Autumn Livery

Ever-changing, Nature adapts

In New England there are few more sights spectacular than the color of the trees during the Autumn season; during a good year, vibrant red, yellow and orange hues contrast the remaining green leaves and evergreens across the landscape.

Autumn’s Colors

Yoga Tree is no stranger to the changing seasons and is adapting nicely from the vibrant greens of Spring and Summer to Autumn’s more earthly color palette.

This image was taken in October of 2014 with an iPhone 5s (many generations since then!). I did a re-edit of the image in Luminar AI using a template that I developed for some of the Kinderdijk images. Final touch-ups were done in Adobe Photoshop.

Snowy Day for Yoga Tree

The quiet of Winter surrounds us

Another little bit of inspiration from our intrepid tree, as she stands firm amidst the elements and whatever the New England climate can bring to bear…

A Winter’s Tale

This capture from nearly 9 years ago during a lovely snow fall intends to share a bit of the peace and tranquility that exists during these weather events. I love watching the soft, fluffy snow flakes fall toward the ground, while taking in the near-perfect quiet that comes from having a sound-absorbing blanket of snow.

What do you like about Winter? Or is it the one season that you simply hope to see finish as soon as possible?

My Creative Approach – part 1

A view of the beach stretches back

For me, photography is about more than capturing the scene that we find in front of ourselves. Granted that there is a lot to be said for great photography technique, so that the capture truly represents said scene and highlights the subject(s) in the best way possible. I enjoy that part of photography and particularly like a good lighting challenge. The aspect of photography that keeps me challenged mentally is the creative process. In this series of blog posts, I’ll try to share a bit of this process.

In this first post, let’s take a look at an image that I captured yesterday while exploring a beach in southern Connecticut with great friends of mine.

Meigs Point Beach Scene

As we came upon this section of beach by Meigs Point, I thought that the piece of driftwood across the seashells made for a great bit of counterpoint to the rocks in front of the sky. Overall, I was happy with this view of a bit of beach life, but there was something more that could be done with this.

17th Century Beachscape

A bit of creative exploration brought the idea of taking this image back to the golden age of Dutch seascape masters. As part of their Seaside Artistic Collection for Luminar AI, Skylum provides the sensibility of various seascape painters in a series of templates. Testing some of the treatments, I selected the Rotterdam template, setting it to approximately 1/3 opacity to allow for a blend of captured scene and Dutch seascape that my mind’s eye perceived.

Next steps were very much about bring the age of seascapes in with subtle adjustments, such as film grain, details, contrast aiming to get a sense of the present of the driftwood reaching back to the 17th century of the sky. Taking a bit of a meandering walk through creative options enables me to connect to the points that resonate with what I’m feeling about the scene.

I love to hear what creative approaches you take to your photography. Please let me know in your comments.

Snæfellsnes Evening – Day 1

Enjoy the view!

Our first day on the wondrous Snæfellsnes peninsula was drawing to an end, as we had a fantastic meal at Viðvík Restaurant and were just checking out the last of the sunlight.

And then we came across this location that was worth a stop…

Ingjaldshólskirkja

You might recognize this location from an earlier Snæfellsnes teaser post, as we photographed this church on the next day as well with something more than our mobile phones.

Even with an iPhone 13 Pro Max this view stands out strong, particularly as we had a long clear view of the edge of the Snæfellsjökull National Park.

Snæfellsnes Peninsula – part 3

A mysterious beach with a wreck…

As we continued our tour of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, we came upon a mysterious black sand beach with the name of Djúpalónssandur, which translates to Deep Lagoon Sand. This name traces back to the initial first settlers of Iceland, some 1200 years ago.

Djúpalónssandur, or Deep Lagoon Sand, beach

One can imagine this cove during the days of yore, when it was home to 60 fishing boats, creating a strong economic foundation for people in this part of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. If you look carefully, you see the strewn remains of the Epine (GY7), a fishing trawler that was wrecked here on March 13, 1948; the Epine hailed from the port town of Grimsby in North East Lincolnshire, England.

Another feature of this beach are the glistening pebbles that cover it, which are know as Djúpalónsperlur, or “pearls of the deep lagoon”. These pearls on the beach stunning and appealing, but should be left alone, as it is against the law to collect them as a souvenir of your trip!

View toward Djúpalónssandur Beach

The path down to the beach is a bit of a steep descent (and climb on the way back), as the parking area is high and dry upon the volcanic cliffs. As you walk toward the beach, you may want to test your strength to see if you would qualify to work on one of the fishing boats. The four Aflraunasteinar, or Lifting Stones, are along the path toward the beach. These stones range from Fullsterkur (full strength) weighing 154 kg, Hálfsterkur (half strength) weighing 100 kg, Hálfdrættingur (weakling) weighing 54 kg to Amlóði (useless) at 23 kg; to qualify for work on a fishing boat you should at least be able to lift Hálfdrættingur.

