Feb 192014
The Sol of Winter

Winter sunrise at Schoodic Point in Acadia National Park in Maine (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order yours!)

Last night, the Acadia National Park area received about five inches of fresh snow. The fluffy and light powder created a smooth fondant-like coating over the top of the granite ledges and boulders.  A glorious sunrise greeted those who ventured out early enough to see the winter spectacle.  I welcomed the new day with a smile (and a sunburst!) along the granite headland called Schoodic Point.

Despite the weather forecast suggesting partly cloudy skies would quickly turn to mostly cloudy cover, the sun still shone brightly after I consumed my breakfast. I decided to pack my camera gear and head back to Schoodic Point for a little more fun.  Specifically, I wanted to record me digging a snow angel against the backdrop of Cadillac Mountain (hat tip to my friend and fellow photographer, Olivier du Tre for the idea!)

At Schoodic Point, I danced though the blanket of snow to find a safe place among the wind-swept granite ledges. After composing my frame with a little extra room on the bottom right hand corner for my snow angel, I set my intervolometer to fire my shutter at 5 second intervals following an initial 20-second delay (to allow me enough time to walk into the frame and start moving snow around). After I made several outtakes, I walked out of the scene and back to my camera to stop the automatic trigger.  I reviewed the results on my camera’s LCD, made some minor adjustments, and then tried the process again. (Lather, rinse, repeat for about 20 minutes.)

Snow Angel on Schoodic Point

Colleen making a snow angel on Schoodic Point in Acadia National Park, Maine

All went according to plan until I finished the third set-up. After creating a sequence of photos for a time-lapse video (a new skill I am practicing), I carefully stepped from one exposed granite ledge to another to avoid stepping on my winter creation and to return to my camera.

I traveled about three-quarters of the route back with no trouble. Then suddenly, I plunged from a solid granite boulder into a large snowdrift about four feet below. After my feet stopped in their unexpected descent, my momentum pushed me forward, causing me to land face first and hands out in the soft snow. Instantly, I started laughing hysterically. After a few minutes contemplating the hilarity of my situation, I pulled myself out of the snow, brushed off, and returned to my camera to stop the intervals.

My tumble had occurred outside the frame on camera right, but when I glanced at the imprint in the snow, it looked just like an animal shape. I had an idea! Without hesitation, I recomposed my camera on the fall area, set the self-timer, and then performed a re-enactment of my face plant.

And with that, I introduce to you my “snow lobster!”  Along the Maine coast, that’s apparently how we “roll!”

The Snow Lobster

Colleen demonstrates the new “Snow Lobster” on Schoodic Point in Acadia National Park in Maine

For more stories about my photographic adventures in Acadia National Park, pick up a copy of my new guidebook, Photographing Acadia National Park:  The Essential Guide to When, Where, and How In addition to the 12 “Making the Photo” stories, you’ll also learn about my favorite 50 locations in the park so you can plan your own fun in this magical place.  And, 10% of the book’s profit goes to the Schoodic Education Adventure program to help kids learn about science and nature in Acadia!

Or join me in Acadia this fall with the Arizona Highways Photography Workshops!  Limited seats remain, so get more information and register at  ahpw.org/workshops/2014/2014-Acadia-National-Park-Photo-Workshop-2014-10-09/.

Dec 292013

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing “
Helen Keller

Happy 2014!  As we celebrate the final days of 2013, I can only think, what a big adventure this year has been for us!

It was certainly a year of transition for us, one my husband, Craig, and I affectionately refer to as “Suitcases, Sticky Notes, and Tacos.”  Because of our temporary move to Hillsboro, Oregon in May (to support Craig’s temporary job assignment for Intel Corporation) and our travel schedule to maintain our commitments, our clothes often went from a suitcase to the washing machine, only to be put right back into the same suitcase. Occasionally, we had multiple overnight bags packed for different trips within trips (i.e. one by airplane to one city followed immediately by another one by car).  Long strands of connected sticky notes with messages reminding us of everything from flight schedules to grocery lists helped keep our heads on straight as we tried to figure out where we were going, when we needed to be there, and what we were supposed to do when we arrived.  We found ourselves eating an abundance of tacos along the way, perhaps because we missed our home in Arizona. Or perhaps because it was the only type of food establishment open and convenient during half-hour airport hand-offs and tiresome late nights.

Amidst the whirlwind and chaos, I ironically found 2013 to be a year of clarity and focus for my photography and writing.  When we learned in late 2012 of our relocation, I blocked my schedule from any new commitments to allow me time to explore our interim home in the Pacific Northwest with few interruptions.  However, all plans for the year changed quickly in late January, when I decided to write a printed book – not just an eBook – about photographing Acadia National Park while on my third Artist-in-Residency with the park.  I now joke that I spent much my time in Oregon writing a book about Maine.  That said, between the trips that originated in either Portland, Oregon or Portland, Maine,  I found just enough time to explore the coast, water, geology, and oceanography-subjects that excite me–in more depth than ever before.

