Gray’s Beach – Bass Hole Boardwalk

As a follow up to my last post, I want to share a little more about Gray’s Beach in Yarmouth Port, MA.  I have been visiting this spot ever since my parents purchased a condo, just 5 minutes down the road from there, a few years ago.

There are nicer beaches in the area for swimming and sunbathing, but none have the photo opportunities that Gray’s Beach hold.   Everywhere you look is another perfect “Cape Cod View”.  I won’t go into much detail now, but I have many images over the years that should explain what I mean.  I will be posting my favorites in the next few posts.

 

The Bass Hole Boardwalk

The signature photo-op of this bayside beach is the boardwalk that extends out over the surrounding salt marsh.  If you go into any nature artist’s gallery in Cape Cod, you will more than likely find a painting or a photograph of this seemingly endless structure.This is my favorite image of the boardwalk.  It was early on a beautiful August morning.  I remember I loved the way the sun was hitting the boardwalk and making the grass glow, but in my first test shot, I could tell the contrast between the sky and shadow areas was too high.  Luckily, HDR exists to help deal with such problems.  I set up my camera to bracket +-2 stops and fired off a few sets.  Once I found the composition I liked the most, I processed the three images in Photomatix and made further edits in Lightroom, Photoshop, and Nik Color Efex Pro until I was happy with the final image.

Bass Hole Boardwalk

 

Cape Cod Vacation 2013

I don’t know how many times I have vacationed in Cape Cod, but it’s a lot, and minus the sometimes awful traffic, it’s always a great trip!  I needed to get away, but my budget wasn’t going to allow for much this year.  A relaxing trip to my parents’ condo in Dennis fit my needs perfectly!

The one photo treat I planned for myself was a whale watch. I had never been before, so I didn’t know quite what to expect.  It turned out to be a perfect day out on the water!  The number of whales I saw wasn’t anything to write home about, but one in particular female resurfaced over and over allowing me, and all the other camera toting passengers, to have many attempts at capturing the massively sized mammal in her own environment. This photo is one of my favorites from the trip.  The boat ads a little perspective to the size of the whale, while the fishermen’s lack of response shows just how common this occurrence is.  I still think I would be freaked out being in such a small boat compared to the whale, even if I was out there every day!Cape Cod Vacation 2013 - Whale Watch

 

Gray’s Beach Before Sunrise

The entire week was extremely hot and humid, so I didn’t have too much desire to do any photographing other than the whale watch.  I spent the days at the beach and the nights relaxing.  I went out one morning very early; about thirty minutes before sunrise and the impending ninety degree heat.  I headed to one of my favorite spots near my parents’ place that always yields nice images…

I have to admit, I intended to stay longer and wait for sunrise, but the bugs were overwhelming that morning and after ten minutes of shooting in the predawn light, I couldn’t take it anymore. I packed up and headed for another location.  This is my favorite from that mini session and my repayment for dealing with the pesky flies as long as I did!

Gray's Beach Before Sunrise

Happy Fourth of July

With the nation celebrating its independence today, there are sure to be firework displays in your area at some time during the week. I have been photographing these lighted spectacles for many years and always look forward to shooting the next one.

Getting a good final image isn’t a difficult task, but it does require a few things for success. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the years:

  • Plan: If you have been to the same place in previous years, you are already at an advantage. Think about where you can photograph (with a tripod…see next tip) to capture something interesting to go along with the fireworks. Reflections, spectators, boats, etc… If you haven’t been to the location before, get there early and find out where they will be launched from and then explore for a good spot where you can get that good foreground detail along with the exploding lights.
  • Use a tripod: You can photograph fireworks without one, but your options are limited and you need to be pretty close to the action. I like to get some details in the foreground from the ambient light. That requires a long exposure as does trying to capture many bursts in order to fill up the frame.
  • Be prepared to move: If your location isn’t packed full of people, be prepared to move if the fireworks aren’t going off in the spot you originally thought. Look around before they begin so you know of a couple alternative locations just in case.
  • Take a lot of photos: fireworks are chaotic by nature. It is hard to predict exactly when and where they will explode, so even having a perfect exposure won’t guarantee a good photograph. The length of most events is less than 30 minutes. I tend to shoot between 150 to 200 shots in that time. It may sound like overkill, but it insures enough choices in edit for me to be happy with the results.
  • Settings: Getting the settings right in the camera usually only takes a few photos at the beginning. I always shoot fireworks in manual mode and begin at f/8 for the aperture and use the “bulb” setting for the speed. This setting allows me to use a remote control to trigger when the shutter opens and when it closes so I can decide when I think there has been enough illumination to get a good exposure. It takes some trial and error, but a quick glance at the LCD screen gives a good idea of how long to keep the shutter open for the next shot. If I think the shot needs more foreground exposure, I will dial the f-stop down or increase the shutter length. If the fireworks are too bright and blown out, I will increase the f-stop or shorten the shutter speed.
  • Have fun: There is a lot to think about when shooting fireworks. Don’t forget to stand back and enjoy what’s happening in front of you. Some practice will help make that more achievable, but unless it’s a paying assignment, there is no reason to let the show go off without your attention to the true beauty going on in person. You can get some magical shots, but it will be hard to convey how dynamic they truly are.

 

Fireworks in the Cape

After a long day at the beach back on July 3rd, 2011, I ventured off for some scenic sunset shots over the bay from Gray’s Beach in Dennis, MA. I was already planning some firework shots for the following day, but was pleasantly surprised when some started going off somewhere near Chaipin Beach Road to my east. Anytime you can be near water for fireworks is a bonus. The reflections help to complete the composition and fill the frame.

Cape Cod Fireworks

Have a great day everyone! Happy shooting!

