New Image!!!

Storm Over Dolly Sods

There was a lot of excitment getting this image! It started at four in the morning, after a long night of sleeping in the truck and it storming very heavily. I woke up and imediately jumped into the drivers seat. I thought about just skipping the trip up the mountain due to the weather, but decided I might as well check it out. When I arrived it was about twenty minutes before sunrise and the sky was clear. I have photographed this area several times, so I was aware that the weather was unpredictable at best. Ten minutes before sunrise the horizon started showing signs of a storm. I decided to head out and find a composition that I liked and see what the morning would bring. On the walk out to the cliffs edge the storm started moving fast and started coming my way. It grew darker and darker and lightning started to crack all around me. I quickly set up my tripod, grabbed the first composition I could find and fired away. I was literally only able to fire off maybe five shots before having to grab my tripod and run for the truck. This is the first time I have actually felt in danger of the weather while I was taking photos. I don't suggest getting yourself in this kind of situation, but feeling the power behind this storm in this wonderful place was something truly amazing! 

Head on over to the Landscapes and Nature Gallery to see the full size image

 

My first Big Ass metal print

During the whole Black Friday/Cyber Monday extravaganza the printer that I use announced they were offering free shipping. I have been waiting for this opportunity to try printing a very large metal print. The image in question was going to be 40" x 60" and was slated to go in the upper part of our stairwell so it could be seen from the upper floor of the house. 

For those that are not familiar with printing on metal, I will explain. It is exactly as it sounds. Your photo is printed directly on a 1/8 inch thick piece of aluminum. This process makes for a stunning presintation that is extremely durable and long lasting.

When my photo showed up on the back of a shipping van I couldn't have been more excited. It came very well packaged in a 2 ply cardboard box. It was tightly wrapped in plastic to an oversized board so the corners would not get bent. It also had plenty of styrofoam blocks on both sides to keep it well protected.

After removing all the packaging and getting this behemoth turned around, I could not believe how well it looked! The best way I can describe it is to think back to the first time you saw HD television, it was so clear and amazing compared to standard definition. I immediately decided this was no longer going to be hung in the stairwell and that it deserved a spot front and center in the living room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The really nice thing about these prints are that they come with a 3/4 inch piece of wood around the inside to make them extra rigid and keep them from warping. They also come with all the hardware needed to hang them. The hanging wire is already attached and the hangers and nails are supplied as well.

 

 

 

 

The final results are stunning and I can't wait to show this off to everybody!

Living Room made up for Christmas

The Making of an image - Sun-kissed "Bodie Island Lighthouse"

 Friday afternoon while working in the office I received a message from good friend and photographer Bernard Chen. He asked what I was doing for the weekend and if I wanted to head to The Outer Banks to shoot Bodie Island Lighthouse. I have been wanting to photograph here for some time now so I jumped at the chance to go. After agreeing to the six hour trip Bernard messaged me saying to make sure and bring boots because we would be getting in the marsh. I wasn't sure exactly what he had planned for this shoot but I trusted it would be good.  

 When I arrived at Bernards house in the morning he asked if I would help him load up the Kayak. Now I am sure this will be good!

 

 

 

 After getting to Bodie Island at around 3pm we unloaded the kayak and prepared to set up our shot. Getting the kayak into position meant us carrying it about three hundred yards down the boardwalk to the edge of the marsh. Then came the fun part! Donned in our knee high boots we entered the grassy marsh with the kayak. We dragged the boat through the sometimes neck high grass and struggled wading through the sometimes knee deep muck. And the smell, lets not talk about the smell! After placing the prop where we needed it we waded back to shore to retrieve our camera gear and wait for sunset.  Unfortunately sunset did not provide the light we had hoped for so we decided to get a hotel room and come back for sunrise.

 When returning for sunrise the lack of clouds in the sky was a little disappointing, but we were here to get the shot and hoped the rising of the sun would light up the scene and make it as magical as we had dreamed up. 

