New Blog Address
Hi Everyone,

I've redesigned by blog and it is now hosted at a different address:

Check it out. It looks much cooler now.

Be sure to resubscribe at the new site!
Posted by Jerry Monkman at 3/12/2010 10:19 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Winter spinach harvest.

Sustainability is a word being used a lot by conservation groups these days. Typically they use the word in conjunction with forestry, energy, agriculture, corporations, communities, etc. - all human activities. Of course, nature on its own is inherently sustainable, but here we are in the 21st century, dealing with a host of environmental problems, from climate change to cancer causing chemicals persisting in our soils and water. By creating sustainable industries and living more sustainably as individuals, we have a chance of ...
Posted by Jerry Monkman at 2/8/2010 8:44 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Getting Back to My Blogging Duties.

It has been a while since I spoke on here. Needless to say I've had some busy months, trying to finish my latest book project and organizing my 2010 workshop schedule. Today, I mailed the completed manuscript and photos to the publisher, so I'm feeling some relief!

I'll be posting more soon, but in the meantime you should know that I have posted a bunch of good stuff on my blog, In the Zone, at Outdoor Photographer during the last ...
Posted by Jerry Monkman at 2/4/2010 2:05 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Harvesting Compost.

The Merrimack River in Canterbury, New Hampshire.  From a conservation project
spearheaded by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

I just checked and it has been 22 days since my last post - sorry about that!  I've been shooting 5 or 6 days a week for the last 5 weeks, working on a new book project as well as shooting assignments in Maine, New Hampshire, and western Connecticut.  To top it off, my car died on I-91 in Vermont last Wednesday as I was driving up to a presentation I was giving for NH Audubon in Littleton, NH.  I never made it (sorry folks!) and Marcy ended up having to drive the two hours to pick me up a couple of days later (my car was towed back to Portsmouth today.)  In the meantime, we bought another car, and I'm trying to fight my way through 500GB worth of RAW files. Today I left the studio about an hour early to dig in the dirt in our vegetable garden.  It's a cliche and a pun, but working the earth really does ground me when my brain is a little overwhelmed as it has been the last few days.

Fall foliage in the forest surrounding the Quabbin Reservoir in Ware, Massachusetts.

I cleaned out the remaining skeletons of tomato and bean plants in our small little vegetable garden, which I must say provided the whole family with more pleasure than I could have imagined this year, especially for a plot of dirt only about 70 square feet in size.  (For about a month in late August and September, we were harvesting a pint of cherry tomatoes and green beans every couple of days.)  I pulled a few weeds then harvested about 150 pounds of compost from our bin in the backyard where we've been composting weeds and food scraps all year.  As I raked the compost into the garden, I realized that at the end of every fall, I start treating EcoPhotography like the garden.  First I clean out the remaining plants (editing and processing the remaining images from various shoots of the past year.)  After the weeds are gone,  I turn over the soil and add in the compost (in this metaphor, the compost would be the year's worth of used and unused ideas combined with the experience gained while shooting.)  Then I start planning what to plant (shoot)  for next year, by thinking about what was successful this year - what the kids liked to eat (what images the clients bought,) -  what didn't grow well (the unsuccessful parts of the business), and what new veggies would be fun to plant (new ideas to grow the business.)

Kelly Stand Road in Vermont's Green Mountains on a windy day.

Of course, there are some differences between gardening and running a photography business.  For one thing, I'll pretty much leave the garden alone between now and May, but I'll be shooting again as soon as the snow flies and I'll be working on business plans and marketing ideas pretty much full-time between now and then.  I'm pretty sure next year is going to include a more robust workshop schedule than this year, as well as a move to including high-def video to my repertoire - I'm really excited to add some short video clips that will help describe the conservation projects I work on.

Rainbow and farms in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.

By the time the first bean sprouts are pushing through the soil next May, I'll have a full schedule of workshops filling up, and hopefully I'll be shooting a new year's worth of conservation projects, complete with video stories. With any luck, we'll get the rain we got this spring and I'll be able to concentrate on shooting without worrying about watering the veggies.

Okay, enough of the gardening metaphor.  I'm off to Rhode Island and Connecticut to shoot the last bit of fall foliage before the trees are bare.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 10/27/2009 7:47 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Fall Colors are out in Northern New England.

Morning fog in Milan, New Hampshire.

My full travel schedule is making it hard for me to write much these days, but I thought I'd at least share some photos from the last week.  Fall color in peaking north of US 2 in northern New England and it is shaping up to be a banner year for foliage.

Fall color along the Magalloway River in Wilsons Mills, Maine.

Dawn light paints the Presidential Range in New Hampshire's White Mountains.

A bird's eye view of the Balsams in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire.

Coos Canyon in Bryon, Maine.

Smalls Falls near Rangeley, Maine.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 9/30/2009 7:53 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Getting Loony, Stepping on Porcupines, and Surfboards on Semis

Loons on White Lake in Tamworth, New Hampshire.

I just wanted to share a few photos from the last few weeks.  Enjoy!

White Lake State Park in Tamworth, New Hampshire.

Kayaking near the Porcupine Islands in Maine's Acadia National Park.

Paddling past the cliffs of Bald Porcupine.

Bish Bash Falls in Mount Washington, Massachusetts.

Biking in Maine's Acadia National Park.

Surfboard on truck cab in Rye, New Hampshire.

You can also check out my recent post at Outdoor Photographer here:

Until next time,

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 9/23/2009 9:03 AM | View Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Stepping off the cliff.

Climbing Top of the Prow on Cathedral Ledge in New Hampshire's White Mountains.

Twenty years ago, before I had the bug that drives me to be a professional outdoor photographer, I worked in a Nature Company store in a mall in Massachusetts.  As awful as working in the mall was, this 8-month gig had a big impact on my life, as I met Galen Rowell and discovered the world of adventure and nature photography.  One memory from that job was a comment I overheard one of our regular customers make to my manager one day.  This guy was a bird photographer (I'll call him Fred,) and actually he was pretty good at shooting birds.  After showing off what seemed like hundreds of bird portraits, he brought up the photography of Galen Rowell, who many consider one of the greatest adventure photographers of the 20th century.  Fred commented that while Galen's pictures were nice, they weren't that great because anyone in that location with that subject matter and light would have made a great photo.  Even though I hardly ever took up a camera at that point in my life, I knew Fred's comment was about as far from reality as possible (actually, I think I muttered something about Fred being an F*&?# idiot, but I digress.)  In my mind, until Fred actually endeavored to take the kind of photos that Galen Rowell accomplished, he would never understand what goes in to making a transcendent landscape or adventure photo.  There's a certain quality of mood, emotion, and unique beauty that the great ones can create that the rest of us will never achieve even if we put or tripods in the same place.

Climbing Cathedral Ledge.

I was reminded of Fred's comment this morning, as I was in the middle of shooting rock climbers on Cathedral Ledge in New Hampshire's White Mountains.  Except for a day of shooting a couple of guys climbing boulders in Pawtuckaway State Park, I had never photographed rock climbing before, and had in fact never tried the sport myself.  In preparation for today's shoot, I bought a copy of the Climbing Magazine photo annual and looked at the images, thinking "Gee, these are no big deal - I could have taken these shots if I were up on that rock."  Of course, I'm as big an idot as Fred for thinking that.  A great fashion photographer doesn't go to the World Series, sit in the pit with two dozen photographers, and make photos that match the best of the sports shooters.  Not the first time anyway.  To really shoot a certain type of photography well, you have to do it on a regular basis and be immersed in it, understand the story behind the action and the minds of the participants.  An accomplished photographer can translate some skills immediately, which I think I was able to do with these climbing photos, but to be a master takes time, effort, and passion for the subject.

Climbing Cathedral Ledge.

The hardest part for me on this shoot was that first step over the edge.  As I mentioned, I've never climbed rock before (I once climbed a wall of ice on a glacier in Alaska, but that's a distant memory, and honestly I sucked at it.)  There were a few seconds before heading over the edge that I considered backing out, but a few deep breaths later and I stepped over and worked my way down about 20 feet or so.  I have WAY more respect for climbing photographers now.  Dealing with 20+ pounds of camera gear while hanging from a rope is harder than I thought.  Another big challenge is framing the photos.  If you don't like your perspective and need to move over ten feet or so, it takes a lot of work.  Thankfully, my guides (and models), Beckett and Shawna of International Mountain Climbing School in North Conway were real pros and had me working comfortably in no time.

Looking up.  I'm hanging off the green rope.

I had a great time with this shoot (which only lasted about 3 hours,) and I'm hoping to try my skill at this again soon.

If you're unfamiliar with Galen Rowell's work, you should definitely check it out at

And if you want a good climbing guide, check out the International Mountain Climbing School in North Conway, NH.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 9/3/2009 12:47 PM | View Comments (5) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Black and White in the digital age (and an update on Errol)
Kayaker on the York River in Maine - in color and sepia toned.

Rob Sheppard over at Photodigitary has written a nice post about the resurgence of black and white photography in the digital age.  It's a great explanation of how black and white photography has fallen in and out of favor over the years based on the technology of photography.  Here's the link:  Like Rob, I have embraced the tools in Photoshop and Lightroom to convert a digital file to color.  I recently explained how to do this in my blog at Outdoor Photographer here:

The above example of the kayaker I shot last summer and I felt a sepia toned treatment was more compelling than the original color image.  Below is a more straighforward black and white conversion from my recent shoot in Errol, NH.

Fly fishing on Little Greenough Pond in Errol, New Hampshire.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Conservation Photography in Northern New Hampshire, the Trust for Public Land is working on several conservation projects in the Errol area, which is well-known for its moose, whitewater paddling, and excellent fishing.  One correction to my previous post is that there are currently 31,000 acres (not the 25,000 acres I stated) slated to be added to the land already conserved in the area.  Also, a portion of that land will be retained by Plum Creek as working forest, but subject to a conservation easement.

Until next time,

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 8/17/2009 8:19 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Democracy on Display in New Hampshire

Protesters outside the Portsmouth, New Hampshire high school where Barack Obama spoke
at a town meeting publicizing his health care reform bill.

I did something I rarely do today - cover a political event.  I wasn't planning on it, as I have a book to write by the end of the month, and a couple thousand photos to edit, but with helicopters circling the house and secret service agents down the street, it was hard to resist.  President Obama came to New Hampshire today.  Specifically, he came to Portsmouth High School, which is a five minute walk from our house. He spoke at a town hall meeting about reforming health care in the U.S.  Not having a ticket to attend the event, , or press credentials (hey, I'm a nature photographer...) I hung out outside in the 85 and humid heat, and photographed the protesters, who were definitely out in force.  There was a fair amount of yelling back and forth between the two sides of the street where the protesters were lined up, but from what I saw, no one got violent.  There were of course, all kinds of folks out there, but these two gentlemen in the flannels just seemed like New Hampshire to me.

