight from New York, checked into our hotel near the airport and then headed into Rome to see the sights.
This is my first time to Rome and the shuttle bus from the hotel dropped us off at the Coliseum, which is quite impressive. And many people must think so because there are tons of people seeing all the sites of Rome. I thought it would be fun to go inside the Coliseum but the line was about two hours. We don’t have enough time to stand around that long, so we walked around it, taking pictures as we go and then went off to other sites.
As the sun was going down, we went back to the Coliseum and beautiful light illuminated the exterior. I was lucky to see a pigeon as it soared through one of the openings, giving my photo a little something extra.
Today we went back with a couple of the workshop participants who arrived early and saw many of the same sites. Selfie sticks are everywhere and there were plenty of people selling them if you didn’t bring one with you. I didn’t buy one. But I did enjoy seeing tourists using their iPad camera to get the perfect angle.
During my workshop today in Acadia National Park, we were on top of the world, or so it seemed. Cadillac Mountain is the highest coastal peak in the Eastern U.S. and many times during the year it is the first place in the U.S. to see the sunrise. It is quite the panoramic view and during a late morning journey to the top the sun was shining through some clouds and making the water shimmer. A small island seemed so isolated in the water and clouds, so I knew I wanted to capture the feeling of it being all alone. As I was taking the picture in color I was thinking what it might look like in black and white, since the strong backlight on the clouds and water weren’t going to look good in color. But the black and white version emphasizes what I was feeling.
Now that I am back home after flying all day yesterday, I can take a good look at my photos from the trip and think about all the wonderful things I saw and people I met during my workshop in Guatemala. I can’t thank Edgar Monzon enough for putting us in great locations, driving us around, showing me how he connects with people on the street and for helping me get a new passport. Edgar worked hard to set up the trip and it showed, his arrangements were flawless, the hotels and meals were great. Edgar is a special person and I’m happy to be able to call him a friend.
Guatemala is a beautiful country, mainly due to the people. Most of them don’t have much money, many live in pure poverty but as Edgar says they might not be rich with money but they are rich with happiness. They greet each other, and us, on the street and seem to have a special spirit.
I put together a selection of photos below, I hope you enjoy them.
Like I said yesterday, the people of Guatemala are very friendly, except for that one guy whole stole my passport wallet, which, yes, had my passport, a couple of credit cards and some cash.
It happened Sunday morning while on the streets during the procession. I had a large passport wallet in my front pocket but it must have been sticking out some. We were wading through people elbow to elbow, so it got pulled while I was in the crowd. I noticed it was missing when I got back to the hotel but I thought I must have left it at Edgar’s condo. I contacted him and since we were going to be back near his condo yesterday, I didn’t worry about it until last night when we couldn’t find it there.
So I spent some time online to find out what I needed to do. I’d never lost my passport before and had no idea what to do. Fortunately there are benefits to being American and the State Department is one of them. I needed to fill out a couple of forms online, print them and go to the U.S. embassy back in Guatemala City, 90 minutes away. I planned on taking a taxi but Edgar wouldn’t let me. His daughter drove down this morning and took me to the embassy while Edgar guided the rest of the workshop in Antigua.
Today we traveled to Antigua, Guatemala, a beautiful town hidden behind walls. All the streets are cobblestone and as your car bounces along, you mainly see walls, most of which look like they need paint. But behind the walls are amazing things, like our hotel, Casa Santo Domingo. It is a former convent and features ruins from hundreds of years ago. The 128 rooms are each unique and you’d never know you at a hotel as you walk the grounds, which is several acres. A truly hidden gem.
Antigua is one of Guatemala’s most visited cities by tourists, but it doesn’t have a tourist feel. There are many beautiful hotels hiding behind the walls and we ate at a couple of special places during our stay.
We walked around the town and went to Ruinas de Capuchinas, which are large ruins that are incredibly photogenic. Wandering around the multiple levels, it is hard to imagine how this was built hundreds of years ago and could still be standing. It featured incredibly arches and a large domed room that was architecturally astounding.
The people of Guatemala are incredibly friendly. And it’s not because we are tourists with cameras. I watch them greet each other on the street, everyone says “buenos dias” to each person they pass. It is part of their culture and is fun to see and be around. Edgar has a unique ability to make each person he photographs feel special. I noticed the first thing he does is ask them their name and he tells them his. He makes a connection right away. Two little girls on the street were selling trinkets for pennies and Edgar asked one if he could photograph her. Of course, she was excited. Then Edgar noticed the other girl feeling left out, so he got her in some shots too. They all were excited.
After a great dinner at the hotel, we did some light painting on the hotel grounds. It is fun to light up the old buildings with a flashlight and see what happens.
Tomorrow is another adventure.
Edgar and I got up early and went to a large procession in a village not far from his condo. I have seen small processions in Hispanic communities in the U.S., but nothing like the way they do it in Guatemala. The procession is part of the Catholic’s Holy Week celebrations but on a scale I couldn’t imagine.
First, people stay up all night decorating the streets. I don’t mean hanging flags or banners along the street, they make intricate carpets in the narrow streets where the procession will go. They use fruit, vegetables and other plants to make beautiful displays on the street. But the most amazing is what they do with sawdust. They dye it in bright colors and spend hours, literally not sleeping all night, to do amazing artwork on the street. There are miles of these carpets and then they are destroyed as the procession walks over them.
The procession itself is hard to explain. Men carry a large platform that has statues of Jesus during the crucifixion through the narrow streets. The platform they were carrying is larger than a semi-trailer and looks like it weighs as much as a loaded one. They had 40 men on each side of the platform and they could only carry it a few blocks before they needed to change carriers. The grimace on their faces told me they were struggling under the weight. They walked in unison so the platform would gently rock side-to-side in rhythm as they slowly moved down the cobblestone streets. Other men with long poles lifted power lines so the statues wouldn’t get snagged. Making the turns on the narrow streets was a feat in itself, they barely fit around the corners. They procession lasts about 12 hours as they slowly wind through the village. Nearly a million people pack the streets, making it nearly impossible to move.
We could only stay a couple of hours because we needed to get back to Guatemala City to meet the other workshop participants. This is one event I’ll come back and document right. Especially since Edgar said there are even larger ones during Holy Week.