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Campfire Cooking | Clambakes

Plan a bonfire and a traditional clambake

family-clam-bake
The Clambake is a traditional New England method of cooking seafood. Clambakes are generally held on special occasions, but they can certainly become an event in and of themselves. This picnic-style feast is an all day project for the hosts, but it is a great way to share fresh seafood for friends and family.

Top Picks | Best Surf Beaches

Best Surf Beaches

surfing-sunset

Surfing is a great way to enjoy the beauty and excitement of the ocean and the beach. There are amazing spots to enjoy first-class waves throughout the country and throughout the year. Here are some of the best beaches and towns to enjoy on the East coast, West coast and Hawaii. 

The Magic of Fall Photography

The Magic Of Fall Photography

Fall is a magical time for photography. It is a time when Nature transforms the greens of summer into the muted reds, browns, yellows and oranges of fall. These colors at this time of year exist only during this season. It is an event we look forward to every year, however, many of us are disappointed with our results. Below are some tips on how to improve your fall color photographs.

To get the great color shots, you have to get creative and use the colors of fall in less predictable ways. One way to do this is to use high color contrast which is achieved by using complementary colors in your compositions. By definition, complementary colors form the color gray when combined in equal amounts.

On a color wheel, the complementary colors are opposite each other. See sidebar. So the complementary color to red is green, to blue is orange, and to yellow is magenta. Using complementary colors together will make your photos “pop” with color. One color combination that works really well in nature shots is red and green. In the muted colors of fall, red and green, and orange and blue are fairly easy to find. Magenta is the hard one to find to use with yellow. When you have yellow, you can use blue as the complementary substitute for magenta. When around water, blue is easy to find and many times it can be worked in as a background to a yellow or orange subject.

As an alternative to the usual grand panoramic shots, look more for a subject with a single color as a focal point. When looking for this type of subject, walk around the subject and see which shooting position will give you the best shot. Strive for a scene that eliminates competing and distracting elements. Some ways to get rid of these elements is to zoom in on the subject or to use a small f-stop number to reduce the depth-of-field thereby making the background blurry and less distinct.

Once you have a good sense of composition, experiment with the perspective, framing, angles and focal lengths. If the primary color is distributed or repeated throughout the scene, play up to that repetition. Also, don’t overlook vertical formats. Shooting a scene vertically, gives it an all together different perspective.

To go along with the composition advice above, below are some standard shooting tips:

Make adjustments for digital - Choose a low ISO to minimize noise which shows up as “grain”. If you want to experiment, crank up the ISO to achieve that impressionistic look with grain. Be sure to set the white balance to match the ambient light.

Take advantage of filters - The key to great fall color is to use a polarizer filter. This filter eliminates reflections, saturates colors and cuts through haze. A polarizing filter, commonly called a polarizer, accents leaf color by reducing the light reflected off the leaves. It works well when used after a rain or when shooting side-lit subjects.

This filter works best when your camera is approximately 90 degrees to the direction of the sun.

To use a polarizer, focus on your subject and slowly turn the outside ring of the filter while looking through your camera's viewfinder. The more you turn the ring, the more vivid the colors. Once you have rotated the ring about one-fourth of a turn, the effect starts to reverse itself. Be sure to use a linear polarizer with non-autofocus cameras and a circular polarizer with autofocus types.

Provide depth, scale and distance – For landscape shots, as well as other shots, include one or more elements thereby providing a sense of depth, scale and distance. That element can be as simple as a rock in the foreground or a pine cone next to a seasonal cluster of berries.

Maximize depth of field – To maximize depth-of-field, use a large f-stop number and focus one-third of the way into the scene.

Make red work for you – Red is a visually dominant color. Strive to use it with intention to enhance a composition and draw the viewer’s eye. Also, red is not that common in nature so when it is found, it draws attention.

Determine the message – Figure out why you are taking the photo. What drew your attention to the subject in the first place. Doing this will increase your awareness and communicate your message to the viewer.

