logo

Tag : Vermont

07 Jun 2020

Woodstock vigil for justice

There was a vigil for justice today in Woodstock, VT, where about 300 people gathered on the green. That’s a pretty good crowd considering the village has fewer than 1000 residents. Vermonters tend pretty community involved and there was plenty of solidarity shown, some tears shed and it ended with the crowd taking a knee for nearly nine minutes to honor the death of George Floyd.

22 May 2020

An evening in a sculpture park

 

If I wasn’t a photographer I might be a sculptor. I wouldn’t be carving things out of rock, although that would be fun too. I met a guy in Iceland who I visit every summer who does some great stone carving but it is tough work. I’d be the kind of sculptor who makes big things out of scrap metal. I think that would be a lot of fun and pretty satisfying to see a big something come from nothing. Last night I went with some friends to a cool sculpture park, Lemon Fair, near Middlebury, VT. It is basically a big field, near nothing, with lots of sculptures like the ones I would make. And some of them are mighty big. 

When photographing other art I like to add something to the picture to make it more than just a snapshot of what is sitting there. So I went at night to capture the stars behind the art. Since I was out in a dark field, I used a flashlight to illuminate the objects. It created some fun pictures as the Milky Way rose through the sky.

Click on a photo to see a larger version, then you can scroll through them by clicking on the arrows.

19 May 2020

International Space Station meet Polaris

I love when when great planning comes together to create a good picture. I love even more when dumb planning and incredible luck combine to create a special image. I was out shooting star trails over a pond last night and lined up a cool looking shot. I planned on getting some good reflections from the trees I was lighting with my flashlight in the water. Star trails are essentially very long exposures and the stars blur due to the earth’s rotation. This photo was made in a period of 2 hours and 45 minutes, but rather than being one shot it is about 275 photos that were 30 seconds long each. They are then assembled with software to show the movement of the stars. I add some light to the trees so there is a nice foreground and I knew I’d have a pretty cool shot. As I’m sitting out in the dark the International Space Station flew over. It is always fun to see it streak past but this time it looked like it was going to be in my shot. About 90 minutes later it came by again, this time lower in the sky and not as bright. Hey, I might catch that one too, I thought. Today when I put the photo together I was thrilled to see the ISS flew right in front of Polaris, which is the star the others rotate around. Now that is cool. Plus I have the second ISS pass lower in the shot. Damn I’m good.

02 Feb 2020

Vermont’s Winter Wonderland

Each year I host a winter workshop from my home in Woodstock, VT. Early February is a beautiful time of year in Vermont and it is a lot of fun getting out and making pictures in the snowy landscape. One thing that I really enjoy is taking photographers out on a frozen lake, especially people who have never walked on water before. It initially sounds scary but when people see the huts and folks out ice fishing, then they realize it is very safe to be on the ice. 

There is something special about a snow covered landscape. The world becomes much simpler looking, everything is clean and free of distractions. I love making images that are simple and minimal and winter is the best time to do that. Before the workshop I drove past a pretty little white barn sitting up on a hill. There was a pure white blanket in front of it and a single white birch off to the side. The scene is one that I am always looking for, simple, clean and pretty. I was pretty happy with the shot and the others I made during the weekend.

31 Dec 2019

Christmas present forces new iPhone

I got a nice new Apple Watch for Christmas from my lovely wife Robin. It is pretty cool but a little too advanced, it wouldn’t work with my old iPhone 6, so of course I was forced kicking and crying to to upgrade my phone! OK, I’ve been eyeing one for a while so it wasn’t too painful, other than the price. I got the spiffy iPhone 11 Pro Max since it has what is reputed to be a great camera built in. I hear a lot of people saying their phone can make images as good as my expensive DSLR camera. I tell them to come to my gallery and I’ll show you plenty of shots you aren’t going to make with that phone. But now that I have the fanciest around I need to give it a try.

All phone cameras have an extremely wide angle lens but this gets even wider. While a nice soft snow was falling this morning in Vermont, I went out with our dog Pudge to give the phone a little trial run. I shot some photos on normal setting, some with the telephoto and then the wide angle. Any camera would handle these conditions pretty well so it hard to tell what the camera will really do but so far they look pretty good. I got Pudge to sit and pose and used the extreme wide angle to really make her dominant in the photo. Like most cameras, it made the image too dark because of all the snow. It made the snow gray rather than white and I needed to correct it in post processing but it wasn’t off that far. I got the normal wide angle distortion in the trees but that is to be expected. The image looks pretty sharp but I’m not making a 60″ print. That will be the real test. 

