Lake of the Clouds resides in Ontonagon County in the Upper Peninsula region of Michigan. It’s nestled within the 58,000 acres of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The lake is situated in a valley between two ridges and is fed by the Carp River Inlet on the east end of the lake. It’s surrounded by a beautiful virgin old growth wilderness and is the most photographed feature in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The lake can be viewed most easily by driving to the Lake of the Clouds Overlook at the west end of the 107th Engineers Memorial Highway (M-107). Here, you’ll find a large parking lot at the top along with a short, paved trail leading to the various lookout points along the north side of the lake. You can also hike from there along the Escarpment Trail to explore other views of the lake. Access other wonderful photo opportunities at the base level of the lake by hiking the North Mirror Lake Trail near the lookout point.
Weather In The Porcupine Mountains
Weather conditions in the Porcupine Mountains can vary greatly, from well below freezing during the winter to the warmest months averaging 70 degrees Fahrenheit and above during the day. Fall temperatures can range from the low 40s to 70s during the day. One thing I’ve learned from living in the Midwest for the past seven years is that the weather can change on a moment’s notice, so regardless of the time of year, be prepared and bring layers. Also, be aware that thunder and lightning can seemingly come out of nowhere, so pay attention to weather forecasts, especially if planning extended hiking trips in the area.
I’ve returned to photograph this location three times. Fall is the ideal time because of the beautiful foliage colors engulfing the lake. Timing is critical, and it can be hard to find both peak color and ideal weather conditions to photograph this location. My first two attempts were unsuccessful in capturing this scene as I had envisioned. The first time, I was about a week too late for the best fall color, and high winds had also taken their toll, blowing a considerable amount of leaves off the trees. The second time, I left very early from Milwaukee and actually ended up getting lost due to a lack of cell service when attempting to navigate there before sunrise. It’s important to note that cell service in the Porcupines is minimal to nonexistent, so it’s best to plan ahead and bring a map or GPS.
On my third attempt, when I captured this shot, I studied the fall color and weather reports carefully, and ended up making a last-minute decision to travel to the lake. When I arrived at the viewing platform about an hour before sunrise, I quickly noticed about 20 headlamps shining with moving figures heading toward the viewpoints. As I reached the main platform, it was completely filled with photographers already shooting in the dark. I was late, and it was very crowded. I managed to scramble below the deck and find a spot where I could set up. As I was shooting, I was so focused on technical concerns that I didn’t notice how nice the incoming cloud formations were lining up over the east end of the lake. I was pleasantly surprised when I reviewed my files.
I used a Nikon D800E and AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED lens mounted on a Really Right Stuff TVC-34L tripod and an Arca-Swiss D4 Geared Head to capture the image. The exposure settings were 1/6 sec., ƒ/16, ISO 100.
Best Times To Photograph In The Porcupine Mountains
I shot this scene in the second week of October. Typically, the peak color in the area reveals itself two weeks prior. So, it’s important to research foliage sites and monitor the weather forecasts in advance. Speaking to locals can give you more current updates on the ever-changing fall color.
The other key concerns are high winds and heavy rainstorms. If a significant storm comes through, the trees may lose too many leaves before peak color arrives. The ability to be flexible in your schedule is the key to success.
Contact: Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, porcupineup.com/lake-of-the-clouds.
See more of Jeff Stasney’s photography at jeffstasneyphotography.com.
The post Lake Of The Clouds appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.
Quaint New England towns, covered bridges, rushing rivers and granite-topped mountains provide a setting for fall color photography that will inspire you and create lasting memories. Beginning in late September at the higher elevations and continuing through mid-October in the surrounding valleys, the colorful transition from greens to yellows, oranges and reds spill down from the alpine heights of the White Mountains.
The White Mountain region consists of the northern quarter of New Hampshire and contains the most rugged scenery. Carved by glacial activity, the resulting U-shaped valleys provide road access to the three major notches from which a photographer can launch excursions. Franconia Notch, Crawford Notch and Pinkham Notch each have their own personalities, unique views and possibilities. Luckily, drive times between the different notches is around an hour, so if colors aren’t as good as you were hoping in your current location, a short drive may improve conditions.
