This was supposed to be my “year off” from doing formal group Photography Workshops, but I decided that the fall is just too beautiful to pass up. I created a new 3-day workshop entitled “A Taste of Fall” that will aim to capture what the Midcoast has to offer during this very special season. Some of the highlights will include scenic drives to overlooks, farm stands, vineyards, farms, etc. We will visit hidden away roads, pretty rivers and streams, and maybe even a local glass blowing studio. And we couldn’t forget some strolls through our local pretty harbors including Rockland, Rockport, and Camden. You will get a true ‘taste’ of what it’s like to be in midcoast Maine in the fall by sampling some of the sights and treats of the area.
Taste of Fall Photo Workshop
Wed – Friday, October 3-5, 2018
For more information or to sign up for this photo workshop, please click the button below.
I really do think that macro lenses are magical and I love, not only the results, but I love to play with them. I can spend hours and hours crouched down in a garden exploring the endless possibilities for creativity. As always, I break most of the photography rules. I almost never use a tripod when shooting outdoors. I realize that just breathing changes the focus ground, but I’m OK with that. I often shoot in manual focus and I sometimes use my body to focus rather than the lens.
I move slightly forward and compose a shot and then I move ever so slightly backward and the scene changes in my viewfinder without even touching the lens. Yes, there is wind and my body sway to contend with, but I always seem to get results that please me. The soft dreamy quality of the shallow depth of field just makes the flowers seem even more delicate and beautiful. There are times when achieving a tack sharp photo is what I want.
But other times I prefer a slightly out-of-focus painterly look.
And sometimes I manage to get a combination of both looks in one image.
One of my favorite things to do is to purposefully stick my lens right into my subject – so close that leaves or vegetation literally touch the lens. This creates a soft, hazy filter effect. The more leaves in the way, the more interesting the result.
When I originally purchased my macro lens many years ago, it was for a specific purpose. I was shooting small objects in the studio, with the dreaded tripod and lights. I can’t say I enjoyed any of that shooting and never really gave the lens enough attention. It wasn’t until I brought it outside to just ‘play with it’ that I fell in love with it.
Do you own a macro lens? And if so, how often do you use it? What are your favorite macro subjects?
I’ve been shooting “blurry abstracts” for a couple of years now and it took me well over a year before I even showed any of the work publicly. It takes a lot of guts for a photographer to proudly post ‘out of focus’ photos on social media and be proud to stand behind them. I knew that not everybody would ‘get it’ nor would they appreciate it. My own husband would constantly say, “Paula, if you want blurry pictures why not just give me the camera.” I would respond with a big sigh. Even my own husband doesn’t appreciate the art that I personally saw in my “blurry photos.” But I didn’t let this stop me. I persisted and kept going down my abstract path.
Every once in a while I would sneak a blurry abstract into my Facebook or Instagram feeds and then later get disappointed when its response would pale in comparison to a pretty landscape, a lighthouse, or a lobster boat. There is no question what the majority of people want to see . . . pretty scenery and I live in a place where that is abundant. But, for some reason, I wanted to strive for more. I craved being different, even if it was not the popular thing to do.
Last year I joined a little bookmaking group that inspired me to put into words what my blurry abstracts were all about and that was the greatest experience for me. When I forced myself to do it, I was finally able to figure out the motivation behind what I do. Putting words to the photos was such a powerful experience for me and something that I wanted to do for a long time. I created a short book that got some great responses and that book is was motivated me to create a Pecha Kucha-style presentation.
What is a Pecha Kucha you ask? Pecha Kucha is Japanese and literally means “chit-chat.” It is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds, advancing automatically as you talk along to the images. The format, which keeps presentations concise and fast-paced, powers multiple-speaker events called PechaKucha Nights all over the world. Here in the midcoast of Maine, we have 2 of these events per year and ever since seeing the first one four years ago, I dreamed of doing one myself.
Well, my time came. Shortly after writing my little book (and putting the desire out to the Universe that I wanted to do one) the Center of Maine Contemporary Art contact me and asked if I would speak. I was both thrilled and terrified. Would I really have the guts to stand up in front of hundreds of people and tell the story of my bizarre photos? Would people ‘get it?’ Would they appreciate it? Or would they think I’m crazy?
