Photo Story: Traffic Jam in Yellowstone

I seem to be celebrating photos from 10 years ago (see prior two posts), when I began by dSLR experience with a borrowed Nikon D40 and kit 18-55 zoom.  It was all during a trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone with my wife, Laurie.

For days we'd not seen bison.  Then, we couldn't get away from them! This scene was so much fun. Obviously, in this location buffalo find it easier walking on the road than clambering through the brush and woods.

"Traffic Jam in Yellowstone"
Nikon D40 plus 18-55 zoom @ 55mm
1/200sec, F5.6, ISO 450


Photo Story: Wyoming's Iconic Moulton Barn

This image of Moulton Barn in Jackson, Wyoming was taken 10 years ago next month, during a two week trip that took my wife and me in a rented car (a Ford Taurus… yuck!) from Salt Lake City to my brother’s home in Spokane, WA via the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.

My brother's Nikon D40 plus 18-55 kit zoom.

"Moulton Barn"
Mormon Row, Jackson, WY
Nikon D40 with 18-55mm kit zoom @ 38mm
1/40sec, F13, ISO 220

The barn image was taken on my third day with my first dSLR.  Actually, it wasn’t even mine.  My brother (in Spokane) had just purchased a Nikon D40 with it’s 18-55 kit lens.  He’d been eyeing Nikon dSLRs and was waiting until a model was available for under $1,000.  That seems like a lot of money for this 6mp interchangeable lens camera and kit lens, but it is so easy for us to forget just how expensive those early dSLRs were.

I actually had no interest in having a photographic trip.  That’s hard for me to believe now, but I had planned only to take my little 3mp Panasonic point and shoot to document the trip. I had no interest (or so I thought) in lugging around anything larger and heavier.

So, I told my brother this and the next thing I knew a UPS truck dropped off at our house his brand new camera with a note to “use the hell out of it” and to return it to him when we arrived in Spokane.

Camera Set up.

I remember reading the manual on the plane.  The first day, as we drove from SLC to Jackson, Wyoming, I shot in the auto mode.  As I recall there was a green icon of some sort on the mode dial for the no-brainer mode.  Or was it a red heart?  Anyway, that was good for one day.  On the second day I switched to P mode, but since I knew nothing about EV compensation or white balance or ISO adjustments, it didn’t seem to me that P mode provided anything different than the Auto mode.  On the third day (when I took this picture) I switched to Aperture Priority (though I have no idea in the world why I chose F13 instead of, say, F5.6).  Aperture Priority is what I was used to, from 30 years before with a Nikon EL film camera.  

I do wish I had learned about white balance, ISO, EV compensation and RAW during the trip. All my images were shot as jpegs.  

This image is actually on a wall in my office as an 18” print.  It looks great, though because my eyes and my standards have changed over these 10 years, I do seem to be more and more bothered by the color blotches I see in the sky in the 18” print.  On the other hand, from a normal viewing distance, it isn’t noticeable.


Photo Story: Getting a Speeding Ticket in Yosemite Valley

This photo, taken by me in 1977 in California's Yosemite Valley, makes me laugh every time I see it.  Sometimes, it's really all about the title, isn't it?

I really don't remember what was going on here. I was not the driver of the car but merely walking down the street ...but to be honest, the mounted park ranger was giving out a parking ticket, not a speeding ticket.  Nonetheless,  I couldn't resist my chosen title as there's just something laughable about a ranger on horseback versus a Datsun 240Z sports car.

"Getting a Speeding Ticket"
Nikon EL film camera
50mm F1.4 prime lens
Scanned from Kodachrome 64 slide film
Exposure: I have no idea!


1959 Series 62 Convertible Cadillac 390 V8 Automatic

It was Cadillac day at Larz Anderson transportation museum recently, and I found myself gravitated rather quickly to this 1959 Cadillac convertible.  It's a real beauty.  

