Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Different Take on a NH Spring Wildflower

It's true... I'm a little cynical about the seasonal churn of landscape and nature photographs on the Internet.  Just last week, I was teasing my good pal Jeff about photographing the beloved Trillium.  They are usually the first flower to bloom in the New Hampshire woodland and a very pretty bloom at that with three distinct petals in red or white.  Pretty... but oi vey are they over photographed!  This time of year it seems every photographer in New England is posting images of Trillium.  And the images are 95% the same as the shot they made last year and 90% the same as the other photographers.  So, yes... cynical.  I'm not proud of it.  In fact many of these photographers are friends who produce really stunning work that I both appreciate and admire.  But, I still can't bring myself to photograph a Trillium.    It feels like I have nothing to add.

Today I was out in my yard and noticed that our recent rain brought on a bumper crop of Lady Slipper... right in my front yard.  It's my first spring in a new home and there are things sprouting up all over the place, but this was a really nice surprise.  They are beautiful and I love the fleeting nature of Lady Slippers.  I also have really nice memories of wandering hunting for them  in Shelburne, NH with my Mom when I was as kid.

I was itching to make a few photographs, but I heard the cynic's voice in my head... "you realize there will be Lady Slipper photographs from every photographer you know all over the Internet".  It almost kept me from hitting the shutter, but I had an idea to make these photos a little different.

After supper tonight, the flowers were well shaded and I decided that these Lady Slippers were getting studio lighting!  For the gear geeks in the house, that was a Manfrotto 001b stand, Westcott 43" umbrella and a Nikon SB-910 speedlight.   The light was fired wirelessly from the camera with Nikon CLS with a 1/2 CTO gel on the flash to warm the light a little bit and we were in business.  The Lady Slippers had their studio call!  I should also mention that I post processed these very similarly to how I might process an image from a shoot with a model... I took some saturation out, went easy on the contrast and everyone looks better framed in a vignette.

An interesting background on this one... my wheelbarrow happened to be leaning against a tree in the shot.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Saturday of Shooting and Friends

Last Saturday I hosted a gathering of some photographer friends.  We met at my house and enjoyed catching up and a bite to eat.  Folks seemed remarkably content to hang out but eventually, the troops were restless and off we went.   The first stop was one of NH's best examples of a kettle bog and a National Natural Landmark called Heath Pond Bog in Freedom, NH.  The light was mezza mezza... it was mid-afternoon after all... and the bog was difficult to get too close too without getting ankle deep in it.  But we enjoyed a nice walk exploring and all snapped an image or two.  Right out of the car, someone found the remains of a red tailed hawk.  It wasn't objectively pretty, but I thought the contrast of the green and the brown, the growing and the dying was interesting.

We returned to my house to grab a drink and kill an hour waiting for late day light.  Our plan was to visit Foss Mountain in Eaton, NH for sunset.  It's a small peak that is as much blueberry barren as it is mountain, but it's a beautiful place with amazing views in all directions.   The awesome clouds that had been swirling about the valley all week hung around for the sunset and we were all treated to an amazing show.  We stayed out until it was dark, not wanting to miss a thing.

It was a great day with a great finish.  I really enjoy the way that photography allows me to focus (no pun intended) and let the outside world slip away.  I am in my element pursuing something that only I perceive, working out the technical problems of making the image and finding the unique elements that make a photo special.  It's completely absorbing for me and I'm in the moment.  As a result, I don't get together with fellow photographers near enough.  But,  I'm always so glad when I do.  I'm continually amazed how a group of people can arrive on a scene and see such different things and deploy different tools.  The shot below is an example... I was low to the ground with an 11-16mm lens while a friend was shooting at 200mm on a tripod at eye level.  Another was breaking out a flash while others were on completely different ends of the summit.  Group shoots never disappoint as a great experience of friendship and learning.   I look forward to the next one!

A big thank you to the good friends that gathered for the day!  Check out their work!
Jeff Sinon Justin Macomber, Kris Smith, Tracey Streeto and Melissa Greenawalt  .

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mountain Runner Portrait Project #15

Mountain Runner Portrait Project #15:  Max King
At home in Bend, Oregon with the tools of his trade and a tiny Elvis.

Two years ago I photographed my first National Championship sporting event at the US Mountain Running Championships in Conway, NH and that was my introduction to Max King.  He bested the field by over a minute to become the National Champion and then went on to win the World Mountain Running Championship in Albania a couple of months later.

Max is 33 and lives in Bend, Oregon with his wife and two children.  While he's put his Cornell degree to good use, having worked as a chemical engineer, he's now a full time competitive runner.  Max's bio at the Montrail athlete website sort of says it all... "Primary Race Distance:  Hmmm, 3k to 50 mile.  What does primary mean anyway?"

The quote might explain this ultrarunner's participation in the 2012 US Olympic qualifier finals for the 3,000 meter steeplechase where he finished sixth and beat his previous personal best by two minutes (You can see the race here).  But most of Max's professional running resume is a string of first places in major long distance events far from the track including the Xterra Trail Running World Championships, Xterra Trail Running National Championships, USATF National 50k Trail Championships, Transrockies 6-day,  USATF Half Marathon Trail Championships and the USATF National Trail Marathon.  

When I was in Oregon a couple of months ago, I had the good fortune to hang out with Max and make his portrait.  I'm appreciative of his time and openness to making the images.  He's a nice guy and a remarkable athlete.

Call me a lazy editor, but here's a first for the Mountain Runner Portrait Project!  I've decided to include more than one image in this post... Bonus!

See all the photographs from Mountain Runner Portrait Project at my website.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Where's the Circle K?

I've been to eastern North Carolina a couple of times in the last two months and I'm not sure I've found my photographic zen for the the area between Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte.  I haven't had a great deal of time on these trips to make photographs, but with the time I've had I haven't found much that captivated me.  It's been frustrating because my normal tools for research like Google images or flickr haven't given me any hints as to where to explore.  I know that there are great images hiding out there but what I've found has been either highly commercialized areas with a Circle K and every major fast food chain imaginable or wooded country roads with little elevation change punctuated by the occasional, unremarkable single story home and featureless field.  I know there's more, but I'm not finding it.  I'll take this great old filling station outside Salisbury, NC as a sign that on my next trip to North Carolina, I will find the kind of places that bring photographic enlightenment.

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