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Tag : Waterfalls

02 Feb 2020

Vermont’s Winter Wonderland

Each year I host a winter workshop from my home in Woodstock, VT. Early February is a beautiful time of year in Vermont and it is a lot of fun getting out and making pictures in the snowy landscape. One thing that I really enjoy is taking photographers out on a frozen lake, especially people who have never walked on water before. It initially sounds scary but when people see the huts and folks out ice fishing, then they realize it is very safe to be on the ice. 

There is something special about a snow covered landscape. The world becomes much simpler looking, everything is clean and free of distractions. I love making images that are simple and minimal and winter is the best time to do that. Before the workshop I drove past a pretty little white barn sitting up on a hill. There was a pure white blanket in front of it and a single white birch off to the side. The scene is one that I am always looking for, simple, clean and pretty. I was pretty happy with the shot and the others I made during the weekend.

21 Aug 2019

A little Icelandic wind to keep things interesting

Today we made the journey back to Reykjavik as my Iceland Photography Workshop is nearly the end. One of the highlights of coming to Iceland in August is photographing puffins, those cute, colorful and rather sad looking cuddly birds. They spend about nine months a year floating on the ocean and come ashore to breed and hatch their eggs then head back to the open sea. I found a spot where they roost on a cliff that is easy for photographers to access. I’ve made some great shots there in the past I was hoping everyone on this trip would be able to get some too. When we got up this morning it was raining and blowing hard. I delayed our departure hoping the weather would clear and it did – somewhat. The rain went away but the wind got even stronger. It was a constant 50-60 mph making walking hard and keeping a camera steady even harder. Iceland is the third windiest place on earth and the other two are uninhabited islands.

The puffins were having a tough time too. The cliff where we get a good close view is a bit of an L shape and we stand at the end of the short part of the L. That is where puffins land about 15-20 feet away on a couple rocks with a good coating of puffin poop. That is where I tell my photographers to watch, when they walk on the rocks you get a great shot. But the wind was too strong for them to land on our side of the cliff. Several tried and could only circle and go elsewhere. They spend the morning flying out and fishing and bringing their catch back to their nests in tall grass. Many were landing on the other side of the cliff but it is too far away to get a nice tight shot. It was fun to watch them navigate the wind and find a way to land. Several of were amazed when one puffin flew toward the cliff and spun around at the last moment and flew backwards into its landing spot. They have dealt with the wind before.

Realizing the wind wasn’t going to let up we had to leave and start our journey back north. We had a couple of stops to make along the way, one being at Gullfoss, a very large waterfall that is very impressive. It is one of the main tourist spots in Iceland and there is always a crowd. It is hard to photograph the whole thing, so I concentrated on a small part. We also went nearby to Geysir, where Icelanders claim the original geyser was seen. Geysir itself is now dormant but one a couple hundred feet away spurts every nine minutes at most. It creates a blue bubble seconds before it blows, which is a challenge to catch with a camera. On to Reykavik for one more full day!

19 Aug 2019

Peace and waterfalls in Iceland

Toady we made the long drive from Grundarfjörður down to Vic, our Summer Iceland Photography Workshop home for the next two nights. One the way we stopped at three tremendous but different waterfalls. Two of them are well known, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. They are too well known, all the tour buses stop there and there is always a huge crowd unless you go extremely early or late in the day. Since they were on our way to Vic, we went at the same time as everyone else. Seljalandsfoss is a very long drop and you can walk behind it, which make for great photos. If you work it right you can eliminate a lot of people from your photos, but it is tricky.

Skogafoss is much wider but you can’t go behind it without drowning. You can get out in the river below the falls and keep some of the people out of the shot but you need to be prepared. I bought some cheap plastic boot covers and gave them to some of our photographers to try but they fell apart about as fast as it took to put them on. When you get close enough to be in front of most of the people you get a good deal of spray hitting you. So I also brought bright yellow micro fiber towels for each person and showed them how to play peek-a-boo with the towel over the camera lens to keep the front dry.

But the highlight for me and the other photographers is a smaller waterfall that most people don’t know about and that is a good thing so I won’t mention the name. You have to climb over a fence and hike about a 1/2 mile back to it. There are a couple of rather tricky spots where you have to climb up and over rocky humps, which also keeps some people out. But once back there the scene is serene and magical. It may be my favorite place in Iceland, I could spend hours there surrounded by the lush green gorge, flowing river and the only sound being falling water. You can also go behind the falls and look out through the gorge and see only the people you came with. Before you get to the falls you are up on a hill looking down on the stream going through the valley. There isn’t a more peaceful place to be.