Wish I'd been able to look under the hood, at that 390 cubic inch 325 horse power engine. And those tail fins... wow! Check them out in a couple of the photos further below.


Photo Story: Wild Mountain Goat on Hurricane Ridge, 1976, Olympic National Park

Let's hear it for Kodachrome 64 and my old Nikon EL with it's 58 mm Nikkor F1.4 lens!  This is one of my dozen or so favorites from the 1970's.  For those that don't know this, Kodachrome was slide film with an ASA (ISO) of 64.  It came in rolls of 24 and 36.  Here the slide has been scanned to a 10mp file and then downsized to 750 pixels wide for blog posting.  I recently made a 24" print for my younger son, and it is plenty sharp.

"Mountain Goat"
Hurricane Ridge, Olympus National Park, 1976

Nikon EL film camera, Nikkor 58mm F1.4 lens
Shutter speed unknown, F stop unknown
ASA 64 (Kodachrome 64)

This image was taken on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park in July, 1976.  That was more than 40 years ago!

Mountain goats are not indigenous to the area. They were introduced in 1920, eighteen years before the area became a national park. I'm not sure how many were living in the park when I took this picture in 1976.  However, I have read that in 1983 there were approximately 1,100.

I love wild animals but it seems that the Park system is trying to figure out what to do with these animals, as it is reported that they are overgrazing the delicate alpine vegetation and soil.

Incidentally, seen in the distance, beyond the snoozing mountain goat, is Puget sound and Vancouver Island, Canada.


Photo Story: Tons of Maple Tree Helicopters

Our property is surrounded by maple trees.  One of the beautiful things that happens in the spring is that the maples sprout large quantities of little “helicopters”, as we called them as kids. In reality these are seed pods, and they appear before the new maple leaves arrive.

Beautiful colors eventually turn to brown:

Beginning with rich colors of green, pink, red and yellow, the helicopters eventually dry out and loose their color, instead turning to a dried-out tan or brown color.  At that point they loose their touch with the stems to which they’d been attached, and drop to the ground in a twirling motion.  This action is why they are often called helicopters or whirligigs. Where they drop will depend on the wind, as it is often high winds that “set them free”.

"A Squadron of Maple Whirligigs"
Olympus EM-1 with 12-100mm F4 zoom @ 54mm (108mm-equiv)
1/100sec, F4, ISO 200
Processed with Lightroom and Perfectly Clear

A reason for concern:

Of particular concern, however, is the number of helicopters produced.  This particular tree is so dense with seed pods. It’s a “bumper crop”.  But that may not be a good thing. We’ve had drought conditions the last few years and I have learned from an arborist that producing a bumper crop of seeds is often a tree’s way of continuing the species during times of stress, and before the tree dies off.


Photo Story: Driving Through Kansas in 1975

In the summer of 1975 I spent a couple of weeks traveling the USA with my graduate school roommate.  He’d driven to the west coast from Connecticut to deliver his younger brother to (as I recall) the University of California at Berkeley.  I, on the other hand, flew into Los Angeles for the purpose of riding shotgun for the drive back to New England in his green Mercury Capri sedan via Nevada Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and from there pretty much straight through to Massachusetts where he dropped me off. The experience was terrific… all except the night I spent hanging over a toilet in a campground in Colorado after consuming burritos and refried beens in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Silverton, CO.

 Along Interstate 70 in 1975
Kodak Retina IIIC rangefinder film camera
50mm Focal Length
Kodachrome 64 (likely)

This photo represents my (unfair?) view of Kansas.  Flat as a pancake and a highway as straight (almost) as an arrow.  This photo was taken along Interstate 70. My recollection is that we were near Salina, and it was just after a thunderstorm blew through.  

One of my strange recollections is of spending the night in a campground off the highway.  We pitched the tent in a field. Usually, we would pound the tent pegs into the ground with any nearby rock.  But in Kansas we could find no rocks! Growing up in New England where farm fields are often lined by stonewalls, I found this rather amazing. I also remember it blowing like crazy all night and wondering if small dogs and young girls were flying through the air on their way to the Land of Oz.


