Dreaming of Spring

 

Barn Afloat

Barn Afloat

 

Spring Sheep

Spring Sheep

Early March is traditionally the “Enough is Enough” season in New England, and this year, more than usual, we have enjoyed more than enough of the glories of winter. The photographic opportunities in winter are like no other time of the year with the snow cover and the special light transforming and simplifying the landscape into its essence of line and form. Every year, I become excited about the onset of winter and impatient for the first snows, but now I’m done and it is time for the remarkable explosion of spring to take command. After last year’s depressingly bitterly cold winter, I practiced, early March, “Blog Therapy” by publishing a spring preview with some of my favorite images.  As this winter begins to break, the need for a breath of sweet renewal seems no less imperative. So here, primarily for my own desperate benefit, I have collected a few images from last spring. It IS coming! De-ice your gear and get prepared. It will soon be time to switch from monochromatic black and white to the glory of the infinite variety of shades of green.

 

The Emergence
 

Birth Spiral

Birth Spiral

Even before the snow has fully melted away we will see the buds emerging in their desperate attempt to gain a head start on the short growing season. Last year I focused on macro shots of the early sprouts which explode in a remarkable variety of bizarre forms and colors. It lasts only a few days, but it is almost a disappointment when the leaves mature into the comparatively dull flat forms that will dominate the majority of the summer.

 

Falling Water Season

Pulpit Falls

Pulpit Falls

Early spring is often described as “Mud Season.” Struggle as I may I have found few ways to make muddy roads and pastures appear photographically attractive. It is much like the desolation of late fall “Stick Season,” but the saving factor in the spring is the glory of the falling water. All that melting snow mixes with the spring rain to cause torrential leaks in our roofs, but it also fills the many brooks and streams to reveal our waterfalls to their thunderous best. Many waterfalls that had dwindled to an insignificant trickle in late summer will roar to life in a few weeks.

Last spring I set myself on a quest to highlight many of my favorite waterfalls in the Monadnock Region and to discover others about which I had only heard rumors.

Fay Falls

Fay Falls

I published several articles about the falling waters including one covering many of my favorite waterfalls in Cheshire County. My most challenging quest was to find the elusive Pulpit Falls in Winchester  New Hampshire. It took three trips, bushwhacking through the deep snow and following a number of false leads, but I was finally led by the thunder into the small valley which hides this beautiful falls. It was worth the struggle and as a bonus, while Nellie and I were exploring the cascades, we met Kris Smith, of Wicked Dark Photography. It was Kris’ blog article that initially triggered my obsession to find the falls. Where else but in New England could you stumble across your goal and the muse who led you to it at the same time. On other explorations I was able to find Fay Falls in Walpole, NH and the waterfall at Ashuelot Gorge in Gilsum, New Hampshire.

 

Spring Leafscapes, The Second Autumn

Leafscape

Leafscape

Every spring I am freshly entranced by the infinitely varied palate of greens which burst across our forests. The colors are as exciting in their soft and delicate tones as are the garishly brilliant colors of our New England autumn. Last spring I took the time to truly notice the early colors and I posted some of my favorites in an article which zoomed in on the “Spring Leafscapes.” Of course the advantage of the spring colors is that, after they fade, we don’t find ourselves immediately saddled with the chore of raking them up.

 

 

May Hillside

May Hillside

 

Spring Wildflowers

White Trillium

White Trillium

What can I say about the spring explosion of wildflowers. Only that their shamelessly profligate display of color is the perfect antidote to the dull monotones of the long winter. Last spring I discovered the Fox Forest in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. On a couple of early spring hikes through this varied and lovely forest I was able to sample a number of the areas wildflowers including a few varieties of Trillium and the tiny White Star. Along the trail, I was helped in identifying the lavish flora by Kris Smith who has a remarkable depth of knowledge about the plants of the New England forests. Every spring I also accompany my wife to Walker Farm in Dummerston, Vermont where I practice flower photography larceny  by capturing the beautifully prepared flowers in the soft light and calm winds found in the farm’s green house. Forgive me.

