I’m leading a photo workshop this weekend for my grad school alma mater, Antioch University New England. It will be my first in nearly a year, since I took a break from workshops and photography after leaving NatureScapes.Net to pursue other passions. This will be my first spring spent in New Hampshire; for the past five years I have traveled to Florida every April to attend the Florida’s Birding & Photo Fest. While I will miss seeing all of my friends in St. Augustine, I really am enjoying feeling settled here in New England and looking forward to spending spring in the northeast at home with my friends and family.
This photograph was taken on April 13th of last year, on the last day of an osprey workshop on Lake Blue Cypress near Vero, Florida. April 13th of this year I’ll be wrapping up my workshop with Antioch students in humble little Keene, New Hampshire. What a difference a year makes.
I’m moving! This summer, I’ll be relocating to a new home within the Monadnock Region and I’m super excited about it. I’d prefer to make as few trips as possible to complete my move so I’m using this opportunity to downsize and simplify, and have decided to offload some of my printed stock that I usually bring with me to craft shows and gallery displays. I have a handful of 8×12 prints that are signed and matted, along with some larger prints and ready to display pieces that I would rather sell than take with me and put back into storage. In hopes of moving these pieces quickly, I’ve decided to offer them at a steep discount.
Also available is an “Artist Sample” 8×12 stretched canvas of Slow Motion Daydream, sale price $100. Normal price for a non-sample is $250! The Artist Sample means that the image has a copyright on the outside border (along the wrapped part of the canvas, not the front), and has been used for displays so it may be a little less “mint” than a brand new piece. Save 60% by taking advantage of this discount!!!
These prices ONLY apply to the stock I already have. Once it is SOLD it is GONE so buy early! First come, first served. Email me to reserve your prints.
Waterfalls are one of my favorite subjects to photograph. Usually, I prefer to photograph waterfalls on overcast days after rain when the rocks are still wet, as direct sunlight often results in contrast too difficult to capture well in an image and dry rocks often look too bright. On this day while exploring the Great Smoky Mountains, I was very eager to hike to this waterfall, as it had just rained hard for two full days, and I knew the waterfall would be flowing well. When I arrived, the storms had gone and sun had broken through the clouds. Instead of high overcast soft light, I had varied photography conditions as the clouds passed overhead, sometimes blocking the sun but other times letting its rays shine through, illuminating the mist hanging in the air from the waterfall and humid, sweltering landscape. Instead of waiting for the clouds to come between shots, I tried to capture this sparkling, glistening quality when the sun shone just right. As a result, I ended up with this shot, which after some tweaking following nearly 10 months of sitting untouched on my hard drive, is something I rather like. Creativity rarely follows rules, and even though there are a lot of guidelines to techniques that will make you a better photographer, often it is experimentation that results in some of the most unique and exciting images.
Unfortunately, we have had to cancel my Appalachian Mountain Club Winter Photography Workshop due to low enrollment. This winter has been a tough one for the outdoor industry in New England because it has been so bitter cold. Apparently, people would rather stay indoors when the mercury falls well below zero. However, I am happy to announce that this autumn I will be offering another workshop through the AMC in the White Mountains. Join me for a fall foliage in the Whites October 3-5th. There are a ton of photo opportunities in the area that are just bursting with color during peak foliage season – the photo below was taken just down the road from the Highland Center, where the workshop will be based. I’m already excited!
I’ve decided to sell my Canon 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens. It’s a great lens – sharp, lightweight, and super small – but I’m just not using it like I hoped I would so I’ve decided to sell this lens to finance some other gear.
My copy is in great shape and has seen minimal use. No nicks or issues to speak of. It will come with it’s original box. I am the original owner and purchased the lens new about a year ago.
My asking price is $150. The retail price is $199, so this is 25% savings on a barely used lens.
I am excited to announce that I will be leading a winter photography workshop with the Appalachian Mountain Club in the White Mountains this winter! This three day workshop based out of the AMC’s Highland Center will explore the beauty of New Hampshire’s White Mountains in all their winter glory. Lodging is included and the dates are Feb 28-March 2. For more information and to register, please visit the AMC’s website.
The world is always changing. Our lives are always changing. Seasons, each year, bring a change to the landscape too.
Photographs are fun because they capture a brief visual moment in our ever changing world. Whether it be a landscape frozen in time, the look on the face of a new bride as she exchanges vows with her spouse, or the flopping ears and goofy grin of your favorite pet running to greet you, those moments are one of a kind. Each moment like this, each smile of a loved one, each second of shared laughter, is unique and beautiful. While a photograph doesn’t capture all of the beauty of those moments, sometimes they are nice to look at because they help us remember.