 With our tripods set deeply in the muck we eagerly anticipated the sun coming up over the horizon and when it did we were not let down. The sun kissed the lighthouse with its golden glow and moved its way down to the grass and lit up the scene perfectly. All you could hear at that moment was the sound of birds and our shutters opening and closing almost rhythmically. This is it, this is the moment we strive for but this moment only last for a few seconds and then its gone. They key is to be there when it happens and capture it so you can keep it forever and share it with the world.  

Sun-Kissed "Bodie Island Lighthouse" by Michael Donahue






The making of an image - Serenity

 To start with I have heard on a lot of occasions and I am sure many a photographer has heard this line as well (Wow thats a nice picture, you must have a pretty nice camera huh). The answer to this famously annoying question is yes, I do in fact have a very nice camera, however that is not all it takes to make a good image. It takes so much more than most people would ever realize and this is the story behind just one of them.

 It all started with a Spring break trip with my Wife and my six year old Son to Charleston, South Carolina. Incidentally this trip just happened to be at what I would consider to be the right time to be photographing in that area. With that thought in mind we loaded up the truck with all the necessities includeing my camera gear and headed out for the eight hour drive it would take to get there. I drove through the night and let the other two sleep so I would be able to be at the location I wanted for sunrise. Unfortunately after a very tiring drive we arrived at the location only to find the road was washed out and impassible. I was very disappointed as this was a shot that I have been wanting to get for a very long time. So off to the hotel we went to regroup and come up with a plan. 

 We had planned to spend just four days in Charleston and then move on to stay at some friends house in Georgia for the rest of our vacation. With trying to balance seeing the sights with family and photography I was only left with one more chance to try and get the shot I was after. So the morning of the day we had planned to leave I woke up at 4am to make the hour drive from the hotel to the location on Edisto Island. I was crossing my fingers the whole way hoping that the water had subsided and I could make it down the previously impassable road. Just as I arrived I saw another vehicle drive through what was still a very muddy semi washed out road and made the decision to follow. When I caught up to what ended up being two vehicles a Jeep and another SUV they were stopped at a gate. Turns out the gate is opened by a ranger and the only way to the location on the beach we were all hoping to get to. After pondering what to do I decided I wanted to catch what light was left and photograph the trees on the road that we had came in on. Bad mistake on my part! On the way back through the what now is a very obvious mud hole I should not be driving through I got stuck. Not just a little stuck. The kind of stuck that is in the middle of nowhere on an island with the closest tow truck an hour away. Oh yeah and with that I managed to completely block the road to the other vehicles that were now behind me. Not my proudest of moments!

 Thankfully the workshop of people that Keith and Tiffany Briley of Charleston Photography Tours were understanding and very patient while I waited for a tow truck that would actually come out to this remote location. After getting out I decided to cut my losses and just move on. This photo was apparently not meant to happen.

 Jump ahead two weeks and I received a message from a group of photographer friends that informed me that they were planning on going down to this exact location for a few days and asked if I would like to join them. Of course I couldn't pass it up! So back in the truck for another eight plus hours of driving overnight to reach this location by sunrise. This time with much better luck! The road was dried up and the gate opened up right on time at 6am. Now from the gate to the place to park is probably a mile drive then a half mile walk to the beach and you have to find your shot and get set up all before the sun comes up at 6:30am. 

 When I first set my eyes on this magnificent place I thought I might have been cast as an extra in the show Lost or maybe that Leonardo Decaprio movie The Beach! It was perfectly untouched with large conch shells everywhere and trees rising up from the oceans edge. I didn't know how I could possibly find just one thing I wanted to photograph.

 After taking in the scene for a moment I decided to focus on this lonely tree that managed to survive a little farther out in the surf than most. Looking at the conditions and noticing there wasn't going to be a lot of color in the sunrise I considered a longer exposure to show the movement in the clouds and water. As the waves came in I set up my tripod in the sand and chose my lens. I used a 14-24 2.8 lens at 14mm to capture as much of the scene as I could. My settings were ISO 100 F22 @ 30sec with no filters. 

