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Morning On The Deerfield. September 19, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Frau B. and I got up before dawn on Saturday to try for some “Sunrise on the Deerfield” photos.

Turned out that the sunrise was a good deal less spectacular than it might have been, but the location where we set up was still productive.

The river was low enough for me to ford it at a thigh-deep rapid, and with a full compliment of camera gear on my back, the swift water provided something of an adventure.  I used a piece of “beaver wood” as an upstream support and crossed tripod-style to the rocky shallows on the opposite side, arriving dry and jazzed, thanks to a pair of felt-soled hip boots I’d thought to bring along.

With the sunrise fizzling, we turned our attentions to details closer at hand.  I found these chickory blossoms curling inward against the cool mists of morning, and with the time pressures of an exploding sunrise removed, took the time to set up Elliot at an eight-degree tilt.  I tweaked the angle to get a decent focus from about a foot on the right to the distant skyline at center left:

Mists rose from the upstream waters as Mount Todd appeared and disappeared in the clouds rising through the steeper valley upriver from us.

The trees here have begun their seasonal transformation to Technicolor, and though the shoreline foliage has a long way to go to “peak,” an occasional scarlet leaf can be found drifting down river or clinging to anything which emerges as the dam-released water drops, in this case a birch log:

I dug the reflection in that scene enough to look for more of the same, and discovered that the so-so sky looked more intense in this reflecting pool:

Things were still enough in this shot to use my 16-35mm L-series lens, one of my favorites.  A long (several seconds) exposure gave me enough depth of field to capture both the reflected clouds and a very distant Frau B (opposite bank center, in a green shell jacket.)

All in all, it wasn’t a wasted trip despite the uncooperative sun.

A later post will show you this river in a much different light.  😉

We Almost Missed It. January 18, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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As part of a day trip up to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Frau B. and I hoped to snag a few sunrise pictures at the shore in Portsmouth.  As we got off the highway and headed for the water, the sky grew red and roiling, and we savored what we weren’t set up to photograph.  By the time we parked at seaside the sun had just broken the horizon and the clouds had lost their light.  I grabbed Eliot but left the tripod in the truck – this was either going to happen in about the next minute, or it wasn’t going to happen.

My rule of thumb in quickly changing compositions is to fire off a shot, then fine-tune my settings, thanks to the instant replay capability of digital.  At least that way I have something from the moment.  So this first one is underexposed, but I liked what I saw, so I kept it:

I didn’t mess with that color, just cropped it.  I got lucky (well, made an educated guess) with the focus, which can be hard for me in low light, especially with the “tilt” requiring checking both near and far points of focus.

Lizz was set up to my left among some rocks, so I headed on over.  She tends to know what she’s doing, and  I’m happy to learn by following her around.

My goal for this outing was to use Eliot as much as possible and hopefully get quicker with it.  I’d found a website with tilt-tables for the common focal lengths of tilt-shift lenses, based on height above the plane of focus (the Hinge Rule,) and though I could only assume that the values would result in a horizontal POF, I’d memorized a few of the larger ones and had Eliot set accordingly.

This one was at a degree and a half, three feet off the plane of the water:

The increasing light made focusing easier, and it seemed that the table was working!

I was really pleased with the cloud reflections on that one.

With the sun breaking free of the horizon, the remaining color was in the other direction.  The rocks were ruddy with the dawn:

Low tide was good to us, despite being too late for the spectacular predawn show.

Evening Light. December 14, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Up in the hills of Hawley, hoping for a sunset.

My neighbor, Frau Biergut braves the Frostbite Weather:


What’s she lookin’ at??


Oh, wait…  that’s what I was lookin’ at!

With Gizmo.

Here’s a last-light shot:


Not flashy, but that’s what there was.

And She’s Off! February 28, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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As of today, my Blogmate, Ice Climbing Partner and Meat-World Neighbor Lizz (a.k.a. Frau Biergut) hits the skies for a three week trip to the Desert Southwest, trading in her regular gig as a research biochemist for a rental car, a pup-tent and a sturdy pair of hiking boots.

The focus, heheh, of Frau B’s trip: Photography!

Yeah, she’s one of those. Only she’s a real one, who actually knows what she’s doing and all. Check out some of her work at Lizz Bartlett Photography. Browse the galleries, from New England scenes to amazing Southwestern landscapes. I think you’ll see why she was anxious to get back out West, especially with this trip (and her ambitious itinerary) being planned around peak wildflower blooms at various latitudes and elevations.

Lizz will be joined part way through her adventure by Miz Lu(mena), whom you may also know from comments on this blog. Miz Lu will have in tow the boys from her photography class, who may not yet fully comprehend how lucky they are to be going to such amazing places with two such excellent people at such a perfect time. And I bet there’ll be plenty of grumbling when the bells go off at 4am, and more when they shoulder their packs in the dark and head for the perfect vantage point from which to capture the sunrise.

But I suspect the tribulations of the getting will be washed from their minds when, back in the Boston area, their images come to life in their hands, the rich desert colors glowing through the emulsion as they practice the skills which they’ve learned over the past year.

What lucky, lucky boys!

I’d be jealous if I hadn’t been there, or didn’t believe I’d be back some day soon with a real camera and a good friend to share the days with.

This wasn’t my year, Lizz, but I thank you sincerely for the invitation. Call when you get back to Rolling J Farm, ‘k?

Into the future, then!