Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Lesson of Tag and You're It!

Beach Path

This blog typically isn't about photography advice or instruction, but today I sold an image and it was a great lesson to not be a lazy photographer.  You see we all love to go to interesting locations, make beautiful pictures and play with cool gear.  Some of the geekier among us even like to spend hours in the software that has become the bane of the digital photographer.  After all that, it's awfully easy to forget about an important housekeeping task... tagging your images with captions and keywords. 

Captioning and keywording is electronically assigning descriptive words to your image.  The who, what, where of an image as well as the attribute, emotion or feeling it evokes are all keyword examples.  It isn't exciting, it doesn't make you say "wow" or give you that rush you get when you've made an image you love.  But, if you're putting your images on the web, tagging is one of the strongest tools you have to get your photos seen because keywords are part of the secret sauce that make the Google world go round.  I've sold two images in the last couple of months thanks to keywords, captions and good old Google images.  Check your website and your blog and make sure you're doing everything you can to help people can find your good work!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

These ornaments have been in my family for as long as I can remember.  I hope you all enjoy special holiday traditions this season.  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I just created a new set of Galleries at called "Projects", including a full gallery of images from the amazing abandoned Redstone Quarry. Here's the link to the Gallery.

Lathe House I

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Home for the Holidays

Last week I took a drive north of the notches to Stark, NH, a small village in Northern New Hampshire on the edge of the Nash Stream Wilderness. The Upper Ammonoosuc River flows through town and is spanned by the Stark Covered Bridge. The bridge and Stark Union Church are both part of the National Register of Historic Places. At the opposite end of the bridge, The Stark Village Inn bookends the scene. Even the most jaded among us can tune in to the Holiday spirit with the right inspiration. If you're stuck in neutral with the holidays, maybe this helps. Stark is a beautiful and peaceful place and sets the right tone for the season. Barely 20 miles from where I grew up, it felt like I was home for the holidays.

Welcome to the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Check out the Stark Village Inn. Support local business in Northern NH and enjoy hiking the Percy Peaks, the Kilkenny Range or the Cohas Trail as well as swimming in my favorite childhood spot at Christine Lake. The Stark Village Inn doesn't have a website, but here's their Facebook page...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Arizona Revisited

Jerome, Arizona

Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona

Red Rock Autumn
Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

Sacred Heart
Sedona, Arizona

Pepper Pots
Sedona, Arizona

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Obligatory Foliage Post

Fall was a little elusive for me this year with a dull start to the foliage, unseasonably warm weather, rain and a constant time crunch.   Last Saturday was an attempt to change all that and while conditions weren't perfect, here are a few images made during the day's wandering.  Bring on the snow!

Birch Gold
Lary Brook
Shelburne, NH

Fleeting Fall

Lary Brook
Shelburne, NH

Wet Rocks
Lary Brook
Shelburne, NH

Fall Steeple
Lary Brook
Shelburne, NH

Yellow Cascade
Forrest Brook, Madison Cascade
Madison, NH

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sandwich as Seattle

Last weekend I got out with a friend to make some early fall pictures.  For the non-New Englanders in the crowd, it was raining buckets.  We decided to meet in Sandwich, NH... a super quaint village with easy access to several wilderness areas.  Good photos were few and far between, but the day wasn't a total bust.  I made one image that I like.  In the constant rain, I also did a thorough test on the weather sealing of my camera gear and validated that buying the expensive stuff is well worth it.  Best of all, I enjoyed fine dinner and spirits as well as equally tasty conversation at the mighty Corner House Pub.  After all, choosing to meet in Sandwich wasn't all about photography.

