Backlighting

fb and blogI think it’s accurate to say that when I go out to shoot I’m looking for great light. Sure I may pick a destination that is appealing but ultimately as I scan for a composition I’m drawn to light and how it reacts with my surrounding. On this day there wasn’t a cloud in the sky making some of my bigger photographic ideas not as appealing. That same direct hard light though was wonderful as a back light to the budding trees. Backlighting a subject accentuates color and possibly texture given what your shooting. Never underestimate the power of backlighting on subjects.

©Larry Zink

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014 NYNJTC-Trails to Great Photography

Winter clouds, spruce, summit of Wittenberg Mountain

The culmination of a very long, hard climb on a bone-chilling, dry January day, this image made in 2000, is a portrait of the highest point on Wittenberg Mountain, one of the most dramatic and inaccessible peaks in the Catskills. Although many hikers may disagree with my use of the term “inaccessible” (in truth, it’s not that hard of a climb), it was to us that day. I was accompanied by my friend Ed and dog Jenny. From the parking area, Ed and I crossed the swinging bridge spanning a small creek that leads to the trail head, while Jenny opted to wade the creek. We met at the trail head and marveled at Jenny’s completely stiff, frozen hair. The result of a 5 second immersion in water at 18 degrees fahrenheit. She, in typical fashion, shrugged it off as she flew up the trail ahead of us. Ed and I were moving slower however. Winter clouds, spruce, summit of Wittenberg Mountain. Thomas TeichAt this point in 2000, I was still using my beloved 1972 Burke and James 8×10 inch view camera that sat on a Ries wooden tripod capable on supporting cameras as big as 7×17 inches (film size). Both are now relegated to backup duty because I cannot climb with them on my back. Ansel Adams and Edward Weston both used the same tripod. Its weight combined with the rest of the equipment (plus lunch, water and extra clothing) reached an intolerable 65 pounds. Thus, in 18 degree air, I ferried such a load that within ten minutes I had stripped down to a T-shirt and still soaked it with sweat!  The rest of the trip to the summit was a slog occasionally interrupted by a fast downward slide on thin snow-covered ice that brought me painfully to my knees. We reached the summit forest of fragrant balsam and red spruce at lunch time. Within seconds of stopping for a drink of water, we froze in our wet shirts and scrambled for more clothing. Now suddenly we could not get warm! The physical effort had ceased and our bodies were depleted. A quick lunch and warm drink helped but not for long. To add insult to injury a gentle breeze began to wash the summit adding windchill to our problems. I now worked quickly to find my intended image; determined not to freeze on this mountain. The trail lead us to a small clearing with a view facing northeast. High wind clouds dark with moisture began to move in from the southwest. My dog, dry and fed, was shivering from inactivity. I spotted a cliff edge with dead spruce trees leading to a verdant carpet of mountains spread before me. A small spruce crown topped the display. I was ready to work. As quickly as possible, I set up and made the image shown here. Calling it quits was easy. We packed and left having spent all of this energy to make one negative! I did not print this image until an exhibition called for it in 2004. I only print this photograph in large sizes such as 28×35 inches or larger. It doesn’t translate what I felt that day in smaller size. The huge expanse of mountain and sky, shadow and sunlight. The Catskill Mountains in a cold, clear alpine moment. A moment and a day I will never forget.

©Thomas Teich

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014 NYNJTC-Trails to Great Photography

Driftwood,Reeds,Sunset,Hudson River 2009-Thomas Teich

Late in the summer of 2009, I made a trip on the Hudson River with my good friend Ellen Kozak, the brilliant and prolific painter of Hudson River light. Ellen paints from the west shore of the Hudson near New Baltimore but hadn’t explored much on the eastern side. So, on a hot summer day we headed down river from the Nutten Hook landing directly across from Coxsackie. Our trip started in the early afternoon as we made our way toward Fordham Bay, an area I love and frequent. The water was warm and the tide low as we hiked the sand beaches that distinguish this beautiful stretch of river. Eventually, arriving at an inlet just north of Fordham Bay, Ellen set up shop on a huge beached log and began to work. I moved further south and spent the afternoon working on several subjects including a beautiful expanse of spatterdock (waterlily), that followed a seemingly endless curve of the river. The eastern shore of the river in this general area is quite wild and untouched, much of it New York State Forest Preserve. One gets the same feelings that early explorers like Henry Hudson might have had; that you are alone in a silent, pristine world.  Driftwood, Reeds, Sunset, Hudson River, 2009, TeichAs usual I was working with my 8×10 camera which limits the distance one can travel and the number of negatives exposed. This restriction becomes a discipline that forces the photographer to choose very carefully his subjects and to wait for the best light and weather. While Ellen worked hard at her painting, the result being one unique work of art, I made three negatives, the last shown here. As the sun moved low in the sky the tide began to rise rapidly; a signal that it was time to go. I headed north toward Ellen’s spot but stopped suddenly as I came upon this scene now dramatically lit and half submerged by the river. I was fascinated by the intricate growth of the reeds and the reflections they cast in the water as well as the rugged beauty of the driftwood. I set up and made my last image looking directly toward the southern outskirts of Coxsackie across the river. Again, I was deeply impressed by the wild, unspoiled character of this stretch of Hudson River. Finally, packed and ready to go, I met Ellen and we began the hike back to Nutten Hook through nearly waist deep water that had been only sand beach hours ago. ©Thomas Teich

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 NYNJTC-Trails to Great Photography

Lone Rock in the Water

I’m always looking for simple graphic images in any chaotic environment. The river at Ken Lockwood Gorge is filled with so many photographic opportunities.  I spent a fair amount of time in this one river location working the composition and waiting for the light. I’m sure the hikers who passed me coming and going were curious as to what I was shooting. Was I photographing  a fish?  Was it a cool Amphibian? No, it was a lone rock in the water.

