I miss fall foliage pretty consistently. The season is usually pretty short, I’m often busy, and the colder temps and shorter days don’t motivate me to try to squeeze photography into my already packed schedule. Even though I live in one of the most beautiful spots in the whole country for fall color and landscapes are one of my main subjects, I’m good at making excuses why not to go shoot – the dog has been home alone all day and needs playtime, I’m carpooling, its too windy, too rainy, there isn’t a single cloud in the sky or the sky is completely overcast, the colors aren’t at peak, the colors are past peak, blah blah blah. I stare at the beautiful trees from my car and wish there were pull-offs near wetlands next to busy highways, but that’s often the extent of it.


Well tonight on my drive home from work I noticed some wispy clouds in the sky. It was a warm, perfectly still, perfectly blue day, and I almost went straight home, but I thought it was possible the clouds would do something so I drove to the only spot I could think of with a clear view of the sky, maple trees, and no hike. I got there minutes before sunset and… got skunked! The sun went down without much excitement, the clouds never lit up with color, and the light was cold and blue. I could have went home disappointed but I decided to shoot a little anyway and got some decent, different new shots. Not every photo needs to be dramatic or have killer light or perfect foliage to work. Sometimes just getting out there and making due with what you find is good enough.

I guess my motto for today is “It’s better to try and fail than to not try at all.” Sometimes, you make out okay.

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A Print’s Journey

When I moved to New Hampshire six years ago, I decided I wanted to decorate my first apartment with some of my own artwork. I had my image “Glowing Fern” printed and mounted 30×45 inch canvas gallery wrap and hung it above our $15 sofa bed in the living room, where my roommates and our guests could enjoy it.


One of my best friends from grad school took a liking to the image and asked her parents to buy it from me for her as a graduation gift. It ended up being the gift that gave twice – I got a nice sale and Molly got some great artwork for her own place.


Her first house after grad school was a quaint stone cottage in rural Pennsylvania, where the canvas not only looked perfect but accentuated the cottage atmosphere while adding a contemporary touch. Last year she moved into a house and brought her “Glowing Fern” canvas with her, this time hanging it in her dining room.


Seeing the journey of this piece of art is pretty cool. I always ask customers to share photos of their artwork in their homes, but Molly is the only person to keep me updated on her canvas when she moves. It’s also incredible to see how well this particular piece has worked in different settings. One of the things I really like about canvas is that it’s super portable – stretched canvas prints tend to me much lighter than prints framed in glass so they are easy to hang just about anywhere, even the bigger pieces. The lack of frame also allows the artwork to stand on its own, although I’ve had customers frame canvas as well and the right frame can really help the artwork stand out. It all depends on the individual piece.

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Bad Light? Try Black and White

This weekend, I photographed a friendly mountain biking event called Broduro. The Broduro is a casual enduro style race between friends “just for fun” featuring with four timed downhill stages. As a photographer, I like shooting enduro because you get to explore different terrain and angles – the action is a bit more exciting and faster paced than xc style mountain bike racing but you generally get the opportunity to shoot the same riders a few times on different trails, unlike downhill where riders race and practice on the same course over and over again.

The not so fun part of shooting enduro is that the lighting isn’t always great. Sometimes it’s pretty horrible actually, and often the gnarliest and coolest features of the course are in areas with the worst light. This course was no exception, with super thick hemlock forests (meaning really dark) in some spots and small areas of direct bright sunlight between sections.


Light like this presents a few problems. The most obvious one is dynamic range and contrast – most cameras aren’t capable of simultaneously capturing details in areas of really dark shadow and really bright light. When you try to fix that in post, using HDR software, blending exposures, or selective editing, you can recover some detail but the images start to get an HDR look about them, which isn’t always desirable. Anything involving multiple exposures is also a huge challenge when it comes to action photography.