I’m happy to report that, not only did the audience ‘get it’ and appreciate it, but they loved it. I got so many amazing comments afterward that I have really inspired people to look at the world differently. Normally, it’s just photographers that I try to inspire to shoot differently, but the fact that I was able to inspire non-photographers to open their eyes to the world of possibilities made me the happiest person on earth for that one night.
Please click the image below if you would like to view the entire presentation. I do hope you enjoy it and that you find it inspirational as well. (And please pardon the fact that the MC pronounced my name wrong . . . 4 letters, but seemingly so complicated!)
If you would like to download a free digital copy of my photo book “Blurring the Lines” which features many of these photos, please click here.
I’m in the midst of developing a brand new photography app that just may change the photography industry . . . and possibly put Maine Photo Adventures out of business!
After my first year in business, I was very excited about the positive feedback I received on my workshops. It felt great to know that I was doing a good job and this business could really grow . . .
But then it hit me. If the business does indeed grow, that would mean I would be spending most of my time during the glorious “good weather months in Maine” working! Granted taking photos for ‘work’ is nothing to complain about, but the spectacular weather up here is short lived and to be honest, it’s hard to commit myself a year in advance to working. How could I solve this problem?
And that is how the idea of Pictour came to be. I started to wonder how I can develop “Self-guided photography tours” where I can do all the work to build a tour once and offer it for sale for people to do the tour on their own, in their own time, whenever they happened to be visiting Maine. So that got me thinking about how many tours I could create in Maine, but why stop there? Maybe I should travel around the world and build tours everywhere!
Hold everything! Now I’m back to working all the time and even worse, leaving the beautiful state of Maine. This idea was clearly getting out of hand. So I pondered some more and came up with the perfect solution – get photographers all over the world to participate. Allow them to create tours and post them for sale. This way we can easily offer tours all over the world and not only give traveling photographers inside secrets on the best places to shoot, but give the photographers that share their secrets some extra income.
We are still in the development stage, but we currently have a working prototype and will soon be looking for beta testers. If you are at all interested in learning more about this exciting opportunity, please click below to watch an informative video that explains the app in detail. And if you’re interested in learning more about when the app will be released, please join the mailing list by clicking the blue button below or by visiting www.pictour.co
There is nothing like the being in the woods of Maine in the fall. Actually, you don’t really have to be “in the woods” to appreciate the beauty of the fall season. No matter where you turn, the colors surround you. Some say that this year’s foliage wasn’t as spectacular as it usually is. Maybe that’s true. It’s hard to really tell and why bother analyzing whether or not the foliage is up to snuff? Why not just spend all your energy taking it all in and enjoying every minute and every drip of color it offers?
The foliage may not have been at it’s best, but this was the year that I experienced an extra special fall treat. I headed up to the Northern woods of Maine, just southwest of Mount Katahdin to a private camp called Camp Nahmakanta. I would tell you what town it was in, only there is no town name . . . no zip code. It’s just plain out there in the woods. Drive to the tiniest little town in the middle of nowhere and then hop on a dirt road for another 90 minutes and there you are – in the midst of paradise.
The camp is situated on the shores of Nahmakanta Lake and every morning I awoke to watch the mist and fog rise off the water. We were treated to warm sunny days and cold crisp mornings which ensured an abundance of early morning fog. Every morning the scenery changed drastically offering a diversity of photos from the very same location.
Whether you just sat by the shore to watch the water ripple and the wildlife pass by or laced up your boots and hiked along the Appalachia Trail, you were sure to be treated to gorgeous sights. Being in the isolation of the northern woods of Maine is an experience that I won’t soon forget and hope that I’m blessed with the opportunity to do it again someday.
In an effort to share a little bit of the experience with you I’ve created a slideshow of still photographs, as well as a short video of some of the scenery. I hope you enjoy them.
Maine Photo Adventures was one of the official event photographers for the 2017 Boothbay Harbor Fest. During this 10-day festival, Boothbay comes alive with live music, signature cocktails, special chef tastings, a fashion show, art sales, trunk shows, half marathon, trail run and more. As much as I would have loved to stay for several days, my schedule only permitted me to shoot during the first weekend. Despite only being there for 2 days I got to experience a whole lot of action.
