The Gear... the Camera

Comment

The Gear... the Camera

The Pentax 645Z in action at Jordan Pond

The Pentax 645Z in action at Jordan Pond

This is the first of a new series about the gear I use to make my images. I’m a firm believer in the idea that the photographer makes the image, not the camera, or lenses, or any other gear. It starts in the mind and it takes experience and knowledge to translate an image into a photograph.

But having said that, the gear I use is certainly an important aspect of my image making. I’ve been a professional photographer for almost thirty years and I spent many years honing my craft with film cameras (all of which I still own, about fifteen all together). Since 2002, I’ve been using a succession of better and better digital cameras (only six at last count). But the camera I use now for my fine art and landscape photography is the best I’ve ever owned.

In the 1990s, I used two Pentax 645 medium format (referring to a film format that’s about four times larger than 35mm film) cameras for weddings. Then digital came along and for several years, I didn’t use the cameras much, though I knew the lenses were incredibly sharp- much better than my Canons. Then in 2014, Pentax introduced the 645Z, 51-megapixel digital camera and I jumped in and bought it.

It’s a very different beast from my Canons, but I’ve enjoyed getting used to the camera’s layout, and love the sharp, big files, as well as the wide dynamic range of the images (the ability to show details in the shadows and highlights). I used to make a lot of HDR (high dynamic range) photos, where I’d combine 3-8 images of varying exposures together to make one image with good details in the highlights and shadows, but with the 645Z, I’ve stopped making HDR images– I can do it in one image rather than several now. I’m not going to try to do a camera review here; there are plenty of other websites doing that, but I’ll just say that this is the only camera I bring on my trips to Acadia now.

Just don’t ask how much it costs. Seriously, I get that question all the time- how much did your camera (or lens) cost? The bigger the item, the more people want to know. It’s a bit like walking up to someone in a swanky sports car and asking about the price tag. Or walking over to your neighbor and asking how much she paid for her house. If you really want to know, look it up, then add 25% (I did buy it when it came out and the price tag was higher, after all). :)

Pentax 645Z Camera

Uses: landscape, fine art, architecture, any time I’ll need to make a big enlargement

My Rating: 9/10

Cost: $$$$

P.S. Just to be clear, I’m not sponsored by Pentax or any other camera manufacturer- these are just my honest opinions, from a professional photographer who uses the camera. Hey Pentax, if you’re reading this, how about making me one of your brand ambassadors? ;)

Comment

New Images on the Website

Comment

New Images on the Website

 
© Michael Hudson, All Rights Reserved

It takes a while to update a website, and today I’m ‘unwrapping’ a whole re-vamp of the Gallery section. All the pictures are larger, several new images are making their first appearance, and older favorites have been re-processed to be sharper and larger.

I’m now using a 5K (5120x2880 pixels) 27-inch monitor and have really noticed how much the quality of the images matters. The previous gallery images were 900 pixels wide and are now 1500 pixels wide, with panoramas being 2500 pixels. The result is a collection of images that are bigger, sharper and higher quality, with more detail on display than ever before.

Visit the new galleries at this link.

Enjoy :)

Comment

The 2019 Images of Acadia Photography Workshop

Comment

The 2019 Images of Acadia Photography Workshop

Bubble Pond, taken during the 2018 Workshop

Bubble Pond, taken during the 2018 Workshop

Registration is now open for the October 2019 Images of Acadia photography workshop. Check out the details at this link. The trip is first come, first served, so if you’re planing on joining us, send me an email for a registration package and get your deposit in.

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 nineteen 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 the Acadia photo tour/ workshop, from October 8-13th. This will be a small group, only eight 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.

1S8-0565.jpg

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 to get us around to all the sites. You're free to bring your own car, 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 5:30am when we head out for our first sunrise location (the sun comes up at ~6:50am). 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.

1S8-0967.jpg

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!