Now that we’ve returned to our Arizona home, I joyfully bring all these experiences into next year, which represents my lucky 7th year as a full-time freelance photographer and writer.   Each year, when Craig and I discuss my business plan for the following year, I wonder what could possibly top the fortunate journey I’ve already had.  Then, I ponder all the new exciting opportunities ahead in the next 12 to 15 months, and I realize the adventure is only beginning.

I also acknowledge quite humbly, that I could not do what I love to do each day without your continued support.  As always, I thank you for your help, for your friendship, and for the unique stories, perspectives, and laughs you bring to each of our meetings, whether it be in the field or via the internet.

In celebration of a wonderful 2013 and a cheers to an even more thrilling 2014, I’d like to share my favorite 13 photos from the year.  In chronological order:

1.  Ice Explosion, West Pond Cove, Acadia National Park, Maine (January 2013)

Ice Explosion

“Ice Explosion,” West Pond Cove, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

2.  Fade Into You, Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine (January 2013)

Fade Into You

“Fade Into You,” Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

3.  Ice Hoodoos, Ocean Drive, Acadia National Park, Maine (February 2013).
Ice Hoodoos

“Ice Hoodoos,” Ocean Drive, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

4.  Spring Emergence, Ecola State Park, Oregon (May 2013).  Read more about the making of this photo on my previous blog post, “The Constancy of Change.”
Spring's Emergence

“Spring Emergence,” Ecola State Park, Oregon (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

5.  Hang On!, Ecola State Park, Oregon (May 2013).  Read more about the making of this photo on my previous blog post, “The Constancy of Change.”
Hang On!

“Hang On!” Ecola State Park, Oregon (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

6.  Moved by the Sea, Cape Blanco, Oregon (May 2013).  Read the story behind the photograph on a previous blog post at “Making the Image:  Moved by the Sea.”
Moved by the Sea

“Moved by the Sea,” Cape Blanco, Oregon (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

7.  Summer’s Gift, Olympic National Park, Washington (July 2013)
Summer's Gift

“Summer’s Gift,” Olympic National Park, Washington (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

8.  Summer’s Celebration on Steens Mountain, Oregon (August 2013)
Summer Celebration on Steens Mountain

“Summer Celebration on Steens Mountain,” Oregon (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

9.  Autumn’s Symphony, Mount Desert Island, Maine (October 2013)
Autumn's Symphony

“Autumn’s Symphony,” Mount Desert Island, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

10.  Another World, Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park, Maine (October 2013).  Read the story behind the photograph on a previous blog post about “Making the Image:  Another World and Floating in Time.”
Another World

“Another World,” Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

11.  Tranquility at Long Pond, Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park, Maine (October 2013)
Tranquility at Long Pond, Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park, Maine

“Tranquility at Long Pond,” Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

12.  Eye of the Storm, Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park, Maine (October 2013)
Eye of the Storm

“Eye of the Storm,” Isle au Haut, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

13. Storm Remnants, Red Lake, Arizona (December 2013)
Storm Remnants

“Storm Remnants,” Red Lake, Arizona (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

Thank you for stopping by the “You Can Sleep When You’re Dead” blog!  Wishing you the very best in the new year, in hopes its a time of much success, learning, friendship, and of course, laughter! We’d love to hear what you’re looking forward to next year, so leave us a comment below about what you’re excited about in 2014!


Nov 052013
Another World

“Another World,” Eben’s Head Trail in Acadia National Park, Isle au Haut, Maine (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

NOTE:  This blog entry will appear in our new book, Photographing Acadia National Park:  The Essential Guide to When, Where, & How as “Behind the Photo #12:  Looking for Answers.”  In addition to this post, I’m featuring 11 additional behind-the-scenes stories from my experiences in the park.  If you’d like to pre-order a copy, head over to our Indiegogo campaign at www.indiegogo.com/projects/photographing-acadia-national-park-book until November 30, 2013.  Thanks for your interest and support!

Looking for Answers

“There’s more than one right answer.” ~DeWitt Jones

Gaelic Storm–a Celtic band which makes toe-tapping, knee-slapping music I enjoy tremendously–produced a song titled, “Don’t Go for the One.”  The lyrics tell of a gentleman going to buy snails to impress his house guests, but gets talked into having a single beer at the bar.  One brew becomes two, three, four, and what was supposed to have been a quick chat turns into an all-night event.  As the title and chorus hilariously suggests, one should not expect to enjoy only one beverage with your friends.

While it may seem like a stretch, this philosophy can apply to photography as well.  Don’t go for the one photograph!

Very rarely am I fortunate enough to get everything to come together perfectly in a first frame.  Even after I have spent ample time observing, analyzing, and visualizing an intriguing subject to define a clear vision, more often than not, I will also explore the scene through recording a series of frames with my camera.

Assuming the lighting conditions are not changing quickly, I contemplate an abundance of “what if” scenarios to determine how I will accomplish recording my visual message before snapping the shutter.  What if I only included this section of the scene?  What if I positioned my camera lower to the ground?  What if I used side light instead of backlight?  What if, what if, what if?  I continue tapping into this iterative evaluative process as I begin photographing, as it helps me refine what my eye is seeing and how to share that through a photograph.

