Living in New England, I am blessed with ample opportunities to shoot my favorite landscapes in all four seasons. Winter is my second favorite mainly because of its juxtaposition with the other three where the scenes overflow with color; winter instead, has a stark, minimalist look that provides an entirely different opportunity in landscape photography. In winter, the point of interest in the image becomes much more important. Foreground and background elements that typically play a big roll in your composition often change radically or even disappear into a blank white canvas. The upside is that many views that are obscured in the other three seasons now present themselves. In this PDF, I don’t try to cover all the equipment, clothing, and preparation needed for long hikes to do winter photography; instead I present my view of the important points for those who want to do winter photography without suffering too much of the downside of winter weather. Download the free PDF in my store at http://davelongphoto.com/new-products/tips-for-new-england-winter-landscape-photography and check out all of my e-books and 2019 workshops.
I am pleased to announce the newest addition to my growing library of e-books for self-guided photo tours of New England. Central Vermont is my 7th in the series and certainly the most ambitious with 12 location along with links to in-depth landscape photography tutorials. If you are looking to visit this beautiful region of New England, this guide will provide all the information needed for a productive photography tour. Please visit my store for more information.
I have just added the Beaches and Birds Workshop to my schedule for March 26 in beautiful St. Augustine, FL. A wonderful opportunity to learn sunrise photography, photograph historic St. Augustine and get a hands on mini course in photographing Florida’s birds in flight.
My 2019 workshops are now available at www.bluehourboston.com/workshops and include the following locations.
6/4&5/19 The Dune Shacks, Lighthouses and Harbor of P-town
6/5/19 Sunset and Milky Way on the Lower Cape
6/14/19 Waterfalls & Wildflowers
9/28&29/19 The Dune Shacks, Lighthouses and Harbor of P-town
9/29/19 Sunset and Milky Way on the Lower Cape
10/8&9/19 Covered Bridges and Countryside of Central Vermont
10/9&10/19 Fall in the Northeast Kingdom
10/10&11/19 White Mountain Fall Foliage
10/13/19 The Fall Foliage of Central Massachusetts
10/17/19 Foliage and Falls of Southern NH
10/20/19 The Fall Foliage of Central Massachusetts
12/8/19 Holiday Lights of Boston
12/9/19 Holiday Lights of Boston
12/15/19 Holiday Lights of Boston
Choosing the Location
The key point when shooting landscapes in the fall is to remember that the foliage just adds color. You still need a strong composition to create interest for the audience. Fall colors can start in early to mid-September in low-lying marshes and with early-turning trees like swamp maples and birches. Elevation can change timing by at least a week. There are now a lot of good apps that provide fall color maps, but I tend to rely on making calls to local contacts to get the best information. Past peak conditions can still yield rich colors and more isolated compositions to allow shooting into November.
Interesting Weather Makes Interesting Photos
My favorite condition to shoot fall colors is an overcast sky as it provides soft/even lighting in which you can shoot all day long. Fog and light rain are even better as they creates a mystical atmosphere and great color gradation. On the rare occasion when there is an early snow, you are rewarded with the colors popping out of a totally neutral background. But fall is also full of sunny days, so keep shooting and look to get out in the magic hours of morning and evening. During the middle of the day, try to find shade when you can or when in full sun try to use it to backlight the leaves in your scene.
I use a telephoto lens to compress and bring the leaves more “into the scene”. I usually shoot 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop under and always use a polarizing filter to eliminate the shine off the leaves and deepen the hue. Wind is your enemy in shooting fall colors so I prefer the early morning when it is calmest or I make sure I set my shutter speed at a high enough level to “freeze” the moving leaves. If you have moving water in the scene, use a tripod with a longer shutter speed to give a little motion to the stream or waterfall. I like between 1/3 – 1 second depending on the water’s speed.
I try to engage my audience by varying the scene from the traditional landscape. I do many of my shots around still water in order to provide reflections that create a little distortion to the viewers that tends to hold their interest. I also try to find paths, roads, fences, etc. to provide leading lines into the scene/foliage. Another technique to change the normal way the audience sees the scene is by getting low to the ground, shooting straight up or including close-up of foreground leaves in the scene.