To see a few more photos, check out this gallery at our Photoshelter site:

Until next time,

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 8/11/2009 3:14 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Conservation Photography in Northern New Hampshire

Moonset, Long Pond, Errol, New Hampshire.

Errol, New Hampshire is home to two of the jewels of the Northern Forest in New Hampshire: 13 Mile Woods and Lake Umbagog.  The area is rich in undeveloped forestland and wetlands that team with wildlife.  Amazingly, before the establishment of the Lake Umbagog National WIldlife Refuge in the 1990's, this area was primarily owned by timber management companies and the woods and wetlands were completed unprotected from development.  The conservation effort in the area is an ongoing effort.  The refuge and other conservation lands now protect most of the shoreline of the 7000 acre lake as well as 7000+ acres of forest in the 13 Mile Woods section of the Androscoggin River.

That's me paddling on Little Bear Brook Pond in Errol, New Hampshire.

This is the third time I have been asked to photograph land in the area that is in the process of being protected.  The area has become one of my favorite places to work, and it became more special to me and Marcy last year when the USPS used an image from a previous 13 Mile Woods project for a 72 cent stamp.  (See Not only was the stamp a huge honor, the people I met during a ceremony celebrating the stamp proved to me that the community in the area is strongly behind the conservation efforts here.  The people in the Errol area are proud of their scenic wild places and the diversity of wildlife that lives here.

Steeplebush blooming on the banks of Little Bear Brook Pond.

Currently, the Trust for Public Land is working on preserving an additional 25,000 acres in Errol.  Some of this land will become part of the refuge, some part of the town forest, and the rest will be managed by New Hampshire Fish and Game.  Most of this land is currently owned by Plum Creek Timber, and its protection will keep some important wetlands and ponds from being developed as well as insure that some timberland will be sustainably managed.

Long Pond in Errol, New Hampshire.

Clouds above evergreen trees, Errol, New Hampshire.

I shot these five images early this morning before thunderstorms moved in.  I was especially interested in the clouds.  I think this was because of recently seeing a beautiful cloud image by John Paul Caponigro from his recent Antartcic series, which also reminded me of the cloud images by Richard Misrach.  I won't begin to say these images compare to the work of those modern masters, but it is fun to use their imagery for inspiration when I'm out making pictures.  I'll be shooting here for the next couple days, and if anything interesting comes of it, I'll post more photos here.

To see other images I've shot of the Northern Forest, head over to and check out our Northern Forest Portfolio.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 8/7/2009 2:20 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Acadia National Park Photography

Dawn in Somseville, Maine near Acadia National Park.

I'm nearing the end of a ten day road trip where I have been shooting in Acadia National Park and Errol, New Hampshire.  In Acadia, I spent five days shooting on the western side of Mount Desert Island.  Known as "the quiet side", this part of Mount Desert Island is much less busy than the eastern side of the island which sports iconic locations like Cadillac Mountain, Sand Beach, and Jordan Pond.  Marcy and I have been visiting the park for twenty years, and when I looked at our collection of Acadia images, I was surprised to see how little we have actually shot on the western side of the island.  Since we're working on a photographer's guide to the park (to be released in spring 2010), it seemed important that we include locations that are less-visited and hence less-photographed.

Barnicles and periwinkles at Wonderland in Acadia National Park.

I camped 4 nights at Seawall, a National Park campground that is just a few minutes walk from miles of undeveloped shoreline. (It was great to fall asleep to the sound of crashing surf.)  It was really fun to be in a familiar place, yet photographing a lot of scenes for the first time.  It was also great to shoot several days in a row with good light!  As you New Englanders know, it has been pretty gray and cloudy for most of the summer, but that trend seems to have broken over the last couple of weeks.  Of the several new locations I shot, probably my favorite was Great Cranberry Island, which is a 30 minute ferry ride from Mount Desert Island.  If you ever make it over there, be sure to check out the mile-long trail behind the island's museum.  The trail goes through a preserve recently protected by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, winding through mature spruce woods, on its way to a great sandy beach bordered by cobblestones and bedrock ledges.

Here are a few more images from this trip:

Sunset, Great Cranberry Island, Maine.

Skiffs and fog, Southwest Harbor, Maine.

Boats in Mansett, Maine.

Dock in Mansett, Maine.

To see previous images we've shot in Acadia, search on Acadia at or check out this gallery on photoshelter:

Today, I'm in Errol, NH working on a conservation project.  I'll post some photos I took this morning in a few hours.

Until next time,

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 8/7/2009 9:26 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
In the Zone at Outdoor Photographer

Boogie Boarding at Popham Beach in Phippsburg, Maine

I have just started writing a new blog for Outdoor Photographer magazine, called "In the Zone with Jerry Monkman," so surf on over to and check it out (I needed to get a surf reference in there to match the photo, didn't I?)  I'll give more details about his new blog below, but before I do that, I wanted to mention some great photo blogs by a few Outdoor Photographer columnists:

PhotoDigitary, by Rob Sheppard.  Rob was the long-time editor of the magazine. He now freelances, writing great photo books and leading compelling workshops, as well as giving some good advice on his blog.

William Neill's Light on the Landscape Photoblog.  William Neill is one of the world's premier landscape photographers, and his blog is an excellent place to be inspired by his imagery while learning  at the same time.

Bill Hatcher Photography.  If adventure photography is your thing, then definitely check out Bill's blog.  Careful with this one - travelers' envy can seriously afflict you as you read through the posts.

Bob Krist's Travel Photography Blog.  Bob has long been one of the world's top travel photographers for years, and I have very much enjoyed his column in Outdoor Photographer over the last several years.  If you like photo blogs with a heavy dose of travel and some great posts about gear and technique, definitely check out this one.

Okay, back to "In the Zone."  Here's my statement for what the blog is all about:

"In the Zone" is a place where outdoor photographers can share old and new digital imaging techniques, as well as keep up to date on new products and ideas in the industry.  My job is to provide digital imaging tips and news as a way to start discourse and keep us all working smarter and better when processing our images.  My experience as a full-time nature and adventure photographer (as well as my ten years of past experience as a software engineer) will focus my posts on the imaging tips that work well and make the biggest impact on an outdoor photographer’s workflow and creative expression. Despite my technical background, I believe in keeping the “digital” part of photography as simple as possible in order to keep photography about making the pictures, not working on a computer.  I also believe in using tools and workflows that let photographers work faster on their computers, so they can spend more time in the field shooting.  Isn’t that where we acquired out passion for photography – by being out in nature behind our cameras? So, you’ll see a lot of Lightroom tips on here because that’s my current favorite place for processing large batches of images.  I’ll also visit the world of Photoshop on a regular basis since there are still plenty of cool things to do in there even if you work in Lightroom (or Apple’s Aperture or Microsoft Expression Media) 95% of the time.  And there are always new and cool imaging programs and plug-ins to try out and discuss, so I’ll touch on those from time to time as well.  Most importantly, I invite all readers of this blog to participate in the discussion.  Let me know what you think about my posts.  Have you tried the techniques I’m discussing?   Are there better ways to do things?  Is there a topic you want me to write about?  I’ve got a thick skin and a passion for learning about this stuff, so speak out and help me make this blog an important space for outdoor photographers!

So there you go.  Give it a visit and let me know what you think.

Until next time...

P.S. To see more pics of my kids boogie boarding, go to and do a search on "Popham."

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 7/27/2009 9:49 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Between the rain drops.

Sunrise above the fog - Acadia National Park.

If you live in New England, you've experienced a lot of cloudy and rainy days so far this spring and summer.  We must be averaging around one sunny day per week since June started.  It is definitely pushing back my photo shooting schedule, as I am fairly dependent on having decent light for a lot of my work.  Don't get me wrong, I love shooting subjects like flowers, waterfalls, and forests on foggy and misty days, but for the big landscapes, I need the sun!  I spent most of the last two weeks in Maine's Acadia National Park and locales further east working on two guidebooks - the third edition of our adventure guide to Acadia, Discover Acadia, and A Photographer's Guide to Acadia, both due to be released next spring.  For the adventure guide, I was still able to get a lot of work done, hiking in the rain.  For the photo guide, I fell a few sunrises short of meeting my goals, so I'll have to make another trip up there next month (I know, poor Jerry...)

Hiker and Bold Coast sunrise in Cutler, Maine.

The three photos in this post represent the few moments where the sun made an appearance during the last two weeks.

Blue flag iris on the coast of Great Wass Island near Jonesport, Maine.

It had been five years since I last visited the coast of Maine east of Acadia, Washington County.  Not much has changed in this little populated county (34,000) the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.  Most tourists visit the area to see the eastern most point in the U.S. or to take a boat ride out to Machias Seal Island to see the colony of Atlantic Puffins (to see my puffin shots from earlier trips just go to and search on puffins,) but there is actually some great coastal hiking in the area and some fun kayaking in Cobscook Bay.  For both the Cutler and Great Wass Island shots above, I needed to hike a couple of pre-sunrise miles to get to the coast in the good light.  Well worth the effort.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 6/29/2009 7:32 PM | View Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Conserving Land other than wilderness.

Soccer field in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

My first two conservation photo assignments this spring have been on farms in Essex County, Massachusetts, just north of Boston.  While not as sexy as wilderness conservation in the big north woods, Alaska, or the tropical rain forest for that matter, these types of projects play an important role in preserving the character of the New England landscape.  Even though these farms are not true wilderness, they have scenic value, protect soils important to agriculture, and they provide habitat to wildlife. Farms, such as the one in Ipswich pictured above (the town currently leases a small amount of the land for youth soccer fields), often keep much of their land as hay fields which provide nesting habitat for grassland birds such as bobolinks and several species of sparrows.  They are also the preferred habitat for the eastern bluebird.  Populations of bluebirds and the grassland species have declined in New England over the last century as farm land was developed or abandoned and returned to forest, so it is important to protect farmland when possible.  Some of the farm projects I work on are bought outright and maintained by a land trust or government entity, while others are protected through the purchase of conservation and/or agricultural easements which ensure the land will not be developed.

My friend David's daughter picks a bouquet of hay field flowers.