1S8-0465b.jpg

Comment

Serenity at Bubble Pond

Comment

Serenity at Bubble Pond

I remember visiting Bubble Pond on my first trip to Acadia in October 2006. Everything was new to me back then and I took a few pictures on my first morning out, but they’re nothing to look at now. Over the years, I visited Bubble Pond from time to time, but I never saw anything worth photographing.

Fast forward to last October (2018) when I brought my workshop group to Bubble Pond. It was a very still morning and the pond was mirror-like; the reflections in the water were just stunning. Although I’d only planned on spending a few minutes there, we kept shooting for over an hour and half. The feeling of peace and serenity was overwhelming.

I focused mainly on the flecks of foliage sprinkled among the evergreens, which were then reflected in the silent waters. It seemed like everywhere we pointed our cameras, the compositions kept getting better and better. I made a series of panoramic images, as well as these more conventional compositions.

A few days later, after the workshop was over, I visited Bubble Pond again, but this time, the water was choppy, some of the colorful leaves had fallen and the atmosphere was completely different.

Comment

The Spider Awards

Comment

The Spider Awards

Today, only ten minutes ago, I found out that one of my images had been nominated in the 13th annual Black and White Spider Awards. Over 6,400 entries were received from photographers in 77 countries. This is the third time I’ve been nominated or won in the Spider Awards. View my winning entry here.

The winning image is one of my favorites from Acadia. I titled it, “Monster Wave” and it was taken on Schoodic Point in 2016. Read more about my experience photographing waves here at this link.

Waves, Schoodic Point, Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

Comment

Images of Acadia on Instagram

Comment

Images of Acadia on Instagram

My top nine Instagram images of 2018.

My top nine Instagram images of 2018.

I joined Instagram just over a year ago, thinking I’d give the photo-based social media site a shot and see if there was any interest in my work. It’s taken me a few months to figure out how it all works and build a small following, but just before Christmas, things blew up… and my images are regularly attracting 2-3,000+ likes, with more followers joining me every day. I don’t understand why, but it’s been very gratifying to read the comments and see how my images are inspiring photographers and others around the world.

Instagram has become the easiest way for me to regularly post my photos of Acadia. I still post to the Images of Acadia Facebook page, but if you want to see new pictures every two or three days, follow me on Instagram @imagesofacadia.

When I posted this image of a sunrise on Cadillac Mountain on my other Instagram page, @mikehudsonseye, it quickly became my most popular image on the internet- ever.

Comment

Photo of the Week, November 29

Comment

Photo of the Week, November 29

Blue dusk at Jordan Pond

Blue dusk at Jordan Pond

Taken back in June, the water levels were low enough to expose a ring of algae around each boulder, making them appear to almost be floating on the water's surface.

Comment

The First Workshop

7 Comments

The First Workshop

Me, Brad (Alabama), Jay (California/ New York), Colin (Illinois), Mark (Louisiana). Front row: Patrick (Massachusetts), Markos (Mexico) and Bill (Minnesota). Not pictured, Don (Missouri)

Me, Brad (Alabama), Jay (California/ New York), Colin (Illinois), Mark (Louisiana). Front row: Patrick (Massachusetts), Markos (Mexico) and Bill (Minnesota). Not pictured, Don (Missouri)

Last month, over ten years of planning finally paid off when eight photographers joined me for several days of photographing the foliage and coastline in Acadia National Park. In the group, we had a Scotsman, a Mexican, and an Australian, and travelers from Louisiana, Alabama, Massachusetts, Minnesota, California and Missouri. Our photography experiences ranged from a professional architectural photographer to advanced amateurs; some had travelled extensively to take pictures and for some, it was their first time doing a trip like this.

1S8-0472.jpg

The workshop started off well, with a sunset trip to Jordan Pond. Although we didn’t have any nice skies to shoot, we did photograph the beautiful reflections of the foliage lining the shores of the pond in the soft overcast light of the cloudy sky. And we were fortunate to have still waters, so we could see all the way to the bottom of the more shallow parts of the pond and see the submerged boulders under the water.

