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Monthly Archives: May 2011

I love traveling.  I especially love road trips.  And I have a confession to make:  I’m a map geek.

Ever since I first learned how to read a map, back in grade school, I’ve been fascinated by maps and cartography (the art of mapping).  Cartography rhymes with photography, so it must be good, right?

For the record, I was (and still am) also intrigued by globes, and they are the most accurate depiction of our planet’s geography, but they’re not very practical for road trips.  Way too hard to fold…so back to maps.

When I was a kid, I was always the Chief Navigator when my mom and I did road trips together.  We traveled to visit family, to go to the beach, to go camping, and of course there was the ubiquitous “Sunday Drive.”

Fast-forward several decades, and road trips are still my favorite way to travel.  See yesterday’s post, “The Journey IS the Destination,” for more on my travel style.

I love the freedom that driving affords, and I love having all my photography gear at my fingertips.  Not to mention snacks and drinks and all the other comforts of a well-equipped vehicle.

As I said yesterday, I love to drive back roads, because that’s where I’ve found the best photo ops over the years.

But the drawback of driving back roads is that, unlike the interstates, they don’t tend to go in straight lines.  That’s the crux of their charm, but it can also be daunting, aggravating, and even potentially dangerous if you get lost or break down and a snowstorm begins.  It should go without saying that you should keep close tabs on the local weather forecasts when you’re planning a back road adventure: blizzards, tornadoes, thunderstorms, monsoons, flash floods, dust storms and road washouts are just some of the factors I’ve had to take into account on various different road trips I’ve taken.

Besides accurate and current weather forecasts, you should also have fabulous current maps in your vehicle, and know how to use them.

For decades I was, and still am, a member of a travel club that offers roadside assistance, towing, and maps and guidebooks galore.  Almost every year I get more maps and guidebooks than my dues theoretically cover.  If I don’t, I realize I’m not traveling enough, and try to restructure my life accordingly.

And for decades I’ve relied on these maps almost exclusively when traveling.  But due to the economy (they say) or corporate greed (I say) the travel club has cut back significantly on the number and types of maps they provide.  The first maps to hit the chopping block were of course the nicely detailed maps of rural areas, where I love to shoot.  I started finding that the back roads I love to drive and shoot on “don’t exist” on the new maps.  Huh?

I was still trying to get by with the big paper maps that didn’t show the road I was on when I went to Maine.  Now, for the record, let me state that I love Maine.  I believe it’s one of our most photogenic states.  It’s hard for me to get anywhere in Maine, because there are photo ops around almost every turn in the road.

But Maine, and particularly the coast of Maine, is a challenge to navigate.  And I’m obsessed with the Maine coast.

For example, if you drive the California coast on Highway 1, in the most scenic areas at least, the highway parallels the ocean, and sticks pretty close to it, and it’s not too challenging to get on and off the highway to go exploring.

In Maine, on the other hand, even though you could say that their coastal highway, also called “1” except where it’s called “1-A” to deliberately confuse the tourists, roughly parallels the coast, there are many areas where Route 1 is far away from the ocean, and there are numerous peninsulas that project many miles into the Atlantic, and most of these peninsulas are not connected to each other by bridges except on the main highway.  And it’s exploring these peninsulas, and their small towns and harbors, that I enjoy the most.  But at some point, one does wish to get back to the main highway, and that can be a challenge when the travel club map doesn’t show the road you’re on.

So I was at a photo workshop in New England recently, and the instructors were touting the value of DeLorme Atlases.  I was at first skeptical.  My map was free (with my travel club membership, anyway) and the DeLorme Atlas retailed for…$19.95?  You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought.  Why shell out $20 for an “Atlas” when that same amount of money will buy me a delicious lobster roll and a microbrew?  These guys are nuts.