Daisies in an Ipswich, Massachusetts hay field.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 5/28/2009 7:31 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Spring in Acadia National Park

Early morning, Little Hunter's Beach, Acadia National Park

I spent a couple days last week in Acadia National Park working on the revision to our recreation guide to the park, Discover Acadia.  Working on a guidebook is much different than shooting stock photography or working on a photo assignment.  I usually end up spending much of the day hiking or biking, generally exploring, and taking notes, but I'm always looking for photos as well.  The hard part for me is remembering to get enough sleep since I'm usually compelled to get up at 4:30 to shoot sunrise and to stay out late for sunset as well.  When there's no guidebook work to go with the photography, I usually steal a nap in the middle of the day.

Spring in Acadia National Park.

In early spring, with the right light in a hardwood forest, the colors can be almost as vibrant as in the fall.  The above shot in Acadia includes shadbush (in bloom), red maples, paper birch and northern red oak.

Paper birch in spring.

Acadia has a few nice stands of paper birch trees.  The above shot was made near Sand Beach, about 2 hours before sunset, just before the sun goes behind Champlain Mountain to the west.

Over the next month or so, I'll have more to show from Acadia and Down East, as well as .... northern Massachusetts.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 5/17/2009 7:14 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
More About Windrush Farm.

A class at Windrush Farm in North Andover, Massachusetts.

In my previous post, I showed a couple of bog photos from a conservation project I'm doing at Windrush Farm in Massachusetts.  The bog is an important habitat type on this 200 acre property, but more importantly, Windrush Farm is the home of Windrush Farm Therapeutic Equitation, a non-profit, working horse farm that has been successfully helping children and adults with physical, emotional, and learning disabilities since 1964.  Their mission is to use the horse to expand the personal, emotional, and physical boundaries of all who ride and work with us.  Unfortunately, Windrush only leases the property, which is now up for sale, but with help from the Trust for Public Land, there is a good chance this important therapy center will remain open.


This $3.5 million conservation project will not only allow Windrush to continue their work, but will also allow public access to much of the forest on the property which is contiguous with another 1400+ acres of publically accessible open space.  For more information about the conservation effort and fundraising campaign, click here.

More to come...


Posted by Jerry Monkman at 5/17/2009 6:59 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Back in the Saddle.

Horses wear headnets too!

I got out in the woods today, scouting a photo shoot I'll be doing on Wednesday for the Trust for Public Land at the Windrush Farm in North Andover, Massachsuetts.  Thanks to some minor surgery a month ago and a family trip to Chicago last week, I hadn't been out shooting since the before the snow melted and it felt great.  Though the trees are budding, the woods are still mostly gray and brown, but it was fun to see the usual early signs of spring like fiddlehead ferns and skunk cabbage.  Oh yeah, and there were black flies and mosquitos too. I'll post more details about this project later in the week, but I did want to show a couple of photos tonight.  One of the unusal habitat types on this property is an Atlantic White Cedar Bog, so I decided to search it out.  After fighting thorny brambles for ten minutes, I got into the bog to find a wet, drab, swamp.

Atlantic White Cedar Bog.

I'm always preaching to my workshop students that they need to work hard to simplify their compositions of nature in order to better communicate their stories, and this swampy area really challenged my ability to do this.  After 30 minutes of fighting thorns, carefully traversing pools of calf-deep muck, and swatting at black flies, this shot was the best I could come up with.  It was too messy and too drab for my liking, so I kept looking until I spotted a bright green skunk cabbage about 30 yards away.

Skunk cabbage and fallen cedar log.

The skunk cabbage leaning against a fallen cedar log really simplified the scene and added enough color to punch it up as well.  It's not as dramatic as the Grand Canyon, and my adventure is nothing compared to a National Geographic assignment, but this image should help TPL tell the story of how this property contains a rare and important habitat. And that's what my life as an "EcoPhotographer" in New England is all about.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 5/4/2009 7:36 PM | View Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Cleaning Up for Earth Day and the Blue Ocean Society.

Kids picking up trash in salt marsh grass during a beach clean-up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Marcy and I took the kids to a beach clean-up on Pierce Island in Portsmouth yesterday.  It was sponsored by the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, which "is a non-profit organization that promotes awareness and conservation of the marine environment through education and research in New England."  In addition to their public outreach programs like the beach clean-up, Blue Ocean conducts important research on marine mammal populations on Jeffrey's Ledge, a unique marine habitat approximately 20 miles off New Hampshire's coast in the Gulf of Maine.

My son Quinn showing his enthusiasm for garbage.

These beach clean-ups seem to be making a difference.  Three years ago, the annual Pierce Island clean-up resulted in over 600 pounds of trash being collected.  Now that figure is under 200 pounds.  Our crew of six (there were about 20 crews total) managed to collect about ten pounds of both land-based trash (potato chip bags, candy bar wrappers, etc.) and marine based trash (lobster claw bands, bait bags, etc.)  We found plenty of styrofoam and the clear-cut, consistent winner when it comes to waste - cigarette butts - we found 256 in an hour.

What I find most satisfying about these beach clean-ups is not the trash that's picked up, but the enthusiasm for protecting the environment that is infused  into the participants, inspiring them to find other ways to contribute to restoring our environment.  Our kids were practically manic during the clean-up, excited at every little piece of trash they discovered and then purged from mother nature.  That enthusiasm carried over to today as they were giddy helping me construct a compost bin in the backyard and tossing in the first apple core.  With Earth Day this week, there will be thousands of these events happening around the country, and I'm hopeful they will inspire more people to start recognizing our need to take responsibility for the planet.  To find an event near you check out

Pierce Island in March, 2009.

By the way, Pierce Island is in Portsmouth Harbor, a short walk from downtown Portsmouth.  The above shot was from about a month ago after our last snowfall of the winter.

Until next time,,,,

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 4/19/2009 7:56 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Discover the White Mountains Party, "EcoPrints", and Photoshop Seminars.

Discover the White Mountains, 2nd edition

I've been quiet on the blog for a couple of weeks, but I have a good excuse.  I had surgery to straighten out a deviated septum that's been causing me problems for years.  Not a big deal, but enough to keep me out of commission for a few weeks.  I'm starting to feel close to normal, and I'm confident that in another couple of weeks I'll be better than before the surgery, making the last few weeks worth it!

O.K., since I haven't been shooting during this "downtime" I thought I'd make a few announcements:

1) On Saturday and Sunday, April 25 and 26, I'm teaching a pair of Photoshop Seminars: Basic Photoshop for the Outdoor Photographer and Intermediate Photoshop for the Outdoor Photographer. Both classes are shaping up to have less than 10 students, so this a great opportunity for someone looking to get some intense one-day instruction with the opportunity to ask a lot of questions.  Both seminars run from 8 to 5 and are being held at the Sheraton Harborside Hotel in downtown Portsmouth, N H.  More info and the registration page is at:

2) Party in the White Mountains!  AMC Books has recently released the 2nd edition of our multi-sport guidebook, Discover the White Mountains.  We spent a few months last year updating this book (which we originally wrote in 2000) with new new trips and photos, and it looks great if I do say so myself.  We're having the first signing event for this book on May 9th in Gorham, New Hampshire (in the shadow of the Northern Presidentials) at the White Mountain Cafe.  We'll be there from 6:00 p.m. to close (around 9), hanging with our North Country friends, sharing adventure stories, and signing copies of our books.  The cafe also is the only retail outlet in the Whites that sells our fine art prints, and we'll be offering a one-night only 20% discount on all our framed and unframed prints in the cafe. See you there!

Mount Washington in fall. Now available as an "Ecofriendly" fine art print.

3) Finally, environmentally friendly photos!  Fine art photography has traditionally involved using less than environmentally friendly materials, from virgin wood used to make the paper to the chemicals and heavy metals used to apply the image to the paper.  I am so excited to announce that we have partnered with a new lab ( to produce environmentally friendly  fine art giclee prints.  I've made some sample prints using this technology and they look great and they are just as archival as the chemical-intensive prints.  Rick Colson, founder of the lab, has done his homework and found locally produced paper that is made of 100% recycled cotton and no chemical brighteners.  He has also contracted with an ink manufacturer to produce 100% carbon pigment inks that are free of heavy metals and volatile organic compounds.  And his print studio was designed to be as energy efficient as possible.  Now our "EcoPhotography" can be displayed in an eco-friendly manner.  For prices and to see our latest print collection visit our 2008 Print Gallery.

That's it for now.  Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 4/16/2009 8:31 AM | View Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Sap is running.

My kids enjoying maple sundaes at Folsom's Sugar House in Chester, New Hampshire.

The maple sap has been running for a few weeks now in northern New England.  Unfortunately, other work has kept me from shooting the whole experience much this year, but I did get out on Saturday with Quinn and Acadia.  We went out to Chester, New Hampshire to check out Folsom's Sugar House and sample a little fresh syrup.  It was the New Hampshire Maple Producer's open house weekend, so the place was hopping and the Folsom's were busy giving tours of the sugar house, selling maple products and dishing out sundaes.

Taking pictures.

I was worried the kids might get bored after the sundaes were gone, but they really got in the photo spirit, shooting the sugaring operation inside and out and later downloading the pics to their Google Picasa collections and e-mailing photo collages to their grandparents.  They made their photographer daddy proud!

This is probably my only sugaring photoshoot this spring, but you can check out images I made on trips last year and in 2007 in my previous posts:
Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 3/30/2009 6:59 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Mount Washington

A hiker's crampons on the Westside Trail on the western slopes of Mount Washington.

This past weekend, Marcy and I led a photography "EduTrip" to the summit of New Hampshire's White Mountains on behalf of the Mount Washington Observatory.   The observatory is a private, non-profit scientific and educational institution, with the mission "to advance understanding of the natural systems that create the Earth's weather and climate, by maintaining its mountaintop weather station, conducting research and educational programs and interpreting the heritage of the Mount Washington region."  Our trip was one of those educational programs, as we led nine participants in experiencing the challenges of photography on the summit of the mountain that is home to the "World's Worst Weather."

Edutrip participants explore the ice-covered summit cone of Mount Washington.

As you can see from the above two photos, we definitely did not experience the world's worst weather, though we did get to walk around in some 50 mph winds, -20 windchill, and whiteout conditions as snow fell during the second day of the trip.

Communication tower and the TipTop House covered in rime ice.

EduTrips are winter workshops to the summit of Mount Washington.  They involve a ride in a comfy snowcat and a one-night stay in the observatory staff's living quarters on the summit.  In addition to the chance to experience the winds and cold on the summit in a  relatively safe situation, Edutrip participants also have the chance to learn about the observatory and it's instruments from the meterologists on duty.  These trips are a once-in-a-lifetime experience and they almost always sell out early.

