Photo of the Week, September 26

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Photo of the Week, September 26

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This is the picture that almost got away. In color, I didn't think much of this image and almost deleted it, but I worked with it for about an hour, converting it to black-and-white, then making it into a duotone, and adjusting the contrast. I like the results so much, I put it in my book, Under October Skies. More than one person has told me this is their favorite picture of mine. And just yesterday I sold another print of this through Artemis Gallery (@artemisgalleryme) in Northeast Harbor, the second print of this image they've sold. I think this picture also proves the point that autumn foliage doesn't always have to be photographed in bright, blazing color.

I wrote about this image a year ago- click here to learn more about the prices involved in creating it.

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The Graduated Neutral Density Filter

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The Graduated Neutral Density Filter

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Some photographers don’t know what these are, but experienced landscape photographers wouldn’t go out without at least one graduated neutral density filter in their bag. A common problem in landscape photography is that the sky is usually two to four stops brighter than the ground below. 

    That leaves you with a quandary... should you expose for a correct exposure in the sky (and have the ground appear too dark), or expose for the ground (and end up with a blown-out bright sky)? This is when you need a graduated (or split) neutral density filter.

    These rectangular filters are made of optical-grade resin and are held in front of the lens with a filter holder, usually a piece of plastic that attaches to the front of your lens and grips the sides of the filter. The top half of the filter is coated with a dye that darkens that part of the image.

Expose for the sky, or the ground? By using a graduated neutral density filter, you can obtain the perfect exposure for both. No filter was used in the first picture, and the sky is washed out with no detail near where it meets the water. In the second picture, a two-stop graduated neutral density filter was used to bring down the brightness of the sky and some of the water.

  The picture above was taken without any filters. The foreground rocks look fine, but the sky is overexposed.

The picture above was taken without any filters. The foreground rocks look fine, but the sky is overexposed.

  This picture was taken using a graduated neutral density filter that covers the sky. Note how the sky now has no blown out highlights.

This picture was taken using a graduated neutral density filter that covers the sky. Note how the sky now has no blown out highlights.

    By sliding the filter up or down, you can position the darkest part over the sky and bring the brightness levels down to match the brightness of the bottom half of the picture. Neutral destiny refers to it the fact that it doesn’t add any color tint (it’s neutral) to the sky, just density (darkness). In the 1980’s, it was all the rage to have filters that added a tint– like blue to add color to a dull sky, or ‘tobacco’ which acted as a fake ‘sunset’ filter. Personally, I prefer the natural look from my neutral filters.

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October 2018 Photo Workshop

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October 2018 Photo Workshop

There's still time to sign up to be a part of the inaugural Images of Acadia photography workshop; I have space for 2-3 more people. We'll be immersing ourselves in Acadia landscape photography from October 10-14th, five days of photographing the coast, lakes, ponds, mountains, trails, streams and of course, the foliage. Learn from me, learn from each other. This will be a trip you won't forget.

For more information, click here.

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The Photographer's Guide to Acadia

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The Photographer's Guide to Acadia

I first published the Photographer's Guide to Acadia in 2014. Over the years, I've been keeping notes about places in Acadia that photograph really well. Some locations are better photographed in the early morning, others in the afternoon, and some are best seen while the sun is going down. It took me years of visiting these locations again and again, at all times of the day, to realize this.

I found some places in books or on postcards. I asked locals and other photographers for suggestions. I pored over maps to discover where the light might be extra special at a certain vantage point. Some locations were great and I came away with beautiful photos. Other places sounded good, but photographically, I came away with nothing. But all the while, I kept making mental notes about where the best places were.

Sunrise at Hunters Head, Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

Eventually after eight years of exploring Acadia this way, I sat down one winter to write a book where I could share my extensive knowledge of Acadia with other photographers– so that they could spend their time in the park well, not searching fruitlessly with nothing to show for their labors. OK now... I'm all about wandering through the landscape with no agenda, observing purely for the sake of enjoying nature. But I also know most visitors have little time to wander aimlessly. They want to leave with iconic images, beautiful prints that they can hang on their walls or show friends.

Fog and boulders around Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine

The new, second edition of the Photographer's Guide to Acadia gives you my Top Ten suggestions of places to see and photograph in Acadia. But I also tell you when to visit them- the best time of day– and how to photograph them. I share with you the camera settings I used, what kind of lens is best in any given location, and any other extra gear I used, and what filters might be appropriate. I also talk about how to use your camera more effectively, and how to creatively use aperture and shutter speed to be more artistic in your photography.

