Monday, February 18, 2019

New England Fall - Part 2

After spending a good hour at Grist Mill taking photos and then exploring the area around there for a little while, I decided it was time to start working my way north and into Vermont.  One of the first things I noticed once the sun came up, was that most of the trees in Massachusettes were still green, but there were a few bare trees sprinkled in among them, so it got my hopes up that maybe I would still get lucky and find fall colors as I drove north.

 I had marked a few places to check out on my trip north and with how pretty the day was, it made for a really nice drive just exploring as I went.  There was a small time along the way, where the town square was built around a nice little pond, and I thought it might have the potential to be a beautiful photo in the right kind of light. When I got there though, the skies were mostly blue and it was just too close to mid-day to really get any kind of special photo there, but I still stopped to walk around and enjoy it, and took some shots to try to figure out what would be the perfect spot for a photo if I make it back out this way again in better conditions.  This spot has great potential to give you a beautiful photo at sunrise or sunset, or maybe when covered in snow and the pond is frozen over.  I love the location and wished I lived closer so I could visit it over an over again until I get that great photo here.  Even just catching all those trees at peak fall color would have made a world of difference to this shot.

Well, now that I've put this on my list to revisit someday, it was time to explore some more.  I could see why people talk in such glowing terms about the Northeast because I was passing so many pretty towns, on small country roads that just made me smile and think of the photos I could try to take there.  Even some of the everyday buildings would catch my eye and make me want to take pictures just to see what I could get.

I mean, something like this isn't a normal hot spot for photography, but the shape of the building and the way the light was hitting it as I came down the road, caused me to stop, and then I couldn't help but think how cool it could look if those trees behind it were bursting with fall colors or once again, everything was covered in snow.

I was starting to notice that my luck for catching great fall colors wasn't looking too good for this trip though.  From what I was seeing, I was about a week too late and many of the trees had already lost all of their leaves.  Those that hadn't lost their leaves were already past peak color...

Was I disappointed?  Yeah, I do have to admit I found myself kind of bummed at this point in time and decided I would just make the best of the trip that I could and use it more as a scouting trip than I'd hoped it would be.  Since I'd never been here before, it was the perfect chance to explore even more than I would have if I'd been totally concentrating on taking photos instead.

I knew there would still be opportunities for some nice photos, but they would just have to be things that didn't fully depend on fall colors to really make them special.  I'd already seen a number of cool old barns and some covered bridges and so I'd just set my sites on taking photos of them more than of the landscape.

My next two stops did wonders to cheer me up and put me back in the right frame of mind.  

Okay, so the fall colors aren't looking so great right now and it's looking like I had bad timing, but I can see now that there will still be some great photos to be had and that has me excited again.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

New England Fall - Part 1

Vermont in the Fall has been on my bucket list for many years. I've always heard about how beautiful it is there that time of year and that it ranks up there as one of the prettiest places for Fall photography in the U.S.

I hadn't really had a chance to travel much last year so I decided that I should finally take a trip back east to see as much of Vermont and New Hampshire as I could and see if I could get lucky with my timing and catch the peak Fall colors while I was there.  The one downside with planning a trip around Fall Foliage is that there is no set time that the colors change every year, and there are so many variables that come into play, the best you can really do is just hope luck is on your side.

When I booked my flight, I really only had one location in mind that I knew I had to visit for sure, and that was Sleepy Hollow Farm. It is one of the most photographed places on the East Coast outside of New York City that I see, and every time I would see photos of it, I would just stop and stare for a while and it would make me want to make a trip there even if that was the only photo I came away with.

I flew from Seattle to Boston and then rented a car for the week that was big enough to carry all my gear and that could double as a place to sleep at least a few nights on this trip to both save money, and to put me much closer to places I wanted to be for a couple of Sunrises while I was there.

My flight landed a couple of hours before the sun was due to come up and my plan was to visit Sleepy Hollow Farm in Vermont before Sunset,  so I planned a stop along the way that should also make for a great photo and hopefully I could get there early enough to catch sunrise there. I knew it was going to be close, but I figured I had the timing just about right as long as I didn't run into any huge delays in rush hour traffic or something.

