…And What Shall We Leave

sunset, Lake Champlain, Burlington, Vermont
Sunset with clouds and cracked rocks over Lake Champlain from Oakledge Park in Burlington, Vermont.

As my Wife and I move into our third week of caring for our newborn Daughter the exhaustion and sleepless nights are setting in. I was feeling pretty limited on energy this week and I came pretty close to staying home on the day that I made this capture. I am really glad that my hard work ethic side won out over the tired side because I was treated to quite a show over Lake Champlain! I try to get out and shoot one day out of the week now that we have the baby and this day was typical…grey and terrible clouds with not much hope of getting any sunset images.

As luck was on my side I headed down to the lake shore and the terrible skies gave way to some really nice cloud shapes and color as the sun set. We are getting into the warmer weather and their was some people milling about the area so I had to move quickly from shot to shot and on a few frame out some people. fortunately I try to get to my chosen locations at least an hour before the sunset so I had already scouted out a few compositions to shoot.

This was a horizontal variation on a vertical one and I was quite happy with how both came out. This beach area changes during the year and right now the water level is quite high due to the melting snow in the mountains. Silly me as I was shooting the tide came up and by the time I was done shooting this shot I was drenched in icy cold water! This small bit of rock is about as close as you can get to Lake Champlain…about a few feet from the water’s edge.

Image Data: ISO 100. 17mm. F11 @ 1/4 and 1/30. Two images blended in Photoshop CS2. Image edits in Lightroom 4.

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Turning Towards Heaven

Sunset, Lake Champlain, Burlington, Vermont, Clouds
Sunset over the Burlington, Vermont Breakwater on Lake Champlain.

Usually the sunsets here in Vermont are just fantastic one day and then followed by several days of bad weather and overcast and flat skies. You have to make the most of the short windows you have especially at the end of Winter and in the early Spring. Every year is different of course but we seem to be in this pattern this year. We had a warm up followed by a cool down with more snow several weeks ago and the sky opened up just a bit for me to shoot this sunset.

Here in Burlington we have a huge open area park with quite an expansive view of Lake Champlain. The inner breakwater at the bottom of the image is used in Wintertime to store boat docks and off to camera right is Burlington’s Coast Guard station. The clouds here formed into one giant blob of darkness soon after I shot this so time was of the essence for this sunset. You can see to the last of the lake ice with some seagulls perched on top! In the background you can see the majestic Adirondack Mountains…I feel lucky everyday to be able to drive 5 minutes to see sites like this!

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Image Data: ISO 100. 17mm. F11 @ 1/80. No filters.

Two Trees

Ice covered trees and rocks with sunset over Lake Champlain.
Ice covered trees and rocks with sunset over Lake Champlain.

It’s all about perspective when it comes to shooting images at locations you have visited many times. Changing your perspective several times and really working a composition always 100% of the time will lead to some surprising results! I am fortunate to live in a state where the locations I often return to change throughout the year. While it can be a challenge at times especially in the icy grip of Winter to get something new from an old location I never leave a composition without first exhausting all of its possibilities.

This image was shot during a fairly cold sunset over Lake Champlain at a park that I visit quite often throughout the year. The waves from the lake over the course of the Winter build up a fairly thick coating of ice on the shoreline in the area making it difficult to get down to the water’s edge in places. Not finding good compositions on the ice I stepped back several paces and found this composition looking out between these two trees. I liked the combination of the setting sun with the fading light striking the ice.

Here I had to do an exposure blend of two images. I wanted a certain level of light on the foreground as well as to preserve the light in the sunset something impossible to do in one exposure given the composition and the contrast between the light and dark areas. I try to keep my blends rather simple…..I placed the two images over each other and I used a brush set to about 30 to 40% opacity to blend in the color in the sky. Fine tuning is the key along the edges of the icy rocks and the tree limbs but I think the results were worth it!

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Image Data: ISO 100. 17mm. F11 @ 1/4 and 1 second. No filters.

Transitions

Winter sunset during blue hour over Lake Champlain. Burlington, Vermont.
Winter sunset during blue hour over Lake Champlain. Burlington, Vermont.

Sometimes you get lucky with an image and you are in the right place at the right time. Here in Vermont you may get some frozen fingers and toes but if you can position yourself and your gear just right you can come away with some interesting images! I shot this image back in January and I forgot I had shot it but when I took a second look at this one I realized what a gem it was. I would say over the past four months 99% of my images have been shot in the hour before sunset, blue hour and the hour after sunset. We may not get all of the color in a sunset you may see out west but what we do get in the Wintertime is a certain crispness to the images.

