Archive for the ‘ME’ Tag

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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The Asticou Azalea Gardens, Seal Harbor, Maine   5 comments


The Asticou Azalea Gardens, Seal Harbor, Maine

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Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate when we’d like to go hiking. When that happens, we take a road trip around the area, looking for new and interesting spots. On our way to Seal Harbor on the south side of Mt. Desert Island, we passed by the Asticou Azalea Gardens.

The day seemed perfect for a soft, moody rendering of this colorful scene. The overcast skies created a soft and diffused light that really helped to pop the autumn colors in an otherwise gray day.

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As before, I decided to approach this image as an HDR without tonemapping, preferring to edit in both Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS6. I’m really enjoying the result as being more ‘realistic’ than most tonemapping programs would allow. There are times to get creative, and times to let nature stand on its own merits.

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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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Sometimes, It Is…   4 comments


Sometimes, It Is...

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Gamble, an abandoned lobster boat found alongside Route 1 in northern Maine.

We woke up in the tent one morning and decided that it was too chilly to stick around outside, so we took a photo road trip up to Moosehorn NWR a few miles north of us. (Truck heater, yay!) Alongside the route, we found this poor, dilapidated beast in a vacant lot, an equally sad looking abandoned Gulf gas station.

We could only imagine what kind of story might be behind the vessel, its legacy on the water, and what conditions caused its demise.

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An HDR from five frames, the original version showed just how colorful and lucious the foliage was at the time, but I didn’t think that it set the mood for the image. Using a number of layer techniques and a subtle filter from OnOne, I tried to create the mood as I saw it on that cold and overcast day.

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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.

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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Another Way To Hide If You’re A Moose   6 comments


Another Way To Hide If You're A Moose

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Yesterday, we learned the first lesson of How To Hide If You’re A Moose. Since our friend’s technique wasn’t very effective, he decided to try a new tactic – hiding behind a big pile of road sand.

I hated to tell the poor guy that it still wasn’t working very well. The antlers were a sure giveaway.

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(Note: In all seriousness, we were just tracking the moose’s activity from a safe distance as he wandered around the location, browsing and looking at these two-legged creatures with idle curiosity. All moose images were taken with a 300mm lens.)

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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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Flagstaff Lake Revisited   5 comments


Flagstaff  Lake Revisited

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…Annnnd, we’re back!

About a month ago, I posted the previous image Into The Dark, mentioning how we unplug from all the conveniences and trappings of modern culture. When we do this, we like to travel around the less visited spots in New England, sleeping in a tent, soaking in the scenery from some of our favorite places.

About the second week in, we traveled up to far northern Maine, just short of the Canadian border, to Flagstaff Lake, near the Bigelow mountain range. This is the view from our campsite. If it looks a bit familiar, it’s the same location where I shot Flagstaff Lake Sunrise in 2009.

When you have a great scene in front of you, it’s tempting to try to recreate a previous success. I fought the urge to do just that, trying my best to come up with new compositions and angles. Besides, the conditions never seem to cooperate for a repeat performance, so I cleared any previously held notions and just regarded the new view, the clouds draping the mountains, and yet another spectacular sunrise event.

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