 

Spring Cluster

Spring Cluster at Walker Farm, Brattleboro, VT

 

Emerging Wildlife

Dancing Lady

Dancing Lady

Spring is also a time to celebrate new and refreshed animal life, both wild and domestic. It is inspiring to share in the excitement of the horses, cattle and sheep as they frolic in the sweat new grass of their pastures, and there is no more dramatic example of this enthusiasm than the “Annual Dancing of the Ladies” at the Stonewall Farm in Keene, New Hampshire. Every spring, on a day set by the greening of the pastures, the public is invited to witness the crazy antics of the cows as they are released from the barn for the first time to graze on the fresh grass. It has become a community rite of spring to watch these normally placid animals jump and prance through the field. The running, leaping and head bumping last only a few minutes before the cows return to their normal semi-comatose status, but as compensation for the briefness of the entertainment, the farm provides a delicious pancake breakfast. Sadly, last year, I missed the dancing ladies, but I’ll be watching for the announcement of the date of this year’s festivities.

 

One of my favorite local farms is Roads End in Chesterfield, New Hampshire. The farm keeps over 60 horses for their summer riding camp and it is a pleasure to see the animals gleefully reclaim their rolling pastures.

Pasture Slope

Pasture Slope, Roads End farm

 

Eagle Descending

Eagle Descending

 

The non-domesticated New England wildlife is more difficult to capture but no less enthusiastic about surviving another bitter winter. Each spring I watch for the foxes, deer, turkeys and the Bald Eagles, who become more active along the lakes and the Connecticut River as the ice begins to open.

 

 

Black Fly

Black Fly

 

 

 

Of course the most prevalent and annoying of our spring visitors are the Black Flies. They are New Hampshire’s unofficial state “bird,” far too easy to find but difficult to photograph, except in the, much preferred, squashed mode.

 

 

 

I hope this glimpse of last year’s spring will be a welcomed escape from our “Enough is Enough” season and that it will prepare you to fully appreciate the glories that are to come.

For more images of the coming awakening, check out my Spring Album on my Getting it Right in the Digital Camera Blog.

Spring Links 2014

Partridge Brook Reflections Spring Gallery

~ Jeffrey Newcomer
partridgebrookreflections.com
603-363-8338

 

Posted in Birds, Chesterfield, farms, Flowers, Forest, Gardens, Insects, Landscape, Macro, Monadnock, Nature, New Hampshire, Scenic New England, Spring, Stick Season, Vermont, Water falls, Wildflowers, Wildlife Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Simple RAW Processing in ACR and Photoshop

There are as many ways to process RAW landscape files as there are photographers. For my first several years’ shooting I watched 100s of YouTube videos, read printed tutorials, and basically stumbled my way into processing. There are no right or wrong ways to process landscape files. But there are some tips and tricks that can be helpful to all.

One Man’s Process

In this article I will walk through my basic RAW processing of an uncomplicated exposure. These are the initial steps I use when processing 90% of my images. Things get more complicated with multiple-image blends, true night shooting, and other unusual situations.

Although I will use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and Photoshop, Lightroom has virtually the same utility – only the interface is different. I will put in my 2 cents here for investing in Photoshop and Lightroom. They are simply the standard for both professional and high-end amateur photo work. I put off investing in PS for my first three years’ shooting digital. Now I regret it. At $10 a month for PS and LR via Adobe Cloud it is something I cannot work without.

I shoot all my landscape images in RAW. The latitude I gain shooting RAW for further processing makes it a no-brainer. But RAW files must be processed. Straight out of camera they lack color, contrast, sharpening, and a host of other processing choices.

I chose this image because it is for me a ‘normal’ exposure. I do not need to blend in another exposure to complete it.

RAW image not processed

Untouched RAW image

 

Let’s Get Started!

  1. Open the file in Adobe Camera Raw. Navigate to Lens Corrections and select the profile for your lens. Also navigate to the Color tab and select Remove Chromatic Aberrations. These easy operations correct lens errors and check for chromatic aberrations. The manual tab also now contains selections to correct for perspective and tombstoning problems. I use these very often to correct problems in architectural images.