Not only does this process enable me to achieve my creative vision, but it also helps me fully appreciate the subject from a variety of perspectives and find the many right answers a scene possesses, as Dewitt Jones’ quote suggests.  If I have spent the time and money to travel 3,000 miles (4,828 km) from Arizona, hopped on a passenger-only ferry to the remote Isle au Haut, biked six miles along a bumpy, single track dirt road, and then walked a mile uphill with a heavy camera backpack to get to a location, you can be sure I am not going to snap only one photo and head home.  Instead, I want to challenge myself to see how many right answers I can discover.

On the first day of our visit to Isle au Haut, my parents and I ventured to the Eben’s Head Trail well before sunset to allow extra time for wandering and discovering along the unfamiliar trail.  After a short meander through the forest, we emerged on the rocky coast and scrambled to the top of Eben’s Head, where a breathtaking 180-degree panoramic view of the isle’s western shoreline and open waters of Isle au Haut Bay greeted us.  We noticed the receding tide leaving behind small tide pools on the volcanic ledges surrounding the cobble beach directly north of our perch.  Eager for a closer look at the momentary glimpse into the typically hidden ocean world, we hiked the short distance to the seashore.

After only a few seconds of exploring, the fine, hair-like seaweed floating in the tide pools fascinated me.  A few steps ahead on the black boulders, my mom, Jacque, spotted a slightly larger saltwater puddle and called to me, “Hey Colleen, you have to see these bubbles!”

When I gazed into her find, I did not just see tangles of seaweed and floating bubbles.  The scene immediately transported me to outer space, where planets swirled in a distant galaxy.  I knew I had to create an image of precisely that subject!

I walked around the small pool to begin the visualization process, first noticing how the backlight from the late afternoon created a dark backdrop in the deep pool.  Then, I settled on a vertical orientation based on the bubbles’ arrangement.  I knew I needed to keep my lens (positioned to look down upon the scene) parallel to the surface of the water so that the face of the bubbles and the top layer of seaweed remained in focus.  A small aperture on my 100mm macro lens would provide the depth of field necessary for my tight composition.  I needed to remember to twirl my polarizer to get just enough reflected light on the water, but not so much that it overshadowed the primary scene.

With this vision in mind, after diligently setting up my composition and exposure, I snapped the frame and immediately reviewed the image on the back of my camera’s LCD.  Shockingly, on the first try, I managed to record an image that matched my vision–a right answer!

Despite being pleased with my first snap, I continued exploring the scene for 45 more minutes.  After a number of frames, I picked out an odd reddish tint occurring across the image.  It was the reflection of my red jacket!  I experimented keeping the extra color in the frame by hovering over the scene.  I also eliminated it by stepping a short distance away from the scene and triggering the shutter with a cable release.  Contrasting with the rich greens and blues, the additional color made the scene look even more other-worldly–a second right answer!

I tried turning the camera to the left slightly and then to the right slightly, utilizing a Dutch tilt, to play with the composition as the bubbles appeared, disappeared, and then reappeared, changing the visual balance entirely from image to image – more right answers!

Then, I used extension tubes to allow me to get a closer perspective (see the time image titled, “Floating in Time,” at the bottom of this post).  I felt the broader perspective better conveyed my initial notion of “planets swirling in a distant galaxy,” but I enjoyed the results of this more intimate view–another right answer!

During the process, I felt my photographic message and my confidence strengthening with each additional frame.  Had I gone for “the one” and packed up after my first shot, I would have missed the chance to see all the possibilities this magical scene had in store!

Which of the two images presented here do you prefer?  Why? Remember, there are many right answers so share your thoughts in the Comments below!

Floating in Time

“Floating in Time,” Eben’s Head Trail in Acadia National Park, Isle au Haut, Maine (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

Oct 242013

Reserve your copy of our new guidebook, Photographing Acadia National Park:  The Essential Guide to When, Where, and How through my new Indiegogo campaign at www.indiegogo.com/projects/photographing-acadia-national-park-book.

Now through November 30, 2014, not only can you pre-order one or more books at discounted price (which won’t be available after the campaign concludes), but you can also purchase prints from Acadia for your home at a special price, get your name listed in the book forever, and even reserve an all-inclusive 4-day photography workshop extravaganza with yours truly as your guide in Acadia National Park!

The money raised during this campaign will help me bare the cost burden of printing the book (I’m not just the author and photographer, I’m also the publisher!). In addition, I am proudly donating 10% of this book’s profits to the Schoodic Education Adventure residential program, an unsurpassed educational opportunity for children to learn about science and nature in Acadia National Park.  Finally, I also donate 10% of the profit back to the National Park Service for every photograph purchased from Acadia National Park.

So not only will your contribution get you a helpful guide and help me produce this book – my dream – but also together we can make a difference for our future generations!

So don’t delay – pre-order your copy today!  We’ll ship you the first books hot off the truck in early February 2014 when it arrives!  For more information about this guide, please visit the book’s website at photographingacadia.com.

And then help us spread the word by sharing this newsletter and/or the Indiegogo campaign link (www.indiegogo.com/projects/photographing-acadia-national-park-book) with your family, friends, and camera clubs!  We’ve started a Referral Contest, where I’ll award the person who refers the most amount of funders (# of people) with a FREE 16″x24″ ready to hang metal print of the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.

