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Tag : clouds

29 Sep 2019

Photographing lighthouses in Maine

Maine’s coast is hard to beat for great scenery and when you toss in a bunch of lighthouses it becomes a true visual treat. I hosted a workshop this weekend that started with driving from New Jersey and picking up people along the route to Portland in my 12 passenger Sprinter van. We had people from five states including Florida for the fast three day excursion and we photographed 10 lighthouses.  The weather was ideal giving us brilliant sunrises and colorful sunsets. We went to classic locations that every photographer should see including Portland Head and Nubble and some lesser known ones. 

I rarely take groups to places I haven’t been before but I had a gap and did a ton of research to find us another place to shoot between Portland and our Saturday night location in Rockland. Squirrel Point lighthouse looked good in my research and I knew it would be a fairly long hike but as we were walking out we crossed a small bridge and I noticed the tide was coming in. I tried to see if I could find a high tide line or something to tell if the water came up to the bridge but I couldn’t see anything. Since I hadn’t read about any problems and I couldn’t see anything, we ventured on. We photographed the lighthouse for a while and some of the group was ahead of the rest and a gentleman out running told them to hurry because the rising tide would be a problem. And it was. When we got to the bridge both ends we almost a foot deep in water. Our runner friend came back and asked if there was anything he could do to help. I had some cheap plastic boot covers in the van and he was kind enough to run the 1/4 mile to get them and bring them back. Some of our people had already ventured across before I got there and either took their shoes and socks off or just went ahead and got their feet wet. 

The runner came back, seeming to enjoy running through the water and helping us. I assisted the rest of our group put on the little plastic bag/boots and they made their way dryly through the water. Disaster averted.

For me the best part of the weekend was sunset on Saturday at Marshall Point Lighthouse, which just happened to be where Forrest Gump finished his run. The evening clouds were great and as darkness set in I got out my trusty flashlight and did some light painting of the walkway and the lighthouse. We were given a great show and it was a wonderful weekend.

20 Aug 2019

Playing around Iceland’s largest glacier

Iceland is known for waterfalls and glaciers, yesterday I took my workshop to the waterfalls, today it was glacier time. I know this little spot where a tongue of Vatnajökull glacier comes down into a lagoon. There is a little dirt road back to it off the highway, it isn’t marked and too small for most people to take a chance to see what is there. Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe and covers 8% of Iceland. It is big. 

Driving over from Vic we encountered some rain and wind but all of that stopped when we got out of the van. There were a couple of other people for a while but we mainly had the place to ourselves, which is always fun. In the summer the glacier melts and leaves a layer of dirt in the ice. It is cool to see but not pristine. This is one place that looks better in the winter but it is still fun to see how big this little part of the glacier is and it makes some great photos.

After leaving my little glacial hideaway we drove down to Jökulsárlón where another tongue of the glacier meets the ocean. A large lagoon is there and a short river has formed to drain the lagoon into the ocean. At high tide ocean water surges back into the lagoon and the salty water breaks off large chunks of the glacier. Year round you’ll see large icebergs floating in the lagoon and out the river. When they get to the ocean they break up more and float back onto the black sand beach. As the ice gets smaller it looks like diamonds on the beach when light shins through it. The weather had turned bad and it was raining pretty hard when we arrived. I drove to a couple of spots hoping the rain would ease and it finally did so we went over to Diamond Beach. The light was pretty bad, it was windy and it was spitting rain so shooting wasn’t easy. We still made some fun shots and went back over to the lagoon. Huge pieces of blue ice were floating and breaking apart. It was fun to see and to shoot. The rain came back so we started back toward the hotel.

As we were driving the rain was falling and then the sun came out. It made of one the biggest and brightest rainbows I have ever seen. I pulled the van off the road and we jumped out and shot some pictures while trying to stay dry. It was a lot of fun and great way to end another fabulous day in Iceland.

