Archive for the ‘people’ 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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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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Tinman at Saint Croix Island, Maine   2 comments


Tin Man, at Saint Croix Island, Maine

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Traveling along the coastal Route 1 in northern Maine, there is a wayside area that commemorates one of the earliest French settlements in l’Acadie, an endeavor that did not go terribly well for the settlers. Along the wayside, there are a number of beautiful statues along with storyboards that tell of a miserable first winter in the area.

Members of a French expedition led by Pierre Dugua, intending to colonize North America, settled the island in 1604.

Seventy-nine members of the expedition, including Samuel Champlain, passed the severe winter of 1604-1605 on the island. Thirty-five settlers died, apparently of scurvy, and were buried in a small cemetery on Saint Croix Island. In spring 1605 the survivors left the island and founded the settlement of Port Royal, Nova Scotia.

You can read about it here at the National Park Service site, if you’d like.

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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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Back Whence It Came   6 comments


Back Whence It Came

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Tree. Wood. Ore. Metal. A wagon forged by the hand of a man. All will decay. Nothing lasts forever.

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We descended to the bottom of the trail shortly before 5PM, knowing our target. Placed near the equipment shed for the old Stone House, these wagons have been in place and deteriorating beautifully for years.

Unfortunately, since it was 5 o’clock, a few maintenance people were converging on the shed, parking their trucks in all the good spots. Problem. I didn’t think twice before walking up to one of them and jocularly saying, “You know, I traveled over 1,000 miles just to shoot these wagons.” Oh… you’ll move your truck? Why, thanks!

The guys were talking together, but surely also sizing up these people from ‘Away.’ One of them, an older gentleman in bright red suspenders who looked like a cross between Albert Einstein and Kris Kringle, was Frank. I know this because he had a huge sign made of welded pipe running across the back window of his pickup truck – his “Office”.

The sign said, “F – R – A – N – K

I asked him, “Are you Frank?”

“Nope. I’m Ernest,” he replied in a deep New England accent.

“Somehow I doubt that,” I said as we shared a knowing laugh.

And with that, we were introduced to Frank Eastman, a colorful local who has tended the grounds of the Stone House for several decades. After the other guys went home, we chatted with Frank for quite a while. He had worked with the Maine DOT for many years. We talked about how someone had once offered to restore the wagons for display, but Frank had declined, preferring to see them decay in their natural form. After a time, he felt comfortable enough to let us in on a local trail secret — a waterfall that most people don’t know about — and he asked if I could shoot it for him someday.

That’s for next year, when I’ll likely meet up with Frank again. Some people you just want to keep in touch with.

Elbow Grease   13 comments


Elbow Grease

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Sometimes, you just get lucky.

We were driving through a rural area and passed by an interesting place, so we wanted to turn around to check it out. Just before our turn out, we saw a man and woman approaching an old, abandoned house through a yard full of weeds and grasses. As we passed the house again, we noticed the woman standing on the porch.

The place we wanted to see was closed, so we turned back to our original route. As we approached the abandoned house once again, we saw the couple waving us down. Perhaps there was some sort of trouble.

The couple had seen us passing by for the third time and thought that we were ‘locals’ who were checking them out. As they told us later, “Everyone around here is related, so we thought it would be a good idea to let you know that this house belongs to our family.” Good information to have on both counts, I thought.

We heard their interesting story about how the man and his sister had been adopted by different families, and had only found each other recently after a 17 year search. The old house had belonged to the sister’s father, who passed away some time ago, leaving the house unoccupied.

Being the curious sort – and, of course, armed with a camera and tripod – I asked if I could poke around a bit. What had once been a beautiful old farm house was now collapsing in on itself. Along the front and sides, all of the doors and windows were blocked with plywood. Rats! (Um, not real rats. I just couldn’t see inside.) Around back, though, there was an old mud room door with no glass in the windows, just some loose cardboard that had seen better days.

“Would you mind if I just stuck my camera through this window?”, I asked. I find it never hurts to ask. “No problem.”

It was so dimly lit inside that I didn’t even know what was in there, and given the musty, moldy smell coming through, I wasn’t about to go inside. Apparently, it had been quite some time since the detergents and mops were used there.

The “skylight” is courtesy of last year’s Hurricane Irene, which had peeled back a significant portion of the tin roof. It’s a look.

It’s just a simple Rurex (Rural Exploration) composition – one not particularly noteworthy, at that – but it gave us the chance to stop along our route, do a little exploration, meet some interesting people, and then check for ticks.