To participate:

  1. Log in to your Indiegogo account.
  2. Cut & paste the URL in the “Share This Campaign” section to share your the personalized link on your social media (e.g. Facebook, G+, LinkedIn, Twitter), email, and websites.
  3. Track your referrals – when someone clicks on your shared link and contributes to this campaign, they will appear in your referrals (under My Profile beneath your name when you login)

I’ll share the top three contenders each week until the campaign closes to keep you informed of the status.

Thank you for your support!

Sep 252013
AHWP Womens Retreat_Silly

In accordance with tradition on all of my photography workshops, our group poses for a “silly” group photo on the shoreline of the Colorado River in Glen Canyon.

This past weekend, 17 enthusiastic women embarked on a remarkable four-day photographic journey to Page, Arizona on the third Arizona Highways Photography Workshops(AHPW), “Women’s Photography Retreat.”  Offered in a different location each year, this year our group marveled not only at classic locations like Horseshoe Bend and Lower Antelope Canyon, but also lesser-known spots like the depths of Glen Canyon on the Colorado River from a jumbo raft and the geological “teepees” of Little Cut.

AHPW_WPR_Everyones Own Vision

Everyone following their own vision while rafting down the Colorado River in Glen Canyon, Arizona.

During our location visits and classroom sessions, we reviewed photography techniques like conveying time through slowing our shutter speeds, getting closer to our foreground subjects and maximizing our depth-of-field, and taking test shots at high ISO speeds to determine the proper settings for long exposures of the night sky.  We also held discussions about we can gain inspiration from learning about the history of women in photography as well as how women photographers may see differently.  In between, we swapped “interesting” life stories (some involving things like cats and microwaves…) and loads of belly-aching laughs.  But most importantly, this workshop is – and has always been – about empowering women to try new things by pushing the limits of what we think we’re capable of in both photography and life.

Although the entire experience was unforgettable, what will certainly go down as one of my favorite memories of my photography career is our hike and night photography session at the Toadstools hoodoos in Utah. To watch the women light paint, photograph the Milky Way, and then hike back in the dark under the full moon light – all experiences some had never had until this past weekend – was incredibly rewarding.

We set out about an hour and a half before sunset to allow ample time to wander among this geologically rich area.  After photographing the hoodoos bathed in direct sunlight at sundown, the group refueled during our picnic dinner before starting our night’s activities.

AHPW_WPR_Wiggle the Pickle

While waiting for the night sky to fall and the moon to rise, we ate a picnic dinner on the rocks. Somehow, this led to a suggestion to “wiggle your pickle.” And if you’re going to wiggle your pickle among a group of photographers, someone is bound to get “THE” shot of everyone wiggling their pickle!

Since many of the ladies had never photographed in the dark or painted with light, we began with a quick introductory session around one of the clusters of hoodoos.  In a line, we focused (figuratively and literally) on composing the frame before losing daylight.  As the sun fell well below the horizon, the entire group tested their exposure settings starting at ISO 1600, an f/8 aperture, and 30 seconds shutter speed – an arbitrary setting to serve as a starting point for how much light our camera would collect during that time frame.  Based on the histogram, we could add or subtract light accordingly to record our vision.

As soon as everyone dialed to the right settings and achieved sharp focus, I counted “1-2-3″ and everyone snapped the shutter at the same time.  During the exposure, I painted the hoodoos from the left side with about five to seven seconds of light from a strong LED flashlight.  After the exposure, we all reviewed our histogram to determine whether our cameras had collected enough ambient light and flash light.  Then, we’d repeat.

After a number of snaps, a large, unsightly shadow line revealed itself at the base of the tallest hoodoo.  Because the neighboring smaller hoodoo prevented the flash light from hitting the taller hoodoo, the light needed to originate from the front – not the side.  Because of the longer exposure, I could solve this minor problem by running into the frame with my flashlight while the group’s shutters were released.

On my first attempt, I painted the hoodoos from the side for a few seconds and then danced into the frame (“Like a gazelle!”), painting the tallest hoodoo at the base to eliminate the shadow.   A quick review of the photos indicated the tallest hoodoo had received an excessive amount of light, so we needed to repeat the process with less flash light time.

On the next attempt, one second I was painting the hoodoos as I had down countless times before.  The next second, I was chewing on sand.  By taking a slight deviation to the right in my path in order to distance myself and my flash from the hoodoos to achieve less light, my right foot dropped into a two-foot deep trench and my entire body fell forward into the higher ground on the opposite side.  Not wanting to ruin the entire group’s photo, I yelled, “I’m OK!  KEEP SHOOTING!!”

(The hilarity of this statement becomes more evident when you consider the entire group had released their shutter for 30 seconds, making any adjustments to their shot impossible.  What were they going to do then?  Change their ISO?!)

With the flash light still moving in my right hand, I used my left hand to pick myself up so that I could continue running across the frame to paint the shadow area with light.  After the exposure completed and many laughs about my tumble, “Keep shooting!” quickly became our trip’s motto.

