Tag Archives: collage

Photography in an abominable snow cave


Brian Feulner photographs Unity College students building a snow shelter for their winter ecology class at the school. John Holyoke

If you follow the BDN outdoor editor John Holyoke, you likely read his story about braving a quinzhee, a type of snow shelter, at Unity College earlier this week.

I was the photographer that traveled along on the escapade and discovered a few tips I’d like to share.

Special gloves allow the usage of a touch screen.

One thing I failed to do was to bring along my smartphone – friendly gloves. These gloves allow electrical conductivity from your body to your smartphone’s touch screen and provide screen control. Regular gloves just won’t work. The other good thing about these gloves is that they act like a base-layer and fit snugly underneath my winter gloves, keeping my hands extra warm.

Brian Feulner photographs Unity College students building a snow shelter for their winter ecology class at the school. John Holyoke


Because John and I maintained a live blog uploading tweets, photos and videos throughout the experience I heavily relied on my iPhone. So unfortunately for me, my hands froze every time I needed to tweet.

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Unity College senior, Sierra Marchacos digs out the snow shelter from the inside. The condensation inside the cave caused my lenses to fog up. Brian Feulner


Another problem I ran into was the condensation inside of the shelter itself. There’s one point in my video interview where I’m talking to Sierra Marchacos, a Unity College Senior.

Almost as soon as I entered the cave condensation started fogging up my lens. This is where bonehead mistake #2 comes in… I didn’t bring a lens cloth. Usually in this case I use my cotton t-shirt. But because I was sleeping in the cold the last thing I wanted to wear was cotton. I wore all wick away layers, which didn’t help wipe away the moisture at all.

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The snow shelter at night. Brian Feulner


Lastly was my snow cave lighting. I skipped sunset, in favor of a warm dinner, and had the idea of lighting the snow cave from the inside and out with a flash unit. (I did a similar shoot of some  ice near the Kenduskeag Stream in a recent post.)

There were two problems I encountered.

First the walls of the shelter were too thick to get any glowing light from the inside with the flash. Second, lighting it from the outside seemed like a good plan except for the fact that the cave was located on a college campus with a lot of ugly, orange glowing street lights. The lights were too distracting and, I think, killed the photo.

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BDN Outdoor Editor John Holyoke crawls out of the snow shelter early in the morning and braves the cold. Brian Feulner


I had another chance.

The early morning light cast a beautiful array of
pink, purple and bluish color tones on the snowy dome. The addition of an exhausted reporter who just crawled out of the shelter was just the human element I needed to tell the story.

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BDN Outdoor Editor John Holyoke crawls out of the snow shelter early in the morning and braves the cold. Brian Feulner


Kenduskeag ice scapes

“Are you ready?” asked Phil Gibson, my neighbor and Tennessee native.

“Yup,” I replied.

“Ok, 1, 2, 3” he counted.

On three, the shutter of my Canon 5d Mark lll clicked off and echoed through the hundreds of pounds of sharp, pointed ice that was hanging over my head.

Immediately, I started firing off a round of flashes trying to evenly back light the massive icicles from where I stood in the cavern that they created.

The camera shutter was set to 30 seconds, so about half way through I carefully crept to the other side of the ice cave, slipping across the ice with every step. There I began firing of flash bursts trying to light the other side.

When it was all done, we had our shot.

The photo was the start of a long-term project about the Kenduskeag Stream that I started working on. The goal is to show a collection of images from the stream over several months. The final product will hang in my gallery, the Feulner Gallery and Studio. My other goal is to raise awareness about the stream, its beauty and its potential as a recreational spot.

Only minutes from Bangor, the stream runs directly through the city. Trails connect the stream from downtown and meander past stunning cliff edges and stream access points. As someone who has walked those trails several times, they’re not maintained as well as they could be and are frequented by people who decide to either sleep along the streams banks or leave their trash in various heaps.

The stream is a treasure and hopefully our work, as dangerous as it might be sometimes, will help to keep it protected.

Covering the 2015 Eastern Maine basketball tournament

To say I shot a lot of basketball last week would be an understatement. In a week and a half span, I shot around 17 games and averaged about 600 images a game.

That’s a lot of basketball. That’s a lot of repetition.

In situations like this it becomes very important to keep pushing yourself to find interesting moments and to keep trying to cover the event in a different way.

Like I said in the The Frame post on the Hermon basketball coach, sometimes the best images don’t come from game action but rather what’s happening off the court.

