A Little Fog and Color - Ashcroft, Colorado

Yesterday I posted a photo of the New England colors of autumn. The colors there vary greatly with the diversity of the trees. This photo shows a different type of foliage a couple of thousand miles to the west in Colorado. The colors in Colorado are one-note (at least where I visited), as the dominant tree in the area are aspens, whose leaves turn a bright yellow. Which do I like better? I would say neither. If you are looking for pure color, New England wins, but if you like the backdrop of the majestic Rocky Mountains, Colorado wins. I'll take either one (or both) during the fall season.

I will be away for a couple of weeks and will not be posting on my blog or social media in my absence. I'll see you in November.

Covered Bridge View - Albany, New Hampshire

Well, the colors of fall have arrived in New England and the countryside is beginning to light up here in Connecticut. Fall is my favorite time of year and I hope that I will be able to get out in the next two days to capture the beauty of autumn. After that, I will be heading out of the country and, by the time I get back, the foliage will be a memory. This photo was taken several years ago on the famed Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire from the Albany Covered Bridge. The "Kanc" is a favorite destination for leaf peepers from all around. 

Glacier Fog - Glacier National Park, Montana

You never know what you may find in Glacier National Park until you hit the Going to the Sun Road. When you leave the hotel and head onto this winding 50-mile road that traverses the Rocky Mountains and crosses the Continental Divide, you have no idea what the weather will be. That's because the mountains make their own weather-- you can be clear and then turn a corner and the fog has set in. On this morning, we encountered some of that and, as we turned a corner, we saw this scene where the fog was lifting. The early morning light added to the mood.


Deposition and Erosion - Badlands National Park, South Dakota

There are very few terrains that look so different from one another depending on where you are than in the Badlands of South Dakota. Driving the 31 mile road that traverses this rugged park, the landscape changes many time from jagged rock formations to mounds of rocks. They vary in forms of mountains, mesas, canyons, buttes and hoodoos. These formations also have very different layers of rock, often having very different and unusual color.

To explain the formation of the badlands as simply erosion would be a mistake although it is a major contributor to its development. The process of deposition was prominent in the building of the different layers of mineral material such as clay and sand. Each layer solidified and was then covered with the next one over a period of almost 50 million years. When the layers solidified, erosion from wind and water created the many different landscapes that are found there today. 

This photo, taken at the extreme eastern end of the park, shows the jaggedness of the peaks. If you at the foreground, you can see how the erosion created these short rock formations that extend well behind and to either side of where I am standing. I have only visited this place once and am really hopeful that I can get back there soon.

Hello Old Friends - Monument Valley, Navajo Nation

Do you have a specific location that, when you get there, you say to yourself, "Hello, old friends?" Well I do, and that is Monument Valley, located on Navajo land on the Utah/Arizona border. I have visited this place quite a number of times and I can't seem to get enough. This visit was even more special, as I was shooting there with my great friends, Jeff Clow and Jaki Good Miller. Jaki had never visited the Valley before and it is always something special to me to share it with "newbies", knowing that they would love it as much as I do. Jaki and I had landed in Albuquerque and had a five hour drive to the valley. I had always driven there from the north, stopping at the 13 mile marker to get the iconic road shot leading to the magnificent buttes in the distance. While this approach was not as dramatic, it was still memorable. I stopped about five miles from the turn into the valley and captured this view just before the darkness blanketed the sandstone buttes.

Pemaquid Sunrise - Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Bristol, Maine

I am so far behind in reviewing the photos that I have taken this year, its not even funny. I conservatively estimate that there are close to 8,000 that I have not reviewed and cull out. It is hard for me to have an exact number as I bracket a lot. With two more trips scheduled for the rest of the year, that number will be well in excess of 10,000. I will be spending much of the winter getting through this backlog, but it is a problem that's nice to have. This is especially true when I come across a favorite subject like this one in great light.

This photo was taken in April on Jeff Clow's Maine Lighthouse tour, which I co-host. Everyone who visits the Maine Coast's lighthouses seems to have a favorite one. Pemaquid Point Lighthouse has always been and always will be my favorite. It can be photographed from four distinct vantage points and, if you look at all four, you might not think they are of the same place. This vantage point is the easiest to capture (two of the others require some scrambling over rocks) and, when the light is right like this sunrise, it is hard not to get a great shot. 

