I just returned form co-leading (with Ian Plant) a photography workshop based out of Cape May, New Jersey. We had a great weekend of shooting coastal scenes, lighthouses, Victorian homes, shore birds and the spawning of the Horseshoe Crabs! On Friday and Saturday nights we were greeted with a peak spanning event and beautiful clouds and light which made it an amazing event.
These were the conditions on Friday Night with thousands of Horseshoe Crabs hitting the beach at high tide for as far as the eye could see. Amazing!
A Laughing Gull takes to flight amongst the flurry of hundreds of Sanderling all lining the beaches in hopes of stealing the eggs from the spawning crabs!.
The pink glow of dusk illuminates the sky and paints a soft light on the thousands of crabs all competing for a mate along Kimball Beach at high tide.
A laughing Gull gets caught up in the commotion of hundreds of sanderlings taking to flight of the beach.
Early morning light and clouds greet the Cape May Lighthouse. I used the steel fence as a framing element to make a more dynamic composition of this often photographed icon.
An old bike and Victorian houses rendered as art using HDR and tonemapped in Photomatix.
Our nest workshop coming this June is the Shenandoah Experience. We will have the chance to photograph new born fawns in Big Meadows, spectacular sunrises and sunsets from Skyline Drive and waterfalls/streams and wildflowers. http://www.mountaintrailphoto.com/workshops_23.htm
For info on more amazing wildlife events, hikes and paddles in the Mid Atlantic illustrated with stunning images and great maps, pick up my new book 50 Amazing Things You Must See and Do in the Greater DC Area
Also get your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Digital Nature Photography!
While hiking up to Grotto Falls in rain and fog, I came across a park employee on his way down from the summit of Mount LeConte (the second highest summit in the park). Jokingly, I said to him “socked in fog up thier eh”
To which he said, ” nope, crystal clear on the summit “. I turned around on the trail, ran back to the car, broke about 15 traffic violations while racing to the summit of Clingmans Dome. I made it to the summit and it was indeed clear and the clouds were rolling across the ridges. I waited until the last light of dusk to make this image. No filters, single exposure of 45 seconds @ ISO 100 at f16.
2 more versions:
Cape May Atmospherics from that great sunset this past week. What inspired me was the way the sky seemed to melt into the wet beach sand. This dictated my shooting and processing style. Hope you enjoy, Joe.
When the weather blows in and the conditions are downright uncomfortable thats when I want to be out in the field making new images. Take for example this shot from Black Walnut Point on the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. I was leading a workshop during Tropical Storm Hanna and we had been confined to the conference room all day doing critiques and presentations. The rain and wind made it impossible to shoot during the day. Myself and fellow photographer Ian Plant had scouted this location earlier in the day and we knew it had a lot of potential if the light broke at the edge of the storm during sunset.
We arrived on location as the light was begining to break and the wind was whipping of the bay at 30 -40 miles per hour and blowing water all over the place. The conditions were challenging to say the least. I choose to use my 70-200mm to keep myself as far away from the breaking surf and not get my front element coated in spray. Using my large camera bag, I suspended it from the hook on the center column of my tripod to anchor it down. The light was sweet and painting the water and dramatic clouds in beautiful sunset light. The only kind of light you can get at the edge of a big storm. To my surprise, during the course of the 2 second exposure a wave broke and crashed in the scene being illuminated by the soft directional light. It was this surprise element that turned the scene from a good photograph to a magical portrait of the Chesapeake Bay.
I wanted to share an image I made over the weekend while leading a photography workshop on the Chesapeake Bay. We were stuck in the hotel all day doing presentations and critiques due to the heavy rains and high winds which made it next to impossible to be in the field shooting. We decided to take a chance and head out to Black Walnut Point at sunset in hopes of catching some dramatic light. The edge of big storms are some of my favorite times to be in the field as they can produce some amazing light if there is a clearing on the horizon.
Upon arriving at Black Walnut Point the winds were wiping off the water around 35 to 40 miles an hour and creating huge wave breaks along the rock beach. It was for sure some of the most challenging weather conditions I have ever shot in. The problem was the wind. It was nearly impossible to keep the tripod steady during the exposure. This resulted in having to shoot 40 or 50 shots just to get one that was sharp. I was trying to time the image for when the waves broke on the rocks and shot into the air. The light was fleeting and I was only able to come away with 2 dramatic images that were sharp out of 150 shots.
Here is the first. shot with my 80-200mm to avoid being to close to the breaking and blowing water which with my wide angle ended up spraying the lens to the point it would have been nearly impossible to fix in post processing.
Here is the second image from the evening taken about 20 minutes later when the sun was sitting on the horizon and bathing the scene in soft warm light.
Here is an image I made last week while in Virginia. My wife Amber and I were in Charlottesville, VA attending a wedding and I was able to sneak away one night to do a little photography. Charlottesville is only 20 miles from the southern arm of Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park. I didn’t have a lot of time to get off the beaten path, so I chose a favorite overlook to shoot sunset. This image was made about 20 minutes past sunset when there was still a faint glow on the horizon. I framed the image wide to include the sweep of the mountains and the clouds high above. My exposure was 2.5 minutes at F8 at ISO 100. This allowed me to properly expose for the sky while letting the mountains and land silhouette. The clouds streaked across the frame during the log exposure creating a painterly feel to the image.
The North Fork Mountain Trail is a rugged 24 mile long path that leads from Judy Gap south of Seneca Rocks to the northern terminus of the mountain, Backpacker Magazine named this hike ” one of the most scenic hikes in the east “. Unfortunately, I was not able to explore the entire length of the trail on this particular trip. Starting at the northern most trail head for Chimney Rock, I began the grueling 3 mile hike towards the summit of Chimney Rock and the cliffs that make this mountain famous. Yeah I know what your saying! A grueling 3 mile hike, what a wimp! Well maybe, but I started the hike much later than I would have liked at 6:30pm and the magic hour was set to begin at 7:00. I took with only the bare essentials to minimize the weight of the pack and hit the trail running. This trail ascends 2,800 feet before reaching the cliffs and is for the most part straight up all the way with a few relatively short lived flat sections. About two thirds of the way up the trail, I heard a loud noise about 30 yards off the trail only to see two black bear cubs thumping through the woods. I put my fear aside of running into the mom and kept trudging upwards.
I managed to summit the cliffs at 7:15 which allowed me more than enough time to survey the area and begin to find the best spot for sunset. I carefully made my way out to the edge of the cliffs on a small outcropping which provided some great views of the mountain ridge and distant landforms. Shooting all the way past sunset to the very edge of light, I packed up my gear feeling that I had made some really nice images.
I threw on my headlamp and stumbled into the pitch black woods only to hear a loud trashing followed by a series of grunts just about 20 yards of the trail. Primal fear hit me in the belly and I froze in my tracks. Was this the mother bear I that was lurking in the area on the way up. Oh #*%#, I am in some trouble now if I have come in between the cubs and the mom. I raised my arms and began to make some loud bellowing grunts in hopes of alerting the bear to my presence and hopefully scaring her off into the woods. I heard another rumble in the same place as before and it continued. I could feel the fear creeping up on me like the dread of a child who awakens in the middle of the night from a bad dream. I noticed the thrashing of the leaves and the brush began to diminish off into the woods away from me. I began to haul ass down the trail while singing and talking out loud for the next mile or so in hopes that if she was still in the vicinity that this would alert her and scare her off. The shadows cast from my headlamp took on the form of great creatures all the way down the trail keeping me on my toes all the way back to my car.