The instructors (who, like most photographers, are in fact a little nutty, but they happened to be right on this point) said that the detail of the atlases surpassed most paper maps, the map was in a format that was easy enough to use while driving (not that you should ever look at a map while literally DRIVING), large enough to see a decent area of land, but still manageable in the front seat of a vehicle, there were pages of lists of cool things to photograph…the Maine atlas has an entire page that lists nothing but “Unique Natural Features.”  According to the 2009 Maine Atlas, there are exactly 100.  Go shoot them all, and that alone will keep you busy for at least a couple of weeks, if not a month or more.  Also, because of the larger format of the atlas, there was plenty of room to make field notes right on the map, thereby turning it into a travel journal, and especially helpful after you get back home and are trying to remember where you took that image of the awesome waterfall or harbor or moose or whatever.

Finally, a selling point for me, though perhaps not everyone would place as strong a value on this feature, is that the cover is laminated.  That means that when I invariably spill my coffee on the atlas, it runs right off, and at worst leaves a funky tie-died pattern on the outer edges of the pages as a souvenir.  When I spill my coffee on a fold-out paper map, it’s ruined.

I was still skeptical, but since I was heading to Maine immediately after the workshop, I decided I would go check out the DeLorme world headquarters, which happen to be in Yarmouth, Maine.

If you ever get to Yarmouth, I definitely recommend stopping in at the DeLorme mothership.  For one thing, you can see the world’s largest globe.  It’s three stories tall (over 41′ in diameter).  And yes, it spins.  And you can look at it from all three levels.  And it even has a name:  Eartha.

Check out:  http://www.delorme.com/about/eartha.aspx

They also have a wonderful bookstore, where they of course feature their own atlases, but there are also guidebooks a-plenty, toys for the kids, etc.

I broke down and bought a Maine Atlas, resigned myself to crackers for lunch instead of the lobster roll and ale I’d been planning on, and began using it in the DeLorme parking lot.  And I have to admit that the nutty photo instructors were right.  It far surpasses any paper map of Maine I’ve ever seen.

I’m selectively building a DeLorme atlas library of the states I travel to the most.  I’m not buying them all because a) I’m not rich, b) that a LOT of lobster rolls and beers, and c) I’m a strong believer in having the most current map available.

Though I must point out that DeLorme offers some nice discounts if you buy a regional set of atlases that combines several states, and you can even buy a set for the entire US for a deep discount, if you’re so inclined.

For more information, check out:

http://shop.delorme.com/OA_HTML/DELibeCCtpSctDspRte.jsp?section=10042&minisite=10020

And for any serious outdoor photographer who is not yet a DeLorme convert, and refuses to become one, I’ve just got two words for you:  You’re nuts!

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Many people travel over the Memorial Day weekend.

I make it a point to stay home because many people travel over the Memorial Day weekend.

But while working at home, I got to thinking about travelling, and specifically the way different people travel.

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“Not all those who wander are lost.”  From The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien.

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I am a wanderer.

Given enough time (that would be several lifetimes, at least) I’ll see the whole world.  In this lifetime, I’ve seen a good part of it, but it seems that for every item I cross off my Bucket List, I add ten more.  And I’m not getting any younger….

I usually travel alone.  It’s often easier for photographers to travel alone, than to travel with non-photographers.  Someone once said that the two main reasons outdoor photographers miss the best light of the day are breakfast and dinner.  And it seems that it’s the non-photographer travel-mates who are always the ones insisting on a sit-down breakfast, lunch and/or dinner, and at the appointed times, as well.

As a nature and travel photographer, I’m often heading out to shoot in the dark before sunrise, and returning from a shoot in the dark after sunset.

If it’s an option, I love to stay in small and affordable B&Bs.  The affordable part of the equation is unfortunately getting harder and harder to find.  But they’re out there.

I’ll tell the proprietor the night before that I’m going to leave very early and QUIETLY to go shooting in the morning, before sunrise, but that I’ll be back for breakfast.  That’s because many of the small B&B operators don’t settle the bill until you’re actually checking out and leaving, and I don’t want them to think I’m trying to sneak out without paying.

