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Tag : sunrise

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.

03 Jul 2019

Stunned by the total solar eclipse

I saw my first total solar eclipse while in the Oregon desert in 2017 and decided right then that I would an eclipse chaser. I started planning for the next one as soon as I got home. Well, it was yesterday and pretty much all I can do is say WOW!

I was concerned that maybe the first eclipse would be the best and seeing another would be a let down. It sure wasn’t. The impact of seeing the moon move in front of and totally block the sun isn’t something I can do justice in words or pictures. 

This time I went to the desert of Chile, which is the ground zero for astronomy in South America. I hadn’t been to this part of Chile before and I didn’t have a local guide, which added to the adventure. I was lucky to find a cool cabin for our group to stay Monday night and during the eclipse, so logistics couldn’t have been better. (See blog post)

So yesterday was all about making sure my workshop group was ready. I had made solar filters for each of their cameras along with my own. Each person in the group shot with two cameras, I was using three. I had one with a 70-200mm and a 2X teleconverter giving me a 400mm lens. This one was mounted on a star tracker so it would follow the sun as it moved across the sky. Once totality began, I set it to shoot non-stop during the entire 2.5 minutes. I had another camera with another 70-200mm lens ready to shoot the landscape during totality. Since we knew where the sun would be during totality I set it in a fixed position on a tripod and manually fired it during totality.

My third camera had a 400mm lens with a 1.4X teleconverter giving me a 560mm lens. This was my main camera and I manually tracked the sun during the eclipse and shot all the phases. During the partial phases of the eclipse you have to use a special filter to keep the sun from burning out the camera’s sensor. The same for your eyes. But during totality the filters come off. I had my laptop running an eclipse countdown program that showed when each phase was happening, which is important to know.

Just like in Oregon, the partial phase of the eclipse is cool but not overly compelling. For this eclipse it was an hour and 16 minutes from the start until totality began. People watching are excited for the first few minutes as the black disc of the moon slides over the sun. They people tend to stop looking much and wander around. There were about 40 people in out little compound, all of them family or friends of the owners. For all of them it was their first eclipse. At one point I went over and showed a 10-year-old boy how to hold his hands so the shadow from the partial eclipse would make a very fun design on the ground. He liked it for a few minutes. But I knew the best was yet to come.

About ten minutes before totality things really start to change. We were out in a mountain desert that didn’t have many trees or wildlife. July is winter in Chile but we were so far north that the temperature was in the upper 60’s. As the totality became more imminent the air quickly cooled and suddenly birds started fluttering around. I hadn’t seen any all day but now they were appearing from nowhere. 

One of my favorite things of totality is the light. Being a photographer I appreciate light daily and love sunrise and sunset for the quality of light then. Right before totality the light gets this amazing color. It is dim but it isn’t the same warm color like a sunset. It is incredibly unique and all I could do was smile and spin around looking at the surrounding mountains.  It all happens so fast and lasts such a short time that it is hard to take it all in.

Then totality happens.

My one mistake was having the camera with the tracker too far away from me and I had to run over to it to take off the filter. There are two cool shots to get at the edges of totality. The first is called Bailey’s Beads which looks like little beads at the edge of the sun. The other is Diamond Ring, which is a very short moment when the edge of the sun is just sticking out from behind the moon creating a cool glow. At the start of the eclipse I missed both of them running from camera to camera. But I got them as totality ended!

I had told the other photographers in my group that I was there to help them get the best photos they could but during the 2.5 minutes of totality they were on their own. If there was a problem at that point it wasn’t going to be something I could fix so they should just not worry about the camera and take in the eclipse itself. I also told them to plan on not making pictures during at least half of totality so they feel what was going on around them.

As totality began I looked and the other photographers looked like they were doing ok. I realized there was suddenly a lot of noise. People in the compound and other camps down the mountain were yelling wildly. Their exuberation was contagious and then cheers of “Chile, Chile, Chile” broke out. It was a great scene. I was having a hard time monitoring the cameras and taking it all in.

I wish I could describe in words or pictures the feeling I get during totality. Many times during the planning and worrying about logistics I wondered if it really was worth all that time and effort just to see something for 2.5 minutes. There is no doubt it is worth it. After totality ended and I got the camera filters back on for the rest of the eclipse I just stood out in the Chilean mountain desert and looked around thinking how absolutely fortunate I am. I got quite emotional. This was special. Incredibly special. Amazingly special. 

