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Tag : snow

31 Dec 2019

Christmas present forces new iPhone

I got a nice new Apple Watch for Christmas from my lovely wife Robin. It is pretty cool but a little too advanced, it wouldn’t work with my old iPhone 6, so of course I was forced kicking and crying to to upgrade my phone! OK, I’ve been eyeing one for a while so it wasn’t too painful, other than the price. I got the spiffy iPhone 11 Pro Max since it has what is reputed to be a great camera built in. I hear a lot of people saying their phone can make images as good as my expensive DSLR camera. I tell them to come to my gallery and I’ll show you plenty of shots you aren’t going to make with that phone. But now that I have the fanciest around I need to give it a try.

All phone cameras have an extremely wide angle lens but this gets even wider. While a nice soft snow was falling this morning in Vermont, I went out with our dog Pudge to give the phone a little trial run. I shot some photos on normal setting, some with the telephoto and then the wide angle. Any camera would handle these conditions pretty well so it hard to tell what the camera will really do but so far they look pretty good. I got Pudge to sit and pose and used the extreme wide angle to really make her dominant in the photo. Like most cameras, it made the image too dark because of all the snow. It made the snow gray rather than white and I needed to correct it in post processing but it wasn’t off that far. I got the normal wide angle distortion in the trees but that is to be expected. The image looks pretty sharp but I’m not making a 60″ print. That will be the real test. 

20 Aug 2019

Playing around Iceland’s largest glacier

Iceland is known for waterfalls and glaciers, yesterday I took my workshop to the waterfalls, today it was glacier time. I know this little spot where a tongue of Vatnajökull glacier comes down into a lagoon. There is a little dirt road back to it off the highway, it isn’t marked and too small for most people to take a chance to see what is there. Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe and covers 8% of Iceland. It is big. 

Driving over from Vic we encountered some rain and wind but all of that stopped when we got out of the van. There were a couple of other people for a while but we mainly had the place to ourselves, which is always fun. In the summer the glacier melts and leaves a layer of dirt in the ice. It is cool to see but not pristine. This is one place that looks better in the winter but it is still fun to see how big this little part of the glacier is and it makes some great photos.

After leaving my little glacial hideaway we drove down to Jökulsárlón where another tongue of the glacier meets the ocean. A large lagoon is there and a short river has formed to drain the lagoon into the ocean. At high tide ocean water surges back into the lagoon and the salty water breaks off large chunks of the glacier. Year round you’ll see large icebergs floating in the lagoon and out the river. When they get to the ocean they break up more and float back onto the black sand beach. As the ice gets smaller it looks like diamonds on the beach when light shins through it. The weather had turned bad and it was raining pretty hard when we arrived. I drove to a couple of spots hoping the rain would ease and it finally did so we went over to Diamond Beach. The light was pretty bad, it was windy and it was spitting rain so shooting wasn’t easy. We still made some fun shots and went back over to the lagoon. Huge pieces of blue ice were floating and breaking apart. It was fun to see and to shoot. The rain came back so we started back toward the hotel.

As we were driving the rain was falling and then the sun came out. It made of one the biggest and brightest rainbows I have ever seen. I pulled the van off the road and we jumped out and shot some pictures while trying to stay dry. It was a lot of fun and great way to end another fabulous day in Iceland.

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.

03 Feb 2018

Beautiful sunrise, frozen lake and waterfalls and a wet foot

We got a break from yesterday’s brutal cold and started my Vermont Winter Wonderland Photography Workshop at one of my favorite overlooks. I found this spot several years while driving backroads looking for great places like this. I’ve shot many great sunrises here but today there was a little too much cloud cover and we didn’t get the super sunrise I was hoping for, but it was still spectacular.

After sunrise we went to Barnard and Silver Lake. I love the general store there and always try to take groups there for breakfast. They usually only have one cook working so her eyes get pretty big when 14 of us walk in. She does a great job managing the orders and gets the food out pretty quick and it tastes good. People are usually happy to sit around a little, have some coffee and get warmed up.

When breakfast was done we went out on the lake. It is always fun to take people out there to see the people ice fishing, especially if the photographers haven’t walked on water before. The ice is about two feet thick, so there isn’t any chance of falling through. Well almost. Just after I got done telling them to stay away from the edges where the ice can be thin because there isn’t enough water under it to freeze thick, one of our guys had a foot go through and into the mud. It wasn’t deep enough to be dangerous but his boot filled with water, which isn’t fun. We got him some fresh, dry socks, stuck a plastic bag in his boot and he was good for the rest of the day.