A hiker on the Crawford Path, south of the summit.

Rime ice and the southern Presidential Range.

Winds on our trip topped out around 70 mph, well below the world record of 231 mph, recorded here in 1932.  Still, with the wind blowing that hard and snow blowing sideways, it is almost impossible to move around and photograph outdoors, though many brave members of the trip took their cameras out anyway - hey you only live once!  The trip down in the snowcat was a little dicey as the visibility hit zero at times.  In fact, for part of the trip, the driver had me walk in front of the vehicle so that he could find the road.  Even on foot, there were moments where I could not see where to step next.  Thanks to the skills of our experienced driver, Gus, we made it down safely in just under 2 hours.

For more info about the Mount Washington Observatory, click here.

To read about my trip to the summit in March, 2007, check out my post from that trip here.

To read about my trip up in January, 2008, check out that post here.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 3/23/2009 7:51 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Camp to Camp Skiing in the Maine Woods.

Early morning skiing on South Lyford Pond.

This past weekend I spent 4 days photographing and skiing in Maine's North Woods. I was part of a great group of ten experienced outdoors people from the Portland and Boston areas, including some folks from the Appalachian Mountain Club.  The AMC owns two of the camps that we used on our trip and the organization is in the midst of what they call their "Maine Woods Initiative."  According to the AMC website, the Maine Woods Initiative is "AMC's strategy for land conservation in the 100-Mile Wilderness region - addressing regional ecological and economic needs through outdoor recreation, resource protection, sustainable forestry and community partnerships."  This region east of Moosehead Lake is part of the mountainous spine of Maine that is home to the Appalachian Trail, most of Maine's woodland flora and fauna, including the endangered Lynx, and a healthy dose of prime fishing ponds and streams.

The bunkhouse at Little Lyford Pond Camps.

Like most of northern Maine, this region has traditionally been owned by timber management companies.  For more than a century and a half, wood has been harvested here, sometimes sustainbly, sometimes not, but access to recreationists (some hiking, but primarily sportsmen and women)  has always been allowed.  The wood products industry has been experiencing its share of ups and downs, mergers and consolidations, and uncertainty over the last two decades, which has had negative economic and ecological impact on the area and put its future in jeopardy.  As of now, AMC has purchased 37,000 acres of forestland in the region as well as three wilderness camps: Little Lyford Lodge, Medawisla Wilderness Lodge, and Chairback Gorman Camps.  According to AMC,  "
The Initiative seeks to address the ecological and economic needs of the Maine Woods region by supporting local forest products jobs and traditional recreation, creating new multi-day recreational experiences for visitors, and attracting new nature-based tourism to the region."

Lunch with a view of Baker Mountain.

For our trip, we started with a night at AMC's Medawisla Wilderness Lodge.  On day two, we skied past views of Mount Katahdin and lynx tracks to West Branch Pond Camps, run by 4th-generation proprietor Eric Stirling.  Eric provided us with great service, food, and ample stories of the area.  The view of White Cap Mountain across West Branch Pond is spectacular.  Day three was a ski past White Cap and Baker Mountains to Little Lyford Pond Camps, one of the most charming wilderness camps in all of Maine.  Day four provided us with a really fun ski on a woodland ski trail designed by AMC trail experts specifically for cross country skiing.  Its ups and downs and twists and turns were probably the most fun skiing of the trip.

A cabin at West Branch Ponds Camp, with White Cap Mountain in the distance.

The skiing averaged around 8 miles per day of reasonable ups and downs under beautiful blue skies (we never experienced an overcast sky, let alone any precipitation.)  The skiing was made even easier by the fact that our gear was shuttled between camps by snowmobile, and the staffs at each location provided plentiful and delicious meals.

Animal tracks on South Lyford Pond.

The "front yard" at Medawisla Wilderness Lodge.

To learn more about the camp-to-camp ski experience and other recreation opportunities in the area, visit the AMC's website at:

To learn about AMC's conservation efforts in the 100-Mile Wilderness Area, visit:

Until next time...


Posted by Jerry Monkman at 3/18/2009 7:19 AM | View Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Quick Lightroom Tip

Enjoying some fresh snow on the New Hampshire Seacoast.

This has been a great winter for cross-country skiing on New Hampshire's Seacoast - lots of snow and cold.  Wednesday, I went out to Odiorne State Park in Rye, NH for a morning ski.  I went with a pack full of camera gear, hoping to get a good shot or two, but mainly I'm working on getting my body in shape for a 3 night lodge-to-lodge ski and photo shoot in Northern Maine that I have scheduled for next weekend. 8 to 12 miles of skiing per day seems pretty reasonable until you add 40 pounds of camera and other gear to the mix.  I'll let you know in 10 days or so if I succeeded.  I took the above photo of myself using an intervalometer with my Canon 1Ds Mark III.

The skiing shot didn't need a lot of post-production work, but I do plenty of tweaking in Lightroom for most photo shoots.  One Lightroom feature that I love is the Graduated Filter local adjustment in the Develop module.  It simulates the use of a graduated, split neutral density filter, only you have much more control over the strength of the filter, the placement of the horizon, and the width of the gradations.  You can also rotate the filter in Lightroom, but I have always been disappointed in how hard it is to keep the horizon line straight when rotating it - the control is just too sensitive.  Recently, a workshop student of mine clued me in on a little trick with this filter.  Just hold down the shift key while dragging the filter, and the horizon line will stay straight, either horizontally or vertically.  This little trick has saved me a lot of frustration and helped me improved dozens of photos already in just a couple of months.  Try it out.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 3/8/2009 7:35 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Carbon Free Skiing

Young skiers near the wind turbine at Jiminy Peak Ski Area in Hancock, Massachusetts.

Marcy, the kids, and I spent our winter vacation week in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts.  This was the first time we spent an extended amount of time in this part of New England and we had a great time skiing, snowshoeing, and checking out the local scenery (and the Norman Rockwell Museum.)  One of the ski areas we tried out was Jiminy Peak in Hancock.

A couple of years ago, Jiminy installed a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine on the mountain, which now produces approximately 33% of the resort's electricity.  According to the folks at Jiminy Peak, the turbine generates 4.6 million kilowatt hours annually, which offsets approximately 7.1 million pounds of carbon dioxide and 10,000 pounds of nitrous oxide (both are greenhouse gases.)  Jiminy has also undertaken major energy efficiency measures that are responsible for reducing their annual electricity requirements by almost 2.5 million kWh.  While alpine ski resorts are often the cause of environmental degredation (especially their real estate ventures,) I have to applaud the attempts of Jiminy Peak to lessen their impact on the environment, and I hope other ski areas follow their lead.

The view from Tyringham Cobble in Tyringham, Massachusetts.

The week before out vacation, I met with my friends at the Trustees of Reservations, a Massachusetts non-profit that owns 99 properties, which preserve almost 25,000 acres of the states most important landscapes.  They own several preserves in the Berkshires, and we visited two: Tyringham Cobble in Tyringham, and Bartholomew's Cobble in Sheffield.  Both were beautiful spots that turned out to be great places to get our kids out on snowshoes for a few hours.  If you get chance, check them out.

Quinn snowshoeing near the top of Tyringham Cobble.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 3/1/2009 10:43 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Wildlands (of SE Massachuestts) Revisited.

Boulders on the beach at the Center Hill Preserve in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Last summer, I did a couple of days of shooting for our friends at the Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts (see Exploring New Places Courtesy of the Wildlands Trust.)  At the time I wrote of the joys of shooting in new places, and I said
"I can photograph these smaller, little known places without any preconceived  photos in my head, forcing me to spend more time getting to know the place and letting my creativity take over." That is truly one of the joys of my job.

Recently, I returned for another day of winter shooting.  This time around, with only a day to shoot, I was able to use my past experience in these places to pick and choose the hot spots where I knew I could make some good photos.  I didn't necessarily have pre-conceived images in my head, but I knew exactly which spots I wanted to shoot and when I wanted be there. Having been there before, I already had an understanding of the landscape and how the light effects it, letting me relax and think of the best compositions possible given the circumstances.

Though my two experiences sound contradictory, I think both are important scenarios for making great photos.  Visiting new and exotic locales can spur creativity as your brain processes all of the new and exciting information, while visiting nearby places repeatedly so that they become familiar gives you the opportunity to really learn how light and landscape work together in different seasons and different times of day.

Here's a slideshow of some of my favorite shots from the preserves of the Wildlands Trust.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 2/19/2009 8:20 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Seeing the Familiar through Fresh Eyes.

The Original 1775 Meetinghouse in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.

Marcy and I have lived in New England for more than 20 years now, and while I brag about the beauty of our region whenever I talk to residents and non-residents alike, I realized this past week that I am definitely taking some things for granted.  Almost everywhere you look in New England, you can find beautiful historic architecture and/or rural New England charm.  Most of my photographic work is away from civilization, but I do occasionally shoot the old church, meetinghouse, or lighthouse from time to time when it's convenient or assigned by a client.  What I had forgotten was how common these classic New England scenes are and how unique they are to our region.  Last week, I taught a photo workshop in western New Hampshire and about half of my students were from places like Texas and California, and it was great to see their enthusiasm for places like Jaffrey Center, Harrisville, or Grafton, Vermont.  Obviously, I believed these locations were special because I took my class there, but my groups' excitement in these towns reminded me just how fortunate we are to live and work in such beautiful communities.  Even though we had lousy looking snow and light most of the week, I am now inspired to see New England through a visitor's eyes - thanks class!

The historic Windham County Courthouse in Newfane, Vermont.

One of our stops during the week was in Newfane, Vermont, another example of the classic New England village.  It was the fifth or sixth time I've been there with a camera, and instead of shooting away, I just enjoyed a cup of tea outside the courthouse as it was sunny and one of the warmest days of the year.  I often do this, and I tell my students that it can actually improve their photography if they sit down and and drink a cup of coffee (or tea or lemonade or Coke) instead of shooting immediately.  Unless the light or action requires immediate action, I believe I'm better off relaxing for a while and watching, letting my brain soak in the scene to the point where I really begin to "see".  In this case, I had photographed this beautiful courthouse from all of the standard angles from the street and just off to the side from the lawn, but before I drank that cup of tea, I hadn't noticed this shot from next to the front door, the sun shining past the neo-classical pillars and the American flag.  It's the only shot I made that day and my favorite of the week.  So now you have my permission to take a break, have a cup of joe, and see something in a new light.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 2/15/2009 8:48 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Hot off the press - Discover the White Mountains, 2nd Edition.

