Saturday, September 30, 2017

Trip to Acadia National Park

Stop along the Park Loop Road
ISO 400, Focal Length 20mm, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/400s
Last weekend my husband and I went up to Acadia NationalPark, in Maine, for a long weekend to celebrate our anniversary. We chose Acadia because we thought there would be some fall colors and really why not go to Maine in the fall.  

The park is nice and has several pull-offs along the park loop road, however to really see the park you need to rent a bike (which the park does not do) so you can access more of the park via the carriage roads. If you don’t utilize the carriage roads, you can do the park loop road in about a day.  We did not rent a bike so only accessed trails via the parking lot trail heads.  We did a few hikes, one long hike around Jordan Pond, as short one down to Boulder Beach, and medium length one up to see Bubble Rock.  The hike around Jordan Pond was relatively easy except for the part where you had to crawl across some large rocks.  After the hike around the pond we ate at the Jordan Pond House, which is known for its popovers, I was not impressed.  I was expecting more from the popovers, by how they are raved about in the reviews, but they were just kind of bland.   Actually, most of the food we had in Maine was unimpressive, including the lobster.  The only good place we ate was at the Mexican restaurant near the Bangor Airport.  But I digress, the hike to Boulder Beach was easy once we figured out where it was located on the map.  I wanted to go there, because of the large rounded rocks about the size of bowling balls or larger that make up the beach.  It was interesting, but since the sky was overcast and cloudy, the light was not good so the pictures are not as nice as I would like.  The last hike we did was up to Bubble Rock which is a boulder precariously perched on the edge of a cliff.  The hike was moderate and definitely went up, but the view from the top of the trail was nice.  Overall, the hikes were nice, but if I went again I would definitely rent a bike, so I could see more of the park.  

From along the path around Jordan Pond
ISO 400, Focal Length 18mm, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/500s

I was not overly impressed with the photos I took because the sky was just grey, overcast, and extremely cloudy in the morning and evening due to the hurricane off the coast. We did not have any good sunrises, nor could we see the any of the night sky due to the cloud cover.  It was clear briefly in the afternoon, when there was a break in the bands of clouds from the arms of the hurricane.   I shot the whole trip using a Cannon D70 with an 18-200mm lens set to ISO 400.  My most common focal length was 18mm, my common shutter speeds were 1/200s and 1/500s, and my most common aperture was F8.   I just tend to shoot wide so that is why I tend to have a high number of photos shot at 18mm.  The reason from my shutter speeds being so high was to freeze the waves breaking along the beach and rock cliffs.  It takes several photos to get the best wave shot, so I did have a lot of shots I just discarded because they were basically duplicates.  I used a high aperture so I could get the best depth of field without having to focus stack on my landscape photos.  I did have a tripod with me, which my husband ended up using for a few of his shots. I also had filters with me, which did me absolutely no good; because, I did not have the filter holder with me.  I forgot to pack the filter holder. I used to have the filter holder always on my camera but it doesn’t work with my lens hood, so now the filter holder isn’t always on my camera.   That was a little frustrating.  

Boulder Beach
ISO 400, Focal Length 18mm, Aperture F9, Shutter 1/200s

Thunder Hole
ISO 400, Focal Length 50mm, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/320s
While going through my photos, I did find that several of the photos looked good in black and white, so I did do several conversions. (You can see all the photos here.)  The other thing I noticed was due how the sunlight was diffused through the clouds it was hard to pull definition out of the wave crests.  This was mostly noticeable with the shots taken at Thunder Hole, where the waves were mostly thick sea foam.  I found at Thunder Hole, it wasn’t the big waves that were interesting but the way the water cascaded over the rocks after the wave crashed and was going back out to sea.  

Now besides the rocky shore line, which I personally love to photograph, there were supposed to be fall colors.  Well due to climate change and the weather staying warmer longer into September there were no fall colors.  According to the past reports the time we picket to go would have been right at peak or just starting peak fall colors, this time the trees were just barely starting to turn.  I did find a tree that did change, it was a pop of red in a sea of green.   I think that was one of the reasons I was slightly disappointed with my photos, I was prepared for bright pops of color but all I had was shades of green. Don’t get me wrong the park is still beautiful in green, I was just expecting oranges, reds, yellows, and Maine’s purple leaves.

My lone red tree
ISO 400, Focal Length 185mm, Aperture F11, Shutter 1/100s














We would go again, but for longer than two days. I would also plan a little better so we could do some other activities like take a carriage ride through the park, do some biking on the carriage trails, and do a sea kayak tour. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Gothic Lolita

A while back, I posted on my Facebook page a link to a video covering 40 years of Gothic Style, which inspired on of my favorite cosplayers, Nerdenheim Jen, to make a Gothic Lolita outfit.  So last weekend, we went and shot it down at Scott’s Run.  You might not think being out in the middle of the woods is a place to do a Gothic Lolita shoot; abandoned mansion comes to mind. However, the use of an abandoned fireplace and props brought the shoot to life.  

