Nicolas Raymond: Blog http://www.boldfrontiers.com/blog en-us (C) Nicolas Raymond (Nicolas Raymond) Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:49:00 GMT Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:49:00 GMT http://www.boldfrontiers.com/img/s/v-5/u916161088-o235640185-50.jpg Nicolas Raymond: Blog http://www.boldfrontiers.com/blog 80 120 Vibrant Autumn Magic http://www.boldfrontiers.com/blog/2017/10/vibrant-autumn-foliage Misty Autumn McDade TrailMisty Autumn McDade Trail


Photo Info:
Title: Misty Autumn McDade Trail
Aperture: f/16.0
Shutter Speed: 0.4 seconds for base exposure, otherwise bracketed between 1/40 seconds and 6 seconds in 5 separate exposures
Focal Length: 24 mm
ISO: 100
Date & Location: October 14, 2016 @ Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania, USA


Autumn, hands down my favorite season for what I like to call Mother Nature's firework display of vibrant colors. In my previous blog entitled Wonderful World of Waterfalls, I mentioned how it became an area of photographic interest starting in 2011, yet at that stage I didn't pay much attention to changing seasons. From a time I lived in Montreal (Canada) cooped up indoors a whole lot in the blistering cold of winter only to complain about hot & humid summers, I would capture the bulk of my photos on vacations abroad with the mindset of limited time wanting to soak in as much as possible on camera before returning to the usual grind at home and taking things for granted.

Enter 2014 when I moved back down to the Washington DC area, and a new appreciation for embracing my surroundings. Anywhere I could drive to within a 200-300 mile radius for an overnight stay as with the above photo captured on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. From a trail I discovered by happy accident on an early morning when my original plan was to photograph Raymondskill Falls located nearby, score one for vanity points in seeking out a waterfall sharing my surname Raymond... Then again I couldn't resist the magic veil of mist hugging the ground on the way over, perfect golden hour light contrasting background against foreground, and what I saw as strong leading lines in the winding trail.

A good reminder if anything that it's ok to deviate from the script every now & then if your gut instinct tells you there's something else in the moment worth capturing on camera. At the time I felt especially conflicted with an obsessive compulsive mentality in certain respects like sticking to plan, not to mention the cars tailgating me in single lane traffic from people commuting to work. In fact I remember pulling over to a gravel parking lot just to let them pass through, yet it gave me the excuse I needed to stop and think about following a new path. Sure glad I rolled the dice in retrospect to explore the scene :-)     

Sunbathed Raymondskill FallsSunbathed Raymondskill Falls


Photo Info:
Title: Sunbathed Raymondskill Falls
Aperture: f/14.0
Shutter Speed: 5 seconds for base exposure, otherwise bracketed between 1.3 seconds and 20 seconds in 5 separate exposures
Focal Length: 105 mm
ISO: 100
Date & Location: October 14, 2016 @ Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania, USA


Turns out I still got the chance to visit Raymondskill Falls as you can see from the above photo. Captured on the same day, just a little later. Initially hoping for a waterfall shaded from direct sunshine, but pleasantly surprised with patches of soft early morning light to complement the rugged rock texture, autumn foliage, and silky water flow.

In any case, that was one single trip. A great one at that, but going forward I would like to share some more general insight if you're passionate like me about vibrant autumn foliage. More specifically some key points I've come to appreciate from one year to the next.

Vibrant Autumn TrailVibrant Autumn Trail


Photo Info:
Title: Vibrant Autumn Trail
Aperture: f/14.0
Shutter Speed: 0.5 seconds for base exposure, otherwise bracketed between 1/30 seconds and 8 seconds in 5 separate exposures
Focal Length: 50 mm
ISO: 100
Date & Location: November 5, 2015 @ Blockhouse Point in Maryland, USA


1) Transforming the ordinary into extraordinary: Besides waterfalls, I gravitate a lot around walking trails & scenic routes for a combination of strong leading lines & beautiful natural surroundings. A common sentiment I suspect many fellow photographers share, perhaps at the risk of turning the subject into a cliché for all the pictures out there. Autumn foliage goes a long way though in the changing the dynamics, suddenly transforming what many might consider a boring trail into something truly magic.