Turned out I got really lucky and even though the rental car place at the airport took MUCH longer than I expected, traffic was so light getting out of town that time of morning that I still managed to make it to Grist Mill as the sun first lit it up.

Grist Mill

So my trip had officially started, and I already had a photo that made me happy, even though it's nothing spectacular.  It was just nice light at a very cool spot, and a photo I knew I'd like.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Travel and Planning - Part 1

I'm often asked about some of the trips that I've taken, not only questions about how the trip was, but also questions about how I was able to plan out what I was going to do when I got there.  Especially when I travel to places I've never been before that seem like they are way off the beaten path for most people.  I've realized that as time passes, I tend to forget a lot of details about my trips, so I think I'm going to start using this blog as a way to document them for myself as much as for anyone else that might be interested in hearing about them later.

I'm am honestly still surprised at how many people tell me they just finished reading my Iceland blogs and about how much they really enjoyed them.  I don't think of myself as a very good writer, and sometimes cringe when the subject of my blogs come up, since I never really tell anyone they are here, but I guess if you're reading this, you've either just discovered them, or you're one of the few people I know that tell me they check in once in a while to see if I posted anything new.

So I think I'll start a little "travel" series here to not only talk about how I prepped for a trip, but then to talk about it either when I get back or if I can find the time and internet connections, post from the road like I did in Iceland, while it's all super fresh in my head.  I can point out the good and bad things as well as things I might wish I had done differently or places I think I should have skipped because they just weren't as exciting as I thought they might be.

I hate to admit it, but do know that I have gone back and read my Iceland blogs a number of times myself now just to help re-live that trip and it's been fun each time I've done that, so maybe it's not a bad thing to at least use this as a travel log of sorts for myself.  Hopefully, I can make it a little interesting and funny for others as well.

To follow up on this, I might start with a few posts about my Fall trip to Vermont at the end of last year before those memories fade too much more than they already have.  Some of you will think I'm a little nutty at times I'm sure, when I admit to things like not having any hotel reservations at all or when I talk about how many nights I just slept for a few hours here and there in my car, but hey, it's all part of the adventure for me and a good way to not only save money, but to allow me to make the most out of the little bit of time I have to see as much as I can.

Enough rambling for now. I'll title this Part 1 as I'm sure I'll come back and add to the travel and planning parts of it this year as I prepare for a few trips already on the books, and then between those parts, I'll post about the trips as well... in the same style I did for my Iceland trip.  If you are actually reading these, I really hope you enjoy them and maybe even pick up a few ideas along the way for your own travels.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Jigsaw Puzzles

  Just a quick update on the Jigsaw puzzles that I decided to purchase for myself to test out the quality of the products.  They arrived last night, and even though this isn't the best photo of the boxes they came in, I have to say I was very impressed with how sturdy the boxes where and how professional the actual puzzle pieces where inside.  Sometimes when you have stuff made, the quality isn't something you have any control over and would be embarrassed to even attempt to sell.  Turns out this isn't the case here and I'm really happy with how great these turned out.  

Now I can't wait to finish my current puzzle so I can get started on putting these together.  They are smaller than what I've been doing lately, only being 1000 pieces, but that seems to be the size more people prefer so I just had to see how they would turn out at that size.  

Now I'm going to find myself shooting more and more photos with the idea of creating puzzle from them.  :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Perspective on perspective

Over the years, I've had people ask me if I could give some tips on how to take better photos and for me, that's always been a very hard request to fill.  There really are as many tips you could give, as there are types of photography.  Each tip you might give someone can also change from photo to photo, situation to situation because as with any art form, there is no single answer or right way to do something.  Sure there are some "rules" that many photographers try to stick to but some of those are hard to explain without having examples on hand to show someone.  I never have those handy when the question comes up because.... well, I don't carry a computer around with every photo I've ever taken, and even if I did, I surely wouldn't want to pull all those photos up and show someone how many horrible pictures I take for every decent shot I get, while I go looking for something to use as an example.

While I was looking for some old scanned images on my computer, I ran across a few photos that actually can be used for one of those tips and figured maybe I would write about that on here, in case anyone asks me again and I can just tell them to come and look here.  Fair warning, these aren't examples of "good" photos by any stretch of the imagination, but they do show one of the principals you can keep in mind while out taking photos, and that is one of perspective and leading lines.