The highlight of the weekend was the “Taste of Local Flavor.” Visitors were able to buy a special “tasting Passport” and with it, they could attend free special tastings at several of the local restaurants. What a ball this was. From noon till past 9pm we traveled to a different restaurant every hour to sample some of their specially prepared bites. From seafood chowders to pizza and everything in between, we got our fill of yummy treats.
In addition, many of the participating restaurants also competed in a cocktail competition trying to score the popular votes from attendees. Each competitor showed off the talents and creativity of their local Mixologists and offered up some delicious adult beverages. It sure was hard to decide on which drink was my favorite!
While nibbling on our food samples and sipping our drinks we had the pleasure of enjoying live entertainment at each stop. The great variety of music was such a treat and provided a fun and relaxing atmosphere at each stop throughout the day. It was hard to leave some of the spots and felt like the hour went by way too fast.
All of Saturday was spent eating and drinking so it’s a good thing that Sunday started off with a Health and Wellness Fair. With free yoga and Zumba classes, along with several vendors selling health-related products visitors were sure to feel better by attending.
As a special bonus, the American Heart Association was there to provide free CPR training to all attendees. Each person went home with a complete practice packet and it was the most entertaining training I ever witnessed. What a ball.
For those that were very ambitious, (or maybe they felt guilty after eating and drinking too much the day before) there was a half marathon on Sunday morning. If I didn’t have to shoot I would have been right there running with them. Good thing I had a good excuse!
There were many activities for kids of all ages at this Wellness Fair and the gray skies didn’t seem to make any difference to the amount of fun that was being had.
Sunday continued with more food tastings, but unfortunately, I had to head back home. I’m already looking forward to the event next year!
To see more photos from these two days of events, please click the button below.
Last week’s “Art is Everywhere – The Basics” workshop was a blast. After several seemingly endless days of clouds, rain, and overall drab leading up to the workshop, Mother Nature smiled upon the midcoast and graced us with enough sunshine to make lots of pretty pictures.
It was a true pleasure to spend a few days with the participants who came up from the Boston area. They were primarily landscape photographers so this workshop put them a little bit outside of their comfort zone – which is exactly where I want them! Their results were outstanding. A true testament to the fact that “they GOT it.” They understood my preaching loud and clear and my heart fluttered when I saw their gorgeous photos. Selecting just a few samples was tremendously difficult because they were all so great.
Of course, the also took a lot of breath-taking landscapes to add to their portfolios, but they were already amazing landscape photographers. There was nothing I could teach them to improve that work. This workshop was all about seeing differently, noticing and capturing the small things that normally go unnoticed and certainly un-shot. This quote from one of the participants really did sum up her experience. . . .
“Paula helped me take a little of the technical out of my photography and replace it with some heart and art! Her class was a photographer’s spiritual retreat.”
– Bridgette Mathews, Glouster, MA.
I just can’t close this article without showing a couple of the landscapes that were taken. I do want to point out that this was “extra credit” and was not part of the actual workshop. Time is allotted during the Maine Photo Adventures to shoot sunrise and sunset photos on your own. And as you can see, it’s worth getting up early and staying out late.
Sunrise in Rockland Harbor by Helen Cogan
Sunset at Marshall Point by Bridgette Mathews
If these photos were just a tease and you would like to see more of the kinds of things you would shoot during the Art is Everywhere Photography Workshop, the video below spotlights some of the photos that I took during the adventure. Enjoy.
For more information about this Art is Everywhere photography workshop, please click the button below and stay tuned for when we’ll run another one.
Apologies for the serious lack of communication from Maine Photo Adventures lately, but I have a good excuse. I was very very busy . . . lounging under palm trees on a beach in Mexico for the past five weeks! We all know that Maine is spectacular in the summertime, but let’s face it, by the end of the long winter, not so much. Enduring the cold winters makes the summers all the more sweeter, but my theory is . . . cutting the winters short is the sweetest plan yet.
Mexico offers many photographic opportunities. I stayed in a city called Playa del Carmen and it’s bursting with colorful sights. It really redefines my saying of “Art is Everywhere.” I just loved all the color throughout the city. Whether it was the colorful buildings, flowers in bloom, pretty merchandise in front of all the shops, or people dressed in colorful summer clothing, it was just so nice to see something other than the typical gray sky and white snow that I’m now facing with a Maine spring.
