John Kenealy: Blog en-us (C) John Kenealy (John Kenealy) Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:22:00 GMT Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:22:00 GMT John Kenealy: Blog 120 90 Painted Turtles ReflectionsReflectionsIn this image, we see a painted turtle and its reflection while it sits on a log in a pond in central Maine.

I'm very fortunate to live in Maine, and to be the proud owner of a camp on a small pond in Turner. In our canoe and kayak trips around the pond, and during fishing ventures, painted turtles are a common sight. The turtles shift sides of the pond, depending upon the time of day, in order to keep their little cold blooded, reptilian bodies warm.

These little critters can be pretty skittish, and typically, as you approach them, they flip off the log on which they have been sunning themselves. They usually hit the water with a little "plop!"

So, when I set out to photograph the turtles I had two challenges:

1. I had to wait until the sun was up, so they would be out on the logs to sun themselves. This meant fairly flat light.

2. I had to devise a way to get close enough to take pictures from a boat, without having to zoom too much, and get fuzzy pictures on an unstable platform.

To help solve the first issue, I shot in HDR (High Dynamic Range) which takes a number of exposures, and blends them together to make a complete image. After that, the photos of the turtles were still a tiny bit washed out on parts, so I adjusted the exposure level in my software just a little.

The second issue was also interesting. Typically, when in a canoe, or kayak, even when paddling very slowly, and trying to coast in close, I'll hear, plop, plop, plop, as the turtles flip themselves into the water, and submerge. So, I had to try something different. I have an electric motor for my Jon boat, and thought that, if I could use the motor for propulsion, there would be a minimum of movement on my part, and this maybe, wouldn't tip off the turtles. I also got lucky in that there was an almost imperceptible breeze, that was not enough to put a ripple on the water, but was just enough to keep the boat drifting very slowly in the direction of the turtles that I wanted to photograph. 

I rigged up my Cannon with a 75-300mm zoom lens, so that I could make adjustments as I approached the turtles. As I approached each log that held turtles, I used the motor to put myself in the drift that I wanted, and let that tiny breeze do the rest. As the boat approached a log, I hunkered down to get  as stable, and low as I could. To my amazement, the turtles stayed on the logs! I was able to drift right by them, and get many shots from different angles. The calm water also made it possible to get some beautiful reflections.

When I imported the images to my laptop, there were many that were a little blurry, but I was able to get a fair number of quality shots to work with. I have posted my favorites in the Gallery titled Critters:

It is always fun, and rewarding, when a plan comes together!


]]> (John Kenealy) critters hdr high dynamic range lake log maine painted turtles pond reflections reptiles turtles water wildlife wildlife photography woods Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:21:31 GMT
Using Layers in Photo Editing for Cool Effects Rowan Tree, Kirk, and Graveyard in Blair AthollRowan Tree, Kirk, and Graveyard in Blair AthollIt took me about 9 hours to edit this picture, but I believe that the final result is worth it. I love the contrast between the bright red rowan berries, and the black and white scene. The photo above was taken in Blair Atholl in the Scottish Highlands. I liked the original image in color, but I thought that it needed some "pop." I am a big fan of rowan berries, and wanted them, and the rowan trees, to stand out. I was able to do this using layers in my photo editing software. There are a number of photo editors that will do this, such as Photoshop and Lightroom. I use Aurora HDR 2017, a powerful, professional photo editing software package, and an upgrade from Aurora HDR, which I have been using for over a year now. I originally found working with layers fairly daunting, but Aurora has a wide variety of video tutorials, which makes understanding the process much easier, especially for "old farts" like me!

To achieve this effect, I open the image (or images, if I have taken a number at different exposures) in the software. At this point, I can adjust HDR (High Dynamic Range) effect, color saturation, exposure, contrast, etc. Next, I ad an "adjustment layer." On this layer, I can make further adjustments. In this case, I completely unsaturated the color, which turned the image to black and white. 

Next, I opened an eraser function, and got to work. With the eraser function, I have the ability to adjust the size and opacity of the eraser. In this case, I set the opacity at max, and adjusted the eraser size as needed for different areas. With the eraser, I was able to "erase" the black and white  over the areas that I wanted colorized. After about nine hours (not in a row), I was able to achieve the image that you see here.

