Damn Wind!

The southern Lake Huron forecast on October 22, 2013.

Good weather for duck hunting!  Maybe not so good for making sharp images of Sugar Maples and White Birches in their autumn splendor. As the fall season goes into overdrive I’m trying to finish up yard work, catch a few good raptor migration days, gathering and hunting wild food and photographing the last few days of fall color. The weather rarely cooperates and the wind is often a photographer’s biggest problem. Slow shutter speeds are in order for low ISO, small aperture images – the usual combination for best image quality when shooting landscapes and plants.

Birch forest, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Alger County, Michigan
Not a leaf twittering on a calm morning in this six-frame panorama at Pictured Rocks
National Lakeshore. Please click on it to view at full size.

What to do when the wind just won’t stop and the colors are at peak? As mentioned in my previous post, you can point the camera at the ground or into the waters’ reflections. Tree trunks, fallen leaves, logs, rocks and moving water are all great subjects relatively unaffected by the wind.

Sugar Maple on Black Cherry: The wind wasn’t an issue in this photograph. Cliche?
Probably, but I guess just about everything is now. At least I found the leaf where it was.

Decomposing cottonwood leaves are beautiful.

Presque Isle River, reflections, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan
The Presque Isle River creates its own art with reflections of sky and aspen.

Fallen leaves and reflections are obvious subjects that are relatively unaffected by windy conditions. Sometimes it’s fun to harness the wind’s energy and let it be your “painter”.  What I’m going for is a purposely blurred image. These can be totally abstract images or impressionistic, with just enough sharpness or static elements to give the eye an anchor in what is sometimes a sea of chaos. Even pure pattern with subtle or no composition can be a beautiful thing. Think Jasper Johns and Jackson Pollock.

Here are two takes on a Sugar Maple, one a stab at painterly impressionism and the other a more chaotic but fractal pattern. Both were made by choosing very slow shutter speeds and using the multiple exposure function on my Nikon D300. This function allows up to 10 exposure to be made on the same frame. These experiments are often failures but hey, they’re digital! The film experiments were costly. Similar looking results could be created in Photoshop but I prefer the spontaneity and challenge of making them in-camera. Please click on the image for full size as there’s a lot of texture and depth that one cannot appreciate in the small images within the post.

If Monet couldn’t paint… The camera was stationary. 6 slow exposures while the wind howled.

Fractal faux… This had little to do with the wind. I moved the camera 6 times during a 10 frame exposure.

The possibilities are endless! Why limit photography to clinical, razor sharp representations of botanical specimens and locations when we have the tools to convey what we feel about these plants and places – the reasons we exist?  Yeah, I know. Blah blah… that’s what happens when you go to art school. Anyway, here’s a couple tries on aspen.

Oil pastel wannabe… Lots of up and down movement with just enough sharpness on a few of those golden leaves.

Quaking Aspen, Populus tremuloides, Ottawa National Forest, Houghton County, Michigan
Ode to Spirograph… Lying on my back in the Ottawa National Forest I got the hairbrained idea to spin my camera on the tripod while incrementally zooming the lens
during a multiple exposure.  Maybe a little too trippy?

Thanks for taking a look and I hope that you will try your own experiments.


~ by David Stimac on October 22, 2013.

6 Responses to “Damn Wind!”

  1. Yah, between the rain and the wind, it’s been a hard two years of getting good photos at peak color. What you have looks fantastic though.

  2. David, I love the impressionist picture. And yes, very Monet-like. 🙂

  3. Love them all. “Ode to Spirograph” reminds me of this time I was gathering mushrooms in the forest….

  4. All of them are beautiful but my favorite is Presque Isle River…the blue in it is one of my favorite colors. Love the techniques you experimented with.

  5. The “oil pastel wannabe” is going on the wall. 🙂

  6. Thanks everyone!

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