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24 Mar 2013

Overexposed in the Garden of Good and Evil

Before making my 12-hour drive back to New Jersey, I decided to shoot at sunrise in the famous Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah. It is most famous for the cover photo of “bird girl” on the 1994 book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” That statue is now in an art museum, so I didn’t get any photos of it, but there is plenty of other things to shoot.

I have to say this is the eeriest cemetery I’ve ever been in. This morning was cloudy and rainy, which added to the atmosphere. I was the only one nutty enough to be in the cemetery that early, which didn’t ease the eerie feeling. The cemetery is old, not the oldest in town, but still has lots of unique gravestones and statues. There are lots of trees filled with dangling Spanish moss and the old, dirty gravestones are just cool looking. I tried to get to the cemetery early enough to get the morning “blue hour” but my GPS sent me the wrong way, so the blue was gone by the time I got there. Light rain was falling, which made the trees look extra dark.

I shot my usual ton of photos, trying to work as many scenes as I could. I liked the statues, several have faces that are looking down and with the low light this morning, the faces were in pretty heavy shade. I got out my powerful flashlight and experimented with filling the heavy shadows. It worked out pretty well.

After dropping my photos into my computer, I had a bit of a surprise. I don’t remember while shooting, but I over exposed a shot of one of the more famous graves. When I first was going through my photos I marked it for deletion. Then I looked at it again. I like the overexposure, it is an interesting effect for a photo of a grave. It just shows how always following the rules doesn’t always work.

See a gallery of photos from Savannah

23 Mar 2013

Seeing the blue hour in Savannah

The blue hour makes a Savannah tree look special.

On my way back to New Jersey from Florida, I stopped for the night in Savannah, GA. It is a great city with lots of unique things going on. I got into town around 5:30 p..m. and there was a disappointing cloud cover, so I didn’t have any sweet light to shoot.

Normally when it is spitting rain, cold and cloudy, I see what is on TV. But I don’t get here very often so I went out to what pictures I could make. When I get in situations like this I think about how to use the light I do have. I went right down to the river front where there are cool stores in funky old buildings. Old bricks are exposed where plaster has fallen off, old wooden doors have original iron hinges and windows looking out on the river are lined with wrought iron.

While the sky is still gray, I look for photos that don’t show the sky. I focused on the brick walls, details of the doors and scouted areas to shoot when “blue hour” began. Blue hour is that time after sunset when the sky turns blue no matter what the weather is. It also happens before sunrise and it only lasts for about 15 minutes, I’ve always wondered why it is called blue hour w hen it doesn’t last that long.

But blue hour can make for some good photos, so I shot some along the river and walked into town a couple of blocks. I liked the look of old brick walls with winding stairs, so I worked them. The trees in Savannah are draped with Spanish moss, so I used the blue in the sky as a backdrop for the sprawling silhouetted branches.

After the blue went away, I did some night shots and called it a day.

See a gallery of photos from Savannah

24 Feb 2013

Loving a simple new layer of wet Vermont snow

It started snowing yesterday afternoon and by this morning there was five to six inches of wet snow covering the ground. Since the temperature has been hovering around 32 degrees, it is a sticky snow and stuck to everything it fell on.

So I went out looking for scenes that might look great with all the sticky snow. I went to a couple of places I thought might look good, and they did. I worked a farm scene I love trying to make sure I was thinking about composition and not just the beauty of the day. I made some pictures I liked and then I saw something and, as usual, it hit me.

Simplify.

I liked the way three fences lined up, with the one in the middle going down a little hill.

I headed to a covered bridge to see how that would look with a hill covered behind it. Not bad, I made pictures from several angles, nearly got the Jeep stuck in the snow and went to a couple of other farm scenes. I shot several things and was driving to another farm and saw a couple of trees alone on a hill.

It hit me again. Simplify.

I like the way the two trees stand out and the simplicity and balance of the photo.

26 Jan 2013

Shooting by Vermont moonlight and staying warm

One of my thrills of digital cameras is the low-light capabilities. So when there is a full moon, I want to be out there. So even though it takes more preparation, going out in the darkness when the temperature is close to zero is lots of fun.