Using layers, it it is possible to produce a wide variety of effects to your images, but I really enjoy this effect, and have used it on a number of images from street scenes to close up shots of flowers.

]]> (John Kenealy) Aurora HDR 2017 Blair Atholl HDR Highlands John Kenealy Photography Layers Scotland layered effect rowan berries rowan tree software Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:00:21 GMT
Old Orchard Beach Scottish Festival Recap When I visited the Old Orchard Beach Scottish Festival last year, its first year, I thought that it had a lot of potential to be a great festival in the future, so I decided that I would register for a booth to feature my photography from my trip to Scotland in late July and August of 2016.

I'm glad I did!

This year's festival was a lot better! Major improvements were made. First, there were plenty of portable toilets delivered. this added to the convenience for both exhibitors, and patrons alike. Another major addition was Fellswater, an amazing Celtic band from the Boston area. Returning again, were headliners Albannach, and Baritone crooner, Charlie Zahm. I had placed my booth near where Charlie sings, which added to the experience of the day. The pipe band numbers were increased, as was the size and scope of the Highland games. Food choices were also better. there were more authentic Scottish foods available, such as meat pies, and Haggis. Camerons from New Jersey attended, and their quality is well known around the northeast.

The crowd was also bigger. A $5 entrance fee was charged at the gate, and I think that this is very reasonable, and it will help the festival expand in the future; but more on that in a bit.

I met some wonderful people at the festival. Many had visited Scotland, were going to visit Scotland this year, or were originally from Scotland. many people recognized the places in my images, and that led to some great conversations. My favorite moment of the festival was when a couple, who had visited Scotland last year, saw the 20" X 30" panoramic canvas of the "Three Sisters of Glencoe" that I had exhibited. It was their favorite spot in Scotland, and brought back fond memories for them. They just had to have it! What a wonderful feeling to have your photography touch people in such a way! Another great moment was when, a young lady who had studied abroad in Scotland last year, noticed a print of Dean Village in Edinburgh. It was her favorite spot in the city! She grabbed it, and showed it to her mother, saying: "See, this was the spot I was telling you about! It is so beautiful!" 

I am planning on reserving space for next year's OOB Scottish Festival! I'm sure it will be even bigger and better than this year's edition! Albannach has already committed, as has Celtic rock band out of Vermont, Prydein, and the Screaming Orphans, a Celtic band from Ireland. I'm sure that Charlie Zahm will also attend. 

Next Year's OOB Scottish Festival will be held on June, 2 2018. Be there! I know I will! Dean Village MorningDean Village Morningoriginally known as "Water of Leith Village," Dean Village had been a center for grain milling for over 800 years. Just north of Edinburgh City Center, it is one of the most photogenic neighborhoods in a most photogenic city.

Dean Village Morning

]]> (John Kenealy) Screaming Orphans Albannach Celtic Festival Charlie Zahm Fellswater John Kenealy Photography OOB OOB Scottish Festival Old Orchard Beach Old Orchard Beach Scottish Festival Prydein Tue, 13 Jun 2017 13:59:29 GMT
Achnambeithach Cottage at the Foot of Aonach Dubh Achnambeithach Cottage at the Foot of Aonach DubhAchnambeithach Cottage at the Foot of Aonach DubhAchnambeithach Cottage is a picturesque cottage in the midst of the eerie scenes of Glencoe in the Western Highlands of Scotland. Achnambeithach Cottage at the Foot of Aonach Dubh, is an iconic scene in Glencoe, in the Western Scottish Highlands. Glencoe is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever visited. It is just as eerie, though, as it is the site of one of the most dastardly deeds in recorded history.

Here is a synopsis from Education Scotland:

On 27 August 1691 King William offered the Highland clans a pardon for their part in the Jacobite rising - if they agreed to pledge allegiance to him before New Year’s Day. The oath had to be made before a magistrate. Many Highland Chiefs waited for word to come from the exiled King James before they took the oath.

Alasdair MacIain, the Chief of Glencoe, arrived at Fort Willliam on 31 December 1691 to take the oath but was told that he would have to travel some 70 miles to the sheriff at Inveraray. MacIain finally took the oath on 6 January 1692. He was given assurances that his allegiance would be accepted and that he and his people - the McDonalds of Glencoe - were safe.