    Lens Correction Applied in ACR

    Lens Correction Profile Applied

  2. Return to the opening screen. Level the horizon using the Straighten Tool if needed.
  3. Set the White Point and Black Point for the image. While holding down the option key, move the white and black sliders. Holding the option key down activates the shadow and highlight clipping warnings. Set your W & B points inside these warnings.

    Setting Black and White Points

    Black and White Points set in ACR

  4. Adjust Highlight and Shadow sliders to taste. (I often “shoot to the right” overexposing my image, with the intention of fixing it in post processing. Shooting to the right (of the histogram) helps to minimize shadow noise. It is at this point where the image starts to come together. I may also add a bit of clarity and vibrance at this point.

    Highlights and Shadows in ACR

    Adjusting Highlights and Shadows in ACR

  5. This completes my standard set of initial processing in ACR. Some images may also get tone curves adjusted, color luminance and saturation tweaked, noise reduced, or post crop vignetting set.
  6. Open in Photoshop. My first adjustment in Photoshop is to clone out any dust spots or distracting elements. In this image I cloned out some of the pine needles in the foreground.

    Cloning in PS

    Cloning out unwanted items in PS

  7. In this image the sky is overexposed. I used the Quick Selection tool to select the sky, then a Levels adjustment to visually correct the sky.
  8. At this point I used the Shadows/Highlights command (found under Image > Adjustments) to subtly manipulate highlight, shadow, and midtone dynamic range. Sean Bagshaw has a great video details how to work with this tool here: http://youtu.be/IiodpzTLzlI.

    Shadows and Highlights in PS

    The PS Shadows and Highlights Command

That completes my basic menu of RAW processing for an image. Further processing is image dependent and may include working with Luminosity Masks (highly, highly recommended!), dodging and burning, further trips into ACR to tweak basic exposure settings, and finally output sharpening.

Here is the final image.

RAW processing - final image

Final Processed Image

I hope you found this peek into my post-processing helpful. If you have any questions please feel free to ask and I will respond ASAP.

All the best,

Scott Snyder

www.scottsnyderphotography.com

https://www.facebook.com/scottsnyderphotography

Posted in Adobe Camera RAW, Photoshop, Post Production, RAW File Processing Tagged , , , , , , , |

Catching Sea Smoke – How Hard Can It Be?

Catching Sea Smoke

Dawn at Thacher Island with 6:20AM, -4F and a windchill of -38F, cold conditions to say the least  the danger of frostbite for exposed skin.

6:20AM, -4F and a windchill of -38F

Dawn sea smoke, sub-zero temps and a sunset of blowing snow. What follows is what goes into catching sea smoke, lighthouses and sunsets under less than preferred conditions! (At least for me.)

First, let’s talk what causes sea smoke. Sea smoke (or fog) is simply a frigid air layer over a warmer air layer that is right over relatively warmer water. When the warmer air chills below its dew point, it causes fog/smoke. Simple, right? Now let’s talk about the dangers and considerations of going outside to capture sea smoke. Image at right seen here.

Conditions/dangers/equipment:

  • Below zero Fahrenheit is usually required (but not always)
  • You may have to be out prior to sunrise
  • Let’s talk about frostbite, are you prepared?
  • How about your equipment?

Conditions: I do have some shots here of sea smoke after dawn but it fades quickly as the sun comes up. We took a break at 8:25AM (0825hrs for the military types) and we had sea smoke up till then but by the time we got back outside (around 10ish) the sea smoke had pretty much disappeared since we had hit a balmy 10-15 degrees by then.

Why the break? Tom and I met fellow Guild member Liz Mackney in our favorite breakfast spot in Rockport, “Red Skiff” and we talked cameras, photography and ate hot food/coffee/tea while warming up. (Heavy on the warming up.)

Image of Jeff Folger taken while he was photographing thacher island lighthouse from eden road. Lucky for Jeff the road was not busy this morning.

Photo of Jeff Folger courtesy of Tom Gaitley (always take a shot of your fellow photographers!)