Autumn Huckleberry TrailAutumn Huckleberry Trail


Photo Info:
Title: Autumn Huckleberry Trail
Aperture: f/14.0
Shutter Speed: 1.6 seconds for base exposure, otherwise bracketed between 1/10 seconds and 25 seconds in 5 separate exposures
Focal Length: 24 mm
ISO: 100
Date & Location: October 8, 2015 @ the Dolly Sods Wilderness, West Virginia (USA)


2) Geography: Depending on where you live, timing naturally tends to vary for autumn foliage. So many different factors to consider, and I don't pretend to be a seasonal expert. Where I live in the extended Washington DC area, I flock first to the Canaan Valley area of West Virginia higher up in altitude, with a unique climate similar to parts of New England & southern Canada. Here I can expect the foliage to peak in early October almost a full month before peak in the Washington DC area. Dolly Sods springs to mind for spectacular autumn scenery in West Virginia, especially for its vibrant display of red huckleberry leaves carpeting the ground as far as the eye can see.

Great Autumn Twilight FallsGreat Autumn Twilight Falls


Photo Info:
Title: Great Autumn Twilight Falls
Aperture: f/14.0
Shutter Speed: 3.2 seconds for base exposure, otherwise bracketed between 0.8 seconds and 13 seconds in 5 separate exposures
Focal Length: 24 mm
ISO: 100
Date & Location: November 2, 2016 @ Great Falls, Maryland (USA)


From Dolly Sods I might venture further up North in Pennsylvania to places like Ricketts Glen State Park, Delaware Water Gap, then further down South in  higher elevation ranges of Virginia such as Shenandoah National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway. Giving me a few weeks of autumn photo bliss before the vibrant colors invade the Washington DC area, plus maybe another week or two exploring my local surroundings until the leaves finally blow away. Where one of my local favorites is Great Falls along the Potomac River offering great views from both the Maryland & Virginia sides, although I have to admit I am partial to the former if only because it's closer to home.

Seneca Fall ReflectionsSeneca Fall Reflections


Photo Info:
Title: Seneca Fall Reflections
Aperture: f/14.0
Shutter Speed: 0.4 seconds for base exposure, otherwise bracketed between 1/10 seconds and 1.6 seconds in 5 separate exposures
Focal Length: 24 mm
ISO: 100
Date & Location: October 31, 2014 @ Seneca Creek State Park, Maryland (USA)


3) Local variations: For those of you starting to capture autumn as a subject of photographic interest, I hope you can better appreciate some of the nuances in how the colorful foliage peaks & migrates based on factors like geography & elevation. None more apparent perhaps than the first photo in this blog with lots of greenery at ground level to contrast against vibrant foliage on the mountain.

To the best of my understanding, these vibrant colors appear as green chlorophyll from the leaves are being choked off. In a ways the leaves are showing their true colors, but literally clinging to dear life before elements like wind, rain and frost strip the trees bare. Adding to the magic of autumn as a moment fleeting in time and a beautiful display of natural decay.

Seneca Fall Forest Trail


Photo Info:
Title: Seneca Fall Forest Trail
Aperture: f/14.0
Shutter Speed: 0.5 seconds for base exposure, otherwise bracketed between 1/8 seconds and 2 seconds in 5 separate exposures
Focal Length: 24 mm
ISO: 100
Date & Location: October 31, 2014 @ Seneca Creek State Park, Maryland (USA)


Yet even inside a single park I find the foliage can vary from one vantage point to the next. Take the above photo from a forest trail running along Clopper Lake with some clear accents of autumn colors, but not quite as pronounced when viewed by the lake in the photo before last. Another layer of autumn subtlety I first had difficulty wrapping my head around; approaching a specific place with a sense of wonder for the "outlining" vibrant colors in open spaces, only to realize the dense forest trails inside were considerably greener.

Again not pretending to be a seasonal expert, but from observation I get the impression trees in open space are more vulnerable to the elements. I.e. everything looks so colorful when cruising along the road or walking along a lake, only to see more muted colors when hitting the trail inside a forest. Why exactly I don't know, but I would speculate trees at the outer fringes of a forest act as a shield of insulation against wind & lower temperatures... until they are stripped bare and accelerating the decaying process tenfold for peak autumn foliage within the forest.