A word of caution is that this is definitely not a swimming area, as the Atlantic Ocean has unpredictable and strong rip currents here that will pull one far into sea. Also, it is not wise to go wading here, as surprise waves will often come far onto the beach.

On the photography part, both images were capture with my Canon EOS R5 mirrorless, using a Canon RF24-105mm F4 L IS USM lens. First level processing of the images was done using Skylum’s Luminar AI software; for these images, I created a template based on the Backlit Clouds template that is part of the Overcast collection of templates. Touch up processing was done in Photoshop.

Snæfellsnes Peninsula – part 2

Another stop along the paths of the Snæfellsnes peninsula

One of the things that I cannot overstate about Iceland is that there are great views wherever you go. Even when the weather might not be perfect, you’ll find yourself in awe of the landscape, just about no matter where you are in this gorgeous island nation. And when the weather plays into your hand, you find yourself almost overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounds you.

During our first day on the Snæfellsnes peninsula our tour leader, Loren Fisher, just about blew our mind with the number of great locations and the vistas that we experienced. Even when he took us on a little detour from the main attractions, there appeared a great photographic subject in front of our lenses.

Arnarstapi Vista

In real estate the operative words are “Location, location, location”. That doesn’t begin to describe where we see this house that is near the little harbor in the village of Arnarstapi, also known as Stapi. The house is called Amtmannshúsið in Icelandic, as it was the residence of the Danish Prefect during the time that Iceland still belonged to Denmark. This is now a historical site.

In the background you see the snow-covered peaks of Snæfellsjökull, a 700,000-year old glacier-capped stratovolcano. For the readers who remember Jules Verne’s book ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’, you may be interested to know that Stapi was the last stop before climbing Snæfellsjökull, where they enter the interior of the planet through a tunnel.

To the left, we see the slopes of Mount Stapafell, a pyramid shaped palagonite mountain; atop the mountain sits Fellskross, the dwelling of the “hidden people” or elves. It is rumored to have magical powers!

The hill in the right hand side of the image is part of a lavafield, a landscape feature that is ubiquitous in Iceland.

For the photography nerds among you, this image was captured with a Canon EOS R5 using a Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM lens. I shot this at ISO 800 and an aperture of F/11 and 1/640 sec shutter speed.

Processing was done using a combination of Skylum Luminar AI and Adobe Photoshop. In Luminar AI, I created a template for the Snæfellsnes images that was based on ‘City – Cozy Streets’ from the Ultimate Travel Collection of templates by Albert Dros. Starting from this template, I added warmth, structure and strength to the sky, as well as several other adjustments, resulting in what I named ‘Snæfellsnes Drama’. Photoshop was then used for some minor adjustments and a bit of soft light and contrast.

Visit to a Volcano (part 2)

Part 2 of a trek to Fagradalsfjall volcano and the experience of witnessing Earth’s tremendous power

In yesterday’s post (Visit to a Volcano – (part 1)), I documented the journey to the August eruption of Fagradalsfjall, which took us about 2-1/2 hours to reap the reward of the sound and fury of Mother Earth.

After overcoming the first sensations of the sound and vision produced by Nature at its finest, I found a spot from where I could set up my tripod and camera; with a Canon RF 100-500mm telephoto lens mounted, I wanted to get to the capturing of this amazing spectacle…

Volcanic Action #1

In the first couple of images, I attempted to get a sense of the scene in front of me. Under the spell of Nature’s prowess, these were feeble trials of basic photographic work.

Part of what I had to come to grips with was that I needed to connect with what was happening in front of me; having never experienced a volcanic eruption in person before, I was overwhelmed…

Volcanic Action #2

As I tightened my shot and reduced the field of view, I started the process of building a connection with Earth’s power. Heat was palpable and even the bright day could only diminish some of the glow of the lava flowing away from the cones.

As I slowly started to make a connection, there were aspects of the eruption that I could sense: rhythm, magnitude, under-worldly sounds…

Volcanic Action #3

Lines started forming in from of my lens, as the feel of the volcano’s machinations could be felt in every fiber of my body. Between the low register sounds emitted by build up and compression of air in the underground chambers, and the semi-explosive emissions of lava into the air, one cannot help but be inspired.

Slowly but surely, I attempted to build a series of images…

Volcanic Action #4

There is a sort of fiery dance, as the lava is thrown up into the air with the grace of a ballerina, where it solidifies into shards that glow in their descent. It reminds me of a hot spring, where the mud releases streams of water into the air, but significantly hotter!

The visions kept dancing…

Volcanic Action #5

The glow of the lava stream with the multitude of fiery shards in the air really gave me the sense of witnessing something beyond humanity’s capability to fully harness. The immense power coupled with such beauty left me staring in amazement.

