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Tag : Scenic

27 Jun 2019

In Chile for another photo adventure

I’ve been looking forward to this trip for a long time, almost two years. I’m in Chile leading a workshop that will climax in photographing the total solar eclipse on Tuesday. We are meeting today in Santiago, going to the cool town of Valparaiso tomorrow and then driving up the coast to our base in La Serena for the eclipse.

I had flown through Santiago when I came to Chile in December to scout next year’s eclipse in the southern part of the country but this one is in the north and I haven’t been there. It will be a true adventure.

My plane arrived around 7:00 a.m. and I met one of the participants, Jane from New York, at the airport. We got the rental van, checked in to the hotel and I took a nap. Overnight flights are tough and even though I slept a good deal I wanted to make sure I didn’t start the trip sleep deprived. Jane joined me a little after noon and we went into Santiago. I had done research on places to go but it always hard. I read about a park on a mountain overlooking the city. It was cool but didn’t make for great photos. On the way down there was a Japanese garden that looked interesting, so we stopped. It was pretty but it is winter in Chile so the plants were very vibrant.

We went over to a neighborhood where there is a lot of street art. There happened to be a street market but it was shutting down by the time we got there. There were a series of multi-story apartment buildings with windowless walls on the end facing the street. A local art museum paid artists to paint murals on the walls and they were spectacular. It was a great place to make some fun photos. The locals were extremely friendly, many hamming for photos when they saw our cameras. It was a great experience.

We then went to the heart of old Santiago to a tourist area around a large open square surrounded by a cathedral and old government buildings. Street parking is different in Chile. Rather than have meters they have people come around as you park on the street and print out a ticket. When you leave you pay the street attendant. I had experienced it once in December but didn’t quite remember that was the way it is done. The attendant didn’t speak much English and I didn’t pay enough attention in my high school Spanish class to really get by. I finally understood what was going on and we were off to see the sights.

There is a large street closed off to traffic and lined with vendors. A large number of the vendors were in wheel chairs, to the extent that both Jane and I wondered if it was a marketing tool more than a necessity. I wanted to stick around long enough to see if they walked away when they were done selling. A couple were obviously in need of the chair.

We were there as the sun went down and the sky took on some wonderful colors. New, modern buildings had sprung up next to the old ones and made for a striking contrast. After the sun went down the lights came on and the colorful sky made for some nice photos. We were meeting the other participants back at the hotel for dinner and it was a great start to a new photographic adventure. 

23 May 2019

Chasing the sun in Tuscany

Tuscany is famous amongst photographers for the great light, especially the way it falls across the hills and mountains early in the morning and late in the day. It is a beautiful sight to see and I can’t think of anyplace where it is nicer. As long as it doesn’t rain. During my workshop there the past few days we had lots of great light but we also ran into some rather rainy days, although they weren’t the slate gray skies that we get in New Jersey. It would rain hard for a while and then the clouds would break up and let some sunlight sneak through. This was my second Tuscany workshop and the last one was in the dry heat of early July when it just doesn’t rain. While I knew there would be a chance and I made sure everyone was prepared, it was still a bit of a shock.

We had planned on going to Florence last Friday but Thursday night the forecast said clear skies Friday and rain on Saturday, so we made a quick change and took advantage of a beautiful day to shoot small ancient towns and incredible countrysides. It rained a bit while we were in Florence but only enough to be a nuisance. We were taunted by the possibility of a great sunset from a hill overlooking the city but the sun and clouds just didn’t make it happen. It just meant a late dinner at another tremendous Italian restaurant.

The rest of the week we would get an occasional downpour followed by great clouds. The group was great and didn’t let the little bit of rain slow us down. We did pick up plenty of mud while trudging out in fields for the bright red poppies or the fields of yellow or purple wildflowers. The floors of our vans were caked with mud and the rental company did charge us extra to clean them but it was worth it. We made wonderful photos and I had a great time with a fun bunch of people. 

Enjoy some of my photos below.

