New Hampshire In Fall

I recently had the opportunity to visit my work buddy in New Hampshire.  The trip was kind of thrown together in spite of all sensible reasons against it, and another couple from San Diego even met us there.  If you knew all of us, you would find the story funny, but you don’t so I’ll spare you the details.

We arrived at Boston Logan late.  Here’s the view from my friend’s street early the next morning.

Chasing the fall foliage in New England was a more involved process than I was expecting.  There is, apparently, a very small window of opportunity for us “Leaf Peepers” to see the “peak” colors.  And the peak moves across the area, not returning until the following year.  We were supposed to be in the Derry, New Hampshire area at the correct time for that location, but my friend explained to me that the dry summer meant that the peak window was even tighter this year.

Our first big activity was taking The Cog railway to the top of Mt. Washington.  As we were leaving the Bretton Woods area, we stopped by the side of the road to go check out a part of the Ammonoosuc River.

The next day we headed to Portsmouth.  But before we got there, we stopped to see one of the official covered bridges in New Hampshire.

We then went to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  This was our only gray, rainy day, but it felt perfect for the area.  Below is the Memorial Bridge between Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine.  That’s my work buddy, by the way.  He was feeling sad and lonely at the time and was listening to Lionel Richie when I took this image.

The next day was sunny, and we spent it in Boston.  Although that was a great day too, I think I prefer the smaller towns and scenery experienced in New Hampshire.  I think, at this point, I can finally remember that my friend doesn’t live in Vermont.

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The Cog

Recently I had the opportunity to visit the other upper corner of the US.  See, I spend a lot of time in the Pacific NW, and I’ve been to precious few Eastern states.  This year, however, I got to see the Fall Foliage in New England first-hand.

The image above is The Cog Railway.  It chugs up Mt. Washington in New Hampshire at a grade of between 25% and 37%. That’s pretty steep.  We were in this part of New Hampshire, at the beginning of October 2014, specifically because the foliage was supposed to be near peak levels.  I didn’t know, before this trip, that the window of opportunity for peak foliage was so slim.  I didn’t know that it moved throughout New England with nary a regard for visitors (Leaf Peepers, we’re called) who have to fly across the country to see it.  Apparently we missed the absolute peak (in this exact spot) by a couple of days.  Over Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (Starbucks anyone?  Huh?), I would say something like, “Wow, that tree is really red.”  And our guide would respond with something like, “Yeah, but it was redder last week.”  And I would go, “Oh.”

Oh, well.  Here’s what The Cog train looks like when it’s parked at the top.

Here’s what you don’t see in the picture above:  People.  There were people all around, milling about, standing between me and scenic views for no reason, taking pictures with telephones and flashes.  Although I do like this image, I’m most proud of how long I was willing to squat in an about-to-take-a-picture stance while waiting (hoping) for all the other tourists to get the heck out of the frame.  I’m sure I looked super cool.

That’s a shot taken while we were ascending the mountain.  I had a few thousand dollars worth of camera gear stuck out the window, at arm’s length, while moving.  I had no idea what the auto-focus would grab on to; I was just hoping I didn’t drop anything.  The picture turned out pretty good, I think.  And look – foliage.

Here’s the view from the top – 6,289 feet.  That’s, like, a bunch of meters.  Most of the peaks are named after other US presidents, but I’m not sure if we’re seeing any of them in this image.  I’d love to tell you that you can see into another state (which you can), but I have no idea which direction we’re facing here.  Perhaps the geographically geeky among you would look at the shadows, understand that this was at 10:00 AM and say, “Dude, I totally recognize Maine out there.”  Maybe.

At this point I want to give one more picture from my excellent trip to the top of Mt. Washington.  I struggled with my choice, so I sincerely hope you visit the New Hampshire gallery on my SmugMug site.  After some deliberation, I’ve decide to go with the image that has a person in it.  Does that make it stronger for you?  I realize the overall image looks a lot like the previous one, but this one has a guy in it. What’s he thinking?  Why is he there?  Is he there with anyone else?