On this particular morning (16, Feb 2015) the conditions were lining up for the right conditions. -2 (actual) degrees were forecast (Tom’s truck said -4) but the high gusting winds had us wondering if the sea smoke would be blown away. Tom and I decided to first check Motif #1, even though it was dark, we could see the inner harbor had no sea smoke so we decided to go to one of our favorite spots out on Eden Road which is right across from the twin lighthouses of Thatcher Island.

Wind chill: The winds were variable from 10mph gusting to 50mph. You can calculate your own local wind chill at this NOAA website. These winds gave us wind chills in the range of -16 to -38 degrees.

Dangers: Now we all have heard the weather people talk about wind chills and to be honest they can happen on a warm sunny day but we rarely worry then. We start to worry when frostbite becomes a strong possibility. We were facing frostbite on exposed skin, in about 10 minutes (or less). Needless to say we were layered, head to toes. (I started with 10 and finished with 10, mission accomplished.)

Head/hands/feet: These are the main danger points when we consider frostbite. My clothing is not super high-tech but I generally have Polartec fleece and different weights of under garments. That said, I’ll start at the top. (There is no right or wrong here, just what I do.)

Head: Wool watch cap and balaclava that is both fleece and full wind stop, so my ears, forehead, partial cheeks and below my nose was all covered and quite comfortable. I also have a pair of ski goggles that covered all except the tip of my nose and I kept checking all day to make sure it wasn’t getting frostbitten.

Hands: I have a pair of North Face e-tip gloves that are light and allow me to use my cellphone but they are too light by themselves, so I added a pair of mitten-gloves (the upper part slides off the fingers to expose the finger tips to manipulate your camera/cell phone. Together they were a 70% solution as my fingertips still got cold. After our first foray for about 30 minutes photographing Thatcher Island my thumbs were in pain when we got back in the truck, so I know if I was going to be out longer I needed another layer on my hands. Once we got above 5 degrees (to the positive) my fingers only got cool and not a real problem.

Feet: Cotton under sock, wool hiking sock, sneakers (yes sneakers) over this I had Neo over boots. I had no foot related cold issues all day.

Lower body: I had silk weight long johns, jeans and unlined rain pants (to stop the wind) no issues there.

Upper body: Silk weight shirt, North Face light fleece shirt, Columbia fleece coat with wind-stop, Marmot minimalist jacket (that the rest of the year acts as my raincoat) used as a final shell over it all. Again no part of my body was cold (outside of finger tips).

Equipment:

I don’t have any real high-end cameras or gear. I have a Canon 50D and I use a battery grip on it. This is mostly so I have two batteries to run the camera on. I found out my 5-6 year old batteries didn’t hold a charge in such cold temps but they lasted till we got done with Thacher’s lighthouses. When we got in the truck I put them inside my coat and in 5-10 minutes they were back up to power. But! I suggest you bring a charger and an inverter as long as you have a car nearby.

Lenses: Many of mine are pro lenses and today consisted of a Canon 2.8L 70-200mm to capture Thatcher and a Canon 24-105L all of which didn’t seem affected by the cold. My Manfrotto tripod gave no trouble.

Other items: camera backpack (Lowepro), Tubbs snowshoes, pair of X-country ski poles that I found on someone’s trash pile, ski goggles.

The reason I added all these items is to show you that you don’t have to have the most high-tech clothing or professional equipment (aside from L-glass which is my preference to have good lenses. Cheaper may have had problems.). To be comfortable spend what you need. My fleece balaclava was $20 picked up in a airport some 30 years ago and I’m still using it today. Get what fits, is comfortable, and keeps you warm.

Thatcher Island Lighthouses 

seagull flying past thacher

Seagull flying past Thacher Island

This lighthouse (seen on the right and on FAA) can be viewed by finding Eden Road, a narrow road and this morning it was down to one lane. Parking was not really possible but we found a section plowed wider and “borrowed” it. Tom was smart and stayed next to the garage and was shielded from the direct onslaught of the winds. I didn’t want the same exact angle for my shots, so I moved down the road but received the brunt of the winds.