Photo Story: To Spritz Or Not?

When I first became interested in flower photography, it never occurred to me to do anything artificial to the flower.  I was amazed when one friend told me of clipping a flower with stem, and bringing it indoors to photograph without wind and with controlled light and with an artificial background (ex. white foam board or black velvet fabric).  What a great idea that was. That strategy for creating good art had never occurred to me.  Another friend told me about using a spritzer bottle in the field to add the very appealing effect of raindrops or morning dew.  

Olympus E-M1 plus 60mm F2.8 Olympus macro
1/100sec @ F8, ISO 200

I definitely like the raindrop effect. It gives a little “something extra” to the image. But I have never actually taken the additional step of procuring a spray bottle and adding it to my gear bag.  

So, this image is completely natural.  It was taken outside my home after, you guessed it, a real rain shower. Perhaps a spritzer bottle in the hands of an experienced spray bottle aficionado could duplicate the appearance, but I’m thinking that may not be possible. I love the way the raindrops have lined themselves up nicely along certain lines on the blades of grass.

I do think that during this coming season of outdoor flower photography I will add a spray bottle to my kit.  It's worth playing with, and it should add some fun. On the other hand, using it seems a bit like catching a stocked trout instead of a wild trout. The wild trout is definitely a higher quality experience. Yet, it should be said that a stocked trout is better than no trout at all!


Photo Story: 8-Year Olds Love Chalk

Give an 8-year old some colored chalk and a paved driveway and it’s all about art and creativity. 

I think the above was the best of a ton of images I took of our granddaughter during her stay with us Monday and Tuesday. The background and foreground give a sense of the environment, without being distracting (IMO). I think that is a good thing. The 90mm F2.8 lens helped a great deal with blurring the background to help focus attention on the smiling 8 year old. Some vignetting might be useful, but I don't seem to use that technique much.  I feel I captured “the moment” here, and I especially like that it was done with an old manual focus, aperture ring manual lens.  

I used a 90mm Tamron F2.8 Macro (at F2.8, 1/500sec, ISO 100) mounted on a Sony a6000.  I am always pleased when I can get good focus with any manual lens; although, of course, our granddaughter wasn’t exactly in motion!

What was really amazing about this artistic experience is that we gave her the option to go to our local ice cream parlor for an ice cream cone before returning her to her parents, and she actually asked, “can I finish up my art project instead?”  Amazing girl.

BTW, buy triangular chalk sticks for your kids or grandchildren.  We’ve concluded that they don’t break as easily as the round ones. Ours are called “Chalkables”, and we just ordered more from Amazon.  The brand is OOLY.  They come in a box with 8 colors.


Gear: Best $11 Gift I Ever Received (For Macro Photography)

I saw one of these folding stools a couple of years ago at the gym.  I immediately fell in love with it and thought it would be great for my macro photography.  I mentioned it to my wife a few days before my birthday in 2015 and as I was opening birthday cards on a Sunday morning, a U.S. Postal Service truck pulled into our driveway and delivered a Rhino II folding stool!  Wow.  What a surprise.  My wife had ordered it on a Friday and with her Amazon Prime membership got it delivered on Sunday! [Apparently, Amazon is so big that it has a special deal with the postal service which includes Sunday delivery.]

It’s called a Kikkerland Rhino II Folding Stool and they sell for about $11 on Amazon with free shipping.  The version II is sturdier than the original design so be sure to get the Rhino II model.

When folded, it measures about 12”x 12” x 1", so it fits nicely in my backpack.  I mostly use it for macro photography.  For me, this means either wildflowers growing in nature or cultivated flowers growing in botanic gardens. 

