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Tag : National Park

31 May 2018

Blessed to be in Acadia

On Saturday is the start of the 2018 edition of my Acadia Workshop in Maine. I like to arrive early so I can do final scouting to see what has changed since the last time and to do some personal shooting. Being here alone gives me the chance to really work on getting a few really good shots because I can be selfish and shoot whatever I want for as long as I want. When I have the group, I need to make sure they are being cared for and it limits my shooting, which is OK, that’s my job.

I was recently talking to a client who told me about a workshop she did in Iceland and how the photographer leading the group was there to make pictures and didn’t care what the clients were doing. One evening they wanted to go out and shoot the Northern Lights and the pro said he was tired and they could look out the hotel windows if they wanted to see the lights. None of the clients will be going on another trip with that guy.

It is a long drive from N.J. to Acadia, I took my time and made a couple stops so it was almost 10 hours and I was pretty tired when I checked into the hotel. The devil hopped up on my shoulder and told me to stay at the hotel and rest while the angel got on the other shoulder and said to take advantage of the beautiful and get out and shoot. I made the right choice and got out of the hotel.

It was past dinner time so I pulled one of my favorite tricks and headed to the grocery store to get cheap food to eat in the car rather than waste time getting dinner at a restaurant. With an egg salad sandwich from the grocery deli and fresh bananas I headed into the park. I did some quick drive bys of favorite locations to see how they were looking and then settled in at Jordan Pond.

The sun was getting low and the sky was clear, which isn’t great for sunset photos. I walked a little ways around the pond and got away from the only people, a family with too many kids. I love being here this time of year because the crowds haven’t arrived yet. I sat on a big rock at the edge of the pond and had my egg salad and banana picnic while watching the bright sun set over the horizon. I rarely photograph the setting sun, especially on a cloudless day, so I just sat there and enjoyed the incredible scenery and lack of humanity. After the picnic was devoured and the sky was starting to get darker I got out the camera and mounted it on the tripod. Once again I was amazed to be treated to an outrageous show by nature and it seemed like it was just for me. I am blessed.

About 40 minutes after sunset the colors I had been waiting for appeared in the western sky. What a great show. I am truly blessed.

23 Nov 2015

A night of fun photos in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua star trailsOn a quick trip to southern California, my friend John invited me to go out to Joshua Tree National Park and spend a day in the desert. I hadn’t been there before but I knew a good bit about it, I’m not sure if it was because of Jim Morrison’s legendary trips there, or U2’s famous album (that was really in Death Valley) or just reading about it from lots of other photographers.

The park is a unique area with Joshua trees, sand and big sandstone rock formations. Some feel mystical powers emanating from the rocks, it was a cool place, but I didn’t catch any special vibes.

We got there yesterday afternoon and went to the main areas that everyone seems to visit. Being the weekend before Thanksgiving, it was pretty crowded, more people than John had seen on his many trips there. People were climbing the rocks, most of the big formations had people on top of them. It made getting a clear show without humanity pretty hard, but it was still great to see.

Joshua MoonAs the sun was getting low, we went to a standing rock monolith that has a cool old juniper tree nearby to get shots after dark. I had found the spot while doing research before my trip and it looked like a great place to do light painting after sunset. I brought a couple of large flashlights with me, so I had John light up the background a bit while I illuminated the tree and rock.

The moon is going to be full in a couple of days, so it was pretty bright out in the clear air of the desert. We could walk around with using our headlamps and see perfectly well. We stopped at another rock formation and I did a few shots with the starts and moon. I love the look of moonlight shaping the rocks.

Since there were no clouds, I want to do a star trail shot, but I didn’t want to do an all-nighter in the desert, so I set up a camera on a tripod with a 15mm fisheye lens, hooked an old iPhone to it with TriggerTrap and started shooting. The moonset was around 2:30 a.m., so I wanted the camera to start firing then so there wouldn’t be any light in the sky. Earlier at the hotel I worked to get a delay going with TriggerTrap but I couldn’t make it work. So my only option was to let the camera fire all night and hope the batteries would last until well after the moon went down. I set TriggerTrap to fire a 30 second exposure, wait one minute, make another 30 second exposure, wait, fire, wait, fire for the next six hours.

I set the camera up about a hundred yards off the road, not too worried that someone would spot and steal it in the middle of the desert. We went back to the hotel and planned on getting camera after coming back out for sunrise. We got up at 4 a.m. and headed back into the park. It was still dark and we thought we knew exactly where the camera was but we drove right past it and got back to the place where where we did the light painting last night. Since the light was coming on fast, I decided to hike a little and shoot the sunrise there and we’d find the other camera later.

Sunrise in the desert is a lot different that what I’m accustomed to in the East. The light came very quickly and since there were no clouds, it didn’t take long for the sunlight to be very harsh. I tried lots of shots but wasn’t too thrilled with any of them.

It was time to go find the other camera and see what I got. We went back through the park and watched for a pulloff near a large mound of rocks. It was farther than we thought but I recognized it and could see my camera from the road. I don’t know which died first, the phone or the camera battery, but they both were dead and the last shot was taken at about 3:30 a.m. That gave me plenty of images to stitch together to make the shot I was hoping for. The moonlight shots gave me nice light on the Joshua tree and surrounding landscape and also good color in the sky.

I look forward to getting out there again and perfect some things that I learned.