I really admire people who photograph subjects different from nature and wildlife. When I started getting serious about photography, I mostly shot sports because I had easy access to sporting events and they were a subject I liked. It’s been a while since I’ve photographed anything but nature and outdoor subjects, but sometimes I think I ought to try to expand my horizons again. There are so many wonderful things I have experienced that just don’t have photographs of because they don’t fit with the genre I’ve placed myself in, and that’s a shame.
I don’t think photographs are everything, not at all. A lot of the time, I prefer to leave my camera at home and experience the experience of something without trying to frame it. I think focusing too much on photography can make you miss things, and I’d nearly always rather be present in the moment than removed from it because I’m trying to create an image. Sometimes though, it’s nice to have photographs to help us recall silly things we have done, relive the amazing trips we have gone on, or just to be able to look at the faces of people we miss who are no longer in our everyday lives because of circumstances beyond our control. Sometimes the most imperfect photos are the most precious ones.
In a world that is always changing, the ability of a photograph to freeze time and transport us back to a moment in the past is pretty special.
Jerry Monkman and I have been logging a lot of hours of filming for The Power of Place over the past few months. We are working on a documentary about the Northern Pass transmission line project, a proposed high voltage power line that would cut through 180 miles of New Hampshire, impacting some of the state’s most iconic landscapes, including the White Mountain National Forest and Appalachian Trail. So far we have interviewed more than a dozen people and visited and filmed areas all along the proposed route. The process has involved many long days, thousands of miles on each of our cars, terabytes of disk space, and hundreds of emails back and forth, but we are accumulating a ton of good material and both of us feel like this documentary is going to actually turn into something that just might catch people’s attention.
Most days after filming I am too tired or too busy to blog about it (although I do tend to post iPhone photos I shoot while out in the field to my Facebook page or to Instagram and Twitter), but I feel really guilty not talking about this project more because 1) working on it has been awesome and 2) not enough people, particularly New Hampshire residents, are well informed about this important issue.
Last night, Jerry and I spent the night atop a mountain under the stars to shoot sunset, sunrise, and the night sky in between. We’ve done this a couple times before by now, and I’d like to say it’s getting easier, but I’m not sure that it is. Even if so, it’s still hard! We rarely get much sleep (believe it or not, it is COLD in August in New Hampshire on a bald mountain summit overnight), and we are always lugging a ridiculous amount of hardware up and down steep rocky trails characteristic of New Hampshire. Regardless of how tough the journey might be, it’s always a pretty awesome experience, and we are getting some great footage thanks to our efforts, so it’s been 100% worth it every time.
Here is a small glimpse of what we’ve been up to. Jerry and I are both trying not to publish too much material that might make it into the film, but I’ve been taking pictures with my iPhone and even turned on my GoPro yesterday to capture some “behind the scenes” footage of the documentary process. Enjoy these snapshots and be sure to check out The Power of Place page on Jerry’s website to learn more about the project.
Jerry and I are hoping to wrap up the majority of our filming within the next month as hints of autumn are already appearing in the north country and even the swamp maples are starting to turn at lower elevations and latitudes. That means there is a lot to do between now and the end of September, so I probably better get some sleep!
It’s early, very early and still quite dark. You step carefully and slowly as your weary eyes struggle to adjust to the dim light until you finally manage to find the spot you are looking for. You set up your tripod and camera, find the perfect composition, and adjust your settings, making sure you are ready for the light show that is sure to come. Then you wait for the sun to rise.
The morning is calm, the air still save for a gentle breeze that brings the sweet scent of the nearby ocean to your nostrils. You hear the song of gulls crying out through the darkness, over the soothing woosh of the waves, as you lick the salt from your lips. Already, you can feel the stickiness of the air. All of these sensations combined touch something in your spirit. Despite the darkness and how tired you are, there is no place else you’d rather be.
And then the peace is broken. From behind you, you hear something, and it is not the call of the gulls or the woosh of the waves or even the pad-footed trot of a murderous feral cat. Instead it is the unwelcome sound of another human being.
From here the story can go a number of ways. Despite the trepidation you initially feel in your heart, the newcomer might be just a passerby, or possibly another photographer that stays well out of your way. If you are lucky, which you probably are on most days, the arrival of another person won’t interfere much with your sunrise shoot. But if you aren’t, which happens to most of us at one point or another, your pleasant morning can completely ruined by the intruder.
I have been both the first person at a spot and a latecomer, but I have yet to have had a negative interaction with another photographer in the field. I have heard many sorry stories however. From photographers maliciously bumping one another’s tripods to tour groups crowding single photographers out of tight spots and shouting matches between workshop leaders, the type of behavior shown by some photographers in the field is downright appalling. Childish tantrums and bullying have no place in nature. I don’t care whether you are the Kanye West of nature photographers or not, don’t be a jerk.
Nature is a sacred place. I’m not religious, but the closest I have ever gotten to feeling a spiritual connection to anything has been when I am out in nature. Screaming hissyfits destroy the sanctity of these most serene and peaceful places.