Accessing the heart of the White Mountains is very straightforward. From the east, Maine’s Portland International Jetport is only 1.5 hours from the North Conway area via Route 113. From Logan International Airport in Boston, head 2.5 hours north on Interstate 93 toward Franconia Notch, or take Route 16 north to Pinkham and Crawford Notch. Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is New Hampshire’s largest airport and a good starting point if heading to Franconia Notch.
The Kancamagus Scenic Byway (New Hampshire Route 112) cuts across the state connecting the east and west portions of the White Mountains. There is no gas on this 40-mile stretch, so make sure you are fueled up before driving this section. The drive (especially Route 16 north) is scenic, passing through charming villages such as Chocorua, Tamworth and Jackson. The southern portion of the Whites reach peak color seven to 10 days later than the northern areas, so follow the colors south if time allows.
While roadside opportunities abound in the notches, I prefer to incorporate short hikes and overnight backpacking to find unique views that often include some exciting weather, clouds and lighting. Of the smaller mountains in the southern Whites, the Mount Morgan and Percival hiking loop is one of my favorites. The 5-mile hike cruises over two bald summits, with outlooks east over Squam Lake. One advantage of shooting from smaller mountains is that distant features are more recognizable in images, creating a more intimate feel.
Chocorua Lake near Route 16 is a must stop if heading to the Crawford Notch area. Mts. Chocorua, Paugus, Passaconaway and Whiteface will reflect in the lake under still conditions. I prefer sunrise as the chances for fog increase. Moose are common in the area, so be careful during early morning drives.
A little farther north of Lake Chocorua lies the eastern portion of the Kancamagus Highway. The Swift River hugs the road for several miles, and there is ample shoulder to park and find compositions without another photographer in sight. I like to walk the river banks to more secluded cascades and pools to increase the chances of original compositions. More popular parking areas such as Lower Falls and Rocky Gorge Scenic Area are indeed beautiful, but buses often stop here, so it can feel congested and challenging to get shots without people edging into the frame.
A drive through Crawford Notch is especially stunning in the autumn. This classic U-shaped valley of glacial origin boasts walls soaring nearly 2,500 feet. Webster Cliffs are composed of exposed granite outcroppings on the northeastern side of the notch, which contrast nicely with colorful foliage. Stands of paper birch frequently line the road and make for intimate shots with a zoom lens, or try a wider view to include the cliffs and sky. The Willey House is operated by the Crawford Notch State Park and offers snacks and ice cream through Columbus Day. Walk the Sam Willey Trail along the Saco River across from the Willey house to leave the busy parking area for views of 4,285-foot Mount Willey reflected in beaver ponds.
Some of the most photogenic waterfalls are found in Crawford Notch, so a little rain can be a good thing, as water flow is normally low in October. A 3-mile round trip hike, Arethusa Falls cascades nearly 200 feet over granite ledges, making it New Hampshire’s tallest waterfall. Nearby Ripley Falls is 100 feet high and can be combined with a hike to Arethusa Falls. Near the top of the notch is Silver Cascade, one of the most-photographed falls in the state. This roadside attraction is popular due to its accessibility and the proximity of vibrant maples and beech contrasting with rushing water. Numerous injuries and deaths have occurred at these falls due to slips, so use caution if moving in close for wide angle shots.
North of Crawford Notch is the Ammonoosuc River, which drains the western slopes of Mount Washington. This scenic river has beautiful pools, cascades and gorges surrounded by maples and birch. Upper Falls is a popular swimming hole just off the Cog Railway Base Road that carves its way through granite and makes a fine subject.
North of the picturesque town of Jackson lies Pinkham Notch. When passing through Jackson, it’s worth a drive up Green Hill Road, then Iron Mountain Road to the Iron Mountain trailhead for unobstructed views of the Presidential Range and the Carter-Moriah Range. The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) operates a visitor center at the top of the notch where all levels of hikes originate. Views of Mount Washington and the surrounding high peaks of the Presidential Range are visible if you drive north of the AMC facility. If there is snow on the mountains, this is a good place to combine it with colorful foliage. Roadside stands of birch are also common through Pinkham Notch.
