How Vermont Compares, Photographically

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How Vermont Compares, Photographically

Postby Andy » Sat Oct 25, 2008 9:28 am

I frequent a number of different areas on the www which focus (pun certainly intended :) ) on photography. It seems like there is a lot of coverage of the American West as the place for serious photography. And, you do see a lot of photographers who have ultimately re-located somewhere out West for that reason.

But I think Vermont (and indeed "New England") compares very favorably. I spent nearly a week photographing in the Rocky Mountains (some out there may argue that I wasn't in the real Rockies) in early October. It was, indeed, spectacular. As are the photos I have seen of other parts of that range. But it has its own character. The vegetation species which produce "foliage" photos we "ooh and ahh" about here is just not present. The color tends toward yellows and more subdued oranges of aspens and cottonwoods, and a lot of evergreen and rock interspersed.

There are few places in my (albeit limited) experience that can match up with New England's fiery mixed of reds, purples, oranges, yellows, etc. I think the Canadian Laurentians probably do. There are places in Northern Michigan (Upper Peninsula), my current state of residence, which can come close.

I was motivated to start this thread based on a couple of us traveling and photographing elsewhere this year, and wanting to show and discuss them, but realizing that this is, after all, the "Scenes of Vermont" site. We will always put Vermont photography first and foremost here, but it seems like it is fair game to discuss any photography by those of us who have the common bonds that we love Vermont and love Photography.

I thought about Vermont and what I was missing out on every day while in New Mexico this year. Yet, I loved being there and photographing their fall color. You can see the results of my October, 2008 trip here http://lightcentricphotography.com/2/53b94/#/gallery/new-mexico/ and here http://lightcentricphotography.com/2/573f9/#/gallery/albuquerque-balloon-fiesta/

I know many of us photographed elsewhere this fall. I would be interested in seeing and hearing about your results
Last edited by Andy on Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:20 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby abby » Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:39 pm

That's a beautiful shot Andy. The colors are wonderful and I love the perspective.

I spent a couple of days in NH this Fall. Due to the weather, I wasn't able to spend as much time in the Pittsburg NH area as I would have liked to. There are so many ponds in that area, and I'd like to go explore them all. I might go back there for a day or two this summer. I contacted a wildlife photographer, who's work I found on the web, and asked him if he would share with me the areas where he photographed his moose shots. He has some of those elusive moose shots that I dream of getting.......with the moose in the pond and the pond scum dripping of the antlers. He emailed me back and told me that July is the best month for catching them feeding in the ponds.

In 2007 the colors here in Massachusetts were a lot better than the colors in Vermont. This year, it was the opposite. The colors around here were dull and never really popped this year, unlike up North where it was one of the beast years we've had in a while. (I might add my observations in MA are only in Southeast MA. I know there were some better colors in Western and Northern MA) I took a few photos around here in MA, but the majority of my Fall photos this year were taken in Vermont and some in NH.

Carol

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Postby autzig » Mon Oct 27, 2008 9:45 pm

My visit to Vermont was a bit late for the brilliant colors but I did find some nice yellows near Calvin Coolidge State Park.

http://www.goldimagesphoto.com/newengland/index.html

I've spent a lot of time in the west. I lived in Oregon for four years and I've vacationed in the Rockies. People there get excited when the aspens turn yellow. I admit that they are nice but compared to the brilliant colors of the hardwoods in the eastern U.S. they are pretty ordinary. That said, the colors in the Grand Canyon are spectacular; a different kind of color but color nonetheless. Combine some real mountains with the golden aspens and the beauty is unmatched. I love it all!

I grew up in Wisconsin and there are many places where the foliage is as nice as in Vermont. The big difference is that in Wisconsin and Michigan, for that matter, there simply aren't mountainsides blazing with color.

How about this for a Vermont photo topic: What techniques do you use to capture the beauty of the Vermont foliage?

I'll start. When I look at my foliage photos, one of two things is always present. I like roads or pathways that lead the eye into the color, just as I did it in the image above. The other thing that is likely to be in my photo is water. In some respects, it is like the road. I like a bend in the river to draw the viewer into the scene. Alternatively, I really like reflections in the water.

Frankly, I think it is very difficult to capture the beauty of colorful foliage. When the eye sees it, there is WOW. I haven't been able to figure out how to capture that same WOW with my camera.

Andy and Carol, I don't know if anybody else is hanging around this site now that the foliage season is over, but I'd like to hear from you.

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Postby Andy » Mon Oct 27, 2008 10:21 pm

Al and Carol: Thanks for your comments.

I am amazed at how much beauty we have in this continent. I spent a week in June in "Canadian Shield" country in the North Channel of Lake Huron. What an incredible place. In the SouthEast we have the Smokies (I'll do that some day) and some pretty nice Ocean areas. In the West, we have seemingly unending spectacular mountains, wildlife, etc. The Southwest has its own beauty.