We got a surprise package in the mail today - 20 copies of the new 2nd edition of our guidebook, "Discover the White Mountains." We were not expecting to see these for another month or so, but here they are and they look great!  Besides the snazzy new cover, this new edition features a bunch of new trips that we researched last year and redesigned in-text trip maps that are much easier to read than the first edition, which came out in the summer of 2001. Here's the description from the back of the book:

"With 1,200 miles of trails, breathtaking mountain views, abundant wildlife, quiet lakes, and the highest peaks in the Northeast, the White Mountains of New Hampshire offer an abundance of outdoor activities to fit all recreational interests and abilities. This fully-revised and updated guide from the Appalachian Mountain Club includes 50 of the best hikes, mountain bike rides, and paddling spots, highlighting everything from short walks to more challenging day-long adventures. Included in the book are hikes along the Appalachian Trail and up to the summit of Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast. Bike the Franconia Notch bike trail or go paddling in Chocorua Lake. Inside you’ll find trip descriptions for 25 hikes, 15 bike trips, and 10 quiet water and whitewater paddling trips. They include level of difficulty, distance, elevation, and trip time. Nature notes and “how-to” tips provide additional context for the outdoor traveler. Improved locator and detailed maps will aid you in planning your next outdoor adventure in the Whites."

If you need to be the first on your block to have this book, our website is in the only place you can get it for the time being (it's not even on the AMC Books website yet.)  It will be at least a month before it arrives at Amazon and  Here's the link to order your signed copy today:

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 2/2/2009 7:39 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Digital Photography Workshops and Seminars

Photographing a snowy trail in the White Mountains.

As I mentioned in my last post, Marcy and I are working on three guidebooks this year.  Because of this and our expected usual amount of commissioned projects, I've decided not to run my full schedule of outdoor workshops this year.  There just aren't enough days in the year to do all I want to do.  I have however, decided to add a few dates for my Photoshop and Lightroom seminars, since I can run those on the weekends and they are held only five minutes from home.  Here's the schedule for this year:

Friday, February 27 through Sunday, March 1 - Light and the Winter Landscape, a winter nature photography workshop in New Hampshire's White Mountains. Price starts at $512.00 and includes lodging, meals, and instruction.  More info at:

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - Photoshop Elements Seminar, in Portsmouth, NH.
Saturday, March 29, 2009 - Lightroom 2.0 in a Day Seminar, in Portsmouth, NH.
More info for the above two seminars is at:

Saturday, April 25, 2009 - Basic Photoshop for the Outdoor Photographer Seminar, in Portsmouth, NH.
Saturday, April 26, 2009 - Intermediate Photoshop for the Outdoor Photographer Seminar, in Portsmouth, NH.
More info for the above two seminars is at:

The costs for each seminar is $110.00, or $200.00 for two in a weekend. I plan to run these software seminars again in November.

Lastly, EcoPhotography now has a Facebook Page.  Check it out and click the "become a fan" button to receive our regular updates.


Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 1/25/2009 7:20 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Guide Book Writing.

Ice on Thompson Island, Acadia National Park, Maine.

It's a new year, there's a new inspiring President in office, and Marcy and I have two new guidebooks to work on. Exciting times indeed.  Besides the two new guidebooks, we're also scheduled to revise our adventure guide to Acadia.  Guidebooks are great fun to work on, but to do them right it takes quite a bit of planning and organization.  Obviously, there's tons of information to gather and review, photos to take and writing to do.  Another fact of guidebook writing is that there is the need to work long hours on the guides while getting little compensation up front, which means you have to figure out a way to manage your time so that the guides get researched and written while you are doing other work that pays the bills.  For me, that means doing as much research and writing in the winter months as possible before my busy summer and fall assignment season takes off.

Each of the three guides we are working on needs a little different approach at this time, so I thought I'd give you some insight into what I'm trying to accomplish right now.

The first guide is "A Photographer's Guide to Acadia National Park."  This will be a new addition to a series of Photographer's Guides published by The Countryman Press (who published our book "The Colors of Fall.")  Being part of an established series, means we just have to follow an established formula, making this a pretty easy project for us, since we already have thousands of Acadia photos and have spent a week or more there every year for the last decade or so.  I've already mapped out the table of contents and have figured out that I can write about three-quarters of the book without ever setting foot in the park again.  So, my goal is to have that much of the book written by May 1st.

The great news is that the remaining portions of the book that need photos can be completed while we are in the park for a week or so this coming summer working on the revision to "Discover Acadia", our hiking, biking, and paddling guide published by the Appalachian Mountain Club. This will be the third edition of Discover Acadia, and while it takes much less effort than a new book, there are still several weeks of research and writing involved.  My goal for the winter in regards to this book is to meet with park personnel, as well as our editor at AMC Books, and map out what will be new and different about the book.  I just spoke briefly with the park's trail supervisor and learned that a lot has changed in the trail system in the park since we last revised the book in 2004, so it may turn out to be pretty obvious what needs revising. The goal is to get the book up-to-date, but also add some new content to pique the interest of past buyers of the book.   I'm hoping to have a new table of contents figured out by the end of February so I know what I'm up against, work-wise for this one.  The manuscripts for both of the Acadia books are due on September 1st.

Farm and Mount Monadanock in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.

The third guidebook on our table is A Fall Foliage viewing guide for  New England, which will also be published by the Countryman Press.  Of the three guidebooks, this is the most challenging for a couple of reasons.  First, it's a one-of-a-kind guide, so there's no formula established.  Of course, while more work, it's also more fun for us in some ways because the content and organization is up to us.  The biggest challenge is that we have to get enough great  fall foliage photos from throughout New England in two short fall seasons (we actually started this book last fall.)  We have to wait for the trees to start turning and then work non-stop until the leaves fall (3-4 weeks, max.) My goal for this book this winter is to map out every route we'll be describing in the book, and to start actually pre-scouting some locations so when next fall comes we can just go shoot the hot locations instead of driving around looking for the good scenes.  This manuscript is due in early 2010.

While working on all of this, I'm also working on a photo assignment for Wakou Magazine (a French nature magazine for 3-7 year olds), planning some winter adventures so I can get some new winter stock photos into our collections, uploading new photos to our website, sending photos to our stock agencies, marketing to new and existing clients, planning my upcoming digital photography seminars, and playing with my kids once in a while.  It's a career chock-full of work, but I love every minute of it.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 1/21/2009 2:10 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
New Year's Resolutions.
Kids at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.  Summer, 2008.

Well, it looks nothing like the above photo here in New Hampshire today.  We got a good eight inches of fresh snow last night and this morning, but it doesn't hurt to remember some warmer weather.  The above photo was from a shoot we did for New Hampshire Travel and Tourism at the end of the summer.  I should have posted it back in August, but time has been short these last few months, hence the title of this post -  I officially resolve to be more timely in my blog entries.  We'll see what happens.  By the way, the happy bugger in the foreground is our son Quinn.

Hiker on Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, August, 2008.

In addition to the NH Tourism shoot, I also completed a really great assignment for New Hampshire State Parks under the direction of Rumbletree (an ad agency here in Portsmouth.)  I shot scenic and recreation imagery in 10 different New Hampshire state parks, ranging from Lake Francis in the northern tip of the state to Odiorne State Park, here on New Hampshire's Seacoast.

Mountain Biking in Moose Brook State Park in Gorham, New Hampshire.

I made this shot of Jason Hunter (who helped build the trails at Moose Brook S.P.) on a dark, overcast day.  I shot it at ISO 400, panning my Canon 1DsMarkIII at 1/15 second and adding some off-camera fill flash to stop the action just enough for the shot to work.

Rock climbing "The Boulders" in Pawtuckaway State Park in Nottingham, New Hampshire.

I used the off-camera fill flash on this shot as well, but I also added fill light to the forest in post-production using Lightroom.  The fill flash highlighted the climber nicely and the post-production fill added detail to the forest that just wasn't possible at capture because of the back-lighting.

O.K., so here's why there are no winter shots in this blog yet.  On December 20, I built a very cool sledding run in our backyard for the kids and during my test run I cut a 3.5 inch gash across my left knee that required 22 stitches.  I missed our first three big snowstorms, while laying on the couch recovering.  I'm now up and getting around o.k., but I start physical therapy tomorrow to get myself back to "adventure shooting" strength.  Hopefully, I'll be back on snowshoes and skis within a few weeks!

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 1/11/2009 8:33 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Dan Grossman's Website.
I recently met with David Gerratt at DG Communications in Acton, Massachusetts.  David's design firm specializes in working with non-profits so our paths have happily crossed several times over the years, but the reason I bring up this meeting is that he recently did some work on the website, and I thought I should turn my readers on to it.  Dan Grossman could be called an "ecophotographer", but he is much more as he specializes in chronicling conservation issues in pictures, video, and audio.  There is some great photography out on his site, but the best resource is his audio files, which consists of a library of conservation radio stories he has created for the likes of NPR, National Geographic, and Living on Earth.  Definitely check it out. 

Here's the link:

Until next time,,,

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 12/11/2008 10:08 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Recent Conservation Projects.
You may have noticed my frequency of posting dropped way down for a few months there - hopefully you missed me!  We had a huge (and much appreciated) glut of work from August through October.  We shot big projects for New Hampshire State Parks and New Hampshire Travel and Tourism, and we started work on a new fall foliage book (more about those projects will be forthcoming in future posts.)  I also led a photo tour in the White Mountains and completed several days of shooting conservation projects for the Trust for Public Land and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (and I sneaked into Manhattan for three days for a great event called Picturehouse.)

I'm still trying to get out from under the mountains of images on my hard drive that need processing, but in the meantime, I thought you might enjoy this slideshow of images from some of the conservation projects I shot during this time frame.  Here it is:

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 11/14/2008 2:22 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)

Just trying out a new embedded gallery feature courtesy of Photoshelter.

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 11/7/2008 11:39 AM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Cool On-Line White Mountain Guide.

The White Mountain Guide on-line.

As you may have read in this blog before, Marcy and I are revising our multi-sport guidebook, Discover the White Mountains.  While we have always relied on the Appalachian Mountain Club's White Mountain Guide as our hiking "bible" in the region, this time around we are enjoying the new powerful on-line version of the guide. Simply search for a summit or other destination, and you are instantly rewarded with a trail map on your screen, complete with trail names and contour lines.  The map is scalable so you can zoom in and out to any view you want and print the map out for your hike, and you can build custom routes which will highlight the trails on your trip.  There is even a link to a Google Earth view of the location.  The maps are derived from the AMC's very up-to-date and readable paper maps of the White Mountains that you can purchase separately or as part of the paper version of the White Mountain Guide.

