Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Smokies Sunrise


Springtime in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Spectacular sunrises are made even more photogenic with mist in the valleys. It's what the Smokies were named for - the famous and beautiful "smoky" look of these mountains in the early morning. When conditions are right, with warm days and cool nights, the mist hangs in the valleys and provides us with inspiring images.

These conditions are generally present in the spring and fall, and the upcoming spring trip, April 17 - 22, is timed to take advantage of this opportunity.

In addition, the wildflowers are in bloom everywhere, including rare lady slippers, dwarf crested iris, trillium, and so much more. And the flowing streams give us great opportunities for soft moving water shots.

To sweeten the pot, there is a $300 Early Bird discount if you register before February 1.

So if you love the mountains, wildflowers, fast moving streams, and a fun group to travel with, this is the trip for you! Details here, or contact me for more information.  

TECHNICAL DATA
1/100 sec. at f/4, ISO 100. Canon 70-200mm f/4L lens set at 70mm on Canon 5D Mark III body. Gitzo tripod with ballhead.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Be thankful for every mountain, because it's the mountain top that will give you the best view of the world."  --Gugu Mona

Friday, January 13, 2017

Special Early Bird Discount Extended!!


Join me in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park April 17 - 22 for a spectacular wildflower display. And register NOW to take advantage of the special Early Bird discount which has been extended. Register before February 1 and take $300 off the workshop fee! 

The Wildflowers and Wildwater trip to the Smokies has great opportunities to photograph some of the most beautiful wildflowers anywhere. We'll also photograph the fast-running streams and waterfalls that the Smokies are known for, plus lovely mountain scenery. We'll photograph in some well-known spots, plus several tucked away secret places known only to a few. Top that off with spectacular sunrises and you have the perfect photo trip!

The workshop includes personalized instruction, educational information on macro, moving water, and more, plus creative techniques, image critiques, and some Lightroom instruction. And every day we will have a great deal of fun!

For details, see the Awake The Light website, or call me at 757-773-0194 for more information. I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.

Today's image is of the delicate bluebells that bloom in the Smokies for a short period of time in only a small handful of places. When fully open they are their famous blue color. They are small and require a few special techniques that I will teach you so you can get the best shots. We will also photograph trillium, dwarf iris, and dozens of other flower species that are great for macro.

So take advantage of the $300 discount while there is still time. Contact me soon with questions or to register.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION
1/320 sec. at f/3.5, ISO 400.  Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lens on Canon 7D Mark II body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light."  --Theodore Roethke

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!


HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

As the sun rises on New Year's Day, 
may 2017 dawn bright and with great promise for you. 

May it provide you with peace, contentment, good health, 
prosperity, love, and a large helping of fun. 

I hope to see you at a photo tour or workshop in the New Year!

Mollie 

TECHNICAL DATA
1/15 sec at f/22, ISO 100. Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens set at 40mm on Canon 5D Mark III body. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff head.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.  --Oprah Winfrey

 


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Don't Miss This Trip!


Autumn in Denali National Park in Alaska is the best time to be there. This trip, coming up September 2 - 8, is one of our most popular, and with good reason. The wildlife is in perfect condition, after a productive summer of feeding and bulking up. This male caribou was in prime shape with a full set of antlers and a superb coat.

Autumn is mating season for caribou in Alaska, and this guy was searching for mates. He was sniffing the air, and strutting his stuff. He was in a beautiful location, surrounded by colorful tundra. That's another prime reason to visit Denali in the fall - the autumn colors are spectacular, often even more colorful than the New England leaves.

In addition to the beautiful colors and the abundant wildlife, there is of course the spectacular mountain scenery. Snow-capped mountains, including the lofty Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) are almost constantly in view as we travel around the park.

Only 5 spaces left on this trip, so call or email soon for more details. More information here

TECHNICAL DATA: 1/1250 at f/8, ISO 800. Canon 400mm f/5.6L lens with 1.4x extender for an effective focal length of 560mm on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile."  --William Cullen Bryant

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry, Happy, Enjoy!


