This has been a summer of fun and exploration. Going to different places, and seeing things with new eyes makes me feel alive. I was lucky enough to have a Sigma 24-35mm F2 Art lens along for the ride. This lens is so versatile, I was able to shoot beautiful landscapes at the beach and close-ups of flowers.
Exploring Beaches on Long Island, NY
My first excursion took me to the Sunken Forest at Fire Island, NY. My Mom and her fiance have been raving about it for a few years, and I finally went. Did it live up to my expectations?
It totally did! The trees formed this beautiful canopy over the boardwalk. Shooting at f/11 made such a pretty starburst from the sun.
They form sort of a tree tunnel that you walk through. There’s something about trees surrounding me that makes me feel safe and at peace.
Yes, You Can Shoot Close-ups
When I first started shooting with this lens, I imagined taking all of these great wide angle landscape shots. I never imagined that I would be able to get close-up shots of flowers too! Shooting at f/2.0 makes the focus dance around the edges of the flowers, and the bokeh is so creamy.
I’ve lived on Long Island for most of my life, and haven’t been to a lot of our beaches. Sometimes it’s nice to see things in your area with fresh eyes. Orient Point is a special place because it’s the eastern most point on the north fork of Long Island. At most beaches on Long Island, there’s a beach with waves coming into the shore from one direction. At Orient Point, the waves are coming in from two different sides. They gently lap on a rocky beach giving way to a light house in the distance.
Sometimes you have to walk across tiny rocks without any shoes on to get the shot.
Next, my travels took me to Oregon! The shot below was taken at the beautiful, Hiyu Wine Farm, a winery with an organic farm. The giant table made from a tree had all of these beautiful knots and you can see the tree rings. All of the plants inside were picked from the gorgeous overgrown surrounding land. I have no idea what type of plant this is, but they sprinkled the interior with a subtle wildness. Shooting this at f/2 made the little buds in the foreground tack sharp with everything else gently falling out of focus.
Because the winery doesn’t prune any of the vines or cut grass, this place has such an untouched charm. Nothing is forced to be anything, it’s allowed to be what it wants.
Below is a great photo of Mount Hood in Oregon. This mountain is actually a “stratovolcano” that looms in the horizon when driving around Hood River. This was a beautiful hike that ended with an incredible view of Mount Hood, and the lens made my subject really sharp…yes, he’s shooting with a Sigma lens 🙂
Road Trip to Washington
After exploring the beautiful hikes at Hood River we got in our rental car, and drove to Falls Creek Falls, WA. We drove a good 15 minutes on this gravel road and tried to avoid all the big pot holes. According to our GPS it was only 3 minutes away, but that’s not the case when you’re off-roading in a little car.
Whenever I go hiking, I always get lost, so I’m grateful for this very clear sign that points to the falls.
The hike wasn’t too long, but Washington was having a heat wave at the time. The temperatures were in the 90s, and it took a toll. But we slowly trekked on. There was a faint buzz of the waterfall, and the air was slowly getting cooler. We could see the waterfall in the distance, and the congestion of people was a good indicator that we were close.
The falls were breathtaking! The air cooled down a good 10 degrees, and the waterfall gently misted everyone…it’s like it knew that’s what we needed. I have to admit that I don’t take a lot of pictures of waterfalls, but you have to start somewhere, right? I didn’t have a ND filter, so I shot this at a bunch of different exposures, and combined them in Photoshop. I made sure to use a tripod, so that I was able to shoot slow enough to get an ethereal blur of the water.
Exploring Nature in Pennsylvania
Next, my travels took me to Pennsylvania with my family. Some families go away on vacation to sleep in, relax and sit around. Not my family. On our first day, we went to a river that just had a dam release and went white water rafting!
To start, we rode in a bus down a road that was like driving through the jungle. Then we walked about a mile to a secluded spot on the river where we had to carry our boats down a rocky impasse, through ice cold water and into the rapids. We hit rocks, and I would have sworn we would have been thrown from the raft. Luckily we stayed in the boat, but we definitely fell out of our seats. The power of the water is something you can’t fight against. It’s something you have to paddle into, which is pretty scary. We just tried to straighten out the boat when rapids were up ahead, and we all paddled together to avoid rocks. That was the best we could do, and the rest was up to the river. It was exhilarating!
The next day, I took a solo trip to Bushkill Falls, PA. If you’re looking for a moderate hike and beautiful waterfalls, this is the place to go. Of course I took the longer trail because that’s how I roll.
This was my favorite waterfall, Bridesmaids Falls. It wasn’t the biggest one, but it was surrounded by this lush greenery, and it wasn’t too crowded like the other waterfalls. I was able to spend a good amount of time here to take all the shots I wanted to. Then, I hiked to the top, and ate my lunch while listening to the water crash over the rocks.
I made two exposures, one at 0.5 sec and one at 0.6 sec. Then, I worked my magic in Photoshop to combine the two. I liked shooting at this speed. Any slower and the water was completely white, this speed kept a little detail but still had a nice blur.
What Makes a Picture Successful?
I’ve thought a lot about what makes a picture successful. I’m not a pro photographer, it’s just something I do for fun. When I look at other photographers’ beautiful landscape pictures it makes me feel inspired. To me, if I take an image that is technically good, in my humble opinion; it makes me smile because of a memory; I get goosebumps; or it gives me that warm feeling in my stomach (you know what I’m talking about) then it’s successful. Do you agree or disagree? What makes a pictures successful to you?
If you’re interested, I shot all of these images with the Sigma 24-35mm F2 Art Lens. This lens is easy to hike with and great for landscapes as well as close-ups which was surprising. What Sigma lens do you like to use for landscapes?