Mar 222013
 

arches ebook cover

After being awe-inspired by his work for years as I flipped through the pages of Backpacker magazine and a broad variety of other outdoor magazines and then becoming “e-friends” some time ago, I finally had the chance to meet outdoor photographer extraordinaire, Bret Edge (www.bretedge.com), on our short jaunt through Arches and Canyonlands national parks en route to Montana this past December.  In an all-too-short chat filled with lots of laughs, I quickly learned that he too was a Corporate-America-escapee passionately following his dream, he too has lived in Arizona, and even better, he too dislikes clear blue skies!  AWESOME!

After seeing Arches National Park for the first time with my own eyes, then drooling over incredible image after incredible image hanging in his dazzling Moab-based gallery that night, the desert landscape of Arches had me mesmerized.  Though I needed no further enticing to return to such a gorgeous spot, Bret kindly sent me a copy of his eBook, “The Essential Guide to Photographing Arches.”

If you’re looking for a super easy-to-read, to-the-point, handy reference guide to photographing Arches National Park, then look no further than this eBook!  Those who have never set foot in Arches before will be pleased to find upfront an excellent overview of all the pertinent details to ensure an enjoyable visit here, including an introduction to the park fees, wildflower and fall color seasons, and safety concerns.

After thumbing through the clear introduction, the light-chaser in me thoroughly enjoyed how Bret conveniently divided the 19 featured locations into three sections according to the light:  Sunrise, Sunset, and Alternative.  With this type of no-nonsense organization, planning your next photographic trip to Arches would be a breeze!

Each location features a short description, trail length, elevation gain, trail head GPS coordinates, trail head elevation, and hiking difficulty.  In addition, he also shares very clear written directions to the trail head, concise photography advice in clear-as-blue-sky-day bullet points, and additional insightful location-specific details under the “Need to Know” section.  I appreciated the “411” on classic spots such as Delicate Arch and Balanced Rock, but was particularly keen about his inclusion of several lesser known locations like Courthouse Wash and Marching Men.

For inspiration and to aid in your visualization, each location features at least one, if not two of Bret’s inspirational images.  In other words, in this 31-page (horizontal spread), you have everything you need to know to get you in the right place at the right time for your photographic outing to Arches in the palm of your hand.

My only beef?  I wish the photographs for each location were bigger! It sounds like a lame nit-pick in an otherwise perfect eBook – and indeed, it totally is! – but Bret’s photography is so striking, I wish each location showcased all his photography work in huge two-page spreads!  OK, OK, a coffee table book it’s not – nor was it ever intended to be – but one thing is for sure, his included photographs will surely inspire you to get yourself to Arches sooner rather than later.

If you’re planning a trip to Arches this year, do yourself a favor and pick up this eBook before you go for a mere $14.95 at Naturescapes.net: www.naturescapes.net/store/the-essential-guide-to-photographing-arches-national-park-ebook-by-bret-edge.html.  If you’d like to get a glimpse of Bret’s writing style and the type of content he included in his eBook, visit his Courthouse Wash sample posted on the Naturescapes.net website at www.naturescapes.net/articles/travel/photographing-arches-national-park-courthouse-wash.

And when you decide to see this spectacular southwestern park yourself, be sure to poke your head into Bret’s gallery – “The Edge Gallery” at 137 N. Main Street in Moab, Utah – to say HELLO!  This classy place featuring Bret’s stunning photography is open every day except Tuesday and Wednesdays from 9 am to 9 pm on the weekdays, 9 am to 10 pm on Saturday, and 9 am to 6 pm on Sunday.

If you’d like an expert guide to show you around the area, Bret leads private workshops not only around Arches, but also though nearby Canyonlands National Park as well.  Read more about his workshops and see his work on his website at www.bretedge.com.

Mar 212013
 
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Ride With Me,” Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available for purchase – click on photo to order!)

Of all the images I’ve created thus far, the one I get questioned the most about is, by a landslide, “Ride With Me” in Acadia National Park in Maine.  I’m frequently asked, “Where was the camera?” and “And how did you snap the picture with both hands on the handlebars?”

Though I captured the image above during my second Artist-in-Residence with the park in October 2010, my visualizations for this image started almost a year earlier in November 2009 during my first residency.  In the months leading up to my first visit, I read a wonderful book by Ann Rockefeller Roberts titled, “Mr. Rockefeller’s Roads:  The Untold Stories of Acadia’s Carriage Roads.”  Concerned the “new” automobile would threaten the natural beauty and affect the quiet, peacefulness Mount Desert Island provided him, his family, and fellow community members, John Rockefeller, Jr. envisioned setting aside land to establish a network of carriage roads limited to only carriage riders, drivers, and pedestrians could utilize for recreational purposes. By 1940, a 57-mile system of carefully designed and developed carriage roads existed for exactly that purpose.

Inspired by this story,  as I turned each page, I started to piece together the kind of photograph I wanted to make when I arrived and experienced the phenomenal carriage roads for myself.  As soon as I made it to Acadia in November, I hit the carriage roads on foot or by bicycle, traveling almost every length of the 45-miles within the park boundaries.  Occasionally, I stopped to make a photograph or two or ten or fifty.  I felt I was capturing “nice,” technically acceptable photographs along the way but never truly felt I had captured something that did this unique feature within Acadia justice.

Poor Carriage Road Shot - ExampleThe photo to the right was honestly the best I brought home.  Does this inspire anyone to go to Acadia and see the carriage roads for themselves?  I’m guessing a resounding NO!!  This shot is just, well, really sad…

Now once you have a spark of enthusiasm or even a semblance of an idea, don’t give up on it!  I had the fortunate opportunity to return to Acadia in October 2010, so I had precisely 10 months to analyze what went wrong in the first attempt and design an approach that would yield the type of image I wanted to capture on the carriage roads.