I always ask them for advice, and they usually love giving it. I’ve gotten some great local tips on everything from shooting locations to where to have lunch and/or dinner.  E.g., the best lobster roll shacks aren’t always on the highway.  But that’s another post.

There’s often a way to get coffee or tea at a B&B before they serve breakfast.  Some leave the fixin’s out 24/7, and others will be happy to leave them out for you if you ask.

Armed with a large travel cup of a hot beverage, I take off for my morning shoot.

Two to three hours later, with some good shots in the bag if the weather has cooperated, and absolutely ravenous, I return to the inn for breakfast, which has often been spectacular.  Then I pack quickly and check out.

I found this system really suits me, both as a photographer and as a foodie.  You don’t have to choose whether you get great morning shots or a great home-cooked breakfast:  you can have both!

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“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–,” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“–so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

From Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

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It’s hard to argue with the Chesire Cat’s logic.  Which brings me to my second point about how I like to travel.  In general, I don’t make an itinerary or a schedule.  I may have a list of things I want to see or shoot in a certain area, and a time window in which to accomplish that, but ideally that window is big enough that I don’t have to stress and dash off from one beautiful location and make a bee-line for the next.

Because in keeping with the subject of today’s post (“The journey IS the destination.”) I like to make every mile count.  And I’ve gotten some wonderful and completely unexpected shots on the way from one destination to another.  Sometimes these shots wound up being better that whatever I had been planning to shoot when I got to wherever I was going.

The key, for me, is to take the narrowest and most poorly paved (or unpaved) road possible.  I’ve stumbled upon so many great shots driving dirt roads…shots that I never would’ve gotten if I had been on the interstate.

And that’s why I can’t really have a schedule.  Because it almost always takes me longer to get somewhere than I planned.  Sometimes days longer.

I drive a 4WD SUV, and when I travel far away from home, I try to rent a comparable vehicle.  If I can’t get a 4WD, or the cost is prohibitive, I at least try to get a small SUV with the best ground clearance possible.

I have the 100 mile extended towing package on my roadside assistance plan.  I did have to get my vehicle towed almost 80 miles once, when I broke down in the desert in Nevada during a shooting expedition, and had to get my SUV towed to Reno to be repaired.  That would’ve cost a fortune otherwise.

If you’re not comfortable driving unpaved roads, there are plenty of paved country roads that offer beautiful scenery and photo ops galore.  But the key is that you can’t be in a hurry.  You’ve got to have the time to take the slow drives, and you’ve got to have the time to be able to stop and shoot along the way.  But if you make the time, you’ll likely be rewarded with lovely scenery, beautiful shots, and a unique experience that the folks zipping along the interstate, eating at Denny’s and staying at the Holiday Inn wouldn’t get in a million miles.

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Two roads diverged in a  wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

From “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

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This is not a great image.  It’s just okay.  But I’m posting it in order to illustrate a point.

I took this image during the Carter administration, when I was in college.  I went camping and day-hiking in Yosemite Valley with some of my roommates. On this particular day, we hiked up the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls.   It was early Spring, as evidenced by all the snow on the rim of the valley.  There were also intermittent patches of snow on the trail, which made for a number of impromptu snowball fights.  It slowed our progress on the trail, but kept morale high.  Looking back across the valley, there were nice views of upper and lower Yosemite Falls.  I took this image at one of those vantage points.

At the time, I thought it was a darn fine image.  I liked that both falls were visible.  I liked that the falls were framed both by the mountains in the foreground as well as by the budding branches of the dogwood tree.  I splurged on an 11 x 14 enlargement, and it graced my walls for the next several years.

Fast-forward to Reagan’s second term.  I took my first photo workshop.  The instructor asked us to bring some samples of our work.  I brought this image.

To my utter shock and dismay, she didn’t like it.  She pointed out a number of flaws in my masterpiece.  It was too cluttered.  The branches were a distraction.  She couldn’t pick out the subject:  was it the branches, the mountains in the foreground, or the waterfall in the far distance?  It was NOT a good composition.