Autumn Dolmen ForestAutumn Dolmen Forest


Photo Info:
Title: Autumn Dolmen Forest
Aperture: f/14.0
Shutter Speed: 1/6 seconds for base exposure, otherwise bracketed between 1/100 seconds and 2.5 seconds in 5 separate exposures
Focal Length: 19 mm
ISO: 100
Date & Location: October 24, 2016 @ Columcille Megalith Park near Bangor, Pennsylvania (USA)


4) Local subjects of interest: Beyond general themes associated with autumn trails & waterfalls, consider placing your focus on something that gives your photo extra character and a sense of local spice inviting others to visit the place. Going back to my first submitted photo along the McDade Trail in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, I also chanced upon an absolutely magical place called Columcille Megalith Park in the same general area. Originally thanks to AllTrails when looking for alternatives off the beaten path, a privately owned park at that, yet open to the public from dawn till dusk with beautiful reconstructions of megalithic structures (donations encouraged at the front gate). Especially meaningful to me as the son of a Welsh mother, and a deep rooted fascination with Arthurian Legends in my teens. Realizing this place is far removed from Celtic Britain, and the builders / owners make it abundantly clear it is a modern recreation... yet very much in tune with the essence of Celtic spirituality that I can definitely appreciate.

Wye Island Ruby RoadWye Island Ruby Road


Photo Info:
Title: Wye Island Ruby Road
Aperture: f/14.0
Shutter Speed: 1/6 seconds for base exposure, otherwise bracketed between 1/100 seconds and 2.5 seconds in 5 separate exposures
Focal Length: 92 mm
ISO: 100
Date & Location: May 8, 2015 @ Wye Island, Maryland (USA)


5) If you can't make it, fake it: As a Photoshop enthusiast, I always love to experiment with new techniques. One of them includes color manipulation, and presenting the appearance of autumn even with photos I captured in spring or summer. Something photo traditionalists might frown upon, then again I tell myself photography as an art form was frowned upon by traditional artists more than a hundred years ago. Times change, and even though I cannot boast in the glory of sinking my hands in a darkroom environment, I would like to think I am taking full advantage of what digital technology has to offer.

As much as I want to go on, I am driving out soon for my main autumn expedition this year. Stay tuned in November and beyond for more photos :-)

Cheers,

Nick

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http://www.boldfrontiers.com/blog/2017/10/vibrant-autumn-foliage Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:21:33 GMT
Wonderful World of Waterfalls http://www.boldfrontiers.com/blog/2017/9/waterfalls Chutes du Diable WaterfallChutes du Diable Waterfall


Photo Info:
Title: Chutes du Diable Waterfall
Aperture: f/11.0
Shutter Speed: 2.5 seconds for base exposure, otherwise bracketed between 1 second and 6 seconds in 3 separate exposures
Focal Length: 40 mm
ISO: 200
Date & Location: October 10, 2011 @ Parc National du Mont-Tremblant, Quebec (Canada)


Since 2005 when I started developing an interest in photography, it took a few years to figure out what subject matters appealed to me most. First as a simple hobby, photography was a means to document my travels and build an image bank I could use in graphic design projects without paying too much for royalty-free stock or infringing on a fellow photographer's copyrights.

Meanwhile, I wanted to learn the fundamentals like using full manual camera controls and getting comfortable with a tripod. Involving some formal education, a fair share of reading + tutorials, and a whole lot of practice. A wealth of knowledge I dare not condense in a single blog specific to waterfalls & long exposure effects, so an existing knowledge of basic photographic principles definitely helps going forward. Key factors like Aperture, Shutter Speed, Focal Length, ISO, tripod use, and how you can make them interact with full manual control instead of relying on the camera's automatic settings.

If you are starting from scratch, I would highly recommend picking up a copy of Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. The one book that helped me most as an amateur photographer back in the day for its emphasis on visual examples, camera settings used, and breaking the chapters down to concise yet very insightful knowledge about specific topics.

Otherwise I'll dive right into waterfalls, pun intended :-) Referencing the photo above as my first milestone of sorts for the year my love affair with waterfalls began in 2011. If you're anything like me, you might find yourself approaching the subject with some reservations or second doubts. The explanations made sense when I read about them in books or tutorials, but it still felt like I was taking a huge leap of faith for putting theory into practice.