The more subtle problem you run into with mixed light has to do with color balance. All light has a color temperature (measured using the Kelvin scale). Areas of shadow and shade have a cooler temperature and appear more blue to the eye whereas areas with bright, natural sunlight look whiter, and some sources of light, such as sunlight early or late in the day, candlelight, campfires, and incandescent light bulbs have a warm, yellow/gold hue. So when photographing a mountain biker riding between areas of sunlight and shadow, you can get some really funky white balance issues. Additionally, some lenses produce artifacts known as chromatic aberration (CA) which appear as a colored fringe around high contrast edges. I see this often in shots of riders wearing a flashy kit or where tree branches appear against an open sky. This phenomenon appears more frequently in photos with high contrast and harsh light.

I sent a colleague of mine some quickly edited photos from the Broduro, including some color images and ones I converted to black and white. He asked “Why do the B&W look so much better?”


The reason is because sometimes the color funkiness from shooting with multiple light sources is really hard to manage, and even when we can’t name what is wrong with the photo, it clearly doesn’t look right. Taking out the color altogether eliminates this subconscious confusion and makes the image easier to accept. My photos from the event also have a bit of noise, because the low natural light forced me to shoot wide open with a pretty high ISO in order to get enough shutter speed to freeze the action. Since we are used to seeing grain in traditional black and white photos, monochromatic luminance noise doesn’t bother us as much as noisy color images, whether we realize it or not. Similarly, we don’t mind black shadows and blown out highlights as much in black and white, because it mimics the look of contrasty film; and muddy whites and faded blacks also are less offensive than because they replicate an antique or aged look. Our tolerance for noise and contrast imperfections in black and white images is much higher because they look similar to what we have seen before in history books and old newspapers. Most of us see our world in color every day, so we expect a higher level of clarity, perfection, and realism from color photography.

Next time you end up with a file that has potential, but you find yourself struggling with harsh, uneven light or balancing the color of light from different light sources, try converting your photo to black and white. Sometimes it beats the effort required to otherwise salvage your photo.

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Moments Last Minutes

This morning I woke up, looked out my bedroom window into the backyard, and noticed how beautiful the light was shining in the trees looked. I snapped a single quick photo with my iPhone to share to Instagram. I knew the light wouldn’t last. It was early and I still had to run with the dog, shower, and do breakfast before heading to work.


By the time I was dressed, the light had changed and the beautiful scene turned into something a little more ordinary. Pup and I went for a run like we always do, I showered, dressed, fed him and myself, and got ready. Sometime during that time, I looked out my front window and noticed some fog had rolled in. It was beautiful! I took a four iPhone snaps this time, trying to get a good composition without knocking over my TV trying to get the right angle. By the time I posted the photo I liked, the fog had burned off.


Photography is all about light – and timing. The beauty of nature is that these things tend to happen in ways we can’t control, unlike studio or fashion photography where every aspect of the shoot can be controlled and manipulated. With nature photography, you have to be ready. You have to be able to anticipate when the right light may come, or the precise moment when all of the elements of the photograph come together in perfect harmony. The right light or precise moment can be brief. Moments last minutes if you are lucky. Be ready to capture them!

PS: Also, take a photo when you feel like taking a photo. iPhone, DSLR, whatever. These two images are never going to end up printed huge and hanging on the wall, but I will still treasure them years from now, when looking back on the time spent living in my beautiful home. Had I started fiddling with DSLR camera to get the perfect settings for the perfect shot, I likely would have missed these photos entirely or at least been late to work, and I would never have been able to share and post them so quickly. Not every photo needs to be a prizewinner!

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Finally a GoPro that shoots RAW!

The GoPro 5 was just announced today (along with a GoPro drone that looks pretty sweet) and I’m so psyched about it! I own a first generation GoPro which I use very infrequently – it leaves much to be desired. Even though newer models are more user friendly and have better image quality, I held off buying an upgrade because I wanted the capability to shoot RAW stills. Now, finally five generations later, we have it!

RAW is an awesome tool. RAW files give you increased flexibility when it comes to processing images, and details such as highlights and shadows are much more easily recovered from RAW files than jpegs. You also have more latitude when it comes to exposure, sharpness, and color. With the GoPro, this is incredibly important because the wide shooting angle and field of view almost always guarantee a lot of sky and non-sky in your shot, which generally means a scene with a lot of dynamic range – bright highlights and dark shadows are super common. Wider angle shots are typically more challenging to expose for as well. GoPros are awesome because they have advantages big DSLRs don’t – they are small, portable, wearable, and can go underwater. Adding RAW suddenly makes the GoPro 5 a usable professional camera, all for just $399. I’m psyched!