The next total solar eclipse is in southern Chile and Argentina in Dec. 2020. I scouted the area last year and I can’t imagine missing it.

06 May 2019

Being creative in Cape May

One of New Jersey’s many jewels is Cape May, a beautiful beach town at the southern tip of the state. Cape May has long been a tourist town, they claim to be America’s first beach town. It has a huge white sand beach on the Atlantic Ocean and nearby beaches on the Delaware Bay, although they tend to be not as white. The town is filled with historic, quaint and colorful Victorian houses that are great fun to view and photograph. It is also happens to be one of the bird watching hot spots in the U.S., especially in migration seasons since the shape of the northeast U.S. funnels birds through Cape May and many stop to rest and eat before crossing the Delaware Bay.

It is the perfect location for a creativity photography workshop, which is why I did it there! It is a great fun to get away and think mainly about being creative with photography. I wanted to emphasize the creative aspects of photography rather than the technical, we often get too wrapped up in the technical and forget to just have fun and experiment. Even though we caught a bit of rain, it was a fun few days and we made some really nice photos while thinking about our creative sides. Take a look at some photos made by the participants at https://lorenphotos.com/cape-may-creativity-weekend-2019/

07 Mar 2019

Venice, Italy, is a place like no other

One of the great thrills of my job is hosting photography workshops in great places like Venice, Italy. Add Carnival to the mix and it makes for an unforgettable adventure! The crowds were immense but if you knew where to go you could avoid them a lot of the time. It was great fun photographing the masked models at sunrise (see blog post) and all of the amazing costumes that people wore as we walked around the city.

The beauty of the city is legendary and it lived up to the hype. With canals cutting everywhere and little bridges arching over them as the many pedestrians made their way around, it was a photographers’ dream. We walked many miles each day and it was interesting how peaceful and quiet that was even though there were many people around. We went over the Grand Canal to near the bus terminal and it was disconcerting how the car traffic made us feel a bit uneasy. It is too bad more cities can’t be without vehicles. 

I’ve said it many times after a workshop but it always holds true that it is interesting how a group of strangers can come from all over the U.S. and meld together so quickly around photography. Once again I had a great group of people and it was fun working with them to not only show them Venice but see how fast their photography improved. It was a great week!

28 Jan 2019

Just one more shot, please

After my Vermont Winter Wonderland Workshop yesterday I took a couple of people over to a grove of birch trees that I love to visit. It is on private property and I don’t know the owner so I don’t take 12 photographers from a workshop there. Hopefully I’ll be able to figure out who owns it and get permission to take groups there. As we were walking through the magical forest snow started falling making it feel even more special. We must have spent two hours shooting, time got away from us but the photos came out great. I can’t wait to see what the others got.

This morning it was clear and cold so three of us went down to Jenne Farm again. It always looks great with full sunshine and today was one the best mornings I’ve spent there. The light was clean, the snow glistened and the track we made yesterday morning filled in during the afternoon snowfall. Afterwards we went to another location a few miles away that I love but it didn’t look good without snow in the trees. We drove around a little and then went toward a large farm I know.

As we were going up the road toward the farm there was a stand of maple trees on hill above the road with an open field behind them. The crystal blue sky glowing through the trees and there was still snow stuck to the side of the trees making for a unique look. I was able to pull off a couple of minimalist images and play with the shadows in the snow. It capped off a special morning.

05 May 2018

Using exposure as a creative device

Workshops are just plain fun! It is great to get out with people, think only about making images and enjoying wherever I am. Today wasn’t the greatest weather for my Cape May Photographic Creative Workshop but that doesn’t matter. I started a the day before sunrise with a small group on the beach again. I decided to shoot the same pilings I did yesterday and try to see how I could make the same object look different. It was mostly cloudy as the sky got some light but they were pretty cool clouds. I tried some shots of the piling to emphasize the clouds and then changed my settings to make the pilings the center of interest. The photos looked completely different but I didn’t move the camera. It was a fun experiment in creativity.

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.