John Dalrymple, Master of Stair, was the Secretary of State. He was hoping for an excuse to make an example of one of the Highland Clans. When he heard that Alasdair MacIain had not sworn allegiance by 31 December he was delighted:

My Lord Argyle tells me that Glencoe has not taken the oath, at which I rejoice. It is a great work of charity to be exact in the rooting out of that damnable sect, the worst in all the Highlands.

On 2 February about 120 troops arrived at Glencoe under the command of Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon. They were given hospitality by the MacDonalds of Glencoe as was customary in the Highlands. For the next 10 days and nights the troops were given food, drink and lodgings.

On 12 February Glenlyon received written orders from his superior, Major Duncanson:

You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, the McDonalds of Glencoe, and put all to the sword under seventy. You are to have a special care that the old Fox and his sons do upon no account escape your hands, you are to secure all the avenues that no man escape.

At 5 am on the morning of 13 February 1692 the killing began. Alasdair MacIain of Glencoe was shot dead as he rose from his bed, his wife was dragged away from her fallen husband and stripped naked. She died the next day. Houses were set alight. The troops bound some captives hand and foot before killing them. Gunfire woke the people of Glencoe. They ran from their homes and fled into the mountains.

Thirty eight men, women and children were killed in the massacre. Many more died of exposure as they tried to escape across the mountains in the dead of winter.

The MacDonalds had been victims of ‘murder under trust’, considered even worse than normal acts of murder under Scots law. The Massacre of Glencoe was also an act of terror by the state against its own people. The MacDonalds were killed to scare the other Highland Clans into submission. John Dalrymple, Master of Stair, had planned the murders. The orders to kill the MacDonalds of Glencoe had been signed by King William.

As word of the massacre spread, the Government tried to cover up what had happened. Eventually, in 1695, King William had to launch an enquiry. The Master of Stair resigned his offices and was given a Government pension. Robert Campbell of Glenlyon died in poverty a year later. No-one was ever brought to trial.


When I visited Glencoe, this past summer, I was entranced by the beauty, and history of the place. I felt, as I walked among the heather, that I was treading on hallowed ground. The heavy overcast sky only added to the aura. 

I treated this image with High Dynamic Range (HDR) in order to bring out the contrast of the lush, green of the mountain and valley, and the heavy, gray overcast clouds. I believe that this image captures the isolation, beauty, and aura of Glencoe.

]]> (John Kenealy) Achnambeithach Cottage Campbells Glencoe HDR MacDonalds Scotland Scottish Highlands UK United Kingdom heather high dynamic range history landscape massacre mountains Sun, 18 Dec 2016 16:20:04 GMT
Anatomy of a Panorama Keewaydin LakeKeewaydin LakeThis is a panorama of Keewaydin Lake in Stoneham, Maine. Keewaydin is nestled in the heart of the Oxford Hills in Western Maine. When I was in high school I used to do a lot of hiking with my older brother, Jim, and a number of friends, around the Hudson Highlands. The highlight of each day was an incredible vista of "The River" and surrounding mountains. Unfortunately, standard camera techniques didn't do the scenery justice, and taking panoramic images was not practical. Luckily, with the advent of the DSLR, and image stitching software, it is possible to take amazing panoramas today. In this Blog Post, I'll give an introduction to taking some beautiful panoramas.

Equipment needed:

DSLR camera, sturdy tripod (a pan head is helpful), computer, and image stitching software.


The set up:

It is important to keep a few things in mind when taking panoramas. First, is lens choice. Wide angle lenses can produce distortion, especially in the distance, which causes problems when trying to stitch images together. For this reason, I tend to use a lens of 35-75 mm for panoramas. I like a lot of depth of field, so I tend to use an f-stop of about 16, which keeps close up, and distant subjects in focus. Because light may vary from one end of the pan to the other, you should use pan setting in your camera, if equipped. If not, you should shoot in manual, and adjust the exposure to average through the pan. Another concern is focus. An easy way to do this is to pick the most interesting part of the panorama, and focus on that. Then, I turn off the auto focus. Now, your camera is ready.