Pete and Kelly, if you see this on the blog, please drop me a line at my email address. Thanks for letting us peek into the old place. It was a pleasure to meet you.

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Grandfather’s Legacy   14 comments


Grandfather's Legacy

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We recently had the pleasure of spending a day with Jeff, a new friend who builds the most amazing birdhouses out of timber and tin recovered from old barns, sheds, and smoke houses. Wandering about his rural property while chatting and taking photos, we got a better sense of his artistic inclinations. We already knew that he loved each of his birdhouse creations. What we discovered was that he seemed to be on a mission to repurpose old buildings, giving them a second life by saving them from inexorably melting into the landscape.

At his property, a quiet place dotted with sheds, cabins, and workshops, I noticed an irresistible old tractor peeking out from an open shed. As we had other places to visit, we had almost passed this by. It turned out that the tractor was more important than we knew…

The tractor is a ’55 Allis Chalmers B. Jeff’s wife’s grandfather owned it and used it to work his garden. He was a farmer for much of his life and he loved his tractor. Grandfather is now gone, but the tractor is being maintained almost as a monument to his memory, perhaps one of the last tangible reminders of the man who used it to till the land.

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Sittin’ Pretty   7 comments


Sittin' Pretty
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On a casual day hike in the hills overlooking Otter Point, in Acadia National Park, Maine. This is one of the few places I know on the east coast where you can get a good leg stretcher and an outstanding view of the ocean.

I don’t know who these people are. They looked like they were enjoying themselves, so I asked if it would be okay to include them in the picture. If you know them, or if you are them, please let me know.

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Inland Sailor – An HDR Collaboration Project   19 comments


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The HDR Collaboration Project: In each round, one photographer provides a set of image brackets to the group, and we apply our personal style in post-processing the set. The person who provides the brackets posts the results, and as most would agree, it’s fascinating to discover how each contributor ‘sees’ the same scene. 

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Oh, the guff I took over this one!

As we were emailing each other for the latest project, I asked the group what genre of brackets they’d like this time. A mighty chorus of one chimed in with “waterscape.”  So be it: Let’s see what I’ve got in the library.

One potential bracket set had 11 frames, but with a heavy sun flare and dust spots, I thought it would be more effort than they’d like to endure. Another composition was decent, but nothing all that spectacular.  “Okay, I like this other one,” I thought as I uploaded my chosen bracket set to DropBox.

What I’ve learned is that one should never present a paltry three-bracket set to these Big Guns without expecting a lot of ribbing about a simple -2/0/+2 EV set. You’ll see how they processed that sad bit of information in their comments below each picture. They’re all friends, so I don’t mind giving them a place to vent their rage.  🙂

So, why I did I have the audacity – the unmitigated gall – to present only three exposures to this pool of talent?  Allow me to explain:

We were in Maine, on Mount Desert Island, one of the most scenic places I know.

Many died that night. Four, in fact. There were horrible cracking noises, much gnashing of teeth, moaning, slurping… and a good bit of drawn butter. Susan and I had gone to the southwest side of the island to Thurston’s Lobster Pound, one of the best in the area. We were all over those lobsters like crazed squirrels on a feeder. (If you’re unfamiliar with a lobster pound, it’s a restaurant directly on the docks at the waterfront, where lobster boats unload their daily catch. The bugs go into holding tanks near the cash register, and you can choose, name, and give last rites to your dinner before it gets hauled off to the steamer. You can’t get a fresher Maine lobster.)

We finished dinner and went back to our campsite at Somes Sound, then decided to go out onto the camp’s dock to catch the setting sun. This dock was a challenge in the best of circumstances. Made of aluminum sections, it extended about 80 yards over the water, but as you walked it, it wobbled back and forth pretty badly. By the time I got to the end, I figured it would be best to flop on my belly and get low for stability. There was no way to stabilize a tripod there, and besides, I wanted a perspective as low as possible to the water.

That taught me another lesson: Never roll around on your belly after filling it with a bunch of lobster.  Being in a bit of discomfort, I set the camera to bracket and fired off a quick, handheld set of three.

Most of the photographers here routinely take bracket sets of 5, 7, 9, and 11 or 13 is not unheard of. When the chorus of indignant howls came up from the group, I told them, “Suck it up! Go back to your roots.”  We all pretty much started our exploration of HDR with minimal sets of three, so I thought it would be a good exercise to revisit that idea. As it turned out, the three frames provided plenty of dynamic range to keep these pros happy, and in my opinion, they all did a fantastic job, expressing their individuality on a fairly classic situation.