Am I looking into a different state when I look at this picture?

Hint:  Look at the shadows (the shadows know).

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Update from Kaua’i

I forgot to mention the other day that we went on a Photo Adventure Tour.  It was actually quite adventurous, fairly physical and, at times, a bit dangerous.  At one of the stops we happened across Bethany Hamilton surfing.  You probably know who she is even if you don’t recognize the name.  The image below will remind you.

Bethany Hamilton In ActionThere was nothing in particular going on – no surfing events or anything.  This was total coincidence.  After getting a sight of this particular beach, we decided that’s where we needed to go on our own the next day.  So that’s what we did.  We ended up having the entire beach to ourselves.

In the weird parking area, we actually ran into . . . Bethany Hamilton again.  This time she had just finished her surfing for the day and was packing up.  We said, “Hello,” and she wished us a pleasant day.  She seemed to me to be a very friendly person.  From there we hiked down to what would be our own private beach.

Do you see those rocks along the shore?  That was the last leg of our hike.  Having to navigate the rocks is probably the reason we had the whole place to ourselves.  Further around the bay, there’s some kind of water inlet with about 10 million tadpoles in it.  It ws just another beautiful part of this area.

A little ways past the inlet is another beach area that is completely protected by large rocks.  This gives it a swimming pool effect.  Around the corner of the far side of the bay there was just more natural beauty.

And, again, we had the entire place to ourselves.

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Still In Kaua’i

We arrived in Kaua’i very late Saturday night.  It wasn’t until the next morning that we were able to see sights around us.  And what sights there are!  Even though we didn’t have an ocean view room, the view from our patio wasn’t that bad.

On Sunday, of course, we went to church.  Here is a shrine behind St. Raphael Church, which is the oldest one on Kaua’i.

They say it’s always raining somewhere in Hawai’i.  This week, I think, was a little more localized, and it’s fair to say that it was always raining somewhere in Kaua’i – usually wherever we were.  So, there were lots of clouds, odd lighting and the occasional shower.  Still, this meant getting some interesting shots when it wasn’t coming down.  It also meant having rainbows pretty much every day.

In the above image you can see one of the countless wild chickens with which Kaua’i is infested.  In a future post, I’ll probably relate the fairly amusing story of how the situation came to be.  For now, let’s just say that chicken-nado isn’t too far off.

Although Kaua’i is one of the quieter islands (read:  the opposite of Maui), there are still plenty of activities to enjoy.  For example, there’s fishing . . .

 Link to a full-res fishing photo

You can take the somewhat treacherous hike to Ho’opi’i Falls (making sure to eat some strawberry guava along the way).

One of the main things I wanted to accomplish during this trip was to get a picture of the Milky Way as seen from Earth.  The first several nights found the stars obscured by clouds.  This was profoundly frustrating because I repeatedly saw the stars and then ran to get my camera and tripod, only to return a minute later to find them completed hidden.  On Wednesday night, the trade winds were more favorable.

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The Wedding and “The Guy”

It was probably bound to happen sooner or later, and it happened last weekend.  The signs were there, but I didn’t recognize them.  Things just happened so fast.  Looking back, I might do things differently.

I was asked to bring my camera to a wedding and maybe take a few pictures.  Just for fun, you know, if I wanted to.  [Red Flag]  It wasn’t supposed to interrupt me being a normal guest at the event.  Everything was okay because they “had a guy.”  Some people in the know might read this so I won’t go into the 6-degrees relationship of “the guy” but things didn’t quite work out, photographically, like the wedding party was hoping.

Unless you have a signed contract ahead of time, and are getting paid, you might want to leave your DSLR at home.

Let me first explain that I know enough about wedding photography to know that A) It’s dead-serious and an important business and B) There’s a ton of stuff I don’t know (You know, I know enough to know what I don’t know.  Know what I’m sayin’?).  It was okay, though, because I wasn’t THE photographer.  They had a guy.  Well, the guy went missing-in-action immediately after the ceremony and wasn’t there to take some of the crucial wedding party pictures.  I wonder if, at this moment, the guy just didn’t care or if he thought screw this, this feels a lot like work.  He reappeared for a bit but was then totally gone right after that.  I mean, like, gone-gone.  Like, “The Guy” had left the building-gone.