 I felt extremely relieved to finally have this shot that I had dreamed up in my head for a long time now. I felt at one with this tree and the ocean at the time and now I feel very happy to share my experience with you.

 

Serenity - Botany Bay Plantation by Michael Donahue




Fall at the Tidal Basin, Washington D.C.

On the evening of Friday Nov. 6th I checked the weather for the following day as I do most nights. It called for it to be unusually warm with a light storm front coming in shortly after sunrise. I could barely sleep through the night thinking of the awesome conditions this may bring. I set my alarm for 5am but was awake by 4:30 and commenced to getting ready. Possibly unknown to most tourists in Washington D.C. is the fact that the cherry blossom trees that they have grown to love and flock to every Spring are equally as beautiful in the Fall. In the Spring during peak blossom you likely will have a hard time taking a photo of these wonderful trees without a person in the frame. In very stark contrast the Fall brings few people to the Tidal Basin for sunrise and you are able to enjoy with no interruptions. On Saturday morning I did just that. 

Tidal Basin in Fall colors. Cherry trees and Jefferson Memorial, Washington D.C.

Tidal Basin in Fall colors. Cherry trees with Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial, Washington D.C.

Path at Tidal Basin in Fall, Washington D.C.

Runner at the Tidal Basin, Washington D.C.

Runner at the Tidal Basin, Washington D.C.

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, Charleston SC

Ever since I first laid eyes on this bridge I knew that I wanted to get a cool photo of it. Something that emphasized what a marvel of engineering it truly is. For those that don't know my background is in steel fabrication and still holds a special place in my heart. To have an understanding of what goes into desighning and constructing something that is so strong yet has a balance of such beauty is something  special. To place a huge manmade structure amongst nature and not only have it coexist but to actually enhance the skyline is something we should be very proud of achieving.  

 Just as I arrived to this location with my other photographer friends that I was traveling with the sky opened up and it began to pour rain. As we were getting out our gear lightning lit up the sky and a loud crack sound followed. Instead of packing up and running for the hills we hurried up and set up our shots. I did bring an umbrella with me on this trip but while hurrying to get to the location I forgot to grab it and did not have time now. With the rain coming down very heavy all I could do is keep wiping my lens dry take a shot and repeat. I was only able to take a total of six shots before having to retreat to the car, but I felt good knowing that I had got this one before leaving! 

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the current bridge. 

The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge over the Cooper River in South Carolina, connecting downtown Charlestonto Mount Pleasant. The eight lane bridge satisfied the capacity of U.S. Route 17 when it opened in 2005 to replace two obsolete cantilever truss bridges. The bridge has a main span of 1,546 feet (471 m), the third longest among cable-stayed bridges in the Western Hemisphere. It was built using the design-build method and was designed by Parsons Brinckerhoff.

 

Lightning Over Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge by Michael Donahue

Cherry Blossom time in Washington D.C.

Every spring in Washington D.C. you start to hear two words seemingly more frequent than any others. Cherry Blossoms! When are they expected to bloom? Whats the weather look like? Can we get a hotel? How many people do you think there will be this year? When is peak bloom? For those living in the D.C. area it can be taxing. But when the nearly 1,700 Cherry Blossom trees that are around the Tidal Basin hit peak bloom its all worth it! Seeing the trees burst into color is truly something to admire, especialy considering they are so delicate and only last a few days. This is my collection of photos from this years display.