I tried to play it cool, but inwardly I was devastated.  But I framed the falls so carefully, made sure the pine wasn’t blocking the lower falls, got that nice contrast of the mountains in the foreground with the mountains in the background….

It finally sunk in that perhaps there might be a glint of truth in her words.  Perhaps this wasn’t the great photograph I thought it was.  Perhaps there were a few too many branches in the image.  Perhaps it was a tad on the busy side.  Perhaps the falls, which were after all the subject of the image, were lost in the visual clutter that surrounded them.

This was my first rude awakening that perhaps I wasn’t the great photographer I thought I was, and that my friends told me I was, and that perhaps I could do better.

I realized that this was exactly what I had paid for:  to have my images critiqued by a pro, and to be told what was wrong with them.

When I got home after the workshop, I put the print back on the wall, but now I looked at it differently.  Very differently.  In fact, I could never again see it the way I had before the workshop.

It still brought back fun memories of a beautiful hike with good friends in a very special place.  But it was now basically a glorified snapshot, nothing more.

That workshop was a pivotal moment in my life as a photographer, because it inspired me to put much more thought into the images I was creating, to consider composition in every image, to ask myself if the subject of the image was readily apparent, and to simplify, simplify, simplify.

My photography took a giant leap forward.  There were still many more workshops in my future, and thousands and thousands of practice images, but with every workshop I took, the critiques of my images were the things I craved the most.  And gradually, I was able to present more images that didn’t need critiquing, and fewer that did.

I finally reached a point, many years later, where I saw the same way the pros saw.  That is, I could tell which of my own images were good, and which ones weren’t.  And I stopped presenting bad images.  Sure, I still took bad images.  Most photographers do, whether they admit it or not.  But the best photographers know to delete all the images that don’t work, and keep only the ones that do.

Now I can attend a workshop and present images that are admired both by the instructor as well as the other students.  I know they’re good images when I look at them.  I don’t need someone else to tell me whether or not they work.

A fellow photographer asked me a few weeks ago why I still attend workshops.  There are at least four good reasons:  1) for the cameraderie, and to network with other photographers;  2) for the opportunity to travel places and shoot things I otherwise wouldn’t be able to;  3)  to learn about computer programs and printing methods;  and 4)  to learn about the business side of photography,and how to make it more profitable.

The moral of this story, then, can be condensed into the following:  if you want to become a better photographer, seek out criticism.  Take classes and workshops.  Join photo clubs.  Find a mentor.  Find several, if you can, since you’ll get different gifts from each one.  Get feedback on your work from a pro, ideally from several different pros who specialize in the type of photography you want to excel at.

To all the photography instructors and workshop leaders I’ve worked with over the years:  THANK YOU!

Earlier this evening, I set out to do something I had never done before:  to deliberately create Bad Art.

A fellow artist from my local artists group invited the other members to meet at her friend’s house for Bad Art Night.

This event takes place twice a month.  Each meeting lasts approximately three hours.

The goal of Bad Art Night is simple:  to create Bad Art.

Why?  Because we can.  Because it’s great to be able to create art without being attached to the outcome.  Because it gives us permission to explore new media, new techniques, and to get it wrong.  To screw it up.  To be silly and spontaneous and let whatever happens happen.

How cool is that?

For someone who’s VERY attached to the outcome, Bad Art therapy is just what the doctor ordered.

Warning:  it’s harder than it sounds.  And at the same time, ridiculously easy once you let go.

It was clear to me that I couldn’t use a camera.  Oh, sure, I can take a bad picture.  I’ve taken thousands.  I believe that it’s only by taking thousands of bad pictures that you learn to take better ones.  But a camera was too familiar, too comfortable….

I decided to try a medium I’ve never used before:  watercolor.  I know nothing about painting in general, let alone painting with watercolors.  The result was guaranteed to be Bad.

I held the brush in my hand and stared at the perfect white piece of paper in front of me.  I knew that as soon as the brush touched the paper, it would no longer be perfect.  That was the goal.

I dipped the brush in some water and randomly selected a color:  light blue.  I put the brush on the paper.  I ruined it.  I felt happy.

