Sunrise at the Portland Lighthouse
While it is painful to get up early enough to photograph the sunrise in early summer (4:20 AM in this case), early summer is the right time of the year to photograph the Portland Lighthouse and the distant Ram Island Lighthouse from this angle with the sun in the frame.
16mm f/11.0 1/13s ISO 100
Don't like shooting in the extreme heat and humidity of summer? Be like the birds – migrate! For most of us northern hemisphere residents, the preferred direction is north.
400mm f/6.3 1/500s ISO 800
Rocky Brook Falls, North Maine Woods
Welcome to the seen-by-few Rocky Brook Falls in the T15-R9 area of Northern Maine.
28mm f/8.0 2.5s ISO 100
Portland Lighthouse at Sunset
The setting sun lit up storm clouds to the north in a great display of color on this evening. A telephoto zoom lens provides a wide range of composition options for many landscape scenes. With the 70-300 L mounted, I was able to quickly capture this great view in a wide variety of shots. My favorites filled the frame with the great cloud color.
135mm f/8.0 1/20s ISO 100
Up Close with the Deboullie Mountain Rockslide
I find rockslides photographically entertaining and the lichen-covered granite rocks found on the south side base of Deboullie Mountain (Deboullie Public Reserved Land, North Maine Woods, T15, R9, Maine) make this rockslide especially so.
10mm f/8.0 1/160s ISO 100
Loon and Chicks Swimming in Liquid Gold
The titles "How to Turn Water into Gold" and "On Golden Pond" seemed also appropriate for this image. Regardless, gold was the theme here.
During my stay at Red River Camps in northern Maine this past summer, a pair of loons were raising their chicks on Island Pond. Especially unusual was that the chicks were very small for the mid-August timeframe. The loon's first nest had been attacked by a predator and the adult pair started over. With winter arriving early here, there was concern that the chicks would not be able to fly in time for migration and biologists were monitoring their progress. But, having small chicks available was a bonus from a photography perspective.
Hanging with these loons required a watercraft and a small canoe was my best option. A light wind made keeping the canoe properly positioned a big challenge and probably more time was spent paddling than photographing. The sun was setting and maintaining a position between the sun and the loons was the goal.
The adults were constantly diving for food and moving around the lake while doing so, but fortunately, they were in the area of the lake receiving the latest direct light when the sun went behind the trees. The color difference between shade light and a late day sun light is dramatic with shade light typically being very cool and direct setting sun light being very warm. As the sun went down, the water became shaded before the shoreline and shaded water usually shows reflections very well.
The photograph shared here was only lightly processed. The primary edit was selecting a custom white balance point using a patch of the adult loon's solid white feathers as the basis. Those feathers were in the shade and the result was a color temperature setting of 10500 K being established. At this setting, the reflected sunlit background becomes very golden and a slight saturation increase (+18 on a -100 to 100 scale in Lightroom) finishes off the liquid gold.
Be looking for opportunities to use the light color mismatch of sun and shade to your creative advantage when out photographing. The subject in the shade, background in the sun option as shared here often works well, but the opposite can also work, creating a blue-toned background with a properly white-balanced subject.
330mm f/5.6 1/640s ISO 1000
Milky Way and Perseid Meteor, Island Pond, T15-R9, Maine
Welcome to Island Pond, located by Red River Camps in Deboullie Public Reserved Land of T15-R9 in the North Maine Woods. That this location is a nearly 1-hour drive from the grid and paved roads should help set the scene. Along with natural beauty, what you get here is a dark sky and at this time in August, a beautiful view of the Milky Way and the annual Perseid Meteor Shower.
Aside from the effort required to get to this location, this was a very easy image to create.
After setting up the first camera, you have plenty of time, so set up a second camera the same as the first, capturing a different composition.
On this night I had three camera setups with four of what I consider the best night sky lenses available. One of the cameras was a Nikon model and the only Nikon-mount star-capable lens I had along (not a Nikon model) showed a serious image quality problem, leaving two cameras in operation.
I mentioned that the 30-second exposure was a stretch and that is what happens to the stars at this focal length, exposure duration, and imaging sensor pixel density combination. They get stretched.
A blur is created when details in an image move across pixels on the imaging sensor, regardless of the reason why that happens. As we all know, due to the earth's rotation, stars are moving across the frame when the camera is in a fixed position. The longer the exposure, the more they are magnified (longer focal length lens) and the higher pixel density the imaging sensor has, the more that star blur will be visible at the pixel level.
Note that when final images are viewed and compared, the imaging sensor's pixel density-caused blur becomes equalized. For example, if you are printing at 8" x 12", the pixel density factor no longer matters in regards to the star trail blur created by two different resolution, equal-sensor-sized cameras.
Also, note that not all stars move at the same rate relative to the camera position. For example, the North Star (Polaris) does not move at all. If you are primarily including the northern sky in the frame, you might be able to use longer exposures than if your camera was directed west, east or up. There are star blur rules that can be helpful, but photography skills rule. Analyze your results as soon as they are captured and make adjustments as needed.
I mentioned having 4 of my favorite star lenses along with me. They are my favorites, but the perfect star lens, at least from a lens in the realm of affordability for most individuals, does not exist. All lenses have at least some issue keeping them from reaching perfection and corner performance is typically their biggest limiting factor.
This image was captured with the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens. It is a great choice for this purpose.
For star photography, ultra-wide angles are helpful for taking in a greater area of the sky and allowing longer exposures before star trails become visible, though ultra-wide angles produce rather small stars. Ultra-wide apertures (that produce sharp enough image quality to be used) create a brighter image in less time or at a lower ISO setting. The Sigma 14mm Art lens has those two features.
The worst case: even if the entire night's shoot was a failure, just hanging out under a starry sky would be totally worth the time and effort.
14mm f/1.8 30s ISO 6400