I mount the camera on the tripod in the portrait position. Using landscape will produce a very long, and skinny picture. Also, try to make your view as level as possible. A sharp angle up or down will produce distortion, especially with wider angle lenses. 


The shoot:

I always start on the left side of the scene, and swing the camera to the right. I also try to have something interesting on the left side and the right side of my scene. I think it helps frame the final image. When shooting, I look for a 30% overlap between images. Some people use a 15% overlap. My advice is to start with 30%, and see what works best for you, your camera, and your software. I also recommend starting with about ten images per panorama. When starting out, you will find this much more manageable than 25-30 images. Of course, keep final composition in mind when planning on how many shots. I will always do a "dry run" swinging the camera from left to right while looking through the viewfinder to plan how many images I need to capture. When I have that planned out, I begin shooting: shoot, swing, shoot, swing, shoot, swing, shoot....


Post Production:

After you are done shooting, you can load the images onto your computer as you would any other images. Next, open your image stitching software, and load the images into that. Follow the software directions, and stitch your images together. You will now have a panorama. After saving your new image, you can move it into your favorite image editing software to really make it pop!


The image above was taken at Keewaydin Lake in the Oxford Hills of western Maine. I stitched together 11 images using a focal length of 35 mm. As you can see, I framed the image with colorful trees on each side. After saving the image, I ran it through an HDR program, then into another photo editing program to adjust contrast, lighting, saturation, etc. 

Download a photo stitching program and give panoramas a try!


]]> (John Kenealy) DSLR John Kenealy John Kenealy Photography Keewaydin Lake Maine Oxford Hills blog blog post camera image stitching software instructions lens panorama software tripod Fri, 11 Nov 2016 19:44:15 GMT
Autumn in Maine: Anatomy of a Photograph Smalls Falls, Fall ReflectionsSmalls Falls, Fall ReflectionsSmalls Falls on the Sandy River, in Township E, Franklin County, Maine; not too far from Rangeley.


Maine is known for its beautiful scenery and spectacular autumn colors. When one is lucky enough to find the right spot, at the right time, with peak colors, the results can be amazing!

In this photograph, a number of things came together for me. First, Smalls Falls, where this image was captured, is a beautiful spot. Secondly, the autumn colors were at their peak at the time this image was taken. Third, the stormy sky provided for extra drama in this image. In addition, the low water conditions provided a focal point in the center of the picture, and helped to highlight the texture of the ledges surrounding the falls. 

The next important facet of this image is composition. I backed up the view in this shot to feature the river rocks in the foreground. The rocks, and the reflection of the falls on the water, draw the eye deeper into the image.

I also love the effect of the smooth flow of the waterfalls. I achieved this by using a circular neutral density filter. This filter allows me to limit the amount of light that gets into the lens. This, combined with a high f-stop, which allows for limited light, and high definition, results in a slow shutter speed, and the smooth effect on the flow of the water.

Another technique that I used to create this image is HDR, or High Dynamic Range. HDR seeks to allow the camera to produce images that more closely resemble what the human eye sees. This technique involves bracketing, which means taking a number of shots, some over exposed, some underexposed, and one with the right exposure. The images, after being downloaded to my computer, are combined in a specialized software program to produce an image that nearly reproduces what we see with our eyes.

A successful photograph is so much more than point and shoot. It takes a lot of planning and preparation, along with quality tools and techniques, and a little luck! Being in the right place at the right time is so important to producing quality photographs! 

]]> (John Kenealy) HDR High Dynamic Range Maine Rangeley Sandy River Smalls Falls Township E autumn colors landscape rocks waterfall Wed, 12 Oct 2016 23:13:03 GMT
Scotland Adventure Dean Village MorningDean Village MorningI hiked about 45 minutes early one morning to Dean Village from my flat just off the Royal Mile. Dean Village was a mill town for hundreds of years before being incorporated into Edinburgh. I enjoyed a fabulous adventure to Scotland this past August. I took hundreds of shots, and though I have posted many, I have many still to go through. Scotland is an incredibly beautiful country, and the people are extremely friendly. One of the most beautiful spots I visited was Glencoe, the site of a Massacre of the MacDonald's by the Campbell's in February of 1692. The spot still has an eerie atmosphere over 300 years later. A boat ride on Loch Ness was also a highlight. The water was quiet, and ripples seemed to come out of nowhere....

