Archive for the ‘autumn’ Tag

Cabin in the Cradle   7 comments


Cabin in the Cradle

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During our recent trip to the Pisgah National Forest, our travels were hobbled by the so-called “government shutdown.” While we were free to travel the roads within the forest – really, how do you close a forest – signs of the shutdown were visible. In some cases, literally signs, such as “Campground Closed.” In other spots near attractions, garbage cans were overflowing with trash, barriers were set up, and restrooms and picnic areas were locked. Utterly ridiculous.

We had to find whatever we could, despite the circumstances, in order to salvage the trip.

Near the Cradle of Forestry location, we found this nice pair of cabins just off the road, set up as an example of early life in this area. Yup… Closed. That didn’t stop us from standing just outside the fence to frame up a photo opportunity.

Given the old nature of the scene, I decided to go with a Wet Plate look (collodion process) after merging and basic processing. Switching back and forth between this and the standard color version, this idea stood above all other attempts, although the color version was compelling in its own right.

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Creamer Cemetery, Maine   2 comments


Creamer Cemetery Maine

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Alongside of Route 191 in Cooper, Maine, lies the family plot for the Creamers.

I’m not usually one to skulk around cemeteries with a camera unless the statuary is notable, as in the case of Cave Hill in Louisville. But every now and then, you can pass by an alluring small plot that commands attention. They are often near the road and off the side of a small farm, and they tease with a story that you’d likely never hear unless you know the family.

In this case, thanks to the resource of the Internet, we know that Otis, off to the left there, died in 1860 at the age of 22, almost 23, and was the son of Thomas Creamer. Winslow, also a son of Thomas, died a little over a year later at the age of 19. Poor Phinemas on the right didn’t make it much past 6 years. A daughter of Thomas, Hannah, passed just short of 29 years old.

It caused me to wonder why these siblings all passed away at what we would consider today to be such an early age; how Thomas and Emily could possibly cope with having their children precede them, all in only four years time. Was it a rampant virus? Was it the long Maine winters? Something more nefarious, perhaps?

It was a family. Perhaps that’s all we’re entitled to know. But there is a story held in a few square feet at the side of a remote Maine road – a remembrance of people who were born into a time that was surely much more strenuous than we’re accustomed to today.

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Challenging Perspectives   10 comments


Challenging Perspectives

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“Perception is reality,” as the saying goes. I first heard that many years ago in a business environment. The context may be different now, but it’s still something that I ponder frequently.

We assume that the world ‘out there’ is exactly as we perceive it to be, solid and stable, but that is not generally the case. (Just ask Neo, from The Matrix.) Instead, our perceived ‘reality’ has to do with our own internal position, our perspective. There’s a good, digestible article on this from Scientific American Mind, Looks Can Deceive.

Photography can give us an excellent opportunity to challenge our notions about the world around us. While many people think that photography should only capture the world as-it-is, taking an image also presents an excellent opportunity to play around with our most basic assumptions. Some people might look at this image and say things like, “That’s just too weird.” Or, “That’s wrong.”

Is it?

Kids do this all the time. As a child, did you ever hang upside down on the monkey bars? (Are those death-trap monkey bars even still legal?) Did you ever lie on your back in bed and hang your head over the side? Perhaps it’s because the child hasn’t spent decades conditioning their thought processes to match what they perceive with their senses. At any moment children can pretend that they’re a pirate, a Jedi knight, a princess, or anything else that the mind can conjure up, and to their unconditioned minds it seems completely real.

We seem to lose that ability, that playfulness, as we get older.

As I was flipping through the images taken on our recent autumn trip, I ran across this set from Flagstaff Lake, one of my favorite places. I ran it through the usual steps, and when I saw the result, I thought, “Meh. Same as many others I’ve taken there.”

Then, in a fit of playfulness one night, I flipped the image. Bam! Perhaps it was my state of mind at the time, but it completely messed with my well-conditioned perspective of the place I think I know so well. Suddenly the image took on a new dimension and meaning, and I couldn’t neglect to publish it, even though it bears substantial similarity to other images.

Interestingly, I did the same thing on an image of an egret, in Masnavi. I sent that image off to the print lab for a client, and when the print came in, someone at the lab had flipped the image into what they thought was the ‘correct’ orientation! For my purposes, of course, this was a complete “mistake” and I received a re-print from the lab, with the “correct”… no, wait… “incorrect” orientation.

Hell, now I’m confused.

That’s the point.

We’re free to challenge our most basic assumptions. We’re free to play around with the reality that’s presented to us. We can change things by simply altering our perspective a bit.

Why don’t we do that more often?