In this image I managed to capture the fading light of sunset as well as the transition from blue hour and into night with some stars poking through the sky. It is really interesting to see all three events in one single frame. Cloud cover has been a bear over the past few months but here I got a nice touch of interest in the clouds that were present. I have to take advantage of skies like this as they can turn into an ugly mess in a heartbeat with our fickle Vermont weather!

Image Data: ISO 100. 17mm. F11 @ 13 seconds. No filters.

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Frozen Embrace

Ice formations on rocks and sunset Over Lake Champlain. Oakledge Park. Burlington, Vermont.
Ice formations on rocks and sunset Over Lake Champlain. Oakledge Park. Burlington, Vermont.

When the clouds and overcast skies do break around here in Vermont, We have been treated to some really fantastic sunsets and winter landscape photography! I try to get out as often as I can when I see the conditions are favorable and I was treated to quite a show last week. Due to the extreme cold we had the waves hitting the shoreline were creating some really great ice formations giving the rocks here an alien world sort of look. While there is not much snow to speak of there are all kinds of crazy shapes in the ice making for some good foregrounds.

Here I was getting some good color in the sky but the positioning of the sun made the foregrounds a bit darker than I would have liked. This image is a two image exposure blend and while the two exposures are pretty close to each other just that small difference in settings allowed me to add in a hint of light and detail to the foreground rocks while keeping the gorgeous color in the sky. I always want to keep my exposure blends believable, That is I don’t want to push the foreground exposure so much that it doesn’t match the light in the sky. I wanted a hint of light and to make the image as close to what I was actually seeing as possible.

Image Data: ISO 100. 17mm. F11 @ 1/8 and 1/25. No filters.

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Across The Pond

Tree silhouette with sunset over Lake Champlain.
Tree silhouette with sunset over Lake Champlain.

I like this tree. It’s one of only a handful that are on the Burlington waterfront. I happened to be out at sunset on another cold Winter night with little snow but I did get some nice color! I really wanted to frame the clouds with a silhouette shot if this tree but getting the right color in the sky with some good clouds seems to be the real trick this Winter. You just have to keep going back day after day and often I am rewarded with a shot like this.

Nothing fancy with this one… I wanted to have the tree dominate the frame and catching some of the light on the ground around the base of the tree. I use the term Pond in the title loosely because Lake Champlain is quite large. Not as big as the other Great Lakes but equally as impressive.

Image Data: ISO 100. 17mm. F11 @ 1/4. No Filters or blending.

Marching forward

Canon 7d/ Canon 17-40mm F4 L series lens. UV filter. Lee Big Stopper 10 stop neutral density filter. ISO 100, 40mm, F 11 @ 70 seconds. Burlington, Vermont waterfront with flooding from Lake Champlain.

As promised I have a few images of all the flooding that persists here along the shores of Lake Champlain. The lake does rise quite signficantly in the spring time due to melting snow but I can’t remember a time when it had gotten this bad and all the rain we are getting certainly does not help. If you look to the left side of this image where that old barge is, I should be able to walk out over there but here I am several hundred feet back.

I made this image on yes… A cloudy early morning that was threatening rain. This particular spot is five minutes from my home but I was really liking reflections from the trees in the water. Here you are looking at the back parking lot of the Echo Lake and science aquarium. It’s devoted to the science and ecology of Lake Champlain with lots of neat exhibits about the area.

Using the 10 stop neutral density filter really stopped any movement in the water and gave it that “glassy” look. The sky here is pretty horrible but I think it emphasises the flooding aspect. fortunately I have not had to put on the hip waders to makeĀ  an image!

Struggle for life

Canon 7d/Canon 17-40mm F4 L series lens, UV filter, Lee Big Stopper 10 stop neutral density filter. Processed in Lightroom 3. ISO 100 17mm F 16 @ 90 seconds.

I have been looking at this tree for a while now contemplating an interesting composition for it. The tree sits on a tiny spit of land on Lake Champlain in Oakledge Park and I have always admired its tenacity at surviving such a harsh environment.

I wanted to show lots of movement here and there is a little in the tree. With the whipping wind it would have been near impossible to capture the long exposure without showing the movement of the tree and branches. While an image of the tree not moving with the clouds speeding by would have been nice that was not my intent here. Have a good weekend…Let me know what you think of this one!