We stayed in Edinburgh, just off the Royal Mile, which was a perfect spot to cover the historic, and beautiful city. I climbed Arthur's Seat, a 821 foot mountain that overlooks Scotland's capitol. Although Edinburgh has a plethora of incredible sights, such as Edinburgh Castle, The Grassmarket, Cowsgate, The Vennel, St. Giles Cathedral, Princes Street Gardens, and Calton Hill, my favorite image is of Dean Village, which is included in this post. 

Dean Village was first mentioned in historical writings in the year 1145, and had been a grain milling village on the Water of Leith for over 800 years. The name comes from the word "dene" which means deep valley. Today, it is part of Edinburgh, and a short walk from the center of the city, however, one seems to step back in time, when entering the village.

Please feel free to check out my galleries of photos from Scotland, as well as other galleries, which contain other adventures closer to home.


]]> (John Kenealy) Arthur's Seat Calton Hill Cowsgate Dean Village Edinburgh Edinburgh Castle Glencoe Loch Ness Princes Street Gardens Scotland St. Giles Cathedral The Grassmarket The Vennel cityscape image landscape photograph Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:20:39 GMT
Sunset Over Rangeley Lake and Bald Mountain. Bald Mountain Sunset Across Rangeley LakeBald Mountain Sunset Across Rangeley Lake This shot was taken on 12/5/2015 from Route 4 just outside of Rangeley, Maine. Maneskootuk Island is in the foreground, while 2,443' high Bald Mountain, in Ouossoc, is in the background. A trail leads to the top of Bald Mountain, on top of which sits a fire tower. The observation deck of the fire tower affords a 360° view, which includes Rangeley, Cupsuptic, Upper Richardson, and Mooselookmeguntic Lakes.

Located in an area consisting of 99% forest and water, lies Maine’s western mountains and the six Rangeley Lakes. The Town of Rangeley, Oquossoc Village, Dallas Plantation, Rangeley Plantation and Sandy River Plantation comprise the regions settlements. Historically known as a fisherman’s paradise, Rangeley’s year ’round population of approximately 1,500+ inhabitants swells to almost 10,000 during the popular summer tourist season.

A great place to raise a family, retire and an ideal vacation destination for every season, this resort area offers a multitude of activities for both young and old. Spring ushers in the fishing season with trophy-sized Salmon and Brook Trout, along with abundant wildlife and wildflowers. Summer offers almost every sport imaginable, from 18 hole golf to all types of water sports. Scenic highways and hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail, lead to panoramic overlooks and sight-seeing flights offer unparalled views during the summertime. September welcomes the Autumn season with some of the most beautiful fall foliage in the country, while bountiful game including moose, deer and upland birds beckon the advent of the hunting season. By November, snow blankets the region, signaling the start to alpine ski season and the opening of Rangeley’s Saddleback Ski area. Groomed village and mountain nordic paths and snowmobile trails are open by December, offering snowmobilers some of the best riding in the Northeast.

For vacationers, the towns of Rangeley and Oquossoc both offer a varied array of accommodations, including hotels, maine vacation rental cabins, cottages, homes, condos and townhouses, inns, bed & breakfasts, Maine sporting camps and campgrounds. Those who have visited Rangeley can attest: once you have explored this beautiful area, you will want to return again and again.

Rangeley restaurants feature everything from pizza to lobster, while delis serve up all the essentials for a picnic in the great outdoors. Rangeley area services and shops provide the visitor with all the necessities needed for their vacation, in addition to a wonderful selection of sporting goods and gifts. Civic, religious and other groups meet frequently and welcome guests, while the town and other organizations offer a varied selection of cultural events.

The area can be reached over highways or directly by charter air service. Or, fly into Portland or Bangor and drive the two and a half hour trip to Rangeley.  From:

This panorama was produced by stitching 9 images together. the images were taken on a Canon EOS Rebel T5 using a focal length of 72.0 mm (35 mm equivalent of 113 mm), shutter speed: 1/320 second, f 10.0, and ISO of 100.