Maybe you've already heard about the tip about trying to use leading lines to lead the viewer's eye into the photo and you've put that tip to good use in many of your photos, but you still feel like you're missing something in those shots.   Part of the problem with just being told to use leading lines is that many people forget to mention to also try changing your perspective and see how that affects those leading lines.  Most people tend to stand upright and shoot their images from eye level and that's all well and good, but you might be missing out on a great opportunity to really put those leading lines to much better use in your photo.  Go ahead and take that shot as you first saw it because it never hurts to have a few options to choose from when you get back home, but after you shoot that image, try getting a little lower.  Maybe just bend down a bit, or drop to a knee, or even get the camera all the way down to ground level......  see how that perspective shift changes your image and see whether it makes those leading lines work even better for you and that image.

Here is a quick example of shooting from three different heights, using a very popular subject as leading lines in a photo.  Look at each one and just see how the photos at different heights really change how powerful those leading lines are, and how your eye travels into the image differently in each shot.  Which do you like better?  Which shot pulls in you in the most?  What is it about that shot you picked that grabs your attention more than the other two?  Everyone will have different reactions to your photos but if you keep this tip in mind, you might find you get a shot that was pretty good from eye level, to one that is compelling if you just shoot from a lower angle.  Play around with this next time you're out shooting and see if you feel it helps your photos or not.

Standing Up

Kneeling Down
Camera just above the Ground

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Dreaming In Pieces - Revisited

It has been just over two years now since I tracked down a puzzle that was released using an image of mine. When that image first sold, all I knew was that it was going to be used on a puzzle, but was given no other information about it.  It took close to 6 months for me to find that puzzle out there in the world, but by the time I'd finally found it, it was totally sold out in the only country I could find it being sold.  I remember being very disappointed at first because (for many reasons I wrote about in that previous blog), I really wanted a copy of that puzzle for myself.

I was telling a fellow photographer and friend all about it,  and about how disappointed I was that I couldn't seem to find it in stock anywhere, when they suddenly sent me a link to another company that still had the puzzle for sale.  Well.... in the excitement that followed I wrote that long and somewhat rambling post all about the puzzle, and my photo, and the memories and emotions it drudged up in me and many of you surprised me by rushing out and buying a copy for as well.  I think that blog post was probably one of the most personal things I've really ever shared with friends much less anything I have ever posted on the Internet for strangers to stumble across and read.  I was worried at first that maybe it was too much and I should take it down, but so many of you sent me really sweet and kind messages about that story, and about how much you enjoyed it.  So even though I felt a little silly, I do have to say think you for all the kind words. I'm not really sure if I ever did that as it was all kind of this weird blur to me at the time.

It's been almost exactly 5 years now since my dad passed, and I find myself thinking about him more than ever this time of year. Those memories always bring me back around to thinking about those times we worked on puzzles together and then I think about that post about the silly puzzle two years ago, and now for some reason, I've received at least a dozen different emails in the last month from people asking me if I have any more puzzles for sale.  I've had to tell everyone no,  as the last three submissions I made to that puzzle company weren't chosen as finalists.  Not a surprise to me since they would receive hundreds of submissions and would only purchase 5 photos each time.

I had spent a lot of time one and off, contacting puzzle manufacturers to see if I could maybe just self- publish puzzles through them and most of them told me they would love work with me and do that, but the downside each time was that they required minimum purchases before they would sing on to do the production work. For most of them, I would need to purchase at least 1000 copies of any puzzle I wanted to sell just to get the price point low enough that I think anyone would want to buy one.  But there was no way I'd ever sell 1000 puzzles on my own and I certainly don't want to fill my garage with hundreds of unsold puzzles....  I mean even with that first puzzle which turned out to be hugely popular, I think I only know about 15 people that bought one.

Then in the last week, I discovered a company that would allow me to create puzzles from my images, with no minimum orders needed, and then to sell those puzzles through their online market place, where they would then create and ship puzzles as they are ordered.  The biggest downside to it though... is that they aren't nearly as cheap as the ones that were mass-produced and sold around the world, BUT I can actually now offer up any photo of mine as a puzzle in any size someone might want, if they want one.