Be creative – Try multiple exposures, soft-focus or warm-up filters and unconventional camera angles.

This is the season to get outdoors and enjoy the brief time we have to shoot fall color. By using the tips and techniques above, you will see your fall color photos improve.

Happy shooting!

Summer Photography

Summer is the time of year to take pictures of the family reunion, your child’s first home run of the season, or your vacation. With great weather, family activities and a little vacation time, summer is one of the best times to get great pictures. Using the tips below will ensure those photos are great ones.

Start with the right stuff – For the close-up and portrait shots, use either a moderate telephoto lens on a digital SLR or the zoom setting on a compact camera in the range of 70mm to 105 mm. A focal length of this size will provide a nice out-of-focus background while keeping the subject in sharp focus. On your digital camera, for the aperture, try shooting at around an f/5.6 or f/4.0 or use the portrait mode on your compact camera. This will also help blur the background and create a soft non-distracting look.

Fill the frame – This advice is just as good now as it has always been. Move close to your subject or zoom in on your subject to fill the viewfinder thereby eliminating distractions that can show up by trying to include too many elements in the photo.

Add context – By doing this, you are showing the subject in their environment. That could be Uncle Henry posed in his wood-working shop or Aunt Mabel working in the garden. Doing this adds another dimension to an otherwise stoic portrait.

Shed some light – If you are shooting under a clear sunny sky, pose your subject in a shady area to eliminate that harsh overhead light, but don’t forget to turn on your fill-flash so you can pop some light into their faces and add that sparkle to their eyes. Otherwise, all you will end up with is an underexposed face of your subject.

Take more than one shot – With group photos, it is hard to get one where everyone is looking at the camera or where everyone has their eyes open. To increase your chances of getting a good shot, take several shots while they are posed.

Avoid eyeglasses reflections – This can create a white reflection when using the flash. To prevent this, have the subject look slightly off to one side when taking the photos.

Outsmart the camera – Some summer scenes can fool your camera’s exposure meter resulting in both the white sand and blue pool water looking gray. Cameras are built to read 18 percent gray or in other words an even mix of white and black. In “average scenes”, this concept works great, but in scenes where there is a large expanse of either dark or light areas, the concept does not work well. You can adjust the reading however, by adding light to scenes having a large expanse of white and taking light out from scenes having dark areas. You can do this by either adjusting the aperture or shutter speed. To add light, either use a smaller number aperture or a slower shutter speed. To reduce the amount of light, use either a larger number aperture of a faster shutter speed.

Capturing action – There are three different ways to capture action. One is to freeze it in place. This is usually done by using a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second or faster. The second is to show it as a blur. This is usually done by using a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second or slower. See sidebar.

The third is to use a technique called panning, where the subject is moving in front of you from one side to the other. In panning, you track the subject in the viewfinder and when it is in front of you, click the shutter. The trick to this is to keep tracking the subject when tripping the shutter. Where most photographers fail in panning is they stop tracking the subject when they click the shutter. The resulting photo will have the subject froze and the background blurred. Panning makes a very appealing photo.

Checklist – Below is a handy checklist to use when going out to shoot photos:

• Batteries – Be sure to have at least two sets of fully charged batteries before leaving home. Invariably, batteries give up about the time you are ready to start shooting.
• Memory cards – Download and erase the shots on the card so that you have the full storage capability available to you before you go. Carry an extra card or two in case you see more photo opportunities than you have the storage capacity to hold.
• Camera protection – With summer, comes the chance of wind, dust and rain. Be sure your camera and equipment is in a protective case to shield out the elements. Water and camera electronics do not mix.
• Lenses – Take a look at the lenses you are taking. Will they meet your needs for this shoot?
• Filters – If I could only take one filter with me on a shoot, it would be a polarizer. This filter will reduce reflections on shiny surfaces, enhance colors, saturate the blue in a blue sky and reduce haze.

