International Garden Photographer of the Year Award

International Garden Photographer of the Year Award

Ancient Oak, Ty Canol Wood, Wales, 2012

Ancient Oak, Ty Canol Wood, Wales, 2012

I don't enter many photography competitions. Most are just a way for the organizers to get as many people to pay the entry fees as possible, then hand out paltry awards to a few lucky winners. So I choose my competitions wisely. In April, I entered the International Garden Photographer of the Year's Black & White contest for a modest fee. Photography competitions are very subjective, but this time I impressed the judges and came away with the top prize.

The image was made on a 2012 visit to West Wales (Pembrokeshire), where I photographed an old oak guarding the entrance to an even older forest of gnarled, twisted, mossy trees. There's no fancy Photoshop work here. I used an infrared converted camera which renders foliage white and gives images an eternal quality that no amount of computer manipulation can quite emulate.

The image can also be seen in Digital Photographer Magazine (UK) as well as in a traveling print exhibit across the UK. I'll post details as I find them out.

My Largest Ever Print

My Largest Ever Print

Bluebell Woods, Dockey Wood, England, April 2011

Bluebell Woods, Dockey Wood, England, April 2011

Until recently, the largest print I'd ever made was 40x60-inches, and I'd made several of these over the past few years. But a few weeks ago, I delivered the largest print I've ever made, a 40x90-inch metal print, to a firm located in Boston, Massachusetts. Doing the math, that's 3-1/2 by 7-1/2 feet! And all on luxurious, color-popping, lightweight, high gloss aluminum. And if that wasn't enough, the firm also purchased a 40x60-inch metal print to hang on one of their other walls at the same time.

It's not easy to make a print of this size. Normally, I don't recommend printing this large for certain images. Unless the image has been made on a high resolution camera with high quality lenses, an enlargement of this size will only show up the faults of an inferior image file. If a client chooses one of my older images made with a lower resolution camera to be enlarged, I'll always advise against it– quality is so important to me and I don't want anything but the highest quality print hanging on anyone's wall.

In this case though, the original image was made with a 21-megapixel camera using a high quality, $2500 lens. And even better, the image in question was a panorama consisting of five high resolution images stitched together, making it an ideal candidate to be enlarged to a high degree. I re-processed the digital files from the original raw images, using the latest software, and sent the file out to a lab that has the ability to print very large metal prints. It took about two weeks for the image to be printed, packaged in a large wooden crate and delivered to the east coast.

The client loves the image, I'm very satisfied and hopefully they'll enjoy the images gracing their walls for many years to come.

Acadia National Park Photo Workshop, October 14-19

Acadia National Park Photo Workshop, October 14-19

Beaver Dam Pond, October 2016

Beaver Dam Pond, October 2016

For years, I've been working on putting together my own photography workshop in Acadia National Park off the coast of northeast Maine. For one reason or another, I've never gotten it off the ground, though I've had interest from several people all over the country. Well, that's all about to change. I'm helping to co-lead a large group of photographers in early October, but that trip is now full. I am accepting participants into my own workshop in mid-October though.

I'll be running my first Acadia photo tour/ workshop, from October 14-19th. This will be a small group, probably 4-8 people tops. You'll be staying at my favorite hotel in Bar Harbor and spending each day out in the national park, visiting some of my favorite sites, shooting from dawn til dusk and receiving personal instruction from me. In the evenings we'll get together to look over the day's pictures, and I'll teach you some of my favorite techniques for processing your images. If you're interested in joining me, send me an email asap and let me know you're interested. I'm anticipating these few spots will fill pretty quickly.