23 May 2019

Chasing the sun in Tuscany

Tuscany is famous amongst photographers for the great light, especially the way it falls across the hills and mountains early in the morning and late in the day. It is a beautiful sight to see and I can’t think of anyplace where it is nicer. As long as it doesn’t rain. During my workshop there the past few days we had lots of great light but we also ran into some rather rainy days, although they weren’t the slate gray skies that we get in New Jersey. It would rain hard for a while and then the clouds would break up and let some sunlight sneak through. This was my second Tuscany workshop and the last one was in the dry heat of early July when it just doesn’t rain. While I knew there would be a chance and I made sure everyone was prepared, it was still a bit of a shock.

We had planned on going to Florence last Friday but Thursday night the forecast said clear skies Friday and rain on Saturday, so we made a quick change and took advantage of a beautiful day to shoot small ancient towns and incredible countrysides. It rained a bit while we were in Florence but only enough to be a nuisance. We were taunted by the possibility of a great sunset from a hill overlooking the city but the sun and clouds just didn’t make it happen. It just meant a late dinner at another tremendous Italian restaurant.

The rest of the week we would get an occasional downpour followed by great clouds. The group was great and didn’t let the little bit of rain slow us down. We did pick up plenty of mud while trudging out in fields for the bright red poppies or the fields of yellow or purple wildflowers. The floors of our vans were caked with mud and the rental company did charge us extra to clean them but it was worth it. We made wonderful photos and I had a great time with a fun bunch of people. 

Enjoy some of my photos below.

18 Nov 2018

Peeking into Manhattan from a Brooklyn perspective

Last night was another fun night photography workshop in New York City. We started in the afternoon at the iconic Flatiron Building and then headed to Brooklyn for sunset. Photographers love to shoot the pilings along the Brooklyn waterfront looking over into Manhattan and for good reason. We got to Brooklyn before sunset so I took them to a cool spot in Dumbo where you can photograph the Empire State Building framed by one the Manhattan Bridge stanchions. It makes for a fun shot and everyone enjoyed making some images there even with all the people shooting selfies in the middle of the street. There was even a bridal shoot going on.

As the sun got lower we jumped into my van and made our way down to where the pilings are located. The sky was a overcast but with a combination of low and high clouds so there was a lot of definition in the layers and it really held the light from the city. It was cool to see how the clouds reflected the light and made for some great patterns. I decided to try a very wide angle shot combined with a long exposure to get some movement in the clouds. I really like the result and have the feeling this is going to be a big print for the wall and art shows.

02 Aug 2018

Seeing night skies in Vermont

This evening was the first session of my Vermont Night Skies and Light Painting Photography Workshop. I’ve always been a little hesitant to do a workshop that depends so much on having fairly clear skies, but I decided to go for it this year. I’ve been watching the weather forecast pretty much non-stop for the past week, like that will make any difference. But this morning it called for cloudy today and then clearing off for tomorrow and Saturday night.

We started the workshop with a fun indoor session where I talked about how to photograph the starts, finding the Milky Way, painting with light and working in the dark. We then headed to one of my favorite locations for light painting, Middle Bridge in Woodstock, which I can see from my second floor bedroom. As expected, it was fairly cloudy, which doesn’t matter for what we were doing. We then went across the street and did some light painting on the public library, which is a beautiful building.

The whole time I was keeping my eye on the sky hoping for breaks in the clouds but overhead it looked the same. I looked to the west and noticed a couple of starts shining so I decided we should go out to Lincoln covered bridge, which doesn’t have many lights around it. When we arrived stars were shining bright and we could see the Milky Way in a large break in the clouds. I told people to get out and shoot fast, the clouds could cover it fast. They did eventually roll back in but not before we got some great shots of the Milky Way and then stars behind the bridge as I lighted it with a flash light. A good start to what should be a great weekend.

10 May 2018

A pretty evening on the Delaware

The weather was looking pretty stormy this afternoon so I decided to see if I could run down a thunder storm. I headed west from my Somerville, NJ, home looking for a fun rural storm shot. There wasn’t much going on as I drove so I thought I would go to the lovely burg of Frenchtown on the Delaware River bordering Pennsylvania. Frenchtown is quaint and pretty and it was getting pretty dark as I rolled into town. The sky wasn’t great so I walked along the canal looking for something unusual. I didn’t find it and went back to the bridge crossing the river to try some long exposures. Moving water and clouds always look great during a long exposure so I set the camera on 30 seconds and started shooting. It’s not my favorite photo ever but it was a nice evening on the Delaware.

