One of the island in the Venice lagoon is Burano and it is one of the most colorful places you will see anywhere. All the buildings are painted bright colors and most of them look like they were freshly done. Everywhere you look there are bright colors. Just like Venice, there are canals throughout the island and the reflections add to the colorful scenery. Also like Venice, the houses are built right up against each other but the individual units of each building are painted a different color. About 3,000 people live there and they all must love color! Interestingly, the main product of the island is lace, which is not colorful at all.
I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I joined with Ron Lake to host a photography workshop in Venice, Italy, during Carnival. I knew there would be masked models on the street near San Marco Square each morning and they would be wearing outrageous costumes but I had no idea how crazy they would be. The best time to photograph many of the most ornate costumes is at sunrise, models come out and there are mainly photographers there, not the hordes of tourists that are around later. Of course there are way too many photographers so it was challenging to keep them out of my images but it could be done. The professionals have business cards to exchange with photographers to get free photos. It is a pretty good deal, great costumes for a few photos.
This was my fourth trip to Iceland in less than a year and the amazement has not diminished one bit. Many times going to a new place is exciting because it is new but the thrill wears off. The thrill is still there in Iceland. The country has such amazing beauty and unique features.
Diamond Beach is one the bigger attractions for photographers. Chunks of ice break off from a nearby glacier and wash up on a black sand beach. As the waves pound the ice the water polishes a brilliant shine. Light coming through the blue ice looks like diamonds. Usually the chunks of ice are small, the largest being two or three feet across. When we pulled in on Monday there were huge icebergs on the beach, some were 0ver 15 feet long and 10 feet high. I hadn’t seen anything near that large before nor have I seen any photos of the ice being that large. It was snowing while we were there, one of the few times of nasty weather we had, but the photos were still cool. We didn’t stay long since we were going to be going past the beach a couple more times. When we came back on Tuesday, all the huge chunks of ice were gone and the normal size ones were scattered across the beach. Nature is so wonderful!
But the highlight of this trip was the great ice caves we went to into. The first was a rare black ice cave. Talk about a photographic nightmare, shooting in a cave that has black ripples and a large, bright opening is extremely hard to do. It was cool to see but extremely hard to make a picture. The next one was much better, a traditional blue ice cave that had plenty of light pouring in through the ice. Another photographer had his wife posing with an ice axe near the opening, which made a great photo for us!
The weather in Iceland can be sketchy. One morning we went to one of my favorite places to photograph Vestrahorn, jagged mountains rising right from a black sand beach. When we arrived it was cloudy and then foggy to the point you couldn’t see the mountain. I was pretty disappointed because it is such a great shot. There are unique black sand dunes near the beach and we photographed there for a while and I could tell the group wasn’t too impressed. After about an hour they were ready to pack it in but I saw that to the west it was clearing so we waited a little while and got the payoff. The sun came out and lit up the mountains. I took the group back down to the beach and showed them how to shoot a reflection of the mountains in the receding surf on the black sand. It made a great photo.
Chasing the Aurora Borealis is never ending in the Icelandic winter. I have several apps on my phone to help determine where to be and when. Aurora activity wasn’t overly high but it was still fun to make some images of the lights and hear the squeals of the other photographers who hadn’t witnessed it before. (see my other blog post) We even caught some the Milky Way with the Aurora, which is pretty cool.
A photographer can’t think about Iceland without having grand waterfalls constantly flowing through the brain. They never disappoint, the huge falls are mostly fed by glaciers and are as spectacular as anyplace on earth. They can be overwhelming to photograph but by trying enough techniques great photos are fairly easy to make.
It was a great group of people on the trip, we had tons of fun, saw great sights, ate wonderful food and had lots of laughs. I look forward to returning in August and again next winter.
My annual Iceland Winter Photography Workshop starts tomorrow. I like to arrive a day early so my body can acclimate to the time change and I can get a little extra shooting in. While I’ll be in plenty of great places during the week my focus is on working with my clients rather than my own photography. I make pictures when I can but there are times when I’m helping rather than shooting.
Some of the others arrived early also and the sky was clear and the rating for the Aurora Borealis was pretty high, officially a 4 out of 9 on the scale. It rarely hits 6 on the scale and this is the first time I’ve had clear skies and a rating this high. The predication for the week shows that is the best shot we’ll have at it.
I took folks out to the point of the peninsula where there are two lighthouses, I thought it would be good and dark there and we’d be able to see Northern Lights dancing. We got there around sunset, I was hoping for lots of color in the sky but clouds over the ocean in the west took care of that. I brought a big flashlight in hopes of illuminating one of the lighthouses. It was so windy that doing the long exposure we needed was impossible. I pulled out my anemometer and it showed a steady 25-30 mph wind with gusts over 40 mph. It is tough to stay steady in wind like that.
