Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all who tune in here. I hope this new year is a fabulous one for everyone.

Anyway, today is New Year's Eve. As is usual in New England the weather decided to be somewhat contrary. We received about 10" of the nice white fluffy stuff. The driving from Boston wasn't too bad since most folks took the day off. Once I cleared northern Worcester County it was clear sailing all the way. Of course, I arrived at the Rolling J Farm, dumped my stuff and since it was late in the day I went off with the cameras to see if sunset would try to match Sunday's show. It wasn't quite as spectacular, but was pretty nice. My feet were really cold by the time I got back to the truck and headed home. Here's an HDR image from an overlook of the Deerfield River in the misnamed Florida, MA.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Exceptions to the Rule

OK, so not every image taken this time of year NEEDS to be converted to black and white. I was on my way back home (the eastern home) on Sunday afternoon. For the most part it was a very warm (for December) but overcast day . The warm air over the snow was producing fog here and there, so I figured that this would be the order of the day. Foggy fields and woods with just a hint of the hills in the background and possibly godbeams from a hole in the clouds should yield something interesting, in either color or B&W.
A Field Above Shelburne, MA

I drove around a bit, but had an idea where I wanted to go for the end of the day: Priest Brook in Royalston, MA. But I left a bit later than I should have for that particular location, so I gassed up the truck and continued eastward. On my way I decided to drive long Rt 122, which parallels the Quabbin watershed for about 10 miles. I stopped at a boggy area and got out to survey the possibilities. I found a decent place to pull over and wandered over. I shot a number of uninspiring images and was just about to give up and just drive home when I saw it. In a big patch of overcast that I thought was so thick that no sunset could possibly burn through, patches of crimson were appearing amongst the gray of the clouds. It built and built until the sky was on fire. After my experience in the spring where I watched the most spectacular sunset in Death Valley with my cameras neatly re-packed in my pack, I vowed to wait until I was absolutely certain it was dark. I'm glad I did!

The Quabbin Watershed, Petersham. MA


Saturday, December 27, 2008


For anyone who has lived in New England any length of time, you know about the two major interseasons. I'm coining this phrase "interseason" to describe the (hopefully) short period of time between the end of autumn and the first snows and the end of snow and the fist green buds on the trees and blooming of the early wildflowers. Once the leaves have turned and fallen to the ground, the landscape becomes fairly devoid of color. The trees, once brightly adorned are now bare and a variety of grays and muted browns. The grasses are mostly brown and the hills have taken on a stark appearance in preparation of the winter to come.

What is a photographer to do? This question plagued me as I hiked into Hamilton Falls in Jamaica State Park, VT one Saturday after Thanksgiving. There was just a dusting of snow here and there along the West River. I was struggling to find a composition that would excite me and lamenting the lack of color when it struck me. Of course!!! Black and white!!! My partner shoots 4x5 black and white and the images are quite spectacular. She has been chiding me for some time to shoot black and white, but I'm a little slow.

Using a digital camera allows for such flexibility. I capture the image in color, adjust tones and colors in Photoshop and use an adjustment layer to convert to black and white. It's a non-destructive means of conversion and I have the color version, too. I am by no means very adept at this, but I'm learning. Here are a couple of images from my day in Vermont.

The Dumplings, West River Vermont

Hamilton Falls, Jamaica State Park, VT

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Yes, folks it's finally snowing here in the northern Berkshires. There's a good foot of snow on the ground and it's still coming down. Last week's ice storm didn't touch our old farmhouse and it was looking pretty bleak. An all brown and gray palette doesn't feel very wintry here in New England.

Yesterday the storm let up enough for me to get out with my camera so I headed up to Rowe and Pelham Brook. Of course I had to also check out the Zoar Roadcuts for climbable ice. Nothing to climb yet, but it's coming. Here are a couple of images from a very quick stop along the brook. It was getting dark and I needed to get home and stoke the stove.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


OK, so it's been pointed out to me (by more than one person) that I have been slacking on my blog. I have been out shooting a lot and my images have gone up on my website ( but I have neglected this blog, which really allows me to do some commentary.

