Archive for the ‘documentary’ Category

Alone + Nature = Nurture (2015)   2 comments


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At Acadia National Park, Otter Cliffs area, 2010.

Going through my photostream, I found a number of images that didn’t seem “right” to me. At the very least, I wasn’t interested in having them on display any longer. My processing techniques have changed over the years. Whereas I used to tonemap with one of a number of programs, I no longer tonemap at all. I generally find the results to be “soft”, unrealistic, or downright hideous if the settings are not handled properly. Such was the case with the version of this image back in 2010, I felt.

The image has been reworked with new techniques and an entirely new approach. As I compare the two versions side-by-side, I’m rather amazed that I let the previous version go out into the wild. I’d show it here, but… nahhhhh.

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Lately, I’ve been reading interesting information about personality types.

I’ve always been one who enjoys solitude, preferring a quiet, solo hike in the woods in favor of large gatherings of people. In the past, I believed that this was “anti-social behavior,” a notion perhaps perpetuated by my bros at the time. Don’t get me wrong… I love good people and enjoy their company immensely. But, all in all, I prefer quietude and places that are not seething with too many humans packed closely together.

In my reading, I’ve found that I exhibit a particular personality type that tends to embrace solitude (T1/w9, for those who know.) While there’s always room in one’s life for a raucously good time in large groups, there is comfort in knowing that wanting to be alone in nature is not a “flaw” of any sort.

This is why this image appeals to me, and why I’ve chosen to revisit it. I’m drawn not only to scenes like this, but can relate to that one person standing there, cup of coffee in hand, taking in the natural beauty in much the same way that I appreciate it.

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Jordan Pond and The Bubbles, Acadia, Maine   1 comment


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In the relatively small area that is Acadia National Park, beautiful scenes are everywhere. It’s also one of the nation’s most heavily visited parks, so people are everywhere, and most of them have cameras to capture their share of the scenery. And like most parks, there are certain areas where people are ‘funneled’ into one small section that reveals a highlight.

Such is the case with Jordan Pond and “The Bubbles”, those two small peaks across the water. What you don’t see in this picture are the hundreds of other visitors strolling along the carriageways and paths leading along the pond.

The views in this place are archetypal, and have been photographed probably millions of times. As such, it’s difficult to envision a new approach, a new angle or lighting that would present the subject in a unique way. Sometimes I wonder if that’s even possible without creating an abstract rendition.

We take the shot anyway, hoping to capture this particular scene, on this particular day, with those particular clouds. Perhaps get down low to see it from a worm’s eye view. Maybe add on a neutral-density filter to smooth out the water.

In the end, whether or not we come up with an image that is utterly unique or one that’s fairly commonplace, we can appreciate having been there that day, experiencing nature’s beauty as the light changes with the passing clouds, knowing that each of these moments IS a completely new and unique experience.

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Otter Cliffs at Acadia National Park, Maine   4 comments


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I never was much of one for waking up early, nor much for black & white photography. But, some places suggest pushing past those preferences into finding something new.

Crawling out of the sleeping bag (the nice… warm… sleeping bag, mind you) at about 4:30AM each day, we made a daily pilgrimage down to the cliffs to catch the sunrise. Due to the great weather we had during the trip, the sunrises were a bit droll because of few clouds, so I started playing around with long exposures, neutral density filters, and alternative views of the area.

During post-processing, I tried to conjure up some of Bob Lussier’s great B&W photography. Bob sets the bar quite high, but at least it’s something different to try out.

1/8sec at f/14, 36mm, ISO 100, way too early.

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Sunrise at Otter Point, Acadia National Park, Maine   8 comments


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“Missed them by that much.”

Susan and I had a lovely autumn vacation in 2014, graced by some of the best, driest weather we’ve ever experienced in New England. When you’re living in a tent for a month, rain is not usually welcomed. The only disadvantage to all that dryness is that on most mornings, there weren’t any clouds that would provide photographic interest.

Still, we’ll take it. After sunrises, we got a lot of hiking and biking in on the trails of Acadia.

We spent a total of 16 nights on the island — surely a record for us. Despite the long stay, our circumstances dictated that we leave for New Hampshire to meet up with my college buddy JUST before the NxNW crew arrived at Acadia — Bob Lussier, Mike Criswell, Mark Garbowski, Chris Nitz, Len Saltier, and a number of other photographers that I would have loved to meet in person. Perhaps next year would work out.

Enjoy the scenery — A delightful sunrise on the rocks near Otter Point, remarkably devoid of other people, which can be a rare event on the island.

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The Guardian   3 comments


The Guardian
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If looks could kill.

While kayaking along the Silver River in Florida, we encountered our first group of wild monkeys, the backstory of which you can learn in Shelter from the Storm.

The monkeys weren’t hard to spot. The mother and child seen in “Shelter…” were sitting on a cypress stump near the water. Just on the other side of the large cypress tree, this alpha male was standing guard against the onslaught of other members of the troop. Just behind him, in the woods, there was a cacophony of howling and screeching as monkeys chased each other through the trees. It seemed more serious than just play. I don’t know what the problem was, but there was clearly upset in the tribe deeper in the woods.

Meanwhile, the male’s attention was drawn to a number of colorful boats approaching from the river. Threats all around.

He kept a careful watch on the mother and child. If a rambunctious member of the troop got too close, he’d climb up on a flexible downed tree, bouncing up and down while grunting his warnings. The other monkeys seemed to respect that, and kept their distance.

As did we. This guy gave me a look, so I backed… away… slowly…

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Handheld from the kayak, ISO400, f/6.3, 1/250s, 210mm

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So I’ll Follow the Sun   4 comments


So I'll Follow the Sun
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Despite being on the road in Florida for almost two weeks, the winter weather dictated that we would get only one kayak paddle trip. Fortunately, the Silver River was loaded with wildlife of all sorts.

Passing by one of the many downed trees along the way, we spotted a primordial procession of turtles leaves the water, seeking the warmth of the sunshine. Given that we were bundled up against the cold north wind, it seemed like a good idea.

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‘Gator, Resting   7 comments


'Gator, Resting
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It was early January.

We had come to the Okefenokee Swamp to shelter ourselves from the oncoming storm, the ferocity of which we couldn’t even imagine at the time… rain, high winds, bone-numbing cold. (Okay, so the state park at Okefenokee has really nice cabins, you see.)

Late in the afternoon during a break in the rain, we wandered around to see what we could find, and discovered this guy. We were surprised to see him at all, as alligators are markedly less active and visible in the cold weather. He didn’t mind at all as I snapped a few pictures. Good thing: This was taken at 55mm, a rare opportunity to get so close without being chomped.

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