Sandwich as Seattle

Cow Cave
Sandwich Notch, NH

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Metal Prints

I've become really fond of metal prints.  I have one hanging in an exhibit at the Mount Washington Art Association Visual Arts Center right now.  I recommend metal prints to people all the time and they typically have never heard of them.  Everyone always asks, so let me clarify.  Yes... metal... real live aluminum.  It's a special process where dye is infused into the metal and finished with a high gloss.  The process makes colors look amazing.  The prints have a 1/2 inch foam block on the back and are designed to hang on the wall as is.  They float slightly off the surface of the wall, creating a really flattering shadow line.  And that's one of the best parts... no expensive framing and they're ready hang right out of the box.

Here's an example.  This is one of my images prepared as a corporate gift.   The images are branded to the company and it's a great example of a float mounted metal print.  Four of these beauties will be shipped out tomorrow.

Just about all the images on my website are available as float mounted metal prints.  To learn more about float mounted metal prints, check out this link sponsored by the professional lab that I use to fulfill all orders on my website... Bay Photo.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

For Deeko

While I never played organized hockey, many of my earliest and best memories of growing up revolve around the sport.  Berlin, New Hampshire is just a Sunday drive south of the Canadian border and has historically been a paper mill town with a predominantly French-Canadian population.  Hockey is a foundational part of the place.  For many years, the south end of Main Street was spanned with a sign made up of two huge hockey sticks and an equally large hockey puck replica with white letters that said "Berlin, NH   Hockeytown USA".  Friday nights was always ice skating at the Notre Dame Arena.  Pick up street hockey at St. Joseph's School and ice hockey at the outdoor rink behind the police station was a daily ritual. Usually a freezing cold daily ritual.  Frozen tennis balls hurt like hell when you take a slap shot in the thigh.

This is a picture of the Berlin High School Hockey team from around 1950.  My dad, Richard Viger, is the handsome guy with the sporty hair second from the right in the first row.  Everybody called him Deeko... a take off on Dick (back when this was still an acceptable nickname).  Folklore says that Deeko was a pretty exceptional hockey player with full ride scholarship letters.  It's probably true.  I've had people I didn't know recognize my unique last name and ask if he was my Dad, following on with a comment about how they loved to watch him play in high school.

Deeko ended up signing a different type of acceptance form and the Navy got to enjoy his athletic skills instead.  Despite his time on an aircraft carrier, my dad retained his love of hockey through out his life.  Memories of my Dad are memories of hockey and vice versa.  He was always a fan and would take me to high school games for as long as I could remember.  The Berlin Maroons were a semi-pro team in my home town and we'd take in their games as well. 

My Uncle Romeo and ma Tante Grace ran a small gas station/convenience store on the West bank of the Androscoggin River where the James Cleaveland Bridge now stands. Dad and I would often visit to sit in their little office and watch the Canadiens on a 13 inch black and white television that was up on top of a tall file cabinet.  Romeo was a Canadiens fan and would only watch hockey on the French-speaking channels we could get from Montreal.  The patter of the announcers in a language I didn't understand, the pale blue light from that TV, Guy Lafleur's smooth command of the rink and sitting at my Dad's side with a thick, curved 10 ounce glass bottle of Coke in my hand are still vivid memories to me.  I don't know how old I was... maybe five.

While Uncle Romeo liked the Canadiens, at our house, it was the Bruins.  Located just about midway between Montreal and Boston, the whole town had a similar split allegiance.  People were passionate about it... the kind of stuff that bar room fights are made of.  The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 1972 when I was six.  This was the era of Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers, Terry O'Reilly, Derek Sanderson, Ken Hodge and other iconic Bruins players.  And of course, Bobby Orr.  A Bobby Orr biography was one of the first books I remember checking out of the library as a kid.  The Sher-wood hockey stick I bought at the arena, my Bobby Orr waste paper basket and an autographed Johnny Bucyk postcard were prized possessions at the time.  

My Dad and I made an unbelievable trip to the Montreal Forum for a Stanley Cup game with the Bruins... it must have been during the 1978 finals.  We were only a few rows off the ice and it was amazing.   That trip gave me quite a story to tell my friends when we stopped at Gagne's store on the way to 7:00 pm Catholic Mass... also in French.   No wonder we spent the 50 cents our Mothers had given us for the church's donation basket on hockey cards.  Despite the strong French Canadian Catholic influence in the community, hockey was religion and Catholic charitable salvation seemed insignificant compared to the chance of getting a Rick Middleton or Jean Ratelle. 