So, I'm going to try and remedy that. I really no longer have excuses. My thinking was that by the time I shot my roll(s) of film and had it/them processed and I could sort, edit, scan and process the selected images that I was waaaaaaaaaaaay past the time when I could make any appropriate comments. But I haven't shot any film since April when I got the D300. Kinda sad to see my trusty F100 languishing in the shadows. :-((

This past week produced an ice storm of epic proportions throughout New england. Our old house in western MA was unscathed but the higher elevations got hammered. Power may not be restored for nearly a week. It was however, beautiful to see and photograph. Here are a few images from the past couple of days. This very blue image is of the East Hawley Rd looking north.

These other two are from sunset spent with TCR up in Ashfield. For those of you who read his blog, Little Bang Theory, this is what I was looking at.

Thanks for reading!
a.k.a. Frau Biergut

Monday, June 2, 2008


So, I was asked what the other apple blossom images looked like and whether any of them were the (according to the meter) proper exposure. Here is the series of 5 exposures, each 1 stop apart from slowest to fastest shutter speeds. I think that the middle image is at the "proper exposure according to the meter set in Matrix Mode. I don't think that any one image is better than the composite. What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

More D300

Tonight I went looking for some nice sunset images to try out a new technique with the D300. But as I was driving around some of the local apple orchards, the clouds moved in. It wasn't going to be as exciting, but it wasn't a total blow out, though and I got to try a couple of compositions. The apple trees are all in full bloom and they were literally buzzing with bee activity. It's also wildflower season and I'll post some of the new images from last weeks trompabout.

Here's tonight's attempts at HDR (High Dynamic Range) which combines images that cover a range of exposures into a single image. It looks a lot more like what our eyes can distinguish. See what you think.

It started raining as I drove home and it's been gently coming down since. A nice little soak for the grass I just dosed with Weed N'Feed.


Monday, May 12, 2008


It's been awhile since my last post here. As soon as I arrived home from the desert, I got sick. Real sick, like walking pneumonia sick. I'm still not 100%. So, the details of the trip kinda languished and I got busy with stuff. like getting images from the trip up onto the website. I changed the portfolios around a little to be able to have a "New works" portfolio. I have about 14 or 15 images there from Joshua Tree and Death Valley. Go to and check the "New Works"portfolio. I hope you enjoy!

So, I finally did it. I caved. I have joined the Dark Side and bought a digital camera. After reading the reviews and doing some shopping I got me a Nikon D300. I'm still on the overhanging part of the learning curve, but I'm doing some things that I never did with film.

Like shooting kayakers in the local rivers enjoying the spring runoff. One of the first days out with this camera I drove up and down along the Cold River looking for boaters. The water was high and there are several ClassIII or harder runs. So I found Pinball and waited for the boats to arrive. Just as I was about to leave, I saw a brightly colored helmet go bobbing across the river and slip in the lee of a boulder. Soon a half dozen or so others joined him. They reconnoitered for awhile and then, down they can one after another. Here are a few of the images.

I was really impressed with the continuous focus feature that allowed me to use Aperture Priority and lock onto a kayaker and follow him through the run, from the top all the way through to the next rest. Also, the light kept changing so I could change ISO settings on the fly and keep my speed to where I could freeze the action. Several of these images are at ISO 800 and there doesn't appear to be much noise. I'm looking forward to more chances to photograph action.

So, that's about it for now. thanks for reading

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spring Trip 08, 1st entry

I am back from 3 weeks in the desert (Joshua Tree N.P., Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley N.P. with a side trip to Bishop thrown in for good measure). The few times I had internet service during the trip, I had technical troubles and couldn't upload my entries. Sooooooooo, now that I'm back home, it appears that I'll be able to re-cap for all who might be interested. I'm going to break the entries up into semi-logical bites so it isn't just one HUGE and tedious thing to read. It's good to be home. Now I have over 1000 new images to edit!

So, the big event has finally arrived. I left Boston on Thursday February 28th and was checked in to the Motel6 before midnight, Vegas time. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow and I didn’t wake up until after 7AM.

It was OK, though because I had shopping to do. There is a very nice Whole Foods in Henderson, NV and right across the street is the REI. I laid in supplies that would keep without cold, such as Annie’s mac and cheese and pasta with tomato sauce. And I also bought a BIG bag of coffee so that the ritual continues! Bottles of gas and a few other items and I was on the road west.

I drove through the Mojave National Preserve but didn’t see much in the way of wildflowers. I checked out the Kelso Dunes, and also the restored Kelso Depot, a very cool old time railroad station complete with a lunch counter. Unfortunately, the counter is not yet open, though the NPS is looking.

