From: Light, To: Dark

By:  Greg
September 10, 2010

Summer is unofficially over. The 2011 calendar is getting printed, and you can grab your copy today. Indeed, the change of the season is underway. The Northern Hemisphere is tilting away from the sun; Our climate is taking it’s annual change from warm to cold; Our corner of the world is turning from light to dark. In the midst of all these changes, our minds here at FIS have turned from the warm valleys back to the snowy peaks. Despite our collective eagerness to transition back to winter however, I personally think it’s worth celebrating a few of the vestiges of summer before we take the plunge. In a small offering toward this end, here’s a collection of photographs from the past season that I hope will help you celebrate memories of summer, and psyche up for the transition from light to dark.

Besides being busy this summer with an immense pile of work, I spent a good chunk of time learning to better harness light with my camera. These shots are the results of my experimentation. In particular this collection employs a photography technique I’ve been practicing ever since I saw Grant Gunderson’s Star Trails (see shot #1 on his website). Mr. Gunderson’s basic idea was to blend a long exposure of a dark scene, with an instantaneous burst of light on a moment of action. For instance in Star Trails he blends the apparent motion of the stars as viewed from a rotating earth over a period of several hours, with a skier slashing some powder snow. The resulting shot is a classic, and Mr. Gunderson’s technique has fascinated me. As such I decided to start working on this type of photography myself. This summer I finally got down to doing it. For my shots I’ve blended the silky sheen of flowing water, with the high speed fall of someone jumping into a deep pool. Here was my first success with this technique. Needless to say, the moment I saw this image come up on the back of my camera was a pretty exciting one. Not only did I get the effect I was hoping for, but I saw the opportunity for endless experimentation of chiaroscuro above and beyond what I had previously seen in Mr. Gunderson’s shots.
the first shot

As I learned more about this type of photography, I began combing the state for more locations in which to shoot. Vermont incidentally has absolutely no shortage of swimming holes with waterfalls, and it turned out that there would be way too many to capture in just one summer. Nevertheless, visiting these pools (which I personally consider to be among the crowning gems of the state), and getting these shots turned into something of a hobby. At times it was a quite strange experience and at odds with one’s intuition about recreational swimming. Indeed, rather than just visiting a swimming hole in the middle of the day when the light is best and the water is warmest, I instead found myself at these swimming holes a few minutes after sunset trying to blend the light to suit my lens. Needless to say it was a very cool way to experience a classic part of Vermont Summer.
Second attempt

This summer has been an incredible learning experience, and I hope these shots are as fun to look at as they were to produce. In this one it was fun and a bit scary finding the tiny sliver of water in which to jump. It was pitch black when Kristin jumped in here. Only for a split second as the flash went off was she able to see the chasm she was dropping into.
Fun times

Just because it was dark out when the shutter opened though, doesn’t mean we didn’t have fun swimming. On the contrary, we had a blast at each swimming hole, and without exception we always had the place entirely to ourselves! In fact, it was frequently the case when we showed up at a swimming hole as the sun was setting, that we would often get the strangest look from people departing who were sure they were the last visitors for the day. Little did they know how much fun was about to go down after dark:
Solo at dusk


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Read about the author:   Greg
Enjoy this TR? Read another: TR: Schuss Forest; Schuss!!


  1. Sam
    wrote on September 10th, 2010 at 3:39 pm  
  2. Adrian
    wrote on September 10th, 2010 at 3:51 pm  

    Like Sam said, this is all very cool! I’ve been thinking about doing something like this for a few years, but I’ve never really had the chance to just go and done it. The closest I’ve gotten is playing around with off camera flashes, which can conjure up some neat images, like this one I shot a few years back in New Zealand.

    Oh, and save me a calendar – I’ll have to come by sometime and pick it up.

    • Greg
      wrote on September 13th, 2010 at 11:12 am  

      hey dude… nice shot! Maybe we can get together this winter and (at the very least) try to do some of these with snow/skis ?

      you’re calendar is set aside fo sho…

  3. Zach
    wrote on September 10th, 2010 at 5:15 pm  

    Very cool Greg! You and Grant do mindblowing work! Even without the action portion of the shot, the scenics (for ex. the capture of the brook flow in picture #2 at that exact moment, with those exact colors) are wonderful. Keep up the good work!

    • Greg
      wrote on September 10th, 2010 at 7:40 pm  

      Thanks Zach! Really appreciate it! These were a lot of fun to make, and you are spot on right that the scenes themselves are cool. I actually have a TON of just scenics out of this little project. I like the little bit added by the person though ;) see you soon!

  4. Altmanator
    wrote on September 10th, 2010 at 6:13 pm  

    Kudos Greg! These are truly unique and compelling images. The second one totally creeps me out though. It has a very corpse-like feel to it and is quite freaky. Like a ghost of swimming holes past thing going on. I really like the shadow in the second to last one and of course the final image is just wild, not to mention a big leap on KC’s part. Swimming holes and Skiing. Is there really anything else we need in life?

    • Greg
      wrote on September 10th, 2010 at 7:39 pm  

      I hear you dude. There is definitely something about that shot. Not my favorite of the lot by far–in fact I almost left it out of the set–but some people I’d shared it with seemed to really like it for the creep factor so I decided to put it in.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment! Can’t wait till you-know-what!!

    • Dwyer
      wrote on September 10th, 2010 at 11:35 pm  

      I don’t know what you two are so riled up about, shes just itching her belly.

      I hope that you know what is referring to the tandem dry-pow and bud-dry that’ll be consumed in a few short months.

    • K_C
      wrote on September 13th, 2010 at 9:14 am  

      Ha my hand was actually en-route to holding my nose to avoid ingesting more VT river water

  5. powhounddd
    wrote on September 11th, 2010 at 9:02 pm  
    • Greg
      wrote on September 13th, 2010 at 11:12 am  

      thanks dude! And thanks for your order! Can’t wait to ship it out to you!

  6. Peter
    wrote on September 13th, 2010 at 11:58 am  

    Nice work Greg. I’d love to work with you on making some more of these happen on snow this winter.


    • Greg
      wrote on September 13th, 2010 at 3:14 pm  

      thanks pete… as emailed, looking forward to it. i’ve got some stuff i’ve learned as well!

  7. Talbert
    wrote on September 13th, 2010 at 12:01 pm  

    Wow. These are amazing, this is like my tenth time looking at these and I am so amazed. From concept to execution these are masterpieces. Thanks for sharing!

  8. natron
    wrote on September 15th, 2010 at 7:17 pm  

    some of the best and unique pix i’ve ever seen..

    • Greg
      wrote on September 15th, 2010 at 9:20 pm  

      thank you Nate! Now it’s time to make some WINTER versions :D

    • Sam
      wrote on September 20th, 2010 at 10:34 pm  

      Winter swimming?! That’s hardcore!

  9. Zak
    wrote on September 17th, 2010 at 4:03 pm  

    There is an eerie beauty to each of these pictures…incredible! They show a different perspective to summertime in VT.

    During my college years at Plymouth State University and also spending much time in VT during winter & summer, I have noticed that swimming holes are the summertime powder stash…many people know they exist but few have the ability and dedication to find them.

    • Greg
      wrote on September 19th, 2010 at 10:27 am  

      Thanks for the kind words Zak! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed them. Giving a new perspective on VT swimming holes—including capturing a bit of the “pow stash” aura of them that you describe–was exactly what I was going for….

      Thanks for checking in!

  10. jimmy dean
    wrote on September 27th, 2010 at 8:11 pm  

    any more pictures of the girl?

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