09 May 2019

Admiring New Jersey’s gardens

New Jersey is the Garden State after all. And there are many public gardens that were previously large private estates that had elaborate gardens that are now either maintained by private foundations or local and state governments. I decided to load up my 12 passenger van and take a tour of three of them. It was a fun day and the group enjoyed going to Leonard J. Buck Garden in Far Hills, Cross Estate Gardens in nearby Bernardsville and then up to the crown jewel of NJ’s gardens, the New Jersey Botanical Gardens in Ringwood. If you haven’t been there it is an experience. If you have been there you know it never looks the same twice. It includes 96 acres of specialty gardens surrounded by 1000 acres of woodlands. It was a beautiful as you can see by the photos the participants made at https://lorenphotos.com/nj-gardens-tour-may-2019/

Below are some of the photos I shot.

06 May 2019

Being creative in Cape May

One of New Jersey’s many jewels is Cape May, a beautiful beach town at the southern tip of the state. Cape May has long been a tourist town, they claim to be America’s first beach town. It has a huge white sand beach on the Atlantic Ocean and nearby beaches on the Delaware Bay, although they tend to be not as white. The town is filled with historic, quaint and colorful Victorian houses that are great fun to view and photograph. It is also happens to be one of the bird watching hot spots in the U.S., especially in migration seasons since the shape of the northeast U.S. funnels birds through Cape May and many stop to rest and eat before crossing the Delaware Bay.

It is the perfect location for a creativity photography workshop, which is why I did it there! It is a great fun to get away and think mainly about being creative with photography. I wanted to emphasize the creative aspects of photography rather than the technical, we often get too wrapped up in the technical and forget to just have fun and experiment. Even though we caught a bit of rain, it was a fun few days and we made some really nice photos while thinking about our creative sides. Take a look at some photos made by the participants at https://lorenphotos.com/cape-may-creativity-weekend-2019/

24 Mar 2019

Chasing the aurora in Vermont

There is something about the Aurora Borealis that fascinates me. The thought that light can shoot up in the air in the dark, dance across the sky and change colors is simply amazing. But I have yet to see it in full action. During my trips to Iceland I’ve been teased several times but I haven’t been there during the right conditions for a full show.

The northern lights are caused by solar flares, when there is a lot of sun spot activity the aurora goes nuts. Solar activity is cyclical, there is a 11 year cycle of high to low activity and right now we are in a prolonged trough and activity is low. There are several websites and mobile apps that can accurately predict the aurora a couple of weeks in advance. When I am in Iceland I constantly monitor the apps and see when and where I might be able to photograph the lights.

There is a scale from 1-9 that shows how active the aurora will be. It is usually at 1 or 2 and I’ve never heard of it hitting 8 or 9. Friday I got a message from friend Brian Horton that last night would be extremely active, a 6 for three hours and then falling back to 5. The bad part was the 6 rating was from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. while the sun was still shining bright. You want pure darkness to see the aurora, so that 6 rating was going to be wasted. But I had only seen a 4 before and it was amazing so I knew I had to check out this night of 5.

I had spent the week in Vermont and went back to New Jersey on Thursday for a workshop that night and a mentoring session on Friday. After thinking about it for a while I decided to make the over five hour drive back to my Vermont house and take my chances. I hoped my wife Robin, who was still in Vermont, would join me out in the dark, but she is finishing another book proposal and decided to wrap that up. 

Late yesterday I drove north almost two hours to Cabot, VT, where there is a cool old covered bridge that years ago was moved to the middle of a field high on a hill. There is nothing around it and no towns north so I knew it would be a great place to photograph the aurora. Back in Woodstock we got about five inches of snow Friday morning but Cabot got over 15 inches and it is piled high. To get out in the field near the bridge required wading through the snow, which was drifting in the blowing snow. Up on the that hill the wind gets pretty strong, it was blowing hard and the temperature was 15 degrees. 

Getting out to the bridge required plowing through thigh deep snow for about 100 yards, which wasn’t a whole lot of fun in the cold and dark. I have snowshoes but I didn’t think of taking them with me, they would have saved me a lot of effort. 

Once I got set up, the aurora was glowing on the horizon. The green light was shining pretty wide but it wasn’t flaring too high. It definitely wasn’t what I was hoping for. I had visions of the light dancing high overhead but it stayed low and wide. I took a couple of flashlights with me to illuminate the bridge so I didn’t have only a silhouette. It only takes a little light to make the bridge have some detail but it makes a big difference.

After about an hour I went back up to my truck, the moon was rising and the bright light shining off it would kill the green glow. I didn’t get what I wanted but I had fun

08 Feb 2019

A windy shot at aurora in Iceland

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.

28 Jan 2019

Just one more shot, please

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.