I decided to go to Joshua Tree instead. There were reports of lots of wildflowers throughout the park. They were right! My first exposure came on the drive from Mojave through the town (?) of Amboy on Rt.66. All along the way were fields of what appeared to be Desert Sunflowers and when I got out to take some photos I was amazed at the fragrance. The valley was just alive with the perfume of the flowers.

Anyway, I pulled into the Park after dark and found myself a campsite. I pitched the tent, got out the sleeping bag and made myself a nest. I was asleep in no time, again. Still on that east coast time, I guess. I slept pretty well and was up around 4Am and since I’d been in my bag for 8 hours already I got up and drove to the Ocotillo Patch and waited for sunrise. The dawn was pretty nice and I think I got some nice images.

Ocotillo Patch at Sunrise

Once the light was up a took more images around the patch before moving back north to the Cholla (pronounced Choya) Garden. I took more images there and ran into a guy from Gloucester. Imagine that! Anyway, the sun was up, it was getting warm and I NEEDED some coffee.

The Ritual, JTree Style!

After some oatmeal and some perked coffee I was back out and on my way to the south gate and Cottonwood Springs. I checked in at the ranger’s station and headed on up to Lost Palm Canyon. It’s about 4 miles in from the parking area and it is an oasis complete with a grove of California Fan Palms. I lounged around in the shade, took my shoes off and let the cool breeze dry my back.

Lost Palm Canyon

After about 45 minutes of this, I headed back down to my car. The light was improving as it was late afternoon and that nice low angle sunshine was making the shadows long. I stopped at a few places on my way back to camp and took more images of flowers. The Sand Verbina was blooming in a number of places and I had to stop.

Anyway, I arrived back at camp just as it was getting dark. I fired up the stove and made some dinner. It wasn’t too long after eating and cleaning up before I was ready to sleep again. I was out like a light only to be awakened by my tent shaking in the wind. It just came in gusts and shook the whole thing, even blowing up through the floor! I still slept OK, but I got up once to bring the pots into the tent and make sure that the tent fly hadn’t been torn.

That pretty much summed up today (Sunday). The wind was so strong that I couldn’t even set up my tripod or light the stove. I kept moving around trying to find a place to hike or something that wasn’t getting slammed by the wind. I visited a few of the nature walk loops and did the hikes around them. After yesterday, I needed something easy as my legs were a little bit sore.

So, since Sunday was a breeze, I think I may stay one more day and hope that the wind dies down some. It appears that it is letting up a bit as I type this. I’ll keep you posted!

Lizz March 2, 2008 Joshua Tree National Park

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Site of the Week

Last week my website was chosen by liveBooks to be one of their "Sites of the Week"! I'm really honored because these folks see really good photography all the time and so far a few of them have commented favorably on mine. Check it out here then click on the Sites of the Weektab and choose Week2. Let me know what you think.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Practicing My Scales, Grayscales That Is!

The sun has been absent quite a bit lately. A week ago I was out running errands and I brought along my N80 with the 20mm lens and ISO 100 (Kodak 100VS) color film so I could hand hold the camera. The sun was really just a pale, brighter spot in the otherwise gray overcast. All along the routes I drove, there were just beautiful winter scenes in shades of gray. All the trees were still draped in shrouds of white from the previous storm. The images looked almost like I was shooting black and white except for some hints of color here and there.

Here are some of the images from the day.

Here are a couple leftovers from the fall.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Welcome to the 90's

Well, now I’ve gone and done it. I am now a Dot Com. Check it out! I have been struggling for over a year to build my own website so that I would have an internet presence for my photography. It’s harder than I thought, especially having it look professional, work on all the key browsers and be easy to update. After all, I want to be out shooting, not learning HTML!

So, as we approached the New Year I decided that 2008 would be the year that I actually try to make a (at least part-time) business of photography. As part of that decision I hired a developer to build my site. I had been reading Elizabeth Carmel’s PhotBlog about her experience working with liveBooks, a developer for photographers by photographers.

She had had a very positive experience so I started going through their website and learning more. As I did this I also started noticing other folks whose sites I had been admiring and had been built by liveBooks….Robert Glenn Ketchum and Carr Clifton to name but two. The fee was reasonable and the tools for maintaining the site myself i.e. uploading and managing images are easy to use and very powerful. There are also business tools and databases.

I’m very happy with the end result and my experience was excellent. Visit the site and let me know what you think.