04 May 2018

A peaceful morning on Cape May beach

Today is the start of my Cape May Photographic Creativity Workshop and I started the day well before sunrise out on the beach right across from my hotel. It was a beautiful morning and one of the great things about being out at sunrise is there aren’t many other people, especially at this time of year. I love the way the world looks before the sun comes up but it is always hard to drag my butt out of bed. I woke up at about 4:30 a.m. and looked out the window kinda hoping to see rain even though the forecast was for clear skies. The moon was shining bright on the beach and I could see stars. Drat.

I threw on some clothes and grabbed a jacket since it is always colder on the beach in Cape May. When I arrived in town yesterday the temperature was 85 degrees until I pulled into Cape May when it quickly dropped to 67 thanks to the ocean breeze. It was pretty chilly as I dragged my photo backpack and tripod across the street and onto the sand. Light was just starting to enter the sky as I looked for something other than sand to shoot. Even though I’ve spend the last 30 years living less than 30 miles from the ocean I’m not an ocean person. I don’t like crowds, especially rowdy crowds and I always seem to encounter them when I go to the beach in the summer. So being here in early May and before the sun comes up is pretty nice. Now to find something to shoot.

I saw some pilings not too far down the beach and I headed that way. When I got there I saw it was actually an ugly drain pipe and the pilings were there to keep it in place. Not my idea of natural beauty but I thought I could work with it. I had a very wide angle lens on my camera and I decided to use the pilings as a graphic feature of my photo. The moon was slowly setting as more light filled the sky, a bank of clouds were coming up from the south and another patch of clouds were out over the ocean to the east. The light was beautiful and I used a five second exposure to make the incoming waves look silky smooth. The pilings reflected nicely in the wet sand where larger waves had rolled in and some nice color hit the clouds over the ocean.

What a beautiful, peaceful morning.

23 Feb 2017

Sunrise at Juno Pier

One of the nice things about doing art shows in Florida is being able to get out early for sunrise and not freeze. I headed to Juno Pier this morning hoping to get some good clouds at sunrise. I wasn’t disappointed. I had hoped to go at 3 a.m. to catch the Milky Way over the pier but it was cloudy when I got up. I went back to sleep for a couple of hours and by then many of the clouds had cleared away.

The crescent moon was shining bright when I got there before any light was in the sky. As the sky filled with color the became less distinguishable and by the time the sun cleared the horizon, the moon was barely visible.

08 Nov 2016

Watching the color float past on a Florida beach

I was out on a beach tonight in Jupiter, Florida, as the sun went down and color came into the sky. The moon was bright and clouds were blowing past as surf was crashing on the sand.

When I looked south, there was a colorful glow on the horizon. I love what happens when clouds and waves are moving during a long exposure, so I used a 30 second exposure so the movement would be recorded as a blur.

05 Jun 2016

Finding something different during Acadia workshop

The IslandDuring 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.

19 Aug 2014

Whale of a sunrise in British Columbia

bc-1060This morning I got up very early since I was still on east coast time. I went down to the beach on Cortes Island in British Columbia well before the sun came up, light was just starting to fill the sky. There were a few clouds to the east and as the sun got closer to coming over the horizon, the clouds caught the sunlight and created spectacular colors. It started with blue and went to red, the pink and finally yellow.

bc-1142Sunrises don’t get better than this, the distant mountains were outlined, the color was special, the bay provided the base and loons, gulls and an occasional seal slapping the water all came together to provide a unique experience.

Later as I was getting ready to take a shower in their fun outdoor shower, I heard a strange blowing noise. Even though I had never heard a whale before, it sure sounded like one to me. I ran back in the house, told my sister what I heard, put on some clothes, grabbed the camera and headed down the hill to the beach. Swimming past were a pod of five Orca whales, their backs bending as they came out of the water and a plume of water flowing into the air. By he time I got set up with my telephoto lens they were pretty far away, but it was exciting to see and hear them swim past.