While the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is one of the most popular in the White Mountains, I prefer the nearby Boot Spur Trail for serenity and great views of Tuckerman Ravine, Mount Washington and the surrounding mountains. This is a challenging and exposed trail, so be prepared for inclement weather and a physical workout.
The Franconia Notch Parkway winds through the westernmost notch, passing Cannon Cliffs to the west and Franconia Ridge to the east. This notch gives me the big-mountain feel of the west while still in New Hampshire. Cannon Cliffs reminds me of the big walls of Yosemite as sheer granite rises 1,000 feet above. The first aerial tram in the United States was constructed on Cannon Mountain in 1938. A modern version now carries visitors to the summit for fantastic views across to Franconia Ridge. If the tram appeals to you, I recommend following the level portion of the Kinsman Ridge trail near the summit tram station for views east to the ridge.
There are several turnouts on the southbound side of the highway to access the Pemigewasset River as it tumbles over granite slabs. The Basin is a popular granite pothole formation, but a short hike further up the Basin Cascade trail will give you more options to photograph Cascade Brook as it drops over smooth granite.
The Lonesome Lake Trail begins at Lafayette Place from Interstate 93. This is a relatively easy 1.5-mile hike that affords views of Franconia Ridge from across Lonesome Lake. This is prime moose habitat, and I frequently encounter them on early mornings or at dusk. The AMC operates the Lonesome Lake Hut adjacent to the lake and is a great option if sunrise and sunset images are in your plans.
Another wonderful AMC hut location in the area is the Greenleaf Hut, accessed from the northbound side of the Parkway across from Lafayette Place. Located on the western slopes of Mount Lafayette, this hut provides access to the alpine areas for sunrise and sunset without a long and strenuous hike by headlamp. Franconia Ridge is one of the classic alpine hikes in the White Mountains, with expansive views into the Pemigewasset Wilderness (New Hampshire’s largest) toward Mount Washington. Looking west, Cannon Mountain and Kinsman Ridge are visible. While not the most direct route to the hut, following the Falling Waters Trail is the most scenic, with the highlight being Cloudland Falls—a destination unto itself.
White Mountains: Nearby Accommodations
Hotels and motels are widely available in the White Mountain region. Jackson and North Conway are close to Pinkham Notch, while Bartlett and Twin Mountain enable easy access to Crawford Notch. Lincoln, Franconia and Woodstock are short drives to the Franconia Notch destinations.
Campgrounds and AMC lodging in the notches are numerous and place you next to the trails you may want to hike. See the White Mountain National Forest section of the U.S. Forest Service website for camping options. For AMC lodging info, visit outdoors.org/lodging-camping. My bible for all things hiking- and backpacking-related in the White Mountains is the AMC White Mountain Guide, available at outdoor stores and online.
Autumn Weather In The White Mountains
The first snows can hit the higher elevations during early October, so be prepared for cold temperatures and high winds, especially if planning alpine hikes. Check the Mount Washington website (mountwashington.org) for the most accurate higher summit forecasts. The New Hampshire state website, NH.gov, posts up-to-date fall foliage forecasts for the White Mountain area. Expect cool nights, warming to the 50s or 60s at lower elevations. Morning fog is common over ponds, streams and lakes. Dress in layers and bring rain gear, and you will be able to shoot comfortably regardless of the weather. Extreme White Mountain weather can set the scene for exceptional autumn images and a trip you will not forget.
See more of Harry Lichtman’s work at harrylichtman.com.
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The post Colors Of The White Mountains appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.
The Alpha A7R III is Sony's latest high-resolution mirrorless camera, and an update of the excellent Alpha A7R II, which was responsible for tempting many a photographer away from the comfort of their Canon and Nikon DSLRs.