Glencar FallsGlencar Falls


Photo Info:
Title: Glencar Falls
Aperture: f/11.0
Shutter Speed: 13 seconds for base exposure, otherwise bracketed between 6 seconds and 25 seconds in 3 separate exposures
Focal Length: 47 mm
ISO: 400
Date & Location: July 14, 2011 @ Glencar Falls, Ireland


Turns out I was pleasantly surprised. If you already know the basics of photography and how to use a camera in manual mode, I would say the move to explore waterfalls & long exposure effects involves 2 additional steps; more specifically 2 key pieces of camera equipment which will greatly help for better results:

1) Tripod: Essentially used to stabilize your photo for longer shutter speeds, even the steadiest hand can experience minor shake in mere fractions of a second resulting in a blurry image. Granted, motion blur is desired in long exposure water effects for that surreal factor, but there typically are some background elements meant to remain still like surrounding rocks and vegetation. Hence the tripod as a tool to capture whatever remains still to contrast against fluid motion, in fact that delicate balance between real & surreal is what draws me into the wonderful world of waterfalls. 

2) Neutral Density (ND) Filter: The one most mysterious thing before I started experimenting with long exposure effects. Might as well have been alien technology to me, but now that I know better I might best describe an ND filter as a shaded window. Deliberately meant to darken the scene through the camera lens, thereby requiring longer shutter speeds to capture the same amount of light as it might have without an ND filter. Those long shutter speeds essentially provide that silky white surreal effect.

Kirkjufellsfoss CascadesKirkjufellsfoss Cascades


Photo Info:
Title: Kirkjufellsfoss Cascades
Aperture: f/16.0
Shutter Speed: 3.2 seconds for base exposure, otherwise bracketed between 0.8 seconds and 13 seconds in 5 separate exposures
Focal Length: 105 mm
ISO: 100
Date & Location: May 19, 2017 @ Kirkjufellsfoss in the Western Region of Ireland


That said, there are many different types of ND filters out there between solid, variable and graduated. Along with different brands to choose from, ranging in glass quality and varying shades of darkness qualified in technical terms like density numbers or equivalent f-stop reductions. Needless to say it can sound very confusing to begin with, and there are many factors to consider in using the right type of ND filter to achieve the desired result... between fast flowing vertical waterfall drops under heavy forest shade you might get away with a simple polarizer filter or no filter at all, versus 10+ stop reducing ND filters on the higher end for capturing smooth water (horizontal) motion with slower moving ocean waves on a sunny day.

The above image from Kirkjufellsfoss in Iceland might help to illustrate that point. Fast moving water captured very early in the morning under thick cloud cover where I got away with a simple polarizing filter for an exposure time of 3.2 seconds at base level (bracketed in 5 different exposures for HDR output, although that is another subject altogether beyond the scope of this blog). In contrast to the following photo I took on a very sunny morning from the rugged coast of Acadia National Park in Maine (USA), requiring a 10 stop reducing ND filter for an exposure time of 20 seconds to record some abstract long exposure effects in the water.

Raging Crocodile CoastRaging Crocodile Coast


Photo Info:
Title: Raging Crocodile Coast
Aperture: f/14.0
Shutter Speed: 20 seconds
Focal Length: 105 mm
ISO: 100
Date & Location: April 14, 2016 @ Acadia National Park, Maine (USA)


Long story short, I would say you are better off experimenting with faster moving water first. Think straight vertical drops; the wider the stream & higher the drop, the more energy tends to flow, and less time needed to capture that silky white long exposure effect (which can be as short as 1 second or less). In many cases it means you can get away with lower density numbers (i.e. lightly shaded ND filters), especially if you use natural light to your advantage like heavy forest shade, cloud cover, or time of day towards sunrise & sunset under softer light versus harsh high noon light which can wash away the details. 

Beyond the pure visual, I also find myself listening to waterfalls, and the "roars" they emit so to speak. Not meant to invoke new age or spiritual beliefs, although it definitely helps if you feel a strong connection to nature. But in the context of photography, the louder the "roar" you hear basically means faster & more energetic flow of water.

Going back to my previous point of using lower density numbers, I would highly recommend going with that approach if you are testing the waters with long exposure effects. Start simple, gain enough practice to build a certain comfort level, then apply the knowledge gained through trial and error for moving up gradually in scales of difficulty (i.e. higher density numbers & longer exposure times). For me at least as a visual person who needs to experience things firsthand instead of absorbing everything at once from written instructions, this more organic process seems to work best. For like-minded photographers who operate the same way, I hope you walk away with some useful insight after reading this blog & various photo references including camera settings.