I added more colors:  dark blue, purple, teal.  I swooshed them around, and overlapped them, and added more water, and then more paint, and then more water.

I was pretty sure I was doing it wrong.  And I didn’t care.

Eventually I covered the entire sheet of paper with watercolors.  I was done.  I had created my first piece of deliberately Bad Art.  What next?  Make another one.

For my encore, I drew with pastels on the wrong kind of paper.  It was very glossy, and the pastel colors didn’t blend softly into each other.  It looked like the drawings I made in kindergarten, which the teacher criticized.  It was Bad.  I added some more colors and made it worse.  Woohoo!

I had time for a third drawing.  That was felt tip markers on paper.  I drew flowers all over the paper.  There were flowers growing upside-down from the top of the paper.  There were flowers growing sideways, and vines trailing among them in a serpentine pattern.  All the flowers were two-dimensional, garishly-colored, and very Bad.

Like all good things, Bad Art Night had to come to an end.

So when I got home, in keeping with the theme of the evening, I took a Bad image of my first Bad Art piece to share with you.  Not the kind of thing I would normally do, mind you.  But there’s my Bad image of my Bad Art piece at the top of this post, for the whole world to see.  Go ahead, laugh.  I’m laughing too.  Because it’s Bad.  Really Bad.

Tomorrow I’ll go back to trying to take good photographs.  And I like to think succeeding most of the time.

But for one night, it was good to be Bad.

See http://www.badartnight.org for the back story on how Bad Art Night came to be.

For sunrise images, I think Haleakala takes the cake…or would that be poi?  If you’ve witnessed it, you know what I mean, and if you haven’t, I hope it’s on your Bucket List.

For the uninitiated, Haleakala is the tall volcano on the island of Maui in the Hawaiian Islands.  By tall, I mean over 10,000′ tall.  Which means the summit is above the clouds.  Which means that even if it’s raining at sea level, where your hotel is most likely located, you’ll be above the clouds on Haleakala.  Cool!

Make that cold…REALLY cold.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been colder in my life than in Hawaii, standing on the rim of Haleakala in pitch darkness at Zero-Dark-Thirty in the morning, waiting for the dawn.

The first time I went, I was 23.  Hearing it would be cold, I bought a thin sweatshirt at a tourist shop, and made sure to wear my long cotton pants…and just about died of hypothermia!

Fast forward to age 45 and my second visit to Haleakala.  They say experience is the best teacher.  I packed a down jacket, fleece pants, gortex rain pants (to block the wind), wool socks, hiking boots, down hat, and gloves.  Mittens would’ve been warmer, but I had to be able to operate my camera equipment.

I wore the above outfit for a couple of hours out of my two week stay, and couldn’t have been happier that I had brought it along.  I was still cold, but pretty sure I’d live through the experience this time around.  The first time, I wasn’t as certain.

To do it right, in my opinion, you need to arrive on the rim of the volcano when it’s still pitch dark.  Which sounds easy, until you realize that it’s a 2-3 hour drive from your hotel at sea level, up a narrow winding mountain road with hairpin turns galore.  So you get up at 2:30 AM, or thereabouts, and set off for the summit.

Donning as much as possible of your cold weather gear inside your sub-compact rental car will get your blood flowing to your extremities before you step out into the biting cold and it stops again.  It’s often very windy as well, which in addition to bumping up the wind chill factor, means you have to keep a (gloved) hand on your tripod at all times.

You may well find several dozen other folks in the parking lot, waiting for the dawn.  The smart ones remain in their rental cars, sipping their coffee in relative comfort.  The foolish ones, you among them, leave the warm haven of their car and search for a place to stand with the best view to the east.

The stars are absolutely stunning, and you realize how few of them you actually get to see back home.  I’ll put a couple of images of constellations I shot on Haleakala in another post.  The night sky without light pollution is a breathtaking sight.  See yesterday’s post for my Dark Sky lecture, if you haven’t read it already.

