Autumn Mirror - Lake Waramaug State Park, Kent, Connecticut

This is another in my series of re-editing older photos that were poorly processed by me in the past. This one may be my worst processed photo ever with a "cringe" factor of 10 (out of 10). The original photo was shot in 2009 and was processed during my early HDR phase. I sometimes say that I don't know what I was thinking back then and the original proves it. HDR has gotten a bad reputation for over processing photos. Don't believe me? Just do a search on "I hate HDR" and you will find a myriad of poorly processed photos. I wouldn't be surprised if you find my photo there because it is dreadful. That would be a shame as the subject is not at fault here, only the editing.

The subject in this case, shows off the beauty of the foliage in New England that is renowned. Lake Waramaug is about an hour from my house and is a gorgeous setting for the foliage, often resulting in some beautiful reflections. It is, in fact, my favorite local place to shoot foliage. Hopefully, now that I have re-edited the photo, its beauty comes out to you.

On a side note, you might have gotten the impression that I hate HDR. I don't. I have learned over the years to properly process HDR photos. I don't do it often anymore, as the more modern software and camera sensors have gotten to the point that it is not necessary. There are certain situations where HDR is required. The way I look at it now, HDR is just another tool in my toolbox.

The Original

Beach Glow - Vero Beach, Florida

I am still slowly going through some of my photos from earlier trips this year. Back in February, we spent some time on the east coast of Florida, primarily in Vero Beach. It was the first time in the area and it was quite peaceful compared to the hustle of the southern part of Florida's east coast where we have been numerous times. We were fortunate to be staying right on the beach, but the weather was unusually cold. One morning, I got up early and headed to the beach to get a few shots. The wind was blowing hard and I was freezing. There were quite the number of clouds, but they opened up for the few moments that let me get this shot.

Going Low - Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Visiting Mount Rainier is always a spiritual experience for me. The highest mountain in the Cascade mountain range is actually considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. Its proximity to Seattle makes it one of the sixteen volcanoes on the "Decade Volcano" list. Rainier is also the heaviest glaciated mountains in the continental US with 26 glaciers. All in all, one impressive peak.

I visited Rainier in May 2015 and was fortunate to have a sunny day for my very short stay. Typically, I would have been unable to hike some of the trails, but the snow in the previous winter set a record for the least snowfall. I was able to hike a good portion of the Skyline Trail before running into snow and ice. Before my hike, I headed down to Reflection Lake to get some sunrise photos of the mountain. On my way back, I pulled over to take some road shots. I was by myself, so shooting from the middle of the road had to be done quickly, but I was lucky that there was hardly anyone on the road.

Canoeing in the Rockies - Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes that can be found in the Canadian Rockies. Located in Yoho National Park, the lake's name is appropriate as the water is really that color. The lake is Yoho's (a Cree name meaning awe and wonder) biggest attraction for good reason. It is surrounded by the mountains of the President Range, as well as Mount Burgess and Wapta Mountain. That gives it protection from the wind allowing for excellent reflections during the day. It also allows for smooth sailing for the canoes that can be rented there. I can't think of a better way to relax and enjoy the scenery than canoeing on the lake for several hours. 

   

What Went Wrong? - Oaksdale, Washington

I have posted many photos of abandoned barns and buildings from the Palouse. This particular abandoned building is a farmhouse near Oaksdale. When I see these abandoned homes, I often want to know what happened to the farmer and his family that lived here. How long has it been abandoned? Did the farmer pass away leaving no one the property? Did the economics of the farm overwhelm them or did overall economic conditions cause it? Maybe, the farmer sold out his land at a decent profit and simply left the house to deteriorate? I am sure that I could ask many more questions that will never be answered. I love learning the history of a place, but in this case, I won't be able to research it on Google to find out. Maybe I will be lucky the next time I am here and run into someone who can tell me the story. Probably not, but who know?

High Sierras - Yosemite National Park, California

Washburn Point

Those who follow me regularly know about my love for Banff National Park in Alberta. It is my favorite national park of the many I have been to. There is a close second and that is Yosemite National Park. It has been six years since I have last been there. My friend, Steve Somers, has been posting some of his Yosemite photos, which has given me the urge to hop on a plane to California. Unfortunately. a Yosemite trip will have to wait until the fall of 2017. In the meantime, I have been going through some of my older Yosemite photos and this one from Washburn Point jumped out at me. 

Washburn Point is a terrific place to get a sense of the High Sierras, as you get almost a 360 degree view from there. I like it a bit better than the view from Glacier Point as you can get a better view of Yosemite Valley and the waterfalls. This composition gives a rare side view to Half Dome and gives a sense of the peaks of the High Sierras (Washburn Point is at an elevation of 7,500 feet).

What Are You Looking At? - Central Park, Manhattan, New York

I have a lot of photographer friends that are passionate bird photographers. They live for getting photos of birds wherever they are. They know the names of almost every bird in existence (or at least seems so to me). They even have apps on their phones that have what each bird sounds like. 