Tonight I went with friend Lisa Lacasse out looking for a magical night shot. I had seen this barn sitting out alone in a field a couple of days ago when I was out scouting. It is a neat old barn and I thought it would look good lit by tonight’s full moon. Lisa was born and lived in New Hampshire and Vermont her whole life but has spent the last few winters in Florida. So she was as ready as you can be for the single digit temperatures as was I. We were covered with layers of thermal clothing from top to toe but being able to keep my hands warm and control the camera is always a challenge.

I’m a big fan of those little chemical hand warmers, they really make a difference for me. When it is this cold, I wear thin liner gloves inside of mittens that flip open to expose fingerless gloves. I don’t know if there is a name for them but they are like wearing gloves and having a mitten to pull over my fingers when I need more warmth. I put the hand warmer in the mitten part so when my fingers are in the mitten they are good and warm. I can stick just my index finger out of the mitten to move camera controls and then put it right back in the mitten to stay warm. I use a cable release, which I can push through the gloves and mitten.

When carrying my tripod, I don’t grab it with my hands, even though I have pipe insulation on the legs. I tuck my arm under the tripod legs so my hands aren’t touching it, just my multi-layered arm.

25 Jan 2013

Vermont birch trees took a while to see

This afternoon I headed over to a grove of birch trees in Hartford, VT, I have photographed many times. Over the years, I had driven past the trees several times before I saw them. They were always right there in the open but I was usually looking for the next farm that has a nice open field with rolling hills that lead down to the Connecticut River and is a great place to shoot sunrise. Maybe I was too groggy at sunrise, or too focused on how I was going to shoot the sunrise, but for whatever reason I didn’t take notice of the trees. Then they suddenly appeared.

They are a large grove right off a little dirt road, sitting on the other side of a small meadow. It is the largest grove of birch I have seen in Vermont. I don’t know why there are so many in that one place, around the area there are scattered groups and lots of lone birch trees, but this must be the perfect place for them to grow.

I know there is an absolutely great photo in that grove, I just haven’t made it yet. I have a bunch that I like, including one that I shot today, but I still haven’t made that killer wow shot. It is what keeps me going back, hoping to be there for the right combination of light, nature and state of mind.

23 Aug 2012

Special Maine sunrise makes getting up early worth it


I’m not naturally an early morning person, but it is rare that I’m upset when I see the sun rise. Sunday was one of my favorite sunrises ever. I was along Flagstaff Lake in Stratton, Maine, as the sun rose in a clear sky. Fog filled the mountains and hovered over the lake, which was fine by me.

I was on a narrow road that sliced through the water, so every direction I looked was water, mountains and fog. It was one of those times when there was so much to shoot I was running in circles to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I had cameras on two tripods and was firing away like a mad-man, literally screaming joy into the wind.

A couple of photos are posted here, you can see more over on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LorenFisherPhotography.

25 Feb 2012

You otter see this

An otter peeks through ice in Woodstock, Vt.

 

At first light I headed out to see how Vermont looked after five inches of snow fell overnight. The short answer: beautiful. As I was heading out of the village, I looked down at a small pond that had a few holes in the ice. I noticed something dark moving in one of the holes, so I pulled over. Another something was moving and my brain registered I was seeing a couple of otters playing in the water.

I hopped out of my Jeep with my telephoto lens and tripod. Even though I was 100 yards away and up a hill, the otters weren’t thrilled with my presence. They craned their necks to get a better view of me and then dropped back into the water. One would pop up out of another hole, take a quick look at me and go back under the ice. Even though I stayed right by the Jeep, I was in their comfort zone. I thought if I hung out for a while they would realize I wasn’t a threat. After 3o minutes and no sightings, and strong winds trying to blow me over, I headed off to enjoy the beauty of the day.

Trees on a hillside in Woodstock, Vt.

Wind blows snow around ice fishermen on Silver Lake in Barnard, Vt.

