Lake George: Underwater

I challenged myself to take underwater photos while on my trip to Lake George, NY this year. In some ways I was successful and in many other ways, I struggled. I'll, of course, explain below... 

 The edges of an abandoned beaver lodge in Paradise Bay. 

The edges of an abandoned beaver lodge in Paradise Bay. 

I am completely in love with underwater photography. I've done so little of it but I'm totally obsessed. The draw for me is that there are so few people on this earth that even know what it looks like under the surface of most bodies of water. In fact the ocean is truly the last frontier on earth. It's beautiful and scary and surreal. It's like a whole other planet exists right under our noses and we barely notice.

The draw for me to take photos under the surface of Lake George is multifaceted. One, I LOVE Lake George. It's possibly my favorite lake on this planet. I grew up there in the summers. I know the surface of it like the back of my hand. I can close my eyes and tell you where every buoy on the lake from the village up through the narrows is. As a kid (and still as an adult) I love to dive down deep and open my eyes (with or without a mask) and just listen to the underwater sounds and watch the light dance. It's truly the most peaceful and strangely turbulent world I've ever had the privileged of falling in love with. I did a little research and found very few underwater photographs of the lake. Knowing that on good days the visibility is about 30 feet, I figured I'd take a stab at photographing it. I rented a Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens and brought it along. My previous underwater photography adventures included a 50mm macro lens. I wanted to try something new and see if I could master underwater landscapes. As you'll see, it didn't come without challenges (even 30ft of visibility is hard to get sharp wide angle images). But despite it's challenges, I had a blast! 

 

 This stick had fallen in our swim area. I was going to pull it out but after observing it underwater I noticed it had been there for a while. So I let it be. 

This stick had fallen in our swim area. I was going to pull it out but after observing it underwater I noticed it had been there for a while. So I let it be. 

 So while I botched this one (soft focus on the log) this image is exactly what I think of when I think of the bottom of Lake George. It's a very common scene in shallow bays. 

So while I botched this one (soft focus on the log) this image is exactly what I think of when I think of the bottom of Lake George. It's a very common scene in shallow bays. 

 Lily pads growing in our swim area next to the dock. 

Lily pads growing in our swim area next to the dock. 

 More lily pads. 

More lily pads. 

 Nesting bluegill 

Nesting bluegill 

 One dedicated Mama! 

One dedicated Mama! 

 Please don't feed the wildlife! These ducks are so used to being fed by humans they came right up to me when my husband threw grass into the water in front of me. I appreciate the interesting photo op but I'd rather these ducks not get so used to being fed! 

Please don't feed the wildlife! These ducks are so used to being fed by humans they came right up to me when my husband threw grass into the water in front of me. I appreciate the interesting photo op but I'd rather these ducks not get so used to being fed! 

 Ducks on top, fish underneath. 

Ducks on top, fish underneath. 

 Fallen leaves in Paradise Bay

Fallen leaves in Paradise Bay

 More images of the abandoned beaver lodge, now home to fish and algea! 

More images of the abandoned beaver lodge, now home to fish and algea! 

 One of my favorite images from a framing standpoint but once again I botched the focus! Grrrr! 

One of my favorite images from a framing standpoint but once again I botched the focus! Grrrr! 

 From a little further back... focus is much better on this one. 

From a little further back... focus is much better on this one. 

 Beavers sure are hard workers 

Beavers sure are hard workers 

 Crazy reflections

Crazy reflections

 Drifting weeds

Drifting weeds

OK, so here's where I tried to capture the dancing light underwater. Paradise bay is quite deep. I asked my twin sister to dive down while I took some photos. With our kids losing their shit on the boat, we had very little time for this. But I captured a couple neat photos. I suppose I'll always be chasing that perfect underwater photo - the one that captures all the wonderment and peace I experience when I dive down deep in this beautiful and clear lake. So, screaming kids or no, I'll be attempting many versions of these photos in the future. 

 Mermaid Bri watching the dancing light. So close to what I was hoping to capture, but not quite there yet! 

Mermaid Bri watching the dancing light. So close to what I was hoping to capture, but not quite there yet! 

 Halo of bubbles

Halo of bubbles

So this is the part where I talk about all my failures and fears. Boy are there A LOT! They all led to some valuable lessons but I really could have done without them... 

First off, like most people, I think that all successful photographers and successful creatives of all types have no fears. They are successful, why would they doubt themselves? Only people like me doubt themselves. Well, I'm 31 now and I realize what a bunch of bullshit that is. We are all afraid. I am afraid all the time. Especially when it comes to my work. I don't want to fail. Failure blows. I'm scared of it all the time! It's stopped me in my tracks. It's terrible. It causes endless procrastination. That fear and self-doubt is the number one reason I seem lazy and the only reason I have not reached the goals I've set for myself. And even being aware of this, I still can't always face the fear and keep working. Because, shit, it's hard to believe in yourself when the judgement of your work is soooo subjective. The only thing that keeps me going is the work itself. When I can manage to drag my butt off the couch and go out and shoot, I lose myself in it. I mean my husband had to drag me out of the water on numerous occasions to remind me that my other slightly more important job of being a mother, needed to be tended to. I heard somewhere (can't remember where) that when it comes to photography, if you don't love the journey you're never going to survive. Why? Because there really isn't a destination. It's a fluid medium. There's no point at which you're going to say, "I've made it. I don't need to learn or create anymore images." That's just ridiculous. So for me, I realized I DO love the journey. So much so that I'm willing to battle the fear almost every day. Sometimes its an easy battle, but most days it's really f'ing hard. 