When you arrive –

• Set the camera to the highest resolution and leave it there.
• Set the white balance to match the light in the scene.
• Check the ISO setting. Use as low an ISO setting as you can to minimize the effect of grain (noise).
• Determine which lens will work best for a particular shot. If using a compact camera, make sure the mode on the camera is set to the proper setting.

In Closing – Summer is a great time to shoot pictures. Using the information in this article will help preserve those memories whether they are stored in your computer, in an album or hanging on the wall. Happy shooting!

Snap Shots Spring Photography, Part 1

Spring is time of renewal, an annual renaissance. Snow and ice give way to the tender shoots of the first buds of spring. Our winter hibernation is coming to an end, and the early spring photographer is richly rewarded for their effort. Spring brings rapidly changing and sometimes volatile weather, so make sure you are aware of the forecast before setting out. Dressing for success means layering for wind, water and mud (yes this is mud season) protection. Once you have the basics covered, it’s time to start making the most of these seasonal changes - rain, clouds and some sunny days - and get some great spring photos.
Tip: Pack rain gear for your camera. Use all-weather camera bags and always have some sort of protection, even if it’s just a garbage bag and zip locks, ready in case a sudden shower. If you forget camera protection, consider that your rain jacket is easier and less expensive to dry out than your camera. Be creative, but don't let your camera gear get wet.
Early Morning Dew and raindrops
Early morning showers or dew make spider webs, leaves, and flowers into prisms of light and reflection. Whether you are shooting abstract compositions with a macro lens or capturing the first rays of sunlight dancing off an open field, dewy early mornings are richly rewarding for the intrepid early riser. Later in the day, spring showers sparkle like diamonds on new buds, making the same shot into a vibrant kaleidoscope of colors.
Tip: A macro lens allows you to get in close and show the delicate texture of the objects. Using a small tripod with your macro lens frees you to concentrate on your composition and depth of field (f/16 or greater).
Overcast or Cloudy days
The light on overcast (cloudy) days is even and subdued, so your subject and the surrounding landscape take on subtle soft colors. The lack of direct sunlight makes these overcast days perfect for shooting early spring grasses and wildflowers. The soft light and lack of sun allow you to shoot at almost any angle to compose unusual images with no risk of harsh shadows. This lack of shadow makes cloudy days ideal for macro (up-close) photography. So find a spot filled with wildflowers or early spring grasses, get low to the ground (you are dressed for any condition, right?) to find the unique patterns of nature, and start snapping away.
Tip: Bring a backpacker’s therm-a-rest with you to sit or lay on while taking macro photos. It will provide some cushion and will protect you from the damp, cold ground.
Mist and Fog
Mist and fog add an otherworldly look, but this can be difficult to capture on film. Bracket your exposures for the best chance at a show-stopping photograph since fog plays havoc with your camera’s built-in light meter. Mist and fog compositions work well with a wide-open landscape and a single point of interest placed off-center or in a tunnel or building effect. If you are photographing animals, try shooting them walking into the frame or appearing from the mist. If you are shooting with a digital camera, you’ll have a tremendous amount of control in the processing, allowing you to get your white balance and exposure just right. It’s also fun to experiment with your PhotoShop filters and effects tools on mist and fog shots.
Tip: “Bracketing” means taking many shots of the same scene at different settings.

