This first photo is from 2014. I reprocessed it, mainly to correct some blown highlights in the water. First observation: Blown highlights bother me a lot more today than they did back then.
I made this from the foot bridge near the top of the falls. Second observation: It’s quite a hike, especially with a load of heavy camera gear. But it’s well worth it for the wonderful view! With a wide enough lens, you can try to show the grand scale and sweeping power of the falls.
Amicalola Falls – The grand view from the footbridge near the top. Nikon D800, ISO 50, 16mm, f/22 @ 1/3 sec.
I really like this photo, and I’m glad I made it. Third observation: Four years later, I think that it was a bit too easy. Probably everyone that visits these falls will try for an image that looks like this.
The next three images are from 2018. I must have been anxious to get the grand view photo in 2014 and hiked right by these locations – I don’t recall noticing them. On this recent visit, Mike Boening pointed out several spots along the trail and I stopped at a few and set up for more intimate photos.
Light in the creek. Olympus OM-D M II, Hi-res mode, ISO 200, 28mm eq., f/8 @ 1 sec.
On the way back down, the last spot I stopped at was only a few yards from the parking area!
Flow. Olympus OM-D M II, Hi-res mode, ISO 200, 40mm eq., f/8 @ 1.2 sec.
I like the grand view image I made in 2014, but I think I like these 2018 images even more. There are probably quite a few photos of Amicalola similar to my first one. I suspect that images like the second and third are much less common since the number of possible viewpoints and compositions is so much greater.
Sometimes, only one approach will work for a subject or your style of photography. On the drive up to the falls, we stopped at an overlook and I was fascinated by the fog / mist and low clouds moving through the valley. I was able to poke the small lens on my iPhone through the chain link fence to grab this frame. At the time, I didn’t think about an intimate detail type of composition there.
Foggy mountain view
But that’s just me. I saw a photo later that showed Mike making an image of some graffiti on the road. Last observation: Graffiti isn’t something I normally photograph and I didn’t even pay attention to it at the time. Our usual photo styles can limit the potential images we see.
So what’s the moral of this story? Should we make grand scenic view images or intimate, up-close photos of the details? You know what I’m going to say , don’t you? “It depends”.
Actually, I’m going to say: It depends, but try hard to get both. You’ll grow as a photographer if you can teach your brain to see both ends of this spectrum. Shoot whichever you prefer first, but force yourself to look for the other compositions before you leave a spot.
Do you have a favorite photo that you made a while ago? Perhaps with an older camera? If so, you may want to see what new versions of software and your revised tastes and improved skills can do differently.
I had a request for a print of this image. It’s from way back in 2007, made with my first DSLR – a Nikon D80:
Littleton, Colo. cabin
I like this photo. A lot, and not just because of the subject. It reminds me of driving along the road between where my Mom used to live and my Sister’s house, and visiting them both. It’s been on the blog before: here and here. If you’re interested, please take a look at these two posts to see earlier versions.
Fortunately, I was saving my digital files in RAW format even back then, so I can take full advantage of any improvements in photo software. I decided to run this through my current imaging workflow before printing. Using DxO Optics Pro, Photoshop, and Lightroom, I was able to reduce noise, improve shadow and highlight detail, and tweak color, contrast, and brightness. I feel the new version is better.
Using current software on an image made with 10-year-old technology can be amazing. I even see a spider web hanging from the near door that I never noticed before.
What do you think? Do you ever reprocess your older images?
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make and / or reprocess some photos!
It’s been a while since we’ve had such a strong hurricane pass so close to us here in Central Florida. Matthew was a category 4 storm last Wednesday as it approached our east coast and had just roared through Haiti with devastating effects. Luckily, it veered a little further away and winds were lower than forecast when it hit here. We had strong rain and winds, power flickers, trees down, and some damage in our area on the North East side of Orlando. But we were spared most of the dire effects that we worried about. Friends from New Smyrna Beach stayed with us and they too reported very few problems from the storm, although they lost power for a day.
Anyway, I wasn’t able or even motivated to do any photography last week. So instead I’ll show you an image that has nothing to do with storms, from our recent trip Shenandoah.