Images of Acadia Photo Tour/ Workshop... $1895

Price includes accommodation as well as transportation around the Park each day. If you look at most other Acadia photo workshops, accommodation and transportation are an additional cost, so this is one of the most affordable photo workshops in Acadia. Hotels near Acadia are not cheap, so several days' lodging can add up to $1000 to your total cost. Breakfast is included at the hotel, but you'll need to cover your lunch and dinner expenses. And if enough people arrive at Bangor Airport about the same time, I'll pick you up and bring you to the hotel. I want this to be a trip where you don't have to worry about all the extras, but where you can concentrate on your photography and making art with your camera.

I'll rent a van or car to get us around to all the sites. You're free to bring your own, or rent a car, but I'll be driving us around to take the burden of transportation from you if you choose. And by traveling together, I'm hoping we can build camaraderie and learn from each other as we compare notes, pictures and 'talk shop.' The idea is to learn not just from me, but from each other and our different backgrounds and experience in photography.

A typical day will start about 6am when we head out for our first sunrise location (the sun comes up at 6:54am). We'll come back into town for breakfast at the hotel then back into the park until we break for lunch in a nearby town. After the sun goes down around 6pm, we'll head back to Bar Harbor and have dinner together at one of the town's great restaurants. Then you can wander around the town for a while– Bar Harbor is full of souvenir shops, bookshops and more– before we return to the hotel for the night. If you're still awake and there's interest, I can go through some of the techniques I use to process my images and answer any questions you have.

What sort of camera do I need to have?? I would say any D-SLR (interchangeable lens) camera is sufficient. You don't have to have the latest, greatest camera or lenses. But a camera that can be set manually is a big plus. I'll teach you how to use manual exposure for most of your pictures, and how to use aperture and shutter speed to create art with your camera. A tripod is a must too. Recently, I've begin using my iPhone for simple grab shots and have been enjoying that- I can share some of my insights with you. I'll be sending you a list of what gear I bring and some suggestions for any extras you may want to purchase before the trip, like filters and even appropriate clothing to bring.

What's the weather like at that time of the year? I generally find it to be quite comfortable in mid-October. I've seen it get into the 70's but I've also been bitterly cold waiting for the sun to rise on top of Cadillac Mountain, with wind chills probably in the low 20's. But typically, the temperatures are in the 50's or 60's during the day. I generally see rain only once or twice a week during October, though if it rains more often, we'll just have to deal with it!

Is there a lot of hiking? Generally speaking, no. Most locations are pretty close to the road or parking areas, though we probably will walk into the woods a little or maybe take a carriage trail into the heart of Acadia. But we will definitely be climbing over rocks along the coast. Nothing strenuous, but bring sturdy hiking boots- street shoes won't cut it here.

If you have any other questions, let me know, and I'll also be adding to this page as I think of additional things to include.

I hope to see some of you in October!

The Photographer's Guide to Acadia ebook, 2nd edition

The Photographer's Guide to Acadia ebook, 2nd edition

I've been spending all my free time over the last couple months updating my 2014 ebook, The Photographer's Guide to Acadia. This new version adds almost 50 more pages, about 40 more photos and over 50 new links to maps, directions, websites and videos. The book has been a valuable resource for photographers and other visitors to Acadia National Park for the last three years, helping them locate some of the best sites as well as some of the less well known locations, and helping them to come away with better pictures of Acadia. The ebook is available as a download from my website, or from the iTunes Store.

Best in Show

Best in Show

This 40x60-inch image, printed on lightweight aluminum, was easily the most popular print in the show. One man even drove past, saw the print from the road, and had to turn around to stop by and see the picture up close.

This 40x60-inch image, printed on lightweight aluminum, was easily the most popular print in the show. One man even drove past, saw the print from the road, and had to turn around to stop by and see the picture up close.

This past summer I took part in my first Bar Harbor (Maine) "Art in the Park" show. This annual fair at the gateway to Acadia National Park is a showcase for painters and photographers to show and sell their art. I custom printed over forty-five large (16x20 to the large 40x60-inch metal print above) limited edition prints for the show, as well as over 120 open edition 8x10's, a new Acadia Centennial poster, and sold several copies of my book.