I’m not sure if graffiti is the proper term for all the beautiful “street art” lining the avenues. Every blank wall is treated like an open canvas and it seems that artists come out of thin air to decorate these blank spaces. I am really going to miss seeing so much creativity everywhere I turned.
Street photography has never been my strong point, but it’s almost too easy in a place constantly bustling with so many interesting people. This was a much different experience as compared to trying to take street shots in Maine. During some months, it might take an hour just to spot a brave soul walking down the street! In Mexico you have so many choices it’s hard to decide which opportunity to grab first.
I really wish that I could hold an “Art is Everywhere” photography workshop in Playa del Carmen some day because it is just too much fun. It’s almost too easy to spot the art.
For now we will just have to stick to Maine for the Art is Everywhere workshop and I promise, by the time June rolls around all the snow will be gone and there will be plenty of colorful sights to see and capture. Why not plan on spending a few days in the beautiful Midcoast and joining in on the fun? The next Art is Everywhere workshop will be June 7 – 9, 2017. Please click the button below for more details.
Are you looking for some photo inspiration for the new year? Doing a Project 365 is a great way to practice your photography and have doing it. Have you ever heard of Project 365? It’s a commitment that you make to yourself to take one photo a day, every day for 365 consecutive days and I suggest giving it a try. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you can only take ONE photo per day, but that is your minimum goal. It’s meant to encourage you to shoot, at least something, every day. Even on days when you don’t leave the house and there’s nothing interesting to shoot, you must shoot and document your photo. You will be amazed at what you will come up with, especially on the days when you think there is positively nothing to shoot. Those are the days when your creativity will be the most challenged and those are the days that you will grow the most as a photographer.
I, personally, have been doing one of these Projects every year for the past several years. I have to admit, they have become more about specific topics or exercises in my life and less about pushing myself as a photographer, but it doesn’t matter. The commitment of remembering to take a photo every single day (even with your phone) is a great discipline.
Aside from improving your discipline skills, giving you lots of practice shooting and pushing your creativity, there are some other added benefits to trying a project like this. As in my case for the past couple of years, it can serve as a photo diary, giving you a visual record of an entire year in your life. It is so much fun to look back and see an entire year pass before your eyes! Another great benefit to this project is that it will make you more observant. When you know that you have to take a photo a day, you’ll notice a lot more around you. You’ll find yourself looking for photos everywhere and seeing little things you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. And THAT my friends is what is going to make you a better photographer! Even if you end up with 365 silly snapshots taken with your phone, the practice of remembering to take a photo every day will help you.
There are so many ideas to get you started. And don’t worry about not starting on January 1st. You can start anytime and just keep it going for a full year. Here are the projects that I have done over the past few years to show you how you can create your own take on this challenge.
One year I just took one photo a day of something that I wanted to remember about that day.
One year I documented what I was wearing every single day (and to really make it difficult I tried not to wear the same outfit all year. Boy was I relieved when that year ended!)
One year I really changed it up and decided to take a one-second video rather than a still photo. Much more challenging, but the result was fun and rewarding.
One year I broke my year up into 12 different themes and used things like “abstract, reflections, B&W, textures, etc,” changing them up every month. I planned out my 12 themes in advance so there was no downtime transitioning from one month to the next. (Most of these photos are terrible, but keep in mind that the point of this is the exercise, not the finished results of the photos.)
One year I committed to captioning every photo with just one word (and again, tried not to use the same word twice all year). This got harder and harder as the year went but really forced me to be creative. (sorry, no link to this project.)
Last year my theme was “my happy moment of the day.” This really forced me to be more mindful throughout the day as I searched for my happy moment.
Or if you really want to simplify it, try what I did and only pick 12 themes, on for each month. If you’re trying to improve your photographic skills here are some suggestions that you may want to try:
depth of field
A great free resource to keep track of all your photos in one neat and tidy place is http://365project.org/. What I love about this site is that it allows you to either use their free app and shoot directly from your phone or use their desktop website and upload photos from your computer – the best of both worlds!
I hope this article has motivated you to want to give it a try. Please join in on the fun!