And what a fitting rally cry this was not only for this trip and all the AHPW Women’s Photography Retreats, but also for life in general.  When something brings you down, hose yourself off, get up, and try again.  When something gets in your way, walk around it.  When something does not go the way you hoped, try something else.  No matter the situation or obstacle, personal growth and success comes when we keep going.  Keep trying.  And always KEEP SHOOTING!


P.S. If you or someone you know would like to join us on the next AHPW Women’s Photo Retreat in Verde Valley/Sedona in April 2014, visit the AHPW website at ahpw.org/workshops/2014/Sedona-Arizona-Womens-Photo-Retreat-2014-04-25/ for more information and to register.  This workshop sells out quickly, so if you’re interested, I’d consider registering as soon as possible to reserve your spot!

Sep 102013

My new book, “Photographing Acadia National Park: The Essential Guide to When, Where, and How” is scheduled for release in early February 2014!

Yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve last posted…

I could attempt to explain my temporary three-month absence from the blogging world with my normal, “Life’s so crazy right now.”  And indeed it is!  After making a temporary move to Oregon three months ago, my husband and I are finally starting to feel settled into our new surroundings (only to start discussing our plans for returning back to Arizona!). But for most of the summer, I’ve been heads-down, pouring my heart and soul into a huge project…

Since my first Artist-in-Residency with Acadia National Park in November 2009, I have dreamed of writing about my amazing experiences in the coastal park.  Initially, I thought an eBook would be the best way to share with the outside world.   During my third Artist-in-Residency this past January, though, I hemmed and hawed about whether I should produce “just” an eBook or actually print a real book as well as eBook (especially considering the incredibly positive, rewarding experience I had with my first book, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, and How,” www.wildinarizona.com).

My husband and I talked through the pros and cons of such a massive undertaking.  After perhaps sensing what my heart truly wanted, Craig encouraged me (as he often does), “You know there’s only one way to do this.  Go big or go home.”

And so, in my enthusiasm to heed his advice, I wrote 27,000 words in the final two weeks of my Artist-in-Residency!

Since then, I’ve been hiding out to write, edit, write, process images, and write some more with the goal of publishing a new printed book (and eBook!) in hopes of helping others enjoy and explore Acadia National Park as I have fortunately done over the past four years.   We’re far enough down the path now that I’m happy to announce that my “Photographing Acadia National Park: The Essential Guide to When, Where, and How” is coming in early February 2014!

And “the band’s back together” too to make it happen!  As with our wildflower guidebook, our amazing focus group reviewed our layout mockups a couple months ago, offering much needed direction and suggesting interesting new ideas for my project.  A huge thanks goes out to Ambika Balasubramaniyan, Erik Berg, Jacque Miniuk, Bianca Antinore Miniuk, Denise Schultz, Kerry Smith, and Floris Van Breugel for providing their honest feedback.

As a result of their input, the completed book layouts look incredible, thanks to the efforts of my truly talented friend, graphic design extraordinaire, and fellow photographer, Paul Gill.  My unbelievably keen editor and friend, Erik Berg, is currently taking a red pen to my first draft as I plug photos into the layouts.  I’ll spend much of October in Acadia National Park finishing my research and snapping final images before sending the final package off to the printer in early December.

To help you plan your own photographic adventure to Acadia, this new guidebook will feature:

  • 224 pages with over 250 color photos.
  • 50 locations with historical/natural background information; seasonal events for flowers, fall colors, and wildlife; photography tips to get your creative juices flowing; and driving directions.
  • 18-page Photography Basics Section, covering exposure, composition, filters, natural light, reflectors and diffusers, artificial flash, and more!
  • 12 “Making the Photo” stories.
  • A “Shoot Summary” to help plan your trip.
  • A  6″ x 9″ soft, UV coated cover for easy toting in your camera backpack.

One of the highlights of my entire photography career thus far occurred during my second residency in October 2010, when I helped to establish the Photojournalism class for the Schoodic Education Adventure (SEA) program.  SEA is a residential program, where 4th through 8th graders visit the Schoodic Education and Research Center to learn about science and nature in Acadia National Park.  Because I believe in the profound difference this curriculum makes in our future generations, I intend to donate 10% of this book’s profit to the SEA program.  For more information about this program, visit www.nps.gov/acad/forteachers/classrooms/schoodic-education-adventure.htm.

In a few weeks, I will be kicking off an Indiegogo campaign in hopes of involving my valued community in this wild dream.  Aimed at raising money to fund the book’s printing, I’ll be offering the chance to pre-order books at a discount, purchase prints from Acadia for your home at a special price,  get your name listed in the book, and even schedule an all-inclusive 4-day photography workshop extravaganza with yours truly as your guide in Acadia National Park!

I’ll announce the timeline for our pre-ordering activities here on our blog as well as on our new website, www.photographingacadia.com.  However, if you’re interested in being the first to know, please shoot me an email at cms@analemmapress.com.

Jun 042013
Washed Up

“Moved by the Sea,” Cape Blanco State Park, Oregon (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

With the blissful freedom to choose “where ever I want to go” for my photographic outings, I normally select my photographic destinations based on a number of factors, including, but certainly not limited, to the specific visualizations I’ve developed for a location or subject, the anticipated weather, and seasonal considerations (e.g. wildflower blooms, fall colors).