30 Sep 2011

Finding pictures when the foliage isn’t cooperating

Fog engulfs at house at Billings Farm National Park in Woodstock, Vt.

The week before Columbus Day is usually a great time for fall foliage in Vermont. Not this year. I started in the central part of the state, where it is green, and drove north to within a few miles of the Canadian border, where it is green. Last year it was spectacular this weekend, especially in the Northeast Kingdom but 2011 is proving to be a late year.

Since there wasn’t the normal color, I had to aim for something different. This morning there was a nice bank of fog at sunrise in Woodstock, so I made a couple of nice pictures at Billings Farm, which in Vermont’s only National Park. I really liked the way the light and fog engulfed the house.

22 Apr 2011

Reflecting on Earth Day

Bare trees are reflected in a pond as new spring green leaves sprout.

Every year on Good Friday, I think about my senior year of high school when friend Tim Kochert and I hopped in his car and drove around the lake region of northern Indiana. I remember it as the perfect spring day, warm and sunny with that great feeling in the air. We drove around a state park where I’d later work for two summers and then headed around several of the lakes. I had known Tim since before we started grade school and even though we shared a locker, we didn’t hang out together much. It was a fun day of not doing anything special with an old friend and the memory has lingered all these years. Tim created another special memory for me last summer when he took me on a flight in his plane over glaciers in Alaska.

Today wasn’t a beautiful day but I wanted to celebrate Earth Day by being sure to get out and spend some time in the great outdoors. I went to Lord Stirling Park, which is a large county park adjacent to the Great Swamp National Wildlife refuge. The swamp isn’t too pretty this time of year, it is a swamp, after all. With all the rain, the grass is brilliant green contrasted against the dark, swampy water. I was fascinated with the way the trees were reflecting in the water as a few blades of grass stuck out of the pond.

20 Mar 2011

Cold night means nice morning light

Early morning shadows fall across the deep snow in Woodstock, Vt.

It got down to 11 degrees overnight, which is quite a shift from the 75 degrees when I left New Jersey on Friday. The cold usually means clear skies and the morning light was gorgeous, creating shadows in the snow.

06 Nov 2010

Parks closed: gotta cull the deer herd

Frost covers a leaf at Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary.

This morning I thought it would be good to go to Lord Stirling Park in Basking Ridge, NJ, which is adjacent to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.  They are essentially the same place, they are only separated by the Passaic River and a different name. I got there while it was still fairly dark, taking advantage of the last day of daylight savings time. Now I have to get up an hour earlier to see the sun rise. I got out of the Jeep and saw a sign that said Trails Closed and then a rope across the main trail. Hanging off the rope was a little sign saying something about deer management. In other words hunters were in there culling the herd. So I thought I’d just go over to the NWR, I still had plenty of time before the sun came up. Of course, only hunters were allowed. I’m sure I could have found a trail in but a bored hunter might take a shot for fun.

Mist rises from a waterfalls at Lendells Pond in Mendham, NJ.

I understand the need to hold down the deer population. There are too many and when there is a tough winter, there won’t be enough food for them to sustain themselves. They are changing the landscape, you can see a browse line at their head height in any woods in the area. Many people complain about the deer eating their scrubs, I don’t care about that, but no new growth is happening because the deer eat tree saplings before they have a chance to grow. But I hate having the image in my head of a deer being shot by an arrow and then running in pain for however long it takes for the deer to bleed to death. I guess that is better than starving to death.

So I went over to the Audubon Society’s place, which is only a few miles away. They didn’t have any hunters but I was there before they opened the gate. So I drove around the property and came upon a water falls at the end of Ledells Pond in Mendham. It seems like I have been shooting lots of waterfalls lately but it looked good as the mist rose.

I went back over to the Audubon sanctuary and while I was driving around I saw three large bucks. I couldn’t tell if they were in the rut or scared by the hunters, but they looked nervous. Hopefully they didn’t stroll under a hunter’s tree stand.

30 Oct 2010

Yellow and red leaves in Bridgewater, NJ

The sun shines through yellow leaves.