At this time of year, regardless of your beliefs, it is nice to wish each other a very happy holiday season.

Another year is coming to a close, and a new year lies ahead. It is a time of looking back and looking ahead.

Looking back, I am grateful for all the wonderful trips of 2016 and all the incredible people who accompanied me. I thank each and every one of you for making the trips and workshops so exciting and so much fun.

Looking ahead, a new year always holds the promise of the unknown. We hope that each passing year will be better than the one before. May we learn more, experience more, and grow more.

With the winter holidays just ahead, I wish for each of you a

Merry Christmas

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Kwanzaa

and a

Happy Whatever You Choose To Celebrate

May your holiday be warm, joyous, filled with friends and family, and maybe even a gift or two!

Mollie

TECHNICAL DATA
1/100 sec. at f/10, ISO 200.  Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens set at 25mm on Canon 40D body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE : "Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour."  --John Boswell


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Alaska's Denali National Park - The Last Frontier


Highest mountain in North America. Spectacular fall colors. 6 million acres of wilderness. Moose, caribou, grizzly bear and more roam in the open landscape. Solitude and tranquility greet you. And in the midst of all this, we stay at a lovely lodge with all the amenities, dine on chef-prepared meals,  and have a private vehicle with a naturalist driver at our disposal. It doesn't get any better than this.

For the best photographic opportunities in our country, Denali National Park in Alaska is THE place to go. And this trip is like no other available. Very few people have the opportunity to stay deep inside the park, and fewer still can stay at this superb lodge AND have a private vehicle to take us where the action is.

This view of Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) is spectacular and very close to our lodge. This is our most popular photo tour, and is limited to only 10 photographers.

On this trip you will learn new and creative techniques for photographing sweeping landscapes, various forms of wildlife, macro, and much more. You will also learn some Lightroom tips for optimizing your images.

The 2017 trip will be September 2 - 8, and has only 5 spaces left. Reserve your space for one of the best photo trips of your life. See details here 

If you have questions or would like to register, email me   I hope you can join me in Alaska!

TECHNICAL DATA
1/640 sec at f/13, ISO 400.  Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens set at 37mm on Canon 5D Mark III body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery."  --John Ruskin

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Throwing You A Curve


Geometric shapes, lines, and curves can help you create strong images. Most images need some sort of flow throughout the picture, something that engages the eye and keeps the viewer interested in what the image portrays.

Diagonal lines can be a simple and effective way to create an image with strong composition. In this image of a Soloman's Seal taken in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the diagonal placement of the leaves creates a flow from upper left to lower right. But that is not the only element that makes this image work. The curving leaves add more visual interest, and add softness to the straight diagonal line of the long, straighter leaves.

Shallow depth of field also adds to the overall softness, creating a mottled background.

Providing this kind of information, plus creative guidance, is just one of the many things you will learn and experience on the WILDFLOWERS & WILDWATER photo workshop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park coming up on April 17 - 22. Because of the small group size, I can work with you individually to help elevate your photography to a higher level.

We'll spend five glorious days in the Smokies in the springtime, when the wildflowers are at their best and the streams run fast and wild. We will explore many different areas to get the best shots, and will also go to some tucked away places known only to a few.

The beautiful Smokies in the spring is a treat you should give yourself. Register before January 15 and get a $300 Early Bird discount.

See details here.  For more information, email me. I hope you can join me in the Smokies!

TECHNICAL DATA
1/400 sec at f/2.8, ISO 200.  Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens on Canon 5D Mark III body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw ... for I was seeing the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being."  --Black Elk

Monday, December 12, 2016

Window On The World


When out photographing, always try to look for the little things, the details, the unexpected. While on a recent personal trip to Europe, I visited a lovely French chateau near the Swiss border. I spent a lot of time photographing the "big" picture, taking many typical tourist images and just enjoying the area. Then, after exploring all the traditional possibilities, I happened to notice this snippet of a scene  outside one of the windows. The fall colors were at peak, and the texture of the glass was an added benefit.