Fall is a wonderful time to shoot and as Camus said “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower”.
Please see my Northeastern Vermont Self Guided Photo Workshop e-book in my store for more locations in this beautiful section of New England
Waterfalls seem to grab the hearts and minds of people. Go to any location that has one or more waterfalls and it is pretty much a guarantee that they will be a major attraction, if not the main attraction, of the area. However, as beautiful as waterfalls are, it is not so easy to capture that beauty with a camera. It is easy to produce pictures of waterfalls; it is not so easy to produce powerful images.
Waterfalls provide their own unique set of problems that requires a unique set of solutions. This article is about those unique problems and the solutions that allow photographers to produce images that communicate the power and beauty that is inherent in the waterfalls that stand before their lenses.
An unusual topic to start this set of “best practices” with, but I shot waterfalls for years from “outside” of the water. Sometimes this was great, but on other occasions I could not get the angle I wanted or there was brush or trees in the way. I finally bought a pair of waders and immediately felt liberated. There is nothing better than walking up a stream or into a shallow pond and getting exactly the perspective I am looking for. I like waders better than waterproof boots and/or socks as I can hike comfortably with water up to mid thighs versus calf level. You will find these invaluable in many other water landscape venues as well.
Weather plays a huge part in producing great waterfall images. Quite simply, waterfalls do not photograph well in nice, sunny weather. The best time to photograph waterfalls is in overcast weather. Some waterfalls will photograph best in light overcast. Light overcast produces a scene that is gentle but which still has enough power to bring out the colors in a scene.
Other waterfalls photograph best in strong overcast. Strong overcast can produce a very moody image with a power to convey that sense of mood in an image. In fact, very powerful waterfall images can even be produced in rainy weather.
You are not always blessed with perfect waterfall weather. For those times, be aware of when the waterfall is nicely shaded or when the sun is not hitting it directly.
What shutter speed should be used to blur the falling water? That seems to be the first question that people usually ask about shooting waterfalls. However, there is no such thing as one correct shutter speed for shooting waterfalls! Rather, the proper shutter speed is a function of several factors.
· The amount of blur desired
· The volume of water
· The speed of the water
In short, the best shutter speed varies from one waterfall to another. Here are my recommendations.
· For large waterfalls with huge volumes of tumultuous water, where it is desired to freeze the violent nature of the falling water, 1/100 second is a good shutter speed with which to start. If you are looking for a silky affect, a starting point may be 1/8-1/4 of a second.
· For smaller waterfalls or waterfalls with less water where it is desired to produce a dreamy look, a shutter speed of 1/10 second (fast flow) to 1 second (very minimal flow) is recommended. Anything longer tends to destroy all texture in the water and make the falls look extremely “soft”.
Take shots at different shutter speeds and examine the results on the camera monitor.
· Polarizing Filter - Objects that are wet tend to produce glare. This is particularly an issue with waterfall shots because the rocks and vegetation near the waterfall will be wet and will almost certainly have a certain amount of glare. A polarizer will remove the glare. In addition, a polarizer has a secondary effect. By removing the glare, the color saturation will improve.
· Neutral Density (ND) Filters – Since shutter speed can be critical to achieving the desired look of a waterfall, it is important to have a set of 3-stop and 6-stop ND filters that allow you to cut the amount of light entering the lens. This allows you to achieve slower shutter speeds even during the brightest part of the day
· UV Filter - One of the major challenges in photographing waterfalls has to do with water getting on the lens (or the filter in front of the lens). Powerful waterfalls can drop huge amounts of water that produces a mist. In other cases, the weather may produce fog, drizzle, or rain that gets on the lens. All of this can be exacerbated by wind. A partial solution is to place a clear (UV) filter in front of the lens while the equipment is being set up. Once you are ready to go, the filter can be removed in order to take a clean shot.
Identifying and capturing strong composition is an extremely important part of creating powerful waterfall images.