Following are the versions from myself, Mike “TheaterWiz” CriswellJim DenhamScott FrederickMark GarbowskiJacques “FotoFreq” GudéMark Gvazdinskas, and Bob Lussier. Each photographer represented here has a body of work that speaks volumes to their talents. Please be sure to visit their sites by clicking the links associated with each name.

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Inland Sailor by Rob Hanson :

 

Inland Sailor by Mike “Theaterwiz” Criswell :

Inland Sailor by Mike 'Theaterwiz' Criswell

 

“Thanks for the cool brackets Rob, I really like the scene, they actually came together quite nice, and a nice steady hand I might add.

“I ran all three brackets through Photomatix, although it faulted out and asked where the other 6 to 9 brackets were at, after I got past that hurdle I went through some normal fixes, then decided I wanted to do something a bit different with the processing, at least different for me. I used OnOne Perfect Effects and only perfect effects. I had about 3 different versions and finally decided on this one. Although I do not remember the exact effects I used, I know a few were from the landscape presets and I added a cloud texture as well. I was having so much fun with the different effects and how to use them I was happier creating that taking notes. After I was finished with OnOne I chose a different crop, to narrow the field of vision a bit, I liked the result. Thanks again Rob!”

 

Inland Sailor by Jim Denham :

Inland Sailor by Jim Denham

 

“What a beautiful scene Rob has presented for us. A gorgeous sunset over a calm inland bay. Fantastic Rob – thanks for sharing!

“In the normal banter that takes place amongst this group, a few folks were giving Rob a hard time for supplying an image with only 3 brackets and, in response, Rob said, “Suck it up; go back to your roots,” and that’s what I did. No presets, only some layering in Elements and final touches in Aperture. I loved the sky and wanted to darken it up a bit to bring out the colors. Also loved the rocky shore to camera left and wanted to make sure it stayed illuminated and sharp. I thoroughly enjoyed this set Rob, thanks for taking care of us this round!”

 

Inland Sailor by Scott Frederick :

Inland Sailor by Scott Frederick

 

“This was a great set to work on by Rob Hanson for two reasons.  I don’t get a lot of chances to shoot scenes like this and our collaboration group has a tendency to edit grungier brackets, so this was a refreshing change! I had two runs at this image.  The first pass through Photomatix without the de-ghosting option enabled allowed some ghosting of the trees in the water to bug me a little.  So back through Photomatix to take care of that!  Also Rob shot this scene handheld with 3 brackets at 2EV spacing and I must admit, I was very happy with the results that these brackets 3 brackets gave me while tone-mapping.  Next was off to Photoshop CS5 for some lens correction to fix the distortion and CA, a little noise reduction with Nik’s Dfine and some sharpening with Nik’s RAW Pre-Sharpener.  Next I fired up onOne’s Perfect Effect 3 and applied a few filters before bringing the images back to CS5 to apply some Un-Sharp Mask to the boats, trees and rocks!  As always, I finished the image off in Aperture 3 with subtle contrast and brightness adjustments, curves and levels and some saturation adjustments!  Thank you Rob for hosting this round and providing this fun set to work with!”

 

Inland Sailor by Mark Garbowski :

Inland Sailor by Mark Garbowski

 

“Never apologize in this group. That’s the lesson from this round. Rob made excuses as he posted the image for us to work with this week, because it only had 3 brackets, and we greedy folks are used to a minimum of 5 and as many as 11. So of course we all teased him before we even looked at them. And of course there was no need for any excuses.

“I loved working on these. I first made a version that enhanced the original golden hour look, and did that mostly in Nik Color Efex 4. Then I created a blue version in the latest update of OnOne’s Perfect Suite. While still in that powerful new suite, I pulled the golden version in as a layer and blended them using the masks and layer feature in the suite. The end result is I flipped the image from golden hour to blue hour. My final move was to crop out most of the sky and foreground, emphasizing the elements of interest in the horizon and creating a bit of a panoramic feel.”

 

Inland Sailor by Jacques “Fotofreq” Gudé :

Inland Sailor by Jacques "Fotofreq" Gudé

 

“At first, when I saw this set of brackets, I thought to myself: Oh, No! A landscape shot!  I’m not a landscape dude.  How the heck am I gonna do this?  So, I left them there on my desktop, not sure what I wanted to do to with them.  Fast forward to about a week later, and I was in a Google Hangout with my boys, Rob Hanson and Bob Lussier, I believe a day or two before Thanksgiving.  Heck, I’d completely forgotten about these brackets, when Rob asked something along the lines of: “So, when are you two going to get those brackets done.  No rush, but I wanted to post them RIGHT NOW!”  Ok, so maybe not that moment, but he wanted them soon.  Turns out Bob and I were holding up the crew.  It’s done when it’s done, right?