Flowers, by their design, tend to lie low to the ground, and this stool really helps me get down to the level of the flowers without resorted to sitting crosslegged on the (often wet) ground, or getting on my knees. My joints feel a lot less “creaky” at the end of a session. It makes the process a lot more enjoyable, whether you use a tripod or, like me, avoid a tripod whenever possible.  I find the stool helps me hold the camera steady.  Often I will put my elbows on my thighs, creating a “human tripod”. 

When in the field, once I have taken the stool out of my backpack, I generally don’t put it back.  When folded, It’s so easy to carry by the handle.  

When not used for my photography, I usually just keep it in my car.  It takes up so little space. We now have a second one in the house.  It comes in handy for changing lightbulbs in the ceiling or swapping out batteries in the smoke detectors, and then folds up nicely to be hidden in a closet (or, in our case, between the washer and dryer).

Hey, it's only $11.  Buy one!


Gear: LX100 At Discount, But I'll Wait For An LX200 (Assuming There Will Be A New Version)

When the LX100 first came out (September, 2014) I was quite excited.  All those retro dials in a smallish format.  Plus it had a mFT sensor which was pretty big for the small size of the camera and the small size of the fixed 24-75 mm-equivalent F1.7 to F2.8 (i.e. fast!) zoom. Albeit the sensor was cropped to about 12mp, but this was fine with me as it accommodated the mult-aspect ratio feature we’d come to know and love with the LX series.

Screenshot from Panasonic website

I guess what caused me to put a purchase on hold was the price tag of $899US… and to be honest, I was concerned with some of the reports that seemed to indicate some lens softness. I have to admit that lens sharpness is a “thing” with me.  Intellectually, I know it is overrated and that there are so many more important elements that go into making a good photo.  When it comes down to it, I think almost all modern lenses are “sharp enough” and fully “sufficient”, even slow kit lenses. Nevertheless, lens sharpness is always a hurdle for me.

At any rate, because of these concerns, by the end of 2014 I removed the LX100 from my radar screen.

But then a couple of weeks ago, I had another chance to reconsider.  Not only was the LX100 on sale at a trusted seller, Amazon, but they had plenty of them in stock and “more coming”, priced to sell fast at $560 with free shipping.  This was 30% below the retail price of $799 and 40% off the initial retail price of $899! Unfortunately for anyone reading this now who might be interested in buying at that price, this deal has come and gone and the current selling price at Amazon (on April 1, 2017) is $699. 

This was the $560 deal (now gone):

Screenshot from Amazon a few weeks ago.

Currently priced on Amazon at $699:

Screenshot from dpreview.com

However, I was unable to hit the buy button, even at $560.  It seems that a lot has changed in my mind with regard to an appropriate feature set.  Obviously, the camera still works as well as it did when introduced in 2014, when it received an 85% “gold award” from dpreview.com.  But my wish list for features and requirements seems to have expanded over the last 2 1/2 years.  That’s not a good or bad thing, it is just what is.

In passing up on this sale, I also considered that perhaps the heavily discounted price was a sign that a new model (LX200?) is coming.  I am hoping that the LX100 was successful enough that it warrants an upgrade. 

What would really kindle my interest in the next version of the LX100 (if there is one coming along) is one or more of the following “improvements”, listed here in order of my interest:

(1) A bigger EVF, preferably OLED so I can see through it with polarized glasses.  The bigger EVF can be accomplished in appearance without increasing the physical size by changing the EVF to a 4:3 aspect ratio instead of the current 16:9. I understand that the GH series has an OLED viewfinder with 4:3 aspect panel.

(2) Tilting display with touch screen capabilities.

(3) A new lens, equally fast, perhaps longer (24-90?, 24-105?) and sharper than the current one.

(3) Better image stabilizing. Gordon Laing was disappointed to find in his review on cameralabs.com that the stabilization system only provided a 2-ish stop advantage where he’d expected more like 3-4 stops.

(4) ND filter built in.

(6) A 20mp sensor ...which would need to be cropped to about 15mp to accommodate the multi-aspect ratio feature.