We went to Tunbridge where there is a scenic covered bridge crossing a rock strewn river. It always makes great photos and today wasn’t any different. Then we headed to a large waterfalls that was frozen pretty solid but still was fun to shoot.

When we got back to Woodstock, I got out my flashlight and lighted a covered bridge as night was falling. It is a great way to end a full day.

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.

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.

05 Feb 2017

Lot’s of snow for Vermont Winter Photography Workshop

Today was the last day for this year’s Vermont Winter Photography Workshop. The weather was good, there is lots of snow on the ground and we had a great group of eight people. They came from all over, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. We were prepared for the cold, so it didn’t feel like 15 degrees during the day.

We hit many locations during the three days, farms, covered bridges, towns, rural scenes and a couple of real Vermont country stores. Several of the group hadn’t walked on a lake before, so going out on Silver Lake to see people ice fishing was a bit of an adventure.

I always know it was a good shoot when my SUV is a filthy mess. After our breakfast stop this morning, I was surprised to see a lovely note scratched on my back window. Thanks gang.

21 Dec 2016

Happy Winter Solstice

I drove 150 miles today around Vermont making pictures on a beautiful day – the first official day of winter. I didn’t hear too many people talking about it but they were pretty happy that the temperature got above freezing and it was sunny in some areas. People were out enjoying the day, I went to a couple of the big ski areas and they were pretty busy for a Wednesday in December. There is a good base of natural snow and the weather is perfect for making snow. It should be a good week for them as the new year approaches.

I stopped at Moss Glen Falls in Granville to see how it was looking. It has been very cold here and the falls was nearly completely frozen over. There were a couple of spots you could see water flowing but it didn’t make for a good photo. I put on my big snow boots and wandered into a little brook that runs along the road in front of the falls. I always love seeing how flowing water makes unique designs of ice, especially where it lightly splashes to make weird shapes and then carves into it.

I think Winter Solstice should be a holiday and many Vermonters would agree with me.

On the way home I heard a guy on satellite radio say the best thing about this being the first day of winter is that spring will soon be here. He wasn’t from Vermont.

07 Feb 2016

Fun at the Winter Photography Workshop

LT_fallsHosting a photo workshop is fun, it is hard work, but boy is it fun.

This weekend was my Vermont Winter Photography Workshop and even though conditions weren’t perfect people were excited to be there and made the best out of the situation. Earlier in the week it was pretty warm and I was worried that all the snow would melt and there would be no ice. We did lose a lot of snow but it got cold so at least there was ice in the river when we photographed covered bridges and when we went to the water falls.

One of the great things about workshops is that people are there to learn and have a good time. We all seem to leave our troubles at home and we just concentrate on making good pictures, enjoying the scenery and making new friends. This group was no exception. I had people from Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, Vermont, Connecticut and Florida. They bonded right away, helping each other, learning from each other, sharing ideas and trying new things.

A couple of people had never been to the ski area so that was fun to show them how that looks. We went to one of Vermont’s largest waterfalls, Moss Glen Falls, which looked great after the freezing cold overnight. Since there was a lot of melting during the week, there was plenty of water coming over the falls, which made for really nice pictures.

I’ll soon be posting photos that everyone made during the weekend, so check back.

I can’t wait for next year’s winter workshop. Let it snow.

03 Jan 2015

Cold day in Vermont

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I love the cold, at least the way it looks. It was 6 degrees in Vermont when I went out before  sunrise today. I have several tricks I use to keep from freezing, Number One being putting those little chemical hand warmers in mittens that have fingers. But today the best way to fight the cold was to not stay out too long. I didn’t get far from the car, when I got cold I got back in and got the seat heater going.

There isn’t much snow on the ground, so I had to look for tighter scenes. I was driving over a little creek and saw there was some cool freezing happening to the flowing water. I got a couple of shots I like using a telephoto to get close.

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09 Mar 2014

Screaming “Good Morning”

The sky was right, so I decided to do a star trail photo at Billings Farm, the national park in Woodstock, VT. Since the moon didn’t set until almost 1 a.m., I made the decision to get up early and shoot the starts before sunrise. Shooting star trails works best when the moon isn’t out, so I thought getting up crazy early was better than staying up crazy late.

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I rolled out of bed at 4 a.m., which sure isn’t natural for me, and I was shooting by 4:15. It was 13 degrees as I traipsed through the deep snow, but it seemed refreshing.