Evening light on Bubble Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

Best of all, every photo in the book is tagged with a link to Google Maps, so that you only have to touch a photo on your screen and you'll be taken to the exact location where I made the photo, and be given directions how to get there. You can't do that with a printed book; only an ebook has this advantage!

Autumn Foliage, Northeast Creek, Mount Desert Island, Maine, USA

If Under October Skies is my ultimate book of fine art landscape photography in Acadia, the Photographer's Guide to Acadia is the book that gives away all my secrets. You'll read how I made many of the images, the gear I used and what I was thinking when I made the photo. If you're planning to visit Acadia National Park this year, download your copy of the book and start planning your trip now. It's only $12.99.

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Color or Black and White?

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Color or Black and White?

 Newport Cove, Ocean Drive, 6:57am

Newport Cove, Ocean Drive, 6:57am

I always get out of bed early when I'm in Acadia, with the eternal hope that there'll be a stunning sunrise with the sky lighting up in a brilliant show of fiery reds and oranges over a beautiful Acadian landscape. Unfortunately it doesn't always happen that way. Often, the sun remains hidden behind a veil of clouds and at the appointed time, all you see is dull, heavy cloud cover.

This was one of those days. But fortunately, there was a misty fog this morning and as the weak sun tried in vain to pierce the gloom, I knew there would be no good color to photograph that day. So instead, I decided to think in monochrome.

The image here is all about the line of the coast, and the weak sun straining to cut through the fog. When color is an integral part of your image, photograph in color. But often a photo is more about shapes, textures and form, and color might only distract from your image. When doing landscape photography, ask yourself if color is important to the image. If not, think in black and white and pay more attention to contrast, and the subtle differences between light and dark.

Of course, if you're using a digital camera, you're already shooting in color (hopefully your camera is set to shoot in raw), and you'd plan to convert the image to black and white back home anyway. But I find if I think in black and white while I'm shooting, I tend to think more in terms of contrast, and shades of gray. Always have your end product in mind while you're shooting.

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2018 Autumn in Acadia Photography Workshop, October 10-14

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2018 Autumn in Acadia Photography Workshop, October 10-14

For years, I've been working on putting together my own photography workshop in Acadia. For one reason or another, I've never gotten it off the ground, though I've had interest from several people all over the country. Well, that's all about to change.

Autumn is the best time to visit Acadia. The colors are sublime, the air is clear and the scenery is second to none. I'll take you to see many of my favorite locations in the park. As a veteran of eighteen visits to Acadia, I know my way around and will show you the best places to be given the weather and lighting conditions. I wrote The Photographer's Guide to Acadia and can guarantee you'll have great scenery to photograph.

I'll be running my first Acadia photo tour/ workshop, from October 10-14th. This will be a small group, probably 4-8 people at the most. You'll be staying at my favorite hotel in Bar Harbor and spending each day out in the national park, visiting some of my favorite sites, shooting from dawn 'til dusk and receiving personal instruction from me. In the evenings we'll get together to look over the day's pictures, and I'll teach you some of my favorite techniques for processing your images in Lightroom and Photoshop. If you're interested in joining me, send me an email and let me know you're interested. I'm anticipating these few spots will fill quickly.

Small Pond on the Canon Brook Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine

Images of Acadia Photo Tour/ Workshop... $1895

Price includes accommodation as well as transportation around the Park each day. If you look at most other Acadia photo workshops, accommodation and transportation are an additional cost, so this is one of the most affordable photo workshops in Acadia. Hotels near Acadia are not cheap, so several days' lodging can easily add $1000 to your total cost. Breakfast is included at the hotel, but you'll need to cover your lunch and dinner expenses. I want this to be a trip where you don't have to worry about all the extras, but where you can concentrate on your photography and creating art with your camera.

I'll have a van or car to get us around to all the sites. You're free to bring your own, or rent one, but I'll be driving us around to take the burden of transportation from you if you choose. And by traveling together, I'm hoping we can build camaraderie and learn from each other as we compare notes, pictures and 'talk shop.' The idea is to learn not just from me, but from each other and our different backgrounds and experience in photography.

