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Tag : Scenic

15 Aug 2017

Once again my face is plastered against the airplane window

I know I’m supposed to be more sophisticated as a professional photographer than to sit with my face plastered against the airplane window but it happens every time I fly, especially when crossing mountains. So there I was again this morning, my head bouncing between two windows trying to see all I could as we passed over the Rockies while headed to Oregon for my photo workshop.

This is my second trip to Oregon this year and I’m probably on the same route I’ve been on several times before, seeing the same mountains and valleys and enjoying it as much as ever.

I cram myself into a window seat whenever I fly not because I like to disrupt other passengers when I need to get up and stretch – it’s the view. All the other windows on the plane are closed but there I am leaving greasy nose marks on the window and a bit of drool down below.

I usually have the flight map showing on the seatback screen but United wanted me to pay for even that, so I couldn’t tell exactly where I was. It added to the fun, trying to guess what mountain we were flying over. Is that Idaho, Wyoming?

I’m snapping away with my iPhone loving the amazing show nature has provided down below, snow on the mountains, volcanic peaks, patches of farmland in the valleys and patterns in the desert landscape. All the while the gents sitting next to me are playing games on their phones, yawning a lot and bitching because there isn’t free inflight entertainment to keep their minds numb.

Dude, get a window seat next time, the best entertainment you can imagine is down below us.

08 Jul 2017

Nice, France is nice

My workshop partner, Ron Lake, and I stayed an extra day in Nice after our Provence Photography Workshop ended yesterday. We figured we came this far so we should spend some time just shooting on our own. While I do some shooting during the workshop, my main focus is making sure the participants are getting great pictures, having their needs met, helping with photo questions and worrying about logistics. Just thinking about making photos is how I like to shoot.

Old town Nice is a beautiful part of the city. It is right on the Mediterranean coast, although the beach is filled with stones and rocks and not the sandy beach I imagined in the French Riviera. I guess that’s why nearby places like Saint Tropez, Cannes and Monte Carlo are so famous. The houses in old town are quaint and filled with character and characters. I met an American in his 70’s who lives in Denmark and has been refurbishing an old story apartment for years. He told me the history of his block and showed me remnants of WWII bombings by the Germans. He loved spending a few weeks a year there just working on his apartment. I loved the small alleys and all the lovely windows with shutters.

Old town features a vibrant night life, which we discovered since my hotel window looked out over a square where a three piece band, including a full drum set, started playing at 12:30 a.m. last night. There are many cool looking restaurants that were full at 10 p.m. and many shops.

My trip to France has been great. Ron took us to many of his hidden gems so we could make splendid photos. Tomorrow we get on a plane and head back home. It has been a long trip and I look forward to seeing my wife, Robin, and doing a full edit of my photos.

06 Jul 2017

A beautiful last workshop day in Provence, France

This morning we went over to Roussillion to see the unique ochre trail. The trail goes through a canyon where they have mined ochre for many years and used the color to make many things. The buildings were all ochre color and you could buy ochre color to make you own paint or pottery. The town had a fun little market today, so that made for some good photos.

We enjoyed L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue so yesterday we decided to go back there this afternoon and have dinner beside a canal.

We had plenty of time to do more shooting in town, there is a lot to see and photograph. There were quite a few people in boats on the canals and there obviously is skill involved in using a long pole to propel the boats. The person in the back does all the work and it looks like sitting in the front is an exercise in relaxation. Most of the boats had men but one pink one has two young women and she moved the boat faster than some of the men.

This is our last full day together and it has been a blast. People are tired and invigorated and having a nice dinner together was a perfect end to the week.

Tomorrow we head back to Nice.

05 Jul 2017

The view from Provence is great

While we were getting breakfast at a great little bakery in Gordes, I walked over to the edge of town. In Gordes, the edge is really an edge, take a couple extra steps in the wrong direction and you are in flight. There were a couple of other Americans making photos in the street and one of them paused to change her camera. She made a nice foreground looking out across the valley filled with wheat fields and vineyards.

We then went to the neat town of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, which has several canals running through town. I was fascinated by a little green boat floating on a canal, I worked it pretty hard but wasn’t overly thrilled with the image I made, it will be fun to see what the others got from the same scene.