Bear Fence Mountain Panorama – This is part of the vista from the top of Bearfence Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. It’s one of the few places there where you get a true 360 degree view. This image is a mutli-frame panorama stitched together in Lightroom.
Scrambling up this rock pile on the top of the mountain, I had to acknowledge that my 64-year-old knees aren’t as good as I thought. But I did make to the top and the view was awesome.
I hope all of you also came through hurricane Matthew ok. If not, our thoughts and prayers are with you. And thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. If possible – go make some photos!
On July 4th, 1936, in the Virginia Blue Ridge mountains along Skyline Drive at Big Meadows, President Roosevelt dedicated Shenandoah National Park. Since that time, people have greatly enjoyed wonderful vistas, beautiful waterfalls, quiet wooded hollows, hiking, wildlife and the night sky.
Sunrise at Spitler Knoll
I’ve been to Shenandoah many times. It’s the first national park I ever visited – too long ago to admit. I hiked there with our Boy Scout troop from Bowie, Maryland when I was a very young man . Hiking’s a major activity at the park – the Appalachian Trail runs along and crosses Skyline Drive in many places.
Appalachian trail view
Lynn and I also took Mike and Mary there when they were younger and we have fond (and scary!) memories of hikes with those two scrambling over rocks and along ridges to be first to see a view. On one of our visits, we also picnicked with our good friends the Sullivans, and hiked with the kids down to Dark Hollow Falls.
Dark Hollow Falls – A gorgeous waterfall, although crowded at times since it’s one of the closest ones to Skyline Drive. (Photo from 1996).
To get the most out of your visit, you need an up to date guide-book. We had one from our previous visits (printed in 1988!), but unfortunately we didn’t realize how out of date it was. Fires and other events have changed places in the park, sometimes quite dramatically. Fortunately, we found updated books at the park. One example of the changes:
Dead eastern hemlock trees – Hemlock Springs, Shenandoah National Park. We really enjoyed hiking through large stands of hemlock trees the last time we were there, 20+ years ago. Now, 95% of the Hemlock trees in Shenandoah have been killed by the hemlock woolly adeligid, an invasive species introduced by humans.
Weather can vary in the park. All of our visit was beautiful, but we spent one day completely socked in with heavy rain and visibility of 50 to 100 feet. I had fun walking around in the fog looking for photos, while Lynn wove a White Oak basket from scratch.
Rain drops in the mist
We saw lots of wildlife while we were there. The deer are all over and not very skittish, since animals are protected in the park. We also saw 2 black bears – exciting! I didn’t look too hard for birds, but managed to spot at least one life bird (Dark-eyed Junco).
If you search the web you’ll see things to do in the surrounding area too. We’ve been to Luray Caverns in the past, although we didn’t have time to explore outside the park this time.
In summary, Shenandoah National Park deserves to be on your bucket list. If you haven’t been there yet, just go. If you have been there, you know what I mean.
You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and some other photos from our trip in this album on Flickr.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Tranquility at Bubble Pond. This is a two frame, hand merged image. ISO 100, f/16, 1/10 sec, 16mm, using a polarizing filter.
Apparently, my web server glitched and didn’t send emails to the subscriber list when I posted the new entry about Acadia National Park earlier today (Sunday, 17 August, 2014). If you’d like to read it, please go to this address in your web browser: https://edrosack.com/2014/08/17/acadia-national-park-maine/
Sometimes, you can arrive at a “bucket list” location and it’s disappointing when it doesn’t live up to your expectations. So let’s get that out-of-the-way now: That won’t happen at Acadia National Park. It’s an utterly awesome place. If you haven’t been there yet, make sure it’s on your own bucket list.
“The Bubbles” mountains from the southern end of Jordan Pond. I used a polarizing filter for this and I like the way it renders the nearby rocks through the water and the trees on the left. ISO 100, f/16, 1/10 second, at 16mm.
This place on the south shore of Jordan Pond is one of the most iconic views in the park. I looked and was surprised there weren’t any holes worn in the rock from all the tripods over the years. But I didn’t let the fact that everyone takes a photo here stop me – I couldn’t resist making one of my own.
