Category Archives: Scenery and Landscapes

Blue Hammonasset and the Canon 16-35mm f/4 L

bluehamm

While I am fairly certain that most photographers are gearheads whether they admit to it or not, I also firmly believe that the gear is a distant second to simply getting out and shooting. I have no doubt that a talented artist could produce excellent results with a 110 film camera. That being said, there are pieces of equipment that seem to develop a well-deserved reputation for excellence almost as soon as they are available. The Canon 16-35mm f/4 L wide angle zoom is one such piece of gear. It was lauded as being one of the best, if not the best, wide angle zoom on the market at its release last summer. I took the plunge almost as soon as I could purchase it.

This shot was among my first taken with it on the day I received it. I wandered down to Hammonasset State Park on a rather dull, overcast evening that held very little promise of exciting picture-taking opportunities. However, I wanted to put the lens through its paces. This composition and image remains one of my favorite from last year. I am drawn to the manner in which the boulders pull you offshore and I love the serenity and many different tones of blue present in the image.

Photograph information:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mk. III
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0L IS USM
  • 16mm, f/20, ISO 100, 4 secs., circular polarizing filter
  • Tripod and cable release employed

Hammonasset Lakebed

hammonassetlakebed

Full disclosure: I love this image. I know, it doesn’t tick all of the boxes for a great landscape photograph. However, sometimes it doesn’t have to for an image to connect. For me, I love the orange of the autumn grasses, the way the stump pulls you in with its roots, and the subtle colors tucked into the grass. A computer display doesn’t do this image any favors, either. It really needs to be seen in a larger media, such as a print, to see all of the details and nuances.

Another thing I love about this image is that it was a very pleasant surprise. I had hiked around Lake Hammonasset (Madison/Killingworth, Connecticut) looking for some fall colors and, for the most part, came up empty-handed, as it was late October and most of the fall color had occurred. I was wandering aimlessly and hiked out on to the exposed lakebed (the water level is extremely low by autumn). I stumbled across this and it made the many miles hiked that morning worthwhile.

Photograph information:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mk. III
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0L IS USM
  • 24mm, f/13, ISO 100, 1/3 secs.
  • Tripod and cable release employed

Another Acadia Image

acadia2

This is my favorite image from the whirlwind tour of Acadia late last September. I had one chance at a sunset photo so I wanted to find a good location. My kids and I scouted this spot during the day and loved the many interesting and colorful rocks on the beach. When we returned late in the day, we were even happier as the tide had moved out, exposing even more rocks. I love the slight sheen created by the moisture on the surface of the rocks. It was an utterly cloudless sunset so the landscape/seascape had to play a starring role in the image. I am very pleased with the result.

Photo information:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mk. III
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0L IS USM
  • 19mm, f/16, ISO 100, 30 secs.
  • Lee Filters 3-stop split Neutral Density filter with hard edge
  • Tripod and cable release employed

Otter Point – Acadia National Park

otterpoint

During the whirlwind trip to Maine early last Fall, time was precious so I ended up trying to capture some images during the usually verboten time when the sun was high and contrast strong. It is generally difficult to obtain pleasing photographs during the middle of the day due to the harsh contrast created by the strong light from the high sun. However, since I was there, I was not going to be deterred by something like the light. While it was a challenge to find compositions that weren’t too influenced by the sun, there were a couple of opportunities. I like this one for a few reasons. I love how the rock formations lead you from the foreground out to the water. I like all of the various colors present in this image. Finally, because the image was composed from almost directly above, the sunlight actually helped it created definition in the rocks and generated some dark spaces on the sides of the rocks. I really like this image. Sometimes you need to ignore the rules and just take pictures. I used a Neutral Density filter to completely remove the presence of waves from the image and rather create soft white spaces.

Photograph information:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mk. III
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0L IS USM
  • 30mm, f/16, ISO 100, 45 secs.
  • Lee Filters Little Stopper 6-stop Neutral Density filter
  • Tripod and cable release employed

Wadsworth Falls

wadsworthfalls

This past Saturday morning, I took a ride up to Wadsworth Falls State Park. I thought that given the recent cold temperatures and snow, there might be some interesting photo opportunities. I did take some classic shots of the falls and Coginchaug River, but I feel more strongly about this particular image. I like the motion created by the slow shutter speed and the contrast of the motion against the sharp ice in the upper portion of the image. I am also happy with the way the image moves from the right to the left. Finally, I am drawn to the colors and the painterly effect of the water. Overall, this image made it worth enduring some very cold early morning temperatures on Saturday.

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0L IS USM
  • 88mm, f/16, ISO 100, 1/6 sec.
  • Tripod and cable release employed

Acadia – Boulder Beach

boulderbeach-3

In late September, my kids had a couple days off from school that wrapped into the weekend, so I suggested a whirlwind trip to Maine to visit our favorite beach (Popham Beach State Park), and then we would spend about 36 hours at Acadia National Park. That would allow for two sunrise sessions for me.

The first morning was crazy when I arrived. I was not able to do any advance scouting the previous evening, and never having been to Acadia, I was both literally and figuratively, in the dark. I arrived before sunrise at the Boulder Beach and Otter Cliffs area to be confronted by a swarm of photographers, all with tripods, cable releases, lenses, bags, etc. In addition, there were two enormous cruise ships making the rounds offshore. I tried my best, but framing images around large numbers of other people and large, well-lit vessels at sea produced weak results.

