When I took this photograph at a roadside cemetery in Vermont, I visualized a ghost draped in rags and chains, sort of like Dickens’ ghost of Christmas past, roaming among the gloomy, mist shrouded headstones. I thought it would make a perfect post for Halloween. The trouble was, I took the shot on a clear, sunny morning. There was no mist and of course no ghost. To create this image I first changed it to black and white and darkened it to simulate night. Then I added several layers of mist from photographs I’d taken at Echo Lake the day before, leaving some of the misty spots brighter to indicate an otherworldly presence near some of the tombstones. I don’t have many photographs of people that would have worked in this scenario and certainly none in rags and chains. I did, however, have a photograph of a person I took at this year’s California Foundation for Birds of Prey open house that had the exact posture I was seeking. I decided the rags and chains weren’t necessary. The ghost-like presence looks like a lost soul wandering aimlessly so I think it works.
Enjoy a ghoulish Halloween!
The Quechee Gorge Bridge which spans Vermont’s Ottauquechee River trembles with the passing of every vehicle. Taking photographs from it was quite challenging, even with vibration reduction on our lenses. And then, it started to rain. When we approached the bridge, I saw a sign (second image). As I headed toward the span, it gave me pause until I realized it was a warning for those stalwart enough to venture down into the gorge from the trailhead that started near the sign.
Calvin Coolidge was born, raised, inaugurated as President of the United States, and buried in Plymouth Notch, VT. The historic buildings remain virtually unchanged in this tiny village which is now a historic place. We were fascinated by the door to this building which has no steps leading from it. We wondered if there was no need for steps because people just stepped into their carriages from the doorway. It doesn’t appear that any steps have rotted away. I guess in Vermont, you just need to watch your step.
A backlit aspen leaf with the shadow of a fly on the backside caught my eye last week in the Sierras. A natural flyleaf.
Three kids, to be exact, all of them in perpetual motion—two human and one caprine. Dixie, the pygmy goat, followed us around the yard and photo-bombed us more than once as Faith and Matt were trying to please their mother by posing for me. Their smiles were sometimes a bit strained but when they got the chance to fool around a little, they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I think Dixie wanted to jump into the wagon with Matt but made the best of it by just hanging close by. I finally got one shot without Dixie, but I couldn’t get Faith to sit still!
It’s hard for me to believe that I have been taking photographs of Faith, my personal trainer Noelle’s daughter, since she was six months old. This past July, Faith turned seven. I usually take Faith’s photos in time for her birthday party invitation but this year, between my busy schedule and theirs, we were almost four months late. We squeezed in a brief photography session Tuesday afternoon for barely an hour between school letting out early and gymnastics practice later in the afternoon. Most of the photographs I took of Faith, her brother Matt, and some with Noelle were posed. This one wasn’t.
I am always amazed at how quickly the glorious colors of a hummingbird’s gorget change from gem-like brilliance to almost black in an instant. And, they don’t need direct sunlight or even flash to highlight the colors. Homer visited the feeders late Tuesday afternoon. He stayed about 50 seconds, just long enough to satisfy my need for a hummingbird photograph or two. Even without the flash in the shadows of late afternoon, I managed a couple of shots of his glorious gorget but as he turned almost imperceptibly away from me, the colors faded away to black. The background colors are also different because I moved a bit to avoid getting the feeder in the shot. In the first shot, I had to remove a corner of the feeder, using Photoshop Content Aware fill. In the second, after moving a few inches, I avoided the feeder altogether and got a better background color, just not enough color on Homer.
I struggled a little with landscapes in Vermont. But, thinking outside the box led me to this view of the Poultney River near Middletown Springs, VT. Viewing the scene through the Monochrome Picture setting in the camera allowed me to visualize it without the color. At this spot, there were no vivid autumn colors so the contrast between light and shadow is what makes the photograph.
We spent about 30 minutes photographing the steeple of the Middletown Springs Community Church while the sun dipped behind the mountains. The light playing on the trees changed dramatically as the sun disappeared and each photograph I captured of the steeple looks different. When I changed the Picture Control from Standard to Vivid when the sun no longer shone directly onto the autumn colors, the colors were much more saturated and the white steeple seemed to leap off the page. I loved the resulting image I saw in the viewfinder and decided at that time it was my favorite depiction of the steeple. But, later, when I reviewed all the images on the computer, I felt the photographs with some sunlight were more appealing, like the one I posted yesterday. However, as I review the images all again, ten days later, I am drawn to the saturation of the colors and the boldness of the white steeple in the photograph with no direct sunlight. There is no doubt the subject of this photograph is the steeple. The gorgeous autumn colors play a supporting role, not a competing role. I think my initial reaction to the photograph was correct. It is my favorite way of portraying this steeple.
As a point of clarification, even though I changed the Picture Control on my camera to Vivid from Standard, because I shoot RAW, the actual RAW image does not contain the Vivid markers. Those are applied only to jpeg images and to the image viewed on the LCD on the back of the camera. In order to return the photograph to what I actually saw, I had to make those changes in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR).
Open the doors and see all the people. Vermont is beautiful. It is very quaint and to me, it is quintissential New England. Everywhere we went I felt like we were in a Norman Rockwell painting. It is no wonder. I discovered after I got home that Norman Rockwell lived and painted in Arlington, VT from 1939 to 1953. Vermont is filled with churches, and many of them have steeples. The one photograph I knew I wanted to get was this one: a lone church spire poking through the fiery autumn leaves. But, where is it? Most churches are in the middle of towns but how do you hide the town in the photograph?
The church itself is in Middletown Springs, Vermont. It is in the middle of the busy town square. But, Moose knew about this spot and took us there late one afternoon. It offers a view of the steeple amidst the colored autumn leaves but the town and its other buildings are completely obscured by the trees and hills. I was amazed and thrilled to see this view of the church steeple from our high vantage point which is a well-guarded secret, and it made the perfect photographic opportunity for us.