While game action is important, I don’t necessarily think it is the most important thing at a game. Crowds, coaches, players on the benches usually tell the story better than the person going up for the layup.

High school sports, especially tournament play, are full of emotions. This could be someone’s last game that they ever play. Dejection is just as important as jubilation.

Watching for and knowing where those especially emotional people are is helpful when something big happens.

When I cover basketball I shoot with three bodies, one with a 24-70mm, one with a 70-200mm and the third with a 300mm.  This allows me to see the game in a multitude of ways and allows me to almost be in two places at once.

Though I do move around a good deal while shooting too. From court side, to to top of the arena and everywhere in between. I’m always searching for an interesting angle. It not only keeps me interested but it keeps the photos interesting too.

For the finals on Saturday I mounted a remote camera over one of the nets, similar to the one I did for state cheerleading,  to give a different perspective to viewers after a week of seeing similar images. They turned out better than expected and gave a totally different view on the typical shooting shot that I had seen thousands of times that week.

Large tournaments like this are not only physically but mentally daunting, as is doing anything over and over again in a short period of time. I’m glad the bulk of the tournament is over. I walked away with some interesting photos that I’m pretty proud of.

The Frame: Off-beat sports moments

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BAGNOR, MAINE — 02/13/2015 – Hermon assistant coach Megan McCrum (right) yells instructions to her team during their Eastern Maine Basketball tournament quarterfinal basketball game against Medomak Friday at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Ashley L. Conti | BDN

Part of my job is scouting a room and finding the most expressive person in it. This doesn’t just apply to feature assignments, or spot new, but also sports.

Sometimes you can’t just rely on the action of the game to tell the story. Looking to the benches and the stands gives a different perspective of the game, and helps tell the story even better than the action.

Hermon was up during this point in the game (they ended up winning), but the coaches were still adamant on making sure they won.

I had seen the Hermon assistant coach, Megan McCrum, become very expressive before during that game and knew I wanted to capture her being so.

So, I pointed my camera at her and waited.

Sure enough something happened (I think Hermon fouled Medomak) and she started giving instructions to her team. I started shooting. I fired off 10 or so frames but didn’t really know I had what I had until I started editing.

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Her expression was perfect.

This job is part preparation and part luck. Knowing your surroundings and putting yourself into a position where things are going to happen is key. It doesn’t always work out as planned, but it’s worth it when you are able to walk away with photos like this.

Pownal man faces blizzard while living in his tent during winter

by Robert F. Bukaty

POWNAL, Maine — The fierce winds, 2 feet of snow and frigid temperatures that came with last week’s blizzard paralyzed much of the northeast – but it barely fazed one Mainer who is spending the winter living in a tent.

If anything, the brutal storm did little more than cause Ed Warden to lose some sleep.

“I was up like every hour at night getting the snow off my tent, keeping it off the awnings,” said Warden, 67. “But other than that it was fine.”

Warden is the volunteer camp host at Bradbury Mountain State Park. He doesn’t get paid to live in a tent.  He does it because the camping lifestyle is something he’s been in love with for 45 years.

“When I got out of the military in 1970 I got the bug to just go camping and traveling. I had a Volkswagen minivan and drove up to Alaska. I’ve camped in Hawaii…”

“I just like the outdoor life. I think communing with nature is the key to health and serenity, so that’s what I do. I hang out with nature a lot,” he said.

Warden lives in a heavy-duty 12 x 20-foot outfitter’s tent with 8-foot vestibules attached at either end. At the peak the ceiling is 9-feet high. A small wood stove keeps it comfortably warm inside, consuming about one cord of wood per month.

His site is the only one at the campground that has electricity. He uses it to power a small refrigerator and an old TV someone recently brought him. Warden  hasn’t been able to find a digital converter so only uses the television to watch DVDs.

“I try to keep a balance between the old and the new,” said Warden. “I like modern conveniences but I also like my wood stove.”

The camping lifestyle has taught him to simplify things and learn to make do with what he has and get by with what he doesn’t have – like running water.

“I try not to dirty a whole bunch of pots because it’s harder to clean that up,” said Warden, who gets his water across the street at the ranger’s house.

A hiking trail just a few feet from Warden’s tent sees plenty of day-users who come in the wintertime to snowshoe or walk dogs dog – but few people come to camp this time of year. The last camper at the park departed a few weeks ago. He told Warden that he decided to buy a small trailer and was heading for Arizona.

