Boston’s Back Bay area is loaded with wonderful architecture and landmarks that can provide a wide variety of photo opportunities. And for some reason, I hardly ever visit there with my camera. I finally made some time this past summer, however, to come into town and create some images, and set up camp at the Boston Public Garden. There are great views of the city in several directions here, along with the signature pond, hundreds of trees, winding pathways, a bridge and more. I wanted a shot of the former John Hancock Tower (now 200 Clarendon) and thought the pond would make an excellent foreground subject against the building and the Back Bay skyline. I was not alone. The place was packed with “pro” photographers sporting all manner of iPhones and iPads trying to capture the scene. I think my X-T1 and tripod were probably the right call.
This image is another from the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells, ME from my vacation in late August. As I mentioned in my previous post, this part of the refuge is a beautiful 1 mile loop that meanders through forest and salt marsh along Maine’s southern coast. This particular spot is one of several boardwalks along the loop that provide incredible views of the surrounding area.
Typically on sunrise shoots, I’m packing up my gear once the sun rises high enough above the horizon and the light becomes too harsh to shoot towards it. Thankfully on this day, I had a scene behind me worth shooting, and simply turned around from where I was capturing the sky to the east and was treated to beautiful warm light hitting the trees and boardwalk to the west. This location is really quite amazing, and I was taken by the transition of marsh to forest, while also witnessing the transition from dawn to daylight. And did I mention that I was the only one there the entire time? An awesome morning all around.
I just got back from a family vacation in southern Maine, and managed to get out for sunrise on a couple of occasions. This particular morning presented an absolutely beautiful display of clouds and color with zero wind; perfect conditions for some long exposures. So where is this, you ask? It’s the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in York, ME. It was my first time visiting the refuge, and I can guarantee I’ll be back again soon. It’s an impressively large place, with thousands of acres of protected land spread out from Kittery all the way to Cape Elizabeth near Portland. I chose to explore the southern part, and the trail I was on is an easy 1 mile loop through the refuge that provides several lookout spots along the salt marsh and woods. Although the tide was low, this little estuary made a great leading line through the image towards the rising sun. Morning beauty indeed.
I have worked in the city of Boston for the majority of my professional career, and I feel as though I know the city quite well. It’s buildings, streets, etc. are all very familiar to me. Yet when I have the chance to take in the city from an elevated point of view, it always seems to take on a new look for me. The view from the observation deck of the Custom House is no exception. This was taken a short while before the sun set to the west of where I was standing, and I love how the last of the warm sun was lighting up parts of the various buildings that make up the Boston skyline.
There are pretty amazing views from all four sides of the observation deck, and I ended up moving around more than I probably should’ve trying to get the “shot” of the city at sunset. Fortunately I spent more time before sunset at this specific location, and was able to frame the image exactly as I wanted, and could wait for the light to be as I wanted it too. This is definitely a spot I plan to revisit soon.
The sunset over the city of Boston last night was spectacular. I had chosen a new vantage point for some skyline shots, and was on the observation deck of the Custom House tower. This building is a Boston landmark, and appears in many if not most images of the the Boston skyline. Aside from being a beautiful structure on its own, its observation deck provides some great views of the city and surrounding area. The only challenge here is the fact that the deck is surrounded by a serious fence, and you need to conduct tripod gymnastics to get your camera to point through the fence.
This image is looking to the north towards the North End and Charlestown further in the distance. The sky put on quite a show, and added great mood to this city skyline image. I’ll have more images to share in later posts.
There are certain colors that you seem to only see in the summertime in New England, and the colors of the clouds at sunset are a perfect example. Incredible pastels can light up the sky when the sun rises or sets. On this particular night, the sunset I was hoping for didn’t materialize at my original destination. So I decided to jump back in the car and head to the salt marsh house in Essex to see if the post-sunset sky would have anything to offer. And as you can see, it certainly did. The 500+ mosquitos and gnats per square inch was a steep price to pay for this shot, but definitely worth it.
After the stormy weather moved through Boston this past weekend, we were left with windy conditions, and plenty of leftover clouds just as the sun was getting ready to set for the night. In other words, ideal conditions for some long exposure photography. While the sky was on fire to the west – the vantage point of my post from the other day – it was more pastel to the southwest where I was now aiming my camera over the Back Bay skyline.
Now the price you pay for having the streaking clouds and smooth water is of course the crazy movement in the trees. And while some may disapprove, I actually really like this effect. The contrast of the sharp buildings against the movement of just about everything else in the frame is a look I’m constantly searching for. And on this night, I was treated to a brilliant opportunity to create such an image.
Who says autumn images need to be in color? This is the Blair Bridge in Campton, NH, and my visit here a few weeks ago was a bit early for peak fall color. In addition, the fog was quite thick when I arrived just after sunrise, and I immediately knew I wanted a B&W image from this scene. Fog can look great in a color photo, but I think it adds even more mood to a monochrome image instead. An exposure of 0.7 seconds gave me a little motion in the water without having too much movement in the leaves and trees, and it was a simple conversion in Lightroom CC.
It was an amazing morning, and I can still feel the chill in the air and hear the sounds of the river. The leaves are now mostly gone, and although it’s been unseasonably warm and pleasant this week, I already miss the fall.
I can’t stress enough how much I enjoy photography at places like Garwin Falls. For several hours on Sunday morning I was the only one there, and had free reign to explore the area without worrying about anyone or anything else. It’s just so peaceful to be at a beautiful location where the only sound is the water rushing over the rocks and the occasional click of the camera’s shutter. I had the flexibility to really take my time, and made far fewer images than I typically would as I spent more time enjoying the moment. Had the sun not come out from behind the clouds to create very contrasty light, I would’ve been content to hang there all day. With multiple levels of cascading water, surrounded by both evergreen forest and changing leaves, this is truly a magical place.
This is probably my favorite image from the morning. A six second exposure was all it took to capture the swirling water in the pool at the bottom of the falls, while adding that smooth, milky appearance to the water. I manually blended two images together for this shot – one of the falls and one of the trees in the center background that were blown out with the long exposure.