In addition to the maps, the on-line version of the guide also provides suggested hikes, and has an on-line community where people post hike descriptions, trail conditions, and any current known safety warnings for the area.  Cool stuff. You can try it out for free for 14 days, or subscribe for $15/year.  If you are an avid hiker in new England, it's definitely worth the cost of 4 or 5 lattes. Here's the link:

Until next time...

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Posted by Jerry Monkman at 8/6/2008 9:16 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Lightroom 2.0

Hilltop Blueberry Barren in Alton, New Hampshire.

I really jumped on the Lightroom bandwagon a year ago, using its powerful image management and raw processing features to cut my image processing workflow time by around 30%.  When version 2.0 was released last week, I bought it immediately, looking forward to the tweaks to some of my favorite features as well as the new abilities touted in the software since the beta version was released several months ago.

While I am still getting the hang of it's slicker library and print module improvements, the big time saver for me thus far has been the revved up Develop module.  You can now stitch images faster by invoking the Merge to Panorama feature in Photoshop with one click.  The end result hasn't changed, but it's much easier and faster than doing it manually like was necessary in version 1.4.  The real eye-opener though is the Develop module's new ability to make localized adjustments of exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation, clarity, and sharpness.  This can be done using a paintbrush or a simulated graduated filter.  Previously, these kind of changes needed to be made in Photoshop using layer masks on converted tiffs or jpegs.  In Lightroom 2.0 however, these changes can be made to RAW files without the complication of using layer masks, and it works really, really well!

The above pair of images demonstrates the use of the graduated filter feature.  The image on the left is the original shot, while the image on the right is that same image, but I applied a graduated exposure reduction on the sky using Lightroom.  It is as easy to use as a real filter in the field.  It works much easier than making the same change in Photoshop because you make the change on just one RAW file.  Previously, I would make two exposures (or process the RAW file twice at two different exposure levels) and combine the tiff versions in Photoshop using a layer mask.  In Lightroom, you click on the graduated filter icon, adjust the exposure to your liking, and drag the filter to fill as much as the image as you want, adjusting the gradient and hardness of the gradient to create the perfect image.  And you can go back and refine the change at any time.  Very slick!

Lightroom 2.0 retails for $299.00 ($99.00 for an upgrade version).  More info and a free trial version is available at

Also, I am teaching a Lightroom seminar in November where I'll include learning of all the new 20.0 bells and whistles.  Deatails are here:

next time...

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Posted by Jerry Monkman at 8/5/2008 7:53 AM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Earth Under Fire - EcoPhotography by Gary Braasch

The current issue of Outdoor Photographer has a nice article featuring the work of environmental journalist and photographer, Gary Braasch.  Here's the link:

I've known Gary for more than a decade now, having co-chaired NANPA's Environment Comittee with him for a few years, and he has served as an inspiration to me ever since I met him at a NANPA summit in Corpus Christi.  He is well known for his environmental photography, having photographed stories for all of the major magazines that cover nature and the environment.  His dedication to documenting the truth about how we are affecting our environment is unsurpassed in my estimation.  A few years ago, he helped create the International League of Conservation Photographers.

His book Earth Under Fire is the culmination of a decade of work, traveling the globe documenting the reality of climate change, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is concerned about global warming or still on the fence about its human causes and impacts.  It is full of eye-opening facts and compelling photography.  Here is a link to his website about the book:

His photography website is here:

Go get inspired!

Until next time...

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Posted by Jerry Monkman at 7/30/2008 8:30 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Exploring New Places Courtesy of the Wildlands Trust.

Scott McFaden, Land Protection Specialist for the Wildlands Trust, paddles the
Indian Head River in Hanover, Massachusetts.

One of the great aspects of my job is that I am constantly turned on to relatively unknown wild places in New England that are often hidden in the midst of the suburbs surrounding the region's big cities.

Last year, Karen Grey, our friend and long time contact at one of our conservation clients left her job to take the executive director's position at a land trust in Duxbury, Massachusetts (near Plymouth.)   According to their website, "
The Wildlands Trust is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving land and preserving the natural heritage of Southeastern Massachusetts. We work to permanently protect and steward important habitats and landscapes, including woodlands and fields, ponds, coastal areas, agricultural lands, and river systems."

Thanks to Karen's support, I have been fortunate to have spent a few days this year exploring some of the properties they have preserved over the years under the guidance of their land guru, Scott McFaden.  Their properties have great diversity - sandy beaches on Cape Cod Bay that support nesting piping plovers, wooded sanctuaries that have the feel of deep wilderness, and tidal wetland systems that are filled with an uninterrupted chorus of bird song.

Shifting Lots Preserve, Plymouth, Massachusetts

One of the things I love about getting these assignments is that I get to photograph in places that are completely new to me.  As much as I love visiting the usual iconic American landscapes, it is really challenging to approach photography in those places without the calendar images of the photographers that have gone before me burned into my consciousness.  I can photograph these smaller, little known places without any preconceived  photos in my head, forcing me to spend more time getting to know the place and letting my creativity take over.  I also just feel like my images are more important because they aren't just recreating what has been shot before. 

Here are a few more images from my Wildlands Trust project:

Forest and Indian Head River at the Tucker Preserve in Pembroke, Massachusetts.

Acadia and Quinn at the Center Hill Preserve in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Indian Head River at Tucker Preserve.

O'Neil Farm in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Until next time...

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Posted by Jerry Monkman at 7/30/2008 5:27 PM | View Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Hi Everyone,

I just got an e-mail from Justin at asking me to check out his site.  it's a new on-line photo sharing community for nature photographers.  You can post photos, comment on others' images, and offer prints for sale.  It looks like it has some potential and is worth checking out.  here's the link:

Until next time...
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Posted by Jerry Monkman at 7/25/2008 9:36 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
A couple of interesting blog posts I came across today:

The first is at PDNpulse ( and details the Prix Pictet award, a conservation photography competition with a final award of $100,000.00.  Very cool.

The second is a post by Rob Haggart at A Photo Editor ( where he outlines a panel he moderated where four photo editors discuss how they buy photos, etc.  Very interesting read.

Until next time...

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Posted by Jerry Monkman at 7/23/2008 10:09 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Merge to HDR and Acadia Photo Tour.

Dorr Point, Acadia National Park.

Last week, I led a photo tour in Maine's Acadia National Park.  Our group of ten hit all the park hot spots, ate some great food, and were the beneficiaries of some great light (up at 4:00 a.m. three out of five days).  The hot technique that much of the class was experimenting with was making High Dynamic Range images by combining several exposures of the same image.  I demonstrated Photoshop's Merge to HDR feature, but we were all soon opting for using the much more intuitive Photomatix Pro.  I had tried it a few times, but after a week of regular use, I am definitely impressed with what it can do.

Dawn on Cadillac Mountain - HDR version.

The above image is the result of four different exposures being merged by Photomatix.  The image below is the best I could do using a split-neutral density filter, one exposure and some tweaking in Lighroom.

Dawn on Cadillac Mountain - one exposure version.

Pretty cool, huh?  Here are a couple more examples from the Acadia trip:

Dawn on Cadillac Mountain.

Jordan Pond after sunset.

On Sunday, I went out to shoot a property in Medfield, MA that is part of a conservation effort by the Trust for Public Land. It's a beautiful, but unassuming property, and I was glad to try out a couple of HDR shots there, particularly in the oak-pine woods.  Here are a couple of the HDR images from that shoot:

Afternoon on an esker, Medfield, MA.

Tire swing.

The forest shot in particular is very hard to capture in one exposure, but the HDR version looks pretty good.

You can download a free trial version of Photomatix at:

I have no affiliation whatsoever with the Photomatix folks.  I even paid full-price for the software.

Until next time...

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Posted by Jerry Monkman at 7/23/2008 9:38 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Back to Work: Stratford, CT, York, ME, and Acadia.

Clouds over dune grass on Long Beach in Stratford, Connecticut.

I'm in the midst of photographing several conservation projects for the Trust for Public Land.  The first is a 2 mile-long barrier beach in Stratford, CT that protects a great salt marsh complex which is part of McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.

Rain shower over Long Island Sound.

During the two days I shot there a week or so ago, there were steady 10-15 mph winds which made getting sharp images of the grasses tough, but the reward were these great cloud formations and rain showers that blew through.

Charred tree in the condemned Pleasure Beach neighborhood in Stratford, CT.

An unusual aspect of this project is that it involves the demolition of about 40 homes that were condemned a few years ago after the bridge connecting the beach to Bridgeport burned down and was not replaced.  It is an eerie site to see so many homes abandoned with windows broken and personal belongings strewn about, especially in such a beautiful seaside setting. The hope is that the entire 2-mile stretch of beach, which hosts nesting endangered piping plovers and least terns, will be turned over to the feds to be managed in conjunction with the wildlife refuge.

Marcy kayaking on the York River.

A project we worked on last week, involved two properties on the upper stretches of the York River in York, Maine.  These projects will add land to a growing amount of protected open space along the beautiful tidal portion of the river, which has significant areas of salt marsh habitat and undisturbed upland forest.  In the Mt. Agamenticus to the sea corridor, it is part of an unusually large wilderness for southern Maine and coastal New England.

Kayak in Frenchman Bay, Bar Harbor, Maine.

Today, I am photographing several hundred acres of land that protects well-managed forests and around three miles of shoreline on Branch Lake in Ellsworth, Maine.  And since I'm in Ellsworth, I couldn't resist the opportunity to mosey on over to Acadia National Park and get my kayak wet in Frenchman Bay.  Unfortunately, I also go my phone wet in Frenchman Bay, so don't try calling me today!

Until next time...

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Posted by Jerry Monkman at 6/3/2008 11:11 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
The Stamp Ceremony, etc.

The Monkman clan at the 13 Mile Woods Stamp Ceremony in Errol, NH.

This blog entry won't blow you away with stunning images, but it will give you a chance to see the Monkman family in action.  On Friday, we were honored to be part of the first day of sale ceremony in Errol, NH, which celebrated the release of the new 72 cent 13 Mile Woods stamp featuring our photo of the Androscoggin River at dawn.  It was quite the celebration with music provided by the Berlin High School Band, speeches by several post office and local dignitaries, and more than 250 locals in attendance.  Talk about an ego boost!

On Lookout Ledge in Randolph, NH.