Snap Shots Spring Photography, Part 2

Spring days are filled with the buzz of new life and sounds of the earth awakening after a long winter slumber. Now is the time to get great images of fresh landscapes, the first animal babies of spring, and bright springtime color. But don’t forget that that buzz comes from a variety of stinging and biting insects. Winter might have been cold, but at least most of the bugs and other critter (like snakes) were joyously absent. Use bug repellent before heading out if you are concerned about bites, but remember that if you want to photograph bee and birds and other critters, the repellent might work too well.
If your photo journey is primarily geared toward photographing animals, avoid using perfume, perfumed lotions, aftershave, or scented deodorant. It’s also best to shower after your day’s shoot, rather than before.
Tip: If you are photographing Grizzly bears in Alaska, don’t (under any circumstance) light a mosquito coil. They vehemently dislike it!
Wildlife
Hunger forces wildlife to be more active in the early spring. Your best chance for photographing wild creatures is just after dawn and just before and around sunset. To find wildlife, learn what kind of foliage your subject likes best, then scout out likely places during the daylight hours and return at dawn or dusk. If you are in a national park, rangers will be able to tell you what you can expect to see and where. Make sure you follow the rules, both for your safety and the safety of the animals.
Tip: Moose like willows close to running or still water. Look for areas where the willows have been trampled and matted down, since this is likely a moose hang-out. Moose may look friendly and calm, but if their nostrils flare and they begin to snort, you’re too close. Back away slowly and stay low. Do not look them in the eye since eye contact will be seen as a challenge.
Spring Foliage
Leaves, bark, and barely-budding branches make interesting compositions. Pick a prominent feature that has strong design elements and narrow your depth of field to create a Matisse-like photo. Or try focusing on a neutral colored branch, tree trunk, or grove of trunks (like aspens) that is set amid a sea of wildflower color; blur the background to create a strong contrast to your subject. Look for tender buds grouped together on branches and angle your shot up through the boughs to create interest. Try a variety of different angles to gain a totally different perspective on the scene.
Tip: Think outside the norm, and you’ll be rewarded with truly unique photos.
Water Features
Spring’s first color usually shows up close to water: a babbling brook, a snow-melt swollen river, or a mirror-smooth lake. Water, wild flowers, spring foliage, and wildlife make great subjects.
Rivers: take photos looking upstream or down stream, considering how the water moves. Compose your picture so that the river flows from one corner to an opposite corner. Find interesting features like rocks or a flower border, a log fallen across, or a tree bending over the river and make that the focal point of the photo. Let the water set the mood.
Babbling brooks: get a low perspective, lying next to the brook so you can see the obstructions and the places where the water flows free. Find a color contrast such as new wildflowers against a carpet of last fall’s leaves, and shoot across the water.
Mirror Lakes: Find the right light angle and shoot the far shore for a perfect reflection. This works with boats and water birds as well.
Tip: Any day in the wild with a camera and the right weather gear is a good day. Adjust your expectations based on what you find. Be open to whatever nature gives you. You’ll be amazed and maybe surprised by the photos you take when you take what is given instead of forcing a shot.

Southern Winter Festivals

If you're heading to the southern states this winter, you won't want to miss out on the incredible fairs and festivals going on. From the pirate festival of Tampa, Florida to the famous Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, you can find exactly the gathering that suits your tastes. Even if you don't call the southern reaches home, why not plan a trip to take in one of these fun get-togethers? You'll never regret your time in the sun.

January and February

Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo
Mid-January - early February
Will Rogers Memorial Center - Fort Worth, Texas

From incredible rodeos to stock shows, petting zoos, exhibits, and amazing food, this show is the greatest fair and rodeo event you'll ever attend. It's world-famous for good reason -- because of the vast number and quality of events. You'll find the classic rodeo events like calf roping, barrel racing, and bull riding as well as special events for the whole family like riding and roping classes, goat milking contests, pigeon shows, and magic shows. You'll find livestock of all kinds here, plus some of the bravest cowboys you'll find anywhere.

Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival
Third week in January
Late January - early February

Birders from all over the country converge every year for this incredible celebration of birds and birding. This is the time when migratory birds travel back from their southern wintertime havens and find a great resting and feeding place on Florida's Space Coast. The festival includes field trips, seminars, workshops, a pelagic (ocean-going) birding trip, kayaking, an art competition, and special talks and lectures. Join the over 3,500 people who flock to this amazing festival. For more info call - 321-268-5224

National Art Festival
Third week in January
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Wander through the sunny streets of Fort Lauderdale touring booths, art stands, and galleries. This al fresco event showcases the works of more than 100 high-end artists from around the world. More than 65,000 people will gather to see the year's finest pieces of art. For more info call -954-670-2839.

