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Category : Scenic

09 May 2017

A quick visit to my sister and Crater Lake

Today was a driving day, I went from north east central Oregon down to Grants Pass, which is pretty close to California. My sister lives in Grants Pass and I don’t get to see her nearly enough so even a quick overnight visit is a special treat for me. It would normally be about a five hour drive but of course I took the scenic route. A great thing about being out scouting is that when I see something that is mildly interesting I stop and check it out. Sometimes it is good, others not.

I hadn’t been to Crater Lake but I’ve seen lots of photos from there, it was pretty much on the way, so I thought it would be a good place to stop. After yesterday’s gas shortage adventure, I was watching the gas gauge rather closely today. I was headed toward the Crater Lake National Park and I had about 3/4 of a tank, so no problem.

Oregon is a big place and there aren’t many towns once you get a little ways east. As I finally near the park entrance, I was now down to 1/4 tank and I hadn’t seen anything close to a gas station for hours. I figured there would be one in the park and I turned on the road my GPS said was the best way. Road signs also said it was the way to Crater Lake but 200 yards on the road and it was covered with snow. Not a little snow, about three feet. Since my rental SUV didn’t do well Sunday in the snow and there were no tracks in this snow, I knew it wasn’t the way to go. I ended up taking the long way around.

As I started climbing the mountain I could see more snow along the side of the road. I did a steep climb and suddenly the snow was four feet deep along the road. As I went further the snow was higher, soon it was way higher than the cars and it felt like I was driving in a snow tunnel. Some places it was 15 feet deep. This is the middle of May, how deep was it in winter? There was a sign sticking out of the snow saying park info was on an AM radio station. I tuned it in to find out most roads and facilities were closed due to the snow and only the visitor center at the rim was open. There were no gas stations open.

I got to the rim and the snow was amazing, I’ve never seen snow that deep. I went inside to get something to eat and find the nearest gas station. A park worker obviously had been asked that too many times because she just kind of blew me off and said it was 45 miles and to head south when leaving the park. Then she walked away. That wasn’t good, I needed to go east to my sister’s house, not south.

Since there was all of this snow, I thought I’d worry about the gas later and shoot some pictures now. I walked over to end of the parking and climbed up onto the snow to get view of the lake. Lots of people were tromping through the snow to get a view and it was a great view. There was no wind on the lake so the trees and snow make a perfect reflection. I walked around a little and shot several photos. They were renting snow shoes and I wished my wife Robin was with me, we love to snow shoe in Vermont and this would have been a great afternoon for a snow hike. I would rather spend time with my sister than hike alone so I went back to the car.

The gas gauge was now getting too close to the E and I realized that I was on top of a tall mountain and it was downhill for a long time, so for the next 35 miles I coasted. I touched the gas pedal only a couple of times and had to apply the brakes many times for the steep curves. I can’t image what my mileage was, but it had to be great, the gauge barely moved by the time I got back to the highway. I figured I had at least 60 miles of gas left so I wasn’t too worried. 20 miles later there was a small sign to a gas station, it wasn’t on the highway, so I guess I wasn’t the first person to feel relief when seeing the sign.

My sister Lynda has a beautiful house on 15 acres, “out in the country” as her husband Bill likes to say. It was great to chat with them and take a stroll up through their meadow and then down to the creek that runs through their property. The creek was running strong since they had a lot of rain this winter. In the summer it is pretty much a trickle but it was beautiful today with lots of little cascades. I made some images of it and enjoyed the sound of the running water. Being the professional photographer that I am, it wasn’t until I am writing this that I realized I didn’t make any real pictures of Lynda and Bill, just a panorama with my iPhone. Some day I’ll remember to make people pictures.

It always seems like the simple and free things in life and the most enjoyable. Spending an evening with Lynda and Bill was the most fun thing I’ve done in a long time. I have to leave in the morning but hope I see them again soon.