Today GoPro also introduced a super cool Karma drone that comes with a game changing stabilizing grip, as well as an upgraded GoPro Session 5. File the drone and grip into “products I didn’t even know I needed” category of stuff. Of course now I want them. On the plus side you save $100 when you buy the Karma drone (grip included) and GoPro 5 together for $1099.

Now, I just need to find an extra thousand dollars of spending money between dog, car, and house bills and updating my website. Ugh! Maybe everyone I know can chip in and get me one for my birthday and Christmas.

Check out the new GoPro 5 family of products and Karma on GoPro’s website.

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Take Mistakes

Sometimes shots that aren’t perfect end up being my favorite.

Yesterday, I was shooting a soccer game at the college where I work. When you photograph ball sports, one of the rules its to make sure the ball is in the frame. Generally, you also try to include the whole player in your shot as well. Turns out, one of my favorite shots does neither.

In this shot, a player had just kicked the ball clear out of the frame. The athlete was too close for my camera and lens combo (Canon 1D Mark IV plus 300mm 2.8), so the player happens to be headless too. Normally, one would delete this shot without giving it a second look, but I love it! In the absence of a ball, blades of grass fluttering through the air convey action, dislodged from their roots and made temporarily airborne by a strong kick. Warm sunlight, coming from the side, illuminates the grass against a shadowed background, literally highlighting its presence. The light also shows texture and movement in the players’ jersey, further emphasizing action. Together these two components – grass and light – make the image. Without either, it wouldn’t work at all.

I realize that this might not meet some tastes. The unusual composition, absence of the soccer ball, and dissection of the players’ body just won’t work for some. But I like this unusual shot. I like that its different. I like that its ambiguous – the player could be just about anybody from any team. It is interesting, and I want to keep looking at it.

That’s good enough for me.

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Those of you who have been following along know I’m a pretty erratic blogger. I go through spurts where I shoot and write somewhat consistently, but the long gaps in between these moments are far more common. Case in point – my last blog post was at the end of 2015, and it’s already August.

Over the years, I’ve let photography’s role in my life change pretty dramatically. At one point it was a constant presence. I shot regularly, spent time marketing my work, traveled, entered contests, taught workshops, and developed a somewhat recognizable brand for a few years. Now, I probably take a thousand snaps on my iPhone between breaking out my DSLRs for a spin. My name is no longer relevant in photography circles, my gear is several generations of equipment old, and my laptop hit the four year mark sometime early last year (I’ve found that four years is about how long I’ve typically been able to manage between computer upgrades) and struggles to keep up with RAW files and the most recent software.

Ten years ago, my first photography website under the domain came to life. That’s a whole decade! In those ten years, I’ve revamped my website several times and tried various ways of marketing my brand and connecting with potential buyers, clients, and students. Clearly none of those stuck, otherwise I’d still most likely be doing them. Still, the nostalgia of being in this business for so long makes me want to resurrect my stagnant website and start shooting, writing, and sharing my work again.

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I like to write. Writing helps me express myself, and when I refer back to pieces I wrote long ago, it helps me remember the experiences I wrote about more vividly. Today while cleaning out some old files on my computer, I stumbled across this piece, written shortly after my trip to Ecuador in three years ago.


I tossed and turned. I rolled onto my stomach then back onto my side, and finally lay with my back against the thin mattress, head pointed to the sky, hands resting on my chest like a corpse. In this position I found I could not breathe. At 15,000 feet above sea level the air was too thin, and for some reason when lying on my back my chest felt weighted, as if a large dog had fancied itself a lap dog and placed itself there. So I turned back onto my side and looked at the watch on my wrist. I had by lying in bed for hours but had yet to gain one wink of sleep.

