A Deeper Frame

You know what I love about shooting back east? The lack of Icons! To be fair, we have a few iconic location across the Eastern U.S., but this pales in comparision to the almost endless iconic views of the West. I'm going to quickly see how many locations I can rattle off in 60 seconds....start the clock....Otter Cliffs, Bear Rocks, Grandview Point on the New River, the Boneyard at Botany Bay, Heart Lake from Mount Jo, the Babcock Grist Mill, Clingman"s Dome, Cades Cove, & Cadillac Mountain. The fact of the matter is this, if you shoot back east, you are forced to explore original compositions!

There are many photographers today, most live and shoot west of the Mississippi, who rely on the formula alone, shoot an icon and hope for interesting weather or light. Don't get me wrong, I also shoot icons, but my favorite style of photography is to visit a location off the grid, to the photographic community anyway, and find a deeper frame....look beyond the obvious for those images that sit just below the surface, or in some cases in plain view. Below are a few of my favorite non-iconic and intimate images from past autumn trips captured while shooting in West Virginia and Acadia National Park.

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Reflections in the Tarn, Acadia National Park, Maine

On the first morning of my trip to Acadia, I was treated with clear skies and high winds, not the best conditions for landscape photography. Knowing that any grand scenics were essentially out of the question, i focused my attention on capturing warm reflection amongst the wind blown grasses in the tarn. In the fall, the grasses turn a beautiful golden hue and this mixed with the reflections of the blue sky created a dynamic color palette. I used a long lens, Nikon 70-200mm to isolate the most interesting patterns of grass juxtaposed with the most intense reflections.

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Swirls on Duck Brook, Acadia National Park, Maine

I like to study maps and look for interesting locations whether that’s a stream, rocky summit or wetland. Once I have identified a few locations, it's great fun to just go and explore, look around, get lost in the woods and see what I can find. After looking at maps of Acadia National Park, I found what looked like a promising stream, Duck Brook. The name alone was pretty cool so we decided to give it a try. Using a long exposure I created this image of swirling foam and leaves below a small set of cascades along Duck Brook.

Autumn Barn, Laneville, West Virginia

I'm always on the lookout for rustic barns while traveling the backroads of West Virginia! While heading down from a morning shoot at Dolly Sods, one of those iconic eastern locations, a barn that I have driven past at least a hundred times caught my attention and I decided to make an pitstop with my photo group to spend some time shooting under a beautiful early morning sky of puffy white clouds that were moving quickly in the sky. I used a 10 stop neutral density filter in the bright light to obtain a long 1 minute exposure knowing the clouds would have a painterly effect in the final image.

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Reeds, Bubble Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine

While scouting for an Acadia National Park Workshop, I spent a bit of time exploring the banks of Bubble Pond...arguably an iconic location in Acadia. With overcast skies, I decided to focus my creative attention on finding a few simple and intimate compositions along the shore of the pond. I started with the usual suspects: rocks, fallen leaves. ect., but settled on this very quiet image of a three reeds. The light was getting low and blue as twilight approached giving the color palette a very cold feel.

AutumnWoodland, Sier De Mount, Acadia National Park, Maine

My favorite photographic pastime is getting lost in the woods. For me there is no greater feeling of satisfaction that wandering through a forest and coming up with a well thought out and beautifully crafted composition. It is almost without a doubt the most difficult setting to shoot as visual chaos abounds and one must look for texture, shape and line in order to capture a coherent image. For this photograph,I I employed the shape of there ferns to create graphic shapes in the foreground therefore tying together a very chaotic scene.

If you would like to hone your photographic skills and photograph some of North America’s most stunning landscapes, then consider joining me on one off my upcoming photography workshops. You’ll learn more than you can imagine, photograph stunning locations and have a photographic adventure that you’ll rave about for years to come. Looking forward to seeing you in the field…best of light, Joe.