River rock-BThere are 3 main elements that caught my eye: the colors reflecting into the water, the way the water was moving around the rock itself and finally the distinct shape and colors on the rock. Presenting those 3 elements in a neat and tidy composition is the challenge.

My 70-200 allowed for the tighter composition and I purposely positioned the subject low in the crop and used the rest of the frame to enhance the story. Next, taking a cue from Dean Cobin’s blog (see below….thanks Dean) and his use of neutral density filters I broke out my 4 stop ND filter. This filter doesn’t get to see the light of day very often but coupled with my polarizer it gave me about six additional stops to play with. Having the ability to shoot with a longer exposure allowed the cascades to be soft and white. The curves of the water are essential  elements in the composition without over powering the rock.

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 NYNJTC-Trails to Great Photography

Long Exposures with Dean Cobin

Learn to shoot long exposures and you will really start to gain creative control of your images.  It’s actually very simple and lots of fun.  Here are the basic’s ; you will need a tripod mounted camera and a simple understanding of how to increase the length of your exposure time, you’ll also need something  to shoot  such as a stream, rushing water at the beach  or clouds on breezy day . Once you pick your scene go head and meter your shot. In this example I will be shooting in aperture priority so once I set my f stop the camera will choose the correct shutter speed accordingly.

_MG_7130 dean FTake your exposure and keep track of the exposure time.  Now comes the question how do we extend the length of the exposure and the answer is we need to block some light, the first and simplest way to do that is to “stop down” or close down your aperture. This means to move it to a higher number. Remember that for every stop you add you are decreasing the amount of light by half or doubling the exposure time. For example if your first exposure ended up being ¼ second then by stopping down to the next stop your next exposure should end up being ½ a second  which is an eternity in photographic terms , if you stopped down  again your exposure would end up being a full second long . You might ask what happens when I run out of stops on my lens, where here’s where it gets more interesting you can also control the light by putting something called a Neutral Density Filter in front of your lens which I will leave for another discussion.

Light is the big factor here and if you want to realize immediate success when trying this I suggest you attempt this during very early light or very late light the results  you can achieve  with just your lens will be quite significant. The image posted here was slightly more difficult to capture because It was shot at noon , but with the aid of an overcast sky and a variable neutral density filter I was able to extend this exposure to 4 seconds which creates a dreamy effect for the pour off’s and strong flow lines in the water which add the intended effect  for my composition.  Try it I think you will really enjoy the effects and never be afraid to take risks with your creativity that’s what makes us all unique.  Of course there are countless hours of reading and info on this subject on line which I strongly encourage you to explore…

 

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 NYNJTC-Trails to Great Photography

Cold Opportunities

I will be perfectly honest with you I don’t enjoy shooting in cold weather. I find it terribly difficult and distracting. Even with all the proper cold weather gear I seem to be spending more time thinking about my numb painful extremities than being creative.

_MG_0233BNWith that in mind, on one of the coldest days of the season, I ventured out in ten-degree weather in search of winter images at Plainsboro Preserve. A small amount of fresh powdery snow had fallen overnight and coated all the surfaces through out the preserve. Trying to ignore the pain of my ears (I forgot my hat) I began looking for interesting compositions. For me, winter is a perfect time to explore textures and details that when coupled with snow or ice can become the starting point for a beautiful graphic image.

The contrast in textures and the sinewy nature of this plant are what caught my eye originally. For an image like this to be successful I felt it was  important to isolate the plant away from the larger group. I wanted it to be the singular star in the image. To that end: I opened the aperture to F/8 on my 70-200mm lens, positioned the camera so the plant was backlit and compositionally put the subject slightly off center to the top left. Putting the plant dead center would have been a static composition. The negative space is important. To me at least, far to often we overlook the small shots but sometimes the smaller shots convey a bigger story…..and payoff. Larry

           

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 NYNJTC-Trails to Great Photography

Vision or Equipment

For as long as there have been cameras there have been concerns with its evolvement as a medium. Does the next generation of cameras make the last ones obsolete? Many photographers hold on to their beliefs that their equipment is better than any of the newer systems available.mill for blog

I went for a walk recently in the Delaware Raritan Canal State Park. I carried my normal amount of equipment hoping to find a shot amongst the heavy fog. I also had my iPhone with me. I may have had more fun with my iPhone than my Cannon on this day. There is a spontaneity, freedom and experimentation when shooting with the iPhone. The immediacy to create and share a vision brought new life to the morning walk. A phone is by no means  a replacement for a full blown camera system but who knows what the future holds. I think as technology changes it’s alright for photographers to play, create and get excited with the new advances in our field. A photographers vision shouldn’t be dependent on their equipment. After all it’s all about the final image….isn’t it? Larry

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 NYNJTC-Trails to Great Photography