(5) Ability use a self-timer and bracketing at the same time.  I think currently, like other cameras I’ve owned from Panasonic and Olympus, the self-timer and bracketing are in the same drive mode so that you can choose only one or the other. (The work-around is to use a remote shutter release.)

(6) All the photo stacking and photo bracketing features that are now included on the upper end Panasonic’s.  I think the LX100 may have photo bracketing, but not photo stacking.  There were hopes for a firmware upgrade to accomplish this, but as far as I can tell that never happened.

(7) Blue Tooth for easy fast transfer to my cell phone for sharing. (I don’t have any cameras with this, so not exactly sure how advantageous this is… but it seems to be the direction upscale cameras are heading)

I guess that's a healthy list of "improvements".  I'm looking forward to seeing what Panasonic comes up with next.


Photo Story: The Wharf at Thurston's Lobster Pound, Bernard, Maine

Thurston's Wharf

Olympus E-M1
Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 @ 15mm (30mm equiv.)
1/60s, F8, ISO200

Photo Story

I recently picked this image to submit for a Photo Club critique.  Not sure why I picked it. It certainly isn't a "fine art" image.  I guess it is more of a documentary image. But I like it a lot, and I thought I'd post it here along with a bit of the Bernard story.

Thurston's Wharf and Thurston's Lobster Pound are located side-by-side in the Village of Bernard, Maine on Mount Desert Island (MDI), Maine.  MDI receives millions of visitors each year because of Acadia National Park. However, I should point out that Acadia is mostly on the right side of the island, along with the heavily visited Bar Harbor.  Bernard is on the left side of the island.  The left side is often called the "quiet side".

We've traveled MDI off and on for thirty plus years and have always enjoyed our visits.   But it was not until three years ago that we found (accidentally) the road that leads to Bernard. It barely exists on the maps but is worth finding.

The main attractions in the immediate area around Bernard seem to be Bass Harbor and Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.  The lighthouse is on the to-do list of any serious photographer and the village of Bass Harbor (confusion here: there is the harbor call Bass Harbor; the village called Bass Harbor lies along the eastern shore of the harbor) is the terminus for the Swan Island Ferry and the Frenchboro Ferry. Access to the lighthouse, the ferries, the village and the harbor is along route 103.  

On the “other” side of the harbor is the Village of Bernard, where this photo was taken. To see the village (and dine at Thurston’s!) you will need to get off route 103 and head south on a secondary road called, you guessed it, Bernard Road. It's easy to miss. If you are in the  area be sure to put Bernard into your GPS or cell phone navigator.  The GPS  coordinates are: Latitude 44.240766; Longitude -68.352143.

Bernard is a fishing village.  Our first visit there was about 3pm in October a few years ago.  At that hour the lobsterboats were streaming into the harbor with the day’s catch. It was great fun to watch the unloading of lobsters. However, this particular picture was taken during a subsequent visit. It was 1pm when this photo was taken, just minutes after we dined on Lobster Rolls at Thurston’s.  

Before I forget, Thurston’s has a great tag line: “Thurston For Lobster”. Get it?  Thurston, as in thirstin’!


Photo Story: Second Blizzard of the Season

Blizzard Conditions

Olympus E-M1
Olympus 12-100mm F4 @100mm
F8, 1/15sec, ISO200

Photo Story

We had our second blizzard of the season last week.  Cancelations (including our local schools and my workplace) started the night before, as the storm was predicted to arrive just in time for the morning rush hour and to be heavy right through the evening rush hour.  We were right on the border between a predicted 12-18” snowfall and an 18-24” snowfall. Ultimately, we ended up with 12" of windblown, wind-packed, rain impregnated snow. 

Laurie and I had no reason to drive anywhere … so we didn’t. And except for photographing this scene, we stayed indoors, watching the storm develop while sitting by a comfy fire. Our generator was all gassed up in case we needed it, but we never did lose electric. 

