Fall is my favorite time of the year. As the season changes and temperatures drop quickly at night, the air temp and dew point get within 5 degrees of one another causing fog to form in low lying open areas or over water. This happens pretty frequently in September and October in Maryland and makes for some great photographic opportunities each morning.
One morning in October presented such an opportunity and I took some time to visit a local farm nearby my home. I arrived about 30 min before sunrise giving me plenty of time to find some good subject material. As I drove around, I came upon this scene where the fog was moving across the road and field, being carried by the calm breeze. Twilight was upon me and I was captivated by the mystery of this. There is something about a fog covered road that I am drawn too. Perhaps it is not knowing what is beyond. The muted colors and calm quiet are inviting. I could hear the geese and horses in the distance. It was a peaceful time to be out shooting and capturing the beauty of our world.
Been a few weeks since I have been able to work on any images. To follow up on my last post, where I described working a scene and waiting for the right light, I decided to follow my own advice. During my annual visit to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, I took a more relaxed approach to my photography outings. I really just watched the weather and waited for what looked like a good evening and only ventured out 2 or 3 times during the week long vacation. This is a big difference from what I normally would do, which is going out every evening. On this particular evening, the clouds were looking pretty promising in the afternoon. I took a short drive down to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and walked out onto the beach. I scouted out the area for about 30 minutes before settling on a location. I found a spot where I had a good view of the lighthouse and felt the setting sun would be in a nice position. I setup and waited for the light to change. Over the course of an hour, I watched the sun dip down as the clouds rushed by. The position of the clouds really worked out well and I came away with some images I was very happy with. I processed these in Adobe Lightroom and then Photoshop using Tony Kuyper’s luminosity masks. Tech Details: Nikon D800, 24-120mm lens, cable release, Induro Tripod. Hope you enjoy.
Lasts week I posted Wednesday Inspiration, a wide format image from Great Falls National Park, VA. This park is relatively close to my home in Maryland and is someplace I frequent quite often. Most recently, I met up with a fellow photographer Robert Clark and spent a couple of hours along the river capturing the morning light. We had a great morning shooting different angles of the river as the sun crested and lit up the landscape. You can visit Bob’s website here, which I highly recommend. His work is amazing and he is an excellent writer to boot.
Great Falls NP occupies the western side of the Potomac River in northern Virginia. It has numerous hiking trails, an old canal with locks in ruins (locks are used to raise or lower a vessel while traveling up or downstream). The main attraction for visitors are the 3 river overlooks, which give you an excellent vantage point over the mighty Potomac River. All of the overlook locations are just a short walk from the parking area and easily accessible. Each of the locations provides a commanding view of the river from an elevated position. n order to get some of the images I am after, I often hike one of the trails north and then do a little rock hopping. When doing so, I am very careful not too get close to the rivers edge. If you decide to go this route, only do so during dry periods. If there is even a little bit of water on the rocks, they are as slippery as an ice rink. Use extreme caution. With slippery conditions under your feet, you stand a good chance to fall and break an ankle, slam your head or worse, fall into the river. The Great Falls portion of the river is rated as a class 5-6 whitewater according to the International Scale of River Difficulty. This means certain death for anyone who thinks wading or swimming is a good idea. According to the NPS website – 7-10 deaths a year occur here. Most of them are related to drunken stupidity. Take my advice, don’t get too close to the edge. If you fall in, it will be the last thing you do.
Directly across the river is the Maryland side of Great Falls and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park. This side of the river features access to 6 different canal locks that were built in and in use during the late 1700’s and was partially funded by George Washington. The project canal system was used to help skirt around the falls and move goods upstream along the Potomac. Use of the canal was abandoned in 1830 with the advent of the U.S. Railroad system. In addition to the canals and historic buildings, there is also a long boardwalk trail that leads out to the river giving you a different angle to view Great Falls.
For anyone in the Maryland, D.C. or Northern Virginia area, this park is on the list of must see locations. Either side of the river makes a great location for a day trip with the family. The spring and summer weekends are the busiest times, so plan your trip and arrive early. Park hours are from 7am until sunset all year round., but if you are interested in getting there earlier, the gate is normally open at 5:30am.
Here are a couple more shots from my recent trips…
Here are a few more images from my trip to New Mexico. I still have a good deal of photos to review and process and it seems like there is never enough time in the day to get things done.
While out shooting, I often find myself just staring into a beautiful sunrise or sunset – just in total awe of the colors and amazing light. During these times, I have to remind myself to turn around, look at the rest of the scene as the suns golden light bathes the landscape. One of those times happened while the sun was setting over the dunes in White Sands National Monument. On this day, the clouds were low and providing some pretty diffused light during the afternoon. I noticed that there was a gap between the cloud cover and the mountains to the west. In anticipation, I looked around for some foreground subjects and prepared myself for the impending sunset. I setup, checked my settings, and snapped a few images as the sun was approaching the horizon.
I did a few bracketed photos as well as the “black glove” technique to help hold back the brightest areas of the sun. I was enjoying the view, amazed by the scene and then suddenly thought, look around!!! Quick – before you miss it! I was able to turn my tripod to the left, find a subject, compose and fire off a few shots. I walked about 20 yards and found another subject, composed and fired off a few more shots. The clouds were lit up and the dunes were highlighted with areas of warm sunlight. The light and colors only lasted for a few moments before the sun dipped down below the mountains and the light went flat. The next time you are out watching a gorgeous sunrise or sunset – don’t forget to look around – you just might miss something. The side lighting from the low angled sun is just what you need to bring some texture and dimension to the image. Get out there, don’t get swallowed up by the majesty of the rising or setting sun. Look around and you will be amazed at the photographic opportunities.
There is something about the months of November and December when it comes to morning photography. Quite often, temperature inversion happens and the fields are covered with a blanket of mist and fog. This is a great time to be out getting some sunrise images of the areas around you. One of my favorite haunts is a local farm where I am able to go out and be a part of the days awakening. It’s cold, the snow geese are moving and there is a distinct calm in the air. Scouting an area and knowing where the sun will rise is a great help when you are trying to capture a specific image. I use various apps available for my phone that provide the exact location of the sun throughout the day. It is a tremendous help in getting the shot you envision. Sleeping in on days like this is overrated. Get out there and enjoy the world….