Apr 122016
 

Recently, I was honored to be the featured guest on Fred Weymouth’s Lens and Landscape Photography Podcast.  We had a lovely chat about Arizona’s wildflowers, the NPS artist-in-residency program, the creative process and photography, and more!

Have a listen to the 40-minute episode for free (or if you prefer, read the transcript posted) at http://www.lensandlandscape.net/epi…/5-colleen-miniuk-sperry.  Here’s hoping you get some new ideas and inspirations out of our interview!

Fred recently started this podcast and has already featured some amazing photographers on his show like Larry Lindahl and Mike Moats (coming soon) so you might also wish to check out his other interviews as well.  You’ll definitely want to bookmark his page to hear his future shows too.  Can’t wait to see what he comes up with!

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.

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!)

Feb 122013
 
Ice Hoodoos

Ice Hoodoos along Ocean Drive, Acadia National Park, Maine. Prints available – click on photograph to order!

Greeting from Acadia National Park!

As a part of my current Artist-in-Residency in Acadia National Park, I am excited to be presenting “Connecting With Nature Through the Lens” program at the next SERC Institute Brown Bag session on this Friday, February 15 from 11:30 am – 1 pm at Moore Auditorium. Free to the public, but donations – which benefit solely the SERC Institute – happily accepted at the door. I know it’s a bit of a commute for the Arizona folks, but hopefully those in the Northeast, specifically Maine, can attend!   For more information, visit http://www.sercinstitute.org/brown-bag-lunch-serc-connecting-nature-through-lens.

Though I’ll be sharing more photos of my phenomenal, still-in-progress four-week residency soon, this bizarre and spectacular sunrise landscape happened yesterday morning 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!

Technical information: Canon 5DMII, 16-35mm lens at 18mm, ISO 125, f/22 @ 1.6 seconds, 3-stop graduated neutral density filter, basic post-processing.

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Jan 022013
 

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Happy 2013 Everyone!  A new year means a blank canvas on which to create new friendships, opportunities, and achievements!  I hope you each have big dreams in mind, and perhaps even more importantly, I hope you follow them relentlessly and passionately so they all come true for you in the new year.  After all, “you can sleep when you’re dead,” right?

Whew, what a year 2012 was for CMS Photography!  Last year will go down as our busiest, most successful, and by far the most exciting year to date, with many countless “thank you’s” owed to you, as I could not do what I do without your continued support!  I feel truly fortunate to be surrounded by so many inspiring, creative, and enthusiastic people.

Some major highlights for us from last year include (in no particular order):

And just when you think you can’t have any more wild fun, 2013 shows up!

Going into our sixth year as a full-time freelance photographer and writer, I couldn’t be any more pumped for the year to come, not just because of all the travel planned and the new projects we’ll announce throughout the year, but all the great times and awesome learning opportunities we’ll share together, whether that be during our upcoming Workshops and Presentations or simply out in the field sharing some light and good laughs.

But, before we start running down the 2013 street like a bat outta hell, though, I’d like to share my favorite 13 (a lucky number for the new year!) photos in celebration of a joyful 2012.  For more inspiration, be sure to also head over to Jim Goldstein’s Blog, hes posted his traditional and ever-growing list of other photographers’ own favorites and best from 2012 for his “Blog Project: Your Best Photos from 2012.

Here goes:

1.  Winter’s Serenade, Death Valley National Park, California (January 2012)

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Cottonball Marsh area along Salt Creek in Death Valley National Park, California, USA (Prints available – click on photo to order!)


2.  Walk the Line, Death Valley National Park, California (February 2012)

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Cracked mud and stones in the Panamint Dry Lake in Death Valley National Park, California, USA (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

3. Sunrise at Boulder Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine (June 2012)

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er Beach and the Otter Cliffs, Acadia National Park, Maine, USA (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

4.  Bunchberry Dogwood, Acadia National Park, Maine (June 2012)

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Bunchberry dogwood (Cornus canadensis) at Acadia National Park, Maine, USA (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

5.  The Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona (June 2012)

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The Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei rock formations in Monument Valley Tribal Park, Arizona, USA (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

6.  The Colorado River Flexing its Muscle, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona (June 2012)

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The sandstone cliffs of Marble Canyon reflect into waves in the Colorado River near Lee’s Ferry, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona, USA (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

7.  The RCMP Musical Ride, 100th Anniversary of the Calgary Stampede, Calgary, Alberta, Canada (July 2012)

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Abstract view of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Musical Ride during Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

8.  Reach for the Sky, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona (August 2012)

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Abstract sky pool pattern in Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona, USA (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

9.  Autumn on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (September 2012)

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Gambel oak line the edge of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

10.  Autumn Regeneration, Kaibab National Forest, Arizona (September 2012)

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Abstract view of a regenerating burned forest during autumn in the Kaibab National Forest, Arizona, USA (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

11.  Mother Nature’s Ice Cream, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona (October 2012)

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Striated bentonite clay beds in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona, USA (Prints available – click on photo to order)

12.  Spell of the Sea, The Big Island, Hawai’i (November 2012)

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Waves and volcanic rock along the Puna Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii, USA (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

13.  Winter Solstice Eve, Canyonlands National Park, Utah (December 2012)

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Viewed from the Green River Overlook, the sun sets over Island in the Sky district in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, USA (Prints available – click on photo to order!)

Thank you for stopping by the “You Can Sleep When You’re Dead” blog!  Let’s all make 2013 a year to remember!

~Colleen

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