This latest model looks to draw on many of the technologies used in the speed-orientated Sony Alpha A9, which is just as well, because with the likes of Nikon's brilliant D850 offering a tempting combination of high resolution and high performance the Alpha A7R II was beginning to look a little pedestrian.
With some impressive boosts to performance, as well as tweaks to handling and the peace of mind of a five-year guarantee, could the new Alpha A7R III see even more second-hand Canon and Nikon DSLRs appearing on the shelves of camera stores as more photographers make the switch to Sony?
Full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, 42.2MP
3,686K-dot electronic viewfinder with 100fps refresh rate
3.0-inch tilt-angle screen, 1,440,000 dots
While many might have expected Sony to boost the amount of pixels to match or exceed DSLR rivals like the D850 and Canon EOS 5DS, it's actually opted to stick with the same count as the Alpha A7R II.
At the core of the A7R III then is a 42.2MP back-illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor, although Sony has borrowed some of the innovations from the 24.2MP Alpha A9 and integrated them with this more densely populated chip.
There are gapless microlenses and a new anti-flare coating for starters, while the Alpha A7R III features a new front-end LSI that almost doubles the readout speed of the sensor. It also takes advantage of the latest BIONZ X image processing engine, and combined, these enhancements deliver a boost of up to 1.8x in processing speeds compared to the A7R II.
The A7R III's sensitivity range remains unchanged (ISO50-102,400 at the camera's expanded setting), so those hoping for something to match the Nikon D850's expanded ISO32 setting may be a little disappointed. However, the new processing engine should be able to handle image noise better than its predecessor, while Sony also claims the Alpha A7R III will have a staggering 15-stop dynamic range at low sensitivity settings.
The Alpha A7R III has the same electronic viewfinder (EVF) as the Alpha A9, with the Quad-VGA OLED EVF sporting a resolution of approximately 3,686k dots, and utilizing a Zeiss T* Coating to reduce reflections. On top of this, the A7R III supports a customizable frame rate for the EVF, with options of either 60fps or 120fps, again matching the 120fps offered by the A9.
Along with the EVF, the rear tilt-angle display has also been upgraded over the outgoing model; it now has a resolution of 1.44 million dots, and, just as we've seen with recent models like the RX10 IV, offers touchscreen functionality.
Also as with the A9, Sony has shunned the XQD card format (even though it's now the sole manufacturer of that format), instead opting for dual SD card slots on the Alpha A7R III, with only one of those supporting UHS-II type cards.
The Alpha A7R III offers 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) video capture, with the option to use either the full width of the sensor or Super 35mm format mode, with the latter using the full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 5K of information, and oversampling this to produce what promises to be even crisper footage.
As well as this, the Alpha A7R III now features a new HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) profile that supports an Instant HDR workflow, allowing HDR (HLG) compatible TVs to play back 4K HDR footage, while both S-Log2 and S-Log3 are also available.
If you want to shoot Full HD footage you can capture this at up to 120fps, while there are ports for both a microphone and audio monitoring.
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Build and handling
Magnesium alloy construction
Dust- and moisture-sealed
The look and feel of the Sony Alpha A7R III broadly follows the design of the A7R II, but there are a host of tweaks and refinements when you start looking a little closer.
While the new camera doesn't get the dedicated drive mode dial/focus mode selector that sits to the left of the EVF on the Alpha A9, it does get a similar multi-selector joystick.
It may seem a small thing, but the arrival of the joystick greatly improves handling over the A7R II, as it makes for much quicker AF point selection. The A7R III also sees the addition of a dedicated AF-ON button for back-button focusing, again as on the A9.
In fact, the rear of the camera mimics the control layout of the A9 – that means the A7R III gets an additional 'C3' custom button, while the rear scrollwheel is more pronounced, and less likely to be accidentally knocked.
The rear touch display, meanwhile, does away with an annoying quirk of the A7R II. If you were shooting from the waist with the screen angled outward, the older camera would think you had the camera raised to your eye, resulting in the feed being cut on the screen. The display on the A7R III disables the eye sensor when the screen is flipped out, allowing you to shoot at waist level uninterrupted.
