Baxter State Park – Part 6: Moose!!

Happy New Year!!

For many people, the primary attraction to Maine’s Baxter State Park is for the chance to have a close encounter with moose!! Baxter State Park is one of the best locations in the Northeast US to see moose – however even here, sightings are not guaranteed!!

Besides actually seeing a moose – there are two easy ways to know that moose have been in the area. The first is to find their scat (droppings), which are like deer droppings only much larger!!

The second way is to see their foot prints. This will also give you a clue as to the size of the moose. First year calves will have smaller, less deep foot prints. Larger males will have much larger and deeper foot prints. The first two photos below depict both signs – scat and foot print.

Moose in Baxter State Park are free roaming, wild animals and can show up anywhere, even if you don’t see these tell-tale signs. However, it’s a good bet to wait in an area where there are many of these signs, especially if they are found near a pond.

Moose Scat - Foot included for scale - no moose scat was injured during filming!! (c) Scott Vincent

Fresh moose foot print - Human foot included for scale - (c) Scott Vincent

While waiting near a pond with the moose signs shown above, I waited out any number of rain showers – and this wet Red Squirrel that constantly tormented me, probably saying “No moose for you!!”

Red Squirrel giving me a hard time for not seeing a moose!

The last rain shower produced the closest rainbow I had even seen. It literally lit up the side of the pond where I had been waiting for several hours – surely this must be a good sign!!!

A rainbow in Baxter State Park must be a good sign while waiting for a moose to show up!! (c) Scott Vincent

Not long after the rainbow disappeared, a large male moose came out and wandered around the pond in search of a suitable mate. Moose have a keen sense of smell, and during the rut the males use this to their advantage to find a mate.

Waiting outside for several hours through the rain showers paid off!!!

Moose smelling the air for a mate in Baxter State Park (c) Scott Vincent

Majestic Male Moose in Baxter State Park (c) Scott Vincent

Majestic Male Moose in Baxter State Park (c) Scott Vincent

Resources for more information:
– Maine Foliage Report: http://www.maine.gov/doc/foliage/report/index.shtml
– Maine Moose fact page: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/education/wildlifepark/wildlife/moose.htm
– Moose Wikipedia fact page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moose
– Baxter State Park: http://www.baxterstateparkauthority.com/

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Baxter State Park – Part 5: An Interpretation In Black & White

The previous Baxter State Park post was all about color. This one is all about a Black & White interpretation of the park. All of the images in this post were originally captured in color as multiple HDR images, converted using Photomatix to a Tiff file, and then converted to Black & White using Photoshop’s Channel Mixer to create a custom Black & White image. Each image was then Dodged and Burned to accentuate various features. For me, the key to a great Black & White image is to be sure to capture a great color image – There are no short cuts!! Enjoy!!

Baxter State Park in Black & White #1 (c) - Appalachian Trail Scott Vincent

Baxter State Park in Black & White #2 - Appalachian Trail - (c) Scott Vincent

Baxter State Park in Black & White #3 - Big Niagara Falls off the Appalachian Trail (c) Scott Vincent

Baxter State Park in Black & White #4 - Appalachian Trail (c) Scott Vincent

Baxter State Park in Black & White #5 - Appalachian Trail (c) Scott Vincent

Resources for more information:
– High Dynamic Range (HDR) software: http://www.hdrsoft.com/
– Maine Foliage Report: http://www.maine.gov/doc/foliage/report/index.shtml
– Maine Appalachian Trail Club: http://www.matc.org/
– Official US Government Web Site: http://www.nps.gov/appa/index.htm
– Appalachian Trail Conservancy: http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home
– Baxter State Park: http://www.baxterstateparkauthority.com/

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Baxter State Park – Part 4: Pictures of Fall

Why go to Baxter State Park in the fall when it’s starting to get cold? No mosquitoes. No black flies. Few tourists. Moose are starting their rut. And if you time it right – lots of fall color!!