IMG_8552.JPG

The next day, we all met up at 5:15am and headed for the coast in the hopes that the skies would clear and we’d be blessed with a beautiful sunrise. Alas, it was not to be and instead we waited in a light rain. But as I told everyone, a bad day in Acadia is often better than some of your best days in an office, so instead of planning for puffy pink and orange clouds at sunrise, we changed our mindset to black and white, to see if we could photograph some of the drama of a bleak, but moody daybreak on the coast. Slow shutter speeds brought out some of the rich, silky smooth waves that poured over the rocks at Boulder Beach.

1S8-0476bw.jpg

Next we visited one of my favorite spots, near the Kane Path and Canon Brook trails to photograph a still, small pond in the mist. The sky was still overcast but the colors and reflections were fantastic.

IMG_8565.JPG

The rain continued for most of the first day, so we used some of that time to talk about Lightroom and Photoshop how to process digital pictures. By mid afternoon, I was getting cabin fever so a small group of us trekked out to Jordan Stream and hiked down to Cobblestone Bridge for some photos.

The next morning brought more of the same overcast skies, though thankfully, not the rain of the previous day. But that’s all part of being a landscape photographer– you learn to make the most of whatever weather conditions you’re dealt with. After all, you can’t change the weather, so you photograph its strengths.

On the way back from the coast to the hotel for breakfast, we spotted a stunning line of maples at their peak. Literally, we could’ve just stayed in the van and photographed them without stepping outside, they were right alongside the road and very easy to photograph. I’m not sure if we saw any more intense colors than that for the rest of the trip.

IMG_8610.JPG

The next few days were filled with plenty of color- but not much sunshine, though we did have a brief few seconds up on top of Cadillac Mountain, which was just enough to photograph some nice shots of the clouds lighting up and the wild blueberry bushes sparkling in the light before the cloud cover took over again (see picture at the top of this page). I think everyone enjoyed the chance to be some of the first ones to see the sunrise in the US that morning.

I think for me, my favorite images came from the time spent at Bubble Pond after we came down from Cadillac. The pond was completely still and the reflections were among the best I’d ever seen there or anywhere in the park. Sprinkled among the dark green evergreens along the shoreline were splashes of reds, yellows and oranges, which were also mirrored in the water below. I could’ve stayed for several more hours, but we had other places to visit. I didn’t plan on being there for more than fifteen minutes, but surprisingly, we stayed for over an hour and a half.

MHUD6150.jpg

We finally had some beautiful skies the afternoon we climbed up Bubble Mountain to photograph the sunset overlooking Jordan Pond. The clouds and sun were in our favor and we were treated to a beautiful sunset with the sky lighting up pink and orange at the “appointed time.”

1S8-0653.jpg

Our final morning saw us back at the coast, where we did have full sun, but few clouds. But we made some nice images of the coastal granite lighting up orange and pink, then made our way over the to Tarn for our last excursion, to see the side of Door Mountain lit up in the reflections among the reeds. As an added bonus, we had hundreds of runners jog past us, as the Tarn is along the course of the annual Mount Desert Island marathon, said to be one of the most beautiful courses in the country. Still, we were surprised when some of the runners, in all seriousness, asked us what we were taking pictures of, and how come we weren’t photographing them? Perhaps they didn’t realize that their route skirted alongside one of the most beautiful national parks?

IMG_8681.jpg

Judging by how many people asked me to let them know about the 2019 workshop, I think it’s safe to say everyone went home happy with their time in Acadia. Sure the rain was a bit of a damper on photography, but like I said earlier, in landscape photography, you deal with whatever conditions you’re given and I think we did just that.

If you’re interested in joining me next year, send me a message and I’ll make sure you’re notified when registration opens up.

Photographers Gallery

7 Comments

Photo of the Week, September 26

Comment

Photo of the Week, September 26

1S2-3727b.jpg

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.

Comment