Every sound was amplified. Will, to my left, was restless too, and his every movement further condemned me to sleeplessness. I lay awake, eyes closed, trying to trick myself into falling asleep. The time crawled slowly, and by 10:50, I could take it no more and started to dress. Static sparks from my polyester long johns danced like miniature green fireworks as I pulled them over my legs. Soon, everyone else had joined in, dressing the the dark, pulling on warm layers of clothes.

We tiptoed downstairs to empty our bladders, top off our water bottles, and nibble on breakfast. Little conversation was had. We were too distracted by the unknown journey ahead and too tired to focus on much else.

At midnight, we left the hut and started our death march up the mountain. It was slow at first. The fifteen of us walked like ants, single file, following close behind one another over a trail of volcanic rock and loose gravel. Up and down we walked, although mostly up, until the sand beneath our feet grew hard and failed to give way as we stepped. Patches of black ice, decorated with trapped bubbles, occasionally appeared underfoot and soon we reached the frozen edge of the glacier. Here, we put on harnesses and crampons, added layers, and armed ourselves with ice axes for the climb. Rope teams formed, and each team of three or four tied into a long and sturdy rope, led by an experienced guide.

For hours, we climbed the glacier. We stopped infrequently to rest and when we did, it was only briefly. Our tired bodies grew increasingly fatigued, our bellies more hungry and nauseous, and our throats burned from want of water, aggravated by exertion and the cold, dry mountain air.

At one point the clouds gave way to stars. Looking up, one could see a thousand tiny diamonds glistening in the night sky. Behind us, the lights of the city glowed amber in the valley below. As the hours passed, gray-purple clouds moved in, flowing over the mountains, merging earth and sky, first framing, then consuming Quito’s urban landscape. It was beautiful.

We were tired beyond tired. As we climbed, the weather worsened. Soon, the wind took the stars and visibility was reduced to the glowing orb of our headlamps.

We marched onward and upward into the black night. Our progress was slow. The air was thin. We were tired beyond tired. Our feet dragged. We stumbled, our bodies swayed, and occasionally, some of us pitched and fell. When this happened, the guides would catch us, halting our failing bodies by tugging tight the rope that connected them to us. They half walked us, half dragged us by our leashes ever higher onto the mountain.

My mind was fuzzy. I felt drunk. My throat burned and the bits of cracker stuck in my teeth from the few I had nibbled on earlier tasted rotten and sour. Standing was hard, walking was harder. I was sure I had never felt closer to dying in my life, save for the one time at Christmas when I had a fever so high I could not stand at all and had to drag myself across the floor to the bathroom just so I could pass out on the cold tile floor. I thought of Cotopaxi, the even taller mountain we would attempt to climb in just a few days, and was not sure I would convince myself to endure this again. I wanted to lie down, to collapse onto my knees and then tip sideways into the snow, giving in to the exhaustion that I felt. But even my broken mind was too stubborn to let me, so I continued to plod forward, like a diseased and injured animal, possessed by the need for something. Each step seemed to require an extreme amount of effort, but I kept forcing myself to take them.

Dawn rose slowly. The black night softened as the hours passed, but the sun never came. Our world was blue and empty. Gray clouds and fog and windswept snow consumed us in every direction. The wind howled at us. Forward and backward looked exactly the same, yet we continued forward, following our leaders blindly.

At a point just shy of the summit, we stopped to rest, for maybe only the third time since midnight. The rope teams convened and the guides told us to drop our packs. “We are very close,” they said, “but the next part is very steep.” I stuffed my down jacket and sunglasses into the front of my rain jacket, and reluctantly left my camera and water behind. They told us the summit was just one hour away.

We plodded onward and were met with a vertical wall of blue ice. The structure must have stretched fifteen to twenty feet high, and had the texture of unfurling coiled rope, thin strands of ice interlaced and woven into a delicate pattern. The ice was aquamarine, like the color of the sea in the clearest most tropical oceans of the world, only bluer, softer, and more translucent. It had no snow on it to spoil its beauty. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, and had I had any more clarity of mind, I might have stopped and pondered it more deeply. As we walked past it, the strong smell of sulfur permeated my nostrils, rising from the geothermic vents of the volcano upon which we stepped. I knew we had to be close.