08 May 2017

A cool place to photograph the total solar eclipse

My journey to Oregon was to nail down a great location for my workshop to photograph the total solar eclipse in August. I did a ton of online research and my brother-in-law Bill knows the area and gave me some great suggestions. I spent the day exploring Oregon’s high desert and even though I spent about 10 hours in the car and covered a lot of area, I only saw a small part of the desert. Most people don’t think of Oregon having desert but just like California to the south and Washington to the north, the eastern 2/3 of the state gets very little rain, especially in the summer. Which makes it a great place to view a solar eclipse!

Since the whole astronomy world is coming, I am hoping to find us a great place where there won’t be a huge crowd. Bill pointed out that the Portland area has a million people, they love the outdoors, the eclipse is on a Monday morning and they are less than two hours from where we will be. He thinks that might be a recipe for traffic like at the Woodstock concert.

There isn’t much out here, I saw some birds and a couple of black tail deer and not many towns. One road sign said 94 miles to the next gas station. I thought I was ready for that but my side trip to the painted hills put more miles on the car than I expected and it wasn’t long before I was in fairly desperate need of a refill. I went through a couple of towns that showed up on my GPS but they didn’t have any gas stations. I finally made it to the town of Fossil, a quiet village with a gas station.

Oregon and New Jersey are the only two states where you can’t pump your own gas. Every little town where I filled up had the old analog gas pumps with the numbers that roll over. No need to update the pumps. I talked with Ken as he pumped my gas, he was ready to chat, things are pretty quiet in the middle of the afternoon. Ken pumped gas when he was a teen, went off to college, came home and did some odd jobs for a few years and now he is pumping gas again. “Any job is a good job in this town,” Ken said as he put my gas cap back on. We went inside the station for me to pay and talked a lot more. The town is right in the center of the eclipse’s path and he said many people have rented out a spare bedroom for the weekend. With a sheepish grin, Ken said he was hoping for a couple of young college ladies to be in need of a room.

I love talking with locals because they know the best places to go. Ken told me to go to the top of the mountain and look for a gravel pit just off the highway about 10 miles from where I was hoping our site would be. He told me the view from the gravel pit is his favorite in the whole area and not many people know about it. Cool, this is just what I was looking for. He also said there is a small dirt road down in the valley along the river that is easy to access.

It was about a 30 minute drive to the gravel pit and I had to pass my main spot, so I stopped there first. It is part of national refuge so there are toilets and a few picnic tables right next to towering cliffs they call the Palisades. It is very cool and it will make a great place for us to shoot but I wanted to check out the gravel pit. I crossed the river and drove down the little road along it but it wasn’t anything special so I headed up the mountain looking for the gravel pit. When I started down the other side I realized I missed so I turned around. When I came up over the top again the view was amazing. Ken was right, this is a special view. Since I hadn’t seen another car since I left the gas station, I slowed way down and crawled down the mountain and quickly saw a pile of gravel near the road. There were tire tracks worn into the dirt and right away was a fence and closed gate with a couple of No Trespassing signs. Damn. If I was shooting the eclipse by myself, I’d jump the fence but I can’t take a group of 10 people onto posted property. I looked around for a phone number but couldn’t find anything. The gravel pit wasn’t going to work.

Back to Plan A. I drove back to my main site and it will be a great location. We will get there plenty early in the morning, photograph the rising sun shining on the Palisades, I’ll cook everyone some of my famous pancakes and of course I’ll have a big bottle of Vermont maple syrup.

August can’t come too fast, this will be a great adventure.

08 May 2017

Oregon’s high desert is a desolate and unique place

While wandering through Oregon’s high desert scouting locations for my workshop to photograph the total solar eclipse in August, I found myself at a fork in the road out in the middle of nowhere. I’ve heard people talking about where they live as being in nowhere, but it wasn’t it too far back down the road where the sign said the next gas station was 94 miles.

One road was paved and the other was dirt, I had a four wheel drive rental, so of course I’m taking the dirt road, even though I had no idea where it went. How far out of the way could it go?

I found out.