Over the hour or so that it takes to go from pitch darkness to sun-over-the-horizon daylight, you will marvel at the spectacle, as the sky lightens and turns various hues.  Gradually, the terrain becomes visible, and you realize (assuming you haven’t been there before in the daylight) that you’re standing on the rim of a massive volcanic crater, miles across.  There is only one plant that grows here, so for the most part you’re looking at nothing but lava in various shades of reds, browns and blacks.  It’s so barren here that the NASA astronauts trained for their moonwalks in the crater.  I can’t help envying them, as they must’ve been nice and warm in those spacesuits!

Once the sun is rising in the sky, it does start to warm up.  Trust me on this.  Eventually you thaw out and are able to move more than your shutter finger.  It will happen.

I don’t have too much shooting advice to give you here, other than to dress like you’re going to Antarctica.  Be sure to get some shots of the stars while it’s still completely dark.  As the sky begins to lighten, play with both wide angle and tele lenses for a nice variety of shots.  Immediately after the sun comes up, you can get some very dramatic shots of the long shadows in the crater.  And be ready for the first ray of sun to peek over the clouds on the horizon, as in the image at the top of this page.

After the sun is up, and you’re on your way down from the rim, look to the west and you may be able to spot a Glory, which is a circular rainbow that forms on clouds.  They’re fairly common to see from airplanes, but less commonly seen from terra firma, since you have to be on a mountain above the clouds.

As you’re warming up and starting to think about breakfast, and what the rest of the day holds in store for you (Snorkeling?  Surfing?  Umbrella drinks?), take a few moments to appreciate our incredible planet.  Above all, revel in just having witnessed a truly amazing spectacle:  dawn.  There will be no doubt in your mind as to why the Hawaiians named this volcano Haleakala.  It means “House of the Sun.”

Do you enjoy looking at the moon and stars at night, as I do?

Do you enjoy shooting them, as I do?

Do you wish that you could see the objects in the night sky more clearly, as I do?

Is your neighborhood or town beset by unnecessary light pollution from poor streetlight design, as mine is?

Is your property nightly flooded with blinding light due to inconsiderate neighbors’ outdoor lighting techniques (the “some is good, more is better” philosophy), as mine is?

Can you see the Milky Way from your home, or only when you’re camping?

Please check out http://www. darksky.org for a good explanation of why light pollution control and the use of downlighting make a community more livable and safer.

The site is sponsored by the IDA, the International Dark-Sky Association.

Without a dark sky, images like this eclipse shot are all but impossible.

So let there NOT be unnecessary and overly bright lighting at night…

Let the stars and moon shine in all their glory!

I made this image last June at a dairy farm in Vermont.  As I said in yesterday’s post, I love shooting at farms.  I never know what I’m going to get.

This image was not set up.  I rarely pose people, because then they tend to look…posed.  Roger (third butt from the left) was simply going about his daily chores.  I was wandering around the barn, camera in hand, taking cow portraits.  And suddenly, I found the back end of the cows more interesting than the front end.

When I’m doing an art fair, and someone looking through my prints laughs out loud and then calls their companions over to show them the image, I always know it’s this one.

So if you’ve never shot on a farm, I highly recommend giving it a try.  Here are a few pieces of advice that might come in handy:

  • Ask permission from the farmer, and find out where you can go, and what areas, if any, are off-limits.  E.g., at the farm in New Hampshire where I took the chicken image in yesterday’s post, they recommended not entering the pasture where they keep the bulls.  Good advice!
  • Always have your camera at the ready.  You never know what photo ops will present themselves spontaneously.  See above image.
  • Shoot with natural light only, if at all possible.  The above image was taken with natural light.  I’ve gotten some very dramatic images inside dark barns with sunlight coming through the cracks in the boards, or through an open window or doorway.  Experiment!
  • Get eye-level with the animals when it’s safe to do so.  Your images will look much more natural.
  • Wear old clothes, and shoes that can be hosed off before you get back in your car.  Or bring a change of shoes, and a garbage bag to put your “field shoes” into for the drive home.
  • Convey your gratitude to the farmer for allowing you to photograph their farm.  I like to mail them a CD of my images.  I’ve found farmers are tickled to see their farm and animals through a new set of eyes.  You may also consider offering to make them a print of their favorite image.  Follow through!
  • Go back at different times of the year.  Put together a digital portfolio of the farm(s) during all four seasons.
  • Have fun!