Cherry Blossoms at Twilight by Michael Donahue

Lady Of The Blossoms by Michael Donahue

Jefferson Memorial Through Blossoms by Michael Donahue

Twisted Blossom Tree by Michael Donahue

Cherry Blossom Glow by Michael Donahue

Geese At Sunrise by Michael Donahue

Blossom Reflection At Twilight by Michael Donahue

Angel Oak

During my families recent Spring break trip to see some friends in southern Georgia I decided it was a good idea to make a stop off in Charleston SC. for some photography fun. We only stayed for a couple of days so my time was limited. I had a few ups and downs on this trip but those stories will be told later (maybe)! One of the highlights though was the Angel Oak. I have been wanting to see this tree for some time now but have never been in the area or had time. The tree is pretty amazing and a true testament to the beauty that Mother Nature can and will create if we just leave her alone. However when we arrived to the tree I must say i was a little disapointed with all the sighns that declared no tripods to be used there. With little else to do but walk around the tree and look for an appropriate hand held shot to take I was off. The light was harsh due to the fact that there was little cloud cover and the park did not open till 9a.m.. Even for it being only a few minutes past the 9a.m. mark dodging people to get the shot proved difficult, but oh well I was going to enjoy it anyway. After finding the shot I wanted to take, I waited for people to clear out enough to make it happen. People filtered in and out rather regularly, so I took the opportunity when it seemed like the changing of the guards was happening. After getting the shot I was able to talk to one of the grounds keepers that was very helpful. He told me if I would like to come back in the morning right at nine he would allow me to use a tripod and keep the people at bay for a few minutes. Unfortunately I was not able to make it back as I had planed to due to some of the other happenings during this trip, but I will explain later! 

Angel Oak, Charleston SC. Photo By Michael Donahue

Angel Oak, Charleston SC. Photo By Michael Donahue

Richmond Train Bridge at Sunset

 Last fall I joined photographer friends Bernard Chen and David Nguyen in Richmond VA. With David leading the way we waded our way across the James River to find a optimal spot to photograph this amazing structure at sunset. I look forward to going back to this location and capturing more of its beauty in the future.

Richmond VA. Train Bridge By Michael Donahue

 


Icy Leesylvania State Park Sunrise

Even though tempetures are beginning to rise and Spring is upon us, just a couple of weeks ago things were much colder. 

I started the morning with an unfavorable 4am blaring of the alarm. This is the time that I hate. Time to make the decision to get my gear around and go shoot or to just get back into the nice and toasty bed that I just left. I usually take a look outside (although it is dark) and see if there any signs of clouds. I then check the weather and try and make a educated guess on if it will be worth heading out or not. Ultimately this whole routine usually just comes down to a hunch! On this morning I decided that although I didn't see any clouds and the weather called for clear skies I was going to head out anyways. About 25 miles outside of Washington D.C. on the tidal shores of the Potomac River is Leesylvania State Park. The park consist of many miles of hiking trails, shoreline and a great place to launch your boat. However none of these things are what draw me here. Im here for the amazing sunrises that often happen over the river and that align themselves so well with the very photogenic fishing pier that jets into the water. On this morning when I arrived with about half an hour to spare before sunrise the tempeture was tetering on fifteen degrees with very little wind. I must admit even though I was dressed for the cold temps, I wasn't excited to leave my nice warm vehicle! As I grabbed my gear and headed to the shore to set up I could hear the amazing sound of all the ice cracking and started to get excited about what I was about to see. When I arrived at the river bank I was awarded with the sight of all these thick sheets of ice that had been forced ashore and stacked on top of one another. I set up my gear and waited for the sun to appear over the horizon. When It did I was very thankful I decided to get out and shoot that morning.

Sunrise on the icy banks of the Potomac River at Leesylvania State Park by Michael Donahue  

Sunrise on the icy banks of the Potomac River at Leesylvania State Park by Michael Donahue

 

 

  

Think Spring in D.C.!

Although we will be in the midst of Cherry Blossom and tourist season here very soon, for now snow is in the forecast. Hopefully this will be the last snowstorm of the season and we can move on to Spring! I haven't made my way out to go photograph any of the white fluffy stuff today. However as I was surveying the snow I noticed this Robin in the back yard looking kind of confused! I waited for it to come closer. After a few minutes I decided to grab some bread crumbs and coax it closer. Of course when I opened the basement door the bird took flight and moved further away. So... I waited! I can wait. Then it became a standoff. The bird against me and I was not giving up. You would think by the way I was acting this was some very serious prey. After nearly twenty minutes of just lying on the basement floor, the bird finally found its trust in me and I was able to get this shot.  I not sure but I think this weather may be starting to have a bad effect on me! Come on Spring!