A sure sign that I was not in Jersey was a real sign, a road sign indicated curvy road ahead. I hadn’t driven straight for 30 yards yet, so I couldn’t imagine what laid ahead. Other than the road, the sign was the only humanity in sight and it was full of bullet holes. I guess in the desert there isn’t much to shoot at each scrub brush so a road sign is an exciting target.

I went through a cool canyon with rock cliffs looming overhead. This part of Oregon has areas that are much like the desert southwest, canyons, plateaus, cliffs. And it is just as beautiful and remote.

The road kept getting smaller and I came to a sign that said he road was now going through a ranch and I wasn’t to leave the road for the next 15 miles. At this point the road wasn’t much wider than my rented SUV but the rancher’s sign warned that they patrolled it so I figured I was wouldn’t rot for too long if something went wrong. The road was rutted but I kept pushing ahead. I stopped a few times

An hour later the road finally came out to another road and there was a sign saying it was 40 miles to the town I was headed for. I was only eight miles away when I took the scenic turn, so I guess I went the wrong way. There was also a sign saying the Painted Hills were four miles away. I had seen the Painted Hills in my research but I thought they would be too far south for me to visit. But since I was nearby I decided to check them out.

And I’m glad I did.

Oregon’s Painted Hills are incredible. Five million years ago the area volcanoes dumped tons of ash around the region, it got covered with lava, dirt and other stuff and turned red and yellow. Then erosion and upheavals bared some of it and the ash is so toxic nothing can grow on it. At least that is how I understand what I was looking at. All I really know is that it is amazing looking and makes great photos.

07 May 2017

Doing a final check on Oregon solar eclipse workshop locations

I landed in Portland, OR, this afternoon to do some final scouting for my upcoming Oregon Solar Eclipse Photography Workshop that will be in August. I’ve been to Oregon several times but not to the high desert, which is the eastern side of the side.

Most people don’t think of Oregon as being desert but most of the state gets very little rainfall, especially from now until late fall. About half of the state doesn’t even get much in the winter, although the higher elevations get some snow.

Last year when I was thinking about photographing the upcoming total solar eclipse I did a lot of research to determine where the least likely place for clouds would be along the path of the eclipse. A desert made a lot of sense and as soon as I saw the eclipse’s path would be in Oregon, I thought that would be an ideal place. I quickly discovered I wasn’t the only one, the town of Madras is ground zero for the serious eclipse watchers. Many websites said this is where the astronomers are going to be so I knew it would be a great place for a workshop. I started checking on hotels and they all were booked. I was a year ahead of when I wanted to stay but many people were a couple of years ahead of me. The hotel I’m in tonight said they have been booked for four years. Fortunately my sister lives in Oregon and last year her husband suggested I check a ski resort about an hour from Madras. They had some rooms so I grabbed them.

On my way from the airport to Madras I took the scenic route through the Columbia River gorge, which is spectacular. It is filled with water falls, which I’ve photographed before so I didn’t stop to make any pictures. I’ll back back here with the workshop, so I thought my limited time was better spent getting to the desert. I did stop for one scenic overlook and it was just starting to rain a little, so I got a cool shot of the river and clouds.

The drive to the ski resort we are staying at on Mt. Hood is only a little over an hour from Portland. I stopped to make sure it was great and it is. There is still a lot of snow up here, the lifts aren’t running but people are climbing the mountain and skiing down. The late day sun hitting the mountain was stunning.

I wanted to go to a little lake that offers a beautiful view of the mountain and I hoped I could get some reflection shots. I drove to the lake and there was snow on the road a sign that said it was closed in the winter but open after April 1. I could see tracks from other vehicles and since I rented a four-wheel-drive Nissan Rogue, I thought I’d give it a try. It wasn’t long before the snow was so deep it was hitting the bottom of the SUV. Since it was starting to get dark, I figured it wouldn’t be too smart getting stuck out where I might not get out until morning so I turned around. When I got back out to the main road I could hear a thumping under the SUV. The faster I drove the faster the thump. Great, I’m only 100 miles into my journey and I broke the rental car. I figured I’d drive until it didn’t want to go any more and about 30 minutes later the thump went away. I probably packed snow up in the engine compartment and it finally melted off.