10 Dec 2018

Looking forward to returning to southern Chile and the solar eclipse

Now that I am back home and had a chance to catch my breath and reflect on my quick southern Chile adventure, it seems unreal that how far away

I went to the lake district of southern Chile to scout photographic locations for a workshop I’m leading in December of 2020. Several years ago a friend told me about this area, her husband is from there and they had a house in Pucon. She told of the beautiful lakes in the edge of the Andes mountains and how great the climate is. Her husband Fito still visits family regularly and will be my guide in 2020, it will be great having a native along side, I hope to be able to communicate better in Spanish but I have a long way to go. Fito will solve that problem and many others I’m sure. The reason I’m holding a photography workshop there in December of 2020 is that is dead center of the path of the total solar eclipse. After seeing my first total eclipse last year I decided to see as many as I can in the future, I can’t put into word, or pictures, why, but believe me that experiencing a total eclipse is something special. I’m going to the northern part of Chile for another eclipse this July, it will be a totally different experience than this area since that is in the desert and during their winter months.

My friend Bob Wagner was kind enough to join me on this scouting adventure, I don’t think he knew what he was getting into, this wasn’t a normal vacation. There is always a lot of driving when scouting because I want to see as many sites as possible so I know if they make good photo locations. That means going to places a person might not normally go, which is good and bad. I’m sure there were times when he wanted to stay in a place longer to make more photos but I needed to get one decent shot and seek out another location. Several places we went weren’t what we hoped for but the drive was alway lovely. Bob is a good travel companion and it was great having him along. 

This part of Chile didn’t disappoint, the scenery is stunning. The people were friendly and even though there wasn’t a lot of English spoken, they tried their best to communicate with me. They are proud of their area and it will be fun bringing more people to their country. I found a great hotel for us to stay at right on the edge of the large Lake Villarrica with a great view of the iconic snow capped volcano. The hotel is dead center of the eclipse’s path, we can even photograph it from the hotel’s deck but we’ll probably walk down to the beach. It will be a great way to end a week long workshop in a stunning place.

Below are some photos from my adventure that didn’t last nearly long enough. It will be fun returning in two years. I hope you can join me, I’ll have details posted in early January.

Click on a photo to see a larger version then you can scroll through the images.

09 Dec 2018

Taking in southern Chile’s coast

Today I drove from southern Chile’s lake region over to the Pacific coast. I had seen some pretty cool photo of the unique coastline and thought it might be a good day trip during my workshop here in 2020. Where I wanted to go was a little over two hours from Pucon and the drive was pretty easy. The land was fairly flat and this is cattle country. We had steak for dinner one night in Pucon and it was great and this was where it came from. 

Bob’s research turned up a little island of Maiquillahue that looked pretty cool and we made that our destination. We pulled into a little fishing village with a small harbor filled with boats. These obviously weren’t for recreation, they were working boats but there were colorfully painted. One boat had a couple of men working on their nets but the rest were just floating. The road went right along the ocean and just across the street were 25-30 picnic tables with small roofs over each one. It being about noon on Sunday they were filled with families picnic, laughing and some kids were kicking around a soccer ball on the not too level ground. I wished my Spanish was good enough to talk with them and make some pictures but I didn’t want to intrude. 

Interestingly, the town’s name is Mississippi. I have to do some research and see what that is all about and I saw a couple of signs that didn’t have enough s’s and p’s but most of them did.

The beach was gravel and stones and there was one little boy playing around several ropes tied to boats. He was cute and didn’t pay any attention to me with my large tripod, the boats were much more interesting. His mother was back up by the road in a stand selling fresh fish and vegetables. Several woman were working cleaning fish and cutting the veggies, I guess they didn’t get Sunday as a rest day.

We could see the island from the beach and it was much small than we thought. The map showed a road that would up a mountain and back down to another beach near the island so of course I had to take it. It quickly turned to dirt and we started climbing. There were several vantage points to look back down on the Mississippi beach. We got to the top of mountain and started heading back down. Google Maps said it was only 1/4 mile down and we had driven several miles up some pretty steep inclines. I knew this would be pretty steep but what the hell. As we were driving down the very steep dirt road I had flashbacks to the rental car’s tires spinning in the dirt a couple of days ago. There wasn’t any turning back now and when we got to the bottom there were a couple of four wheel drive SUVs and a boat. We had thought we could go out on the island but there wasn’t any way. It didn’t have any beaches we could see, only rocky ledges. We shot some pictures but it wasn’t anything great. I figured I better try getting the rental car out of there while there were still a couple of vehicles that could help. The dirt was tightly packed and the little Peugeot climbed right up. We got to a sharp turn and I could see the gravel was loose there from other vehicles spinning their wheels. I told Bob to hang on and got as much speed up as I could. The front wheels spun a couple of times but we had enough traction to make it out.