08 Mar 2018

Frozen waterfalls and a church painted black in Iceland

In my Iceland research I came across a waterfall that lines up nicely with a mountain, so I decided I should head there on my second day in the country. And being there at sunrise was the time for the best photos. The bad part is that it is 2 1/2 hours from my hotel in Reykjavik, so that meant getting up at 3 a.m. to assure I was there in time. Since my body was already messed up from the five hour time change I figured it couldn’t get much worse. So essentially I left the hotel at 11 a.m. according to my body time and hit the road to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Once I left Reykjavik it was a two lane road all the way in the pitch black darkness. I kept looking to the north to see if the Northern Lights were showing their colors but I didn’t see anything. What was bright were the trucks coming at me. The big tractor-trailers have a set of lights on top of the cab. The first one freaked me out, I didn’t know what this super bright light was coming at me. It turns out they mount four big lights, brighter than the biggest headlights, on the truck and turn them all on. Fortunately the drivers turned them off when they saw me coming or I would have been blinded.

I rolled into the parking lot for Kirkjufellsfoss while it was still dark, there was just a glint of morning light in the east. I got out of the car and shined my fairly large flashlight toward the falls only to see that they were completely frozen. That was something I didn’t plan on, it didn’t even occur that all I might see was ice. It was about 15 degrees but there wasn’t any wind, so I put some more clothes on and made the short hike up to the falls. It was even more frozen that I could tell from the car. I set up my tripod and waited for the morning light to get a little brighter and some color to come into the sky. After making some not-too-exciting photos, I got out my flashlight to do some light painting on the falls. The trick is to make whatever I am lighting become nearly as bright as the sky. I make several exposures as the pre-sunrise sky became more colorful. There is a point where I know there won’t be any more color in the sky so I decided to cut my losses and head to my next planned location.

When I was back in the hotel I noticed the large, bright moon shining outside my window. I thought it would be cool to make a photo of it but I thought it would set before I got in a place to shoot it. I forgot how far north I was. As I was driving over a mountain pass, there was the moon in basically the same position as four hours earlier. The sun was just now rising and the color was amazing so I pulled off the road and was greeted by a strong, cold wind. The light was amazing, the landscape barren, just ice and rocks, but it was beautiful. There I was, alone, literally in the middle of nowhere, the sun was rising, the moon was shining, the light was incredible and I didn’t know what to shoot. I made some shots of the moon then the color above a mountain peak, the light pouring over another peak. I finally decided to just experience the scene and take it all in. I didn’t need to make a photo at this point.

As the sky got brighter I got back in the car and headed toward another church painted black in Budir. It is pretty isolated, about five miles from the nearest town. The sun had just come up as I pulled so I used a wide angle lens to emphasize the church against the pretty sky. A church painted black is pretty unique and the story is they put pitch tar used on ships on the church buildings to protect them from the harsh weather.

I found a place to get some breakfast and went to a few other locations. I was pretty tired so I took a nap in the car and woke up a couple of hours later. When I woke up the clouds had rolled in and I was still feeling pretty groggy. Since I had to drive over two hours I decided to head back to the hotel and get ready for the official start of my workshop tomorrow.

03 Feb 2018

Beautiful sunrise, frozen lake and waterfalls and a wet foot

We got a break from yesterday’s brutal cold and started my Vermont Winter Wonderland Photography Workshop at one of my favorite overlooks. I found this spot several years while driving backroads looking for great places like this. I’ve shot many great sunrises here but today there was a little too much cloud cover and we didn’t get the super sunrise I was hoping for, but it was still spectacular.

After sunrise we went to Barnard and Silver Lake. I love the general store there and always try to take groups there for breakfast. They usually only have one cook working so her eyes get pretty big when 14 of us walk in. She does a great job managing the orders and gets the food out pretty quick and it tastes good. People are usually happy to sit around a little, have some coffee and get warmed up.

When breakfast was done we went out on the lake. It is always fun to take people out there to see the people ice fishing, especially if the photographers haven’t walked on water before. The ice is about two feet thick, so there isn’t any chance of falling through. Well almost. Just after I got done telling them to stay away from the edges where the ice can be thin because there isn’t enough water under it to freeze thick, one of our guys had a foot go through and into the mud. It wasn’t deep enough to be dangerous but his boot filled with water, which isn’t fun. We got him some fresh, dry socks, stuck a plastic bag in his boot and he was good for the rest of the day.

We went to Tunbridge where there is a scenic covered bridge crossing a rock strewn river. It always makes great photos and today wasn’t any different. Then we headed to a large waterfalls that was frozen pretty solid but still was fun to shoot.

When we got back to Woodstock, I got out my flashlight and lighted a covered bridge as night was falling. It is a great way to end a full day.

