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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring In New England

As the weather warms, the Northeast offers some of its most dramatic and colorful vistas

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With winter expelling its last cold breaths of the season, it’s time to think about moving outdoors to capture some of the year’s most vibrant colors. The New England area is highly regarded by nature photographers everywhere for its dramatic scenic views as well as its explosion of hues, from verdant ground cover and trees to brilliant floral displays. Jerry and Marcy Monkman are a local photography team who make a living exploring this area and its rich photographic possibilities. They offer their tips and techniques for taking full advantage of spring in New England.

Oak Tree
Oak Tree, White Mountains, Sandwich, New Hampshire
In the White Mountains, the trees start to bud around the third week of May and show a good variety of color for a few weeks before everything goes green. In the Whites, you don't often find many great landscapes to photograph by following the usual routes. You either need to get out on the trail or explore the back roads of towns like Sandwich, Tamworth, Franconia and Jefferson, which is why my car always contains a copy of the Delorme New Hampshire Atlas and Gazetteer. It’s indispensable for finding my way around the mountains and identifying potential photo locations; I found this oak tree in a field while en route to a hike up Mount Israel.

For this photo, I chose to simplify the scene to include only the tree, the hillside and a bit of the fog. Using a telephoto lens allowed me to isolate the tree while compressing the scene sufficiently to give the hillside enough height to create the sense of place I was after. Including the fog at the top of the image enhances the mood of the photo, letting the viewer feel the air of that misty, spring morning in the mountains. Pentax 67, Pentax 300mm ƒ/4.0, Fujichrome Velvia.

Waterfall, Ammonoosuc Ravine, Mount Washington, New Hampshire
Like the Green Mountains, New Hampshire's White Mountains are full of waterfalls that are at their best in the spring. Finding flowers as foreground material for those waterfalls can be a challenge, however, as most falls are under heavy forest canopy where most flowers don’t bloom except for small, early spring ephemerals. The exception is the high country of the Presidential Range where streams can tumble for a 1,000 feet or more before they reach substantial forest. Spring up high doesn’t get started until after Memorial Day and lasts well into July.

This is rugged country, so I usually use my lightest tripod, and I always bring rain gear as the high peaks of the Whites create their own weather‚ fog, drizzle, rain, sleet, snow‚ anything is possible any time of year.To keep my gear dry during the drizzle under which this photo was taken, I used the highest of high-tech gear: an umbrella. I kept a few lens cloths handy for wiping the stray raindrops that did make it onto my lens. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, Canon EF 24-70mm ƒ/2.8, polarizer

Sunset, Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park is much quieter in the spring than during the summer and fall foliage season. Compelling sunrise photography locations are numerous in this coastal park, but good sunset spots are less common. One of my favorite places for sunset is Jordan Pond. It has great glacial landscape features, it’s a short walk from the parking lot, and it supports interesting wildflowers along its shore.

Here, I was lucky to have calm water (the waves can get a foot or higher with a strong wind out of the north) and beautiful skies. In order to hold detail in both the sky and foreground rocks, I used a two-stop graduated split neutral-density filter. While I usually opt for my three-stop filter, I used the two-stop version to keep the reflections just a shade darker than the sky. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, Canon EF 24-70mm ƒ/2.8, Lee two-stop graduated split neutral-density filter

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