The only way around the great wall involved a steep climb up an adjacent snow covered slope. Nico, our guide, punched holes into the ice with his feet, providing us with small steps to climb, and I smashed my way up the steep slope, thrusting the pick of my ice axe deep into the snow for purchase. Beneath the snow, the ice glowed blue. The new motions and effort required provided me with a brief moment of clarity, and despite being exhausted from the effort of punching and clawing my way towards the top, I urged myself forward.

Beyond this, there were more gradual and steep ascents, winding in and out of icy obstacles in our way. I don’t remember much of it very well, as I am sure I would have found it disorienting even had I been in a clearer state of mind. I trudged along the flatter parts in a straight line as best I could and scrambled up the steep pitches in a maddening fashion, like a person possessed. My mind had locked onto its goal, and despite the pain and lunacy of continuing forward in such a shattered state, I continued to follow Nico, slowly advancing towards the summit.

At some point I fell. My legs gave way, and my body tumbled, pulled by gravity down the slope. Nico and my rope team members, Josh and Kelli, caught me, stretching the rope tight to stop my downward fall. My mind was so unraveled that I lay tangled and suspended in the rope for almost a minute before I found my footing and a good placement for my ice axe and managed to right myself.

The summit itself was rather anticlimactic. It was a small rise following a steep pitch, and had Nico not told us we had arrived we never would have known. There, Nico placed his ice axe into the ground, point end first so it stood tall, like a flag. The spot was unremarkable, and the clouds around us were so dense that we could not tell how much more there was to climb or in what direction in might possibly be in. But he placed his axe with such certainty that when he said “Congratulations!” and told us we had reached the summit, I doubted him for only a second. I was too exhausted to want to go any further, so even if I had been less convinced, I am not sure I would have objected to stopping there.

I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to cry, because the journey had been so trying, and we had reached the summit, but I couldn’t. I wanted to jump up and down or shout out with joy, but I didn’t have the energy. I was glad and relieved to have reached the summit, but the emotions weren’t as fast, as sudden, or as strong as I wanted them to be. I mostly just stood there, dazed. It was as if the reality of reaching the summit couldn’t find its way through the muddled mess of my brain.

Nico came over to me and gave me a long hug. His embrace was one of those that seems to fill you with life, as if the person hugging you is actually transferring energy from their body to yours. His hug was so comforting that I didn’t want him to let go, but when he did, I felt instantly better than I had before. Only then, could I start to comprehend what I had accomplished.

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For Love or Money

When I used to shoot professionally, amateur photographers would often come up to me and ask how they too could make a living off of photography. Traveling all over the world to visit and photograph exotic places and beautiful things sounds like a dream job and for some it is, but it wasn’t for me.

I love to explore. I love to travel, to see and experience new things. Working as a professional photographer allowed me to do that, but I was often alone, and my travel experiences were often limited to creating beautiful images. I didn’t go to fancy restaurants for dinner, because dinner was too close to sunset and good light. I never experienced the night life of cities I went to, because I always had plans to wake up early, before sunrise, to photograph each morning. The beautiful settings I visited and things I saw were shared with strangers or no one at all. My destinations revolved around photographic opportunities instead of cultural or spiritual ones, and I’d skip out on a visit to a monument or other attraction if photographs were better elsewhere. The whole point of photography is being able to “see” the world around you, and sometimes I found that being a professional photographer so focused on creating sellable images was like traveling with blinders on. I saw only what I could photograph well, and missed out because of it.

Last week, I went on vacation to Arizona, a place I have never before visited and one that is filled with natural beauty and wonder. I went with a person I care deeply for, and we went to have fun, to get away from New England’s stick season, work, and everyday normal things. I brought my DSLR, but ended up taking photos exclusively with my iPhone, many taken in bad light or from the window of a moving car. I demanded selfies. On the days I was awake for it, I watched the sun rise from bed wrapped in the comfort of warm sheets and loving arms.