Now that we've gotten the fear part out of the way, let's talk about my failures on this trip! The biggest thing was thinking things would be easier than they ended up being. I underestimated the challenges of shooting wide angle with only 30 ft. of visibility. While it's doable, it's not easy to get sharp images. I also did a good job of mucking up the water for myself. Especially if I was hovering in the same spot for a while trying to get the nesting fish. Second, I was staying relatively close to the surface to use ambient light which worked sometimes and not other times. Third, I saw a very inspiring photo by adventure photographer Emily Polar that I wanted to try to recreate for a self portrait and I figured it would be cake! Turns out making a normal face while holding your breath is really, really hard. (See below images... I pretty much gave up). And last but not least, my biggest regret and hardest lesson learned... I spent an extra week at the lake with just my son while my husband flew back to work. Because I didn't want to truck a ton of bags and a 2 year old through the airport on my own, I sent him back with my underwater gear. UGH! Total mistake. The day he left this huge mama bass and her school of babies came into our swim area and stayed there ALL DAY LONG. Without my gear I tried using my ancient GoPro to capture them but as you'll see below, it failed miserably. I was grumpy about it most of the rest of the trip. So lesson learned. Suck it up and keep my equipment around. I'll always hate myself if I keep letting opportunities go by because I'm afraid of a little discomfort. 

 This was the best self portrait I could manage... I still look like I'm drowning but it's not as bad the rest of them... 

This was the best self portrait I could manage... I still look like I'm drowning but it's not as bad the rest of them... 

 This one is definitely a winner... 

This one is definitely a winner... 

 Yup, I look constipated. 

Yup, I look constipated. 

 There are worse... I know it's hard to believe... 

There are worse... I know it's hard to believe... 

 There she is. Those dots all around her are her babies! Ahhhhhhh! My husband asked me a million times if I was sure I wanted him to take my equipment back with him... and I said yes....   :( 

There she is. Those dots all around her are her babies! Ahhhhhhh! My husband asked me a million times if I was sure I wanted him to take my equipment back with him... and I said yes.... 

:( 

 AHHHHH :(

AHHHHH :(

 They were there... ALL... DAY... LONG... even after it started to rain.... 

They were there... ALL... DAY... LONG... even after it started to rain.... 

 So many that could have been soooo awesome... 

So many that could have been soooo awesome... 

 So many great shots... 

So many great shots... 

 So much regret... so very, very painful... 

So much regret... so very, very painful... 

That concludes the underwater portion of my two week trip to Lake George. Next week stay tuned for the kid travel portion. I'll go over flying by myself with a two year old (yikes!) and what it's like to photograph with toddlers around and, of course, some really awesome photos I took of the kiddo and his cousins. 

In conclusion, I just want to mention that I recently watched Chasing Coral on Netflix. I cried through most of it. Please watch it. After this blog post you have to know that I love the water. Watching the oceans die is really emotional for me. I always find myself wondering what the oceans looked like 30 years ago. Especially since I've noticed the coral bleaching and dying on dives I've taken in Hawaii. It's heartbreaking. I'd like to share this underwater world with my kid someday. We need to protect it. That's all! Enjoy your week and let me know if you have any questions or want to share your own fears and failures in the comments below! 

New Zealand Day 1

Day 1. So we flew into Christchurch, arriving around lunch time. We decided to then immediately drive to Queenstown and take in a few sights along the way. In hindsight, not the greatest plan since a long road trip after 12 hours of flying is a bit rough on an almost two year old... but the drive was incredible! We weren't able to take our eyes off the scenery and we instantly fell in love with this country! Below are a few photos I quickly snapped along the road. 

 Church of the Good Shepard on the shores of Lake Tekapo. 

Church of the Good Shepard on the shores of Lake Tekapo. 

 The incredible blue waters of Lake Tekapo. 

The incredible blue waters of Lake Tekapo. 

 Church of the Good Shepard. It was hard to get a photo without a ton of tourists in it... tried my best! 

Church of the Good Shepard. It was hard to get a photo without a ton of tourists in it... tried my best! 

 We arrived at the very beginning of fall. Here are a few fading lupine stalks blowing in the wind. 

We arrived at the very beginning of fall. Here are a few fading lupine stalks blowing in the wind. 

 Again, trying to avoid strangers in my photos. So I got down on the ground! 

Again, trying to avoid strangers in my photos. So I got down on the ground! 

 Can't avoid everyone... but at least that guy provides a sense of scale! 

Can't avoid everyone... but at least that guy provides a sense of scale! 