27 Dec 2019

Photos hanging at Woodstock Inn

I just completed a new installation of four photos at The Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, VT. I worked with Cheryl Griggs, who is the head interior designer at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Cheryl had a very specific color scheme she was working with, looking for images to go with the blue/gray colors of the furnishings she had selected. She sent me color swatches to help me understand what she was needing. Cheryl wanted Vermont scenes but didn’t want fall foliage or bright red barns since those colors wouldn’t work with the rest of the room. She went through my website and I loaded more photos onto a special page for her. She was interested in several photos and a couple that didn’t quite have the right colors. I went back into those photos and made the colors more of what she was looking for. The Overlook had more orange in the sky, which I took out and made the blue hues match her colors. I toned down some of the brighter colors in Morning Fog and brought out some other tones to make the photo work well with the decor. And I drastically changed the color of Looking Up by color matching the blue and then pulled another shot from that shoot to give Cheryl the related photos she wanted to work with a large mirror.

The three photos grouped together have a traditional black floater frame while the Morning Fog has a lovely walnut frame. All photos are printed on canvas to give them a painterly look.

The photos are now hanging in the newly redesigned Conservatory, a great space where people can sit and relax. In the evening they offer wait staff for drinks and snacks. It is a beautiful space that was expertly created by Cheryl.

14 Oct 2019

Spectacular fall foliage in Vermont

Many people in Vermont said the foliage this year is the best it has been in years. And it has been a long time since I’ve seen it looking this good. There aren’t a lot of the deep reds that we sometimes get but the lighter reds, oranges and yellows are shining through. I did two fall foliage workshops this year and as usual people came from all over the country. It is fun to host people who live in different places and see their reaction to the changing colors. They have usually seen a few trees change but not whole forests of brilliant foliage.

I created a little group of photos that I shot the last week or so, I hope you enjoy it. Click on a photo to see a larger version and then you can click on the right or left side to scroll through them.

09 Oct 2019

Light painting a Vermont island

One of the techniques I enjoy doing with my photography is light painting. Much like it sounds, I illuminate subjects in a similar way as painting a wall. But I use a flashlight, sometimes a big one. During my Vermont Fall Foliage Workshop I like to take people to Chittenden Reservoir and light up an island that is about 250 yards from the shore. I have a big 18 million candle power flashlight that does a great job on the island. The best shots come 20-30 minutes after sunset when there is still some light and color in the sky and it is dark enough that the background is dark. We use a 30 second exposure which gives me time to light up the island. Just like painting a wall, I don’t try to cover the whole island in one splash of light, I paint across it so any one area may get only 5-8 seconds of light. When the conditions are right, it can be a fantastic photo.

09 Aug 2019

Stars shining bright in Vermont

Getting out at night and seeing the stars is something that I never get tired of doing. I hosted back-to-back Night Skies Workshops in Vermont the last 10 days and it was great to be out in the dark and see the stars shining. Seeing the stars is one thing and photographing them is another. This is one of the few areas of photography where you need to have the right equipment to make good images. The stars seem bright but it takes a good camera to handle the darkness and the long exposures required. There are tricks to making the photos and then also in post processing, which is what the workshops were all about. 

For me it isn’t enough to just make photos of the stars, I want something in the foreground to add an extra element to the image. That means it will either be a silhouette or I need to light it up. I love using a technique called light painting to illuminate objects with a flashlight. I have a variety of lights I use, from very small penlights to a huge 18 million candle power monster light. I didn’t need the monster during the workshop since all the objects we lit were close enough that it would be too bright. I look forward to doing the workshops again next year.

24 Mar 2019

Chasing the aurora in Vermont

There is something about the Aurora Borealis that fascinates me. The thought that light can shoot up in the air in the dark, dance across the sky and change colors is simply amazing. But I have yet to see it in full action. During my trips to Iceland I’ve been teased several times but I haven’t been there during the right conditions for a full show.

The northern lights are caused by solar flares, when there is a lot of sun spot activity the aurora goes nuts. Solar activity is cyclical, there is a 11 year cycle of high to low activity and right now we are in a prolonged trough and activity is low. There are several websites and mobile apps that can accurately predict the aurora a couple of weeks in advance. When I am in Iceland I constantly monitor the apps and see when and where I might be able to photograph the lights.

There is a scale from 1-9 that shows how active the aurora will be. It is usually at 1 or 2 and I’ve never heard of it hitting 8 or 9. Friday I got a message from friend Brian Horton that last night would be extremely active, a 6 for three hours and then falling back to 5. The bad part was the 6 rating was from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. while the sun was still shining bright. You want pure darkness to see the aurora, so that 6 rating was going to be wasted. But I had only seen a 4 before and it was amazing so I knew I had to check out this night of 5.