A typical day will start about 6am when we head out for our first sunrise location (the sun comes up at ~6:55am). We'll go back to the hotel for breakfast then return to the park until we break for lunch in a nearby town. After the sun goes down around 6pm, we'll head back to Bar Harbor and have dinner together at one of the town's great restaurants. Then you can wander around the town for a while– Bar Harbor is full of souvenir shops, bookshops and more– before we return to the hotel for the night. If you're still awake and there's interest, I can go through some of the techniques I use to process my images and answer any questions you have.

Dawn at the Boulder Beach, Otter Cliff, Acadia National Park, Ma

What sort of camera do I need to have?? I would say any D-SLR (interchangeable lens) camera is sufficient. You don't have to have the latest, greatest camera or lenses. But a camera that can be set manually is a big plus. I'll teach you how to use manual exposure for most of your pictures, and how to use aperture and shutter speed to create art with your camera. A tripod is a must too. Recently, I've begin using my iPhone for simple grab shots and have been enjoying that- I can share some of my insights with you. I'll be sending you a list of what gear I bring and some suggestions for any extras you may want to purchase before the trip, like filters and even appropriate clothing to bring.

What's the weather like at that time of the year? I generally find it to be pretty comfortable in mid-October. I've seen it get into the 70's but I've also been bitterly cold waiting for the sun to rise on top of Cadillac Mountain, with wind chills probably in the low 20's. But typically, the temperatures are in the 50's or 60's during the day. I generally see rain only once or twice a week during October, though if it rains more often, we'll just have to deal with it!

Is there a lot of hiking? Generally speaking, no. Most locations are pretty close to the road or parking areas, though we'll probably walk into the woods a little or maybe take a carriage trail into the heart of Acadia. But we will definitely be climbing over rocks along the coast. Nothing strenuous, but bring sturdy hiking boots- street shoes won't cut it here.

If you have any other questions, let me know, and I'll also be adding to this page as I think of additional things to include.

I hope to see some of you in October!

Mike Hudson

PS  If you think you're interested in joining us, fill out the form below with your name and email address and I'll send you a registration form.

Name *
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Early morning mist hanging over Upper Hadlock Pond, Acadia Natio

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Photo Impressionism

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Photo Impressionism

Autumn foliage, Duck Brook, Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

I've never been a painter. But I wish I could paint. I envy those who can convey the sense of a scene in oils or watercolor, or artists who can conjure up scenes in their minds and commit them to paper or canvas. But instead, I use a camera to create my art. But unlike many photographers, my goal is to create a sense of a place (its essence), not just a snapshot of what it looked like. I want my viewers to see what it felt like.

I could've photographed this pool of water along Duck Brook the way it looked when I came upon it– deep water, littered with fallen leaves and surrounded by the rocky edges of the brook. But to me, I saw it differently. I noticed how the colors of the bright autumn foliage lit by the sun reflected in the water, if viewed from the right angle. And, even though it was almost imperceptible, the pool was slowly revolving, so I brought out that movement by using a slow shutter speed.

I think my interpretation of the scene is an image of the colors, movement and beauty of the scene. This is what the Impressionists in the late 1800's were trying to accomplish. Not a literal transcription of what they really saw, but more an artistic image of the feelings they had when they painted a scene.

I haven't picked up a paintbrush in many years, but instead I use my camera to paint scenes. Not all the time– occasionally a scene just photographs well with little artistic interpretation on my part; natural light paints its own beautiful images without any help from me. But I love the opportunity to use my camera to paint the landscape, and be an artist, not just a photographer.

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Photo of the Week, April 9

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Photo of the Week, April 9

Sunrise at Monument Cove, Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

Sunrise above Monument Cove

I like this image, but I need to go back and try it again. You can't control the tides, but you can come prepared to photograph a location when tidal conditions are optimal. Unfortunately on this morning, the tide was almost all the way out (it was my last morning of my October 2017 trip), so the green, moss-stained rocks along the shoreline were left exposed. I would've liked to shoot this at high tide with a long exposure to add some more interest along the shoreline. But I'll back, and hopefully the weather and tides will yield a masterpiece on the next occasion  :)

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Photo of the Week, March 5

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Photo of the Week, March 5

Cobblestone Bridge (built 1917), Acadia National Park, Maine, US

Cobblestone Bridge, June 2017

Built by hand with locally sourced cobbles and financed by John D Rockefeller Jr in the early part of the twentieth century, Cobblestone Bridge is an easy 30-40 minute hike from Jordan Pond, along Jordan Stream.

Pentax 645Z, 28-45mm lens at 28mm (22mm equivalent), 3-shot HDR (.8s/ 1.6s/ 3.0s), f/16, tripod

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