One Photo: My Favorite 2017 Snowscape: "Schwendi Hutte on Mt. Tecumseh"

This composition is what you see when you get off at the top of the main ski lift at Waterville Valley Resort in New Hampshire. The elevation is 3,840 feet, just short of the 4,004 foot peak of Mt. Tecumseh. Partly out of sight to the right is a short chair lift going to the very tip-top of the mountain.  It is one of the original double chairlifts from when the mountain was opened in 1966. 

The red “hut” is my absolute favorite ski area upper lodge.  It’s called the “Schwendi Hutte“, which I am told is a made-up name.  Its sounds very alpine, doesn’t it.

"Schwendi Hutte"
Panasonic Point and Shoot "Tough" Style TS3 Camera @28mm equivalent
1/250sec, F10, ISO100, +.3EV

The view off to the left of the hutte is wonderful, the coffee served is excellent and bold enough for my taste, and the warm frosted cinnamon buns are extraordinary.  I check the Waterville website whenever I want to make a skiing day-trip , but if the hut is not open, I sometimes decide to ski elsewhere.  My normal Waterville routine is to stop at the hutte for a cup of coffee (and cinnamon bun!) at about 11am and enjoy a relaxing 30 minutes, usually finding someone interesting to talk to. I then ski until about 1:30 before going into the base lodge for lunch, thus avoiding the lunch crowd. 

I have great memories of Waterville Valley. I first skied there in 1967.  About two weeks after it closed in April that year it reopened after the top of the mountain received about 2 feet of snow (as I recall). My brother and I drive up in my dad’s 1966 (?) Volkswagon Karmann Ghia for the day. There was snow only at the elevation above the hutte, so we skied only the upper lift.  When we were done at the end of the day, we had to take the main lift back to the bottom.


One Photo: My Favorite Seascape from 2017:"Wave Action"

In Maine in October, this was taken at Reid State Park.  I didn't think all that much about this image (I liked it but it was not "great") until a friend fell in love with it and asked for a large print.  We agreed that at 24" wide print would make a nice wall hanging. I was pretty pumped and looked forward to printing it up big.  But then I sadly realized that the composition you see here was only created by severely cropping the original image file.  

Regretfully I had been lazy that day.  I had a single lens with me, a 12-100 F4 zoom with an equivalent focal length of 24-200mm.  Ninety percent of the time, that is plenty of reach for me.  But I should have remembered that some of the other 10% of the time occurs at the ocean, where a longer reach may be needed.

For this image I zoomed all the way into 200mm.  The crop, however, measures a mere 2,000 pixels wide.  That’s plenty for an iPad, HD 1080p computer monitor, or high definition television; but sorely lacking in pixels for a print over, say, 10” wide.  (By the way, here on the blog, images are hugely downsized, to 800 pixels wide.)

I’m still kicking myself for not going back to the car where I had a Panasonic 100-300 zoom!  That’s a whopping 200-600mm equivalent range.  That would have been plenty of reach to zoom right in on this scene.

"Wave Action" at Reid State Park, Maine
Olympus E-M1 with Olympus 12-100 @ 100mm (200mm equivalent)
Aperture Priority, 1/6400sec, F4, ISO200, -1EV
RAW file adjusted in Lightroom

My Photography Website is https://peterfraileyphoto.com/


One Photo: My Favorite Landscape from 2017: "T.A. Moulton Barn"

Over this past weekend I spent a considerable amount of time with my 2017 images (and wrote about organizing them here).  Motivated by what I have seen other photographers doing on their blogs and Instagram, I decided to try to pick my favorite image of last year, in a number of categories.  That is so hard!  I have a bunch which I like a lot.  Depending on the day I imagine I could make a case for any one of a dozen or so.  It’s not that I have a dozen or so great images, it’s just that I can’t differentiate among them.  

But I am going to try.  Just for fun.

Here is what today I am choosing as my favorite landscape image.  Perhaps a bit cliche, this is one of the two Moulton barns located on Mormon Row in Jackson, Wyoming. The barn is inside the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park. 

I just love photos of either of the two old barns, with the Teton mountain range behind them. The peak of the Grand Teton is actually behind and above the barn, and is partly hidden by the clouds looking like smoke coming out of the top. The Grand Teton is the highest point in the Teton Range, at 13,776 feet.