I wanted to share how much fun it was to hike and bike along these paths, so I decided I would show myself in motion.  I’m not a fast walker, and so help me, I do not run ever (unless someone is chasing me or is giving away free cameras across the field…) so I planned to create the image while on a moving bike with a slower shutter speed to imply movement and speed.  I could hold the camera in one hand up to my eye while keeping one hand on the handlebars to render an OK image, but that approach seemed doomed for certain disaster for clumsy ol’ me.  I needed both hands on the handlebars, but how would I trigger the shutter?

I mulled my idea over with my husband, who promptly suggested I research what skydivers do to trigger the shutter when they throw their crazy selves out of planes with both hands free.  Hmmmm, yes…I found a company online, Conceptus, who made switches for just this reason!  So I traveled to one of their distributors in Eloy, Arizona to pick up my tongue-switch, a cable-release that would plug into the camera and would allow me to trigger the shutter hands-free with my tongue!  After just a few clicks, I knew this tool would certainly help me capture my vision!

With fresh enthusiasm for my idea, I returned to Acadia and started biking the autumn-kissed, tree-lined carriage roads with my camera strapped to my mid-section with a basic strap, my camera manually focused at infinity, my lens set at 16mm for a wide-angle perspective, and of course, my tongue switch in my mouth!  I’d bike as fast as I could downhill, experimenting with various shutter speeds to render just enough motion but not so much it looked like the stars when the Millennium Falcon went into hyperspace mode.

Six-hundred shots later- only four of which turned out to my liking – and I can confidentially say this photograph, “Ride With Me” is exactly how I felt about enjoying the carriage roads and perhaps more importantly, it conveys exactly what I wanted to share with my viewers about that special feeling.  I hope this photograph does inspire you to go to Acadia and see the carriage roads yourself!  Truly, as the title expresses, I wanted you to ride with me.

Whether you’re photographing from a bike, an airplane, or with your two feet solidly planted on the ground, remember to look at your image on the back of your LCD before you move yourself or your tripod to be sure what you’ve captured is exactly what you envisioned and wish to share with your audience.  If you don’t, you’re cheating yourself and your audience out of something very important you have to say about the scene in front of you.  Work the scene by moving your position, changing lens, using light differently, modifying your exposure settings, applying filters, or whatever else you can do to ensure you capture that vision. And like I suggested earlier, once you have an idea pop into your head or you see something in the field that excites you, don’t walk away or give up until you’ve recorded it with your pixels!

Technical info:  Canon 5DMII, 16-35mm at 16mm, ISO 50, f/20 @ 1/5th of a second, polarizer, triggered by Conceptus tongue-switch, basic post-processing.

Mar 142013
 

The Artist-in-Residence program within the National Park Service offers professional visual and performing artists, writers, and composers an unprecedented opportunity to explore and create their art in inspirational locations across the United States.  Though each park operates their individual programs separately and differently, almost all of the participating locations request the artist donates a single piece created during their residency.

With my third Artist-in-Residency in Acadia National Park in Maine completed as of late February, I needed to make a decision as to which of the thousands of frames I snapped in my month-long stay would be THE chosen one.  It was important to me that the selected image clearly expressed what winter was like for me in this coastal park – full of cold, ice, fleeting moments, and beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  Given that criteria, I’ve selected “Ice Hoodoos” to be my donated print for my winter residency!

“Ice Hoodoos,” Acadia National Park, Maine (Prints available – click on photo to order & use coupon code 0313POTM01 to receive your 30% discount now thru March 31, 2013!)

I’ve also selected this print to be our print of the month for March 2013, which means now thru March 31, 2013, visit our website and use coupon code 0313POTM01 to receive 30% off any size or style of this print. As with each Print of the Month within the collection, in addition to your print, you’ll also receive a one-page write-up on the story behind the photograph, which will include specific location information, technical details, and photography tips to help encourage you to get outside and enjoy nature.  As an added bonus for this print, we donate 10% of the profits from all prints sold from the National Park Service via the National Park Foundation.

Blog readers will recall the story I shared when I first posted this photograph on February 12“This bizarre and spectacular sunrise landscape happened yesterday morning [February 11] along Ocean Drive near Boulder Beach. The peak of the recent blizzard, “Nemo,” occurred almost simultaneously with a higher than normal high tide on Saturday, causing monster waves to pound the granite-lined coast and create a wall of spray almost up to Ocean Drive! This, combined with frigid temperatures well below freezing, plastered rocks and plant life alike with a coating of salt spray along this section of coastline, creating these amazing small desert hoodoo-like formations. As if that find wasn’t enough, the glorious sunrise was one of the most colorful I’ve seen in all my days in the park!”

This print will join my two previously donated prints – “Lighting the Way” of Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse and “Season of Change” from the Schoodic Peninsula – in the Acadia National Park collection.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can participate in the rewarding Artist-in-Residence program at Acadia National Park, please visit their website at www.sercinstitute.org/education/artists-residence-0. Though the application process is now closed for the 2013 season, mark your calendar to apply starting this October for the 2014 season!

“Lighting the Way,” Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse at Acadia National Park, Maine, which was my donated print from my first Artist-in-Residence in November 2009 (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

Season of Change

“Season of Change,” Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, which was my donated print from my second Artist-in-Residence in October 2010. (Prints available – click on photo to order!)