]]> (John Kenealy) Bald Mountain Maine Oquossoc Rangeley Rangeley Lake dusk lake mountain panorama sun sun set twilight Fri, 11 Dec 2015 15:35:05 GMT
Brisk Day at Mount Blue State Park Snow Clouds Over TumbledownSnow Clouds Over Tumbledown This panorama titled "Snow Clouds Over Tumbledown" was taken on 11/29/2015 from the base of Center Mountain in Mount Blue State Park in Western Maine. The temperature was hovering around 30˚ F, and there was a brisk wind coming from the west. The day began bright and sunny. However, during the afternoon clouds moved in bringing snow as they hit the mountains. Webb Lake is in the foreground on the left and Tumbledown (3,054'), Little Jackson (3,470'), and Jackson (3,568') Mountains are left to right. 


Mt. Blue State Park is Maine's largest state park, encompassing approximately 8,000 acres in two sections separated by Webb Lake. A campground in the Webb Beach section has 136 wooded sites a short walk from a sandy beach and picnic area. Visitors can swim, launch and rent boats, and walk on trails near the lake. During summer months, park staff routinely offer canoe trips, walks, and nature programs. A Nature Center features hands-on exhibits and displays.


Across the lake from the Webb Beach section is the centerpiece of the Park, 3,187-foot Mt. Blue, a popular day-hike. Visitors also enjoy walks and picnics on Center Hill (see Trails section). Mountain bikers, equestrians, and ATV riders can experience 25 miles of challenging, multi-use trails. In winter, the park's extensive trail system supports snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Families come to sled at Center Hill and skate on an outdoor ice rink at park headquarters.


Adjoining Mt. Blue State Park is more than 10,000 acres of State-owned Public Lands and State-held easements encompassing the Tumbledown Mountain Range. Tumbledown Mountain, with an alpine pond near the summit, is the most popular hike, but surrounding lands offer many other attractions. (


This panorama was made by stitching 9 separate images together. Focal Length was 55mm (35 mm equiv: 87 mm), f/6.3, ISO 100, shutter speed 1/100 second.

]]> (John Kenealy) Jackson Mountain Little Jackson Mountain Maine Mount Blue State Park Webb Lake Weld Maine mount Blue snow snow clouds tumbledown mountain western Maine Tue, 01 Dec 2015 16:51:57 GMT
Fall in Freeport Tree and ShoreTree and Shore Freeport and Casco Bay are beautiful any time of year, but autumn makes the seascape explode with color! Rockweed, which is often a drab green, fairly glows a rich golden-orange in the autumn sun, as does the marsh grass. The air was crisp, fresh, and clear on this mid October day. The sky, with deep blues, and puffy white clouds, was amazing, as it often is this time of year. When people visit Freeport, Maine, they tend to think of L. L. Bean, shops, and outlet stores, and not the coast. The shore here fills me with a sense of serenity, and I'm sure it will do the same for you! This shot was taken with a zoom lens at 25mm (35 mm equivalent of 41 mm) with a polarizing filter, ISO 400, f13.0, at 1/320 second shutter speed. I balanced the ISO for depth of field and ISO for a quick shutter, taking into account the polarizing filter. I hope that you enjoy this image!

]]> (John Kenealy) Autumn Casco Bay Fall Fall colors Freeport Freeport, Maine L.L. Bean Maine bay coast harbor ocean sea seashore shore Mon, 16 Nov 2015 22:37:08 GMT
A favorite shot Garrison CoveGarrison CoveA view across Garrison Cove, Harpswell, Maine. This photo was taken during the last weekend of October on a day that was taking forever to clear up. The forecast was for early clearing, but that didn't happen. Lucky for me! The sky was breathtaking as the sun tried to poke out of the clouds, and the the colors just seemed to pop! This shot was taken from the edge of the Cribstone Bridge which separates Orr's Island from Bailey Island, in Harpswell, Maine, looking out onto Garrison Cove. Technical Data: 55 mm (35 mm equivalent, 86mm), 1/100s, f6.3, ISO 100.

]]> (John Kenealy) Bailey Harpswell Island Maine October Orr's autumn boat clouds cove dory ocean sea shore sky. storm sun Wed, 11 Nov 2015 00:10:50 GMT