T.A. Moulton Barn
Olympus E-M1 with Olympus 12-100 F4 zoom @ 29mm (58mm equivalent)
1/2500sec, F4, ISO200, Aperture priority, -.3EV

This photo was taken on June 10, 2017 at 7am, as an overnight rainstorm was clearing off. My wife and I remember so well taking a few photographs and then returning to our rented pick-up truck camper to make a pot of coffee and a hot breakfast.  The temperature was in the 30s (Fahrenheit degrees) so we even ran the propane furnace while we enjoyed our breakfast and coffee. Oh so delightful and memorable.

My Instagram Feed is https://www.instagram.com/peterfraileyphoto/

My Photography Website is https://peterfraileyphoto.com/


January Project: Organizing in Lightroom Classic this past year's Photos

I think of myself as organized. Using Lightroom Classic CC on import, and as shown in the image below, my photos are placed in annual and monthly sub-folders, with some projects or sets of images placed in their own sub-folder. I figure this structure will help me stay organized if in the future I switch to some other editing software. 

My organizational problem is that my keywording is a bit hit-or-miss. At least until year-end.

Here’s my solution:

Usually (and again this year) in January I go through my prior year images to be sure they’ve all been keyworded. I don’t go crazy with keywords. For example, a photo with any of our five grandchildren is keyworded with “grandchildren” rather than individual names. 

In the process of keywording, I find I also delete a whole slew of images. Most of the deletions are duplicates. This end-of-the-year process forces me to choose the best of sometimes dozens of images of, for example, the same sunrise. Due to the passage of time (this year’s sunset images were from August and October), the deletion process somehow becomes easier. 

All the same sunrise.  I have now deleted all but four.
As it turns out, going through this process yesterday (it was a perfect day to sit at the computer, with outside temperatures in the single digits and high wind gusts that made some New England ski areas close their lifts for the day), I reduced my total images for the year from 3,000 to 1,800. Having said this, I’ll point out that I think I take 10,000 to 12,000 images a year with a huge number of deletions taking place immediately after uploading from memory cards to computer.

When I’m finished with the keywording and deletions, I drag the entire annual folder (ex. “2017”) from my internal drive to an external drive.  Once moved to the external drive, this tells me that my 2017 photos have been “finalized”. The internal drive now becomes available to collect my 2018 images.

My Instagram Feed is https://www.instagram.com/peterfraileyphoto/

My Photography Website is https://peterfraileyphoto.com/


Why are good Christmas Candids so hard to Capture?

I am embarrassed to say that I pressed the shutter button nearly 200 times on Christmas day.  But I had to delete most of them.  No one requested that I delete any.  That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that many were just plain bad.  After deleting duplicates, I am now down to 60 or so that I feel I can share with my family.

It’s a bit frustrating to have so many failed images.  But as I write this, I’ve decided to give myself some slack because I don’t think getting good candids is an easy proposition.  Unlike my favorite genre, landscapes, each expression or action that would make a good candid capture is often so fleeting. A facial expression can change in a second!  

One of many failures.  I got half of it right (not considering the background)

Another thing is that the chances of a good result greatly decrease if there is more than one person in the photo.  The more people in the photo, the more likely there will be one yawning or blinking or putting a Christmas cookie in his or her mouth.  Also, the more people in the photo, the more likely one will be out of focus due to movement or being out of the depth of field.  

Another one of many failure, now deleted from my library

To keep my ISO as low as possible, each photo I took this year with the Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 lens was shot wide open.  I also used some fill flash. The next time, I think I’ll stop down one stop, to F4 and see what happens.  I’d like to come up with a default F-stop that would work for me, in most cases.  It’s been suggested that F5.6 might be a good choice, too.  (This is based on my m43 system with its 2x crop factor.)

This is what I am currently thinking might work for my taste:  Use F2.8 for one person. Use F4 for two people if they are more or less side by side. Use F5.6 for three or more people.... Yes, that will be my strategy next time!

All this being said, here are a few snapshots I like:

I don't mind the grandfather being out of the depth of field here.  At least he is smiling.
Also, it draws attention to the granddaughter


Two Photos: It's Amazing what a Kiss of Flash can Do

Two days before Christmas we had weather conditions that resulted in 1/4” of ice over everything. It rained all day, but the air temperature at ground level was near 20F.  It was a mess.

Also going on, I had been watching our dogwood tree for the last couple of months, as buds slowly formed (not a good thing) in November due the record breaking warmth (i.e. warmest November in history).  Now I could see that these buds were topped or encircled with a layer of ice. This is all very unusual; and I thought the juxtaposition of the buds and ice made for an interesting nature story. It was also quite attractive. Definitely, it was a scene worth documenting.

