Archive for ‘Photography’

September 15, 2013

Photo Adventure in Acadia National Park: What a Way to “See” Fall Foliage!

Fall foliage Acadia National Park

Photo by Dave Soderlund, Workshop Participant

Last March I got to go on a Lindblad/National Geographic expedition to Costa Rica that had a photography emphasis.  One of our guides was both a well-educated, local naturalist and certified photography instructor.  That combination of talents in the field—and Costa Rica is so amazing both close in and from afar—made the trip unusually satisfying.

If you’ve always wanted to participate in a photo workshop in Maine, I recommend you consider the upcoming Acadia National Park Photography Adventure that Lester Picker is offering  October 10-14, 2013.  It is conducted in conjunction with the Nikonians Academy, which is dedicated to teaching photography through hands-on practical workshops.

But I recommend it because Les Picker possesses that rare combination of environmental education and photographic know-how that I experienced on my National Geographic expedition.

Les received his doctorate in ecology from the University of Maine and used Acadia National Park for his research. Having lived in Maine for ten years, he knows the intricacies of Acadia in a way that’s rare for those offering photo workshops in Maine, and there are plenty of them.

One of his students, Thomas Wilson of North Sandwich, New Hampshire, emphasized this in his review of the workshop, “Les’ knowledge of the history and flora of Acadia enriched the experience.”  Another student, Dave Soderlund of Ithaca, New York, echoed, “His depth of knowledge of the landscape, history and biology of the island informed our photography and took us to places that most other workshops just don’t see. Les provided itineraries that were well-balanced between iconic locations (Cadillac Mountain, Bass Harbor Lighthouse) and out-of-the-way gems.”

Les’ itinerary also includes The Bubbles, Jordan Pond, Ocean Drive, Sand Beach, and Cadillac Cliffs, as well as the villages of Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Somesville, and Northeast Harbor—all places every visitor wants to see.

Each evening Les offers an optional image review and critique—an excellent opportunity since the workshop is limited to ten students.  Another Acadia workshop participant, Dr. Lew Rothman of New York City, said, “He offered solid and comprehensive shooting tips geared to our individual needs and provided insightful feedback after each shoot. Perhaps most important he provided additional opportunity to review and improve our images after we returned home from the workshop. He was genuinely interested in our progress and it didn’t end with the workshop.”

To find out more, visit the Nikonians Academy site, but  do it now.  When I was last in touch with Les, there were only a few spots left.

Related Stories:

17 Great Ways to Experience Acadia National Park

Why Visit Acadia National Park in the Fall

October 22, 2011

Acadia Photo Workshop – Seeing Maine’s Rugged Coastline Through An Expert’s Eyes

Bob Thayer PhotographySteal a shower cap from your motel to cover your camera in the rain.

This was one of the first photography tips we got as eight of us clustered around Ranger Bob Thayer, who would lead the three-hour program “Focus on Acadia,” an offering of the National Park Service at Acadia National Park in Maine. 

From mid-May to mid-October visitors to Mount Desert Island join park rangers on walks, campfire programs, hikes, and boat cruises to learn more about Acadia and build knowledge as naturalists.  Ranger-led programs range from tidepool school to birding for beginners.

This rainy October morning was the last time this season Ranger Thayer would be teaching his photography workshop, but neither that fact nor the drizzle that would turn to steady rain before we left the Sieur de Monts Nature Center impaired his enthusiasm.

Our group included a retired couple with tripods in tow, a point-and-shoot mom accompanying her daughters who were definitely “off auto,” and another park ranger who admired Thayer’s skills.  Fred and I were the novices.

The photography lesson began.  Think about light and composition.  You must know your equipment.  Anticipating the format in which you will present your photographs is an important first step.

Starting our field work, the park ranger helped us think through our first shot, as he set up his own camera on a tripod.  We were on Jesup Trail where a “cathedral” of golden foliage covered a new boardwalk. 

Jesup Path Sieur de Monts Nature Center

Then we looked through his viewfinder and realized this wasn’t any ordinary park ranger walking us through some canned curriculum.  We were in the company of someone genuinely talented. 

Bob Thayer, it turns out, is a naturalist, photographer, and author of three books, including Acadia’s Carriage Roads, which I had bought years ago. And here we were, taking it all in, courtesy of our National Park Service.

The instruction continued.  Walking alongside the Wild Gardens of Acadia,  Bob Thayer pointed out potentially interesting shots and convinced us that, despite the many “must see” spots to photograph in Acadia National Park, some of the best are the simplest.

Then we jumped into our respective autos and the caravan moved to our next destination.  The rain thwarted the customary stop at Sand Beach, which was an acceptable trade-off because this bad weather was giving us terrific light that made the foliage pop.  Our next stop was Monument Cove, where Fred took these shots.

Monument Cove Acadia National Park MaineAfter another stop along the coastline, we concluded at Jordan Pond, where we learned a “painterly” technique created by moving the camera on a slow shutter speed. 

Jordan Pond Foliage

In three hours each of us had received individual instruction and encouragement.  The “lecture” was informative for participants at every level.  I had even discovered parts of the park I’d never seen, despite my explorations during the last eight years.  

We said our thanks and goodbyes.  As some headed to the Jordan Pond House for popovers, Fred and I walked back to the parking lot with Bob Thayer.  I told him about my Web site to help people plan trips to Acadia, a hobby; I do marketing for a living.

That reminded me that the most powerful word in the marketing dictionary also applied to this workshop, which had been substantive, customized, and inspiring.

It was also  free.