By the time I hit junior high, my interests were elsewhere.  Maybe it was part of teenage rebellion for something that such a big part of my Dad.  As an adult, I can I say enjoy hockey, but I don't follow it all that closely.  In fact, I'm betting I could name more players of that early 70's line-up than of the current Bruins roster.  Last winter I took my young sons to their first high school game and it felt like closing a circle.  Our garage was renamed "the Garden" because of our evening hockey games and soon they were wearing Bruins winter hats.  I had a great time watching the Bruins win the Cup last season.  It seemed the way hockey should be played.
A few weeks ago I was sitting with a new friend and was invited to take pictures at a Stanley Cup event.  At first, it didn't sink sink in.  But driving home I was taken off guard by how excited I was.  When I thought about it, I knew why.  The Stanley Cup is the ultimate hockey icon and, for me, hockey will always represent home and my Dad.  Spending the night with the Stanley Cup three feet from me was like re-visiting my childhood... it was like having my dad by my side.  I haven't heard his voice in a long time now, but when I reviewed the almost 1,000 photographs I took that night, His slow, second generation Franco-American twang would sometimes pop into my head saying "Hey Joey... you got to touch the same Stanley Cup as Bobby Orr."  Awesome!

On with the photography...

Stanley Cup Pandemonium

Jim's Day with the Cup

The Cup tours the kitchen

Kiss the Cup

The Stanley Cup

The Stanley Cup 2

Lord Stanley's Trophy

Joe Ricchio and the Cup
Joe Ricchio from Food Coma TV

Krista's Stanley Cup Event 1
The fantastic crew at Krista's.  I was in their way all night long and they were so nice to act like it was their fault, usually offering to get me something to eat or drink in the process.

If you are ever in Cornish, Maine, make sure you visit Krista's Restaurant.  And even if you aren't in Cornish, make a special trip.  It's a really wonderful place with exceptional food and people.  Special thanks to Krista Lair for asking me to make these photos of a special night for her and the town of Cornish.  Also, thanks to Jim Bednarek for his generosity in bringing the most amazing sporting tradition to small town New England hockey fans!  
Krista Lair and Jim Benarek

RIP Dad.  

RIP Gardner. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Feeling Minnesota

It was gray with intermittent rain all week in Duluth.  Most folks were complaining, but I was happy.  The clouds were amazing.



Lake Superior

Goodwill and Good Luck Runs the Railroad
Duluth, Minnesota

Monday, September 12, 2011

Interesting Statistics and The Great HDR Debate

Last week I posted this photo of Thompson Falls in Pinkham Notch, NH.   I described how it was a high dynamic range image or HDR created by using software to combining the tonal values of five separate exposures.   I also related that I was sort of luke warm on HDR.

Thompson Falls HDR

Over the weekend, I offered up a single image of the same location shot at the same time. This photo is not an HDR. One long exposure from the camera with gentle software tweaks to color and contrast.