With that in mind, I ventured to Redwoods National Park in northern California last week in hopes I’d catch the tail end of the rhododendron (affectionately referred to as “rhodies”) bloom.  A storm brewed off-shore in the days prior to my scheduled departure, and I kept my fingers crossed that photogenic inclement weather like light mist and fog would help me record images with vibrant pink blossoms offset by the towering, gi-normous redwood trees.

Over the course of three days, though, the dark stormy skies unleashed in unrelenting, non-stop downpours. The storm arrived onshore earlier than predicted.  On top of Mother Nature dumping buckets, the number of rhodies on the ground far, far exceeded the number of blooms remaining on their lanky branches.

After making the most of the few rhodies still intact and with 100% chance of rain forecasted for my fourth and final day, I decided to seek refuge in a drier place along the southern Oregon coast.  I had no final destination in mind for the evening and made the decision that I would start looking for a campsite around 5 pm, wherever my travels took me.

Under partially clearing skies, I arrived at a lovely forested spot in the Cape Blanco State Park just after my arbitrary deadline.  Mentally exhausted from my Redwoods trip, I thought a casual stroll along the beach at Cape Blanco would refocus my creative thoughts.  One whiff of the ocean breeze as I hiked down the steep hill to the shoreline was all it took to rejuvenate my soul. (Oh, how I love the ocean!).

From a distance, I spotted this long bull kelp resting on the shoreline. Likely a remnant of the last high tide, as I approached it, I wondered where the sea would take it the next high tide.  Where had it been before this evening?  Where would it go in the days ahead?   Would it remain here and dry out?  Like me at this moment, it had no set, pre-defined destination.  It went where ever the waves and winds took it.

Now connected with this wandering whip, I knew I needed to record an image of it.  Watching the next storm develop on the horizon, I set up my camera with my wide-angle lens.  One snap to confirm my composition and exposure revealed the need for some adjustments.  I repositioned my tripod to intentionally align the bull kelp with the parting line in the sky, placing it in the middle of the frame and breaking the “rule of thirds” on purpose.  I then needed to balance the exposure difference between the land and sky with a three-stop graduated neutral density filter.

Pleased with the results but wanting to see how different light would affect the outcome, I waited for sunset in hopes the sun would poke out one last time before disappearing.  The skies parted gloriously for a mere seven minutes about 8:30 pm (sunset officially occurred at 8:48 pm).  Though the beach received warm, glowing sidelight, the clouds’ shape had changed completely to a flat, even, overcast sky.  When comparing the two results, I preferred the earlier version which appears above.

As I trudged back up the hill to my campsite and considered how well my “casual stroll” along the beach turned out, I recalled one of my favorite Ansel Adams quotes: “Every man’s work is always a portrait of himself.”  Reflecting not just the serendipitous moment but also my experience during this particular photographic adventure, I decided to title this image, “Moved by the Sea.”

Tech info:  Canon 5DMII, 16-35mm at 16mm, ISO 50, f/22 at 1.3 seconds, three-stop graduated neutral density filter, basic post processing.

May 162013
Waves of Change

“Waves of Change,” Ecola State Park (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

Almost eight years ago to the day, Craig and I celebrated the end of our first temporary stay in Oregon by standing on the headland at Indian Beach at Ecola State Park just north of Cannon Beach.

Sunset at Indian Beach

“Sunset at Indian Beach” from 2005 (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

I remember that evening in 2005 so vividly, I can still feel the memory today:  The gentle ocean breeze.  The smell of the tide change.  The warmth of the setting sun.  Two of the photographs I captured that evening – with my Contax 645 medium format film camera – now rest above our bed in our Arizona home to serve as a daily reminder of one of our favorite places and moments along the Oregon coast.

Months ago, as we prepared for our second temporary stay in Oregon, a rush of thoughts overwhelmed my mind based on our first experience.  Where to go, when to go, what to see, who to see, and how to record such ample and different beauty in Oregon. As they say, “So many places to see, so little time.” The list of places to see and things I want to do became longer than a child’s Christmas list.

Sea Stack Sunset

“Sea Stack Sunset” from 2005 (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

Despite the seemingly endless new photographic opportunities this transition presented, I decided to start my photographic journey in Oregon in the same place I left off:  on the headland at Indian Beach at Ecola State Park.  It’s a place I’d been countless times before, and yet when I arrived on Tuesday morning, nothing, nothing, looked the same as 2005.

Upon coming to the realization that nothing, nothing, had remained the same, I smiled as big as the little girl who got everything she wished for on December 25.  In that instance, I mouthed the words as the wind whispered, “No man ever steps in same river twice, for it is not the same river and he’s not the same man.”  ~Heraclitus.

(Turns out Heraclitus’ quote applies to oceans and women too!)

I couldn’t have been happier to learn that in eight years, everything, everything, has changed.  Mother Nature altered the landscape such that I can no longer stand in the same place as I did before, thanks to landslides.   Those landslides pushed new rocks into the ocean, and each wave crashed a little differently on those new sea stacks.  It’s not possible for me to re-create the same compositions I did in 2005, even if I wanted to-I didn’t.