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18 Aug 2019

Another Icelandic journey

We started my latest Iceland Photo Workshop by heading north to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, a beautiful area that doesn’t get the big bus loads of tourists. It is well known for a cute little church in Budir that is painted black and for Kurkjufellsfoss a scenic waterfall beside the iconic Kirkjufell mountain. We were based near the little town of Grundarfjörður just across a small bay from Kirkjufell. There is an artist in town who goes by the name of Liston and I have visited him with groups several times. He can usually be found outside his studio carving stone and his artwork is all over town. He greets me with a big smile and firm hand shake and is always willing to talk with everyone. I’d love to have one of his large carvings but getting it back home would be a major event. He did offer one of our folks to come stay with her for a couple of months and carve anything she wants! In the winter when it too cold to be outside carving he is in his studio painting. I bought one of his larger acrylic paintings on paper and can’t wait to hang it.

During our two days around Snæfellsnes we journeyed to Bjarnarhöfn, home to a shark musuem but rather than go inside we photographed another black church and the beautiful country side. We also went up to the little harbor town of Stykkishólmur, which is a classic quaint Icelandic village. We made the fairly easy climb up a small mountain that has a great overview of boats in the harbor and the town built on the hills. It is a great view.

Back in Grundarfjörður we wandered out through fields to a pretty waterfalls. It was more than a mile round trip and the last section to get close to the falls was pretty tricky so only a couple of people made the final hike. On the way out an Icelandic horse wandered over to see what we were up to. Before getting too close she stopped and did some posing for all the photographers. And she was a great poser, striking the right moves with a scenic mountain behind her. When she had enough of that she came over to check the camera of one of our people. She sniffed around but didn’t lick the lens!

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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. 

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. 

22 Aug 2018

What’s all the Iceland foss about?

Today as part of my Iceland Photography Workshop we headed back to Reykjavik but not before stopping at some great locations. When we were heading south on Monday we stopped at a couple of waterfalls but because of the rain I wasn’t happy with the images we were able to get and we even skipped one waterfall. Well, we got the chance to shoot them today as we went north and the weather is wonderful. When the sun is out there is frequently a rainbow in the mist from Skogafoss and it makes for great pictures. It didn’t disappoint today, but the crowds were there. So I played enforcer, I had our people line up their shot of the falls and I went and cleared out the people in front of us by telling them there was a major photo shoot going on and I needed them to move for one minute. It pretty much worked, there was one kid who didn’t speak English and I thought dragging him out of the way might be too much. But his size added some nice scale to the photo showing how big the falls are.

Then we went to what might be my favorite location in Iceland. Kvernufoss is near Skogafoss but completely different because most people don’t know about it. You have to climb a fence (they put a ladder over it, so it is OK to do it) and then hike about 1/2 mile back and some parts are narrow and tricky. The lack of people and beauty of the hike are special. You can get a special view by going behind the foss (foss means waterfalls in Icelandic, one of the few words shorter than English). If I was able to go to only one place in Iceland, this would be it. The combination of peacefulness, beauty and nature doesn’t get any better.

We didn’t want to leave but had to get back to Reykjavik, although we made a couple more stops. Gullfoss is one of the largest and most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, but that comes with the price of lots of tourists. It is magnificent to see and appreciate the power and strength of water. Nearby is Geiser, the original geyser for which all others are named. Old Geiser isn’t too faithful and rarely shoots off but there is one a couple of hundred yards aways that blows about every 10 minutes. It is a lot of fun and with the sun getting lower in the sky made a pretty nice photo today.

19 Aug 2018

What to do when the sky doesn’t cooperate in Iceland

Today as part of my Iceland Photography Workshop we ventured up to Kirkjufellsfoss, one of the most scenic waterfalls in Iceland. I came here in March, having gotten out of bed at 3 a.m. and driving two hours for sunrise to find the falls completely frozen. When I was here in July it was so rainy and overcast that we couldn’t see the top of the nearby mountain, one of the main features of the locations. I had hoped to shoot at sunrise today but it was overcast and we caught up on a little sleep. There are two levels to the falls and the classic shot is the lower falls in the foreground and the mountain in the background. I was able to pull some blue out of the overcast and it made for a decent shot.

When the sky doesn’t cooperate I do what any good photographer does, eliminate it from my photo. So I did some tighter shots of the falls and I love the way the water looks when I use a long shutter speed to render the moving water as a blur. The bright green grass adds to the image.