I’ve wanted to go to Acadia for a long time. My friend Kevin M. went last year and raved about it. When Mary Kate suggested I go up with her, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
It’s a landscape photographer’s paradise. I spent almost 6 full days there. I met MK and her coworker Ryan on Friday evening and they left Sunday afternoon. Fellow Photography Interest Group member Tom M. arrived Monday afternoon and we stayed until Thursday morning. It’s brimming with photo ops: rugged shorelines, sandy beaches, granite mountains, calm mirror like ponds, beautiful forests, gnarled trees, lighthouses, fishing villages, whales, birds, and more. It felt like there were photos everywhere I looked.
Acadia is small for a national park (at least compared to some of those out west) but it still covers a very large area. And getting from the Bass Harbor Head Light all the way to the Schoodic Peninsula can take some time, especially with traffic during the peak summer season. This map shows where I made my photos.
You can see I made it to much of the park, but I missed an even larger part of it. Not to mention that I mostly stayed close to the car. I didn’t explore any of the hiking trails and carriage roads. I guess I’ll have to keep it on my bucket list and go back!
I visited several places more than once and the changing light and weather made them look very different. Bubble Pond, Schoodic Point, and Cadillac Mountain were my favorites.
Looking north-west from Otter Creek Drive, with Cadillac Mountain in the distance. A 5 frame panorama, captured in infrared and converted to B&W. ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/160 sec, at 28mm (equivalent focal length).
I found the spot above just driving around, not from a guidebook. The fog in the distance and the lily pads in the nearby pond called out for a photograph.
Schoodic Peninsula is in all the guidebooks and you must go there. We spent hours looking for compositions hidden in the rocks, cliffs and waves. Just make sure you’re careful. The rocks can be slippery and unexpected waves have washed people into the water.
Schoodic Point Waves. I used a Hoya ND400 filter on this to slow my shutter speed. Even though the sun had been up for a while, I could expose at ISO 100, f/16, 4.2 seconds, at 16mm.
Sieur de Monts is in all the guide books too and when I saw photos of the birch forests I knew I had to stop there. Tom and I initially made a wrong turn, but finally found it. And what a wonderful place it was – well worth the walk!
Paper Birch and sedge grass forest, along Jessup’s Path. This is a 6 frame panorama, captured in infrared and converted to B&W. ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/100 sec at 28mm (equivalent focal length).
We saw wildlife too. On Saturday morning, MK and I took the Puffin / Whale tour offered by Bar Harbor Whale Watching. It was a bit foggy, but nice enough and the captain managed to find both Atlantic Puffins and Humpback Whales for us. We also saw several lighthouses that we wouldn’t have spotted otherwise. In addition to the puffins, I photographed four other new life birds: Arctic Terns, Black Guillemots, Great Shearwaters, and Great Black-backed Gulls. And there may have been a few others that I didn’t recognize / identify. Back on land we saw deer a couple of times, and (heard about) a bear. But sadly, no moose.
Two Humpback whales show their tails on the way back down after surfacing. We watched a group of three feeding together. As the boat idled they often came close. Researchers keep track of the whales and ID them from the patterns on their tails and backs. The whale on the left is “Bottleneck.” (HWC #8807) and was first sighted there in 2004. The other whale is “Vee” (HWC # 0372) and it was first sighted there in 1983 and has also been seen in Puerto Rico.
ISO 400, f/8, 1/1000 sec, at 155mm.
After the boat tour, MK and I drove up to Prospect Harbor to visit Janet M. She was Mary’s music teacher in Orlando and retired to Maine. She and her husband Arnold are outstanding tour guides – they drove us around the Schoodic area and showed us many sites from a local’s perspective. And then they shared a delightfully delicious dinner of Maine Lobster Mac and Cheese, salad, and Maine Blueberry pie for desert. What wonderful hosts!
There’s a lot of information available about this area, so I won’t try to write an exhaustive how-to guide, Instead, here are some of the references I used. I bought and read these two books and I’d recommend either one (or both):
The Bar Harbor Whale Watching Puffin / Whale tour posts photos taken on their tours on their Flickr stream.
