How Vermont Compares, Photographically

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Andy
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How Vermont Compares, Photographically

Post: # 7950Post 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/2/53 ... ew-mexico/ and here http://lightcentricphotography.com/2/57 ... on-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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autzig
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Post: # 7954Post 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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Post: # 7955Post 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/2/15 ... w-mi-0728/
Last edited by Andy on Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:16 am, edited 3 times in total.
Andy

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Andy
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Post: # 7961Post 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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Andy
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Post: # 7962Post 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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autzig
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Post: # 7965Post 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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Post: # 7970Post 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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autzig
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Post: # 7971Post 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

Andy
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Post: # 7975Post Andy
Wed Oct 29, 2008 5:32 pm

In your second example, do you think if it was taken at a different time of the day you would have liked the results better?
Absolutely. We hiked up there in the hot mid-day sun. One of the problems with places like this is that they are gated and the gates open and close during the hours "normal" folk would want to go up there, but not at the times photographers would want to be there. The drive up is probably 2-3 miles to the parking lot. Then, there is still a good 15-20 minute hike up a trail to the overlook area.

However, my comment in the thread was more about how "degraded" the image is, by the time it gets here. It is a small jpeg to start with, saved at only 72dpi (advice from my former "web guy" to discourage image theft--it doesn't stop the theft, but a 72dpi image cannot be printed very large without looking awful). Jpegs are, by nature, a compressed format, to make them useful for quick uploading on the web. But the compression degrades the image quality. To make matters worth, if a jpeg is changed and re-saved, it is again compressed and it get pretty beat up. I think many of the public areas--like Picassa--do their own image compression. This means it gets degraded. I will eventually experiment with some better "quality" images there. In this case, I was trying to illustrate my point, albeit with a lower quality image. The actual image, printed, came out surprisingly nice.

As an aside, I use a polarizer heavily in these light conditions. With the adjustments I can make in the RAW converter and the polarizer, I am often able to "save" images. But in the end, nothing will beat shooting this in better quality light.

And yes, you and my wife would agree: I am very predictable :lol:
Andy

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Andy
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Post: # 7976Post Andy
Wed Oct 29, 2008 5:37 pm

Al: I am a big fan of pushing the limits of saturation and color. But . . . .your shot look almost oversaturated to me.

Are you familiar with Dan Margulis' Book, The Canyon Conundrum and other LAB color Secrets? It is kind of an expensive book -- and worth every penny for the first 2 chapters, in my opinion. Margulis shows a technique for pulling colors and separating the primary (rgb and yellow) colors by converting your image to LAB color space, applying some disarmingly simple curves, and converting back again. I can usually achieve in seconds, what used to take me a lot of time using levels, curves and saturation. There are some images it doesn't work on. But most of my images benefit from the technique. It would be interesting to do a comparison of your shot using that technique to what you did.
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

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Post: # 7977Post Andy
Wed Oct 29, 2008 5:37 pm

BTW, wouldn't it be nice if we could expand this 3-person forum??
Andy

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autzig
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Post: # 7980Post autzig
Wed Oct 29, 2008 7:53 pm

I suspect that the reason this is a three person discussion is that now that the foliage season is over, everyone is gone until next year.

I have Scott Kelby's books and he teaches some lab color techniques that I use at times. What a lot of people don't seem to know about Photoshop is that you can create a Hue/Saturation layer and saturate by color. It defaults to Master but if you click on the drop down, you can saturate each color individually by whatever amount looks good. You can also create a Selective Color Layer and adjust those, including whites and neutrals. Want those clouds to stand out? Take the black out of the white. Want to darken the sky or water? Add black to Cyan. Many of these techniques eliminate the need to make selections around tree tops which are difficult if not impossible. But...if the green tree is composed of yellow and green, messing with blues and cyans leave the tree unaffected.

It looks like we may be turning this thread into a Photoshop lesson but that's ok with me as I still have a lot to learn.

By the way, I'm apparently the old guy in the group. Andy you said Carol was just a baby in her mid-forties. I learned from your bio that you graduated from college in 1981. I got my sheepskin in 1971.

Carol I think it is interesting that you have identified an "Al style" My daughter describes it as a "Dad Shot". As a curiosity, I looked at the photos on my website and I was surprised at how many of them had water or roads in them. I found Andy's Grand Landscape and Intimate Landscape concepts interesting. I don't think my shots fit into either category. I think my landscapes are intermediate. Not terribly grand but not intimate either.

autzig
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Post: # 7989Post autzig
Thu Oct 30, 2008 8:59 pm

abby wrote:Al,
Does your daughter also enjoy photography?

I might be the youngest of us three musketeers, but trust me, some days I sure don't feel it!!! I mentioned I am in my mid 40's and holding. My upcoming birthday puts me definately in the late 40's category.....that's why I am still holding. :)

Carol
My daughter is the artist in the family but not really a photographer. I remember when she was in college, she came home for Easter break after the family dog had died. She painted his portrait on canvas all from memory. It was an amazing likeness. Now she has a little side business where she paints letters to hang on walls and stools and stuff like that. Here's the link to her site if you are interested. http://decorativenurseryletters.blogspot.com/

She's a remarkable lady. She has four kids, home schools them somehow finds time for her painting.

Andy
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Post: # 7990Post Andy
Thu Oct 30, 2008 9:47 pm

Carol: My wife has a saying that goes something like "that's why God made white milk and chocolate milk."

When I said I thought Al's shot looked almost too saturated, I specifically added: "to me." That's the beauty about what we are doing here. There is artistic license.

But trust me -- YOU can push your colors a bit farther. One technique (Margulis suggests this one, too) is to take your adjustments WAY too far, and then move the sliders back until it doesn't look over the top any more. I try that sometimes.

One other thing I forgot to mention. Looking at a photograph on a monitor is a bit of a "crapshoot." I was working on my website tonight and had my laptop on next to our desktop. The difference between the colors on the two monitors (both calibrated) is distinctive. My laptop monitor is probably the worse place for me to try to make any photographic color adjustments.
Andy

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vtphotogf64
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Post: # 8638Post vtphotogf64
Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:49 pm

I spent many years photographing the American West. Lots of incredible country to photograph. I returned to New England in 96" and IMHO Vermont, New England in general is the most photogenic regionin the country. The diversity is amazing.

During "stick season" tho one does have to work harder
to find great outdoor scenes. :lol:


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