· Curves can make or break a waterfall image. Waterfalls that have water that flows or falls in such a way as to form curves tend to create much more interest than waterfalls where the water simply falls straight down. In essence, graceful curves add an element of elegance to a waterfall.
· The second major component of waterfall composition is the environment surrounding the waterfall. This is extremely important to many waterfall shots. By itself, falling water is not always that interesting. Rather, it is the surrounding environment that gives waterfalls much of their character. Therefore, why not include some of that environment in the image to bring out the waterfall’s character. The surrounding mountains, rocks, trees, vegetation and even buildings and dams can make the waterfall image come alive.
Getting the right exposure can sometimes be a challenge when photographing waterfalls. Probably, one of the biggest problems is that it is easy to overexpose the highlights in the water. When this happens, the detail in the water is lost, and the water becomes just a big area of pure white with no detail. The solution for this problem is to use spot metering on the brightest part of the falls and take a test shot of the waterfall and check the histogram on the monitor of your digital camera. If the histogram is cut off on the right side, the highlights have been overexposed and the exposure needs to be decreased.
Normal waterfall shots take in the whole waterfall but being creative can provide some stunning results. Resist the urge to immediately set up at the most traditional view and instead walk around the entire waterfall looking for different angles. If you have the right clothing (see previous clothing section) you might find a better shot in the run off from the falls or from behind or to the side. You may also want to zoom in and shoot just a portion of the falls that is uniquely interesting. Take the traditional shot, but challenge yourself to find a view that you have not seen before.
Lens Selection – what lens you chose can dramatically affect the look of the shot
· Wide angle (14mm-24mm) – created more distance between items, stretches objects and provides broad depth of field
· Short telephoto (35mm-70mm) – produces the most realistic representation of the scene
· Longer telephoto (100mm-400mm) – compresses the scene and created depth of field issues that need to be addressed with higher apertures or focus stacking
White Balance – you can adjust your WB in camera, but with today’s post processing, I recommend shooting in RAW and leaving it on “auto” and adjusting afterwards. Overcast conditions tend to create a bluish tint that I remove in the saturation portion of the HSL panel in Lightroom as I like my water white.
Conclusion – waterfalls scenes can some of the most dramatic in landscape photography, as stand-alone images or as part of an overall scene. Employing these “best practices” will help you create memorable images and make for a more enjoyable photographic trip.
I am please to announce the the 6th book in my New England Self Guided Workshops Series. This newest book covers the city of Boston. No guide can cover all of the photo opportunities in Boston, as they are too numerous, and many change on a regular basis. This guide is geared to the photographer that is arriving in Boston and looking for 8-10 great photo opportunities that can be accomplished in a couple of days. The locations I have chosen are accessible by anyone with the ability to navigate a big city and does not mind some walking and carrying gear. While I am a landscape photographer and my main focus is on natural landscapes, Boston is such a beautiful city to photograph that I find myself often exploring and shooting its cityscapes, iconic structures, parks and gardens and street scenes that sometimes look like they are from the 19th century and sometimes the 21st. With this e-book, I provide information designed for you to have a fun, productive and memorable photographic adventure. The images and information are designed to inspire you to create images that are unique to your style, and to search for new photographic opportunities. Check out my store for additional information.
With the success of the spring workshops on Cape Cod, I have had quite a few requests to run them again in the fall so I am please to announce my Provincetown Workshop on September 9-10 and my Lower Cape Workshop on Sept 10. Please go to Blue Hour Photo Venture site to find out more information and to sign up
You can download the St. Augustine e-book in my store. It provides you with the complete information to construct your own photo workshop in one of the most beautiful cities in Florida
You can download the White Mountain e-book in my store. If you are interested in attending the Photo Workshop in the White Mountains on June 14, 2018, please visit https://www.bluehourphotoventures.com/all-workshops/ for all the details
You can download the Northeastern Vermont e-book in my store. If you are interested in attending the Photo Workshop in Northeastern Vermont on October 8-9, 2018, please visit https://www.bluehourphotoventures.com/all-workshops/ for all the details
If you are interested in attending the Photo Workshop in Provincetown on May 16-17, 2018, please visit https://www.bluehourphotoventures.com/all-workshops/ for all the details
If you are interested in this one day fall color tour of some of the most scenic locations in Central Massachusetts, please visit https://www.bluehourphotoventures.com/all-workshops/
Description of Attraction: This small lighthouse on a rocky shoreline is one of the better lighthouses to photograph due to its unobstructed location, position on a prominent point out on the rocks so it can be shot from both sides, and accessibility. It offers excellent composition opportunities with rocks and ocean in front and an open sky in the back for sunrise, sunset or various cloud formations.