Kelly stopped by my booth at the art fair today and bought one of my prints of cows, thereby displaying not just her great taste in art, but also her sense of humor.  I’ll post that image tomorrow, as it deserves its own moment in the spotlight.  In the meantime, she asked if I had any images of chickens.  Of course, I have lots of images of chickens…on my computer at home!  But I’ll be adding a few chicken images to my art fair inventory shortly.

This particular chicken lives on a small family farm in New Hampshire.  It’s the kind of farm where the animals are named instead of numbered.  I’ve visited the farm twice, once in October and once in June, and hope I can go back a third time in the not too distant future.  If I ever have to reincarnate as a farm animal, I hope I get to be one that lives on this farm.  It’s that kind of place.

A word of advice to anyone who may just be starting out in bird photography, or any animal portraiture, for that matter.  Most of the time (there are always exceptions to every rule) I think it’s critical to be at the animal’s eye level.  For example, if you’re walking around the barnyard shooting down at the chickens on the ground, your images will show it.

If I’m shooting short animals, and it’s safe to do so, I get as low as possible.  When shooting on farms, I’ve knelt, sat, squatted and even layed in some very interesting, not to mention odiferous, substances, all in the name of art.  I feel sorry for the person who has to detail my rental car when I return it!  I’m sure the driver’s seat gets a generous dose of Fabreze (or whatever they use) and the floor mat…who knows?

With this particular chicken, I had it easy:  her nest was at least 4′ off the ground.  But if you look closely, you’ll notice that I’m actually shooting from slightly BELOW her eye level.

The other advantage of getting low is that the animals are less intimidated by you, and more relaxed, and your images will show that.  This also applies when photographing small children and companion animals.

So thanks, Kelly, and enjoy your chicken, as well as your cows.

I understand there were some folks waiting for the Second Coming yesterday…and they’re still waiting.  Personally, I was looking forward to some unique photo ops, but they never materialized.  And I’m probably not the only blogger who didn’t prepare a post ahead of time, assuming we would be pre-empted by the Apocalypse-that-wasn’t.  Hmmm, what to post?

This little cherub statue was keeping watch over a headstone in a local cemetary…and perhaps still is.  The weeds were growing up around him, and the pine needles were starting to bury him, but still he sat, and kept his vigil, and waited….  I took this image in 2006, and haven’t been back.  He seems to capture the theme of the day:  waiting for The Rapture…and waiting…and waiting….

How much longer will he have to wait?

As Carly Simon sang in 1971, “I’m no prophet, and I don’t know Nature’s way.”

I suppose the Anticipation will continue, for some more fervently than for others.

As for me, I’m going to sleep.  If the world ends, don’t wake me!

Welcome to RPRT Photo. I’m a photographer specializing in nature, wildlife and travel photography…and whatever else strikes my fancy.  I shoot mostly outdoors, and mostly with available light.

What does RPRT stand for?  Right Place, Right Time.  Those are the two essential ingredients for an outstanding image, IMHO.  Of course, this assumes that the photographer has the creative vision to compose an image, and the technical expertise to capture it.  Then, it’s simply a matter of being in the Right Place at the Right Time.   Easy, right?

I’ll be posting  the following things, in no particular order:

  • some of my images, and the stories behind them
  • advice on how to capture better images
  • travel notes, e.g., where to find the best lobster roll in Maine
  • musings on the art of photography
  • select referrals to other photographers’ websites, blogs, classes, tours, etc.
  • random thoughts that don’t fit into any of the five categories above
That’s all for now.  So go to the Right Place at the Right Time and create your own magic.  Happy shooting!