On top of significant natural changes and differing light/weather, I’m thankfully not the same person, photographer, artist that stood on that headland before.  I replaced my film camera long ago with two generations of digital cameras.  I now know what to do with a graduated neutral density filter.   I’ve embraced my love affair with the coast, despite living in the desert.  Endless experiences – conversations, readings, successes, failures, travels, and other inspirations – have challenged and changed my perspectives over time so that when I look at a scene I’ve seen before, I’m looking through an entirely different lens.

Ansel Adams summed it best:   “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

Hang On!

“Hang On!” Ecola State Park, Oregon (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

Whether we know it or not, as time passes, we and the world around us are constantly changing.  But, neither change nor creativity needs to be a passive activity.  If we seek to create new images in the same spots, we must change as a person.  Simply buying a new lens won’t cut it.  Oh sure, new gear can help execute new visions, but we need to start with new ideas and make different associations among the knowledge we already possess to see, and ultimately photograph, something new in places we’ve already been once or a hundred times.

Consciously and subconsciously, we can gain fresh thoughts everywhere and anytime, not just while photographing.  Some ideas how:

  • Reverse engineer photos you like to understand the process they used to achieve a specific result.  How’d they do it?  Then how would you do it differently?
  • Keep asking “what if.”  What if you used a different lens?  What if you climbed the hill for a more aerial perspective?  What if you saw the ocean as the desert, metaphorically speaking?
  • Devour books.  Not just photography books, but anything that tickles your passion and stimulates your brain.
  • Listen to music, watch movies, attend plays.  And then think about how you can incorporate the concepts and ideas you hear, see, and experience into your photography.
  • Talk with and exchange ideas with others.  Not just other photographers, but also those who know nothing about photography, who explore other activities and fields you enjoy, and think differently than you.  Surround yourself with people who know more than you.
  • Screw up.  Often.  Then learn from the experience to develop even more new ideas.
  • Engage with your environment.  An experience you have in one location can help trigger ideas in a different location.  Ride a bike, go for a hike, take a field-based class – whatever gets you closer to your subject.

So last Tuesday, I brought with me to Indian Beach all my experiences from spending 90+ days in Acadia National Park in Maine over the last four years, every critique I’ve conducted during all the photography workshops I teach, the entire process of writing a book about Arizona wildflowers, and more simply, even the songs I heard on the radio as I drove to Ecola State Park, among so many other things.  And as a result, my photographs look nothing, nothing, like they did in 2005.

What other tips do you have to see the same place with fresh eyes?

Spring Emergence

“Spring Emergence,” False lily-of-the-valley at Ecola State Park, Oregon (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

May 152013

Sailing Your ShipAre you ready to run away from your mundane 8-to-5 job and start sailing your own ship as a freelance photographer after reading our blog post at the end of February, “Independence Day…in February” and our April post advising “Don’t Jump Ship Yet!  Start Your Own Photography Circus Before You Leave Your Job!“?

Whether your glorious Independence Day has already arrived or you have circled the big day boldly on your calendar – in both cases, congratulations! – before you start to think, “Oh sh*t, what have I done?!” consider these points to ensure you enjoy much success in your new life as a freelancing photographer:

  • Sell your work…without selling your soul.  Mortgages, car payments, and utility bills do not disappear when you start your own business.  As a new entrepreneur soley responsible for gaining income for your business, look for work that gets you out of bed in the morning, as your passion will show not only in the products and services you deliver, but also in the relationships you build with clients.  If your new career starts to feel too much like work (yay, aren’t taxes fun?!?), keep your love of photography alive by working on challenging personal projects in your free time.
  • “Just Say No.”  It may sound illogical to turn down business opportunities as you begin your new career, but heed these wise words from Nancy Reagan.  Once you’ve defined a niche for yourself, be comfortable turning down short-term money-making endeavors unrelated to your path to instead build your brand and skills within your area of expertise.  For example, if your focus is wildlife photography, build your body of work by photographing elk or eagles on the weekend, not the “wild life” of weddings.  By investing your limited time to find lucrative outlets within your domain, your sales will be greater in the long run.
  • Update your online portfolio.   No one wants to visit a website that you have neglected to update since 2010.  As your perfect your work and style, showcase your newest and best photography, as well as published tear-sheets and clips, on your website and social media outlets to keep your existing customers coming back for more and to attract new clients.
  • Keep the “unity” in your community.  Friends, supporters, experts, connections – literally anyone! – can turn into a paying client so it’s important to keep building your relationships and awareness within your circles. Ask “What can I do for you” instead of “Isn’t my picture pretty?  Do you want to buy it?”  Consistently deliver educational presentations throughout your local community, stay active in professional organizations, and engage with others in social media conversations.  Because of the snowball effect exposure can have in increasing your sales, even the smallest opportunity could transform into your future signature work.  Never underestimate the value of exposure (pun intended!).
  • Shut up and listen.  To gain business, don not rely upon the movie Field of Dreams’ motto, “If you build it, they will come.”  As you connect with members of your community, listen carefully to the comments, complaints, and questions they have related to their world to gain ideas for content in your next assignment, upcoming show, book project, or otherwise.  Proactively create your own sales opportunities by delivering solutions to them based on their input.
  • Keep your eyes on the prize.  Round up a couple trusted family members, friends, or mentors schedule frequent “Bored Meetings” (also referred to as “Board Meetings”).  Regularly reviewing your business plan with outside advisors will help you gain a renewed perspective on your direction, celebrate your successes, and gauge your progress against your defined “S. M. A. R. T.” – specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, and tangible – goals to stay on track.
  • Learn; there is no “fail.”  If you are blazing your own path and testing new ideas through a wide variety of experiences, inevitably you will have moments when things don’t go the way you hoped.  No matter how much mud you feel is covering your face, hose yourself off, and ask yourself, “What can I learn from this experience?  How can I improve next time?”  As Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  • Working 24 x 7 does not equal success.  Though tempting, resist the urge to work day and night to keep your business moving forward.  Take time to step away from the juggling act to avoid burn out and refresh your creative soul.  As you would schedule vacation time in your previous job, set aside time to relax and enjoy activities unrelated to your profession, leaving the camera and laptop behind.