Location Address: The lighthouse is located in Winter Island Park and does not have an address so use 50 Winter Island Road, Salem, MA.
Parking: There is ample parking in the park if the gate is open. If the gate is closed, park on the side of the street and walk five minutes straight through the park to the water and the lighthouse is on the left. This parking location serves all photo locations
Trail/Hiking Time: There is little or no walking time to the locations shown. Care must be taken climbing on any rocks at low tide, as they are very slippery with seaweed.
GPS: 42.526700 -70.866600
TPE Info: http://app.photoephemeris.com/?ll=42.527032,-70.867058¢er=42.5291,-70.8916&dt=20160620111800-0400&z=15&spn=0.02,0.07
Location #1: (above) This picture was shot looking straight east toward the rising sun. Depending on the tide, there are numerous vantage points either down on the water or on the grass above the rocks. There is quite a bit of latitude for movement depending on the framing and position of sun desired.
Photo Data: (above) Taken on April 18, 2016 at 5:50 a.m. using a Canon 5D Mark iii with a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L lens at 124mm. Shot at F22 for 1/13 sec with a 3-stop ND filter. Processed in Lightroom
Location #2: This was one of my first shots of the day and was done on the shoreline. The tide was low enabling you to pass the breakwater rocks. I included this shot to show some of the excellent foreground elements that can be included.
Photo Data: Taken on April 18, 2016 at 5:25 a.m. using a Canon 5D Mark iii with a Canon EF 24‑105mm ‑ F/4.0 lens at 24mm. Shot at F18 for 10 sec. Processed in Lightroom
Best time of day to visit: Certainly the hour before and after sunrise is excellent. Depending on the time of the year, you can always get a good angle. While I have not visited at sunset, this could also be a good location to have the light on the front of the lighthouse and rocks and any colors on the eastern horizon. As mentioned, there is an excellent view from the other side for sunset.
Best time of year to visit: Any time of year works, but I prefer spring-fall in order to get the sun somewhere behind the lighthouse. In the winter it may be too far in the southern sky to include it along with the shoreline, but it may provide some other angles from above the lighthouse.
Best type of light/weather: Infinite number of choices here as the elements of the location are very strong and adding the components of weather and light is your choice
Additional Equipment Needed: I strongly endorse TPE (The Photographer’s Ephemeris) App for planning your shot. A tripod, polarizing/neutral density filters and shutter release are needed. I also like a good pair of waterproof boots for navigation in the water if you choose to go down to the shore. I would also bring a flashlight or headlamp and a walking pole to help navigate the rocks
Additional Information: This site has many more photo opportunities as there are trails above the lighthouse that allow you to shoot down at it as well as access points from the other side of the lighthouse for sunset shots. I will include these after I visit again.
Description of Attraction: This beautiful lighthouse is built right into the cliff face, and almost appears as a natural feature of the landscape. The granite tower stands thirty-four feet tall and flashes a red light every three seconds. There are wooden steps descending from the path. There are also steps carved into the stone on both sides that go down to the water.
Location Address: The path to the lighthouse is located at the back of the parking lot for the Castle Hill Inn at 590 Ocean Ave.
Parking: The parking lot is usually attended by the hotel staff. If you tell them you are there to visit the lighthouse, they will ask you to park at the back of their lot.
Trail/Hiking Time: The wood chip trail starts at the end of the parking lot at the corner closest to the ocean. You will hike on the path through low bushes and will not have a view of the lighthouse or the ocean. In 8-10 minutes you will see an opening to the right and the top of the lighthouse. You can descend the steps and cross onto the rocks in either direction. If you are going south of the lighthouse, you may want to continue on the path until the next opening for an easier access to the rocks.