I grabbed the camera that I had all set up for the indoor Christmas Eve photographs that I hoped to capture that night.  It was the Panasonic GX80/85 with Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 zoom (24-80mm equivalent). Since the little Olympus FL-LM-3 auxiliary flash was already in the hotshoe, I figured why not try it?  I was stunned by the results.  I am not saying this is “great” photo, but it is definitely interesting and tells a nature story. I really like how the direct flash was able to bring out the colors of the buds. This is technique I need to remember in the future.

Below:  Though I like both of these images, I'm thinking now I should have taken the time to shoot some images using F5.6 or F8 for greater depth of field, albeit with reduced background blur.  These were taken at F2.8.

"November Dogwood Buds and December Ice"
Panasonic GX80/85 with Olympus 14-40mm @ 40mm (80mm equiv)
1/160sec, F2.8, ISO200
Olympus FL-LM-3 Flash (TTL)

You can also find me here:

My Instagram Feed is https://www.instagram.com/peterfraileyphoto/

My Photography Website is https://peterfraileyphoto.com/


One Photo: Wabi Sabi

Wabi Sabi? Up until a month ago I had no clue as to what that means. I hadn’t even heard the term, and I don’t think I’m alone in this regard. In fact, I see that my iPad happily accepts my spelling of “Wabi” but it wants to replace “Sabi” with”Sami” or “Saab”. 

I first heard the term when my local photo club decided to make “Wabi Sabi” the assigned topic for December.  I am sure, like me, that many of my fellow club members went right to Google. (And I found out later that December’s judge did as well!)

Even now, I’m not sure I've got a very good handle on this phrase. From what I understand, it is based on a traditional Japanese acceptance of beauty as being imperfect.  Terms like “flawed beauty”, “beauty that comes with age”, “patina or wear” came up as I read about this traditional Japanese aesthetic. 

I think there is a lot more to this phrase than I’ve indicated above. I believe it gets into the realm of religion, philosophy and religion.

That being said, below is the image I submitted for consideration. The judge liked it too; though he and I might both be entirely clueless. 

"Ferns" for the Assignment: Wabi Sabi
Panasonic GX80/85 with Olympus 12-100mm F4 zoom @100mm (200mm equiv)
1/320sec, F4, ISO200
Touched up in Lightroom


One Photo: An Abstract Christmas Tree

Here’s a fun photo idea for my friends who have Christmas trees. I thought I’d share this simple idea before it’s time to take down the tree. 

It will require finding the manual focus on your camera. We get so used to auto focus that sometimes we forget that our cameras can be focused manually. 

Here’s what I did. I sat on the couch in our living room, about 12 feet from the Christmas tree, which was lit with several strings of large bulbs. I held the camera in the vertical orientation. The lens was set at the largest aperture, F2.8. The lens used here was a 24-80mm (equivalent) zoom, and I zoomed to frame the image. 

Panasonic GX85 and Olympus 12-40mm @ 17mm (34mm equiv.)
1/30, F2.8, AutoISO800

At this point I switched to manual focus and focused the lens at its closest distance, somewhere around 12”.  Unfortunately this resulted in huge glowing light bulbs in the frame, and there was no hint of a tree. So, I re-focused repeatedly at gradually longer distances until I got the image I wanted. I’m guessing I might have been focusing at about the half-way point for this image. 

I posted this image on Instagram and Facebook last week, and it was well-liked. Some, including my wife, thought it might make a nice Christmas card. I think they might be right. 


A few Christmas Macros

A few Christmas Macros

During the winter months here in New England my cameras tend to sit on a shelf anxiously awaiting the colors of spring.  The exception might be a snapshot or two of snow covered mountains and valleys, captured while skiing. Indoors, I take pictures where I can.  That may mean food photography or family photos during Thanksgiving and Christmas. In addition, a few years ago while setting up the Christmas tree and getting the ornaments out, I found another fun way to use my camera. I noticed how beautiful some of the handmade Christmas ornaments were.  By setting them up one by one on a wooden table 5-10 feet from the tree I have been able to get some nice “macro” shots like these.  

E-M1 and Olympus 12-100 at 100mm at F4

This is actually a pop-up Christmas card.
Open up the card and this little paper village pops up!

Panasonic GX85 and Olympus 12-40 at 40mm at F2.8

I see that I used two different cameras and four different lenses for my growing collection of Christmas macros; the lenses being the Olympus 60mm, Olympus 12-40mm, Olympus 12-100mm and Panasonic 14-140mm.  But just about any lens will work. The idea is to fill the frame with the ornament, and the amount of blurriness in the background will depend on the F-stop used and on the distance between the ornament and the background.  I see that in all cases I used the widest aperture on each lens.