Red on Green - Moscow, Idaho

Okay, I know this title is lame. After over a thousand blog posts, it sometimes is difficult to come up with a catchy title. I stared at this photo for about ten minutes and this was the best that I could do. In any case, this photo was not from my recent scouting trip to the Palouse, but rather from my very first visit there. The Palouse extends into the western part of Idaho and this was our only sojourn there. This "salt box" barn sits all alone in this little valley and stands out primarily due to its bright red color. It contrasts quite well with the surrounding green farmland and blue sky (maybe I should have titled it "Red, Green and Blue"). It is also a great contrast to some of the abandoned and dilapidated barns that I have been posting over the past month or so.

For those of you who follow me regularly, you know that I often wonder how things got their names. So here are a couple of useless tidbits. The term "salt box" is a reference to the old wooden boxes that were used to store salt (no, I am not old enough to remember them). This style of barns and houses originated in New England, and were built that way so that snow would slide down the steep roofs. The other arcane tidbit is the name of the town that this barn is located in, Moscow.  It turns out that one of the original traders was born in Moscow, Russia, and he opened the first trading post in the area. I had never heard of the town before my visit, but was surprised to also find out that it is the home of the University of Idaho.


Summer Snow - Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

One thing about visiting Banff National Park in June that is for sure -- the weather is unpredictable. You can experience beautiful sunny days with cumulous clouds or you can run into the winter's last gasp with snow. This past June, we experienced both. On our first visit to Moraine Lake, it was snowing reasonably heavy, and when we got to the parking lot, only a few of our group braved the hike up the "rock pile". I was not one of them as it was difficult to see through the falling snow, plus I had shot there many times before. I also suspected that the snow would stop falling and I would make my way up also. After about a half hour, the snow did stop and this was the scene that awaited me.

Now, Moraine Lake is my favorite stop in Banff with its pristine emerald water amid the surrounding Canadian Rockies. It's location says it all -- The Valley of the Ten Peaks". I have shot it in a lot of conditions but this was a treat. The light snow gave me a look that I hadn't seen before. The fir trees had just enough snow to accentuate them. Surprisingly, the lake was relatively still, giving a very nice reflection. The ever present canoes (in the lower right corner) had a nice layer of snow on them. All in all, the experience just added to my love for this place.

Thunder Hole View - Acadia National Park, Maine

Normally, if I was standing at the bottom of the stairs next to Thunder Hole, I would be surrounded by tons of people vying for views of this popular stop in Acadia. Of course, when you arrive to witness the sunrise that begins when the sun peeks above the Atlantic Ocean on the horizon, the majority of visitors are still in their beds. It also helps that the main reason people flock to this place was not on display. This attraction gets its name from the loud thunderous sound when the tide is coming in and the right size wave hits a small inlet. Water typically sprays very high and wets the many people waiting for the sound. If the tide was in and the ocean cooperative, I wouldn't have been able to stand in this spot, as I and my camera equipment would be totally soaked. 

This composition shows part of the Thunder Hole's surrounding rock wall on the right and Otter Cliff in the distance. Between these two point, the famous rocky and rugged Maine Coast is on display.

Boardwalk - Logan Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana

Growing up in South Jersey has some great memories for me. For most of my young life, one my favorite things to do was to head down the Jersey Shore and spend time on their beaches and boardwalks. Those days are long past and now I love spending my time on boardwalks of a different kind, like this one in Glacier National Park. Instead of the countless amusement piers, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, arcades and endless number of t-shirt stores, I would rather see wildflowers on either side of me and the majestic Rocky Mountains ahead and behind me. You won't find any waterfalls along the boardwalks on the Jersey Shore and there sure aren't any mountain goats there either.

This is one of the great hikes that you will find at Logan Pass, the high point in the park along the amazing Going to the Sun Road.  The Hidden Lake Trail starts at the back of the Visitor Center and rises toward Clements Mountain before descending to Hidden Lake. The first half-mile is the boardwalk pictured in this photo, followed by a more normal trail the rest of the way. A little over 1.35 miles after starting the hike, you arrive at Hidden Lake Overlook. If you stop there instead of continuing down to Hidden Lake, you will have crossed the Continental Divide; climbed to 7,152 feet of elevation; seen a pristine mountain lake surrounded by numerous mountains; and probably walked past wildflowers (in the summer) and mountain goats.  Not bad for a coupe hours of hiking. 