“A couple days later (Black Friday), while most of America (probably exaggerating here, but not much) were out shopping, I found myself a nice “quite” corner in a Starbucks near my hotel and went to work.  I ran the brackets through Photomatix and HATED what I was getting there.  Dang!! What to do?  I know!  DRI (aka Dynamic Range Increase)!  Or at least I think that’s what they call it when you merge (or blend) your brackets together manually.  I’d done this once before, and loved the result.  So I opened all the brackets up in Photoshop CS 5 and went to work, painting in here and painting out there until I had a nice canvas to play with.  I was already digging what I saw and the tunes I was working with (First Hans Zimmer’s Last Samurai soundtrack, and then his Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s Ends soundtrack.) were REALLY inspiring me.  I used various blend modes to get particular looks I wanted as I my drawing hand danced around my Wacom table: here a brush stroke, there a stroke, everywhere a stroke, stroke).  A little dodge here, a little burn there, and I even learned a few new techniques in Photoshop along the way; that happens when you are after a particular look somewhere on your canvas and are not sure how to go about creating said effect, which is ALWAYS good.  Finally, and I was done, and I was digging what I saw.”

 

Inland Sailor by Mark Gvazdinskas :

Inland Sailor by Mark Gvazdinskas

 

“What a fun set of brackets, Rob! One of my favorite things to do when new brackets are dropped is to blindly put them into Photomatix and drool at the possibilities.

“I put on my “Kiss the Cook” apron and deep fried the heck out of this one.  The second I loaded the brackets I noticed the clouds and the reflection. I hated to take out the amazing detail in those gorgeous clouds but felt this was the perfect opportunity to do some practice in OnOne’s Perfect Effects. In order to give this a long exposure feel I first did a full strength radial blur layer. I then added a glow to the sky and water to give that glassy appearance. I always like the warmth I get out of my 10 stop and wanted to create a feel like that so went a little crazy with the colors here. I was going to do a sharpening layer for the boats as Photomatix always seems to take a bit of that tact-sharp feel out of the image, but decided to leave them be giving somewhat of a blurred effect as if the shutter was open for 30+ seconds and the boats would be rocking. Finally I added a pretty heavy vignette. All editing done within Perfect Effects and Layers. This software is just something else.

“All in all an absolute blast to work on this gorgeous set. Thanks for the opportunity to destroy your pretty shot, Rob!”

 

Inland Sailor by Bob Lussier :

Inland Sailor by Bob Lussier

 

“Thanks to Mr. Hanson for providing a great set of brackets to work with. And, from one of my favorite places to shoot Acadia National Park, Mt Desert Island, Maine.  I have probably driven past this little harbor dozens of times over the years but, unlike Rob never had the vision to stop and shoot it! So thanks for looking out for me, Rob!

“I used this opportunity to play around a bit with onOne’s new Perfect Photo Suite. I figured, since it was Rob’s image I would potentially be screwing up, I had nothing to lose! After running the three brackets through Photomatix, I pulled them into the Photo Suite. I ran the “Daily Vitamin” filter on it, which boosted the local contrast and punched up the colors a bit with emphasis on the blues in the sky. I then went to the “Glow” tab and added some “Deep Forest.” I really love how the shore, boats and treelike are mirrored in this image, so I wanted to bring back some of the contrast. I added one more layer in onOne and painted in some “lighten” tonal adjustment on the boats, dock, house and some of the rocks on the left shoreline.

Thanks again, Rob!”

 

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Thanks for your entries, gentlemen. See you for the next round.


	

Happens All The Time ‘Round Here   9 comments


Happens All The Time 'Round Here

Happens All The Time 'Round Here

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A column of Confederate soldiers marches toward a memorial service, Clarkton, N.C.

We had driven almost three hours to get to a reenactment that we had been invited to shoot, only to find that all the ‘Yankees’ had gone home for the weekend. No Yankees = No Action. Instead, there was a memorial service being conducted down the street, and the remaining reenactors began their march from the grounds to the service.

I was struck by the juxtaposition of the soldiers against the decidedly more modern backdrop.

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How it was done: When life hands you lemons… The original image (viewable on Flickr – click the image above) was not really viable because of the shadows across the scene, particularly on the faces and uniforms of the soldiers. I found that there was just enough detail in the profile to allow us to discern the nature of the scene, so I decided to go with full silhouette. Toning and edging is courtesy of OnOne Perfect Suite.

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