 

Blueberry Fog

In one of my early posts (Blueberry Lake Before Sunrise), I wrote how I usually stop at Blueberry Lake first during my early morning rides when in Vermont.

Back in August of 2008, the small lake alongside Plunkton Rd. in Warren, VT was almost completely hidden from view as I drove past it. The fog had come in thick overnight, but as I looked back at the lake, I noticed a little sunlight trying to peek through.

I turned the car around and hurried to the parking lot. As I setup my camera and tripod, I started to see some detail in the surrounding evergreens . The fog was lifting and I wouldn’t have much time before the beautiful scene would be gone forever.

I only clicked the shutter 3 times that morning (at the lake), but it was stretched out over a few minutes as I waited for the fog to roll in or out between each shot. Some days I have more patience than others when it comes to my trigger happy shutter finger; especially on a foggy day, when the scene can be drastically different with each click; but this morning drive was my last of five in a row that trip, so I was a little burnt out and had already snapped off a couple thousand shots during the week, so taking my time and trying to get it right in camera was an easy choice to make. I already had many hours of editing time in my future and didn’t feel like piling it on that day. The composition, along with the way the sunlight hit the trees, made this one my favorite of the three, and it still holds as one of my favorite images.

Blueberry Fog

Magical Shot! – Rockledge Golf Club

Golf

I love golf! I’ve been playing ever since I could remember. My dad would take me to one of the local courses near our home and we would chip and putt around the practice green for what seemed like hours. Knowing my dad’s patience is similar to my own, it was probably closer to a half hour or so, but it was fun no matter how long it was…

 

Magical Shot! – Rockledge Golf Club, West Hartford, CT

I love it when all the pieces fall into place for a photograph. In May of last year, good timing, manmade features, and the natural elements, aligned for this magical shot. I had left work a few minutes late, and if you know traffic in Hartford, that can be a major mistake most nights. The extra delay slowed me down enough to keep me in the city while the sun quickly worked its way down through the clouds and toward the horizon.

As I neared the exit for Rockledge Golf Club, I knew that I would be able to capture the dramatic sky from the parking lot overlooking the course. I hopped off the highway and as I pulled into the lot I saw the first member of this threesome teeing off. That gave me only a couple of minutes to park, hop out of the car, adjust my camera settings, and fire off three quick shots as the last player hit his ball down the fairway.

I looked at the LCD screen and knew I captured both the shot and the scenery to my liking. I was even more pleased when I looked at it on my monitor later that night, but I also knew I had quite a bit of work to do in edit. A few distracting elements needed to be removed and the guy in the middle was hunched over with his club protruding outward from his waste.  I removed the club and stood him more upright using the cloning tools in Photoshop.

Dealing with a few glare spots as well as getting the color and tone the way I wanted was a big chore as well. Shooting into the sun creates a lot of contrast, but luckily technology is offering up new and better ways to deal with that all the time and Lightroom 4 by Adobe is a perfect example. I was able to bring out the details in both the highlights and shadows by using adjustment brushes and graduated filters where needed.

Magical Shot - Rockledge Golf Club

Spring Ahead

Happy spring everyone!  A lot will be changing in the next few weeks and I can’t wait.  Colorful flowers will be blooming; daylight will go deep into the evenings; and the cold weather will become a distant memory.

This blog will also be getting revived too.  I still have a lot going on right now, so I will post when I can, but they should become more frequent.

 

Blooming Crocuses – Watertown, CT

Blooming Crocuses

Happy Birthday to my friend Liz! I promised her I’d have a post today when she didn’t accept my high-five as a good enough gift 🙂

Reflection

First of all, I’m sorry for not having any posts in a while. Life takes priority sometimes and this is one of those. I’ll get back to posting more regularly soon, but for now, I will when I can.

 

Reflection – Middlebury, CT

I had intended to wait till fall before posting this image, but after more than a week of personal reflection, I decided it’s just as relevant now as it would be then. For me anyway and it’s my blog, so I get final say 🙂

I have always liked this image a lot. The autumn colors flow really well together and the abstract composition kind of gives it a Monet quality. I have tried to take similar photos since this one, but none have that little extra something that I think this one does.

Reflection

I hope to post again soon…

 

Hartford Cityscape

Taken from the stairwell up to the highway overpass at Charter Oak Landing.

Hartford Cityscape

Have a nice weekend!

 

Signs

We see them every day.  Some just don’t listen!

Signs

Gulls

I have heard them referred to as the rodents of the sky.  I have probably reused the phrase a handful of times myself, but for the photographer just starting out, they can be the perfect subject.

For one, if you live or take trips near the water, they are always available for their close up. Blog750_37b_20101001-0130-2

And if you can get to a fish pier, the numbers of seagulls are overwhelming when the boats come in with their catch of the day. Blog750_37c_CapeCod_055-Edit

Sometimes they add a different perspective to a common scene. Blog750_37d_20101001-0148-2-Edit

And they are always around to practice portrait work.Blog750_37e_20101001-0175-2-Edit

 

Gulls – Hubbard Park, Meriden, CT

This is a rare event for me and not one you should get used to, but I’m posting an image from a photo I took today.  I needed to leave work early in order to be at an award ceremony for my oldest daughter.  She is a very talented piano player and one of only two students from her school to receive this special award for the arts (OK, proud daddy moment done).

So traffic ended up being much better than I expected and I had a few extra minutes to head over to Hubbard park for an image to finish this post.  I was actually looking for an image to be up above, but when I saw this one, I decided to make it the feature image.  The light from the setting sun was perfect and it took less than 5 minutes to get some nice photos including this one.  Happy with what I captured; I was off to the ceremony. I’m really happy with this image but it doesn’t come close to how happy and proud my big girl makes me as a dad.  Congrats Cailin!

Gulls