To keep it simple the trick is to keep a long exposure. But that would work in low-light conditions so adjust the shutter accordingly. You cannot predict when the next lightning will strike and its so quick that you can’t keep your hand on the shutter and coincide your click with it. But what happens with the long exposure (10-30 sec or even in bulb mode) is that the shutter is open long enough to catch one if it strikes again in that 20-30 seconds. If you are lucky you can get multiple lightning strikes in that 1 exposure.
So go out, take some shots BUT REMEMBER to keep yourself safe, needless to say thunder storms and lightning can be very dangerous. As you can see I kept myself safe by not staying out for too long.. hence not too many of them.
After a fun time photographing in the Flume Gorge, we went to The Basin. There is no actual trail but a paved path to this natural fall. Thousands of years of rushing water has eroded the rock into a smooth, circular cave-like formation. We spent a good 1 hour over here.
Right after this fall you walk across a small wooden bridge to the main spot.
Things don’t always go as per plan. Mine didn’t go well either. A friend and I planned for some night photography, mainly for the milky-way and the star trails in the White Mountains Area. We planned it 3 weeks in advance and when the day came to head out we had intense overcast and chance of rain. That was the situation for the entire weekend. Our plan was to be out all night shooting and sleep all day, but we ended up shooting all day and sleeping all night.
However, fortunately for us the White Mountains State Park is a very beautiful state park, with 100s of trails and plenty of waterfalls and lakes. If you want to shoot waterfalls during the day then overcast is a good thing. With an overcast the light is soft, there is less contrast, and you can afford to keep a long exposure and the light is even. So that’s a good tip for you if you are out shooting during the day. If you use a higher stop ND Filter then that helps a lot as well. If you can manage to keep the exposure long enough using these tips then depending on what you are shooting ( lake, waterfalls etc) you can convert it into an interesting B&W image as well via post processing. I did not shoot for B&W though because I really liked the lush green colors.
So on day 1 we decided to explore the Franconia Notch SP. First off we went to the Flume Gorge, Its a 2 mile loop from the visitor center. The trail is not that tough, most of it boarded with planks and then along the falls they have built a boardwalk for you to enjoy the natural gorge and be safe at the same time. You start from the bottom of the trail and walk your way up and then you are back.
Okay so I made one B&W, but wasn’t intended. I was processing the images and decided to convert it and see what it looks like, and eventually decided to stick with it. So this covered bridge is where the trail starts. On the right you can see the wooden railing which pretty much runs along the waterfall.
A quarter mile up you reach the Avalanche Falls, This was a little difficult to shoot because i was directly in front of the fall, and the mist was coming right at my lens, i used my hat and the lens cap to protect it and after i balanced my tripod and guessed the settings that would be right I removed the cap and took a shot immediately. Tried it 2-3 times to get it right.
The image above is of the Avalanche falls again but from the top. There was a small viewing area from where you could extend your camera out. Eventually the inevitable happened and it started to rain. lucky for us, we came across another covered bridge as you can see in the image below.
The image above was shot from the bridge while we were waiting for the rain to stop. The view was gorgeous and ahead of the bridge (right side in the image) there was a viewing are area from where I took the image of the Bridge itself.
And then you come back to the starting point which is also the visiting center. We were almost about to leave when my friend pointed out the incoming fog and the hills. Tired as we were decided to go have a look anyways, and i’m glad we did. The 2 images above got created.
The New Jersey Shore line is a little over 200 miles of coastline spanning from Sandy Hook all the way to Cape May in the south. I have visited and photographed most part of the shoreline. My favorite being the Sandy Hook and Cape May point. Its a popular vacation destination on the East Coast. Unfortunately we were hit by a devastating Hurricane Sandy in Oct’12 and that has pretty much ruined most of the coastal communities and state parks.
Its been over two months now since Sandy, but most part of the coastline is still closed for visitors. Last week I drove down to Island Beach SP and just a few miles before the entrance, there was a barricade beyond which no one is allowed. Today I checked for Sandy-Hook and that’s shut down too. It sucks not to be able to go back there now. I hope they open it by Summer time, else the tourism industry would take a huge financial hit. I was quite bummed about it, was going through some pics I had made in the last two years and thought will share with you all. Hope you enjoy them:
Island Beach SP
Sunset Beach, Cape May
Broken Pier at Ocean City
One of the most important rule I have learnt about landscape photography is to capture the right kind of light. Just like any other rookie, initially I scouted for locations and created images. Not that it is wrong to do that, a great location makes a huge difference. The problem comes when you travel to a great location and shoot average images which anyone could shoot. Although I always knew at the back of mind that I need to shoot at “Golden Hours” because that’s when the light is right. But I never knew its importance until I compared my shots with the top landscape photographers in the US. The main difference apart from many other differences, I realized the natural light they captured along with the great location made the image incredibly awesome. Needless to say, in order to improve my images I started shooting during the Golden Hours as well and started getting great results.
However, that was not good enough for me. Every good landscape photographer I spoke to mentioned “Light” as their first rule along with location and other things. So, I thought to myself, if Light is such an important part of an image then the “Right” kind of Light should make an ordinary location look awesome too. The image below is an example of such. This is a spot in Sandy Hook Beach in new Jersey. I have made “believe it or not” more than 20 unique photographs in the same location. And I don’t mean a 1 mile radius, I mean 50 steps radius at the most. What makes every image unique? It’s the “LIGHT” along with other composition techniques. Its a very simple shot, with soft light at sunset falling on the dramatic clouds with a slight long exposure to capture the motion of the waves.