I compiled the chart below from two years worth of Maine Foliage reports for the 2010 and 2011 seasons.  Each map going from left-to-right in a row of the chart is a week apart, and the rows start from Sept 15 2010 (top row) and Sept 14 2011, respectively.  This helps to show the variability from year to year and the importance of timing your trip to correspond with near-peak or peak color in the location in which you’re interested.  I’ve noticed that Baxter State Park will “turn” a little before the surrounding areas, probably because much of the park is at a higher elevation and therefore generally colder than it’s surroundings.  Keep that in mind when planning to visit for fall foliage!!

Besides the calendar, your other best resource is Maine’s official foliage website which you’ll want to check frequently.  In season, it gets updated weekly, mid-week. Enjoy!

http://www.maine.gov/doc/foliage/report/index.shtml : 3rd week Sept - 3rd week in Oct 2010 and 2011

All images in this post, except for the still pond which is an HDR, are straight out of the camera (plus normal post processing).  The last image isn’t a single photo at all – in fact it is 1109 photos taken over 50 minutes!!  To give you a sense of what Baxter can look like, I created a time lapse of a road-side stream using a special 2-axis-movement piece of equipment called eMotimo PT (tell Brian I sent you!) which is used for time lapse photography, one of my favorite types of photography.  A follow up post will show this device in action.  Be sure to click on the short video in order to watch it and let me know what you think (music will be added when I get video editing software)!!

Be sure to click “Play” on the video below to watch the time lapse video…

Resources for more information:
– Emotimo PT Time Lapse Machine: http://emotimo.com/
– Maine Foliage Report: http://www.maine.gov/doc/foliage/report/index.shtml
– Maine Appalachian Trail Club: http://www.matc.org/
– Official US Government Web Site: http://www.nps.gov/appa/index.htm
– Appalachian Trail Conservancy: http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home
– Baxter State Park: http://www.baxterstateparkauthority.com/

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Baxter State Park – Part 3: Photographer Gone Wild

To me, photography is as much of an art as it is a science.  To succeed in anything, you need to have a good understanding of the fundamentals (the science) and then you can express yourself as you’d like (the art).  Just like a great musician who has played the scales 1000’s of times, the good photographer will learn all about the capabilities of their instruments.  One additional instrument today’s photographers have are digital manipulations tools.  Two of the images accompanying this post I content were good photos to start with, and I believe were made even better by giving them an extra creative twist using digital tools.  The third photo, “Zooming on Roaring Brook Road” was created “in camera” by zooming during a long exposure  – nothing beyond minor Photoshop levels, curves and saturation were applied.  The image makes it look like you’re speeding down the park’s long dirt road, but anyone who has been there knows that’s not a good idea – and not allowed!!  If you like that type of photo, Denise Ippolito has written a guide to creative filters and effects that may interest you (tell her I sent you!!) .

The other two photos I really liked a lot as is (out of the camera), but also felt that they were good material for that extra creative twist.  When walking the Appalachian Trail, in time you can become so mesmerized that you feel like your walking in a never-ending long tunnel.  “Appalachian Trail Tunnel Vision” tries to depict that feeling, juxtaposed against an ancient Glacial Erratic, that also has become warped in the tunnel.

The final image in this series is called “Stained Glass Fern.”  Ferns look so delicate and brittle, but are surprising sturdy, to a point.  The same is true of glass.  And like stained glass, the fern is “made” of many smaller pieces.  In “Stained Glass Fern in the Woods,” the fern has become a series of small glass structures in the middle of the woods supporting a loan leaf.  Be sure to open up this image – the effect looks better when bigger.

I hope you enjoy this creative and different look into Baxter State Park.  Be sure to click on any photo to see a larger and better image…Enjoy!!!