Wind gusts reached 60mph, but our trees stayed upright. I would say "just" a few branches lay around the yard when it was all done, except that one of the branches with a 2" diameter was buried under the snow in the driveway.  After hitting that with the snowblower, I was glad I had an extra shear pin!

I mentioned at the top of this post that this was a blizzard.  I always like it when the meteorologists remind us of the technical definition of the term, as I always forget.  (This time I created a “note” in Evernote for future reference.)  To be a blizzard, these three things must exist:

Winds with a minimum speed of 35mph
1/4 mile visibility due to snowfall
3 hours of the above conditions

Notice there is no snow depth requirement.  My guess is that we had these conditions for about 9 hours.


Photo Story: The Mönch at Sunset, Switzerland, 1968

The Mönch at Sunset, Switzerland 1968

Kodak Retina iiiC
Schneider 50mm F2 lens
Kodachrome (ASA 64 or 100)

Photo Story

The Monch is a frequently climbed mountain on one side of the Jungfraujoch. (To find out why I was there in the summer or 1968, see my prior two posts.)  It was first climbed in 1857. Along with the Jungfrau (rising on the other side of the Jungfraujoch) and the Eiger, the three mountains form what is called the Berner Trilogy. The Jungfraujoch is a saddle (about 11,371' elevation) between the Jungfrau (13,642') and the Mönch (13,445'). The neighboring Eiger has an elevation of 13,020'.

The best time to climb is said to be from mid-June to the end of September.  Many make this a day trip by taking the first train from Kleine Scheidegg to the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe. 

The easiest route to the Mönch summit is along the ridge seen here to the right of the summit. Beginning at the inside-the-mountain railway station (maybe a couple of hundred yards from where I am standing to take this picture), the trek starts with a fairly safe traverse (off to the right of this photo) across the glacier to the base of the Southeast Ridge route. From there, the vertical distance to reach the summit is 1,400 feet.  The summit has an altitude of 13,445 feet. 

Much of the climbing is along an exposed and narrow ridge that is typically cornaced.  I have a decent photo of the mountain taken while standing on the glacier, which I will scan and include in my next post.

Even in summer, the ascent is mostly over snow and ice. There are some rock climbing sections, too. Though I understand that the route is technically straightforward, there are some dangerous sections because much of the climbing is along an exposed and narrow ridge.  

In fact, a group of three Americans were killed that summer, falling from the ridge and 2/3 down the side of the mountain.  A small rescue helicopter was needed for the recovery, and I recall watching the operation through binoculars.

Please note that I have not climbed the Monch.  What I know is based on what I was told or have read.  I only ventured as far as the glacier traverse to the base of the Southeast Ridge route.  Though a fairly stable part of the glacier, watching out for crevasses was all the danger I wanted!


Photo Story: Sunset From the Jungfraujoch, Switzerland in 1968.

Kodak Retina iiiC
Schneider 50mm F2 lens
Kodachrome slide film (either ASA 25 or 64)/Scanned

Sunset From the Jungfraujoch, Switzerland in 1968

In my last post I included an image from the Aletsch Glacier showing the Hotel Berghaus at the Jungfraujoch, Switzerland, the highest (at the time, and presumably until it burned down) hotel in Europe at an elevation of 11,000-ish feet. During my two months living and working there, afternoons and evenings were often socked in with clouds.  But occasionally we had spectacular views and sunsets.

The photo below was taken in the evening, in July or August (I was only there in the summer) of 1968, sometime after dinner. Obviously at this altitude, the sun sets late!  

One thing which the photo could not record, but which I remember distinctly, was the sound of cowbells in the valley below. Even on clear evenings (i.e. not socked in with clouds) like this one, it was often too windy to hear anything but the howl of the wind. But, on this particular night, the air was still, and the view looking west and the sounds from the valley below had me smiling.