Just after dark I made my way into Madras and checked in at a hotel. My Oregon adventure is off to a fun start.

06 Apr 2017

If you think winter is over, come to Vermont

Most of the east coast is thinking winter is over and spring is springing. But a heavy snow last week in Vermont is still looking great. I drove along a small brook today that is usually pretty small. It was raining and along with the melting snow, the brook was running strong. There is still snow on the rocks and plenty on the banks. A long exposure made the running water look nice and smooth.

23 Feb 2017

Sunrise at Juno Pier

One of the nice things about doing art shows in Florida is being able to get out early for sunrise and not freeze. I headed to Juno Pier this morning hoping to get some good clouds at sunrise. I wasn’t disappointed. I had hoped to go at 3 a.m. to catch the Milky Way over the pier but it was cloudy when I got up. I went back to sleep for a couple of hours and by then many of the clouds had cleared away.

The crescent moon was shining bright when I got there before any light was in the sky. As the sky filled with color the became less distinguishable and by the time the sun cleared the horizon, the moon was barely visible.

03 Feb 2017

Birch trees always capture my imagination

My love affair with birch trees continues. There is a fairly large grove about 15 minutes away from my Vermont house and I love wandering around there. It has a magical look to it no matter when I go.

Today I was there before sunrise hoping to get the rising sun shooting through the trees. When the sun came up, it glowed for a couple of minutes and then went behind a large cloud. I could see it would come out again so I tried several shots while waiting to see how the snow, trees and sky would look once the sun was shining again.

As usual, I wasn’t disappointed. The long shadows in the snow and deep blue sky highlighted the white bark and made for beautiful images. There must be 250 trees in the grove and today I noticed a couple of crooked ones shooting skyward. I like the shape they make and worked to get an angle that would highlight them. I’m pretty happy with the shot.

18 Dec 2016

Greenery is the 2017 color of the year

I love the bright greens of spring, so it was fun to see that Pantone announced their 2017 color of the year is a bright green they call Greenery. I shoot a lot of pictures of trees and especially love the transitional color of spring. The photo above was taken in Maine’s Acadia National Park in the spring and the grass’s color is about the same as Pantone’s Greenery.

Pantone Color Institute Logo

In Pantone’s announcement of their color selection they wrote: Greenery is nature’s neutral. The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world. This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally. A constant on the periphery, Greenery is now being pulled to the forefront – it is an omnipresent hue around the world.

I have to say I hadn’t thought much about how the colors of nature work together, but it strikes me that green really is nature’s neutral. People are attracted to the bright colors of nature, even leaves. The bright foliage of Vermont’s autumn gets tourists from all over the world, once the green is gone. Travelers swarm to Holland to see spring’s tulips. Rose gardens are everywhere showing off their bright colors.

Ferns in Woodstock, Vermont

Ferns in Woodstock, Vermont

But people don’t think about the beauty of green, maybe because it is everywhere. I find that I don’t photograph green much once summer sets in and the greens become darker. The leaves on trees become similar in color and I have a hard time seeing something new when I’m in the forest during the depths of summer. I tend to look for ferns at that time of year, their greens vary and stay brighter until the first hard frost of fall.

Green’s unity hadn’t entered my consciousness the way it did someone at Pantone. I guess I’m not that deep of a thinker, I just react to the beauty I see around me and then do my deep thinking in finding a way to photograph what I am seeing in a way that translates in a big print.

Now that Pantone says Greenery has been pulled to the forefront, I hope that others enjoy the green in 2017 as much as I do.

14 Nov 2016

Super moon in Charleston

While on my way back to N.J. after two art shows in Florida, I made a side trip to Charleston, S.C., to photograph the “super moon” tonight. The full moon won’t be this close to the earth until 2034, which means it looks larger than normal.