Gasparilla Pirate Fest
First week in February
Tampa, Florida

Yarr, maties! Grab your eye patch and Jolly Roger and head to beautiful downtown Tampa for the Pirate Fest Street Festival held along Florida Avenue from Kennedy to Channelside. Be sure to arrive for the opening salvo, when pirates storm into town and capture the city. These fun-loving sea rogues turn Tampa into a party town as they romp through the streets, living it up. This is the perfect place to unleash the pirate within.

March

ZFest
Second week of March
Zachary, Louisiana

This fun, family-friendly festival has carnival rides, yummy food, and great shows and entertainment. More than 10,000 people are expected to attend this lively Louisiana festival. For more info call - 225-654-6777.

St. Joseph's Day Parade
Mid-March
New Orleans, Louisiana

Head to the big easy for the Italian American Marching Club's annual festival and parade. Up to 100,000 people are expected on the sidelines of this traditional parade. The Italian American club of New Orleans is one of the largest ethnic organizations in the Southeast. 504-421-0955

Sidewalk Art Festival
Third week in March
Winter Park, Florida

Stroll the streets and boulevards of Winter Park, Florida, viewing the work of more than 225 nationally and internationally juried artists. Their original works brighten up the city for a full week at the end of March. You'll be in good company, since 200,000 people are expected at this amazing art festival. 407-672-6390

Blessing of the Fleet
Last weekend in March
Darien, Georgia

Head to the Georgia coast for this annual nautical festival. The Blessing of the Fleet of takes place in Darien-McIntosh and offers arts, crafts, delicious food, and fun with ships and seafood. Don't miss the fabulous shows and entertainment. 912-437-6684

Mulberry Street Festival and Cherry Blossom Festival
Late March
Macon, Georgia

Head to historic Macon, Georgia for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival and the fun Mulberry Street Festival, an arts and crafts fair that's held at the same time. You can stroll along Mulberry Street enjoying the booths, stands, exhibits, and entertainment. More than 25,000 people are expected to head to the festivals this year! 478-744-9557

RVing Women

Today, thousands of women are enjoying the independence that comes with the RVing lifestyle. Traveling with their homes 'on their backs' and the open road in front of them, women are hitting the highway like never before. Many are retirees, but they aren't all. Visit with the RVing women in your local campground and you'll likely meet people who can do their work from home (thanks to the power of the internet), moms homeschooling their kids, empyt-nesters, and women who are eager to see the country.

These women may be a disparate bunch, but they're all drawn to RVing by the same thing -- independence. When you live in an RV, you can change direction on a whim, head to a place where the weather suits your taste, or criss-cross the country visiting friends along the way (and you never need to ask them to put you up in a spare room, since you bring your own). RVing allows a person to enjoy the amenities of a campground one night and spend the next in a remote lot with a stunning view and no neighbors other than birds and a few furry friends.

Many of women on the road are retirees. These women may be snow birds who head to the warm southern reaches during the winter and then return to explore the northern part of the country during the summer when the sun is shining. But many also find that they're able to work remotely. With wi-fi wireless internet hook-ups available at nearly every campground in the country, anyone who works online can continue to do their jobs on the road.

If you're interested in hitting the road alone, with your family, or with a good friend, but aren't sure how to get started, consider taking an RV driving class. You can join an RV club and caravan with others for short trips -- this will help you get used to your rig in a safe situation. When you travel alone, be sure to always have at least half a tank of gas, plenty of emergency supplies, and extra food and supplies for your pet, if you're traveling with one.

The next time you're moving down the highway and you spot a woman behind the wheel of an RV, remember that their numbers are growing and growing. Women are enjoying the freedom that comes with the RVing life -- freedom from a mortgage, freedom to get into the great outdoors, and freedom to go wherever they want. If you're considering hitting the road, there's no better time to get started!

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  • Hit the Road and Camp America!

