Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ahhhh, Spring has Sprung....

Maine Maple Sunday has come and gone. A sure sign that spring will follow in a short while. The day was fairly clear, with a chilly wind blowing. There were crowds at every sugar house I went to, from Mitchell & Savage in Bowdoin, and ending at Cabane a Sucre Bergeron in Hebron, Maine. There is just something about the sweet smell of sap being boiled down to eventually become Maple Syrup. It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup. 

Boiling the Sap at Cabane a Sucre Bergeron, Hebron, Maine

It is always a pleasure to photograph a few sugar houses. The excitement of the people, especially the children, is inspiring. It is sometimes a challenge to shoot inside with natural light. I have tried using flash, and have not had good results. The confined space often causes too much light and reflections. I suggest opening your ISO to 400, or even 800. Modern cameras can handle ISO 800 without much worry of too much noise. The shutter speed needs to be fast enough to hand hold with causing blur. Check your histogram and adjust your aperture or shutter speed accordingly.

Mitchell & Savage Sugar House, Bowdoin, Maine

The sign at the drive-in to Mitchell & Savage warned it was "Mud Season", please park on the road and walk in. That is to be expected this time of year in Maine, but it was about a 1/2 mile to the Sugar House and farm house. Nothing like getting my exercise right off, but the sweet syrup at the end of the walk made it all worthwhile.

Keeping the Fire Stoked at Cabane A Sucre Bergeron, Hebron, Maine

I would also suggest you shoot in RAW, if your camera supports it. With ever changing light conditions, you can easily adjust the white balance in RAW, you can not change it if you shoot .jpg.
Cabane A Sucre Bergeron, Hebron, Maine

Thanks for reading this short account of a wonderful day. I hope your spring unfolds to a beautiful start. See you next time....

Monday, March 18, 2013

Rocky Mountain School of Photography Weekend Workshop
Portland, Maine
The weekend workshop In Portland, Maine was well worth the expense and effort to get there. The instructors, Eileen Rafferty and Tom Rizzuto, were well versed in their subjects, and I picked up many new tips and tricks, and reinforced things I had learned in the past. The 2 hour block on using LightRoom 4 taught me many ways to further utilize the Develop module, especially when making adjustments to a block of photos taken under the same lighting conditions. That will really help my work flow when processing wedding photos. I really like Eileen's answer to the question "when should I shoot Raw and when should I shoot .jpg?" The answer: "Never shoot in .jpg" As most of us that use LightRoom and Adobe Photoshop know, there are many more adjustments that can be made to 'fine tune' your photo if you have shot in Raw. Shooting in .jpg eliminates your ability to adjust the White Balance when lighting conditions may have changed while you were shooting, as well as many other controls over color and tonality.

Another valuable lesson I took from this workshop was a better understanding of the "Zone System", especially when it is applied to shooting in color. I have read several books on the "Zone System", developed by Ansel Adams, and came away more confused than ever. Eileen Rafferty explained it in such a way that I feel I can confidently begin using it to make my shots even better, especially my Landscapes. There were also interesting discussions on shooting HDR and Panoramic, and the software used to process them. 

Tom Rizzuto is an excellent Portrait Photographer and shared his methods for shooting children and making your subjects more comfortable in front of the camera.

The last session of the workshop entailed a viewing, and critique, of photos, submitted by those attending the weekend workshop. I chose this image for the critique:

Ira Mountain, Maine
Eileen suggested I might crop it to eliminate the darkest green foliage in the lower right corner. What do you think? Here is a result of the crop. Which conveys the better feeling of fall, foliage, and fog? Or does it make a real difference when you view them?
Ira Mountain, Maine (cropped)
Until next time, keep shooting. Hope to see some of you out and about during Maine Maple Sunday.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lighting Workshop in Dresden, Maine

One of our models: Gretchen
I had attempted keeping up a blog, but time seems to have a way of running off on you. One day you realize you had not been current, even though things are always happening. Now that the weather is changing, and more photographic opportunities will present themselves, I am going to see if I get much more responsive. 

Leah Haraden and Model Bridget

It is always good to keep up your skills, and strive to get better. I attended a Studio Lighting Workshop in Dresden, Maine, on Saturday, March 9. The instructor was a local photographer/teacher, Leah Haraden. Leah is not only a very good photographer, but she does a wonderful job mentoring and teaching. She helps you fine tune procedures you have known for years, and learn new techniques at the same time. Any new tips, or tricks, I can pick up will help me with both my nature photography, and when I shoot special events, such as weddings.

Models: Bridget and Gretchen

This coming weekend I will be attending a seminar put on by Rocky Mountain School of Photography. It is not often that a well known workshop comes to Portland, Maine, and I mean to take advantage of it. I hope to pick up some good information about workflow in Lightroom 4. and a few other tips and tricks.

March is proving to be a very busy month. Maine Maple Sunday is March 24th this year. That is always very productive with many photo ops. And hey, in between shooting, you can enjoy that wonderful Maine Maple Syrup. Time to buy enough to last until next March. Have fun shooting this spring.....

Sugar Shack, Hebron, Maine