After it got dark the wind persisted and I knew it was too much to handle so I decided to head back towards town and see if I could find a place that would be better. As I was driving the wind didn’t let up but I pulled into a little lane that I had gone down last summer. I parked the van and the brave got out and tried to make some shots as the aurora danced in front of us. It was about as tough shooting condition as I’ve been in, the strong wind and the temperature around 25 degrees made it hard to even think, especially after an overnight flight and little sleep.
I got down low with my tripod and made a few shots. I couldn’t stay out there long, the wind was hitting me hard in the face, the wind chill factor was around 5 degrees but it felt much worse. It was so windy I couldn’t talk to any of the others and after a few minutes everyone was back in the van.
I’m usually not disappointed with my results but I am rather bummed I didn’t get a better shot. There are several things I could have done but I wasn’t thinking clear enough to make the image I wanted. Mark it up to experience, I’ll get it the next time. After all, the workshop starts tomorrow.
After my Vermont Winter Wonderland Workshop yesterday I took a couple of people over to a grove of birch trees that I love to visit. It is on private property and I don’t know the owner so I don’t take 12 photographers from a workshop there. Hopefully I’ll be able to figure out who owns it and get permission to take groups there. As we were walking through the magical forest snow started falling making it feel even more special. We must have spent two hours shooting, time got away from us but the photos came out great. I can’t wait to see what the others got.
This morning it was clear and cold so three of us went down to Jenne Farm again. It always looks great with full sunshine and today was one the best mornings I’ve spent there. The light was clean, the snow glistened and the track we made yesterday morning filled in during the afternoon snowfall. Afterwards we went to another location a few miles away that I love but it didn’t look good without snow in the trees. We drove around a little and then went toward a large farm I know.
As we were going up the road toward the farm there was a stand of maple trees on hill above the road with an open field behind them. The crystal blue sky glowing through the trees and there was still snow stuck to the side of the trees making for a unique look. I was able to pull off a couple of minimalist images and play with the shadows in the snow. It capped off a special morning.
After my Vermont Winter Wonderland Photography Workshop today I took three stragglers over to one of my favorites places so we could photograph a couple of red barns. Last weekend’s nearly two foot snowfall combined with Thursday’s heavy rain followed by deep freezing temperatures made many places pure ice. The driveway by the barns was all ice at least four inches thick.
We had a tough time walking on it, luckily nobody fell but we slipped and slid. I watched my buddy Ron slide about six feet after taking a step. While we were there we had a beautiful snowfall that totaled about three inches, which put an additional layer of slick on the ice already there. As I was leaving I pulled into a turnaround, which happened to be where I saw Ron slide. I didn’t think the very slight elevation drop would be a problem but it was. My Sprinter’s tires spun immediately and it wasn’t about to go up the small grade. This was my first time with the Sprinter in snow and ice and I knew it might get challenged so I had purchased some grippers to put on the rear tires. They are similar to chains but easier to put on yet not as effective. You have to be able to drive onto chains so they are worthless if you are already stuck.
After putting on the grippers the Sprinter made it about eight feet before losing traction. I tried everything but it wasn’t going to move up that last little incline. I saw a neighbor shoveling her driveway so I walked over to see if she had any sand or salt. She didn’t and we weren’t close to any other buildings.
I had two options: call an expensive tow truck and see how long it took to arrive or phone a friend. A couple of weeks ago I ran into friend and photographer Lisa Lacasse and her husband Ken at the hardware buying some sand for their driveway. They live about a mile from where I was stuck so I called them.
Ken is a great golfer and I know he enjoys nothing more than relaxing on a Sunday afternoon and watching a golf tournament on TV. It was now after 4:00 p.m. and that is when most tournaments get exciting. I got Ken on the phone and told him about my predicament and asked if he still had any of that sand left. I felt bad, I could tell leaving his warm easy chair, missing the good part of the tournament and coming out in the cold was about the last thing he wanted to do, but he did.
Ken arrived with the sand he had left, we spread it under the wheels and created a little path on the ice. I got farther but started spinning again when I got past the sanded area. We scraped up what sand we could, spread it out again, piled the four guys into the back of the van for some extra weight over the wheels and after some verbal encouragement made it back up on level ground.
I’ve always known that there are good people in this world who will do anything for you without any consideration for themselves. Ken Lacasse is one of those people. It would have been plenty easy for him to come up with an excuse to stay in his warm home and I wouldn’t have blamed him. But that isn’t who Ken and for that I am extremely grateful.
Thanks Ken for being one of the good guys. I owe you.
There is something about getting out in the crisp, cold air and making photos in Vermont. This week was my annual Vermont Winter Wonderland Photography Workshop and it was a true wonderland. Last weekend over 18″ of snow fell on the area, which makes everything look great.