Finally, I’ll offer these hints that may help when you go:
I brought a full (and heavy) photo backpack and used a lot of the gear. We flew into Bangor on smaller planes so be careful that your photo luggage meets the carry on restrictions. I was very glad I had a wide-angle lens, my IR modified camera, a tripod, and polarizing and ND400 filters. Kevin M. loaned me his 70 – 300mm lens and I used that for whales and puffins.
I filled up my camera memory cards for the first time in a long while. Bring extra, or some way to back them up so you can safely erase them.
Atlantic Puffins are small – and far away from the boat! There’s one tour that actually puts you on the island where they nest inside blinds close to the birds. But I heard that the waiting list is over a year long.
Whales on the other hand are large and sometimes close to the boat. You can get some good photos even with a phone.
Make sure you practice your photography skills before you go. And know your equipment – no new gear right before the trip. You want to know what to do when you get there, not figure it out in real-time.
Guidebooks and research are helpful, but don’t get too focused in on what others have photographed. Photo ops are easy to find and I enjoyed trying to put my spin on some of the well-known locations.
It’s crowded in July and August. Especially Bar Harbor and the main park visitor center. But you can avoid those areas and find places / times where there’s no one else around.
The food (especially seafood) is wonderful – arrive hungry!
I’m from Florida, but the weather was hotter than I thought it would be (highs in the 80s) and the biting bugs were worse than I thought they would be.
The weather varied too. There was some fog / mist and drizzle. I was actually glad, because the coast of Maine is known for that, and it gave us some distinct looks. Bubble Pond looked very different depending on the time of day and the wind and visibility. But fog did spoil one sunrise (after getting up at 3:30 am!) and Tom’s offshore lighthouse tour. So plan on some reduced visibility and stay a few days longer if you can so you can go back to some locations.
Finally, enjoy yourself. Relax – don’t get overwhelmed. Create a lot of memories, not a lot of stress.
Bar Harbor Blue – The town lights at night from Cadillac Mountain. ISO 200, f/8, 25 sec, at 120mm
I thoroughly enjoyed myself and came home exhausted. I took too many photos and spent too much time going through them after I got home. But I like how they turned out – please take a look at the other ones in my Flickr album when you get a chance.
I’ll leave you with a short conversation I overheard on the top of Cadillac Mountain while Tom and I were photographing Bar Harbor after dark.
A little girl, pointing at Tom and I: “What are they doing Daddy?“.
Her father: “Taking pictures with really big cameras.”
Girl: “Do we have one?”
Dad: “No, but Mommy wants one.”
Girl: “Why don’t they use their phones?”
Dad: no answer
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos! And use the biggest camera you can!
Lynn and I spent a week in Georgia this month. She had a school reunion and we wanted to visit the north Georgia mountains for a few days beforehand. We have fond memories of weekend hikes along the Appalachian Trail when we were in college. I can report that the area is just as pretty as I remember, but the trails seem a lot steeper now.
We stayed in a cabin at the Enota Mountain Retreat, between Helen and Hiawassee. This was only a few miles from Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia. The Cherokee people called this mountain Enotah.
Brasstown Bald is in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest and there’s a small entrance fee at the parking area, but if you have a National Park Service Senior Pass, you can use that. The 0.6 mile paved trail from the parking area to the top is very steep, although a bus runs between 10am and 5pm. We arrived after 5 on our first day – it was well worth the hike to the top. The spectacular 360 degree view was the best one we saw.
The view from Brasstown Bald – This is the highest point in the state of Georgia (4,784 feet). 5 frame infrared panorama, B&W.
Compare that to a very similar view from an un-modified camera to see how the infrared sensor helps cuts through the haze.
Color view from Brasstown Bald – Looking a bit to the right of the IR version. Also a 5 frame panorama,
Good vistas don’t seem as common here as they are for instance in the Rockies. The small roads have places to pull over, but the view is often blocked by trees. Which makes the outlook from Brasstown Bald exceptional.
North Georgia also has a huge number of waterfalls – but some are more difficult to find, get to, and see clearly than others. There are four on the Enota Resort grounds. The trail to this one was steep and muddy in spots and led up along the side of a ravine to this spot across from the falls. We couldn’t find a viewpoint with a clear view through the trees, although there were other paths that we didn’t have time (or energy) to try.