On Saturday, the  four of us hiked up to Lookout Ledge in Randolph, NH and its great views of the Northern Presidentials in the White Mountains.  This was a research trip for the revisions we are making to our guidebook, Discover the White Mountains.  The kids did a great job making the 1000 foot climb, barely noticing the swarming black flies that descended upon us for most of the hike.  That night, we opened our White Mountain photo exhibit in Gorham at the White Mountain Cafe (hence the t-shirts).  The cafe was packed for most of the time during the three hour party, during which we reconnected with old friends and made lots of new ones while discussing the beauty of the Whites and enjoying the cafe's newly acquired beer and wine license!  The exhibit looks pretty good if I do say so myself, so check it out next time you're in the area.

The loves of my life at Tama Falls.

On Sunday, we continued our hiking research with a 3 mile loop hike that visits four waterfalls on the lower slopes of Mount Madison and Mount Adams.  If you get a chance to hike the Brookside Trail off of US 2 in Randolph sometime, I highly recommend it.  It travels to some beautiful waterfalls and passes though some great old-growth hemlock forest.

Quinn crossing Memorial Bridge below Cold Brook Fall.

Quinn, who turns five next month is really starting to take an interest in being out on the trail.  He's feeling much older now, having participated in his pres-school graduation recently.  Life just keeps rolling on...

We're heading back up to the Whites this weekend for some camping and more hiking so stay tuned...

Until next time,


Posted by Jerry Monkman at 5/21/2008 1:59 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Print Display Party at the White Mountain Cafe in Gorham, NH

The White Mountain Cafe in Gorham, NH - A Happening Place.

The day after our big stamp party, we'll be having a party at the White Mountain Cafe in Gorham, New Hampshire.  We'll be signing books, but more importantly, we'll be unveiling what we hope will be a permanent gallery display of fine art photographs, culled from the best of our White Mountains collection.  (To see our current fine art print collection, check out: The party goes from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, May 17th, and is open to the public, so come enjoy a yummy dessert with some cappuccino while checking out some cool photos of the White Mountains.

Our new limited edition poster of Mount Washington.

One of the items we'll be unveiling at the White Mountain Cafe is our first limited edition poster.  This one features one of our all-time favorite photos of the White Mountains, Mount Washington at Dusk.  These posters are 20" x 24" and printed with archival inks and papers so they won't fade for at least 100 years!  Each poster comes signed and numbered.

The White Mountain Cafe is on NH 16 in downtown Gorham, across the street from Burger King.  We hope to see you there on the 17th!

Until Next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 5/6/2008 3:16 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
See Our Photo on a USPS Stamp on May 16th!

On Friday, May16th, the US Post Office is releasing a new international rate stamp (for mail to Mexico and Canada), featuring a photo we shot of the 13 Mile Woods section of the Androscoggin River in Errol, New Hampshire.  We're honored and excited to have our artwork used in this way, especially since this photo was originally made as part of a photo project meant to build awareness and raise funds to create the Errol Community Forest, 5300+ acres of forest in 13 Mile Woods that is now dedicated to wildlife conservation, outdoor recreation and sustainable logging.  (To see more photos from this project, go to our website,,  and plug in "13 Mile Woods in the search field.)

On May 16th at 1:00, the Errol, Milan, and Berlin post offices will be hosting a First Day of Sale and Stamp Ceremony to mark the debut of the stamp.  The party is at Mollidgewock State Park, right next to the river on NH 16 in Errol.  Marcy and the kids and I are all making the trip up, and the kids are really hoping to see their first moose!

The stamp is generating plenty of interest already with a few local papers and New Hampshire Public Radio all running stories about it recently.  Here are a couple of story links:

Manchester Union Leader: sealed%2C delivered%3A River photo is now a stamp&articleId=d7b30a5c-110b-4622-85fc-10583edfc500

Portsmouth Herald:

More announcements coming soon....


Posted by Jerry Monkman at 5/6/2008 3:01 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Picturehouse Chicago

The EcoPhotography team at Picturehouse Chicago.
(Thanks goes to Josh Slaymaker from Grant Heileman Images for taking this shot.)

Marcy, the kids and I have embarked on a week-long adventure to...

the Chicago suburbs!

Actually, we're visiting with Marcy's parents for the week in Oak Brook, which is always a great experience, and this time we'll be  joined by her brother's faimly from Colorado and her sister's family from L.A., so it's a big family reunion and a lot of fun.

Since we were here and had free baby-sitters - thanks Grandma and Papa! - we were able to attend the Picturehouse show at the River East Art Center in Chicago yesterday.  There were about 60 stock agencies there and 400+ art buyers making the rounds, checking out the photos, eating the complimentary food, and connecting with business partners and old friends.  We met lots of great people, made a few new friends, and shared war stories with a few old ones (o.k., the stock photo industry isn't exactly a war zone, but it has been a rather turbulent industry for the last decade or so.)  If you are an art buyer and haven't been to a Picturehouse Event, you should check it out because it is really the only place you can speak with all of the major stock photo suppliers in one place.  The next U.S. event is in New York in October.  Hopefully, we'll see you there.

In the meantime, we'll be enjoying lots of deep dish pizza before we head back home and dive into finding some new great trips to add to the second edition of Discover the White Mountains.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 4/17/2008 7:07 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Spring Skiing in King Ravine.

The EcoPhotographer climbs the headwall on King Ravine in New Hampshire's White Mountains.

Last Wednesday, I was invited to hike up into King Ravine on the north side of Mount Adams in the White Mountain National Forest and photograph some friends skiing the gullies on the headwall.  King Ravine is a classic glacial cirque, with a steep semi-circular headwall that flattens into a U-shaped valley carved by a glacier during the last ice age (or two).  It doesn't receive quite as much snow as the more famous White Mountain east-facing ravines, especially Tuckermans, but it definitely has plenty of snow this spring.

The hike to the bottom of the headwall takes about three hours from US 2 in Randolph.  Then you are faced with slopes that rise at an angle of 50 degrees and greater in places.  I was without crampons and ice axe for some reason (I guess I'm thinking spring) and found it fairly challenging to climb up the gullies, particularly when I was breaking trail.  It was well worth the effort though, as the views from the headwall are quite dramatic.

Dave Murphy rests during his climb up the Great Gully.

As you can see here, "Murph" was smart enough to bring his ice axe and he was also nice enough to let me use it for my descent of the headwall.  While I can climb up with the best of them, I know I have nowhere near the skills necessary to safely ski down this stuff.  This is strictly expert terrain.  However, just hiking down proved to be enough a challenge for me as it was easy to slip and slide several hundred feet down the gully, which thankfully I didn't do, but my camera did (it came to a rest in a little bush without a scratch!)

In hot pursuit...

Skiing "The Seven" in Black and White.

The headwall is not quite a cliff, but it is steeper than any stairwell I have ever climbed.

Doug Mayer carving a telemark turn on "The Seven"

As you can see, all of these guys are using telemark gear, which is really the only way to go when climbing and skiing some of these narrow ski chutes.  By the way, you'll be hearing more about Doug Mayer (in the photo above) in this blog soon.  Doug and his business partners, Matt and Jenna Bowman, have asked Marcy and I to hang some of our White Mountains prints in their happening Gorham caffeine distribution center, The White Mountain Cafe.  We should have some prints up by the middle of May, which is when we'll also be introducing our first limited edition poster, a photo of Mount Washington at Dusk.  In the meantime, if you're in Gorham, stop in the cafe and enjoy the coffee, sandwiches, pastries, and free wi-fi.  It's right downtown on Rt. 2/16, across the street from Burger King.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 4/14/2008 3:03 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Choosing an LCD Monitor for Digital Imaging
Warning: this gets pretty geeky at times!

A recent encounter with a friend’s 23” widescreen LCD monitor made me realize that I am little behind the times.  Although I have been teaching in my workshops that the monitor you use for image editing should be replaced every couple of years, I have happily been plugging away on my trusty 19-inch CRT for almost four years now.  After seeing that big LCD, I came down with monitor envy and I made a quick trip to a big box electronics store to see what is out there.  The wall of bright colorful monitors was impressive and a bit overwhelming, and I instantly realized I would need to do a little research into what makes a good monitor for an outdoor photographer like me who shoots digitally and spends countless hours on the computer editing and “developing” my images.

The first thing I noticed is that finding a new CRT is like finding a local lab to process E-6 film in my home state of New Hampshire.  They practically no longer exist.  A few years ago, imaging professionals were preaching that CRT’s were necessary for critical work and that LCD’s should be avoided for those tasks.  That is no longer the case, as LCD technology has improved considerably to the point that many monitors now match or surpass CRT’s in their ability to render tone and color accurately.  In addition to that good news is the fact that LCD’s are much easier to make in the widescreen format, and of course they are much lighter.  LCD’s are the obvious choice when buying a new monitor today, but the challenge from a consumer’s standpoint is sorting through the myriad choices when deciding which monitor is best for your image editing and your budget.

The first, and I think easiest, choice to make is between a widescreen model (16:9 aspect ratio) and a traditional model (4:3 aspect ratio.)  For photographers, a widescreen monitor is the obvious choice because the software we use, especially Photoshop CS3, Lightroom, and Aperture, are really designed to be used with a wider screen.  If you are intent on being a two-monitor person, then the traditional monitor format is still a reasonable choice, but I love working on the widescreen and recommend you try one out if you’re on the fence about it. 

After deciding on a format, there are several monitor specs to consider including brightness, contrast ratio, viewing angle, color gamut, and resolution.  All current model LCD’s have plenty of brightness and contrast.  In fact, most screens come preset to display too bright of an image and the brightness as well as contrast may need to be toned down during calibration to insure that they don’t blow out highlight detail.  Because of this, higher end monitors often have a lower contrast ratio, in the 400:1 to 1000: 1 range then less expensive monitors, so if you opt for a more affordable choice, try to convince a dealer to let you calibrate a floor sample so you can confirm that they can maintain color fidelity and detail when their brightness is turned down.

The viewing angle spec describes how much you can change your line of sight from side to side and still have the monitor display an acceptable image.  You will notice that as you sit directly in front of the monitor, color and tone is fairly uniform from corner to corner (if it’s not, move on to another choice,) but as you change your point of view, colors will start to shift, contrast goes down, and some areas of the screen will start to look darker.  Manufacturer specs will list viewing angles as anywhere from 150 degrees to 170 degrees (and beyond.)  The way this is determined can vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer, so the only way to truly tell if a viewing angle is acceptable is to view the monitor in person.  Obviously, the bigger the monitor, the more important a large viewing angle becomes.