The kids and I spent the day visiting other areas of the park, allowing me an opportunity to establish my bearings. I even managed to capture a couple good midday images. We found a location for some sunset shots and even with a cloudless sky, still got an attractive end of day photo (a future post).

I headed out earlier the next morning, anticipating more elbow-to-elbow conditions. When I arrived at Boulder Beach I had it to myself. There were no clouds to create a dramatic palette of colors against at sunrise, so I looked for another element to accentuate and complement the horizon. After taking several test images of various compositions, I concentrated on one framing that highlighted some pools of water in the foreground that reflected the incredible blue of the sky. The reds and oranges of the horizon, along with the pools and dark shapes of the rocks, created a pleasing composition, even without clouds to create even more nuanced colors in the sky. The image you see here is the one that I feel best captured the scene.

Photo info:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mk. III
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0L IS USM
  • 24mm, f/16, ISO 100, 29 secs.
  • Tripod and cable release employed

Warmer days

westriver-2

The last post was about the East River. The weather of the last couple of days has made me (and probably many others) pine for warmer days. The opposite of East is West so how about a visit to the West River in late summer to start thinking of the coming of the temperate days of spring and summer. I took this photo during a visit to the West River in Guilford, Connecticut last summer. There is a trail that begins at the end of the road/parking lot behind the Baldwin Middle School. That trail meets a field that allows access to a several trails that all feed to spots on the West River. I was there a couple days before when my dog took advantage of several pools in the river to go for numerous swims. This particular spot attracted my attention because I liked the downed tree spanning the river, the reflections in the water, and the abundance of green, especially on the rocks along the left riverbank. I went back on the day of this photo and arrived before dawn. I scouted a few other spots and took some other images, but this view remains the one I like best. It makes me think I might have to visit it again now given the deep snow that has fallen. That should make for some interesting opportunities. Enjoy and remember that spring is coming!

Photo information:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0L IS USM
  • 35mm, f/11, ISO 100, 13 secs.
  • Tripod and cable release employed

East River

eastriver1

I was out this past Saturday afternoon at the East River Preserve in Guilford, CT with no particular photographic agenda. In fact, it was relatively warm (for mid-January) and sunny and I was content to simply meander around. However, when I came upon this part of the East River, I knew I had to set up and take this photo.

I was pulled in by two things. First, the line from the lower right beginning with the “anchor” rock, moving through the ripples caused by the water flowing over the rocks and then settling in the rocks in the upper left corner of the image creates a compelling path through the image. Second, I knew that with a moderately slow shutter speed, the harsh highlights reflected in the water would become slightly less-defined to create a more painterly effect. On scene, I had thought this would be a good candidate for a black & white print, but when I looked at it on the computer display at home, I was more drawn to the blues of the water and the subtle colors of the rocks beneath the surface of the river.

Photo information:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mk. III
  • Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
  • 360mm, f/22, ISO 100, 1/2 sec., with circular polarizer
  • Tripod and cable release employed

Winter Gimmickry

chatfieldhollow

In the winter it can be virtually impossible to consistently find interesting subject matter because in many places, everything just looks dead. That’s what makes Mother Nature’s gimmicks helpful to spice things up. Snow and ice are always good at helping to create interesting material themselves or they can accentuate an already interesting composition. Another fairly common winter visual aid occurs when warming air temperatures hover over frozen ground. This will often create misty, foggy conditions that render an ethereal softness.

Conditions were just like this on January 4. I had to pick my daughter up from horseback riding and I knew I had to drive right through Chatfield Hollow State Park to do that. I left a little early to see if I could take advantage of the conditions.

This photo was taken about 200 yards from the road in the middle of a stream where bedrock created a small dam and the resultant pool in the immediate foreground. That pool generated a nice reflection of the trees that overlooked the stream and the usually muted greens of the mosses and oranges and yellows of the dead leaves “popped” a little with the diffuse light. I love the overall soft light of the image and the various spots of color in an otherwise “dead” scene.

Photo information:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mk. III
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0L IS USM
  • 16mm, f/13, ISO 100, 1.6 sec.
  • Tripod and cable release employed

Winter Morning

wintermorn

 

I often make my way down to Hammonnasset State Park early in the mornings to see what bird activity there might be and sometimes wander over to one of the beaches if the light appears to be interesting. Yesterday, (New Year’s Eve) as I drove in, I noticed that the light was striking as the clouds were moving quickly across the sky as things progressively cleared. The sun was still low on the horizon (as it always seems to be this time of year!), casting an orange glow with dark, purplish clouds streaking across the field of view, with a few sunbeams passing through here and there. The muted, soft light of the sun passing through the clouds created highlights on the surface of the water, but not so bright as to blow out the entire exposure. That diffuse light also teased more of the green from the moss on the rocks. A graduated neutral density (ND) filter, in this case a two-stop reverse graduated ND from Singh-Ray, brought the highlights of the sky closer in value to the water. I chose a relatively slow exposure to create motion in the water, but chose not to use a 6-stop ND filter (on top of the graduated ND already in place) because I did not want to create the “cotton candy” effect that an extremely long exposure engenders; I wanted motion, but some definition to that motion. I like the result.

Photograph information:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mk. III
  • Canon 16-35mm f/4.0L IS USM @ 20mm, f/22, 1/4 sec., ISO 100
  • Lee Filters holder with Singh-Ray 2-stop (0.6) Reverse Graduated ND filter, tripod, remote release