Alan Pelletier Photography

Landscape and Travel Photography

Archive for ‘August, 2019’

Patience waiting for the scene

This past weekend I traveled to Newport RI for some night photography of the Milky Way at Brenton Point State Park. My wife came along to enjoy the scenery as its one of our favorite spots in New England and to get some great seafood. We arrived mid-afternoon on Saturday and checked into our hotel, then proceeded downtown to find dinner. After checking out menu’s at several locations we decided to try Clarke Cooke House along the waterfront. Dinner was exceptional followed by some Gifford’s Ice Cream at Sprinkles ice cream shop around the corner.

We then drove over to Castle Hill Lighthouse to capture sunset. The lighthouse is located near the Castle Hill Inn, but public access is provided. Being summer the Inn is very busy and parking is limited, but they did provide free parking at the entrance of the road at the intersection with Ocean Avenue. From the parking area it was only a 10-minute walk to the lighthouse.

70mm, f/8, 1/125s, ISO 100

Upon arrival at the lighthouse the sky was filled with large dark gray clouds in the western sky. As it was approaching time for sunset it appeared it was going to be a lackluster event. Nonetheless, I proceeded with taking some photos. My first setup attempted to capture the sunset behind the lighthouse, but with gray skies I was only able to take a images in a different direction without the lighthouse where lighter cloud coverage and developing colors provided more interesting photos. I took several photos, but was tempted to pack up my gear as it appeared the western sky was not going to deliver.

36mm, f/8, 1/3s, ISO 100

As the time for sunset passed, I notice another photographer setup on the other side of the lighthouse that provided the composition I had in mind with the emerging colored sky in the background. I quickly picked up my tripod and walked further down the trail looking for access to this location. I found a narrow trail through the brush that lead me to the location and quickly setup my tripod as the colors in the skies were really starting to pop. I took numerous compositions in both portrait and landscape format.

38mm, f/8, 0.6s, ISO 100

As mentioned earlier I wanted to get some photos of the Milky Way and met several other photographers at Brenton Point State park later that night. I arrived around 10 PM and the night sky was partially obscured by clouds. By the time I got my camera set-up the clouds had substantially thickened and was really only able to take one set of photos of the Milky Way. We waited until 11:30 PM, but it was apparent the skies were not going to clear as confirmed my our weather apps. Instead of throwing in the towel for the night, we decided to take an opportunity to photograph the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge.

58mm, f/2.8, 13s, ISO 3200

We proceeded to the Jamestown side of the bridge to get a better view of the bridge at night. We parked at Taylor Point Lookout and walked down a narrow trail to rocky edge of Narragansett Bay passing several fisherman done for the night. The bridge was beautiful with its lights casting a glow across the water and onto the rock ledges where we proceeded to setup our cameras. There were also fewer clouds that provided more interest to our compositions. Grabbing several photos of the bridge at night certainly made up for lost opportunity at Brenton Point and was I able to get back to the hotel at a reasonable early time of 2 AM.

32mm, f/16, 323s, ISO 100

For some additional technical information regarding the photos above all were taken with my 24-70 mm f/2.8 Nikon lens with my Nikon D750. The sunset photos at Castle Hill Lighthouse were taken without any filters and processed with a combination of Lightroom and DXO Nik Collection Color Effex Pro 4. I’m particular fond of using Color Effex Pro 4 as it gives me the detail and colors I desire for my photos. Unfortunately, the images of the Milky Way were shrouded in heavy clouds and I was only able to salvage a single image of a portion of the star field taken at 58 mm and processed in Lightroom and Photoshop. I took several images of the Newport bridge at different exposure settings and settled for a long exposure of approximately 5 minutes to use a small aperture of 16 to get the starburst effects for the lights and low ISO to minimize noise. I used Lightroom to edit this photo. If you have any questions about photographing the Milky Way or long exposures or my processing technique for any of the photographs, feel free to contact me.

Recent Photos – Traveling the Turquoise Highway

Going to New Mexico this past May I had several compositions in mind for some photos. One was finding some southwestern or Spanish mission style churches. This was my second trip to the “Land of Enchantment” with my previous visit to beautiful Santa Fe. During this previous trip and my May visit to Santa Fe, I was inspired to photograph more churches like the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi
Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi

Prior to my trip a fellow photographer who lived in New Mexico suggested that I take the Turquoise Highway from Albuquerque north to Taos my final destination. Formally known as State Route 14, it’s a scenic 50-mile drive north to Santa Fe passing through the towns of Golden, Madrid, and Cerrillos. From Albuquerque you drive east on Interstate 40 to Cedar Crest to start the journey on the Turquoise Highway.

Turquoise Chevy Belair

My first significant stop was the Town of Madrid a former mining made famous by the movie “Wild Hogs” starring John Travolta, William Macy, Tim Allen, and Martin Lawrence. Being a former mining town that pre-dates the State highway, the road narrows as you approach the town and then meanders through the center of town.

Maggie’s Diner

I obviously took photos of the Maggie’s Diner, which was actually built for the film and left as a gift shop in Madrid. I also wandered through the small town and visited several shops and purchased some amazing chocolate at Shugarman’s Little Shop.

Shops in Madrid

As I approached the town of Los Cerrillos I noted a turquoise dome church off the State Highway.  I quickly turned around and proceed toward the church.  It was just after midday and the side streets were very quire with no traffic, perhaps it was siesta time.  I took several shots of the front of St. Joseph Catholic Church from different angles, including a close-up of the wooden statute in the front of the church.  Afterwards I continued my trip north to Santa Fe and then onto Taos.

St. Joseph Catholic Church – Los Cerritos

For processing I primarily used Lightroom with the exception of the removal of some overhead powerlines that I prefer to use Photoshop. Being midday, I wanted to convert my photos into black and white images to take advantage of the contrast between light and shadow on the church. I used the black and white profiles provided in LR CC as they have numerous options to explore. I selected one that darken the sky and provided a nice texture to the clouds and desired contrast for the church itself. Making some final tonal and sharpening adjustments my black and white image was ready. For additional information on photography or my processing technique for black and whites, please feel free to contact me.

St. Joseph Catholic Church – Los Cerritos
Statue at entrance