Photo Story: Nearly 50 Years Ago I Was In Switzerland

Today I'm going back about 50 years, to the first time I borrowed my dad’s “good” camera. I was on my way to a summer in Europe.  The camera was a German made Kodak Retina iiiC rangefinder with a 50 mm F2 Schneider lens.  By today’s standards that would be a fairly limited kit; but back then it was all I had and I really enjoyed it.  

The main venue was Switzerland in 1968, during a college summer break.  I had a job at the Hotel Berghaus atop Switzerland’s Jungfraujoch.  This hotel was carved into the rock and was at the head of the Aletsch Glacier.  It was located in the "saddle" (joch) between two mountains, both of which are climbing destinations: the Jungfrau and the Mönch.  The Eiger is also nearby. 

The hotel has since burned down; but at the time it was the highest hotel in Europe.  The elevation of the hotel was 11,000 feet.

Access to the hotel by tourists (and there were many every day) was by an electric powered train that traveled through a winding tunnel inside the mountain. The entrance to the tunnel is at the base of the Eiger, in Kleine Scheidegg, and it winds for six miles inside the Eiger and Monch mountains to the Jungfrau terminal, the highest train station in Europe.

Along the tunnel there are two stops.  Passengers can get out at these stops and see through windows cut into the north wall of the famous Eiger.    

What did I do in the hotel?  I worked in the kitchen. My specialty was pommes frites (French fries). Seriously! I made them by hand, using a hand operated machine that drove a whole potato lengthwise through a grid of blades. 

Lunch was a madhouse as hundreds were served daily (unless we were in the middle of a cloud or snow storm, conditions which usually meant very few would invest in the long and expensive train ride to the hotel).  Generally this was a day-trip destination, with very few visitors spending the night or staying for dinner.  As I recall, the best views were in the middle of the day.  In the afternoon, the clouds often rolled in and visibility could go to zero. 

I took the photo below after skiing down to the glacier from the hotel. There is an exit to the mountain just out of sight to the far right. Notice the roof to the hotel in the background.  It's barely noticeable because it blends so well into the rock. 

Seen in this picture is single-engine plane which crashed while flying low and slow so that photographers could take some photos.  All aboard were killed.

Kodak Retina iiiC
Schneider 50mm F2
Kodachrome slide film (ASA 25 or 64)


Photo Story: Sea Smoke on Penobscot Bay

I don’t claim to be an expert on fog, smoke or steam.  My prior post called “Fog on Penobscott Bay” was about a photo I took one early morning in August.  I did a bit of research online and found that there are several kinds of fog.  My conclusion based on the definitions given, was that the summer fog we experience along the Maine coast is “advection fog”. It requires warm air over cold water.Well, today I explored online the concept of “sea smoke”. I had seen a number of photos of sea smoke, though mostly they were taken along the Maine coast in the winter.  Nevertheless, I was pretty sure that is what I saw one cold morning last October.

Sea smoke can occur when cold air moves over warm water.  (It seems this is the opposite of the conditions that lead to fog.) I think this is what happened in the image shown below. 

This image was taken on a cold October morning.  I am presuming that the air temperature was colder than the water surface temperature.  It was about 6:45 a.m. and the sun had just begun to show itself.  I’m thinking this created the required layer of moisture-saturated air above the water that then cools and condenses. 

Of course I could be wrong about this, but it nevertheless was a pretty picture.

Olympus E-M1
Panasonic 14-140 F3.5-F5.6 
@ 140mm (280mm fffl)
ISO 200


Photo Story: Fog on Penobscot Bay

Fog and the Maine coast go together.  This is especially true in the summer, when the prevailing southwest breeze can bring moist warm air off the land which then passes over the cold ocean water, causing the moisture in the air to condense.  If you spend a week on the Maine coast, you will need to be prepared for a few days of fog. Even in summer, this means fleece jackets or wool sweaters, and sometimes both.