The body is slightly thicker than the A7R II, but fractionally slimmer than the A9, and features a magnesium alloy top, front and rear covers, as well as an internal frame. Sony has also increased the number of lens mount screws to six for enhanced durability, while all major buttons and dials are sealed, and there's sealing throughout the body, to protect the A7R III from dust and moisture.
The menu system has also been overhauled. Now color-coded, it's that bit easier to navigate, but the menu system on the Alpha A7R III is still incredibly comprehensive. That said, once you've tailored the various custom buttons to your desired settings, these, along with the body-mounted controls, mean there should be little need to be regularly diving into the main menu. When you do though, give yourself a bit of time to find exactly what you're looking for.
The changes may be modest, but they combine to make the A7R III that much more user-friendly and satisfying to shoot with.
399 phase-detection points
425 contrast-detection points
Eye AF with enhanced tracking performace
Sony has improved the focusing system as well. The 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points from the A7R II remain (with 68% coverage of the frame), but Sony has bolstered the number of contrast-detection AF points from 25 to 400.
Sony reckons this overhaul should improve autofocus speed, delivering up to roughly two times faster speeds in low-light conditions, along with improved AF tracking performance.
The Alpha A7R III can also focus in brightness levels as low as -3EV. When you consider that's pretty much complete darkness, it's very impressive, although the D850's central AF point just edges it at -4EV.
As we've seen on other Sony mirrorless cameras, there's a wide range of autofocus settings. Wide or Zone modes are good for general photography and will take care of much of the decision-making for you, while Center mode uses the central AF point.
There’s also a Flexible Spot mode (with the choice of three AF area sizes) that enables you to use the joystick to position the focus area pretty much anywhere in the frame, while the Expanded Flexible Spot mode takes advantage of additional AF points to assist with focusing.
Focusing is fast in single servo mode, but it's when you flick the focusing over to continuous that the system really impressives. You get the same focusing modes as before, but with the addition of a Lock-on setting – use this mode and you'll find the Alpha A7R III can do a stunning job of tracking your designated subject as it moves round the frame.
The Alpha A7R III's Eye AF has also been enhanced, and now uses the same autofocus algorithms as the Alpha 9. This means that when the A7R III is in AF-C mode and with Eye-AF activated, the system should be able to continuously track and focus on your subject's eye, even if they look down or away from the camera.
In our time with the camera this really impressed us. The A7R III managed to happily maintain focus on a subject in two challenging scenarios – while they were moving round the frame quickly as well as moving towards us, or looking down or away from the camera.
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10fps burst shooting
5-axis image stabilization
530-shot battery life
While the A7R II could only manage 5fps burst shooting, the enhanced processing power inside the Alpha A7R III sees that rate double to 10fps, and that's with continuous AF/AE tracking. It can sustain this for up to 76 JPEG/raw images, or 28 uncompressed 14-bit raws.
You have the option of using the A7R III's mechanical shutter to achieve this, or if you prefer you can opt for the camera's electronic shutter for silent shooting. And, rather than having to wait while the camera writes large quantities of images to the card, it's still possible to use many of the A7R III's key functions.
The Alpha A7R III is kitted out with Sony's 5-axis optical image stabilization system, and this has been tweaked for the new camera to deliver a 5.5-stop shutter speed advantage, improving on the A7R II's 4.5-stop system. To reduce the risk of vibration and image blur, especially when shooting at 10fps, there's a new low-vibration shutter mechanism.
The electronic viewfinder is excellent, with a clear and large view thanks to the fast refresh rate and 3,686k-dot resolution, while the rear display doesn't disappoint either.
One of the biggest complaints levelled at the A7R II was its poor battery life, with just 270 shots possible if you were lucky. Sony has swapped out the W-series battery used in that camera and replaced it with its latest Z-series unit, and you can expect the A7R III to carry on shooting for 530 shots if you use the viewfinder, or 650 shots using the rear display. It's a welcome improvement, but still some way behind the likes of the Nikon D850's 1,840-shot rating.