Blackwater Autumn FallsBlackwater Autumn Falls


Photo Info:
Title: Blackwater Autumn Falls
Aperture: f/14.0
Shutter Speed: 2 seconds for base exposure, otherwise bracketed between 0.5 seconds and 8 seconds in 5 separate exposures
Focal Length: 24 mm
ISO: 100
Date & Location: October 10, 2016 @ Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia (USA)


You might still be wondering as a key question what brand(s) to choose especially as it relates to Neutral Density (ND) filters, and even though I have certain favorites like B+W & Tiffen, I feel it isn't in my place to champion one over the other for lack of in-depth technical analysis. In general I make my photo purchases online through trusted sources like B&H Photo, Adorama, and Amazon, where I have come to rely on the abundance of customer reviews to influence my decision on what to buy. Realizing there's always a chance of some customers leaving dishonest feedback, but the more the reviews, the more I find the law of averages plays out in determining how good a product really is.

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blog boldfrontiers landscape landscapes long exposure long exposures nature nicolas raymond photo photographer photography pictures travel wanderlust water waterfall waterfalls http://www.boldfrontiers.com/blog/2017/9/waterfalls Sat, 02 Sep 2017 05:50:20 GMT
An Introduction Long Overdue http://www.boldfrontiers.com/blog/2017/8/an-introduction-long-overdue

It has been a little over a year now since I created this website with over a thousand images & counting. Under the initial impression that each picture is worth a thousand words, and my portfolio could speak for itself without much further need for commentary beyond simple photo descriptions.

A very technical approach when it is becoming clear I have not been sharing much insight in the process, or revealing what inspires me in the first place. Hard to know where to start by that token as my professional aspirations began with studies in economics if only to follow in my father’s footsteps fresh out of high school; only to realize I wanted something completely different in a career after obtaining my bachelor’s degree in economics.

Meanwhile, I did grow to embrace my father’s appreciation for photography. As an economist he traveled a lot on missions, took many pictures along the way, and shared his frequent flyer miles with the family. In comes this amazing vacation to Peru in May of 2005 when I was studying graphic design, and a new gift of a 5 megapixel camera to document my travels.

From there, it was love at first sight! In retrospect my photos at the time could benefit from a lot of improvement, and 5 megapixels these days can leave much to be desired for high quality prints. But everyone has to start somewhere right? An exhilarating feeling all the same to keep the memories alive, like in the following scene with a llama and yours truly from Machu Picchu. I will never forget how relaxed the llama was, almost as if he was begging tourists to pose with him.

Needless to say, my passion for photography & the creative arts never stopped growing. Starting as a hobby from one common interest shared with my father, many more photo excursions, and a constant desire to improve my skills so I can ultimately hope to make a living doing what I love most.

Sadly my father passed away in 2010, but I would like to think part of his vision & wanderlust gene continue to live in spirit through me. I still find myself wanting to make him proud by succeeding in the creative arts despite all the detours in my life, with nothing but unconditional love & support on his part to move past them. Same goes for my mother; in fact I probably owe more of my creative instinct to her beyond the scope of photography, and she continues to spoil me with frequent flyer miles including a dream vacation to Iceland this year.

Foggy KirkjufellsfossFoggy KirkjufellsfossLong exposure photo of Kirkjufellsfoss facing Kirkjufell ("Church Mountain") under partial fog cover. HDR composite from multiple exposures.

Combined with a love for travel, you could say I am where I am today thanks to a long process of discovery and the support of two loving parents. Where trial & error proved necessary in order to find my calling, and continue to play a vital role in growing as an artist from photography to digital experiments. Be it a physical location or an abstract concept, I always love to explore new depths.

In comes the name Bold Frontiers to communicate the essence of my work. Bold among things for the ambition of breaking the mold in the creative arts, and Frontiers as a nod to landscapes & nature for one of my favorite subjects to capture. Put together, Bold Frontiers also secretly references terminology used in the opening narration sequence of a popular science-fiction show, but I will leave it at that for a little bit of intrigue & mystery…

Credits to ESA / Hubble for the space image component via spacetelescope.org, thank you for generously offering it under a Creative Commons license.

In any case I have rambled on long enough about myself, and thank you for indulging in my story. Now that you have a better idea of what makes me tick and how this website came to be, I hope to share more practical insight with you going forward.

Cheers,

Nicolas Raymond

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blog bold boldfrontiers digital art frontiers images introduction landscapes long exposures nature nicolas raymond photographer photographs photography photos pictures travel traveling travelling visual arts waterfalls http://www.boldfrontiers.com/blog/2017/8/an-introduction-long-overdue Tue, 15 Aug 2017 23:04:12 GMT