From the Archives: Sunrise in Bar Harbor

•April 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It’s finally beginning to feel like spring in Maine.  We’ve shed our winter coats in the hopes of 50 degree weather and sunshine, which, when it happens, is quite a treat; more often than not, though, it seems a winter coat has simply been replaced by a rain coat.  April showers bring May flowers, right?

Life has been pretty busy in the last two weeks, so I feel like most of my free time has been occupied by everything but photography.  While I haven’t had much time to shoot, I have been slowly (but surely) getting my archives in order.  Just about everything has been moved to its proper home; now, all that’s left is to deal with the duplicates!  I’ve also started to learn my way around Lightroom.  I’m hoping it provides a superior kewording/tagging experience than other programs I’ve used in the past.  Since other programs have always been somewhat lacking or cumbersome, I’ve never properly tagged my photos.  If I don’t start, though, I’ll never be able to find anything.

I gave Lightroom a trial run the other day when I imported batches of photos from their newly organized folders.  From there, I began setting up new keyword categories, adding options to each.  I started to go through the images, keywording as I went, when I found photos from a vacation to Bar Harbor last fall.  I hadn’t actually looked through most of them when they were imported, so it was neat to finally have a minute to look through the whole lot.  I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I thought I had (note to self: next time, take more!).

On the morning we were heading home, I woke up early with the intention of photographing the sunrise.  We happened to luck out with our room reservation – it had a beautiful view and a private balcony which was perfectly situated, facing the islands.  There was already a little sliver of golden light on the horizon when I woke.  It was a balmy 36 degrees, not accounting for wind chill and the heaviness of the air after having rained the previous day.  I bundled up.  (At this point, I realized what a genius I was: I had left my tripod home.)  As I huddled out on the balcony, snapping a few test shots, I watched other guests on their morning walks.  A few came prepared with cameras – the smart ones even had tripods.  (It’s a good thing it was windy – that way, they couldn’t hear me cursing my stupidity.)  I used the railing from the balcony to stabilize, as needed.  I made do.  After about half an hour in the cold and the wind, I gave in and went back inside to warm up.

Below is the shot that I processed the other day.  It certainly was a beautiful morning, despite the cold, and an amazing way to start the day.  The clouds glowed pink and purple as the sun rose directly out of the middle of the island on the left.  After about an hour, the sun had burned off any remaining fog and haze, leaving us with bright blue skies and temperatures in the upper 50s.  It always amazes me how what we might consider to be just an “ordinary” day can start as something so ethereal.

Yellow Bicycle

•April 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I love finding little gems.  Take this yellow bicycle, for example.  I was at Fort Williams on Sunday, making my way around the Cliff Walk trail toward the lighthouse.  When I finally rounded the last corner where the gravel trail opens up into a paved roundabout, there she sat – chained to an otherwise empty bike rack.  It struck me that she’d been riding these roads and trails for some time; she had character.  First, I noticed her wonderful color, which popped against the gray sky and the light fog that was slowly setting in; second, I noticed her chrome wheels, which reminded me of a vintage Schwinn.  Perhaps she really caught my eye because I’ve been thinking about buying a bicycle.

When I happened upon her, there was a gentleman nearby taking pictures of the lighthouse.  I snapped a few quick shots, but thinking the bicycle might be his, I didn’t linger too long.  I continued on, walking past the lighthouse down to another lookout point.  When I saw him pass by, paying her no mind, I wandered back.

It’s the little things that I really love: the oily gears, the pitted chrome, the bokeh as the spokes fall out of focus.  The details, and the fun of scrunching myself up into a little ball to find the perfect angle for capturing such a fine specimen.

Homage to a Great Man

•April 10, 2011 • 2 Comments

Photography is a hobby that seems to run in my family – my sister is a photographer, my mother is a photographer, my father is a photographer, my grandfather was a photographer, and my great-grandfather was a photographer.  If relatives even further back had access to a camera obscura or a sliding box camera, I’m sure they were photographers, too.  If we put all of our cameras together, we’d have enough stock for a small museum.  They range from late 1800s/early 1900s to modern DSLRs.  A No. 2 Brownie sits on my bookshelf, longing for a fresh roll of 120 film.