Just a few weeks ago, I was at Sparks Lane, a very popular photo spot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The sun had not yet risen and at least a dozen or so photographers were standing shoulder to shoulder on the narrow dirt road, composing the same shot of trees forming a canopy over the path, waiting for the light to get good. Everything was pretty much fine until a couple with a dog in a beat up rusted out sedan wanted to get through. The photographers parted ways to let the car down the road and then resumed position, only for the car to stop just a short way down the road in a spot that was quite plainly obviously ruining everything! The passengers, oblivious or uncaring to anything other than their own desires, just stayed there, and a few of the photographers in the group started to whistle and yell at them to move. Because I can’t stand hooping and hollering on a peaceful spring morning, I walked down the road towards the car to quietly explain to the passengers that they were in our way, but they drove off right as I reached them. Just a short while later, they came back in the opposite direction and again parked in the road. This time, I got all the way up to the car and very kindly explained the situation to them: photographers had been waiting all morning for this shot – it was a beautiful morning, wasn’t it? – and the light was getting gorgeous. They were in the way, and would they please consider moving? I even invited them to join us and see what a beautiful photograph they could get from our vantage point, and made sure to compliment them on how cute their dog was. While the couple in the car seemed to lack the graces of civilized society, they indeed moved on without a fuss and the photographers were able to get their shots. Instead of having to hear each other shouting and complaining, we listened to turkeys gobble as they strutted in the fields, the toms displaying for their ladies, over the hushed whispers of happy photographers and muted sounds of many camera shutters.
In the past, I have met and befriended photographers simply by walking up to them and introducing myself while in the field. I often go out in nature to be alone, so I hate when another photographer shows up on a day I’ve intended to shoot solo, because then I’m suddenly concerned about them – and whether I’ll get in their way or they’ll get in my way – instead of focused on creating images. The worst is when a big group shows up and it goes from being just me on the beach to me and ten strangers on the beach, all with cameras. I know how awful that feels, and the resentment and frustration that goes along with it. So I’ve resolved this problem by introducing myself to anyone I’m sharing space with and putting the situation out there early. I often say something along the lines of “Hey, I want to get good shots here and I know you do too, so I’ll try to stay out of your way and I’d appreciate if you could do the same for me. I think we can both get the shots we want if we just communicate with each other – that way everyone can be happy.” I do this whether it’s just me or I’m leading a whole group. If I am leading a group, I make it clear to my group that the other photographer has every right to be there as we do, and if the other photographer got there before we did, I make sure they get the priority spot. I’d hate to be somewhere early, all set up, and then have a workshop show up and crowd me out, so I make sure that I don’t do that to anyone else.
I’ve heard so many horror stories of photographers setting up right in the way of others, of workshop leaders bullying out other photographers so they and their clients can get the best shots, and of photographers with big egos just doing whatever the heck they please regardless of how it affects anyone or anything else. In some cases, bigger name tour operators have brought groups to areas where local photographers, workshop leaders, and guides have invested their whole careers and think that because of “who they are” they can do whatever they want wherever and whenever they want. They show no respect to the people who really truly know certain areas best, including sometimes their own ground agents. Etiquette, it would seem, has gone right out the door.
Nature is not a war zone. It is no place for battle, at least not between egos and a-holes. Let predator and prey clash, not us against ourselves. As photographers and people, I hope we can learn to respect one another and treat each other with kindness. If that is too much to ask, at least respect nature and keep the peace.
I’ve been on the road since April 10th, spending time in Florida, South Carolina, and now Tennessee. I’ve been doing a mix of my own photography, workshops, events, and scouting and it’s been a fun trip so far.
My days have mostly consisted of not enough sleep, but in between shooting and working, I’ve had time to process a couple shots. Most of this road trip is focused on shooting in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, a place I’ve wanted to visit in springtime for at least five years. I actually haven’t gotten too many quintessential shots from here yet, but I’ll be in the Smokies until Tuesday, so there is still time and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can create something really special before it’s time to leave.
In the meantime, I’ve also been trying to promote a documentary project by my friend Jerry Monkman called The Power of Place. This 30 minute film will focus on the impacts of the Northern Pass, a proposed power transmission line that will cut through 180 miles of New Hampshire and impact some of the state’s most iconic landscapes, including the White Mountain National Forest and Appalachian Trail. Jerry has launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of raising the funds needed to successfully produce the film, and if successful, I’ll be assisting him – he’s even given me the title of Associate Producer. Jerry is using Kickstarter, a popular crowdfunding platform, to gain support for his project. To learn more about The Power of Place and the Northern Pass, visit Jerry’s website. Please also consider donating to this project – we can’t complete it without your help. You can make a pledge on The Power of Place Kickstarter page.