We went farther north along to the coast toward some other places we had scouted. We stopped at a couple of scenic overlooks that were pretty nice. We were getting pretty hungry and fine eating establishments weren’t plentiful. As we were driving along a nice looking restaurant popped up. It didn’t seem to be near anything but looked nice from the outside. We went in and it was empty, but it was around 3 p.m. and we were famished. The sweet young woman gave us a nice Hola! and we took a seat. Once again she spoke no English, which is what I expected. The menu was on the wall and I could read enough to know a little what they had. I thought salmon would be good since I had seen some fresh back at the little roadside stand. The waitress starting talking fast, smiled when we didn’t understand each other and asked us several questions which I always answered Si! I asked Bob if he would like some empanadas, so I ordered some, which thought were salmon. She asked a few more questions and it seemed like our order was complete. In a while she brought out a large plate of empanadas, which didn’t seem like salmon but were pretty good. Bob and I thought a meal of empanadas wasn’t bad and as we nearly finished the waitress brought out a large salad. Ok, that’s good. We started into the salad and then came plates with large portions of salmon and french fries for each us. I guess I did order salmon after all! Now we were getting stuffed and then came the dessert. It turns out the waitress upsold me on a five course meal! But it was good and only cost about $20 for the whole thing.

We went to the coast where there was rocky ledges and black sand. Some men were fishing on the rocks and kids were playing in the surf. It was a lovely scene and we made pictures there for a while. As we were leaving I saw a lone tree that was wind blown along the beach. We stopped and made some photos and I could see more unique trees in the distance near the water. The map showed a road being there and I put the rental car through a little more than I would my own car. It was a long day and time to head back to Pucon. 

08 Dec 2018

Exploring a thermal spring in southern Chile

After leaving the large lake today I went to one of southern Chile’s more popular attractions, a thermal bath. Since this area sits on an active volcano, there are many hot springs and baths around. Termas Geometricas is one of the more popular ones and there are plenty of tours that go there. That usually keeps me away, I try to avoid the crowds but the photos I saw of this place were pretty unique. Getting there required another long drive over dusty dirt roads that wound through the mountains and were only one lane at times. Once my Google map said I was there it was still another 15 minutes of kicking up dust, thankfully there were signs.

It was fairly late in the afternoon when we arrived, there were a couple of tour buses in the parking lot and quite a few cars. More people were leaving than arriving so Bob and I went to the entrance booth where I hoped to talk them into letting us go photograph the area without paying. Once again the young woman spoke less English than I do Spanish but I was good enough to be able to say that we only wanted to take pictures. It was a nice try but we needed to pay, so we kicked over the $30. An interesting thing in Chile is they use the $ sign for pesos and one American dollar equals about 650 Chilean pesos. I had to look that up when I hit the ground at the Santiago airport because I was buying a sandwich and the sign said it was $3,000. That must be a good sandwich.

Anyway, once we paid our fee the woman gave each a big thick towel and pointed up the boardwalk. We didn’t bring our bathing suits and we both wished we had. The boardwalk is painted red and runs along a stream up a narrow canyon. As you walk upstream they have built lovely pools that fill with hot water coming out of the mountain. There was a fairly large pool right away with several people in it and a nearby grass roof lodge building with a bar and snacks. Several more pools were right there but the boardwalk kept going and after taking a few shots I followed the boardwalk. Smaller pools were dotted along the boardwalk and it kept going. Each pool had a sign showing the water temperature. As I walked up the boardwalk and the canyon got narrower and more lush. Steam was rising from hot water and it made for a wonderful scene. I finally came to the end and it had to be almost 1/2 mile from where we started. The walk was worth it, there was a beautiful waterfall dropping out of the lush green growth. I checked to see if it was hot water but it wasn’t, it was pretty cold. The hot water was coming from springs in the mountain and being diverted into the pools. But the sight of the waterfalls, beautiful green plants and the red boardwalk was quite a sight. 