ISO100-32,000, expandable to 50-102,400
15-stop dynamic range
14-bit raw shooting
The Alpha A7R III is able to resolve an impressive level of detail; you'd be hard-pushed to distinguish between its images and those from the more densely populated sensors on the 45.2MP Nikon D850 and 50MP Canon EOS 5DS. At the end of the day, if you're planning to produce large A2 sized prints, you won't be disappointed with the files from the Alpha A7R III.
Noise control is another area in which the Alpha A7R III is very strong. Noise levels are kept well within acceptable limits, delivering pleasing results with natural-looking granular noise and minimal Chroma (color) noise even when you're shooting at the higher end of the native sensitivity range (up to ISO32,000). As with most cameras, we'd avoid resorting to the high expansion settings (the maximum here is ISO102,400) unless getting a shot is more important than its ultimate quality.
The Alpha A7R III's dynamic range performance is also very impressive. If you're shooting at low sensitivities and purposefully underexposing the shot to retain highlights, you'll have to really push the file in post-processing before you see any signs of quality beginning to deteriorate in the shadows. For general editing of raw files where you want to recover detail, you've got plenty of flexibility with the A7R III's files.
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If Nikon thought it was going to have things all its own way with the D850, it should think again. Sony has taken one of our favorite mirrorless cameras and bolstered the performance to make the new Alpha A7R III a much more capable and well-rounded offering.
As we've seen with the D850, you no longer have to sacrifice performance for resolution or vice versa. The heady mix of 42.2MP and high performance that includes 10fps burst shooting and a very sophisticated AF system is bound to help this camera appeal to an even broader range of photographers than the older model. This is a camera that would be equally at home perched on a mountain as in a studio or on the sidelines of a football match.
For now, the Alpha A7R III is not only the most well-rounded mirrorless camera you can buy, but one of the best cameras out there.
Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Ecola State Beach” by Nadeen Flynn. Location: Ecola State Beach, Oregon.
“The shadows of the rocks offset the warm yellow of the moss at sunset on Ecola State Beach in Oregon,” describes Flynn.
See more of Nadeen Flynn’s photography at nadeenflynn.com/portfolio/landscapes.
Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including Assignments, Galleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.
The post Photo Of The Day By Nadeen Flynn appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.
Here’s something new (and very worrying) in the world of online gaming: Tera, an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online RPG) produced by the same developer responsible for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, had its in-game chat shut down over the weekend following revelations that it could be used as a medium to spread all sorts of malicious nastiness including viruses.
Developer Bluehole launched Tera back in 2011 in South Korea, and it followed to North America and Europe in 2012. It’s an online RPG with combat that plays out like an FPS, but panic struck over the weekend when the game servers were brought down for emergency maintenance to fix a gaping chat-related vulnerability.
Players themselves actually highlighted the flaw in Tera’s chat system, which apparently utilizes HTML, and could reportedly be exploited to bombard other players with dodgy images or links, collect user IP addresses, or even remotely execute malware.
As if MMORPG public chat channels weren’t toxic enough already.
The game’s North American publisher, En Masse, noted at the time: “There are very serious claims floating around of what this vulnerability potentially allows malicious users to do. We are taking these claims very seriously but, as of this time, we have no evidence that the vulnerability is being exploited in these ways or that any player information has been compromised.”
Fixing a hole
En Masse investigated the issue in conjunction with Bluehole, resulting in all chat being disabled save for guild chat last Friday, with the fix subsequently being deployed on Saturday at around 8:00 PST time in the US. Gameforge, the EU publisher, applied the fix on Friday at 16:00 UK time, a day earlier.
So the issue was dealt with fairly swiftly, as you’d hope, although by all accounts players had their game settings reset by the hotfix. Still, better that than a surprise virus arriving via a chat channel…
This is definitely a bit of an eye-opener and a cautionary tale for developers everywhere, for sure, in terms of security considerations when it comes to in-game systems.
And of course it’s particularly interesting that while Tera is hardly a big-name game, its developer is a big fish these days, and the force behind the juggernaut PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.
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