I headed over to Duke Island Park in Bridgewater, NJ for another autumn sunrise. I was hoping there would be mist rising from the pond or river, but it wasn’t there. There wasn’t a whole lot going on, just some pretty yellow maple leaves hanging by the river.

A tree full of bright leaves.

I walked back to the pond where a tree full of red leaves was screaming at me. I got up close with my wide angle lens and I like the way the leaves are stretching toward me.

Orange leaves in Bridgewater.

I then tried some close-up shots of leaves on the tree.

08 Oct 2010

Vermont foliage shines at sunrise

Killington mountain peaks out behind the rolling hills of Pomfret, Vermont, as the sunrise illuminates the colorful fall foliage. (Copyright 2010, Loren Fisher)

Killington mountain peaks out behind the rolling hills of Pomfret, Vermont, as the sunrise illuminates the colorful fall foliage.

As the sun rose over the hills of Pomfret, Vermont this morning, I was overlooking the scene at “The Pinnacle,” which is a special place a neighbor is gracious enough to allow me to visit whenever I like. It was a clear morning and I got to the top about 30 minutes before the sunrise. It was about 38 degrees and the wind was blowing hard. I grabbed an extra coat as I left the house but it still was chilly. I could see for miles in every direction. Killington mountain is about 35 miles away and I could see the ski slopes.

Colorful fall foliage surrounds the First Congregational Church in North Pomfret, Vermont. (Loren Fisher/LorenPhotos.com)

Colorful fall foliage surrounds the First Congregational Church in North Pomfret, Vermont.

I have been wanting to be at the top all week to see the sun light up the fall foliage on the hills and in the valley. The weather hadn’t cooperated until today. I was anxious to see how much damage the recent wind and rain had done. The foliage was nice and scenery is spectacular any time of year. I knew the North Pomfret Congregational Church would stand out among the trees. Since there hasn’t been a hard, killing frost, the red leaves are missing, so the scene wasn’t what I was hoping to see, but it is still very nice. There is always next year.

See Loren’s photos fall foliage photos this year.

05 Oct 2010

Red Vermont barns look good on a cloudy day

Yellow ferns grow in front or a red barn in Queechee, Vermont (Loren Fisher/LorenPhotos.com)

Yellow ferns grow in front or a red barn in Queechee, Vermont.

It was another cloudy Vermont day. There are people who say that taking pictures of colorful foliage when it is cloudy gives you good color saturation. That doesn’t fly with me. Sunshine makes for better photos. But I’m not going to see the sun shine for a couple of days so I’ll concentrate on other things. There is plenty in Vermont to shoot. Like barns.

A final autumn leaf holds on to a maple tree in Pomfret, Vermont. (Loren Fisher/LorenPhotos.com)

A final autumn leaf holds on to a maple tree in Pomfret, Vermont.

After photographing the barn, I went to my favorite tract in Pomfret. It is owned by a neighbor in Woodstock and I’ve been given permission to hike it anytime. There is a large stand of evergreen trees, so I hiked through there. It is pretty hilly and I was walking in deep needles and leaves. It was very soft and I could feel a good strain on my calves when climbing the hills. I saw a maple tree mixed in with the evergreens. One lone leaf clung to a branch. Even though most trees still have plenty of leaves, this tree is done for the season.

05 Aug 2010

What’s good: Finding the picture at last light

A tree is silhouetted against the colorful sky after sunset in Colonial Park in Franklin, NJ (Copyright 2010, Loren Fisher)

A tree is silhouetted against the colorful sky after sunset in Colonial Park in Franklin, NJ

Today was another hot one and I went to a nearby state park that I hadn’t been to before. I hiked about a mile down a trail and there was nothing to photograph. It was pretty much an open field and I could see the next mile was going to be the same, so I headed back to the car. I was hot and kinda tired and didn’t have a picture. So I drove along the D&R Canal and didn’t see anything that struck my fancy. From too many years cruising around looking newspaper feature photos, I know that it is a lot easier to make good photos when I’m not in the car.

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