I watched the sun’s angle and saw that if I moved to my right I could get the sun right above the north lighthouse tower. I started jogging towards Tom and he had the same idea and followed in behind me. We kept going and going and well I was out of breath by the time we got 40 yards.

We were working the Thatcher Island Lighthouses from 6:19 a.m. to 6:55 a.m. so with 25 minutes in the subzero temps, my thumbs were in pain, my mustache was ice-covered and my batteries were unresponsive. A good morning, I would say!

Straitsmouth Lighthouse

Straitsmouth from Bearskin Neck in Rockport

Straitsmouth from Bearskin Neck in Rockport

We drove to Bearskin Neck in Rockport and for some reason there were few people around… We parked as best we could and walked out to the breakwater and photographed across the harbor to Straitsmouth. The waves were large but not breaking the way we were hoping for on the rocks. I left my goggles in the truck so tears were running down my cheeks from the incredibly cold wind whipping off the ocean. We required some warmth at this point So we moved to the Red Skiff diner for hot coffee and great food.

 

Annisquam Lighthouse

standing in the northerly winds whiping down on Cape Ann and seeking any bear skin they could find.

Jeff at Annisquam Lighthouse on Cape Ann, again thanks to Tom Gaitley for taking the image.

Here it got tough because parking was non-existent. But a few blocks away we got a spot and we walked back to the entrance to the park. We put on snowshoes and commenced to “walk” in to Annisquam Lighthouse. As soon as we cleared the top of the hill I really was glad for my ski goggles. The north wind was whipping the pellet like snow into a frenzy and it beat against my face, but between balaclava and goggles, it found few openings.

The light was very harsh at 10:50 but we thought it was worth it because few people see Annisquam Lighthouse under these icy conditions. Here is a link to an article by Guild member Liz Mackney on the lighthouses of Cape Ann.

Plum Island Pink House

The Pink house at sunset on the Plum Island turnpike in winter

Plum Island Pink House

We spent the rest of the day driving around looking for opportunities and for sunset we settled on the pink house out at Plum Island turnpike. This is an apparently abandoned house in ramshackle condition and we checked TPE (The photographer’s Ephemeris) and saw the sun would be lined up along the road. The problem was all the blowing snow had caused drifts across the road so traffic was being regulated to one way at a time. As Guild members we try to lead by example so Tom got out and asked the police officer if we could pull off the road and shoot the sunset. It was a toss-up since he may have said we might get hit by a large DOT snow plow or a private owned vehicle could have slid into us…

Asking permission to go down the road and shoot the sunset.

Asking permission to go down the road and shoot the sunset.

In a minute Tom was back and we had permission. As you can see from this shot, shooting a sunset in blowing snow and at around 7 degrees was not going to be a walk in the park.

In case you think going out for sea smoke or as in this case a +7 degree sunset is fun… This is the Plum Island turnpike and this day it was one-way traffic due to the blowing drifts that they were trying to clear. Tom is asking permission to pull off the road to photograph.

 

Well it made for long fun day and neither of us got frostbite and we came away with such memories to tell over breakfast at the Red Skiff for years to come. If you have other questions about the sea smoke phenomenon follow this link which gives more scientific info.

I would appreciate it if you would share the article on your social media!

~ Jeff Folger

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Posted in Camera Operation, Cape Ann, Equipment, Etiquette, Historic Landmarks, Landscape, Lenses, Lighthouse, Massachusetts, Rockport, Scenic New England, Seascapes, Technique, Winter Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Photographing Moving Water

Photographing moving water is both easy and challenging. Here are some guidelines that you might consider applying.

There are tips here for those just starting to shoot moving water as well as those looking for ideas that might help them get better photos. But even expert moving water shooters might pick up a new technique. Bet ya will.

Get your camera off Auto or Program

These settings are almost guaranteed to give you the worst shutter speed for photographing moving water.

Decide if you want to photograph with a fast shutter speed or a slow shutter speed. I strongly prefer slow shutter speed — long exposure — but both can be successful. Here is a kayak race with a fast (1/1000 sec) and slow (1/15 sec) shutter speed.