Hidden falls – Along a trail inside the Enota campground. ISO 200, f/8, 0.6 sec.
We did visit other waterfalls that are easier to get to and see. There’s even a pull off just outside Vogel State Park where we could view a large waterfall from the road (no hike!). Anna Ruby Falls is on federal land inside Unicoi State park near Helen. The paved path to the falls is about 1/2 mile long and not too difficult with resting places along the way. We also visited Amicolola Falls near Dahlonaga after our wonderful lunch at the Smith House Restaurant. This falls also has a relatively short and easier paved path to a wonderful open view. But the hike might be even easier when your stomach isn’t so full!
Amicalola Falls – Near Dahlonega, Georgia. ISO 100, f/16, 0.1 second.
I used a variety of shutter speeds on the waterfalls and I think 1/10 to 1/2 is the range to play in to make the water look best. Unless you find a pool of swirling water – where a longer exposure might be better. Try different shutter speeds while you’re there so you can pick the best result when you get home. Most of the time I could get my shutter speed in range by adjusting ISO and aperture. I did have a variable neutral density filter with me that I used a couple of times – it was handy when the sun was out. Most of the time it was cloudy enough so that I didn’t have to worry about using the filter or fight the extreme contrast of sun shining on white water.
As far as wildlife goes, we didn’t spend a lot of effort looking and we didn’t see many animals. I was able to photograph one new life bird: a Louisiana Waterthrush. Lynn found it foraging on the ground outside (while we did the laundry!).
After our time in North Georgia, we headed to Atlanta for the reunion. For various reasons, my photo ops there were limited, but we did have a nice vantage point from our hotel room.
Incoming Storm – Atlanta. During a long exposure needed to capture this ominous cloud rolling in, I also caught a flash of lightning.
One place I’ve heard great things about but didn’t get to visit is the Georgia aquarium. I’ll have to save it for next time.
All in all, an exceptional, relaxing, and photogenic trip which we both thoroughly enjoyed. These and other Georgia photos are in this album on Flickr, where you can view larger versions. Also, if you haven’t seen last week’s post about the Narcosee Indian Mound, please take a look at that.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!
The Nacoochee Indian mound is just outside Helen, Georgia. Lynn and I were up there on vacation last week and happened to find it on our way out-of-town. Of course, I had to pull over for a photo.
I like the setting, the look of the mound, and the hills and clouds beyond it. It seems very spiritual to me.
Nacoochee Cherokee Indian ceremonial mound, just outside Helen, Georgia – This was the center of the Cherokee town of Gauxule, visited by DeSoto in 1540 while searching for gold. The mound is 190 feet long by 150 foot wide by 20 feet high. Research beginning in 1915 showed that the Cherokee people buried their ancestors on this spot and lived on the land around it.
My grandparents on my mother’s side both lived in North Carolina and Georgia and had some Cherokee blood in their background. I wonder if any of my distant relatives lived and died near here?
I haven’t had time to organize / process photos from this trip. Hopefully I’ll get to that this week and have a better report ready for next time.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!
Happy Holidays! I hope that all of you, your families, and your friends have a joyful and happy holiday season!
The end of the year is a good time to review results and contemplate how to improve any endeavor, and photography is no exception. I’ve put together these “Favorite photos of the year” posts since 2009. This is a hard process for any photographer. For me, it’s difficult to separate my opinion about a photograph from emotional connections that I might have with the subject, scene, or situation. But making this effort is important and part of the learning process. I don’t claim to be objective – these are simply the photos that I like best. Feel free to disagree, but I hope you’ll enjoy looking at the ones I’ve picked.
I made many photos that I like during my first visit to Chicago last September. This one is my favorite from that trip. See this post for more info.
My number 3 favorite photo of 2013:
Partial eclipse of the sun; Cocoa Beach Pier, Florida; November.
I almost didn’t get to make this photo since I was late finding out about the eclipse. It’s a bit different from most sunrise photos I make because I used a long telephoto lens to emphasize the sun instead of a wide-angle lens. The three people watching with me from the end of the pier were a bonus. See this post for more info.
My number 4 favorite photo of 2013:
You otter not interrupt me; Viera Wetlands, Florida; November.