Thompson Falls v2.jpg This

I posted both images to the same exact Flickr group, wrote a blog post on each image and shared those blog posts on Facebook and Google+.   I hadn't planned on doing an analysis, but I realized I have some data, so here we go...
  • Both images have received just about identical numbers of views so far on Flickr and on Facebook. 
  • The HDR image has generated more comments.
  • There have been enthusiastic comments about both images
  • The Thompson Falls HDR image was favorited on Flickr and the non-HDR image was not
  • The non-HDR image has more Facebook likes than the HDR version (4 vs. 2)
What does this mean you ask?  I'm not exactly sure.  It might be a little too much Freakonomics for me to figure out.  HDR has become something of an evangelical crusade with people. Some folks love it and suddenly every image they make is hyper saturated and super high def. Other folks hate it. I mean they really hate it like the way Red Sox fans hate the Yankees.  As for me, I don't love it. Like a lot of things, there's a time and a place.  For example, I generally enjoy Cheyenne Rouse's work.  A lot of her images are of old things around the Southwest and HDR seems to suit her subject. HDR helps bring out drama, strength and intensity, so athletes and soldiers generally look great composed in HDR.  So when the time is right, you'll probably see HDR from me again.  Above all, it's clear that some folks like it and when it suits what I'm trying to express, I'll use high dynamic range as a tool.  But one thing is certain.  The controversy is overblown.  Especially in light of the even feedback on these two images.  There are much better... and cooler... topics to start a bar room fight over.  You know, stuff like Canon vs. Nikon. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Congratulations to Mountain Running World Champions Kasie Enman & Max King!

Kasie Enman of Huntington, Vermont and Max King of Bend, Oregon claimed the titles of Mountain Running World Champions at their races this morning  in Tirana, Albania.  This is the first time the US has won double gold at the World Championships.  Enman is the first US woman to ever win Gold at the World's.  Max and Kasie are also the US Champions having won the title at the US Mountain Running Championships in North Conway, NH at Cranmore Mountain.

You can see great photos from the race and get more details at the USATF Mountain Ultra Trail Facebook page and the US Mountain Running website

Congratulations to both Kasie and Max as well as all the athletes and coaches on the US team!  Here are a couple of Max and Kasie's photo highlights from the US National Championship race.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sans HDR

A couple of days ago I posted an HDR photograph of Thompson Falls in Pinkham Notch.  While I'm not convinced high dynamic range is the way to go, the voting public generally liked it based on views and comments here on the blog, Facebook, Google+ or my Flickr photostream.  I have to admit, that I like the quality of the rocks in the foreground of that image.

So I figured why not grab another photograph from that same shoot earlier this week and offer it up with no HDR and see what happens.  This is a single exposure with "normal" color correction and sharpening in Lightroom 3.  Once again... I'd love to hear  your thoughts.

Thompson Falls v2.jpg

Thompson Falls
Pinkham Notch, NH

Thursday, September 8, 2011

HDR... ehhhhh

Sooo, ahhh, this HDR thing. High Dynamic Range. For the uninitiated, and highly simplified, HDR is the combining of multiple exposures to present a dynamic range that encompasses the lightest and the darkest tones in a scene. In many ways, it brings the capability to create an image more consistent with what the human eye can see. You may have experienced this for yourself. You see a scene with detail in the shadows, but when you try to photograph it, the shadows are pure black. That's because the human eye can perceive a higher dynamic range of light than film or digital camera sensors. And that's where HDR comes in.

The thing is HDR, like any technology really, can be used for good and for evil. It can be used to make a beautiful photograph and you might not even know it's HDR. Or... HDR can create technicolor yawns that attack your eyes relentlessly like a bad science fiction movie. I don't like that style so much but people still seem fond of it. So.. I'm a bit conflicted about this HDR baloney. This evening I made a few pictures and here's my HDR debut. It was made by combining five images, each one a bit under a stop apart from the other.

Ehhh... I don't know. You be the judge.  I'd love to hear from you.

Thompson Falls.jpg
Thompson Falls
Pinkham Notch, NH

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Nashville Honky Tonkin'

Nashville 2.jpg
It's 6:20 pm on a Thursday night and Roberts Western World is already jumping with one of the best guitar players I've seen in a long time.

Nashville 3.jpg

Broadway Night
Lower Broadway nightlife

Welcome to the Ernest Tubb Record Shop
Welcome to the Ernest Tubb Record Shop.

Vinyl in Music City
Yup. Those are real live records. Vinyl for spinning wax on the wheels of steel and lots of 'em.

Ernest and The Boys
Ernest and the boys

Nashville 5.jpg
The Ernest Tubb Record Shop

Nashville Billboard
Nashville Skyline
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