I usually like to shoot the full moon on the night before the actual full moon, it rises about an hour earlier, so there is still light in the foreground. But I had an art show yesterday and couldn’t get out to shoot, so my only choice was tonight.

I used a program called Photographer’s Ephemerist to pre-determine where the moon would rise behind a large fishing pier on Folly Beach. It blows my mind that I can sit at my computer or use the app on my iPhone and know where I need to be to line up the rising moon and the pier.

Get info on purchasing this image.

08 Nov 2016

Watching the color float past on a Florida beach

I was out on a beach tonight in Jupiter, Florida, as the sun went down and color came into the sky. The moon was bright and clouds were blowing past as surf was crashing on the sand.

When I looked south, there was a colorful glow on the horizon. I love what happens when clouds and waves are moving during a long exposure, so I used a 30 second exposure so the movement would be recorded as a blur.

05 Nov 2016

Hanging out at Pensacola’s pier

Pensacola PierWhile doing the art show in Pensacola, FL, I’m getting lots of requests for local photos. Since this is the first time I’ve been in Pensacola, I don’t have anything to show them so I went to the beach after the show tonight to catch sunset and see what was going on around the pier.

There was some great color in the sky after the sun went down, as I waded in the edge of the surf, I was able to get the pier in the foreground and the sky blazing behind it.

After the color faded a bit I went under the pier but I didn’t want the typical shot of the silhouetted pier and smooth water. I brought a flashlight with me to try some light painting. I did a 30 second exposure and used the flashlight to illuminate the pier and give me a different effect.

Under Pensacola's Pier

10 Oct 2016

Making an island glow

Glowing islandAt Chittenden Reservoir in Vermont there is a pretty little island about 300 yards off shore. It is a favorite  place for photographers and I’ve photographed it on many occasions at different times of day and different seasons. I decided to try it at night and use a large flashlight to illuminate the island using a technique called light painting, where you pass the light over the subject many times during a long exposure, I usually do 30 seconds.  So tonight I started about 30 minutes after the sun went down and shot for the next hour. There was only a slight breeze which gave me the nice reflection on the water. Then I was lucky to have a shooting star which gave me a beautiful final touch. This is one exposure with only minor adjustments in Lightroom. As the sky got darker I needed to bump my ISO up to 400 and I was shooting at f/5.6.

08 Oct 2016

Beauty on the way to Stowe

Toward Camel's HumpThis weekend I am participating in an art show in Stowe, VT, about 80 miles from my house in Woodstock. It is a beautiful drive and this morning during the drive the foliage was looking great. This morning as I headed up I-91, one of Vermont’s most iconic mountains, Camel’s Hump, kept appearing behind hills full of foliage.

I pulled off the highway and found a nice spot to get a shot of Vermont’s tallest mountain without any man-made structures. I love the way the light was making the foreground glow and keeping Camel’s Hump in the darkness.

03 Oct 2016

Making quick friends

7746-2As the week goes on the color gets better at my Vermont Fall Foliage Photography Workshop. We hit several of the local hotspots and found some nice color and cool scenes.

We have a great group with two people from California, two from Florida, one from PA, Ohio, NY and CT. It is always fun to watch a group of people who don’t know each other quickly meld together with their common interest of photography.

02 Oct 2016

Vermont Fall Foliage Photography Workshop off to a good start

7672This is the first shooting day of my annual Vermont Fall Foliage Photography Workshop at my home in Woodstock, VT. The weather this summer in Vermont has been hot and dry with drought conditions prevalent throughout the state. Early predictions were that it would be a bad season for foliage but it looks like it is just running late, like two weeks late. During the scouting I did last week, I found several pockets of beautiful color but there is lots of green showing in most areas.

So we are focusing on the nice areas, which will mean more driving than I like to do but it gives my out of town guests a good chance to see a lot of the Vermont countryside. We ventured north on the famous Rt. 100 and stopped at a cool barn along the road. It took some work but we were able to line it up with the color in the hills. It was a great way to start off the workshop.