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October 2014

October 2014 (4)

Saturday, 25 October 2014 00:00

Hiawatha's Light

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Hiawatha National Forest is a land out of time; a land blessed with an abundance of magnificent water and amazing light. To the photographic artist it presents many faces. The faces of Thornton Lake are just some of those, but Thornton can keep an artist busy for days contemplating all of the possibilities. The light, the reflected light, the morning mists, the mirror-still waters: at every turn so much beauty to behold and to try to capture. It is always a joy simply to be there, and this year was certainly no exception. As I stood watching the mists come and go, and the light's brilliance unfold, I noticed the reverse C-curve formed by the highlighted opposite shore and its reflection framing the rising mist. The reeds added a nice touch, almost zen. A focal length of 180mm allowed me to isolate the "C" with the mist contained in it. An aperture of f/18 gave me sufficient depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 2.0 seconds, given the nearly perfect calm of the surface, at ISO 100 gave me an overall exposure of just slightly darker than medium.

Saturday, 18 October 2014 00:00

Hiawatha's Birches

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Hiawatha National Forest is a paradise for intimate landscapes, as is most of the larger Upper Peninsula as well. Around every turn of the road - especially if it's a dirt road - opportunities for the close-in abound. I love to take a local map and follow these roads wherever they may take me, though, sadly, there usually just isn't enough time. This year, after the workshop, I allowed myself the luxury of nearly a full day of wandering Hiawatha. When I found this scene, which seemed to invite me through the ferns and into the forest, I knew that the adventure had been worth the investment. A short-telephoto focal length of 78mm gave me the angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/16 gave me depth of field and a shutter speed of 0.6 second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.

Saturday, 11 October 2014 00:00

'Round About Thornton

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When I arrived in the Upper Peninsula in advance of this year's workshop, the first place I scouted was Thornton Lake. It is one of those quintessential UP locations where the color, the light, and the atmospherics can, and often do, combine to create magic. I was surprised to find that the color to the left of the usual set-up spot was totally at peak, while the color to the right, down the shoreline and around the far turn of the lake, was still mostly unchanged. A week later when everyone arrived here, the colors around both sides of this beautiful body of water were excellent, but the atmospherics I had enjoyed while scouting had become a full overcast, great for saturated color but not so for cloud reflections. We take what nature offers us and work with it as best we can. I chose a focal length of 27mm to give me the angle of view I wanted, moderately wide. An aperture of f/18 and a shutter speed of 1/6th second at ISO 100 gave me a somewhat lighter-than-medium exposure. I chose to include the reeds in the bottom left as a way to anchor the foreground and add some additional depth to the scene.

Saturday, 04 October 2014 00:00

Keweenaw Impressions

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We have surely been shown by now that the arc of photographic art extends far beyond the realm of realism and documentation into a land inhabited by many abstractions. One of my favorite forms of impressionism is to create a composition to which I would otherwise be attracted and then to loosen my camera on its tripod. Ideally my shutter speed will be in the .5"-2" range. I do not use my remote release, but instead use the self-timer set to a 2" delay, which is my "get ready" time. When the shutter opens, I allow the camera to be still for a fraction of a second and then slowly tilt up over a short distance of arc until the shutter closes. The "still" camera moment allows a fairly sharp initial image to be recorded, and the subsequent tilt up creates the impressionistic result. The important consideration is that the "tilt" end before the lens in pointing into the empty sky. There is no better place to practice this technique than on the Keweenaw Peninsula, the arm of Michigan's Upper Peninsula that juts northeastward into Kitchie-Gami near the western end of the UP. Fall colors and contrasting white birch trunks make the Keweenaw an ideal setting; but it can be practiced anywhere. A focal length of 180mm allowed me to create the initial intimate landscape in which a short tilt up would not reach into the sky above the forest. An aperture of f/22 gave me the longest possible shutter speed in the existing light, which happened to be 0.5 seconds at ISO 100 for a medium exposure.

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