I had ten photographers attending plus my pro friend Ron Lake. We made the most of the time, after a “classroom” session on winter photography we got right out shooting on Friday heading over to a fun farm scene. I was taking the group in my 12 passenger Sprinter van on some back roads to a special location I discovered when a major snow squall came through. Knowing it was a narrow hilly drive I made a quick decision to skip that location and after stopping at a quaint scene with an old hay rake we photographed a covered bridge in Woodstock after the sun went down. I use a flashlight to illuminate the bridge and people always have fun making pictures in the dark.
Saturday we were on the road before sunrise at a special overlook not too far from Woodstock. Then it was on to breakfast and photographing people ice fishing, it is exciting to see people walk on a lake for the first time. It was cold out but there wasn’t much wind, which makes a big difference. We traveled up to another covered bridge where there are great shots of the river flowing under it. Thursday’s heavy rain washed away the usual ice and piled it up where I usually have photographers shoot the bridge. There was no getting there this time. There were still plenty of good pictures to make. We then headed over to a large waterfall that I knew would be running strong and looking icy in the cold temps. After darkness set in we were back at my house for pizza and getting to know each other better.
Today we started out again before sun rise and went to Jenne Farm, which some say is the most photographed farm in America. It looked great in the snow, there are lots of angles and the sky was beautiful. Some people had a long drive and headed home and the rest of us went to another covered bridge near a dam. The mist from the falling water had frozen on the bridge leaving a unique frost on the side. I hadn’t seen that before. Then it was on to some red barns as the snow started to fall. It was a great place to end the workshop.
Below are some of my photos, you can see images made by the participants at https://lorenphotos.com/vermont-winter-workshop-photos/.
Today was a fun workshop, it was based around high speed photography. What that means is basically making images of things that happen very fast and stopping the motion. It creates pictures of things we can’t see with our eyes and it can very cool. One of my favorites today was a shot of a balloon bursting when being hit by a dart. I had put glitter inside the balloon so it scattered when the balloon popped. It is a weird looking image, you can see the skin of the balloon’s front peeling back, glitter in the air and the back of the balloon still mostly intact.
We also photographed strawberries splashing into cream and colored water sloshing from glasses that I had glued to a skateboard.
I made quite the mess with all the splashing colored water and cream but the worst is the glitter. I’m not a big fan of the stuff, it always sticks to everything and now I have it shining all over my office. I’m sure I’ll be cleaning it for quite a while.
After my experience photographing 2016’s total solar eclipse in Oregon, I decided I was an eclipse chaser and made a personal pledge to see as many total eclipses as I could. Since the experience was so cool I want to share it with others so I came to Chile today to scout locations for the eclipse coming through here in 2020. This is the beautiful lake region of southern Chile, a long way from home. It took 24 hours, three flights and a long drive get to the resort town of Pucon but boy is it worth it.
Pucon sits next to one of the five most active volcanoes in the world, Villarrica, and on a large lake of the same name. This is where many people from South America and around the world come to enjoy pure nature at its finest. This is a mecca for outdoor adventure activity, the ultimate being hiking up the volcano and looking inside. I won’t be doing that, it is quite the hike and even though it is summer here, plenty of snow caps the mountain. It doesn’t really take that long to do the hike but everything I read said you better be in pretty good shape. I’m thinking that being in shape ten years ago doesn’t count.
I came with my friend Bob Wagner who is excited to make some photos of this part of the world. Our final flight landed in Temuco, about a 90-minute drive from Pucon. Before getting to Pucon you drive through the town of Villarrica, which is also on the lake and has a magnificent view of the volcano. We went to our hotel in Pucon and immediately came right back to Villarrica for a lovely dinner along the lake and photographed the volcano and lake as the sun set. The light was magical, especially after sunset when amazing colors filled the sky and lit up the water.
We did plenty of shooting, made the drive back around the lake to Pucon and after editing some photos, I’m ready for a good night’s sleep.
Last night was another fun night photography workshop in New York City. We started in the afternoon at the iconic Flatiron Building and then headed to Brooklyn for sunset. Photographers love to shoot the pilings along the Brooklyn waterfront looking over into Manhattan and for good reason. We got to Brooklyn before sunset so I took them to a cool spot in Dumbo where you can photograph the Empire State Building framed by one the Manhattan Bridge stanchions. It makes for a fun shot and everyone enjoyed making some images there even with all the people shooting selfies in the middle of the street. There was even a bridal shoot going on.
As the sun got lower we jumped into my van and made our way down to where the pilings are located. The sky was a overcast but with a combination of low and high clouds so there was a lot of definition in the layers and it really held the light from the city. It was cool to see how the clouds reflected the light and made for some great patterns. I decided to try a very wide angle shot combined with a long exposure to get some movement in the clouds. I really like the result and have the feeling this is going to be a big print for the wall and art shows.