 We were passing Lake Pukaki pretty close to sunset. With the snowy peaks in the background, I was very excited to get out and photograph. Unfortunately, Lee woke up from what was supposed to be the beginning of his night time sleep and was screaming bloody murder. So all I got was the above and below hastily composed and shot images. I wish I could have gotten more because the drive along this lake was nothing short of spectacular! But my kid's comfort definitely means more to me. So off we zoomed and the kid fell back asleep (for another hour or so...)! 

We were passing Lake Pukaki pretty close to sunset. With the snowy peaks in the background, I was very excited to get out and photograph. Unfortunately, Lee woke up from what was supposed to be the beginning of his night time sleep and was screaming bloody murder. So all I got was the above and below hastily composed and shot images. I wish I could have gotten more because the drive along this lake was nothing short of spectacular! But my kid's comfort definitely means more to me. So off we zoomed and the kid fell back asleep (for another hour or so...)! 

 Does anyone know if that's Mount Cook in the center? I figured it was but I'm no expert... 

Does anyone know if that's Mount Cook in the center? I figured it was but I'm no expert... 

I know I've sort of dropped off the map, lately. I've been pretty silent on the blog and social media. But please stay tuned for a blog post about Day 2, hopefully next week! I'm so excited to share all the details of our trip and hopefully inspire you parents to drag your little ones along on all your adventures! 

In the meantime, also look out for my next blog post about the incredible wedding of two of my favorite people! I was so lucky to be their photographer and capture their special day! Staying true my my incredible procrastination roots, I shot the wedding back in April and STILL haven't posted a sneak peek! It's forthcoming, I promise! Thanks for sticking with me, folks! 

Enjoy your week!

Oregon Part I

A few weeks ago I headed to Bend, OR to film a video on Photography. Specifically, a video on printing in the wet dark room with Cibachrome. Stay tuned over the next month or so for that video! In the meantime, check out some photos I took while hiking in Smith Rock State Park on my half day off from filming. 

 Smith Rock State Park - view from the parking lot. 

Smith Rock State Park - view from the parking lot. 

 I couldn't stop staring at the texture of the clouds and rays of light. Did my best to capture it.

I couldn't stop staring at the texture of the clouds and rays of light. Did my best to capture it.

 Another perspective. 

Another perspective. 

 Stairway to...

Stairway to...

 River of color. 

River of color. 

 Colors and textures of a desert landscape. 

Colors and textures of a desert landscape. 

 Almost at the top. 

Almost at the top. 

The Evolution of a Sunset

So here's the evolution of a sunset on Hagerman Lake a few weeks ago. It was absolutely stunning! I hope you get that sense from the photos. 

 Before setting out on the boat

Before setting out on the boat

 Golden 

Golden 

 Golden Light, Blue Sky

Golden Light, Blue Sky

 Like someone took a paintbrush to the sky

Like someone took a paintbrush to the sky

 The water is on fire

The water is on fire

While the changing light can be the bane of my existence while filming video, it sure is a blessing when I'm photographing. 

Below is my "experimental" shot. I lowered the shutter speed and decided to see how it would look when the boat was moving. I like that the water is blurry and there is some detail in the sky but in hindsight I think I should have lowered the shutter speed even more. That way I may have gotten a more painterly/sense of motion image. But who knows! What do you think? 

Autumn on Hagerman Lake

While we headed to Hagerman Lake for a not so happy occasion this past weekend, we were extremely grateful to get to spend time with family in Michigan for the second time this year! Not to mention getting to see the lake in Fall, my favorite time of year! 

 Floating Leaf

Floating Leaf

 Autumn

Autumn

While the leaves were a spectacular sight, the clouds just started breaking up as the sun went down making the ever changing sunset a truly beautiful experience. 

 

 My (mostly) patient husband getting the boat ready to take me out on the lake to photograph the sunset. 

My (mostly) patient husband getting the boat ready to take me out on the lake to photograph the sunset. 

 The Evolving Sunset

The Evolving Sunset

Don't forget to turn around when photographing sunsets! Sometimes the sights behind you are even more stunning. Thanks to my husband for reminding me! And thanks to the rainstorm that created this stunning rainbow. 

 Rainbow at Sunset

Rainbow at Sunset

 Last Light

Last Light

This is just a first glimpse. Stay tuned for the next blog post where I'll compare the changing light over the course of the sunset and debut an experimental shot. You guys can tell me whether or not the experiment was successful! 

Hot Air Ballooning over Napa Valley

This past weekend we went hot air ballooning over Napa. It was gorgeous and relaxing (no kid!). Unfortunately for the photographer in me we were the last balloon to go up so we missed the incredible sunrise light. At least we got some great views! 

 Hot Air Balloon in the sky

Hot Air Balloon in the sky

 Flying over the valley

Flying over the valley

 The rising sun and fading mist

The rising sun and fading mist

It's really fun to play tourist in your own area. You gain a whole new perspective on the place where you live. If you love to travel and you can't afford to go too far, try something new right in your backyard!