Olympus E-M1 and 60mm macro  at F2.8

Olympus E-M1 and Panasonic 14-140 at 46mm (92mm equiv) at F5.0
I also used an on-camera flash. I’m not talking about the flash that is built into the camera, but a separate flash that sits in the hot shoe and can rotate and articulate.  For these images I tilted the flash upward at an angle half way between horizontal and vertical, and then rotated the flash head sideways (90 degrees) to the left.  I could have chosen 90 degrees to the right, but most of the ambient light was already coming from the kitchen which was on the right.  

Olympus E-M1 and 60mm macro  at F2.8

Olympus E-M1 and Panasonic 14-140 at 40m (92mm equiv) at F4.7

To get the overall exposure correct, my standard (perhaps default is a better word) procedure is to adjust the exposure of the camera so that it is one-stop underexposed. For example if the correct exposure without a flash had been, say, 1/30sec, F4 and ISO1600, then I would set the camera to 1/30, F4, ISO800.  This is the equivalent of cutting the exposure (i.e. the light) in half.  After mounting and angling the flash, I’d adjust the flash power manually to provide the “missing” half of the light needed for a reasonable exposure. You’ll need to experiment to find the appropriate flash power level, as this depends on a number of variables, such as camera aperture, the height and color of the ceiling and the color of the walls from which light is being bounced.  Usually flashes can be adjusted to power levels of 1/128, 1/64, 1/32, 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and 1/1 (full). Your subject isn’t going anywhere, so experimenting with flash settings is easy.

Olympus E-M1 and Panasonic 14-140 at 65m (130mm equiv) at F5.3

Olympus E-M1 and 60mm macro  at F2.8

You can also find me here:

My Instagram Feed is https://www.instagram.com/peterfraileyphoto/

My Photography Website is https://peterfraileyphoto.com/


A Memorable Two Day Stay at the Brunswick (Maine) Inn

Last week we thought it might be a nice break in the holiday madness to head to Maine to a bed and breakfast for a couple of mid-week days.  We chose Brunswick because it is an area where we may relocate one day.  We’re already somewhat familiar with the area because we drive through it on old Maine Route 1 several times a year, though never has that drive been in winter.  

The Brunswick Inn was wonderful.  With light Pandora-powered Christmas music in the background and ample decorations in the rooms, we felt like we were on the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie.  The home was built in 1849 by the president of Brunswick Savings Bank.  As an “esteemed” citizen of Brunswick, we read that Robert Bowker shared a pew at the First Parish Church with Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  That’s a nice little piece of Brunswick history.

The large addition in the back of the house, which can be seen in the photos below, was built in 1922 by a Bowdoin professor of International Law who wanted to hold student office hours and conduct seminars at home.  This area is now the dining room.  As you might guess, it was once lined with bookshelves, though as you can see only a few of the shelves remain today.

The house became a bed and breakfast in 1984.  In the early years it was a four room inn.  It has now been expanded to 15 rooms, each with a private bathroom.  The current owners are Eileen and Jim Hornor, who have owned the property since May, 2009.

Comments about my photos:

All of these “Inn” images were taken with the diminutive Panasonic GM5 and Panasonic/Leica 15mm F1.7 prime lens, both thanks to an eBay purchase this fall.  I enjoyed using the combo without a strap.  I just slipped it into the pocket of my fleece vest.  The camera has some limitations of course, in particular if you are looking for 4K video.  I also don’t like the fact that there is no minimum shutter speed setting.  When using aperture priority and auto ISO, it wants to maintain 1/60 second.  Generally that is a good minimum speed, but with a 15mm (30mm equivalent) focal length, a slower speed like 1/30 could be useful. In Shutter Priority mode, 1/30 can be selected but of course you lose control of your aperture setting (the aperture ring on the 15mm becomes non-functional in Shutter Priority mode). 

A partial workaround when shooting in light that requires an ISO higher than the base 200 (as in all of the indoor images here), is to use Manual Mode, setting aperture on the aperture ring at the desired setting and the shutter speed to 1/30.  Auto ISO will then provide a reasonable exposure, the downside being that there is no way to select EV compensation with this configuration.

In Lightroom Classic CC, I only applied the new "Auto" tone feature.  Just a 1-click adjustment!  I did not touch the default Lightroom sharpening and I applied no noise reduction.  I was quite pleased with the shots taken at high ISO.

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 640

ISO 800

ISO 1250

ISO 1600

ISO 2000

ISO 4000