I'm Not An Artist

Like the title says, I'm not an artist.  

I've never considered myself to be an artist.  I've never painted anything (but I did watch Bob Ross).  I've never sketched anything.  I'm horrible with sidewalk chalk.  I've never even seen a pottery wheel.  Hell, I can't even draw a straight line with an old school, number 2 pencil.  You want to know what I consider myself?  A regular, overweight guy in his 40's from Alabama.  Well, there's nothing too special about that, you say.  You are right.  I'm just that.  

I do not delve deep into my connection with the arts to explain a photo I took, or justify why it is fabulous.  I don't include some strange quote, that the person being quoted probably doesn't even understand, with an image to help you connect to it.  I do not have any magical connection with the rock, or stream, or mountains.  I am not responsible for creating any kind of "magic" light at sunrise or sunset.  I simply put myself in a place at those times and what happens happens.  It's always great to see another one, I'll tell you that.  I am only hoping to create an image I like, and hopefully others will, too.

Despite being from an IT background, when it comes to cameras, I'm about as technical as an animal...you can pick the animal.  I think they are pretty much all on a level playing field technologically.  If you've ever heard one of my talks, or been to a class, you've probably heard words like "dumaflachy" or "do-dad".  If you got real lucky you may have even heard "dohickey".  

I first picked up a "real" camera about 10 years ago.  It was, at that point, I immersed myself in every piece of literature, every video (we still had these weird DVD things back then), every piece of online content I could find concerning photography.   I could care less about the super technicals...or the mechanicals.  I just wanted to know the basics of exposure and what creative controls I had.  I quickly learned about the exposure triangle, I learned how things like your aperture selection could help you tell a story.  I learned how shutter speed effects an image and can give it different feelings.  I also learned that there is usually more than one way to get somewhere, you just have to find the way that works the best for you.  I skipped the parts about learning how many millimeters the opening is at aperture F/8 of a certain lens (yes, I've been asked that).  I also skipped the parts about the processes of sensor production.   I simply wanted to take a nice photo and know how to repeat that process.  If you are new to this, my advice to you is do not get caught up in the technicals.  It will frustrate you, unless you are an engineer.  If you are an engineer, then dive deep into the technicals.  The point is knowing how many millimeters the opening is at F/8 on your lens is never going to help you.  Ever.

I am very grateful to photography.  It has allowed me to see and appreciate many things in this world I never knew existed.  When I was growing up, my family never went on vacation to The Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore.  Our "vacations" were to the Dairy Queen and then we continued onto Guntersville Lake.  They lasted the afternoon and then we were back home.  I never knew a world outside of the state I lived in.  Photography has allowed me to see phenomenal scenes all across this great country of ours.  It's allowed me to make some great friends, too.  Seeing these things makes me want my children to see them.  I want them to know how things outside of Huntsville, AL look and feel.

The whole point of this post was just to tell you how incredibly ordinary I am and I'll not try to be somebody that I am not.  I wanted to capture good sports shots of my son when he was growing up, so I bought a camera.  Next I learned how to operate it, which some may argue I still haven't learned.  Then I wanted to shoot waterfalls, and wildlife, and mountains, and flowers, and birds....

If this average, overweight, forty-something, donut loving, nontechnical ginger can figure this whole thing out....So.  Can.  You.  Don't be discouraged or intimidated.  Don't be afraid to take a short class, or workshop (with anyone...not just me, although that would be kinda great).

I guess I should share an image now, right?

Aperture-priority, 4 sec, f/16, ISO 100, Compensation: -1/3, 24 mm

This is an image I went back and re-processed from Portland Head Light in Portland, ME.  If you hover over the image with your mouse, you will see my camera settings, or metadata, for this shot.  I always try to include this information for a few reasons.  First, if I don't then it's the first question I get asked.  Second, was part of my initial learning process.  Many people will tell you that metadata is pointless because you would need to be in that exact same light and conditions in order for you to be able to use it and recreate the image.  I could not agree with that more, however, when I was first learning, I would look at this information and see what the shutter speed was and what effect it had on the image.  I would look at the aperture someone choose and see how it effected depth of field.  So, even though I knew I would most likely never be in those exact same conditions or light, I was still using the metadata to learn about photography.  Hopefully, my sharing this information helps you learn a little, too.

Image made with my Canon 5D III and Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD (A007) Lens.  My equipment was steadied by my Sirui W-2204 waterproof, carbon fiber tripod and K-20 Ballhead.

Portland Head Light Sunset

On our first day in Maine we stopped at The Portland Head Light to shoot sunset.  We ended up staying in Portland for the night and shot it again the next morning, too.  When capturing the sunset images I decided to walk to the opposite side of the lighthouse and see if there was anything interesting from there.  

I did find several small pools that had reflections of the lighthouse, which I may share later, but I also was able to get down right on the water.  This allowed me to capture the movement of the waves coming in and out in the foreground.

