Archive for the ‘Otter Point’ Tag

Early Morning Sunrise, Late September, Otter Rocks at Acadia NP, Maine   3 comments

I’ve said it before: I’m not an early morning person… usually.

While in Acadia National Park last autumn, we got in the habit of waking up early — around 4:30AM — so that we could get a cup of coffee and transport down to the waterfront for sunrise shooting. During the two weeks we were there, most sunrises were rather mundane due to the clear weather, but on occasion… this. It was well worth the effort, and had the added benefit of putting us in a place where there were few other people, if any at all.

This was taken from a set of 9 frames, merged in Photoshop Merge to HDR Pro, finishing with a bit of Topaz Clean (for the rock foreground), and a slight radial filter in the clouds to accentuate some of the long exposures.

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Otter Cliffs at Acadia National Park, Maine   4 comments

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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Sittin’ Pretty   7 comments

Sittin' Pretty

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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Alone + Nature = Nurture   19 comments

A lone person regards the ocean surf at Otter Point, Acadia National Park, Maine

This is one of my favorite spots on the coast of Maine.

Rather than go into some lengthy prose regarding the image, I thought I’d let the title speak for itself.

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Au Clair de la Lune (By the Light of the Moon)   10 comments

A sublime full moon rises over the ocean at Acadia National Park, Maine

An autumn moonrise at Acadia National Park, Maine.


Well we artistic types are so misunderstood
Everyone’s a critic, they don’t know when something’s good
Just let us have our space and freedom to create
And when the work is finished, we’ll tell you if it’s great

— from “Stephen’s Exhibition” by Stuart Davis

After a long run of dominating the High Dynamic Range marketplace, the venerable Photomatix Pro now has a lot of company. Unified Color’s product set is very strong. Nik Software recently released HDR Efex Pro. Photoshop CS5 introduced Merge to HDR Pro. HDR Darkroom Pro is soon to be released. Topaz Adjust even has settings that emulate HDR effects.

To suggest that HDR photography is here to stay seems facile. Companies would not invest effort and cash into developing products if there were no market identified for them. Camera manufacturers are pushing the limits of sensor technology ever farther, increasing dynamic range in-camera, long before an image ever goes to post.

In the midst of this evolution, the debate over whether HDR is a legitimate form of photography continues as it has for some time. (See the comments under James Brandon’s recent article, 19 Examples of HDR Done Right.) There are some who believe that processing an image using HDR techniques doesn’t constitute photography at all. I usually dismiss these monocular arguments, as most people realize that the technique of tonemapping an HDR image to a target output device is really no different than putting a circular polarizer on your lens, or greasing that filter for a vignette blur, or dodging & burning in the darkroom, or farming multiple images, and so on.

Yes, it’s photography. HDR processing uses a set of techniques in order to accomplish a style. As artists, if we used a pencil instead of a camera, it would be called ‘drawing’ regardless of our personal tastes in art. Whether it was a piece by Rembrandt, or a child’s first creation on the refrigerator, it’s still ‘drawing’ and the final product is a unique creation by an artist.  In much the same way, HDR processing employs technical methods in order to achieve a specific style. Whether one likes a particular style should be more the question, and ultimately that comes down to a matter of personal preference. But, for one to dismiss the entire body of HDR or tonemapped images because of one’s personal prejudices about a technique is to entirely miss the beauty of an artist’s stylization.

What I like most about photography is that it allows me to express an artistic vision based on an actual experience I’ve had, or to accurately recreate a scene that I’ve experienced so that I can try to bring you there with me.

What I like most about HDR photography in particular is that it allows anyone to apply their own sense of creativity on a standard photographic image, expressing their unique vision and talents. In doing so, we can take an everyday scene and draw attention to it in new ways, pulling the viewer into a scene, helping to share the mood and feel of the setting, and conveying the emotions that the photographer felt when taking the frames. Can you do this with conventional photography? Sure, but with HDR the palette for expressing one’s vision can be far more extensive.

In the end, though, what is it that we’re trying to achieve?

As artists, we want to create new things. We need to be creative; if the drive wasn’t there, we wouldn’t be doing this. We want to push the limits of the current tools and technology into new forms of expression. As with any art form, some of these attempts may fall flat, but we’re driven to create nonetheless.

We want to be seen. Even if we prefer to ‘hide behind the camera’ we want the fruits of our efforts to be seen and appreciated by others. Much like a mirror, it is the reflection of ourselves in an-other that satisfies the artist’s soul, that helps us to know that we exist, and that our efforts are not wasted. The creative loop of Arting is completed when our final image is seen by others who then reflect back their appreciation, or perhaps even their thoughtful criticism.

Given that, I’ve been wondering why the mere appearance of HDR images can conjure up rather caustic, mindless rants from some people. The thing that bothers me most about those rants is that they can only serve to diminish a person’s creative potential, were we only to place any real stock in them. In service of the ego, detraction is the commentator’s attempt to pull someone away from Creativity back to the bland, middling ground of Certainty. When people suggest, “All HDR sucks,” it’s akin to saying that because you don’t like an abstract style of painting, anything created with a paintbrush sucks.  With these condescending comments, it is clear that technique is being badly confused with style in the mind of the commenter, and that’s an error.

The technical foundation of HDR is improving every day, and yes, HDR is here to stay whether some people prefer it or not. As fellow photographers, we must remember that not only is everyone at their own stage of development in terms of creative potential, but that they each have their unique and equally precious vision. There is no “good” or “bad” art in this context, just the product of creative potential, widely varied and infinitely interesting, and that should be celebrated, not denigrated.


(Yes, the image above was processed using HDR techniques.)

Sunrise at Otter Point   2 comments

A beautiful sunrise at Otter Point, Acadia National Park, Maine.

If one has never been to this place, one should visit, at least once.

Of all the places we travel in New England in the fall, Acadia National Park is one of our favorite stops. The conundrum is that we appreciate solitude and wilderness, but ANP in autumn is anything but empty. Over the years, though, we’ve found a rhythm to visiting, and know of a few small spots where you can spend the day with very few signs of human activity. Despite the popularity of ANP (one of the most heavily visited of the National Parks), the natural beauty is, I think, unparalleled, particularly on the east coast.

Feel the warmth of the sun by viewing larger. Just click on the image to open a new window.

This image proved fairly difficult to process, and I went through several iterations. Whenever I got the sun flare to show up as I wanted (i.e., not blown out), most of the HDR processing programs created serious halos, especially around the tree branches on the left. Trying to merge in original exposures or sky-enhanced layers proved to be too difficult because of the varying intensities of light in the sky. It turned out to be a tug-of-war between a good sun flare and excessive haloing, with neither really winning. In the end, although I merged the brackets (+/-2EV) with HDR Expose, Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro turned out the best preliminary result, although some fixing up had to be done: Denoising filters used to knock down HDR Efex Pro’s noise levels wound up overly softening a few elements. Once again, Topaz InFocus, my new favorite plug-in, came to the rescue to bring back the detail in the rocks. I also have to give a nod to the Content-Aware Fill feature of my new Photoshop CS5 for taking out some lens refraction spots… nothing could’ve been easier!

Serenity Now, and then…   Leave a comment

Susan enjoys a serene sunrise at Otter Point, Acadia National Park, Maine


I love you more than words can express, and far more than I ever imagined myself capable. You’re my friend, my teacher, my inspiration, my love.

— The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.    (Rumi)

Remain centered. And if that center ever falters, I’ll be there. I can be nowhere else.

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