Years ago I read in a photography magazine, and I can’t remember the author’s name, that serendipity is the intersection of preparation and chance. Last night’s sunset is a good example. For decades I have been honing my photographic skills- technical and artistic. I have acquainted myself with many nearby locations, studied weather and cloud movement, and the different seasonal looks.
Yesterday, I was planning to photograph the end of day. Looking at the clouds from my front yard, and watching their movement, I thought if I went west and south, the light would be more likely to illuminate the clouds from below. I decided to go to West Dennis Beach.
The beach itself, along that part of Nantucket Sound, is a straight band of sand, not offering much of visual interest, and the small waves broke up what on a still evening would have been great reflections. I drove the mile length of the parking area, seeing how the sky and foreground related to each other. The color started to come up as the sun disappeared. I turned around and decided the best foreground was a section of dune and pathway. And then this was my reward-
Last week, I was at Priscilla Landing in Orleans, working with the early autumn colors along the shore of Nauset Harbor. My Canon 70D with a Canon 100-400 L series lens were on my tripod, my other camera on a neck strap. As I turned and raised the camera, I saw the tripod going over. Smack- right on a rock. Foul word or two. Checking the gear, I found the flash shoe on the camera punched down, and the zoom lens wouldn’t zoom.
I had already been thinking of upgrading this set-up, but the plan had been to sell the old gear to help defray the cost. Now it would be all out of pocket. I went ahead and ordered a Canon 7D Mark II with the new version of the 100-400. A day later the new gear arrived.
Now for the karma- in the next two days, I sold enough work to pay for the new gear, and I was back to zero…
This photo of an immature sharp-shinned hawk is from my first session with the new gear. Hand held and a heavy crop. I am very pleased with the performance.
I love being able to respond to interesting light and weather by heading to Paine’s Creek. I can be there in two minutes. Watching the weather radar, I saw the storm heading across the north side of Cape Cod Bay. As I set up on the breakwater, the sky opened and the shaft of light shone on the water. In the sand someone had drawn “Cape Cod 2019”, which became the title for this image. I also took a series of images to make a panorama.
When you shoot photographs in Raw format, which I nearly always do, the images show reduced contrast and saturation, and appear softer. I started by dealing with these issues using Lightroom but continued to work to make the image more like what I saw and felt at the time. After reaching the middle image, the history window in the program showed more than 60 entries. One thing still bothered me. I wanted more space on the left side of the picture between the boat and the edge. Over to Photoshop to use the content aware fill function, then back to Lightroom for a few more tweaks, and the final image on the left has me satisfied.
Yarmouth’s Bass Hole Boardwalk is a great spot to view the sunset. Starting at Gray’s Beach, it crosses over the marsh for a half mile, ending at an observation deck with views of the creek, Cape Cod Bay, and the tip of Chapin Beach.
One of my favorite, and also nearest places to photograph is Paine’s Creek here in Brewster. I usually drive to the beach parking area, and work on the east side of the creek. Last night I chose a different approach. I went to the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, about 1/2 mile away, then hiked out on Wing’s Island to photograph on the west side. The sunset itself was very soft, with little color due to clouds, but there was an open strip of sky to the north, angling toward the southwest. Experience has taught me that sometimes, after the sun has gone below the horizon, its light will get under the back edge of the clouds, and color will explode across the sky. I waited, and it happened!
I can’t believe it has been almost a year since I published a new blog post! Been spending too much time on facebook… Here is a brand new image from this weekend. I was out at the end of Crowe’s Pasture, looking for a snowy owl that I have photographed there a few times. No owl this time, but I saw some fascinating forms in the sand left by the retreating tide. After downloading and sorting the images, I chose one to work on. I loved the flowing pattern, but decided to have some fun in Photoshop. I took the image, copied and flipped it, and attached it to itself. Then I added contrast and darkened the edges. I stepped away to get some tea, and as I approached the computer screen, I saw the total image instead of the elements that I had been concentrating on. I saw a face of sorts, and remembered the sand worms from Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novels.
After posting the photograph on facebook, a friend commented that it looked like Yoda from Star Wars. She was right!
Diane and I are back from two weeks in Puerto Rico. We stayed at Palmas Del Mar, a resort in Humacao, on the eastern, Caribbean side of the island. We went on a side-trip to the island of Culebra. We had reservations at Mamacita’s Guest House, a short walk from the ferry terminal. When checking in, I saw this glass block window and was amazed at the colors! When I stepped outside, I saw that the window was on a narrow alley painted in bright, tropical hues.
The alley led to the rear of Mamacita’s, where there was the bar to one side, and a fine waterfront restaunant on the other. You can see all the colors that ended up showing through the distortion of the glass blocks. Another feature- a large iguana considered the deck area his own.
During the middle portion of our trip to France, Diane and I travelled by train to southwest France. Our first stop was in Bayonne. We walked the old part of town, where one section of the outer walls was built by the Romans, visited the gothic cathedral and the Basque museum, before having dinner along the riverfront.
The next day another train took us up into the Pyrenees Mountains to the town of Saint Jean Pied de Port. This is where many people start the El Camino de Santiago, also called the way of Saint James. It is an ancient pilgrimage route that crosses 500 miles of northern Spain. Diane wanted to check it out, as she wants to hike it next year. There are many things to see in town, including the Bishop’s Prison Museum, a Roman bridge, and the citadel on the hill, to name a few. We even found a potter’s studio to visit. Lunch by the river, followed by a shuttle van ride to our next stop.
We spent the next two nights in Pau. The walled old city overlooks the nearby Pyrenees. The chateau where Henry IV was born is the prime place to visit, parts of which go back to Roman times. Plenty of places to shop and dine.