Zooming on Roaring Brook Road

Appalachian Trail Tunnel Vision

Stained Glass Fern in the Woods

References for more information:
– Maine Appalachian Trail Club: http://www.matc.org/
– Official US Government Web Site: http://www.nps.gov/appa/index.htm
– Appalachian Trail Conservancy: http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home
– Baxter State Park: http://www.baxterstateparkauthority.com/

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Baxter State Park – Part 2: The Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is a 2,181-mile long public footpath. Conceived in 1921 and completed in 1937, private citizens built the trail and thousands volunteer each year to help maintain it. From Maine’s Mount Katahdin to Georgia’s Springer Mountain, it traverses the wild, scenic, wooded, pastoral and culturally resonant lands of 14 states in the eastern U.S.

The A.T. (as it is commonly known) is a hiking trail, enjoyed by an estimated 4 million people each year. It is within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population. People of all ages and abilities enjoy short walks, day hikes, and long-distance backpacking journeys. It offers a variety of opportunities for viewing spectacular scenery, for exploring, for adventure, for exercise, for nature study, and for renewal. (Source: http://www.nps.gov/appa/index.htm)

Many don’t realize that the A.T. is a US National Park, with the official moniker of “Appalachian National Scenic Trail.”  In Maine, the trail covers 276 miles.  Here is just a very small view of some of the trail that traverses through Baxter State Park or can be seen from very short side excursion trails.  Click on any photo for a larger image…

Baxter State Park's Big Niagara Falls, within 0.3 mi of the A.T.

Mushrooms growing on the side of the Appalachian Trail

Fall leaves blanketing the Appalachian Trail

Not always an easy or clean trek on the Appalachian Trail

Narrow boardwalk over a pond

A beautiful, lush, and tranquil part of the Appalachian Trail within Baxter State Park

References for more information:
– Maine Appalachian Trail Club: http://www.matc.org/
– Official US Government Web Site: http://www.nps.gov/appa/index.htm
– Appalachian Trail Conservancy: http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home
– Baxter State Park: http://www.baxterstateparkauthority.com/

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Baxter State Park – Part 1: The Memory of Trees

Maine’s Baxter State Park is famous for many things.  It’s the largest Wilderness Area permanently preserved as a State Park.  It is home to the state’s highest peak, Mt. Katahdin.  It is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail National Park.  And it is famous for moose!!

It is the moose which attracts most tourists and photographers.  A future post will highlight moose that were photographed this past October.  The diversity of the park lends itself to a wide range of photographic opportunities – only limited by your own sense of wonder and willingness to explore!

This post will highlight tress, which in the fall can be quite spectacular – and except for the many ponds and the top of Mt. Katahdin, fill the park completely!!  The title of the post is a famous song by Enya – “The Memory of Trees.”  A Youtube link can be found at the end of the post.  The song is very tranquil, which is exactly what it’s like when hiking in Baxter.  Click on any photo for a larger image…

Glacial Erratic trapped by a tree (c) Scott vincent

Glacial Erratic surrounded by trees (c) Scott Vincent

Sandy Stream enshrouded in fog and fall foliage (c) Scott Vincent

Fisheye Lens View of Trees (c) Scott Vincent

The learn more, visit the following web sites:
– Enya’s Memory of Trees: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6fKdiQe5z8
– What’s a Glacial Erratic? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glacial_erratic
– Baxter State Park Official Website: http://www.baxterstateparkauthority.com/

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Ghosts At Flatiron

Ghosts at Flatiron!!

A few weeks back I took nearly a 1000 images of the Flatiron building in Manhattan for an HDR timelapse.  After reviewing the images, I wanted to create the effect I felt with all of the passerbys ignoring each other like no one can see anyone else – like ghosts walking during the day.  Despite so many people around you, the city can be so lonely.  That’s the feel I wanted to create. To do this required advanced techniques which I share with you here!  Click on any photo for a larger/better view of it!