We eventually ventured toward the small village of Bjarnarhöfn, which has another black church. Again the weather wasn’t behaving, dropping a light mist, so I did what any good photographer does, think black & white. Gray clouds in color look blah but they can look pretty dramatic in B&W, so I shot the church with that in mind. Back closer to Kirkjufellsfoss I stopped at a cool overlook and we all hopped out to make some shots of that scene and I was thinking black & white there also. They came out pretty nice.

15 Mar 2018

The saddest day – the last one of our Iceland photo workshop

Today we are making our way back to Reykjavik and I’m feeling a bit blue. It has been a great experience with a fun group of people. I always feel lucky to spend this much time with people who have the same interests and are able to let all the pettiness of the real world not affect them. These workshops are a great getaway!

We had hoped to shoot sunrise on the beach in Vik but the clouds scuttled that plan. On our way back we stopped at a couple of the most visited natural wonders in Iceland, Gullfoss water falls and a nearby geyser. The crowds can be huge at these places but it is wasn’t overrun with tourists today. As our driver Eidur likes to say, even though our bus had visitors from other countries we were photographers and not “bloody tourists.”

Gullfoss is a massive waterfalls, actually it is two falls but it looks like one. The sky was overcast, which didn’t help for overall photos. There was still ice in some of the best vantage points and they were closed, so we couldn’t go down there but it was still cool to see. There are plenty of angles to shoot it and we gave it our best. After a couple of hours there we went to “Geysir” as the Icelandics call it.

Geysir is a field of hot springs and some geysers. There is one that shoots out about every 10 minutes and looks pretty cool. The area around the geyser is roped off so boneheads don’t walk into it but there are still plenty of dopes running around. The wind blows the hot water and steam after each eruption and there is always a group of “bloody tourists” standing where the wind is blowing. They get wet with hot water and steam but some seem to think it is fun. I heard a family got burned pretty bad last year from the boiling water and have now tried to sue Iceland for damages. That doesn’t work in Iceland, they believe people need to take care of themselves in situations like that.

After shooting several eruptions were back on the bus heading to Reykjavik.

 

08 Mar 2018

Frozen waterfalls and a church painted black in Iceland

In my Iceland research I came across a waterfall that lines up nicely with a mountain, so I decided I should head there on my second day in the country. And being there at sunrise was the time for the best photos. The bad part is that it is 2 1/2 hours from my hotel in Reykjavik, so that meant getting up at 3 a.m. to assure I was there in time. Since my body was already messed up from the five hour time change I figured it couldn’t get much worse. So essentially I left the hotel at 11 a.m. according to my body time and hit the road to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Once I left Reykjavik it was a two lane road all the way in the pitch black darkness. I kept looking to the north to see if the Northern Lights were showing their colors but I didn’t see anything. What was bright were the trucks coming at me. The big tractor-trailers have a set of lights on top of the cab. The first one freaked me out, I didn’t know what this super bright light was coming at me. It turns out they mount four big lights, brighter than the biggest headlights, on the truck and turn them all on. Fortunately the drivers turned them off when they saw me coming or I would have been blinded.

I rolled into the parking lot for Kirkjufellsfoss while it was still dark, there was just a glint of morning light in the east. I got out of the car and shined my fairly large flashlight toward the falls only to see that they were completely frozen. That was something I didn’t plan on, it didn’t even occur that all I might see was ice. It was about 15 degrees but there wasn’t any wind, so I put some more clothes on and made the short hike up to the falls. It was even more frozen that I could tell from the car. I set up my tripod and waited for the morning light to get a little brighter and some color to come into the sky. After making some not-too-exciting photos, I got out my flashlight to do some light painting on the falls. The trick is to make whatever I am lighting become nearly as bright as the sky. I make several exposures as the pre-sunrise sky became more colorful. There is a point where I know there won’t be any more color in the sky so I decided to cut my losses and head to my next planned location.

When I was back in the hotel I noticed the large, bright moon shining outside my window. I thought it would be cool to make a photo of it but I thought it would set before I got in a place to shoot it. I forgot how far north I was. As I was driving over a mountain pass, there was the moon in basically the same position as four hours earlier. The sun was just now rising and the color was amazing so I pulled off the road and was greeted by a strong, cold wind. The light was amazing, the landscape barren, just ice and rocks, but it was beautiful. There I was, alone, literally in the middle of nowhere, the sun was rising, the moon was shining, the light was incredible and I didn’t know what to shoot. I made some shots of the moon then the color above a mountain peak, the light pouring over another peak. I finally decided to just experience the scene and take it all in. I didn’t need to make a photo at this point.