There were many different ways to frame this shot, and ultimately I chose this straight-on graphic view. I was looking for balance in the composition, but not symmetry. Balance is achieved by the dark window frame on the right and bottom, matched somewhat by the cropped windows on the left and top. While each of those elements is not the same exact size, they form a frame of sorts around the uncropped window panes, and create the balance I was looking for.

So the first step is to always go for the traditional, the primary images you seek, but then always be open to the unexpected views that present themselves. Being an opportunist when shooting, keeping an open mind to all possibilities will almost always net you some winning images.

TECHNICAL DATA
1/400 sec at f/5.6, ISO 800.  Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set at 98mm on Canon 7D Mark II body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared." Idowu Koyenikan

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Little Birdie Told Me


Freezing the motion of a bird in flight is not always easy. It takes a fast shutter speed of at least 1/1250 sec, and a steady hand. But there are times when showing some motion gives a feeling of life and movement in an image. This image was taken with a relatively slow shutter speed of 1/15 sec while panning as the bird flew by. I took many many many, and did I say MANY?, shots on this early morning in Bosque del Apache in New Mexico in order to get this one successful image.

It is important to know that everyone, whether a professional photographer or not, needs to take many shots in order to get what they seek.

The camera was mounted on a sturdy tripod with a ballhead and the Wimberley Sidekick attached. If you are not familiar with the Sidekick, check it out on the web. It is inexpensive, lightweight, packs easily, and enables you to easily pan or track birds in flight. In fact, I use it nearly every time I have the camera on a tripod, unless I am shooting with a wide angle lens.

Panning is a skill that just takes practice. Try to pan smoothly from one side to the other, keeping the subject in the same part of the viewfinder throughout the pan. Also, start panning before you trip the shutter, and keep panning even after you release the shutter button. That helps you to get a good panning shot.

TECHNICAL DATA
1/15 sec at f/36, ISO 100. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Gitzo tripod with ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is practice."  --Vladimir Horowitz

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Smokies Update


After the previous blog was published, I heard from some of you asking for more information on the status of the park and surroundings in light of the fires. I spoke to my contacts who live near the park, and was told that the recent heavy rains have cleared the air of smoke and the fires are essentially out.

If you have seen the news reports, you have seen some of the devastation around Gatlinburg, and to a lesser extent, Pigeon Forge. To help those who have suffered the loss of their property, the Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA), a non-profit organization that supports the preservation of the national park by promoting education and research, has established a Relief Fund to help some of those who have been impacted by the fires. Their website   http://www.smokiesinformation.org/news/relief-fund-established-for-fire-victims   says that through the relief fund "100% of donated funds will be divided among NPS and park partner fire victims to help them rebuild their lives."

Thanks to great friend and great client Cindy M for alerting me to this.

Also, for your peace of mind, none of the areas of the park and surrounding areas that my Smoky Mountains photo tours explore have been damaged at all. The Great Smoky Mountains WILDFLOWERS AND WILDWATER photo tour coming up April 17 - 22 will be just as spectacular as ever. 

Among the many incredible wildflowers we will see are these crested dwarf iris. These beautiful and delicate flowers bloom in profusion during April.

We will also see many species of trillium, lady slippers, a wide variety of violets,  and dozens of other species. We will also have some spectacular sunrises, and with any luck we will see black bear, deer, possibly coyote, and much more.

For more information, see the website here  http://awakethelight.com/wildflowers-wildwater-great-smoky-mountains-national-park/

Don't forget the special $300 Early Bird discount if you register by January 15. If you  have questions, or are ready to register, please email me at awakethelight@charter.net

TECHNICAL DATA
1/640 sec at f/2.8, ISO 800.  Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens on Canon 5D Mark III camera.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "I get by with a little help from my friends."  -- John Lennon, The Beatles