For this shoot I used a Canon 70D, an 18-200mm lens, one 430 EX-IIIRT speed light, one 600 EX-RT speed light, radio trigger, lightstand,  painter’s pole with baby pin adapter, umbrella, foam skull, candelabra, and a tea-towel for the model to sit on.  My husband came with me on this shoot to act as my assistant.  His job was to hold the painter’s pole with a speedlight attached, so I could get the light angles correct for the three locations we shot and not worry about having to balance two light stands.

I took around 171 shots, edited 139, and posted 97 fully edited photos.  For all the photos, I was at an ISO of 200 using an aperture of F4.5. My focal length varied between 18mm and 35mm with 75 percent of the photos taken at 18mm.  My shutter speeds varied between 1/100s to 1/250s with the about 56 percent of the photos taken at 1/200s and 22 percent taken at 1/100s.  As you can see, I learned from the last shoot that I needed to up my shutter speed to be hand holding the camera.  I had my flashes set between 1/16 and 1/8 power depending on the lighting.  I do wish my camera could record the flash power settings in the .exf data for the images it would make reviewing them a lot easier and help with future shoots.  Though in reviewing the raw images, I had very few if any I threw out due to lighting issues, most shots I eliminated were due to blinking, odd posing, or the idea just not translating well into the image.

We shot in three locations at Scott’s Run:  the abandoned fireplace, the river stepping-stones, and on jagged rocks in the river bed itself.  We started with the abandoned fireplace location because it was at a top of a hill.  I always believe on working my way down when it comes to on-location shoots, because it is always easier to go down then up.  The fireplace is an interesting location, because you can lean a little towards the creepy side but still keep it cute. However, it was the use of the props that brought out the gothic feel of the location, while the poses and expression of the model told a story.  The second location was along the stepping-stones that are used to cross the river.  These photos stayed more on the cute side of Lolita. The third location was the jagged rocks in the riverbed that were accessible due to a low water level.  The props helped here, to give the photo some context, while the models expression brought the story behind the image to life.  I’m now going to discuss one of my favorite images from each of the three locations.

This first image was taken out on the jagged rocks in the riverbed. I like to call this image “I’m sad because it is sunny.”  Her pout and how she is holding the skull next to her face, as you might hold a kitty or stuffed animal next to you, makes the shot.   The main light was above her and to her left, the fill light was about 45 degrees off her right side.  All I did for editing for this shot was adjust the white balance to sunlight,  adjust the exposure a slightly, crop the image using the rule of thirds, and then added a little bit of vignetting.  

ISO 200, Aperture 4.5, Shutter 1/200s, Focal Length 18mm

This second image shows you the fireplace, which was a reasonable size. I like this image because it is as if she is inviting you in, and the hand placement on the skull, makes it seem like the skull is a pet.   For this image the main light was up and to the models right, about 60 degrees off center and the fill light was to her left about 45 degrees off center.  I adjusted the white balance for this image first by adjusting it to sunlight, then warming it up a bit more to give it more a brown/orange cast. I found even thought this was a gothic shoot, which usually run to cooler tones; those cooler tones were not working due to the time of day we were shooting.  I did crop the image to ensure balance on both sides of the fireplace, and then added a bit of vignetting.  

ISO 200, Aperture 4.5, Shutter 1/200s, Focal Length 18mm

This third image was done on the stepping-stones; actually, they are concrete pillars you step on to cross the river.  This image captures the essence of Lolita cuteness whether it is classic Lolita or gothic Lolita. It also shows off the dress nicely.  The main light was above the model about 30 degrees off center to her right. The fill light was placed basically on the same line as the main light just lower.  I did not do a lot with this image; I adjusted the white balance, then cropped, and then finally added some vignetting to emphasize the model and the light cutting through the center of the image.  

ISO 200, Aperture 4.5, Shutter 1/100s, Focal Length 18mm

While I only discussed three images, I had a lot more than three favorites.  I basically could make a nice little story with the images from this shoot, showing a little gothic Lolita out for a walk with her pet skull and stopping by her favorite places.  While Jen is always great to work with, she was really super amazing during this shoot, providing just the right facial expressions and really interacting with props.  She made the setting and story come to life for these photos.  You can see the complete set of photos here

Still Life

Now that I have a little bit of down time, I took some time to work on other types of photography outside of portrait photography.   I ...