Tuesday, June 24, 2014

An Afternoon in a Bog

Late this morning I drove down to Paul Smiths and delivered my entries for their annual 'Life on the Lakes' juried show. After getting a lunch in Saranac Lake I headed home but when I got back to Paul Smiths the rain had stopped so I took my camera on the Boreal Life Trail to see what I could find. My first find was the Bog Laurel above but there was lots more.

The Pitcher Plants are all lower than the boardwalk that is the trail across the bog. That had me lying on my belly with the tripod hanging over the side for most of the above shots. The Bunchberry and Dog Bane below were at a more comfortable height.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Lean-to Maintenance & Why I photograph

A couple of friends and I hiked to "my" lean-to (I am the adopter of Scott Clearing lean-to) on Saturday to do a semi-annual cleanup and check for needed repairs. The streams were all running high from the heavy rains that had fallen the day and night before. On the way back out we stopped by Rocky Falls and I made the above 3 frame panorama.

When I posted it to Facebook one person thanked me for bringing the scenery into her home and that is part of why I photograph but only part. I know some wilderness photographers who make their photos as a way to encourage preservation of wilderness and Ansel Adams' photographs have been credited with convincing congress to preserve some western parks but Ansel was also a prolific advocate of wilderness. He wrote letters almost daily and was very active in the Sierra Club. While the photos played a role, they were secondary to his activism IMO. I belong to the Adirondack Mountain Club but mostly as a low key member. I participate in the lean-to adopter program and I donate use of my photos but I don't kid myself that my photographs are going to play a significant role in preservation of the park.

So why do I do it? Mostly for myself. Photography is a way for me to connect with the landscape more deeply than just hiking through. It makes me think about what attracts my attention and how best to represent that in an image. There is also the discipline of observation that goes along with photography. That discipline makes me a more keen observer of my surroundings. Practicing any visual art medium can develop your observation skills but photography appeals to me the most.

The photographs aren't entirely for me alone of course. The process is for me but once I have made an image I think is successful I like to share it and while people may enjoy seeing them I hope they will also be inspired to go out and spend time in nature themselves. The very best photographs I (or anyone) can make are pale imitations of the experience of being there. If anything is going to convert a person to being a preservationist it is the experience of being in the midst of nature and realizing that we are a part of nature that will achieve the conversion, not my photographs. At best the photograph inspires them to wander off into the wild to see what's there and be open to what wilderness has to offer.

The photograph below was made along the trail on the left bank of the brook as we were going back to the main trail after visiting the falls. After looking them up on the web I find that white Moccasin Flowers are not uncommon but this was the first one I'd ever seen so I felt it deserved a portrait.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Digital Magazines

A review (sort of) that is photography related (again, sort of) but not about photography. After getting a Kindle Fire I decided to try subscribing to a couple of digital magazines, National Geographic and Outdoor Photographer. Both feature very nice photographs and it seems a shame to throw away/recycle print copies after reading them but what do you do with them? Enter digital subscriptions.

I really like the National Geographic digital presentation. They reformat the articles for digital presentation, text is separated and scrolls vertically, moving from section to section is done with horizontal scrolls. Photos are organized in albums for viewing with only captions. They even include interactive maps and audio/video clips. Very cool stuff, very well done, it takes good advantage of the touch screen. I haven't done a side-by-side check of the digital version against the print version but I think the articles are condensed from the print version. They don't seem as long as I remember from when I had a print subscription in the past but they are long enough to convey the stories. I don't finish one wishing they had included more and I read almost all of them. The one niggle I have is their app/delivery system. Perhaps the digital format they have chosen dictates it but I have to guess when an issue is available, open the app, log in and manually download the new issues. Maybe if they sent an automated email to let me know when a new issue was available it would annoy me less but aside from checking, there seems to be no way to know for sure when the latest issue is available. Never the less I give them 4½ stars out of 5 for the great presentation of great content.