If you’ve started a new career or independent business, what tips and tricks have you utilized to stay afloat as you charter new territory?  Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!

And of course, no matter where you are in the transition, I wish you the very best of luck in your journey as a professional photographer!  Go forth and conquer! And keep us updated with your progress and learnings along the way!

<shameless plug>If you would like more hands-on guidance in planning your successful transition to a photography career, join me for the Arizona Highways Photography Workshop “There’s No Business Like the Photo Business” on June 22-23, 2013.  Visit the Arizona Highways Photography Workshops website at www.ahpw.org/workshops/2013/Phoenix-Arizona-No-Business-Like-Photo-Business-Workshop-2013-06-22 for more information and to register.

If you’re content with keeping photography as a hobby but would like more information on how to sell the photographs collecting dust on your hard drive, then  join me for the 1-day Arizona Highways Photography Workshop, “Selling Your Work Without Selling Your Soul” session on June 1, 2013.  For information and registration, visit www.ahpw.org/workshops/2013/Phoenix-Arizona-Selling-Your-Photography-2013-06-01. </shameless plug>

May 032013
NAU Guest Blogger Project

Introducing the 35 NAU students who will act as Guest Bloggers on this blog starting today through early May: (In alphabetical order)
First row (left to right):First row (left to right): Evan Atwood, Tiffany Bociung-Bodtke, Heather Brick, Alyssa Burkett, Niko Chaffin, James Dean, and Anthony DeAngelo
Second row (l to r): McKenna Edwards, Sherese French, Daniel Garcia, Alex Gaynor, Mark Goodger, Tom Heger, and Shelby Irons
Third row (l to r): Rebecca Kooima, Emily Larsen, Kristyn Lechwar, Jenna Lyter, Clark Malcolm, Grant Masters, and Christine McCully
Fourth row (l to r): Marissa Molloy, Takashi Okunda, Jordan Patton, Jennifer Radke, Amanda Ray, Karen Renner, and Colby Rycus
Fifth row (l to r): Stephanie Sherban, Jessica Silvius, Quinn Tucker, Keenan Turner, Tracy Valgento, Margaret Whittaker, and Kimberly Yip

Whelp, gang, there you have it!  Since April 15, thirty-five students have posted their heartfelt and insightful “Behind the Image” stories and shared their wonderfully creative images with us.  Congratulations and a high-five for a job well done to all the Northern Arizona University (NAU) Intermediate Photography students who participated!  Let’s give them a round of applause as the students take a well-deserved bow!

What I appreciated most was the diversity of work displayed.  Though some of the subjects were similar, the presentations and visual messages differed and often directly reflected the individual photographers’ passions and specific interests.  I also found it refreshing to hear honest stories about how the image finally came together.  Sometimes things worked out perfectly, sometimes they didn’t right away.  The important thing is that they kept trying, and I admired these students’ persistence and commitment to achieve their unique visions as well as their willingness to openly shared their trials and tribulations with us.

At the risk of this blog post turning into one of those endless Emmy Awards speeches, I also want to once again thank NAU Photography Instructor, Amy Horn, for coordinating this assignment – no small task!  Thank you, Amy, for being so easy to work with and for enabling this partnering opportunity.

And thanks to YOU, especially those of you who have not only taken the time to enjoy the images and stories, but also have offered comments and constructive critiques on them.  For those of you who haven’t had the chance to review them (and I personally haven’t with my messy travel schedule, but intend to comment on each and every one), there’s good news!  All thirty-five entries will remain live on our blog, so when you do have time, you’ll still be able to offer your input moving forward.  To find them, simply click on “Guest Blogger” in the Categories box on the right-most column on your screen.  Then, feel free to add your thoughts in the Comments section below anytime that’s convenient for you.

While we’re at it, since this was the first time we’ve offered our platform to Guest Bloggers, I’d also welcome your thoughts on whether or not this is something you’d like to see more of in the future?

To the NAU Photography students specifically, what did you think of your blogging experience here?   Would you do it again?  Would you do anything differently in hindsight now that you’ve completed your assignment?

Let us know what you think by leaving us a comment on this post, as I value your opinions tremendously.  Looking forward to hearing from you.  Thanks again everyone!  It’s a wrap!