Ramshackle - Farmington, Washington

As I am going through my photos of almost 90 barns that Jeff Clow and I scouted in the Palouse this past August, I can't help but have mixed emotions about looking at all of the barns that are no longer functioning for what they were built for. On one side, abandoned barns can often make great photography subjects and allow for the documenting of the history of a place. On the other hand, I am sure that the state of these barns more than likely have caused its current or past owners a lot of emotional angst and pain. In a perfect world, these barns would be in great shape and be part of a functioning farm. Of course, that is wishful thinking, as technological advances and capitalism have forced many small farmers out of business. Farming is not the only industry that has seen this happen, with most industries going through the same type of transitions. Many people just refer to this as progress, but they often don't consider the personal impact on those who came before.

Stairs - Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont

This stairway photo was taken in the Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building at the Shelburne Museum. I wanted to post this photo, as it was the first time shooting with my new Fuji XT-2 and I wanted to test out its high ISO capabilities. For those of you who are interested, this was a hand-held shot at ISO 12,800 at 1/45th of a second at f8. Shooting with these settings a few years ago would have been impossible, but sensor technology is advancing at such a pace that nothing surprises me anymore. Even with the settings pushed so high, one would expect lots of noise in the resulting photo. I was quite surprised that although there was some noise, the algorithms in Lightroom handled it quite easily. All in all, I won't hesitate shooting at high ISOs with the XT-2. By the way, the Shelburne Museum is well worth a visit if you are ever near Burlington, Vermont. I will be posting some more photos from there and will talk more about this great museum.

Tranquil Morning - Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta

The alarm goes off at 3:30am and the last thing you want to do is to get up. The easy thing would be to hit the snooze button a couple of times and get some much needed sleep. Then, when your mind is contemplating doing that, it realizes that you are in the Canadian Rockies with your friends in one of the most beautiful places in the world. If Mother Nature is kind, there will be some great clouds in the sky and the sunrise will provide some beautiful light to the mountains and lakes. All of a sudden, the decision is made, time to get up and get ready to go.  

The morning when I captured this image, Mother Nature was particularly kind to us. We got all of the conditions we wanted along with mirror-like reflections and an encounter with a bull elk and his harem. That is what getting up at o'dark thirty is all about for a nature photographer. Not all of these good things happen every time you shoot, but the anticipation of it happening is worth getting up early. Even when it doesn't work out, you are still hanging out with friends in a great location.

Yosemite Falls - Yosemite National Park, California

Going through some old photos of my trips, I came across this one of Yosemite Falls from 2010. Yosemite National Park is my favorite National Park in the US and I am sad to say that it has been over six years since I have been back there. I definitely have to remedy that next year. My buddies, Jeff Clow and Steve Somers informed me that the falls were dry last October when they visited due to the drought in Northern California. I can't imagine being in Yosemite and not hearing the roaring of the waterfall that never seems to stop. I just looked at the webcam of the falls and it looks like the drought has continued. According to the National Park website, the falls has been slowing to a trickle by the end of July. Let's hope that the weather patterns change and the rains return to California.

Grand Entrance - Culzean Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland

This photo is from quite a few years ago when we were on vacation, sailing on a cruise around the British Isles. The ship had docked near Glasgow and we decided to take a tour on the coastline of Scotland. One of our stops was at Culzean Castle, which is actually located in a country park of the same name and is open to the public. We weren't sure what we were going to see, and as we walked along the path and saw this entrance "gate", I knew we were in for a treat.

If you live in the United Kingdom or have visited there, you probably have seen a photo of the castle -- it appears on the back of five pound notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland. The castle was built in 1792 for the 10th Earl of Cassilis as the seat of his earldom. It lies along the coastline, with views of the sea from various locations within the castle. The castle was given to the National Trust for Scotland in 1945 to avoid inheritance tax. One unique stipulation was that an apartment be given to Dwight Eisenhower in recognition of his leadership during World War II. 

Ruggedness - Mount Norquay, Banff National Park, Alberta

One of the great joys of photography is finding an unexpected subject that captivates you. Don't think that finding subjects is pure luck, it's not. Properly scouting a location requires lots of research ahead of time and knowing not only where to shoot but what time of day to shoot. There are many apps out there that help with this research and Google search helps quite a bit. Another source of information is 500px, where there are many excellent photos of just about every location on Earth. You can often discover where a location is, what time of day it was shot, and what the weather conditions were by looking at a photo's metadata. You also get a feel of the different compositions that others have shot.

