Monday, May 31, 2010

Smoky Sunset

It's Memorial Day, and wildfires in Canada are sending plumes of smoke our way. I've been trying to avoid the smoke all day. The morning sky was a thick, yellowish white, and the air was bad to breathe. It cleared partially this afternoon, but the evening light was murky, with no warm light on the mountains as I had hoped. So I found a spot and faced west, and shot this sunset over a mountain lake.

I don't usually shoot into the sunset. The sky is vivid, yes, but everything else is a black silhouette. Silhouette of mountains. Silhouette of lighthouse. Silhouette of boats. After a while they all look the same. I love turning my back to the sunset and shooting the golden light it casts on everything. Tonight I didn't have the luxury of turning my back - there was only one game in town. So here's my silhouette, really not so bad after all.

Tomorrow, rain. I really reserved the wrong days to shoot lupines in the White Mountains. But I'll go home with images that are truly different than my usual blue-sky stuff. Shake it up!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

Here's my Memorial Day offering. These flags have been on Boston Common for a few days, and are very touching. The people who view them are respectful and solemn. My Dad would have loved it.

Boston Memorial Day Flags

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fox Family

We were driving around today, checking out places to shoot at sunrise and enjoying the warm summer weather. There's an old campground nearby that's being developed into waterfront lots and estate sites... we thought we'd better explore it now, because soon it will be one more inaccessible piece of the Maine coast. Driving down a gravel road past campsites, we spotted a flash of reddish fur. We crept forward in the car, not daring to get out or open a door for fear of spooking the animal. When we reached a clearing we found not one, but five foxes - a mother and four kits - playing in the sun. For a while she glared at us for disturbing their privacy, then settled down to groom and nap. The babies tussled and Momma dozed, always keeping an eye on the car. After a while she left, with kits in tow, and we finally dared to exhale. Wow.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lupines and Lady's Slippers

It's Mid-May, and the Lupines are coming out. They grow rampant on roadsides and in fields, escapees from farm gardens. We find them on well-drained hillsides and think we've discovered treasures. They are, in fact, treasures. Towns have Lupine fests around them. Calendars are decorated with their images. They are beloved flowers in the countryside, wild or not. Lupines, lovely lupines.

This afternoon we found Lady's Slippers in the woods. A week ago, they were just buds. Now they're popping up all over. Mother Nature's gift to us, maybe to make up for a dull winter. Little gems of color in the woods. Exquisite sculptures that last a few days before fading into the duff. I know where to find them - but I'm not telling!

Backyard beauty

Sometimes I travel to get beautiful pictures. New locations get the creative juices flowing, and I think travel is fun. The Smokies. Acadia National Park. All over New England. After a while, it gets old (or is it me?) and I crash. Take a while to process all those new photos.

Walking down the driveway with grocery bags in hand, I noticed some bunchberries beside the road. Then a violet. Blueberries. Starflowers. Put the groceries away, got the camera out, and spent a while shooting the beauty in my own back yard. There's a tiny world out there, you can explore it with a macro lens, and it doesn't take travel or money or hassle. Just a little attention.

Macro photography is best done on cloudy days or in full shade, to avoid the distraction of burned out highlights and black shadows. The soft colors and delicate details don't need to fight to be seen, they're there, waiting. Just go outside and look.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Yesterday was a nice, softly-lit day. We drove around Acadia National Park a bit, and took the Jessup Trail. At the second stream crossing, we turned left, off the trail, following a herd of white-tailed deer into the Great Meadow, a heath under Dorr Mountain. This is one of my favorite spots in May. The combination of bright pink Rhodora and green Tamarack (Larch) trees is so beautiful, I never want to skip it. The deer were an added bonus - little ears sticking up out of the heath, visible but too small to photograph. Later, when we got home, we did a tick check - so far so good!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Last weekend, I celebrated a very big birthday with two of my sisters who live "down South". After they left, I took a couple of days to shoot mountain scenics and say good-bye to the Smokies, a place I truly love. My family spent vacations here; my Mom is resting here. We have many happy memories of horseback riding, hiking, shopping, and spending happy family time here.

So I spent two days getting some beautiful shots of this favorite place. The weather wasn't perfect. Thunderstorms both evenings. Three inches of rain overnight. Wet mornings, sunny mid-days, cloudy afternoons. Somehow, the price of the airline ticket motivated me to keep on shooting. Shafts of sunlight passed over the landscape. Water drops glistened on wildflowers. At sunset, the light shone beneath the clouds, making stripes of fantastic orange and purple color.

It occurred to me to wonder why I don't work this way at home. The answer is that it's easier to go home when it's getting dark, to stay in when it's rainy, to sleep late when the ground is wet. I'm lazy. It's also a matter of short-term vs. long-term motivation. It's easier to work 14-hour days for a limited time period. And, of course, there is that airfare.

Looking at my shots from the Smokies, I feel renewed resolve to get up early and work late, to approach my trips around New England as if I had bought a plane ticket to get here. After all, I live in one of the most beautiful and diverse regions of the country. It deserves my best effort.