The first step was to find six images that were taken pretty close in time to each other (so the sun would be in about the same place in the sky), and that had pedestrians scattered about so that collectively they would “fill” the scene when merged.  Each image from the HDR sequence is the darkest of the 5 shot series and each is about 2.33 stops underexposed.  Through a little trial and error using the stacking software described further below I determined that 6 images “stacked” would make a good total exposure as if one properly exposed image was taken.  The six photos selected are show above.  Pretty dark!!

It’s pretty amazing the detail you can get when the six dark images are stacked.  The program used is freeware call StarStaX which typically is used to create star trails from timelapse photos.  However, you can use it for any creative stacking.  The above image is the raw output from “adding” in StarStaX the six dark images, and my ghosts appear, just like I wanted!!!  StarStaX can be found at http://www.markus-enzweiler.de/software/software.html

The above photo has been optimized in Photoshop.  The sky was too washed out in the initial image so I masked in the sky from one of the original dark images.  This is the exact photo that was then converted to Black & White using the Channel Mixer in PS3; however you can use your favorite conversion method.  The final black and white “ghost” image is repeated below  for easy comparison with the color one.  Which one do you like: color or black and white??  Does the image work??

This is not just a lesson in stacking, but in finding new uses for a tool that was created for another purpose.  These are only pixels and electrons – go ahead and experiment – you never know what you might create!!

You can learn more about the history of the Flatiron Building here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatiron_Building

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Christopher Robin Band in Phoenix Dec-9-2011

I was fortunate in that my plans were able to take me to Phoenix at the same time that Christopher Robin and his “west coast” band were playing on Dec-9-2011 at The Compound.  Some of the set list includes:

dixie
down the road
truth
come and go
peace or piece of fame
greatest sorrow (or some other name)
live to tell (Maddona)
hey joe (Jimi Hendrix)
tiny dancer (Elton John)
statesboro blues (Allman Brothers)
up at the river
one way out (Allman Brothers)

So in addition to photographing Phoenix wildlife, I was able to take in and photograph some nightlife too!

See the post further below for a little insight into the show and for one more photo (or click here: https://scottvincentphoto.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/arizona-the-sun-state-and-lessons-in-life/ ) !!

Enjoy the photos below…

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Arizona – The Sun State – and lessons in life

Arizona Sunset and duck silhouette (c) Scott Vincent

It’s been a long time – too long – since I’ve been back to Arizona for photography.  The last time I was here I was shooting on film!  This photo of a duck silhouetted against the setting Arizona sun brought back so many great and wonderful memories of my best friend, Tom Vezo, who introduced me to Arizona many years ago.  Tom died suddenly from a heart attach three years ago.  I so wish he was here to relive those great moments.

It is with some irony then that I came to Phoenix to see Christopher Robin play his amazing songs  at The Compound in Phoenix.  As always, Christopher gave a great performance – but in the middle of the show he mentioned that he lost a long time friend earlier in the day – and in a clearly emotional moment, dedicated a song to his long time friend.

Death is natural process of living – but that doesn’t make it any easier when the loss is too close or too soon.

Live.  Love.  Laugh.  Do it while you can!

Christopher Robin Band - Dec-2011

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Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!  (See below for how this was made)

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

And here’s the original Tom…

Tom Turkey Displaying

The top image was made within Photoshop using the Mehdi Kaleidoscope 2.1 free plug-in and then a little bit of the Twirl filter was applied to twist the center feathers.  I then made a second image/crop of the head and made a smaller Kaleidescope image that I embedded into the center of the large image.   I especially like the effect when the resulting photo at first looks abstract, but with closer examination you can see parts of the animal used to create the Kaleidescope!

The original image was made in my backyard with a Canon 7D and 70-200mm f/2.8.

Thanks to Denise Ippolito (www.DeniseIppolito.com) for alerting me to the Kaleidoscope plug-in which can be found at: http://www.mehdiplugins.com/english/kaleidoscope.htm.

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