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On Top of Dorr Mountain   12 comments


On Top of Dorr Mountain
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The general consensus in photography is that you don’t shoot at the height of the day. I can understand the reasoning, but… I dunno…. sometimes it seems to work out just fine. I think such is the case here, where we’re presented with a stunning view from Dorr Mountain in Acadia National Park (Maine), looking south toward Otter Cove, Blackwoods, and Southwest Harbor, where a few lobsters await us after the hike.

The ‘model’ is my lovely bride, Susan, and yes… that’s a teddy bear in her pack. “Bobo, the Magnificent” he calls himself.

As with my previous image, Boats on Somes Sound in Early Morning Fog, I employed the approach of working with multiple merged frames in 32-bit mode, without the ‘standard’ tonemapping that’s used with Photomatix or other HDR programs. It seems the results are much more crisp and ‘realistic’, while still bringing in the extended dynamic range that multiple frames can provide.

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Moonrise Over Flagstaff Lake, Maine   3 comments


Moonrise Over Flagstaff Lake, Maine

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“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” ― Anton Chekhov

This particular location just keeps cranking out the beauty. Taken from our campsite late on a September evening, 2012.

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A Certain Symmetry   2 comments


A Certain Symmetry

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Normally, we’re not supposed to line things up in the center of the frame, but every now and then nature offers up an almost perfect symmetry. That makes it a good time to break the rules.

This pond, called The Tarn, is found in Acadia National Park in Maine, at the foot of a remarkable trail that leads off of Dorr Mountain. The trail features some of the most engineered sections of pathway I’ve ever seen, with curving staircases, overhead arches, and ‘paved’ areas made of carefully fitted natural stone.

Or, you can simply park at the Wild Gardens of Acadia and take an easy, flat walk over to The Tarn, but that wouldn’t be as sporting, right?

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Owl Brook   6 comments


Owl Brook

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We consider this our back yard when we’re camping in New Hampshire.

In a large campground that is often overrun with RVs in certain places, there is one loop we’ve found where the sites are large and private, no RVs allowed, and it has this brook running along the back of the site. After a long day of hiking, or on days where we just don’t feel like hiking at all, we spend some time along the rocks, listening to the running water, watching the autumn leaves fall, and soaking up a few patches of warm sunlight.

If I had any wish at all, it’s that we’d spend even more time in this spot. Really… why go driving around from one place to another when you can just spread out on a rock and soak up nature’s beauty? No driving – no effort – no worries.

We were in this same spot one night, watching the stars in the opening of the canopy, when a large owl flew into a branch just over our heads only a few feet away. He regarded us for a while, as we did him. After a couple of minutes, deciding that we were way too big for dinner, he flew off silently. Since then, we have a new name for the brook.

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This image came from three long exposures shot with a 10-stop ND filter. At f/10, 17mm, shutter speeds were 30s, 121.5s, and 291s. Those three gave most HDR tonemapping programs the fits, so I spread the exposures on each end by converting to TIFF in ACR, generating an even wider dynamic range. Seemed to work well. Post in PS-CS6 involved masking in elements of various tonemaps created with both Photomatix and HDR Efex Pro 2, spiced with Nik Color Efex Pro.

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The Bates Cairn   2 comments


The Bates Cairn

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On the east side of Mt. Desert Island (Acadia National Park) are a number of spectacular hikes. We like them because the payoff in scenic views is great relative to the small amount of effort required to get there.

Across the open, rocky tops of the hills, a number trails feature the Bates Cairn, a rather unique feature designed by pathmaker Waldron Bates in the late 1800s – early 1900s. In addition to helping to guide hikers along the trail, they also make for some excellent photo opportunities.

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The Painter at the Wharf   3 comments


The Painter at the Wharf

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After experiencing the demise of more than a few fresh Maine lobsters one evening, we decided to celebrate by catching the sunset at a nearby wharf. There was some sort of seminar or class going on in the area – there were a number of paint artists in the area set up at different viewpoints, and some were being videotaped as they worked.

It was quiet and serene as I went about catching different scenes, with Susan recording some video segments. I asked this woman if I could take a few frames; she graciously said Yes. I’m delighted that she did.

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HDR from three exposures, 26mm, f/11, ISO100, merged in Nik’s HDR Efex Pro 2, modified with several filters in Photoshop with masking via Topaz Remask 3

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How To Hide If You’re A Moose   4 comments


How To Hide If You're A Moose

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It’s not a very effective technique, if you were to ask me.

Moose are pretty amazing creatures. They can be huge, gangly, and somewhat threatening when close by, especially during rutting season in autumn. Despite their size, they can turn into the woods and disappear after taking only a few steps. Yeah… they blend.

As we entered the area where we were going to camp for the night, we saw this bull at the side of the road. Two other people had already drawn him out of the woods by making various moose sounds and calls – again, not really recommended during rutting season unless you like surprises. But their efforts gave us the opportunity to shoot a number of frames of this beautiful beast, a rare treat because most bulls stay deep in the woods during the rut.

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