15 Jun 2017

I love finding a new meadow of wild lupines

Lupine grow in the wild from Maine to California and even down to Florida but it is still a thrilling sight to come a across a large meadow filled with them. One of my Woodstock, VT, neighbors pointed out a field of them yesterday less than two miles from my house.

I hadn’t seen them there before, I don’t know if I missed them, wasn’t paying attention or just didn’t look at the right time year.

This morning I went to the meadow at sunrise to catch the beauty of the early day light. The meadow is on the west side of a hill so it took a while for the sunlight to fall on them. The tall grass was wet from heavy dew and my jeans quickly got soaked as I walked through the field.

I was thinking about my upcoming workshop in Provence, France, where we will be shooting fields of lavender and how the lupines’ color is just a couple of shades darker.

There was lots to do explore in the field and I came away feeling good about spending the morning among the wild flowers.

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.

03 Feb 2017

Birch trees always capture my imagination

My love affair with birch trees continues. There is a fairly large grove about 15 minutes away from my Vermont house and I love wandering around there. It has a magical look to it no matter when I go.

Today I was there before sunrise hoping to get the rising sun shooting through the trees. When the sun came up, it glowed for a couple of minutes and then went behind a large cloud. I could see it would come out again so I tried several shots while waiting to see how the snow, trees and sky would look once the sun was shining again.

As usual, I wasn’t disappointed. The long shadows in the snow and deep blue sky highlighted the white bark and made for beautiful images. There must be 250 trees in the grove and today I noticed a couple of crooked ones shooting skyward. I like the shape they make and worked to get an angle that would highlight them. I’m pretty happy with the shot.

05 Jan 2017

Unexpected sighting while on a Florida beach

I went to a Ft. Meyers beach for sunrise today that is more populated by wildlife than people. There are lots of better beaches for sunbathers, so the only people that come to Bunches Beach are there to either walk, look at birds or photograph birds. Today there was a large group of bird watchers carrying binoculars and scopes, wearing their bird watching clothes and their boots. Which means they were going to mess up a lot of photos.

So I went the other direction on the beach. There weren’t as many birds and no people, but one great blue heron was working the surf to get a fish. Herons are one of my favorite birds to photograph. Their long necks make great shapes, it is either curled back as they relax or it gets taught when they have prey in sight. My heron today was standing in shallow water as small waves rolled in on. It didn’t move a whole lot so I tried lots of different shots, using different composition and placement of the bird in the photos. I decided to try some very slow shutter speed to see if I could get a unique effect blurring the incoming waves.

The heron had caught a good size fish was standing pretty still so I knew it would be sharp and the blurry water surrounded it. Of course, as soon as I make lots of setting changes the heron kind of turned around and a bald eagle came out of nowhere and stole the fish from the heron’s mouth. I was a bit dumbfounded knowing I didn’t have time to change camera settings and fired the camera anyway knowing that anything moving would be a blur even though the eagle was moving fast. I got cool wave effects but the two birds look like blurry blobs. It was fun knowing I was the only person to witness nature at its peak.

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.

21 May 2016

A surprise visitor appears at birch tree grove

4403-2I was out in a stand of birch trees as the sun came up this morning and thinking about how wonderful it is to be standing in a Vermont forest, hearing only birds chirping and bees buzzing. I was surrounded by beautiful white trees reaching for the blue sky as their leaves as just starting to fully appear.

I have been to this spot many times, the trees look pretty much the same at every visit but the pictures are always different. As the sun was first starting to stream through the trees, I wasn’t seeing any pictures better than what I have shot before. I walking around for about 30 minutes looking for different angles, trying to see something I hadn’t before. With all these trees and beauty, I know there are always unique images to be made.

Finally I got some vision. Things starting falling in line and I shot lots of scenes. None of them excited me as much as Thursday’s birches at the pond, but they were fun pictures. I worked the angles on a large tree with two leaning trees behind it.

As I moved to find another subject, a bright orange flash flew through the air. I was startled by the sudden burst of color and looked to see where it went and what was. A Baltimore oriole landed on a tree nearby. I’m not a birder, but I was a baseball fan as a kid and I recognized the bird from their logo. I watched as the bird flew to another branch, the orange color brightly on display. Another oriole joined it and they flitted around a little and flew away.

I thought about running to the car to get my big telephoto lens so I could get a closer shot of the birds. Then I decided to just enjoy the show and not worry about working for a few minutes. It was quite a show.