I agree that fall foliage is difficult to capture. During the season, I get almost daily comments from those who know me telling me they saw beautiful colors in this or that place. The problem is that a shot of colorful trees is rarely an exciting or compelling photo. I look for something to give my photo some "perspective" to try to give the viewer a frame of reference. I like to put something in the foreground which does this and provides some interest, when possible. I also like to shoot from different perspectives, particularly from high above.

But water is perhaps my favorite "prop", as I particularly like reflection shots. Here's an example from fall, 2007. This is almost in my "backyard" and certainly not in a place you would book a week of travel to do fall photography :lol:

http://lightcentricphotography.com/2/15a6783/#/gallery/michigan-lower-peninsula/shiawasee-nwr-saginaw-mi-0728/
Last edited by Andy on Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:16 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby abby » Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:46 am

Al,
Your shots from Calvin Coolidge State park are beautiful. They are classic "Al" shots. I noticed from looking through your website that you have a certain style to your photography and you just confirmed that in your post here. I always enjoy your "road" and "water" shots.
Andy,
As I already said, I love your balloon shot. To me, that is a classic "Andy" shot. Your shots are usually nice tight crops, and to me, that is a signature "Andy" shot.

There are no signature "Carol" shots. I am all over the place.

To a certain extent, I like to follow Andy's advice of "get in closer"......and I try to do that a lot when I am composing my shots. But, there are other times when I want to show a wider view, so I do my own thing. I know there is no right or wrong, and it's all a matter of personal taste.

To me, the difference between a good photographer and a photographer-wanna-be is that a good photographer has a signature style of their own. I don't have that, and maybe I never will.......and that's actually ok with me. I am just happy to have found a hobby at this point in my life (mid 40's and holding LOL) that brings me so much happiness and has helped me to see the world in a whole different way.

I always strive to do better and I'm having a ball while I'm at it. That's the best part of it for me.......I'm having fun.

Carol

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Postby Andy » Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:07 am

Carol: Mid 40's. You are still a child!!! In your prime. I posted an example of my "reflection" preference in my earlier post, if you care to look.

I have found it interesting, and slightly humorous, that you think I have a particular "style." I know you have said that before. I do not consciously shoot with any style. I shoot what looks good to me, and often try different views and perspectives of the same subject. Having said that, I will acknowledge that I often do not spend as much time looking at different perspectives of a subject as I used to. Part of that is a "confidence" that I have previewed the subject and know how I will best like its look. BUT, that's really my bad. Have you ever had a conversation with someone (often much younger than you) and heard a different perspective on a subject, and thought "hmmn. I never thought of it that way"? That is what I miss when I don't spend enough time looking at a subject and trying things I haven't done before ("pushing the envelope" so to speak).

9 of 10 times, my first "planned" composition is the one I like. But that 10th time, sometimes I'll come home and see something on screen that I didn't really think would work that will jump out at me. Or I may see a crop I didn't think about.

I don't think you, I or Al are different in that respect. Our "styles" evolve. It may be that he and I have been at it longer, which has given us longer to evolve (I guess you could say we are a couple of evolved human beings :wink: ). But you do/will have your own "style." You just haven't identified it yet (I am not sure I have identified mine, either).
Andy

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Postby Andy » Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:41 am

Al and Abby: I wanted to expand (expound??) on the comments regarding photographic style for fall foliage.

I think there are two different approaches to "landscape" photography (there may be more, but I am trying to keep it within the capacity of my simplistic mind).

One approach is what might traditionally be called, "the grand landscape." This involves a long view of an expansive scene, with an attempt to show that expanse as well as some foreground for perspective and an impressive background (often mountain, or foliage-covered hillside).

In my (ever so humble :P ) opinion, these are much more difficult to pull off effectively. In my own photographic experience, that is borne out by how few of them I have taken that are what I consider a "wall-hanger."

The other approach is a more intimate landscape. I tend to find these easier to find good compositions. One reason is subject availability. In order to get the two above images, I had to travel to Vermont and New Mexico and climb and/or drive high up into mountains and find overlooks for the "grand" view. The reflection shot in my earlier post was taken in a swamp less than a mile from my home in Saginaw, Michigan (which I have described as the flatest, brownest, most overhead power-line-ridden place in the U.S. :( ). But all require good composition. In my view, this means having something in the foreground which is of interest, but not necessarily detracting from the subject (it give perspective and lead-in). This can be water, a road or path, rocks, etc. In the "grand" example, I often try to use foreground trees to give some perspective. Water is a wonderful "prop."

As Mike Myer's "Linda Richman" SNL character used to say: "Discuss amongst yourselves" But seriously, some discussion here would be great.

P.S. - I apologize for the poor-quality jpegs. I have some issues with the place I link them to and what it does on upload.
Last edited by Andy on Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby abby » Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:45 pm

I can't see your two images Andy.

Here's a shot I took at May Pond at the very end of the foliage season. I thought of a tighter crop, but decided I liked it as is. What do you think? Is this one you would have initially composed tighter? Would you personally have cropped it afterwards? (or would you have just put it in the trash bin? ) :D

Image

By the way, yes, I really do think you have your own style of photography. I could pick one of your photos out of a lineup and ID it as yours I bet.