This image landed up as SIGMA Corp’s Fan Photo of the Week. The image below is of the exact same spot, except that I am looking North instead of east. The clouds are not so dramatic, however the afterglow after the sunset is crazy here, and makes the image so much more interesting.
So, my theory was proven correct. And this was important because it helped my improve the quality of my images a lot. All Pro Photogs know and understand this, and that’s why they make quality images. I thought of putting this blog for the rookies who might underestimate the power of Right Light in Landscape Photography.
I have been looking for this spot for quite some time now. I saw couple of shots of this pier on 500px and Flickr, but for some reason nobody had put the location to this place. So, a few weeks back I stared searching the Jersey coastline on GoogleMaps, beach by beach to check where exactly it is. Finally found it on 59th Street in Ocean City about 2 hours drive from where I live. That evening I decided to drive down there. It was quite a long drive to take just one or two shots..
As it turns out I didn’t take 2 but 7 unique shots🙂 . And I like all of them. Also do checkout the Free Desktop I have made from one of these shots.
I reached this spot at around 7 pm. The sunset time was 8:27, so I had a lot of time to kill. Unfortunately the natural light was not so soft at 7 pm, and I wasn’t planning to stay the night there, and it was a long drive back. So In order to make these long exposure shots I stacked two .6ND filters on my Sigma 10-20 and one .6ND Grad filter to make sure Sky doesn’t get washed out. That allowed my to keep longer exposure, more saturation in the colors and good texture on the water surface.
Recently I have been trying some minimalism abstract coastal shots. I have mostly in these case used a 70-300 Nikor VR lens VR. For these shots I had to isolate the subject from the rest of the scene, hence the telephoto lens. Another reason is that since I am playing with waves, its important that I keep my camera away from the high tide so as not to risk it from getting wet. I have already once almost destroyed my Sigma 10-20mm lens by getting to close to water. I had to drive 2.5 hours to Sigma office to have it fixed. Don’t want to do that again🙂 . A telephoto helps in such scenarios.
The images below are all long exposure shots, essentially 1s or more. For these photos I had to make sure that I don’t go to more than 2-3 seconds ( based on natural light) so as to get good texture from the waves and not make it look like “mist”. For some reason there are a lot of rock jettys on the beaches of Jersey, which really helps when you are looking for crashing waves or a foreground interest or even leading lines.
For the image above, I timed the shot so that the waves go over the small rock and give the bump in the texture.
This image in my opinion emphasis on the art of seeing. As a photographer it is imperative that you have a keen eye on such details. There are no waves here, just the groves on the beach as a result of receding waves.
In my last post I said that I am kinda bored of going back to Sandy Hook beaches again and again. It still holds true but I did make a recent visit again. The problem of going to the same spot again and again is that you eventually run out of compositions. All you can hope after that is you get a different dramatic natural light, which might make the image unique. One of the reasons I keep going back is the distance. Its about 45 min drive from where I live, so its easily accessible.
So, now the problem I face is how to get creative every time I go there. And I take it as a challenge. Now, importantly I look for dramatic clouds, and high tides and prefer to go during coastal flooding, which may sound dangerous but its not. Essentially, what happens is that the water comes into the beach bit more than usual. Also, another thing I have started doing is using props. There is a lot of drift wood on the beach, so once in a while I pick one up and put it in my frame as a foreground interest.
The shot below is an example of such:
And this shot below shows the movement of the waves. The idea was to keep the exposure long enough to capture the movement but short enough to capture just a short burst. Because of that I was able to capture the right mood of the waves at that time, and adds a lot of texture.
I also used the rocks from the jetty as a foreground interest:
I hate to say it but I’m kinda bored of Sandy Hook beaches now. I have over 10 unique images from there and wanted a change. So, I logged on to Google Maps and started some prelim scouting of the Jersey beaches. The closest one which I have not seen was Ocean Grove. I noticed a fishing pier there and decided that’s what I am going to shoot. I check the weather app on my Android, and it seemed like its going to rain heavy that day. There was a heavy overcast. That kind of turned me off because with the over cast there won’t be any sunset. After pondering over that thought I decided to go anyways. I was hoping that may be last min the clouds might break open and i’ll get a dramatic sky, and if nothing else I can try some B&W shots.
I loved the above composition. I noticed those small curvy lines on the beach sand because of the low tide moving in towards the pier. I decided to use them in the composition as leading lines. As you can see it gives a nice depth to the image. With just a little contrast in LR I was able to put this together. Since it was a long exposure shot, I got some nice highlights, so decided to try out a B&W version of the same image.
Here are two more shots of the Pier. In the first one I stacked two images, one for high tones and one for shadows. I liked the moss on the rock jetty next to the pier and wanted to highlight those. SO I composed the image such that I get the rocks in the foreground of the image. And then the other one just before night. The tides came in so thought will take a long exposure shot here giving that misty feel on the water surface.
In between the shots I noticed these Gulls. The thing about shooting these Gulls at the beach is that they are so common and there are so many regular shots of these birds. So I sat there and waited for one of them to do something interesting. Luckily for me this one just was about to take off and spread its wings. The funny thing is that it did not take off. For some reason I felt that it was trying to intimidate me because with the wings wide open it kept staring at me. May be she didn’t like what she saw🙂.