I had spent the week in Vermont and went back to New Jersey on Thursday for a workshop that night and a mentoring session on Friday. After thinking about it for a while I decided to make the over five hour drive back to my Vermont house and take my chances. I hoped my wife Robin, who was still in Vermont, would join me out in the dark, but she is finishing another book proposal and decided to wrap that up. 

Late yesterday I drove north almost two hours to Cabot, VT, where there is a cool old covered bridge that years ago was moved to the middle of a field high on a hill. There is nothing around it and no towns north so I knew it would be a great place to photograph the aurora. Back in Woodstock we got about five inches of snow Friday morning but Cabot got over 15 inches and it is piled high. To get out in the field near the bridge required wading through the snow, which was drifting in the blowing snow. Up on the that hill the wind gets pretty strong, it was blowing hard and the temperature was 15 degrees. 

Getting out to the bridge required plowing through thigh deep snow for about 100 yards, which wasn’t a whole lot of fun in the cold and dark. I have snowshoes but I didn’t think of taking them with me, they would have saved me a lot of effort. 

Once I got set up, the aurora was glowing on the horizon. The green light was shining pretty wide but it wasn’t flaring too high. It definitely wasn’t what I was hoping for. I had visions of the light dancing high overhead but it stayed low and wide. I took a couple of flashlights with me to illuminate the bridge so I didn’t have only a silhouette. It only takes a little light to make the bridge have some detail but it makes a big difference.

After about an hour I went back up to my truck, the moon was rising and the bright light shining off it would kill the green glow. I didn’t get what I wanted but I had fun

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.

12 Oct 2018

Vermont fall foliage never disappoints

It was a magical week for my annual Vermont Fall Foliage Workshop. I can’t think of many things more fun than hanging out in Vermont with new friends and taking in the beauty of autumn’s color show. It is great to show off my stomping grounds to people from all over the world, this week I had photographers come from Ecuador, Amsterdam, Florida, California, Washington state, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut. 

We went to some of the popular spots, like Jenne Farm, which some people say is the most photographed farm in America. It doesn’t matter if it is or isn’t, it is a beautiful scene. We also went to some of my favorite little known locations, I like showing my visitors places they wouldn’t find on their own unless they spent a ton of time driving around. I’ve created a gallery of some of my photos below. If you’d like to see some photos made by the workshop participants go here: https://lorenphotos.com/vermont-foliage-workshop-photos-2018/

05 Aug 2018

Bonus night for night skies workshop

My three night Vermont Night Skies and Light Painting Workshop finished last night and since the weather didn’t cooperate on Friday night, I added a bonus night for those who could stick around.

We started with another visit from the International Space Station. It is crazy to imagine being able to stand outside and see a space craft flying past and making photos of it. Catching a ride in that thing would be the ultimate thrill! I took us to a large open field that had some trees to use as a foreground and a cool stone wall.

We finished the night photographing a secluded barn. It isn’t easy to find a red barn that doesn’t have any light hitting it, which is essential since I like to light them with a flashlight. Friend Bob Wagner told me about this one and asked the landowners if we could photograph it. A great way to end the workshop.

04 Aug 2018

Shooting stars and the ISS

We got a special treat tonight during my Vermont Night Skies and Light Painting Workshop, a visit from the International Space Station. Using a couple of iPhone apps we could see where and when the ISS would fly over and leave a bright streak in the sky. I took us to an old hilltop cemetery where we photographed the Milky Way and did some light painting while waiting for the flyover. It came right on schedule and we were able to make exciting photos of it passing in front of the Milky Way. I was lucky catch a shooting star at the same time. Pretty cool.

I am fortunate to have a neighbor in Woodstock who allows me access to her beautiful property in nearby Pomfret, VT. The pond is marvelous and it is dark there, so it is a great place to take the group. We did several shots around the pond of the Milky Way and light painting on the shore while. Adding a little light from flashlights always adds a nice touch to astrophotography. I like seeing something in the foreground and just having stars in the sky.

While we were shooting the Milky Way, some people tried doing star trails spinning in the photo. The trick is to find Polaris, the North Star and over a period of time it will look like other stars are circling it due to the earth’s rotation. This is actually 120 photos during about one hour and then put together in the computer. The result is very cool and I got the lights from people on the other side of the pond photographing the Milky Way.

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.