1/500 TO 1/1000 sec

1/13 TO 1/30 sec

Use Aperture Priority, not Shutter Priority, to control your shutter speed. Aperture Priority will always give you a nominally correct exposure; Shutter Priority might not.

The series of photos below illustrate how changing shutter speed can affect the image. Auto would most likely give you a shutter speed of around 1/80 sec, the worst image of the set, in my opinion.

36A 1-80s.jpg36B 1-20s.jpg36C 1-6s.jpg36D 1-2s.jpg36E 2s.jpg

And if you do like I did here and take a series at different shutter speeds you can later decide which you like best.

Use a tripod

This is obvious since you are going to be shooting with exposures that are too long to handhold. It’s great to blur water but the rocks and other fixed objects in your picture need to be tack sharp for the picture to work. Plus your tripod might encourage you to use a long lens and capture small pieces of the scene rather than always getting it all in. “Photograph a phrase rather than a paragraph.”

776a-Andrews-Brook-KC4-32.jpgCR984-Hewes-Brook-in-Spring.jpgCW513.jpgCX624G-%26-625C.jpgDM526.jpgDM672B.jpgDX336--Below-the-Bridge--Pan-(10).jpg

Consider using a polarizer

This will do two things for you. First, it will cut distracting reflections from the water and rocks. Second, it will help you achieve a longer shutter speed.

Since a polarizer will cut reflections, it often serves to reduce the dynamic range in the photo which serves to lighten the shadows. The first photo below was shot without a polarizer; the second with.

Without Polarizer
With Polarizer

If a polarizer does not give you a slow enough shutter speed at your lowest ISO, what do you do? Use two, and rotate them to get the degree of darkening you want. Or you can buy an expensive variable neutral density filter which is basically just two polarizers. Here is an example of what you can do with this technique on a bright day.

30 second exposure in bright light

It is normally best to photograph moving water under overcast rather than sunny conditions. Not only does this help you get to a longer shutter speed but the reduced contrast is normally better photographically than the glare of the sun. And a light drizzle darkens the rocks, which often yields a more pleasing photo.

Don’t forget the rules of composition

Compose in depth, use leading lines, consider shapes, and don’t forget the “rule” of thirds. If shooting with a wide angle lens be sure to have a strong foreground, middle ground, and background. Often this means getting very close to an interesting foreground feature.

CS015B-Hewes-Brook-in-Spring-.jpgCU967-Upper-Cascades.jpgDM028--Lower-Glen-Falls--Pan-(8).jpgDM621-Mini-flume-in-Dixville-Notch--Pan-(8).jpgDN784-Polypodies-near-Bicknell-Brook--DoF-merge-(5).jpgDX937--Palisade-Falls----Pan-(7).jpg

Try to find a way to add color when you can

Many scenes with moving water are very monochromatic. Winter certainly is, but other seasons can be also. Sometimes one can combine moving water with colorful reflections. This works best when the moving water is in the shade but the objects being reflected are in the sun.

Try something new

For those who are in need of something new to try, consider these three photos made years ago on slide film when changing ISO was a real challenge. However, the technique I used to get the final image can also be employed with many digital cameras.

The first picture of this waterfall was shot at 1/100 sec. It was the fastest shutter speed I could get with the fairly slow slide film that was in my camera and the very overcast lighting conditions. The picture is pretty bad. I didn’t use a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the droplets or a slow enough shutter speed to get pleasantly blurred water.

45   1-100s falls

The second image was shot at 1/2 sec. Here I had a long enough shutter speed to provide a pleasing blur to the water.

46   1-2s falls

Without changing film — or changing the ISO on your digital camera — is there a third option? Is it possible to get a photo where the water droplets are frozen as they come down the waterfall? Answer is yes, as can be seen in the third photo.

47   1-800s 9M falls

How do I do this? Think about it a bit before you keep reading.

The third photo of the sequence is composed of nine individual images each shot at 1/800 sec, all on a single piece of slide film. The camera I had was capable of doing this, so I did it.