Click to see my British Columbia photo gallery from the trip.

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02 Nov 2013

The science of being in the right place at the right time

20131102-LEF_4189Walter and I have a rather scientific formula developed for making sure we are in the right locations at the right time. We start heading for one place based on the weather forecast and if the weather doesn’t look like predicted, we take off for some place else. Sitting in the hotel near Portland last night, seeing the 100% chance of rain forecasts for most of Oregon, Walter was mapping how long it would take to get anywhere from Redwoods National Park in California (5 hours+) to Idaho (even longer) to Crater Lake (4 hours) to Mt. Rainer in Washington state. None of those made any sense since we had to be back to the Portland airport tomorrow evening.

So we planned on working the rain by going to waterfalls in the central part of the state. As we drove south, the sky was beautiful and clear so we veered off and headed for the coast again. I’ve heard people in many places say if you don’t like the weather wait 10 minutes and it will change. Oregon in November must be where that saying originated. At one point while shooting on the coast, I was shooting crashing waves in pure sunshine and went back to the car to grab a cable release and by the time I made the five minute walk, rain and hail pelted down. It wouldn’t have been that bad, but I left a camera and 70-200mm lens on my tripod down by the rocks and it was getting soaked. I scrambled back down the hill and when I got to my dripping camera the sun came back out and the rain was gone. I dried everything off and it works fine but I didn’t leave anything uncovered again.

The weather on the coast was great, other than the quick hailstorm, and we started by getting to Thor’s Well at high tide. Thor’s Well is a unique hole in the coastal rocks where the surf surges into the hole at high tide and spurts out at low. The surf today was especially rough and there were several nearby places where the water would shoot into the air as the waves crashed into the shore. We watched as large waves crashed over where we needed to be standing to shoot Thor’s Well and quickly realized today wasn’t the right day, we’d get our clothes wet at best, which wasn’t a big problem, but we had a very good possibility of drenching our camera or getting washed out to sea. We shot the crashing waves for a while and made another last minute decision and go farther south to the dunes while the tide went out and come back for the last light of the day.

The dunes made for some nice photos and when we got back to Thor’s Well the water wasn’t flowing in, only shooting out. There were still plenty of great shots to be had, just not the classic photo of Thor sucking the water into the earth.

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01 Nov 2013

Off on a photo adventure to Oregon

20131101-LEF_3834I went on another crazy photo adventure today with fellow photographer Walter Choroszewski. Walter got us a deal on a flight, and suggested we spend the weekend in Oregon. Walter hadn’t been in Oregon before and wanted to check another state off his list. He still needs Wisconsin and North Dakota and we both need Hawaii to make it 50 for each of us.

We caught a flight this morning from Newark and were in Portland before noon. We have been watching the weather forecast and it looked like today might be our only day with sunshine, a frequent Oregon problem this time of year. We went straight for the coast to the typical ocean town of Seaside and then headed south.

Cannon Beach is one of the iconic photo spots on the Oregon coast and we discovered why. There is a rock formation in the water known as the haystack and it is spectacular. The light was great, nothing like being on the west coast as the sun gets low. I think my favorite shots are of Walter as the sun comes across his face, maybe I’ll score the dust jacket of his next book.

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09 Sep 2012

Waiting for the color to fill the sky

The weather today was one of the top five of the year. It just doesn’t get any better than clear and 72 degrees. Those big puffy cumulus clouds just floated around the sky.

I knew the clouds would make a nice picture at dusk, so I headed to the Raritan River in Bridgewater, N.J. As the sun went down the clouds got more dramatic, orange highlighted the white clouds for a few minutes and then the sun faded over the horizon.

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01 Sep 2012

Surviving the Mt. Tom death march

I used to be in fairly decent physical shape. It has only been seven years since I did a 30-day bicycle ride from San Francisco to Somerville, NJ. So when Lisa Lacasse asked me if I wanted to do a sunrise shoot from Mt. Tom in Woodstock, Vt. I didn’t think anything about it. I even asked if she wanted to invite her photographer friend Derek MacDonald to join us. The full moon would be setting, so there should be some great photos.

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