Carol

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Postby autzig » Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:32 pm

Carol, I really like this photo. I like how you leave the viewer trying to see the converging lines of the shoreline and the skyline. My eye moves right along the shoreline and I'm wanting to see more. Great Suspense!

My only suggestions would be to saturate the sky. A polarizing filter might have accomplished that now you could do it in photoshop. The sky could be more vibrant and the clouds more well defined. The only other little nit for me is the rock on the lower left. Maybe it's the little white ball there but after you lead me to the end of the shoreline, my eye moves back to the left but rather than drawing me back to the converging lines, I see that out of the corner of my eye.

Image

I used a little Photoshop to enhance the colors. What do you think?

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Postby abby » Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:47 pm

Al,
Thanks so much for your comments. I appreciate your suggestions. Cloning out that rock will be easy for me.......but I've never changed a sky before in Photoshop. I assume that would be done in a separate layer? What about the clouds? Maybe we can discuss that at another time. I don't want to take the focus off the initial post.
You posted another beautiful road shot. I love the colors. I am still waiting to see Andy's 2 example photos.
Thanks again,
Carol

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Postby abby » Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:56 pm

You're messing with my head here Al!!!! :lol:

We must have been posting at the same time. I KNOW there was a picture of a foliage lined road and now I see you updated my photo in its place.

Yes, I like what you did to my photo. I actually enhanced the colors previously, but it looks like I could have kicked it up a notch like you did. I see that distracting rock is gone too. :) I really like what you did.

Thank you,
Carol

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Postby Andy » Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:25 pm

Carol: I like it the way it is (mostly :) ). I might crop just a tad of the far left out where the "good" foliage stops. Otherwise, no, I would leave it as is. I agree with Al that the one rock cloned out looks better.

I also would saturate all the colors more (remember my adage that we are trying to achieve a "look" rather than do some type of realism reportage). I use LAB color and curves in many cases to boost and separate color. I can't adequately explain it here, but the Margulis Book we have discussed previously describes it well. Another way might be to go into Hue/Saturation and boost it there.

As far as the sky, I would use the Magic Wand tool and try to isolate the sky as much as possible in a selection. Use the new "refine edge" tool in the selection drop down menu to get the edges around the tree line right. then you can work with the sky separately from the rest of the photo (save the selection, in case you want to go back and use it later). Sometimes you can get the result you want just using levels and/or curves on the sky selection. Layers are always good, but its not absolutely necessary.

I tried to re: do the images. I don't know why I have so much trouble with that. I am using Picassa to do that, since neither of my websites allow me to link to a photo on a page.
Andy

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Postby autzig » Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:17 pm

Yes, Carol, we must have been on at the same time. I was trying to figure out how to embed the photo into the note. Andy had given me some instructions and I was trying it out with one of the images from my site. When it worked, I figured out how to replace it with your shot that I adjusted.

I didn't do much with it, just added a little saturation to the reds, yellows and blues and use a curves layer to make it lighter.

Since you liked mine so much, here it is:

Image

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Postby abby » Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:02 am

"Carol: I like it the way it is (mostly Smile ). I might crop just a tad of the far left out where the "good" foliage stops. Otherwise, no, I would leave it as is. I agree with Al that the one rock cloned out looks better."

Andy, I was wondering what you would think of that photo. I'm glad you mostly :) like it. I'll take you advice about the minor crop.

"I also would saturate all the colors more (remember my adage that we are trying to achieve a "look" rather than do some type of realism reportage). I use LAB color and curves in many cases to boost and separate color. I can't adequately explain it here, but the Margulis Book we have discussed previously describes it well. Another way might be to go into Hue/Saturation and boost it there."

I have a problem trying to decide how far to push the envelope with color. I feel like I'm "cheating" when I push it. Does that make sense?
I remember you teaching me about LAB colors. I'll go back and practice with that.

"As far as the sky, I would use the Magic Wand tool and try to isolate the sky as much as possible in a selection. Use the new "refine edge" tool in the selection drop down menu to get the edges around the tree line right. then you can work with the sky separately from the rest of the photo (save the selection, in case you want to go back and use it later).:

A-HA!!!!! I've used the magic wand to select a sky to work on one other time, but the final results were terrible because I could clearly see where the separation was made. I never knew about the refine edge tool. I'll give it a go with that. Thanks for telling me about that.



"I tried to re: do the images. I don't know why I have so much trouble with that. I am using Picassa to do that, since neither of my websites allow me to link to a photo on a page."

I see them now Andy.....you got it right. I'll commment on them on your thread.

Thanks again,
Carol

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Postby abby » Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:05 am

autzig wrote:Yes, Carol, we must have been on at the same time. I was trying to figure out how to embed the photo into the note. Andy had given me some instructions and I was trying it out with one of the images from my site. When it worked, I figured out how to replace it with your shot that I adjusted.

I didn't do much with it, just added a little saturation to the reds, yellows and blues and use a curves layer to make it lighter.

Since you liked mine so much, here it is:

Image


Thanks Al. I figured we were on at the same time. That was funny. :D

Thanks for the photo. It's really beautiful.
Carol



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