As the sky got brighter I got back in the car and headed toward another church painted black in Budir. It is pretty isolated, about five miles from the nearest town. The sun had just come up as I pulled so I used a wide angle lens to emphasize the church against the pretty sky. A church painted black is pretty unique and the story is they put pitch tar used on ships on the church buildings to protect them from the harsh weather.

I found a place to get some breakfast and went to a few other locations. I was pretty tired so I took a nap in the car and woke up a couple of hours later. When I woke up the clouds had rolled in and I was still feeling pretty groggy. Since I had to drive over two hours I decided to head back to the hotel and get ready for the official start of my workshop tomorrow.

03 Nov 2013

A fitting last day for an Oregon adventure

20131103-LEF_4627Today was the last of our short Oregon weekend photo adventure and we concentrated on waterfalls. Walter and I headed out from out hotel in Salem to Silver Falls State Park, home to several large waterfalls and plenty of hiking. The first falls was near the parking area and it is spectacular, it is one of the most photogenic falls in the state. Even though it was a short walk, Walter and I were shooting like fools before we even got to it. The trail leads behind the falls and to the other side and we worked our way around, shooting too much and trying not to get too wet from the blowing mist coming off the falls.

The next falls was about a mile away so we hiked the trail and made plenty of photos. The hike was pretty nice, of course water flows downhill and after shooting the second falls we had the choice of hiking farther for more falls or heading back toward the car. Time was getting late since we constantly stopped to shoot mushrooms, leaves and the green moss growing on trees, so we headed back for the car. The trail back was a little over a mile and, like usual, I was carrying a lot of camera equipment and the hike back was uphill. When I ran out of breath I’d find something to photograph so I didn’t look like the total out-of-shape old man I’ve become. Other hikers a bit younger than us were on the trail and struggling as much as me and they weren’t carrying extra gear, so I took solace in that.

We got back to the car and ventured back north to shoot waterfalls along the Columbia River gorge. Not long after getting in the car the rain started and stuck with us the rest of the day. The weather prognosticators got it right, they said 100% chance of rain and that is what Oregon got.

When shooting moving water I prefer cloudy days so I can keep my exposures long, the longer the better. The waterfalls in Oregon are huge and spectacular but very hard to shoot in a way that makes them look like anything more than a long, thin white ribbon. We stopped at several falls in the gorge and hiked down to Bridal Veil Falls, which surprising seemed like a long hike going down than coming back up. Walter and I were pretty tired at this point, we had driven a lot and fought the rain all day and when we got to the falls it pretty much looked like the other long, thin Oregon falls. The sky was very dark and as we were walking out I noticed a couple of bright yellow and red leaves at the edge of the water rushing away from the falls. The light was dim and everything was wet and the colors popped. Green moss on the rocks seemed to glow and with the water flowing past I knew it would make a great photo. My 13 second shutter speed made the water look milky everywhere and I came away with a photo that will be hanging big on my wall for a long time.

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01 Oct 2010

Heavy rain in Vermont makes the water flow over the falls

Water flows over Thundering Falls in Sherburne, Vermont. (Loren Fisher/LorenPhotos.com)

Water flows over Thundering Falls in Killington, Vermont.

The big storm that rolled up the East Coast hit Vermont pretty hard today. Lots of rain and it has been raining all week. There was lots of high streams and flooding and the wind and rain took a rather hard toll on the fall foliage. Since it wasn’t going to be a good day to photograph leaves, I decided to go to a waterfalls near Killington. It is a 150-foot drop, I’ve read that it is the eight largest falls in Vermont. At this time of year, Thundering Falls usually has only a trickle of water coming over it. I knew that with all the rain, it would be running strong and I sure was right. It was truly thundering.

09 May 2010

What’s good: Water falling in Bridgewater

A black & white shot of the waterfalls on Middle Brook in Bridgewater, NJ

There aren’t many waterfalls in New Jersey. In downtown Paterson there is the great falls, but you are risking your life to see it. Around the central part of the state, I only know of one natural one. It is on Middle Brook, a fairly small creek that runs through Washington Rock Park, a county park in Bridgewater. It is back off the beaten path and if you don’t know about it, you’d never see it. At the top of the falls is an old dam, which makes photos uglier. I don’t know what the dam was for, I’ll have to ask.