I started off with my two favorite photos from my trip to Vermont this fall.  Offering each as 500 or 1000 piece puzzles, and then I also picked two photos I've wanted to do myself as puzzles for a very long time and created 1000 piece puzzles out of them.  I really don't expect anyone will buy them at this companies price.... unless I get lucky and a big distributor takes a chance and buys one of them in bulk, but if you happen to be interested enough to take a look, or even purchase one, you can see them at my Online Puzzle Store.  If you would like to buy a puzzle from there, I wanted to point out that if you buy 2 or more, you do get a 20% discount which takes some of the sting out of the price.  They don't have to be 2 of the same puzzle, so you could buy two different puzzles and still get the discount.

One big advantage of a company like this though, is that if you don't like what you see there or if you happen to like another image of mine that you'd love to have as a puzzle, you can just email me and let me know what image it is, and what size you'd like the puzzle to be, and I can custom create them by requested.  If you think the 1000 piece puzzles cost too much or are bigger than you like, I can make a 500 piece version or even smaller for you if you like.  The process takes about a day for me to size the image, upload it, configure all the information they need and then have them approve everything and make it available for purchase,  and I'd be happy to do that for you.  Just shoot me an email and let me know.

If you think the prices are crazy and you wouldn't spend that much on a puzzle, or if you just don't like building puzzles, that's totally cool too. I think I only make about $2 per sale so I will never get rich off this and I'm not doing it for the money.  I just wanted to offer it up as I do get asked about puzzles from time to time now.   If you've actually read this far... thanks for sticking it out.  I know I started to ramble again. LOL

I am going to buy a couple of these for myself now just because ...  to be honest....  they are a few photos I've always wanted to see as a puzzle and wanted to put together myself.  Maybe I'm just weird.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

2019 - New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year!  I know when the new year rolls in, many people make a long list of resolutions for the new year, and if you're like most of us, that list is usually abandoned by the end of January.  I guess that's why I quit making New Year's Resolutions years ago.  This year though, I decided in it's place, I was going to set one or two goals based around my photography and would be easier to stick to, and hopefully will also help keep me motivated this year.  Those two things are to get out and shoot a lot more often this year than I did last year, and to finally start posting a lot more often to this blog.  Earlier today I was just making a few changes to my website, and got side-tracked going back and reading through some of my old posts on here,  and realized if it wasn't for a few of those short little stories, I'd have forgotten things about trips I've taken in the past and a little light bulb went on in my head.  I really need to write more, and if for no other reason, but to leave myself a diary of sorts to help me remember things about places I've been, shots I've taken, shots I want to take, ideas for future trips or anything else that comes to mind.

Do I think everyone will want to read my ramblings?  No.... or course not.  But I do know there are a few of you that have told me you really enjoy reading about and following some of my adventures, so my goal this year, is to write at least a little something about any trip I take this year, big or small.  To keep me going I will probably sprinkle some of that other stuff in here too.

I guess if finally dawned on me that I actually do enjoy writing and that it's a little bit of an outlet for me when I can't get out there shooting photos.  If I can't be shooting them, maybe I can be going back and finding some of my favorite shots from the past and writing a little about what those shots remind me of, or mean to me.    I also think I'll post at least one photo from every outing, no matter if they are good or bad, and write about what I like and don't like about them, and maybe talk about what I would change if I get a chance to go back and shoot them again.

A lot of that will just be little notes to myself, but if you're curious to hear a little about how that little hamster on the wheel in my head works....  maybe you'll learn way more than you wanted to.  LOL

If you're following along or want to comment on anything I post here, please do! I'd love to hear your thoughts, ideas, or anything else you'd like to share along the way.  I changed the setting on here so that comments are moderated. So if you want to comment, but don't want to share it with anyone else, you can just let me know that in your message too and I'll be sure to leave it marked as private.

So that's it for my goals for the new year.  I have a few big trips coming up this year that I'm very excited about so hopefully I can make this entertaining, and leave myself a little diary to look back on later myself.  If you follow along, welcome.....  and here is to a very Happy New Year for all of us!