This river otter was having a morning dust bath on the dirt road through Viera Wetlands. It stopped and watched me for a bit when I got out of my car to make this photo, but then ignored me and finished before sliding back into the water.
My number 5 favorite photo of 2013:
Storm clouds over the Everglades; Everglades National Park, Florida; April.
We had a wonderful expedition to the Keys, Everglades, and Dry Tortugas in April. This photo of a pine tree and grass reflecting from the inches deep water in the Everglades “river of grass” is my favorite landscape from that trip. See this post for more info.
My number 6 favorite photo of 2013:
Reading; St. Augustine, Florida; August.
St. Augustine is full of photo ops. I really liked the symmetry of the columns in this scene and how they led my eye towards the man reading on the bench. See this post for more info.
My number 7 favorite photo of 2013:
Sea oats; Howard Park, Tarpon Springs, Florida; August
I noticed this scene while wandering around not expecting to find anything to photograph. Another lesson in “keep your eyes open”.
My number 8 favorite photo of 2013:
Resting behind mom; Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa, Florida; March.
We spent time in “Primate World” watching the family of Orangutans. The young one (I think this is RanDee, born in August 2008) was full of energy, swinging all around on the platforms and ropes. The adults watched her with very human-like ”where does she get the energy” looks. Finally, RanDee rested for a bit behind her mom (DeeDee) and I was able to make this photo. See this post for more info.
My number 9 favorite photo of 2013:
The Chapel on the Rock (Saint Catherine of Siena Chapel); Allenspark, Colorado; July.
This is south along Route 7 out of Estes Park on the grounds of the Saint Malo Retreat. We had no idea it was there, but when we drove by and saw the scene, I had to stop and photograph it. It’s a multi-photo, hand-held panorama processed in Photoshop and Lightroom. See this post for more info.
My number 10 favorite photo of 2013:
Not sleeping; Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary, Tampa, Florida; August.
To me, this photo symbolizes what we learned about the plight of captive large cats and primates while visiting two rescue organizations near Tampa. See this post for more info.
If you’d like to see my favorite photos from earlier years, click on these links: 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
I was in Colorado last week and had a chance to go sightseeing in the mountains near Denver. Whenever I visit, I find it to be so scenic and photogenic that it overwhelms me. It’s different from what I normally see at home here in Florida and I want to make photos of everything.
Valley of sunbeams and shadows – Don’t miss Mount Evans if you ever get to Denver in the summer time. This is a four image panorama from near the summit, about 13,500 feet.
I find when I get back from a trip like this and go through my images, most don’t have the impact that I felt at the time. My “keeper” rate seems lower than from local trips. Maybe this is because I’ve photographed in Florida so much that I don’t see as many new things when I go out – so I make fewer photos. Luckily, I did end up with some that I really like from Colorado.
The Chapel on the Rock (Saint Catherine of Siena Chapel) – This is in Allenspark, Colorado, south along Route 7 out of Estes Park on the grounds of the Saint Malo Retreat. We didn’t know this was on our route. It’s wonderful to discover something unexpected like this while on a drive. Another 4 image pano.
I guess we humans are hardwired to find new and unfamiliar things more interesting. And familiarity can breed complacency. Do people in Colorado get used to the mountains and sleep in some days instead of getting up and out to see and photograph them? Like we sleep in here instead of getting up to go out into a world-class wildlife refuge like Merritt Island?
Bristlecone pine trees – Some of the trees in the Mount Goliath Natural Area are over 1,600 years old. I used my IR modified Olympus E-PL1 for this photo. Yes, it’s one more 4 image pano.
Wildlife is different out there too. Some non-Florida species I saw included six new life birds (Steller’s Jay, Gray Jay, Common Raven, Black-billed Magpie, Dark-eyed Junco, and a Broad-tailed Hummingbird) as well as plenty of Mountain Goats, Marmots and Chipmunks.
Broad-tailed Hummingbird – Behind my Sister’s house in Littleton, Colorado. These birds look very similar to the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds we have in Florida, but the Broad-tailed doesn’t have a black chin. No, this is not a pano.
I wonder if Florida’s unique landscapes and wildlife are as interesting to people visiting here as Colorado’s are to me when I’m out there?