And the best part is that this spectacle kept on performing in front of my eyes…

Volcanic Action #6

Capturing protuberances gave me a sense of what it might be to look at our Sun from a closer vantage point. We’re given a taste of our home star’s power on our own planet.

The unfortunate part is that our visit had to end, as we were on a timetable. I could have spent many more hours at this amazing site, and would have loved to capture this brilliance under darker conditions. However, I will cherish that time that I had at Fagradalsfjall volcano, knowing that I was lucky enough to experience something that lasted for only 19 days. Sometimes, it’s good to be lucky in getting to a place!

The 4.5 mile hike each way was well worth it, and I feel privileged to share this experience with you!

The Mighty Geyser – Strokkur

Catching a geyser eruption sequence in Iceland of the mighty Strokkur.

I think it’s an understatement to say that Iceland is paradise for photographers, as I have found no other single island that offers the variety of scenic wonders that I find here (if you know of one, please share, and I will add it to my bucket list).

In August, my good friend and excellent photographer, George Fellner (link) and I joined a photo trip to Iceland that was led by Loren Fisher (link). This trip was a lot of fun and filled with amazing photography opportunities (there are a lot of images still to edit).

One of the iconic bits of Icelandic scenery that I was lucky enough to capture is the geyser Strokkur (Icelandic for ‘churn’), which you can see in this eruption sequence.

Strokkur has been around for quite some time, as it was first described in 1789, when an earthquake unblocked a conduit, so that the geyser could manifest itself. Even though its activity was rather variable it was active throughout the entire 19th century until at the beginning of the 20th century, Strokkur’s conduit was blocked once again by another earthquake. It remained inactive until its conduit was reopened in 1963; this time it was done with human assistance.

Since the 1963 re-plumbing, Strokkur has been very reliable with eruptions every 6-10 minutes and producing a typical height from 15-20 meters.

During our visit to the site, I witnessed 5 or 6 eruptions and noticed that some might be quite a bit smaller than others. As I was trying to predict the exact time of eruption, I built up a sense of the surface tension that builds up just before Strokkur lets go; it is almost as if the earth is taking a number of breaths in order to have enough air to propel the geyser. At the split second before eruption, a large bluish bubble rises up, which then explodes upwards, as you can see in the photo sequence.

The photo sequence of the eruption is was shot using my Canon EOS R5 camera and a Canon RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens. The sequence was taken in aperture priority mode with an f-stop of 6.3 and 100 ISO; the resultant shutter speeds were in the 1/1000 to 1/1300 second range.

Wednesday’s Choice

As I was editing some of the substantial backlog of my images (don’t ask how many), an idea came to mind. Often, during these editing sessions, I like to experiment with alternate looks to create for my images. It’s a way to check what mood comes through with a particular look.

So I thought it might be interesting to ask for feedback from all of you to find out how these alternatives resonate (or don’t) with your sensibilities. Here’s the first one in this series.

This images was taken a bit later in the morning of the A Very Early Sunrise in Maine post, as I had found a different location with a view of some of the Porcupine islands lined up and a sky that was rather pleasing.

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise #1

The first treatment is the more sedate of the 2, as I made use of Aurora HDR’s ‘Rocks Sunset’ preset that is part of their Natural collection of presets. As I looked at this result, I felt that it didn’t really do the overall scene justice, as even a bit of brightening of the foreground didn’t produce a good sense of the beauty of the landscape on the mountain.

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise #2

The second treatment is definitely more aggressive; it uses Aurora HDR’s ‘EggHDRugs on Brain’ preset that is part of their Trey Ratcliff Looks collection. It pops the foreground quite a bit and with a bit of darkening, the sky look came in as pretty dramatic.

Hope you enjoy these comparisons and I’m looking forward to hear from you about your preferences.

A very early sunrise in Maine

During the photography trip to Acadia National park in Maine, there were several key photo opportunities that were not to be missed; one of these is to photograph the very early sunrise atop Cadillac Mountain in the park.

During a large part of the year, Cadillac Mountain allows one to see the earliest sunrise in the United States, a fact that attracts a significant number of photographers to this location, despite the incredibly early hour. The following is one of the images that I captured during this morning session…

Cadillac Sunrise

This was captured at 4:45 a.m. on June 8, 2021, as the Sun is just beginning to show a sliver of its orb above the horizon. The weather really cooperated on this day, as the clouds made for a great canvas for the Sun’s early rays to paint the rose-fingered dawn, as Homer might say.

This image was shot with a Canon EOS R5 using a Canon RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens; aperture was at f/9 with an exposure of 1/250s at 800 ISO. Post processing was done using Luminar 4 by Skylum.

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