Aperture Priority, F/22, 1/2 second, ISO 100

It was still fairly bright, but I knew I wanted to get as long a shutter speed as I could so I set my aperture to F/22 and my ISO at 100.  This gave me a shutter speed of 1/2 second. That was just long enough to show movement in the waves that I was looking for.

I made this image with my Canon 5D III and Tamron 24-70 Lens.  I also used my Sirui W-2204 tripod with K-20 Ballhead. 

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

One of the lighthouses along our stop up the coast from Boston to Maine was Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.  We did get to shoot this one around 9:30AM, which wasn't the best light, but not the worst either.

Pemaquid has these rocks in the foreground which make for excellent composition elements.  From the angle I shot this, there was no waves crashing onto the rocks, so I did not want to use a 10 stop ND filter here, since there really was no movement anyways.  I did use a circular polarizer, however to cut some glare off of the foreground rocks and enhance some of the colors.

Aperture Priority, F/16, 1/15th second, ISO 100

When composing This image, I simply wanted to include as much of the foreground rock as I could, so I picked a spot in the rocks that had lines that lead you into the lighthouse and jammed my lens as close to it as I could while laving the lighthouse in the upper third of the frame.  

I created this image with my Canon 5D III, Tamron 15-30mm lens and Vu Filter system.  All resting atop my Sirui W-2204 tripod.

Prospect Harbor

Taking a break from lighthouses today to show you one of the harbors we visited during our Maine Workshop.

This is Prospect Harbor.  We shot this on a day that they were calling for a total rain out.  Turns out it just rained a little in the morning then it was dreary and foggy the rest of the day, so we shot all day hitting as many spots as we could that would look good in fog.  Harbors were great for this.

This spot in the harbor had all of these colorful lobster buoys, ropes and traps.  Then the boats in the background were immersed in fog.  It's like someone knew we were coming to photograph it and left all of their stuff there for us.

Aperture Priority, 16mm, F/8, 1/80th, ISO 800, Exposure Compensation +2/3

I made this image with my Nikon D500 and Tamron 16-300mm all-in-one lens.  That lens was a great choice for these harbors.  I could shot wide shots at 16mm, like this one, or zoom in and isolate one of the boats in the fog.  It was the perfect lens for his situation.

If you hover over the image you can see my camera settings for this shot.  You'll notice I added +2/3 a stop of exposure compensation.  I did this to account for the fog.  The camera will look at this scene as a whole (if you are using evaluative metering mode) and try to make it grey.  You will then need to compensate for that on your camera.  

Portland Head Light

When we arrived in Boston on our way to Maine, we knew one of our first stops was going to be Portland Head Light.  In fact, we shot it once at sunset, went back the next morning for sunrise and again on our way back home when it was in immense fog.  We certainly got our chances at it, but I think sunrise offered the best opportunity.

Portland Head light is the oldest lighthouse in the state of Maine. It's also probably the most photographed lighthouse in the USA. 

Aperture Priority, F/8, 30 seconds, ISO 1250

This image was made before the sun had risen.  If you look closely you can still see several stars in the sky.  You can also see another lighthouse way off in the distance.  That is Ram Island Ledge Light, which is now a privately owned lighthouse.

I created this image using my Canon 5D III, Tamron 24-70mm Lens and Sirui W-2204 Tripod.

 

Nubble Lighthouse

I apologize for not posting more recently, I've been so busy with personal things in the last few months.  However, I did get a break from all of that chaos and made a trip to Maine this past week.

Nature In Focus conducted a workshop in Acadia National Park and we left out a few days early to get some shooting in.  We flew into Boston and drove up along the coast attempting to photograph as many lighthouses as we could.  Since we had a lot of ground to cover, sometimes we didn't get to shoot the lighthouses in the best of light...some we actually planned to be there for at sunrise or sunset, though.

One of the lighthouses on our stop was Nubble Lighthouse, sometimes called Cape Neddick Lighthouse.  The lighthouse is located on Nubble Island which is just off of Cape Neddick Point.  The lighthouse itself is not accessible by the public, but can be viewed from the mainland.  It is also one of the last remaining lighthouses in Maine to still use a  Fresnel Lens.

This was one of the lighthouses we stopped at in the middle of the day, so light was not that great.  I wanted to try to capture an image that I would still be proud of despite the fact that I was battling the not so greatest of light.  I knew I would be trying to slow my shutter speed down to get the effect of the water and waves crashing along the shore, so I threw on a 10 stop Neutral Density filter.

Manual Exposure, ISO 125, 30 Seconds @ F/16

Here's what I came up with.

 I used my Canon 5D Mk III, Tamron 24-70mm Lens and a Tiffen 10 Stop XLE Apex ND Filter.  Of course I had to use a tripod for this shot, as the filter caused me to have a shutter speed of 30 seconds.  I used my waterproof Sirui W-2204, which worked out fabulous all week for shooting along the coast!