Sunday, May 27, 2012

One Saturday in Maine aka You Can't Always Get What You Want

Prelude:  This isn't an overt Memorial Day post.  No flags.  No war memorials.  Then again, this post is exactly about what all the fighting and loss is for.  A way of life that us uniquely American and for that I am truely grateful.  On with the show...

Yesterday I set out looking for the next great photo opportunity.  As is often the case, a few ideas had collected in my head and that set the compass.  On this fine Saturday afternoon, it was jumping over the border and exploring Western Maine by Route 5.  I was hoping to check out a defunct ski area in Stoneham, explore some areas I had read about on the Sunday River and waterfalls in Grafton Notch.  Then I figured I'd return along the Wild River and through Evan's Notch... one of my favorite places anywhere.

The scenic stuff didn't pan out.  I was everywhere at the wrong time of the day, but we'll chalk this trip up to research and return in the fall.  What I did find are great slices of rural Maine and a fun day of shooting anyway.

I always have to stop in to see the fine folks at Bonnema Pottery when I'm in Bethel.  I've been collecting their stuff for a long time and one of my favorite mugs recently suffered some regrettable abuse, so it was time for a replacement.

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As is sometimes the case, JoeBlog can be a bit of a local joint, foodie experience.  This little spot in the wilds of Newry, Maine is definitely local.  Photo adventure road trips require sugar and lots of it. This came just at the right time.

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My choices for dinner were to wait it out until I got back to "civilization" and fight the holiday weekend throngs of out of state plates or grab a picnic table at this place.  I thought Bob's Real Pit BBQ in Bethel, Maine had potential when I saw the smoker, but when I heard the cleaver chopping the pulled pork, I knew I was in for something awesome!

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Stay tuned for images from that Ski Area and one other abandoned gem!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

50 mm of Baltimore

This week I had to make a quick trip to Baltimore.  I wasn't even going to be there 24 hours.  But I was going to be downtown, near the Inner Harbor, and couldn't stand the thought of not bringing a my camera with me.  So, I ditched my camera bag, travelled light and found room for a camera body and one lens in my laptop bag.

The one lens?  The mighty Nikkor 50mm f/1.8.  The first year and a half that I owned a DSLR, I shot almost exclusively with the 50 mm.  It was sharp and performed so well in low light compared to anything else I owned that once I saw the results, I couldn't bear to shoot with a lesser optic. 

Of course using a fixed 50 mm lens brings constraints and limitations.  No zoom, no wide angle and no poaching street shots from the comfortable distance and autonomy provided by at 200 or 300 mm.  And yet there is an elegance in the simplicity of this light weight, $120 wonder lens.  The limitations drive creativity, making you zoom with your feet or use a new angle.  Get close to your subject and, gasp, maybe even talk with a stranger and admit you are a photographer and taking their picture.  Depth of field is your friend with the lens' fast 1.8 aperture.  Backgrounds can blur and you can render bokeh like a master.  Night time city streets offer new opportunities with such a fast lens in hand.  I've accumulated other optics since my days of 50 mm exclusivity, but it was great fun to force myself back into the 50mm mindset and re-learn all that it taught me. 

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Cloud Watching

Yesterday, the sun finally broke through days of clouds and rain.  I didn't have a clear plan of attack, but I knew I couldn't pass up such a beautiful evening and had to make some photos.  And so, off I went.  I headed north towards Mt. Washington, but part way there I had an inspired thought and turned left up the steep dirt road to Iron Mountain.

I think if I could live anywhere, one of the places I would consider is the small, wood frame farm house that sits in an open field near the top of Iron Mountain.  The field is at about 2,000 feet in elevation and has an amazing view looking north into Pinkham Notch with the Wildcat peaks/Carter Range on the right and Mount Washington and the Southern Presidentials on the left.

When I walked up into the field, the wind was blowing pretty hard but the 30 mph gusts somehow felt good. The wind was going to limit opportunities for photography, but it had been a busy week involving too much time in planes, hotels and rooms with no windows, so I headed out anyway.  More than anything, I just wanted to sit in that field and drink in the view of my beloved Pinkham Notch. I pulled up my hood, took a seat and watched the clouds while I made this time lapse so you could take in the view too.

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