I have read that there are several kinds of fog.  From what I can tell, the type of fog I have described above and which is shown in the photo below is called “Advection fog”.  Advection refers to the wind bringing moist air over a cool surface. Advection fog can also occur when warm air passes over thick snow-pack.

Olympus E-M1
40-150mm kit zoom F4-5.6R
@ 102mm (204mm fffl)
ISO 320

Into the Fog

The photo was taken in August at 7:00 a.m.  The location was Penobscot Bay.  An hour earlier, the morning was beautifully clear, and I witnessed an outstanding sunrise. I knew that it would be an interesting morning because I also saw in the distance a thin band of fog. It made the horizon look much nearer, and it began coming closer. Then, coming around a point of land to my right, and outside the field of view of the camera, flowed a white “tongue” of fog gliding across the surface of the water.  As you would expect, this did not seem to phase the lobstermen seen here heading out to check their traps. A moment after capturing this image, the lobsterboat disappeared into the approaching fog.  I guess that’s no big deal for those who know the sea. 

Another few minutes went by and then I, watching all of this from a rocky beach, was fully engulfed by fog. It was then time to walk back to the cabin, put on a sweater, and have another cup of coffee.

Below is a black and white version.  It’s the same photo, but converted to black and white in Adobe Lightroom. 


Photo Story: A Bluebird Day on the Slopes

I’m not sure how prevalent is the term “bluebird day”, nor do I know where it came from.  But it’s a phrase well known to skiers. I do wonder if it came about after the song “Bluebird of Happiness”, which was composed in 1934. I don’t know the lyrics, but I can say with all certainty that a blue bird day on the slopes makes me happy.  On bluebird days I will even chuckle excitedly to myself as I ski down the mountain.

Bluebird days just make a skier smile... or they should!  They are defined as days with a solid blue cloudless sky, made all the more remarkable by the contrast against a snowy landscape.  Polarized sunglasses help, too. (Note that a polarizer was not used in the image below.)

For many people, the above definition is complete.  But in my opinion, a bluebird day needs something more.  I am sure many western skiers would agree that a blue bird day in its highest form requires there to be a fresh thick coat of overnight powder.  Of course, here in New England we need to make some adjustments for our lighter snowfalls and the fact that so many ski areas these days have all-night crews rolling (i.e. packing) the snow.  Seen below, there’s about six inches of new natural snow, some of which has been rolled and some of which has not. Regardless, I was happy and smiling and chuckling all day!

Panasonic DMC-TS3 waterproof, shockproof, dustproof P&S camera
4.9mm focal length (28mm fffl)
ISO 100

Blue Bird Day at Mt. Sunapee


Photo Story: Old But Not Handicapped

Imagine the smile on my face when Laurie and I turned into a Dunkin’ Donuts in Searsport, Maine for a cup of coffee and saw these two parked “old timers”. The sky was so beautiful and the cars were so shiny!  They were the only cars in the parking area, so I knew I had to act fast.

Every year when we travel Maine's Route 1 coastal route, our routine is to stop in at the same Searsport Dunkin' Donuts behind the Sunoco station. There are plenty of quaint local coffee shops along the way, but every trip we nevertheless stop at the same Dunkin' Donuts for caffeine refueling. I think it is all about timing.  We seem to drive through Searsport at the same time every year, between something like 2-3 pm.

Before going inside to order coffee I quickly grabbed my camera to capture the scene before more cars pulled into the parking area or before the owners drove off.  I love the colors here.  The blue car and blue sky look so good together, and the red car provides a nice contrast. Everything is so bright and shiny. I liked the sky so much that I dropped to one knee to get this low-down angle that allowed me to capture the cars and a big patch of blue sky.  The 4:3 aspect ratio of my Olympus camera helped.

But there is also something about the two cars parked with the empty handicapped parking spot between them that made for a story... and gave me a title for the photo: Old But Not Handicapped.

Olympus EM-1
Olympus 14-54mm v.2
ISO 200
Old But Not Handicapped