Location #1: This picture was shot close to the ocean, but up on some rock slabs looking north/northwest. Castle Hill is one of the few lighthouses in New England that is a great sunset location rather than at sunrise.
Photo Data: Taken on May 10, 2016 at 7:48 p.m. using a Canon 5D Mark iii with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L lens at 32mm. Shot at f/18.0 for 2 sec with a polarizing filter. Processed in Lightroom
Best time of day to visit: Certainly the hour before and after sunset is excellent.
Best time of year to visit: Any time of year works. In winter, the sun is in the southern sky and the lighthouse is best shot from north to south (see below). In the summer with the sun in the northern sky, the best shot is from south to north. I prefer this view due to the position of the lighthouse in the rock ledge and also the multiple angles afforded from the south side of the lighthouse.
Best type of light/weather: Infinite number of choices here as the elements of the location are very strong and adding the components of weather and light is your choice. I have added some additional shots from an hour before sunset and a half hour after sunset.
Additional Equipment Needed: I strongly endorse TPE (The Photographer’s Ephemeris) App for planning your shot. A tripod, polarizing/neutral density filter and shutter release are needed. I also like a good pair of shoes for navigation on the smooth rock. I would also bring a flashlight or headlamp.
Additional Information: This site has many more photo opportunities from either side or above. Be very careful navigating the rocks as they are steep in certain locations. While it is obvious that the area next to the ocean can be slippery, it is worth repeating that as the tide goes out, this smooth rock becomes like ice and can easily deposit you and/or your gear into the Atlantic.
Attraction Name: Sandwich Boardwalk
Description of Attraction: Crossing Mill Creek, the Sandwich Boardwalk is the main passage to the Town Beach. As you cross the reconstructed 1,350-foot boardwalk, you’ll notice funny quips, memorials to lovers, family members, and dedications to boats carved in the planks. Perhaps more importantly, the walkway’s vantage point provides striking views of Cape Cod Bay where you can watch not only the sunrise, but also the marsh grass sway against a hazy summer horizon.
Location Address: the boardwalk is located at the end of Boardwalk Road in Sandwich, MA.
Parking: there is ample parking, but as in all beach parking on the Cape, it depends on the season and time you arrive. Early morning is usually no problem and there is a charge “in season”.
Trail/Hiking Time: there is little or no walking time to the location shown. Care must be taken climbing along the bank of the creek at low tide, as it is slippery with seaweed and very muddy.
TPE Info: http://app.photoephemeris.com/?ll=41.764896,-70.484952¢er=41.7642,-70.4831&dt=20160502145700-0400&z=18&spn=0.00,0.01
Photo Data: taken on April 25, 2016 at 5:35 a.m. using a Canon 5D Mark iii with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L lens at 16mm. Shot at F11 for 1 sec with .09 graduate ND filter. Processed in Lightroom
Location #1: this picture was shot looking straight east toward the rising sun. Depending on the tide, there are numerous vantage points. There is quite a bit of latitude for movement depending on the framing and position of sun desired, but care must be taken with the creek and sea grass.
Best time of day to visit: Certainly the hour before and after sunrise is excellent. Depending on the time of the year, you can usually get a good angle.
Best time of year to visit: Any time of year works. The sunrise is almost straight down the boardwalk in June and at a right angle in December. I like spring or fall for the best angle for the sun.
Best type of light/weather: Infinite number of choices here as the elements of the location are very strong and adding the components of weather and light is your choice
Additional Equipment Needed: I strongly endorse TPE (The Photographer’s Ephemeris) App for planning your shot. A tripod, polarizing/neutral density filter and shutter release are needed. I also like a good pair of waterproof boots for navigation if you choose to go down edge of the creek. I would also bring a flashlight or headlamp and a walking pole to help navigate the mud.
Additional Information: This site has many more photo opportunities as the boardwalk leads to the town beach. Some nice rock jetties provide interesting subject matter.