Outdoor Photographer got the delivery right. When a new issue comes out it automatically downloads to my Kindle and pops up - BAM! as Emeril would say. No effort on my part. That's the last cool thing about the digital version of Outdoor Photographer. All they do is digitize the print version as whole pages, like a pdf file. Perhaps that would work fine on a desktop computer with a large screen but on a Kindle sized tablet it is a navigation nightmare. If you view the whole page, the print is far to small to read. If you enlarge it enough to be legible you are looking at only a section of page and spend all your time scrolling both sideways and up/down trying to read it. And because OP has a nasty habit of spanning photos across pages you see only a portion of the photo at a time or turn the Kindle sideways for a full two page view which is very small. Consequently I find myself reading very little of OP, a quick scan of each issue and perhaps one article, that's it. Add this to the editor's apparent notion that the only good landscapes are west of Denver (an annoyance I've noted in the past) and I will pass on renewing that subscription.

I've tried other digital subscriptions (news media) and noticed the same issue. They either scan and dump the print version as whole pages, sometimes in a proprietary format like Zinio, or they reformat the content to fit the constraints & advantages of digital presentation. IMO the latter is superior and the former is a poor substitute for print which isn't dead yet and won't be until publishers wise up to the differences or perhaps those who don't will simply cease publishing altogether.

The photo above has nothing to do with the post. It is just there for your viewing pleasure. It is from the canoe trip in the prior post. Like the others it was made from the canoe. Please respect my copyright and do not repost either the photos or the text without permission. Share by referring to this URL of this page.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Another Season Begins

I went canoeing in the Adirondacks on Saturday. I hadn't been out in my canoe in the last two summers and vowed not to miss another season. I started on Mountain Pond on Rt 30 but the wind was pretty strong down the length of the pond and was a headwind on my return to where I had put in.  I wanted to paddle more but decided I needed a more protected body of water so for my second excursion I went to Church Pond in Paul Smiths.

There was some headwind as I set out but it was less strong, or so I thought as I had less trouble paddling into it. Church Pond is somewhat smaller than Mountain Pond but is linked to Little Osgood Pond by a canal that was dug by Paul Smith. There is another canal from Little Osgood to Osgood Pond which by some standards could be called a lake. I have never understood the pond vs lake naming in the Adirondacks. It is so capricious that it must have been a matter of whim by the person naming the body of water. It does not seem to bear any relationship to relative size.

The stump above is along the shore of Church Pond on the side toward St John's of the Wilderness (http://jims-ramblings.blogspot.com/2009/08/st-johns-of-wilderness.html). It was the new evergreen growing on the side of the stump that first caught my eye. Upon closer inspection I decided to include the whole stump and surroundings. I especially liked the reflections on the ripples in the water. The image was converted to B&W in Lightroom based on a preset that I created. I tend to tweak all presets taking into account the individual image and this was no exception.

After paddling the length of Church Pond I came to the canal where I found a second interesting stump. Photographing this one was a challenge from the canoe. The canal is completely under the shade of the surrounding trees and a canoe is not a very stable platform. I managed a sufficiently short shutter speed (exposing for the shadows) by raising the ISO and opening the diaphragm to f/8, helped along undoubtedly by the image stabilization in my Canon 7D. The version above has a modified Lightroom Infrared preset applied to it. I did away with the negative clarity in the preset and added some sharpening, also a touch of burning in on the upper stump.

I wasn't able to navigate the second canal to Osgood from Little Osgood because of blow down across the narrow channel. Perhaps another day. On the return trip I stopped to photograph the lean-to and dock that are adjacent the canal in Church Pond. Again I used the modified LR Infrared preset. Returning to the dock where I had put in I had a tailwind but noticed a distinct current flowing in the opposite direction. That may well account for the relative ease of paddling into the wind when I first set out. It was a good start to a new season of paddling and hiking in the Adirondacks.

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