It was funny because I could swear that the cake hadn’t been cut yet.  None of the dances had happened.  The bouquet hadn’t been thrown, and the garter was still safely on the bride’s, um, person.  Realizing these things, I had a sinking feeling.  The heavy strap around my neck suddenly felt like an albatross.  Everyone was looking at me, when they should have been looking at the new bride and groom.  Also, the needle on the record had scratched off, my eyes were caught wide open, and I hoped that there was nothing green and leafy stuck in-between my teeth.

Having a big DSLR hanging on my shoulder, the pleas went out for me to step in and do something.  What?  I thought I was just a guest.  Oh, Steve, just take a few pictures as a friend.  Well . . . my name is Steve . . . I do have a camera and such . . . and . . . heck, I’d like to be a friend.  And that was the moment I became THE photographer (Not officially, of course.  I didn’t know where “The Guy” was at this point.). No contract, people.  No preparation.  I had no idea who was related to whom and how important different people were.  I had NO FLASH and only a telephoto lens.  But I was the person with the biggest camera on the scene, so therefore . . . well, I had a duty to do.  We have a responsibility.

As unpleasant as the next few hours would be, I couldn’t, in good conscience, let the evening go away without at least trying to help.  This should be one of the most important events in their lives, and they’ll probably want some pictures of it later on.  I know the general flow of weddings, so I could kind of anticipate what would be happening next and where I’d need to be.  So, with big DSLR and telephoto zoom in hand (and speed-light at home), I set forth to attempt to do some good.

I couldn’t believe how many people have no problem standing in front of the guy with the big camera who’s obviously taking the big pictures.  Of course, I couldn’t ask any of these people to, you know, get out of my way, because I had no idea how important they were and I wasn’t the real photographer.

The whole evening was pretty much a blur.  (Warning about a total camera geek-out here)  The only thing that kept me calm was knowing that the one (again, telephoto) lens I had with me had a constant f/2.8 aperture.  Yes, it was comforting.  This was all outdoor, in the evening, with no flash.  Sometimes it’s the “little” things.

Immediately after being "pronounced"

Immediately after being “pronounced”

We could go through the standard images of bride and groom and relatives facing the camera, smiling in their finery.  But you probably don’t know these people, so let’s just look at a few of (what I think are) the more interesting images.

They are now husband and wife

They are now husband and wife

If you’ve seen my images before, you’re probably aware that I take precious few pictures of people.  If there are people in my images, they are almost always incidental.  One of the reasons I have avoided wedding photography is because it’s nothing but people pictures.  And there’s people facing the camera with forced smiles and then there’s people just being themselves.

The primary wedding party

The primary wedding party

If I were a crude, immature man I might make a joke about this being the moment after the money shot.  Fortunately I’m better than that.  Hey, speaking of mature, let’s take a look at the garter toss.


Who’s next? (Get it?)

As much as I’m tempted, I’m not going to show the images that led up to this conclusion.  Let’s just say that I was surprised at the technique employed and actually had my mouth hanging open for a period of time.  Oh wait, did I mention that the man acting as Father-of-the-Bride is a touch insane?

Oppa Gangnam style

Groom and Father-of-Bride Dancing

Yes, these people are my friends.  I’m proud to call them such, and yes, I did have a good time with this.  Oh, wait again.  I’m pretty sure that I failed to mention something.  Just as the ceremony was starting, as the guests were settling down in their seats and voices were hushing, something completely random happened.  A 16(ish)-year-old girl pointed up to the sky and said, “Hey look!  An eagle.”


Caw, yo

I’m not entirely convinced this is an eagle.  It seems a little hawkish to me.  But the moment happened, and I was lucky enough to have a camera with me.  Now, if only I had a longer telephoto at the time . . .


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