08 Dec 2018

I know why they call it Chile’s Lake Region

While eating dinner last night Bob and I were talking to our waiter, a young guy who spoke very good English, which isn’t overly common in southern Chile. He told us about a town to the south that is on a large lake and has yet to be spoiled by tourism. It has an unusual church and it was in the direction of the thermal spring we didn’t get to the other day. The road to Panguipulli was scenic, starting with a fairly flat drive through farmland and then we hit some hills and the pavement went to dirt. That was OK, that usually means more scenic and remote and it sure was this time again. We were on a narrow road high above a large lake. The day had started cloudy but the sun was breaking through and when we came across an overlook the light was great. Streaks of sunlight poured through the clouds lighting up green meadows, mountains and the lake. It was quite the scene and we made a ton of photos before driving on into Panguipulli. 

The town is right at the northern end of the very large Lake Panguipulli. A lone tree stood on the town’s beach but it didn’t look like a place where there was a lot of swimming. I didn’t dip my toe in the water but I’m guessing that since it was glacier fed it was pretty chilly. We then went into the main part of the town and saw the church. It, like much in this part of Chile, has a strong German influence in its design. It has two large steeples on the front and a smaller one on the back. The colors were tan, red and black, quite different from what I would expect in South America.

It looked like it could be in Bavaria and is in need of a good coat of paint. Like most of Chile, the town is modern. My research told me that I wouldn’t likely find donkeys pulling carts on dirt streets and that sure is the case. Cell phone signals were strong everywhere except the most remote areas and people take pride in their buildings and the streets are clean. Many homes aren’t fancy, they look like they are on a subsistence level but that is fine. We didn’t feel threatened anywhere we went.

On the map I saw a cemetery on a hill above the town and we drove up there. It was a large cemetery and full of well kept memorials to those who had passed. Many were decorated, there were lots of photos as part of the headstone and quite a few large structures to honor the dead. It was a lovely scene overlooking the town and the lake. I wandered to one corner and came across something I hadn’t seen before, a children’s section. The graves were small and many had little fences around them. There were at least 100 of them, some look like someone came every day. Others were rather neglected. It was a sobering sight.

We left town and drove south along Lake Panguipulli, which is 8.5 miles wide and 19 miles long. It is surrounded by the Andes Mountains and amazingly beautiful. There are several scenic pulloffs above the lake that give you a view out over the lake and can make for nice photos. At the end of the lake is the small village of Choshuenco, only 20 miles from the Argentina border. I considered driving over to Argentina since I’d never been there but this is a scouting trip and I don’t think I’d take the group there during the workshop, so I tried to stay focused on my mission.

There wasn’t much in Choshuenco but the beach on the lake was lovely. It wasn’t the prettiest or warmest of days so the beach was pretty much empty. As remote as this location is I don’t think it could ever be a packed beach. On the beach there is a wreckage of an old steam boat, it has been propped up so people can climb on it and there is a sign telling about the life of the ship. Of course the sign is in Spanish so I didn’t understand most of it.

Also on the beach is a lone tree, which always captures my attention. I don’t know why but I love to photograph a tree that separated from others. There was one on the other end of the lake on the beach at Panguipulli, but the light and clouds were better for this one. The green of the tree stood out from the lake’s water and surrounding mountains and I just like the way it all came together.

07 Dec 2018

Dust, waterfalls and lakes in southern Chile

The purpose of my trip to southern Chile is to scout the area and see what great locations I can bring clients to in 2020 when a total solar eclipse passes through the area. Well, I saw plenty today. I had done extensive research before coming and had a pretty good idea of what is here and where I should go each day. About 15 minutes into my planned course I saw this dirt road along a beautiful river, so of course I had to check it out. I wanted to head north of Pucon to some large lakes but we were suddenly heading south with no other roads around and I didn’t feel like back tracking. The road went for miles along the river offering occasional views of the volcano but mainly fenced properties. It seems that every property, even in town, is surrounded by a fence. They have some grand entrances and some of the fence posts are thicker than utility poles back home.