I lined up my shot by cranking up my ISO to around 125,000 and taking a shot. The quality was terrible but I could see my composition as I chimped the photo. I tightened down my tripod and dropped my ISO back down to 1600, my 16mm lens was set to f/2.8 and the shutter speed to 15 seconds. I made sure my “motor drive” was set to continuous and I fired the first shot using a wired shutter remote. After the shot looked good, I shot another one and locked the shutter remote so it would keep firing another shot as soon as the first one was done.

After hearing that the camera had fired several shots, I went back to the Jeep to warm up and wait. After about an hour the sky started to get some light. The black sky slowly began to get dark blue and then a bit brighter. I knew my image was done after about an hour but I let it keep shooting for another 20 minutes just to see what would happen.

I ended up with 117 usable images which I combined in Photoshop to make the final image.

So there I am, it is 5:35 a.m., 14 degrees and the sun isn’t close to coming up yet, so I decided to go to one of my favorite locations and see what the sunrise would look like. It has a nice vista and there is a large open field in the foreground. There is still plenty of snow cover, so I thought would be some good shots.

I was treated to one of the best sunrises I have seen. About 20 minutes before the sun was coming up, the clouds started getting some color. Then I was treated to a colorful light show, blue, yellow, orange and red. It was special. I was shooting like crazy, trying to find the perfect shot.

I got some nice images but more importantly I was treated to a special visual show. It was good that I out not near any other people because I stood out in the snowy field feeling extremely thankful and screaming “GOOD MORNING.”

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24 Feb 2013

Loving a simple new layer of wet Vermont snow

It started snowing yesterday afternoon and by this morning there was five to six inches of wet snow covering the ground. Since the temperature has been hovering around 32 degrees, it is a sticky snow and stuck to everything it fell on.

So I went out looking for scenes that might look great with all the sticky snow. I went to a couple of places I thought might look good, and they did. I worked a farm scene I love trying to make sure I was thinking about composition and not just the beauty of the day. I made some pictures I liked and then I saw something and, as usual, it hit me.

Simplify.

I liked the way three fences lined up, with the one in the middle going down a little hill.

I headed to a covered bridge to see how that would look with a hill covered behind it. Not bad, I made pictures from several angles, nearly got the Jeep stuck in the snow and went to a couple of other farm scenes. I shot several things and was driving to another farm and saw a couple of trees alone on a hill.

It hit me again. Simplify.

I like the way the two trees stand out and the simplicity and balance of the photo.

23 Feb 2013

Winter wonderland on a private estate

I got a call from friend Lisa Lacasse, she was heading over to a private estate and wondered if I wanted to join her. She had told me about the place and with the snow falling, it would make some great photos. She was right.

The main house has an outdoor oven fired by wood that is used to bake bread and pizza. We shot the oven from all angles but I liked having the porch in the photo, using it for framing.

We walked around the grounds a little and went back toward a barn. I liked the way the heavy snow creating leading lines to the barn, along with Lisa’s footprints in the snow. I initially shot the barn tight, but backed off and shot it with the wide angle to get more of the full scene in the photo.

26 Jan 2013

Shooting by Vermont moonlight and staying warm

One of my thrills of digital cameras is the low-light capabilities. So when there is a full moon, I want to be out there. So even though it takes more preparation, going out in the darkness when the temperature is close to zero is lots of fun.

Tonight I went with friend Lisa Lacasse out looking for a magical night shot. I had seen this barn sitting out alone in a field a couple of days ago when I was out scouting. It is a neat old barn and I thought it would look good lit by tonight’s full moon. Lisa was born and lived in New Hampshire and Vermont her whole life but has spent the last few winters in Florida. So she was as ready as you can be for the single digit temperatures as was I. We were covered with layers of thermal clothing from top to toe but being able to keep my hands warm and control the camera is always a challenge.

I’m a big fan of those little chemical hand warmers, they really make a difference for me. When it is this cold, I wear thin liner gloves inside of mittens that flip open to expose fingerless gloves. I don’t know if there is a name for them but they are like wearing gloves and having a mitten to pull over my fingers when I need more warmth. I put the hand warmer in the mitten part so when my fingers are in the mitten they are good and warm. I can stick just my index finger out of the mitten to move camera controls and then put it right back in the mitten to stay warm. I use a cable release, which I can push through the gloves and mitten.

When carrying my tripod, I don’t grab it with my hands, even though I have pipe insulation on the legs. I tuck my arm under the tripod legs so my hands aren’t touching it, just my multi-layered arm.