Today was a bit of a different workshop: street photography in New York. Street photography has become kind of trendy, but the more I thought about it I realized it is what I started doing over 40 years ago. Working as a newspaper photojournalist was all about being out on the street. Many times I had assignments but a lot of time was spent finding photos on the street and documenting the community. I worked at one small Indiana newspaper where I was the only photographer and the job consisted of finding photos to fill the front page and local news page each day. I rarely had assignments, it was all about getting out into the town and making tons of street photos. The pressure was immense and I only lasted a year, just like the two photographers before me. But it was my best year of shooting ever. Pretty much all I did for that year was shoot pictures, process them, eat, go shoot more and sleep a little. I won tons of awards that year but it was too much.
I really had fun this afternoon when we were in Chinatown. There were lots of people on the streets, the markets were bustling and the stores were looking good and the light was great. A good thing about New York is that people don’t really care what you are doing as long as you don’t bother them.
I had a lot of fun today doing a one-day workshop in Bucks County, Pa. Eleven people joined me as we toured the farm country, covered bridges and beauty that is Bucks County.
One of my favorite places is a private little farm that has an incredible stone house and across the small dirt road is an old mill that was moved there many years ago. It was never a working mill at this location and I talked to the owner earlier this year and she didn’t even know when it was moved there. There are times when there is water flowing over the wheel but not today. Since it is private property we have to stay on the road to photograph it, which is OK because they have some small farm animals and even though the location is pretty secluded it seems quite a few people know about it.
We went to a couple of historic sites including one that is part of Washington Crossing State Park. This near where Washington and his troops crossed the icy Delaware River during their surprise Christmas Day attack on Trenton, which was a turning point of the Revolutionary War. With the election coming up, it really struck me how we were walking on sacred ground, a place where people were willing to throw away everything they had, even give their lives in a war that was essentially unwinable, to gain freedom for themselves and others. We are lucky to live in a country where we are able to say what we think, express our opinions and be able to vote for our leaders.
We finished the day with something I love to do: light painting. We went to an old covered bridge that I knew didn’t have any street lights. There may be others but it is the only covered bridge I’ve seen over a canal. Everyone got lined up to make images and I got out my flashlight to paint the bridge with light. We did a few shots and a lady came out of a nearby house to see what we were doing in the dark. Her house is surrounded by No Trespassing signs, and even though we weren’t on her property I thought she might be coming out to give us grief. It was the opposite, she was interested in how we could make pictures in the dark. I guess she hadn’t seen anybody try lighting up the bridge. It was a fun way to end the day.
View some of the photos made by the participants.
Today I joined forces with friend and Connecticut photographer Ron Lake for a tour of the Connecticut countryside. Autumn is a beautiful time to get out and wander around the north western part of the state which has beautiful farms, rolling hills, waterfalls and great scenery. We didn’t hit peak foliage but it was still beautiful.
I spend a good deal of time in Vermont looking for cool farms but CT has some unique barns in that they don’t always go for the traditional red or white barn. They might be pink or blue, which is fun to see. I look forward to next fall when we can do an even more extensive exploration.
Last night was another workshop in New York City focusing on night photography. We started in Central Park, which is always full of surprises. This time it was a couple of performers singing and playing violins inside the chilly underpass at Bethesda Fountain. When we first walked up it was a bit disappointing because the fountain was turned off, which isn’t too pretty. Then we heard the music coming from the nearby walkway underpass. A woman and man were making unique sounds with their voices and fiddles, although I’m sure they don’t call their violins fiddles. They had a couple of portable lights and crazy, colorful makeup, their look matched their sounds. She was extremely high pitched and her signing style was what I’d call a wail. He liked to chant. I can’t imagine what it would be like to to live in the apartment next to them when they are practicing and experimenting.
I then took our group over to the Bow Bridge and did a little lightpainting, one of my favorite techniques of lighting objects with a flashlight during a long exposure. It was a fun evening in the park before we headed out to explore other areas of New York.
It was a magical week for my annual Vermont Fall Foliage Workshop. I can’t think of many things more fun than hanging out in Vermont with new friends and taking in the beauty of autumn’s color show. It is great to show off my stomping grounds to people from all over the world, this week I had photographers come from Ecuador, Amsterdam, Florida, California, Washington state, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut.
We went to some of the popular spots, like Jenne Farm, which some people say is the most photographed farm in America. It doesn’t matter if it is or isn’t, it is a beautiful scene. We also went to some of my favorite little known locations, I like showing my visitors places they wouldn’t find on their own unless they spent a ton of time driving around. I’ve created a gallery of some of my photos below. If you’d like to see some photos made by the workshop participants go here: https://lorenphotos.com/vermont-foliage-workshop-photos-2018/