    Hit the Road and Camp America

    Hit the Road -

    Camp America!

    Ready to answer the call of the open road?  Then you've come to the right place.  Here you'll find great ideas for finding the best camping and RVing road trips.  We'll show you which routes to take, which exits have a "don't miss attraction and profile great campgrounds along the way.  So grab your gear, pack the car or the RV and get ready to hit the road.

  • Camp Cuisine

    Camp Cuisine - Camping Recipes

    Inspire your inner camp chef with recipes for camping trips.  It doesn’t matter if it’s shared around a campfire, cooked in your RV's gourmet kitchen, or take-out from the local deli, food just tastes better on a camping vacation!
    Find and share more great camping recipes at CampingCafe.com

  • Road Trip

     

    RV Road Trips

    Join Steve and Sally as they pack their bags and hit the open road to live their camping dreams. They’ve chosen their top 100 camping destinations and have set out to make their camping dreams a reality. Come along as they camp across the country. Share the journey.

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    Camping Hot Spots

    Find great places to camp and gain insights into activities to make the most of the top camping hot spots. Get the scoop on where to go next. Discover destinations that offer unique opportunities for you to experience the great outdoors through recreation activities, wildlife viewing, and unforgettable vistas.

  • Camping Gems

    Camping Gems

    Find those fun and funky “special” places across the country. Hit the road and discover all the odd roadside attractions that make getting there more than half the fun. Road tripping gives you an excuse to search out hidden gems along your route. Look inside for suggested trips and inspiration to plan your own camping gem journey.

  • Fur Kids

    Fur Kids -

    Camping with Pets

    Hiking the Appalachian Trail with your mastiff, Max, or RV'ing across the country with your poodle, Polly - we all love our pets and want to find ways to share our passion for camping with them. We'll share stories of camping pets and tips for keeping your pets safe, comfortable, and happy - on the road and in the outdoors.

     

    Find more great information about camping and RVing with pets at PetCamping.com

  • Sport Spotlight

    Tips for outdoor recreation and outdoor sportsOutdoor Sport Spotlight

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  • Camp Kids

    Camp Kids

    Camping with kids can be very rewarding. Find ideas about teaching children to love and respect the outdoors and camping. Find ways to keep the kids busy on the way to cam, plus games and other fun ideas to keep kids stimulated and engaged while at camp. Keep kids safe outdoors and teach them wilderness skills.
    Find more great ideas for camping with kids of all ages. Visit KidsCamping.com

  • New To Do

     

    New To Do

    Try something different. As the saying goes, Ïf you're not learning you're not living. Get out there and try something new! Never been fond of mud season? Learn to love it! Never took the time to learn your constellations? Well, now is the time! Get ideas for expanding your camping horizons.

  • Gear Lists:

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    Checklist:

    You can never be too prepared for your camping trip. Look through and use our checklists to ensure that you have a safe and happy camping vacation! You never know what you might forget - that tool that you needed, or the proper gear to go on the most beautiful hike of your life - be prepared by planning ahead!

  • Camp Styles

    Camp Styles

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    Every camper has his or her own style. For some, the perfect camping trip means strapping on a backpack and heading for the backcountry. For others, it’s a way to spend time with family and friends in a natural surrounding away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. For others, it is a way of life – camping full time in an RV. Many people camp to be close to recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, water sports, and ATVing. Find your camp style.

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    Fitness Forum

    Get in shape for your camping adventure. Whether your camping vacation involves a wilderness hike, a month on the road in your RV, or just a family camping road trip, get fitness advice to get and stay in shape. Being fit and healthy makes camping and outdoor activities more enjoyable. Get tips for making fitness fun.

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    Snap Shots - Outdoor Photography Tips

    Find tips for taking great camping and travel photos. Capture your precious camping memories and learn to take perfect family portraits, amazing wildlife photos, and awesome landscape pictures. You'll be transported back to your favorite camping trip ever time you share your photos.

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