Warden’s duties as camp host are minimal during the winter.  His primary job is to keep the paths the park’s outhouses shoveled out.

Warden once worked for 10 years as a certified nursing assistant. The experience helped convince him to get back to nature.

“I saw the elderly when they start to go downhill.  It was just too depressing.  I just thought [camping] is what I really wanted to do.”

This is his second winter in a tent at Bradbury.

“My whole goal in life is to be self-reliant on my own piece of land. I’d love to have a greenhouse, my own little garden, and [live in] this tent,” he said.

“I survived 17 degrees below zero before and now I’ve survived 26, 27 inches of snow.  [Last week’s blizzard] was the worst storm I’ve been through.  Then we got more snow on Friday. ”

But winter weather is no big deal to Warden.

“Even if I had to pay I would do it just to camp here,” he said while looking around at the high snow banks.

“I call it my ‘Poor Man’s Paradise’.”

Invading students, last goodbyes and henna rituals: Troy Bennett’s top photos of 2014

For my “Best of 2014” list, I chose a few images from this year’s important news events, but I mostly chose smaller pictures that deserve a second look.

A routine protest at USM turned almost surreal as students invaded a trustees meeting, commandeering their seats and sampling their lunches. The “I Like Mike” sign was my most memorable photo of hundreds from what seemed like an endless election season because, in the end, who wins is the only lasting story.

Photographing crying children is not easy or pleasant, but I think the image reflects the profound sadness the community felt at the murder of three children and their mother in Saco.

I owe a debt of thanks to Autumn Clair, the 16-year-old who let me document the inevitable goodbye between her and Pedro. I like the moment and the split composition of clothing designer Roxi Suger looking at her model in the mirror. Another mirror picture shows the intensity of a young actress as she cuts her hair in order to play a prisoner in a concentration camp.

I’m continually amazed at the beautiful, intimate moments I’m allowed to witness doing this job: henna artist Mary Kearns applying traditional patterns to a pregnant belly while another woman feeds her child. That’s a real gift.

On a pretty routine food story I caught Dhanya Chasmawala giving her big brother Gautam a taste of her ice cream. It’s not newsy, but it made my day. Just a few weeks back, while having lunch in Portland, I stood up and noticed people walking through a patch of sun through the “d” of the deli sign — another non-news photo that made me happy to be a photographer.

Sadly, the University of New England shut down its seal rehabilitation facility, but not before releasing one last batch of pinnipeds, including Stratton, who had a good look around before wriggling back to the sea.

My final pick is the University of Maine hockey team taking to the ice at Fenway Park. That was a fun assignment.

I chose three videos for this list that I think hold up to more than one viewing.

The henna video was a tough one. Cancer took my mother. I wish she could have gotten this treatment.
People seem to like my adventure motorcycle videos, so I included one that features some banjo picking. Lastly, the arm wrestling video is still quirky enough to be a little surprising.
That’s it. Thanks for looking. I’m off to face 2015 with my left eye on the viewfinder and my finger on the shutter.


In The Moment: Curling

The beauty of what we do as visual journalists is that sometimes we are given free-range to go out and find something that interests us and photograph it.

I wanted to photograph something that was winter related. My co-worker, Gabor, suggested checking out the Belfast Curling Club, Maine’s only curling club.

I sent an email to the club to see when a good time for a visit would be. Steve McLaughlin answered pretty much immediately and we set up a time to meet later that week.

Being from Ohio, I’ve never seen curling in the flesh, only occasionally on tv during the Winter Olympics. I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. The basics of the game I knew, but I wasn’t sure about where I would be able to shoot from.

Originally, I thought the sheets (the ice section the game is played on) would be spaced further apart from one another allowing me to photograph in between the sections.

No dice.

The sheets at the Belfast Curling Club were touching each other. In essence, it was one sheet of ice with three different playing fields drawn on it. The fact that the sheets were so close together, and that I didn’t have a pair of shoes to go on the ice with, meant I was stuck shooting from the carpeted deck or the observation “warm room” upstairs.

But this is why I love this job, it keeps you on your toes. It makes you throw out your original idea of how you were going to document something and adjust on the fly.

That’s what I did.

Do I wish I was able to get on the ice and shoot from there? Of course I do. But sometimes the challenges are good, and they make you push yourself a little bit more than you would have normally.