In my opinion the most exciting feature of the new LCD monitors is an increased color gamut.  For years, we’ve all been working on our color images using two main color spaces, sRGB and Adobe RGB, with sRGB being the smaller gamut used for monitor displays and Adobe RGB being the larger gamut that we use to prepare images for printing (I know some of you are using the even bigger space, ProPhoto RGB, but that’s not even part of the equation for monitor displays yet.)   A couple of years ago, only the very best LCD’s displayed all of the colors in the sRGB color space, let alone a high percentage of Adobe RGB.  Today, the top of the line monitors are capable of displaying 90% or more of the Adobe RGB color space.  Working in this wider color space means that you will get much blacker blacks and smoother tonal gradations in your display, which reduces the possibility of banding and increases the amount of shadow detail that you will see on the screen. 

To achieve near Adobe RGG color, manufacturers have built some of the graphics processing, specifically the color look up table or LUT for short, into the monitor itself (bypassing the computer’s graphics card,) which lets them use ten or twelve bit color versus the typical eight bit.  This means that buying into a wide gamut monitor will cost you – typically twice as much as monitors with a smaller color gamut. If you can view a wide gamut LCD next to a smaller gamut model, do it.  You will be impressed.

Lastly, you need to consider resolution and monitor size, which is a simple proposition.  Choose the highest resolution screen you can find for the size monitor you are buying (this will give you the most detail and sharpness in your display,) but don’t bother comparing resolutions between different-sized screens.  Resolution is measured in pixels, i.e. 1680 x 1050 is 1680 pixels wide and 1050 pixels tall.  A resolution of 1680 x 1050 on a 20-inch screen is going to look sharper than the same resolution on a 23-inch screen because the wider screen has to spread those pixels out over a bigger area, so to achieve a similar look the 20-inch, the 23-inch screen will need a higher resolution.  Obviously, the size monitor you choose will depend primarily on how much space you have on your desktop and how much money is in your bank account.

Even after learning what features to focus on, you will have a lot of monitors to sort through when making your buying decision.  After talking with several manufacturers and looking at a wide variety of screens, I’ve compiled the following list of monitors as a starting place for those ready to buy.  These products range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.  All are more expensive than the typical monitor included with a new computer system purchase, but I feel the upgrade is worth it if you plan to do critical image editing.

If you are looking for an affordable big screen, check out the HP LP2465 ($649.00) from Hewlett-Packard, a 24-inch widescreen monitor with 1920 x 1200 resolution and a stated 178 degree viewing angle.  Many monitors in this price range have trouble maintaining color fidelity when their brightness is turned down to an acceptable level for image editing,  but this monitor does well in this regard and also responds very well when being calibrated with a colorimeter like Pantone’s Spyder.   If you want to go real big, take a look at the 30-inch version (LP3065.)

Apple was at the forefront of the LCD monitor revolution, eschewing CRT’s in 2001, and they designed their line of LCD’s with the graphics professional in mind. Their Apple Cinema Display line-up includes 20-inch, 23-inch, and 30-inch widescreen displays, which range in price from $599.00 to $1799.00.  Apple has worked hard to maintain consistency between the displays, so you will find that they all maintain excellent color fidelity from corner to corner with their stated viewing angle of 170 degrees.  They also look pretty nice on the desktop with their snazzy brushed aluminum case that not only looks good, but provides a nice neutral viewing environment.  And in case you were wondering, these displays work on both Mac and Windows PC’s.

NEC has a large range of LCD choices, but of most interest to photographers doing critical color work is their line of high gamut monitors, denoted by an “SV” or “LED” at the end of the model number.  These models range in size from a 19-inch traditional format screen to a 26-inch widescreen.  They are pricey compared to the Apple and HP monitors - for example the Multisync LCD2490WUXiSV, a 24-inch widescreen panel retails for $1749.99 - but the extra money gives you a panel with an internal 12-bit gamma look up table that can display 93% of the Adobe RGB color space.  You also get a colorimeter thrown in.

LaCie’s 300 and 500 series LCD’s also use an internal 12-bit color look up table to provide excellent color and tonal reproduction.  Their top of the line 526 ($2099.99) display boasts 95% of the Adobe RGB color space, and all LaCie monitors come with a LaCie easy hood, a gray hood that can be fit around the monitor to reduce the ambient light reaching the display and improving the viewing environment for precise color work.  You can also optionally purchase LaCie’s “blue eye colorimeter” for calibration that is specifically tailored to LaCie’s monitors.

Eizo’s ColorEdge line of monitors are built specifically for graphics professionals and photographers.  Like the NEC and LaCie displays mentioned above, Eizo ColorEdge displays have built-in color look up tables (either 10-bit or 12-bit) resulting in a wide color gamut (their top of the line CG221 achieves 100% Adobe RGB, but retails for more than $5000.00).  The CE240W ($1799.00) features a 24-inch widescreen panel, a monitor hood, and and Eizo’s patented brightness stabilization technology.  Eizo is unique in offering a five year warranty on their displays, which is a year or two longer than what most other manufacturers offer.

Note:  All the monitors here use digital connections (DVI), which provides a more accurate display of digital images than analog connections because there is no need for a digital-to-analog conversion (30-inch displays require something called a dual-link DVI connection.)  All new graphics cards have a DVI connection, but if you have an older computer, you’ll need to confirm that your graphics card will connect to new your new monitor.

For a schedule of Jerry’s upcoming photo workshops, including his August 2008 tour of Ireland, visit

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 4/8/2008 8:54 AM | View Comments (5) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Maple Syrup is Running.

Sap buckets and barn in Pomfret, Vermont.

Yesterday, I made the drive up to Woodstock, Vermont to pitch a couple of new book ideas to the publisher of our book, The Colors of Fall (The Countryman Press.)  There's really no need to actually make the trip in person these days, but I love having the excuse to make the 2 1/2 hour drive.  It's just one of those iconic parts of New England.  Of course, early April is a tough time to do scenic photography in northern New England.  The snow is melting and  less than fresh looking, the trees are bare, and the mud is deep.  The one compelling activity going on is maple syrup production, and this week proved to be a good week for it as the weather cooperated to make some strong sap flows (the sap runs best when temps get below freezing at night, but warm up during the day.)

Sugarbush Farm in Woodstock, Vermont.

About ten minutes up a hill along a muddy road from downtown Woodstock brings you to Sugarbush Farm.  I've visited the farm before to buy some of their delicious aged cheddar cheese (I'm fond of the 4-year old sharp cheddar,) but I had never been there during sugaring season.  Luckily, they had about 600 gallons of sap to boil when I got there.  The black smoke is from the wood fire used to heat the sap.  The white smoke is steam from the water evaporating off the sap.

Ralph Luce tends the fire in the evaporator.

Sugarbush Farm is owned by the Luce Family.  Ralph and his brother Jeff are the third generation of Luce's to work on the farm and they were kind enough to let me hang out in the sugar house for an hour so and take some pictures.  On average it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.  This year, maple syrup is running up around $50.00 a gallon due to high worldwide demand and the higher cost of diesel fuel.

Bucket o' syrup.

Sap buckets on sugar maples lining a dirt road in Pomfret, Vermont.

It's not called mud season for nothing.  The dirt roads in New England from late March through May can be tough to drive on.  My all wheel drive Subaru wagon seems to make it on most of the roads (I haven't gotten stuck yet,) but it rides a little lower than I'd like.  Last year, I scraped a hole in my muffler visiting sugar houses in Vermont. By the way, if want to see last year's sugar house photos, check out Sweet Spring in New England.

Well, that was a fun afternoon.  Now I just have to make some pancakes!

Until next time...


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Posted by Jerry Monkman at 4/4/2008 7:43 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Last Winter Hike - Mount Washington.

Winter Dawn - White Mountains.

I meant to make this blog posting almost two weeks ago, but the night after taking the above photo, I came down with the flu and spent the next ten days getting back to where I can work again.  Whew - I'm glad that's over!

In any event, on March 18th, my friend Ty Wivell and I were led by local climbing guide Paul Cormier on a sunrise hike up to this spot in the col between Mount Washington and Mount Clay.  We had originally planned on hiking the day before, but 80 mph winds on the summits nixed that idea.  Instead we met on the 18th at 3:30 a.m. at the base of the Cog Railway, and soon began the hike up in the dark, though the moonlight was so bright we didn't even need headlamps until the moon set around 5:00. We arrived at the above spot a little after 6:00 and found calm winds and beautiful pre-dawn light.  We couldn't have planned it any better.

Paul and Ty below the summit of Mount Clay.  Mounts Adams and Madison are in the distance.

We spent the next 2-plus hours shooting and hiking up to the summit of Mount Clay which has a spectacular view of the Great Gulf and the northern Presidentials, which is why I picked this spot for our little morning photo shoot.

The three of us head towards the summit of Mount Clay.

There were a couple of new pieces of equipment along for the ride on this shoot.  This was my first shoot with my new Canon 1DsMarkIII camera.  It performed quite well.  I appreciated it's smaller, lighter batteries, which held up nicely in the cold, and I was more enamored with its live view feature than I expected (though once the sun was up and bright it was hard to use the LCD for much.)  During post-processing, besides liking the big 21-plus megapixel files, I was happily surprised at the ability to recapture shadow detail without adding additional noise.  A much bigger improvement over the 1DsMarkII than I expected.

The other piece of new gear is called an intervalometer, which is basically a fancy cable release that lets you set up the camera to shoot as many exposures as you want at regular intervals.  For the above shot of the three of us hiking, I secured the camera to my tripod and set it to take 30 images, 3 seconds apart.  I pushed the button, and off we went while the camera captured the scene.  Very cool.

Ty photographing Paul on Mount Clay.

Mount Adams.

All in all, it was a pretty great morning!

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 3/30/2008 7:34 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Photo Tips in AMC Outdoors.
Back in December I was one of the judges for the Appalachian Mountain Club's annual photo contest.  I think this was my fourth time taking a turn with this task.  It has been interesting to watch the submissions transition from mostly mediocre prints and a few slides to primarily digital submissions with an overall higher quality.  The technology has really taken root (big statement there, I know.)

Anyway, if you are an AMC member, you can see the results of the contest in the April issue of AMC Outdoors, which just arrived in my mailbox today.  If you're not a member, you can see the winners here.

Also in this issue is an article I wrote, called Photo Tips from a Pro.  It's on-line too.

Until next time...

Posted by Jerry Monkman at 3/28/2008 6:40 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
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