With all that, luck does play a part in getting a photo (especially with weather condition). This shot of Mount Norquay was quite unexpected. We were shooting sunrise at Two Jack Lake and and a few of us decided to walk around the right side of the lake for different compositions of Mount Rundle reflected in the lake. As we turned a corner, I spotted this view opposite of where we were looking. It turns out that it is a view of the back of Mount Norquay that we didn't know could be seen from the Two Jack lakeshore. The light and shadows really pulled out the details of the ruggedness of the Canadian Rockies.

A Church With a View - Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

How many churches have this type of view of a bay and rugged mountains? In fact, how many churches sit on a small islet in a bay that is over 17 miles long with a shoreline of more than 66 miles of shoreline? I know of only this one, namely The Church of Our Lady of the Rocks in the country of Montenegro. Like most ancient places, there is a story attached to the islet. According to legend, the islet was created by seamen who were keeping an ancient oath after finding an icon of Madonna and Child on a rock there. After each voyage, they would lay a rock in there until the islet was formed. The original church was built there in 1452, with the current church replacing it in 1632.

It shouldn't be surprising that a church was built there. The country of Montenegro is very small (just about the size of Connecticut) and is made up of mostly rugged mountains. While it is home to only about 620,000 people, the most amazing fact is that it has 365 churches. So having a church in the middle of a huge bay shouldn't be that surprising.

West Mitten - Monument Valley, Navajo Nation

Exploring Monument Valley is always an exhilarating experience as well as a photography adventure. Perhaps the most recognized sandstone formations in the American Southwest are two that are called the "Mittens". When viewed from the south, they look like two gigantic mittens with their "thumbs" facing inwards like a person's hand. These formations are really big, each rising about 6,200 feet from the desert below. 

One has to wonder how these two formations became mirror images of one another. Like most of the formations in Monument Valley, they were formed by thousands of years of erosion. I am guessing that the two mittens are at least a half-mile apart, if not a mile or more. Given that, what were the circumstances of wind and water erosion that would cause them to form almost identically? Obviously, these questions will probably never be answered. In any case, this photo depicts the West Mitten that I thought the old dead tree limbs framed quite well.

Sweltering - Palouse Falls State Park, Washington

No scouting trip of the Palouse is complete without a visit to Palouse Falls State Park. Many are surprised that it is over an hour drive from the town of Colfax and is in the middle of nowhere. Our plan was to get there around 5pm and stay until sunset to get some photos. We knew it would be hot there and when we stepped out of the car, both Jeff and I knew we probably would not make it until sunset. I don't know the exact temperature, but if you had told me it was over a 100 degrees, I wouldn't have argued with you.

I wandered past all of the signs that told me that if I ventured past the signs and fell or got hurt, I would be responsible for paying for my rescue. I continued past them anyway, as it was the only way to shoot the falls, the Palouse Canyon and the Palouse River in the same photo. It can be very hard to get a decent shot, as the shadows can quickly fill the canyon, making the dynamic range quite challenging. I wasn't sure if the light would be soft enough for the shot, but I think it turned out better than I expected. Once I got this shot, I quickly headed to the parking lot to cool down in the air-conditioned car.

Dust - Garfield, Washington

There was a sign that we spotted in Glacier National Park on our drive to Bowman Lake that read "Dust is a four-letter word" that would become very apropos for our visit to the Palouse later that week. It was my second trip to the Palouse, the first being in the spring when the landscape is colored in all shades of green. This trip was during harvest when the landscape is more of a gold and brown color. I fully expected the change in coloring before I got there. What I didn't expect is that the dust, as a result of all of the harvesting, would be just about everywhere. Oftentimes, when we saw a car or truck coming, we would head into our car so as not to get our cameras (or us) covered with dust. 

When I took this photo, we were shooting just after sunrise looking away from the sun. I heard a car coming and turned around to see how much time I had before I could jump into the car. With the sun glare, a dust trail was evident where the car had driven, making it look almost like fog in the valley. I thought that this scene was really cool and decided right then that I would be posting the photo.