After driving for an hour on the dirt road we finally came to another road and I pulled out my Google map to see where we were. I had marked several waterfalls on the map and we were fairly close so we went that direction on more dusty, dirt roads. There was a sign to one I didn’t have marked and the picture on the sign looked pretty cool so we drove down another dirt road to check it out. We got down to what looked to be a parking area and several signs in Spanish and nothing in English. I could make out enough words to know that somebody wanted paid but there wasn’t anybody around and no other cars. A guy came out of a house up the hill and he broke into fast Spanish. I didn’t have much idea what he was saying and my cohort Bob didn’t have any clues. I finally figured out the waterfall was a 15 minute hike up a narrow trail and he wanted about $3 each. It turns out that most of the waterfalls around here are privately owned, or at least managed, and you have to pay to go look at them.

The hike was a little steep in places but not bad, even while carrying camera gear. When we could hear the falls I knew it was going to be worth $3. There were railings and steps down to an overlook that had a couple of viewing platforms with railings made from small tree branches. The falls was fairly large but the way the sun was hitting one side of the gorge it didn’t make for great photos but I was fairly happy with the shots I made.

We stopped at a couple of waterfalls I had marked on the map and they were the same, we were the only ones there and the person collecting money didn’t speak any English, but we made. The last one we went to was a huge falls and you hiked to the base of it. The wind was blowing all the mist from the falls right where you wanted to be to make pictures and I went back to the car to get my raincoat so I wouldn’t be drenched after going to the end of a boardwalk. The sun was shining bright from right above the falls and with the heavy mist it wasn’t possible to make a shot. On a cloudy day with the wind in the other direction it will be a great photo, but not today.

Last night while watching the sun go down I talked with a guy from Argentina who told me there was a big road race the next few days with 3,000 runners. He said they were running up toward the volcano. I knew I didn’t want to get caught up in that mess and my plan to head north fit in perfectly. My detour to the south was a different story. On my map I had located a thermal pool I wanted to see and we headed that direction right into the race. We didn’t see 3,000 runners but we were driving on a very dusty road and kicking dirt in their faces. I went as slow as I could and eventually there was a fork in the road and I went the direction that they weren’t coming from. The bad part was I didn’t know exactly where it went. It headed deep into the Villarrica National Park and the dirt road became a path that wasn’t much wider than the small rental car. At one point I was spinning the wheels in loose rocks getting up a hill. I had to back down and take a second running start at it, made it up around a corner and the road was basically two ruts in the dirt. That was far enough. I turned around and went back and kick up more dust in runners faces. 

I got back to civilization and went toward the large lake that I originally planned on visiting today. I had read about a beautiful white sand beach on one side of the lake. Like a lot of lakes back home, access wasn’t easy. To get to the beach I drove through a narrow residential area that had no parking. There was an access path to the beach between houses and I found a little spot to stick the rental car. It was a beautiful, sunny days, this is summer after all in Chile and the temperature was in the mid 80’s with a nice breeze and no humidity. There were quite a few people on the beach but it was expansive. It turns out it to be a place that would be great to have a picnic, relax and enjoy the scenery but wasn’t a tremendous photo location. I made some shot but didn’t stay very long. I drove to a little town that has what looks to be the only other beach on the massive lake but this beach wasn’t nice sand and you could drive right up to the water. Fun but not what I hoped for photography wise.

I took the scenic route back to Pucon to stop at a set of three waterfalls I had read about. Again, I had to drive a dirt road that wound between a house and their back. There were some pylons in the road and as I approached a very old lady came out to collect our fee. She wasn’t overly friendly but pointed me towards the falls. The first one was next to the parking around and again it wasn’t the right time of day to be there. There was a sign pointing up the hill to the second and third falls. I hiked up the path a ways and then got into the switch backs and noticed my heart rate has accelerated. This was a pretty good climb! As I puffed up the trail there were some tremendous views of the valley and the volcano in the distance. Well worth the hike. The second waterfalls had a couple of viewing areas with railings but you couldn’t get a clear shot of the falls, so I didn’t even shoot any pictures. I decided to take my chances and check out the third falls, hoping it wouldn’t be as far as the second one. It wasn’t too far but it was very cool. It wasn’t a large waterfalls but the scene couldn’t be nicer. The only sound you could hear was the water and everything was green. It would be a great place to go and just ponder. 

06 Dec 2018

Venturing to the lake area of southern Chile

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.

18 Nov 2018

Peeking into Manhattan from a Brooklyn perspective

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.

04 Nov 2018

A beautiful day of photography in Bucks County

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.