Not taking photos allowed me to see and experience more than I would have if everything I did revolved around creating a new image for my gallery collection. We went on hikes, saw shooting stars, admired art, and ate delicious food. I ran a mile or more each day, usually with company, keeping my streak alive (I’ve been running at least a mile a day for the past 379 days and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon). We slept in and relaxed. I took photographs, but for the sake of capturing memories and moments, not creating art. It was a real vacation, and probably the first one I have taken in a long long time.

Photography is a wonderful thing, and I love that now photography has become so accessible to so many people. Most people have a smartphone with a built-in camera on them almost all the time providing unlimited chances to take photographs of spontaneous moments and everyday things. I’m very glad I had my iPhone with me to capture memories from my vacation, but there is a big difference between having the photographs you take dictated by your activities and having your activities dictated by the photos you want to take. I’m not anti-photo, not at all, but getting wrapped up in taking pictures or becoming obsessed with sharing them on social media is an easy way to miss out on actually living and experiencing life.

My favorite photographs from Arizona are the ones where I’m next to this wonderful person and we are both smiling. We’re on vacation and happy and it shows. Maybe you can see the landscape behind us. Maybe not so much. But those are the ones most likely to end up printed, framed, and displayed somewhere where I can see them regularly, not so much the snapshots I took of red rock landscapes and desert flora.

I’m happier now that I don’t pay my bills with money I make from photography. If I sell a print I have some extra spending money, which I can put towards a fun trip or exciting adventure. I still enjoy teaching workshops and sharing photography techniques with others – teaching photography is one of photo gigs I get the most joy from – and when I get to do that it’s fun and rewarding. I admit it is hard not to feel pressure to go out and shoot on days with beautiful weather or ideal conditions, and I still feel guilty from time to time for not capturing peak seasons or making more of an effort to update my blog, website, and Facebook pages with recent work. But I know that my ideal career is not one of a professional photographer, and the only way for me to be passionate about photography is to let it happen at its own pace. So I’m trying to be patient with myself, and I hope you can be too.

I used to think that life got in the way of me taking pictures, but now I think it’s the other way around. So I’m out there, living and doing the things I love. Sometimes photography is a part of that, sometimes it’s not, and that’s okay with me.

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Matted Print Sale

Upcoming holidays + me cleaning my house = photo sales! I’ve got a handful of matted prints that need new homes, so I’m letting them go cheap!

All photographs posted below are available as 8×12 inch prints surrounded by a 12×16 inch white archival mat and foam core backing, shipped you to in a clear plastic sleeve. Cost is $35 for the first photo, $30 for each additional photo, and includes FREE shipping in the continental United States.

Waves Washing Over Rocks : Prints Available

Water laps at rocks on the shoreline of Lake Ontario along the border of New York.

Pratt's Falls : Prints Available

Pratt's Falls is one of many beautiful waterfalls that can be found in upstate New York.

iris, abstract

Iris Abstract : Prints Available

The nicest thing about photographing flower abstracts, is that I can do it in just a few minutes a day and the subjects are right outside my mom's house. They are one of the easiest nature subjects to fit into my busy schedule. The down side is I usually only have a few weeks to work with each subject, as most flowers, like this iris, have short peak seasons.

tree branches, hawaii, Waimea Valley aububon Center, Oahu, Hawaii

Twisted : Prints Available

Moss covered tree branches and leaves trace delicate interwoven patterns against the sky.


Mount Madison, Mount Adams, White Mountain National Forest, White Mountains, New Hampshire, Presidential Range

Madison at Sunset : Prints Available

A view of Mount Madison from Mount Adams as the sun sets late in the afternoon. Mount Madison and Mount Adams are part of the White Mountain National Forest's Presidential Range in New Hampshire.

snowy egret, egret, portrait, st. augustine alligator farm, alligator farm, florida

Snowy Portrait : Prints Available

A portrait of an adult Snowy Egret in breeding plumage hiding among the brush at the rookery at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida.


northern gannet, gannet, morus bassanus, Delaware Bay

Northern Gannet in Flight : Prints Available

An adult northern gannet (Morus bassanus) flies in front of a cloud that perfectly halos the bird's wings.

More photographs are available for sale on my website as well. Photos make a GREAT holiday gift so be sure to check them out!

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