It was my first time participating in the show, but the response to my work was very gratifying. The icing on the cake came a few days later when I was surprised to learn my photography had been awarded "Best in Show." I'll definitely be back next year to do it again.

Featured Photographer in f/11 Magazine

Featured Photographer in f/11 Magazine

This summer I had the honor of being featured in f/11 Magazine. In the last couple years, I've been experimenting with camera movement, multiple exposures and new ways to create art using photography. I've titled my new method of photographing trees "Circumambulations," which means to walk around something. Earlier this summer, I talked about the technique and my photography background– from photographing the Royal Family to my landscape, commercial and fine art photography in f/11 Magazine.

Published in New Zealand, f/11 is a monthly magazine for anyone who loves photography and creating beautiful images- landscapes, art, portraits, architecture, travel, adventure, etc. I was honored to be one of their three featured photographers in July. The article on my photography is 27 pages long and contains plenty of full page images. If you love great photography, subscribe to the magazine for free at the link below.

http://www.f11magazine.com

My article is in the July issue, beginning on page 100:

https://issuu.com/f11magazine/docs/issue56-july2016?backgroundColor=

Acadia Photo Tour 2016

Rugged Coastline, Acadia, 2014

Rugged Coastline, Acadia, 2014

Photo Tour 2016

In 2006 I visited Acadia National Park in Maine for the first time. I spent a week there, exploring and learning my way around the Park. I've been back eleven times since then, each time getting more familiar with Acadia. I've written two photography books about Autumn in Acadia and how to do landscape photography in the Park. This Fall, I'm hoping to lead my first photography tour in the park.

On that first trip in 2006, I was surprised how many photographers were leading workshops there. One cold morning, I waited patiently on top of Cadillac Mountain with a couple hundred others to see the sun coming up over the Atlantic Ocean- a rite of passage for all visitors to Acadia. As we waited, I got talking with some photographers around me. They started asking me questions about some of the accessories on my camera, what my filters did, and asked me where some other good spots in the park were. It turns out they were part of a workshop being lead by a guy who was… several hundred yards away, taking photos by himself. He'd left his group high and dry. It started me thinking, I could lead a group better than this...

This will be a photo tour you'll remember, with stops in the most iconic Acadia locations, and I'll share with you several of my favorite places, many of them unknown to other photographers. It'll be several days of landscape photography, camaraderie, hiking, good food, and I'll teach you what I know about coaxing beautiful images from the landscape. Accommodations and transport for the duration will be included. Dates and costs have yet to be determined, but the trip will probably be the second week of October– peak foliage time. If you'd like to be notified when the details have been finalized, email me here and I'll send you the itinerary and costs.

Van Gogh, Secrets and Technique

Does a Magician Share His Secrets?

I get lots of questions from aspiring photographers. How did you photograph that? What camera/shutter speed/lens/filters did you use? I understand the questions– it's how we all learn. I used to share all my camera techniques– everything I've learned from decades of being a photographer. But recently I've developed some new techniques that are unique to how I work and the way I create my art so I'm not so quick to share my 'secrets' anymore. It's a little bit like asking Van Gogh what brushes and paints he used, how he prepped his canvases and how he painted Starry Night. In the end, technique can be taught and learned, but developing a style in your art/ photography is very personal; it can't be taught but has to be developed from within, so I've decided not to share all of my techniques. Well some just not all :)

Having said all that, if you do want to learn some of my techniques for photographing the great outdoors, there's still hope! In 2014, I wrote The Photographer's Guide to Acadia, a 203-page ebook that not only gives away all the best places to photograph in Acadia National Park (including links to all the pictures on Google Maps), but it explains many of the techniques I used to make my images. I've included the camera settings for each picture- which camera I used, the aperture, shutter speed, ISO setting and what filters were on the lens. And even if you never plan to visit Acadia, but do love scenic/ landscape/ outdoor photography, this book will guide you in how to use your camera and get the most out of it.