You can do the same thing with many digital cameras, but you have to use the multi-exposure function intelligently. You must go beyond the normal default settings. On my Nikon digital cameras, when I go to multiple exposures, the menu asks me if I want to use Auto Gain or not. “Gain” is a misnomer. What “gain” really means is loss – reducing the amplification of the image. So if I dial in 9 or 10 exposures using Auto Gain, I get a nicely exposed image, but the shutter speed and aperture for each shot are the same as if I didn’t shoot a multiple exposure.

What I really want to do is use a very fast shutter speed for each of the multiple exposures without having to crank up my ISO to ridiculous extremes.

This is accomplished by simply turning the Auto Gain off and underexposing each of the multiple images. You do this by setting the exposure compensation to -1 if you’re taking two shots, -2 if you’re taking four, and -3 if you’re taking eight. If you’re taking ten, well you can probably figure this out for yourself, but -3.3 would be a good starting point.

So the next time you play with multiple exposures consider turning Auto Gain off and using exposure compensation to keep your ISO low and your shutter speed high even if you’re not shooting moving water.

Break the Rules

Sometimes you just want to use an aperture and ISO that gives you a slow shutter speed and fire away handheld panning on a subject moving down a river. I did this here with shutter speeds of 1/8 to 1/15 sec in the Grand Canyon.

DT920G.jpgDT921Q.jpgDT923D.jpg

~ Jim Block

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The Pemi Loop: 3 Days In The Middle Of Nowhere

Off The Beaten Path

A panoramic view of the vast Pemigewasset Wilderness

The Pemigewasset Wilderness from the summit of Mt. Liberty

 

There is a lot of spectacular scenery here in New Hampshire, a lot of it easily accessible, much of it visible right from the side of the road. When it comes to landscape photography this ease of access also means that many of these places have been photographed by just about everyone with a camera. Also, there are often large crowds at some of the most popular locations during prime shooting times.

I don’t like crowds when I’m photographing and I don’t want to photograph the same things everyone else does either.

I want to photograph the spectacular wilderness beauty that isn’t right off the side of the road. I want to photograph the places you won’t see on everyone’s Facebook pages.

I want to photograph the middle of nowhere.

 

Autumn in the Wilderness

Autumn in the Wilderness

 

One of my favorite “middle of nowheres” is the Pemigewasset Wilderness. With 45,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness in the heart of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Wilderness has some of the most beautiful scenery around. It’s also home to one of what many consider to be one of the toughest trails in the country, The Pemi Loop. The Pemi Loop is not a single trail, it’s several trails that when connected lead the ambitious photographer/hiker on a 32 mile trek through some of New Hampshire’s vast wilderness.

Not For The Faint Of Heart

A section of the steep series of stairs on the Osseo Trail

700, and counting.

 

If you plan to take on The Loop you had better bring your legs.

The trail starts and ends at the Lincoln Woods Visitors Center on the western end of the Kancamagus Highway in Lincoln, NH.  Over the course of the hike you’ll “enjoy” over 9,000 ft. of elevation gain over some very rugged terrain. Should you choose to do the loop in a clockwise direction, after leaving the summit of Mt. Garfield, a little over three miles later you’ll encounter one especially challenging section leading to the summit of South Twin. Here the trail climbs 1,122 rock and boulder strewn feet in 0.8 miles. That’s steep!

The reward for completing what Backpacker Magazine refers to as “The second hardest day hike in America,” is spectacular views, fresh air, and the chance to summit 8 of the 48 peaks on the NH 4,000 Footer list. With the option of 4 more if you’re really ambitious.

Personally I had no interest in making this a day hike. I wanted to enjoy every minute of it, so I did it over 3 days, staying at shelters or tent sites maintained by the AMC each night.

 

Bond Cliff and South Twin in Autumn

Rugged Beauty

 

Grab your camera, load your backpack, and head out into the middle of nowhere on your next photo adventure. The trip will be well worth the effort!

 

Autumn wilderness with Franconia Ridge.

Moments before sunrise from the summit of Mt. Garfield.

 

~ Jeff Sinon

To see more click on any of the following links.

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Posted in Backcountry Travel, Forest, Landscape, New Hampshire, Scenic New England Tagged , , , , , , |