We went to several other towns and as the sun was going down we found ourselves back in Bonnieux, where we started yesterday. We pulled up to the same overlook as the sun was setting on the distant horizon. We enjoyed the tailgate dinner we had two days ago so we had planned on doing it again. We had an even bigger spread tonight in a tremendous location looking out over the French countryside. The sunset for a wonderful photo and end to another great day in Provence.

03 Jul 2017

The beauty of an abbey and lavender in France

The fun and excitement of the Provence Workshop took a hit today, we had to say good bye to one of participants because he got a detached retina in his eye. He had one before and knew when he landed in France that he might have a problem. Last night he saw a flash of light that he shouldn’t have and he talked with one of our other participants who is an opthamologist and they decided it would be best for him to fly back to America and get it taken care of. We hope him the best.

We moved to a new town, Gordes, today and went to visit one of the most anticipated site of our trip. My partner in this trip, Ron Lake, several years ago made a fabulous shot of Notre-Dame de Senanque abbey and we ventured down a winding, narrow road from Gordes to the valley below. The medieval abbey is still in use and they plant a lavender field right up to the ancient building. The lavender is still a couple of weeks away from being in peak beauty but it still made for some lovely photos.

30 Jun 2017

Being seen in Saint Tropez

Tomorrow starts my Provence photo workshop in France, but I came over a little early to make a quick visit to Saint Tropez and to get acclimated to the time change before all my participants arrive.

Photographer friend Ron Lake and I are hosting the workshop, Ron has extensive experience in Provence and is our guide for the week. We had a great time stomping around Saint Tropez, taking in all the glam and being among the people who are here to be seen.

The Saint Tropez harbor is filled with big yachts from all over the world and at night they are the place for parties. Floating near the worldly yachts are small fishing boats owned by the locals. It was fun to see the late evening light reflect off the buildings in the water. The glitz isn’t my cup of tea but I enjoyed going into the old part of town and seeing the buildings and where the real people live. We came across a wonderful home entrance with an old grape vine growing up beside a blue door and then spreading out overhead.

Tomorrow we head out the fields of lavender, I’m looking forward to another great day.

15 Jun 2017

I love finding a new meadow of wild lupines

Lupine grow in the wild from Maine to California and even down to Florida but it is still a thrilling sight to come a across a large meadow filled with them. One of my Woodstock, VT, neighbors pointed out a field of them yesterday less than two miles from my house.

I hadn’t seen them there before, I don’t know if I missed them, wasn’t paying attention or just didn’t look at the right time year.

This morning I went to the meadow at sunrise to catch the beauty of the early day light. The meadow is on the west side of a hill so it took a while for the sunlight to fall on them. The tall grass was wet from heavy dew and my jeans quickly got soaked as I walked through the field.

I was thinking about my upcoming workshop in Provence, France, where we will be shooting fields of lavender and how the lupines’ color is just a couple of shades darker.

There was lots to do explore in the field and I came away feeling good about spending the morning among the wild flowers.

10 May 2017

Oregon’s coast is full of surprises

Today I drove from my sister’s house in Grants Pass north along Oregon’s coast on my way back to Portland. It is not the shortest or fastest route, Highway 101 along the coast is mostly two lanes and goes through lots of small towns. It wasn’t my first time but there is always something new to discover.

Highway 101 runs along the coast in many areas and there are incredible pulloffs for great views.  I stopped at one overlooking Haceta Head lighthouse which is they claim to be the most photographed lighthouse in America. I can’t say it is the most photographed but I can say t here aren’t any that are more  picturesque. It is a postcard photo, the easy kind to shoot so I don’t usually bother but it is fun to look at.

When I got out of the car I heard barking and it wasn’t dogs. I looked over the edge and 300 feet below were sea lions, maybe 200 of them. They were making quite a racket. The first thing that came to me was how to get down there. It didn’t take long to realize there was no way to climb down the cliffs and get near the beach, which is why the sea lions were there!

I had settle for shooting from above with my telephoto lens. There were on the rocks and swimming around in the water, they were fun to watch and I nearly forgot to make a shot of the lighthouse.

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.

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