The book costs just $12.99 and can be ordered from iTunes or as a pdf. Click here to get your copy now.

Mark Your Calendars... May 15th

Mark Your Calendars... May 15th

On May 15th, I'll be talking about my new book, Under October Skies, at Prairie Path Books in Wheaton, IllinoisI'll be signing books and speaking about what inspired me to begin photographing Acadia and what keeps me going back year after year. I'll talk about self-publishing and what it was like to get 1,000 books– that's over 2 tons or 4,000 pounds– delivered to my garage one day back in November. You may even get a few photography tips from me too.

Can't wait for the book talk? Or do you live too far to attend? You can still get a signed copy from me here.


The talk starts at 1pm. Email me if you'd like a reminder closer to the date.

The City Landscape

Marina City (detail)

Marina City (detail)

I've written before about living near Chicago, but not being interested in photographing the city, and about how that all changed about three years ago when my "Chicago Project" was born. That's when I realized there was a lot of beauty in Chicago architecture and I began a new series of landscapes for me– the city landscape. I've been refining this series and recently made several images I'm tentatively calling Chicago Glass.

While most visitors to the city admire the skyline and the scale of the buildings, I've been photographing the reflections in the windows. Chicago's skyscrapers are divided into thousands of window segments, and each pane of glass is like a funhouse mirror reflecting the funhouse mirrors of the buildings around it. The result is a distorted, almost humorous, portrait of a city known for its uncompromising vertical lines.

Contact me directly for print sales: prints@hudsonfineart.com

Fire!

Sometimes great images just happen. About a month ago my son and I were in the back yard burning some pallets and cardboard boxes. As we watched the flames light up the snowy night, it occurred to me to get my camera out. The flames were so bright, I was able to use a very fast shutter speed to 'freeze' the flames. The abstract beauty was amazing to both of us. I never knew fire could be so beautiful.


Atmosphere

Over the last few months, we've had several foggy nights where I live. Last night was one of the best. My sixteen year old son (who is heavily into shooting and editing videos) even mentioned he wished he could go out and shoot some stock footage for later use in his videos. It was that atmospheric.

My wife and I were up late watching a movie, and just before midnight I looked out the window and noticed the fog was so thick, you could barely see the house across the road. I debated whether to just go to bed, or get out my camera. Well, if I'm going to create some art– I go all out. I grabbed my medium format Pentax 645 and stepped outside; I wasn't disappointed. The traffic lights on my corner added nice color to the yellow street light world. And being so late, I was able to make some pictures from the middle of my normally busy road. I was only outside for less than fifteen minutes but I had to resist the temptation to walk round my neighborhood for a couple more hours; instead I went to bed, pleased with the images I made... right outside my front door.

The New Website

2016 marks twenty years of my photos being on the web. I learned basic HTML coding back in 1996 by looking at the source code of websites I liked, and then I wrote my own web pages. By that summer, I posted the first version of Hudson Fine Art, though I didn't acquire the domain name until a few years later. The first pictures were very small- they had to be so that everyone with 28.8 dialup modems (like me) could load the pages.

Today I'm rolling out the 14th and best version of my fine art photography site. For the first time, I'm able to showcase large, full screen images, closer to the way they're meant to be seen. I use a professional medium format digital camera for most of my fine art photography which is capable of producing incredibly detailed and sharp photos, with no pixellation. In layman's terms, what this means is that my pictures are meant to be seen as big as possible, to get the full effect of each image.

I've been frustrated for years about the tiny photos I've shared on Facebook and on my previous websites. It's like a classical musician playing in a crowded, noisy room at low volume; all the subtleties become lost.

Adjust your browser window to fill your monitor; the website will adjust automatically to give you the largest pictures possible. A full screen photo is still no match for a 36, 45 or 60-inch wall print, but after twenty years, it's definitely getting better.