A quick look into the cozy photography storage chest reveals Canon, Kodak, Nikon, Pax, Rolleiflex, Topcon, and Voigtlander (and probably more).  The bellows cameras are stored elsewhere, and I couldn’t even begin to imagine their makers.  (That’s for another day.)

Today’s hunt revealed my grandfather’s Nikon N6006 with an AF Zoom Nikkor 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 lens attached.  After figuring out how to remove it (switch to manual-focus mode), a quick test revealed that it worked with my Nikon D70; I set out to discover its personality.

I took a trip to Fort Williams Park [slash] Portland Headlight in Cape Elizabeth, ME.  It’s a location that I’m very familiar with and have photographed many times.  I wanted to try the lens in a variety of situations, and Fort Williams has a little bit of everything.  (Except for portrait opportunities, in this case, since I was wandering aimlessly by myself.)  In honor of my grandfather, the film camera from which the lens was uncoupled, and the scores of black and white film that can be developed in one man’s lifetime, I decided to process my favorite shots from today in black and white.

Thinking back, I never really thought to share my photography with my grandfather; I really wish I had.  This series is for him.

Portrait of a Hungry Man

•April 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Last night, I was fortunate enough to enjoy the company of my good friend Harley.  We went in search of good food and good beer, ultimately landing at an Irish pub in the Old Port.  (We were in search of burritos, originally, but that watering hole was packed.)

Despite being the “backup” plan, the food was still first-rate.  The hungry man’s choice?  Bangers and colcannon; a wise decision.  It looked so good that I should have taken a picture when it arrived, but the ambient light from the street had faded, and on-camera flash just doesn’t do it for me.  (Had I really wanted to annoy the entire pub, I could have whipped out my SB-900, but I opted not to.)

From this picture, I would never know he hates having his picture taken.  I guess it’s a good thing I’m quick – he didn’t know what I was up to until it was too late!

From the archives…

•April 8, 2011 • 1 Comment

While reorganizing thousands of photos can certainly be a daunting task (not to mention tedious), it gives me the opportunity to review lots of images that may deserve a second look.

In March of 2009, I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Pittsburgh, PA.  My schedule was flexible enough that I was able to get in quite a bit of sight-seeing, at least within walking or hotel shuttle distance.  Having seen a number of beautiful photographs of the Phipps Conservatory, I knew I absolutely had to visit.  I was attending the conference with a few friends, and a small group of us decided to walk from our hotel.  We opted for an evening visit, so the conservatory was dark and quiet except for the sounds of running water.  I’m sure it’s a completely different atmosphere during the day, but at night it’s almost as if you’re walking through a tropical grove by a river.

Each room had its own specialty, it seemed.  There were bonsai trees, ferns, cacti, and – my personal favorite from the visit – orchids.  There were orchids everywhere, every variety you could possibly imagine!  Some, at least at first glance, didn’t even look like flowers.  One in particular stood out to me tonight, while flipping through all of the photos.  It looked like a bug, rather than a flower.  I really appreciated how delicate and unique the petals were, and how the ambient back-lighting (that I was lucky enough to catch) highlighted the delicate “fuzz” on the stem.

I’ll have to take another look through the Phipps images, as I’m sure there are other gems hiding; however, for now, I’ll just share this single photo.

If ever you have the chance to visit, I highly recommend it.

A new project!

•April 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Welcome to my newest endeavor – a photography blog.   I feel like I haven’t had (or haven’t made) the time to get out and about with my camera, and I decided that I need a little boost in motivation to do so.  So, here it is!

I’ve been busy reorganizing all of my files, and in doing so I’ve discovered a lot of work that I’d forgotten about.  For now, I’ll share a wedding photo that was taken in Negril, Jamaica.  I’m in the planning stages of a vintage/retro project, and I used this photo to test a few post-processing techniques I’m planning to employ.