Followers of my posts don't see many bird photos for good reason. I am not passionate about them and, while I might photograph them when they are around, I don't exert any energy trying to find them. Even when I find them and shoot them, the likelihood of getting a great shot is low for me. Why? As much as I hate to admit it, bird photography is really hard. There is a skill set that requires a lot of practice to master. I simply am just not passionate enough to learn these skills. My idea of a great bird subject is one that is not flying (they are quite fast) but rather like a "sitting duck" (pun intended). 

My birding friends travel all over the country and world trying to find exotic birds. I seem to find them elsewhere. I shot this photo of this duck in one of my most exotic locations, Central Park. There are over 120 species of ducks and I have no idea what kind of duck this is. All I know is that he was a typical New Yorker and looked at me like I shouldn't be there.

Rockies Reflection - Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Sprague Lake

I often visit and revisit the same location to get the photo that I have imagined. Many people think it is just a matter of going to a place at the right time of day and you will get "The" shot that you want. I wish it was that easy. There are many professional photographers that go to the same place for twenty years before they get what they want. Why? It is usually related to weather that is as unpredictable as anything. When I say weather, that includes just the right amount of clouds at just the right spot in the sky. For example, nothing can ruin a sunrise more than having all of the right conditions but have clouds blocking the sun as it appears over the horizon. Sometimes they are there for a few moments and other times it may be an hour.

This photo is of Sprague Lake. I have been there two times prior over the years. On my last trip there, I was determined to get a good shot. Determination and patience finally won out. I was there three mornings in a row. The first two days, weather conditions were either rainy or overcast. On my third visit, I finally got a good sunrise and was able to get a terrific mirror reflection.

Candlestick Tower - Canyonlands National Park, Utah

The vastness of Canyonlands National Park is immense. The national park, just outside of Moab, is 527 square miles in size and is broken into three distinct districts by the Colorado and Green Rivers. The districts have unique names: Island in the Sky, Needles, and the Maze. The Islands in the Sky district is the most developed and, therefore, the most visited, and it is home to some unique and stunning vistas. The district is actually a very large mesa made of sandstone that towers about 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain. There are many viewing stops where you can see huge cracks in the Earth that are so big, you wonder how they got there. There are also many sandstone rock formations that seeming grow out of the ground. It is very difficult to convey the vastness and diversity of the area through photos. Go too wide, and you lose some of the detail, as there is so much to see, the viewer's eye wanders throughout the photo. Zooming in on a subject captures the subject properly, but loses how it fits into the whole scene. For this photo, I went with a zoom choice to show Candlestick Tower. I wanted to show the ruggedness of the formation without losing any details had I shot this with a wide lens.

Place of Worship - Heidelberg, Germany

Church of the Holy Spirit

There are many telling signs that distinguish European cities from American cities. The main sign is the age of the architecture. American cities are a mere 250 years old (at least the oldest ones), while their European counterparts are measured in many centuries. The other sign to look for are the churches. It is not hard to find the churches in European cities, as they are usually near the center of town and are typically the largest building in the city, sometimes by a sizable degree.

The Catholic Church (Church of the Holy Spirit) in Heidelberg is a prime example. Looking at the city from above, the church dwarfs the other buildings in the city by a wide margin. Building on the church took almost 150 years until it opened in 1544. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to step inside to view the architecture. I was told that you can climb to a viewing platform in the tower that gives the best panoramic view of the city. Maybe on the next trip.

Night Shadows - Stone Mill, Lawrence, Massachusetts

Back to the Stone Mill for today's photo. While the attraction for shooting at the mill was light painting, I still wandered off enough times to do some old fashioned night photography with ambient light. This floor was deserted and allowed the light from the buildings on the outside to shine through the windows, giving them a great orange glow. The multiple panes in each window create a great pattern. The pièce de résistance for me were the shadows that were created on the wall from the windows on the other side of the floor. 

Grandeur - Flagler Museum, Palm Beach, Florida

Many of the opulent mansions in the US were built during the country's "Gilded Age". Leading up to this period, the industrial revolution took place that made the businessmen who led it filthy rich. What did you do when you became so rich? You built homes and summer cottages and tried to outdo each other. The most famous examples of this can be seen in Newport, Rhode Island, but there are many other examples of it. Many of them have now become museums.

One such example is the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach. Henry Flagler was a founder of Standard Oil and later the Florida East Coast Railway, which made the Florida coast popular. The museum started out as a mansion known as Whitehall that finished completion in 1902 as a wedding present for his second wife. The house was saved from demolition in 1959 by Flagler's granddaughters, who converted it to a museum. We took a tour of the museum in February. This is the ceiling leading into the South Hall that shows some of grandeur of the period.

Otter Cliffs - Acadia National Park, Maine

Ruggedness defines the coast of Maine. While not all of the 5,500 miles (yes, you read that right) is rugged, a great deal of it is. While I haven't even come remotely close to seeing it all, I can't think of a more representative example of Maine's coast than Otter Cliffs. The best view, in my opinion, is from Boulder Beach, where you stand (or sit) on big round boulders catching the cliffs glowing orange at sunrise. In what might be surprising, the 110 foot high headlands is actually the highest on the east coast. While there are numerous locations to shoot sunrise in Acadia National Park, this my favorite. When you get here before dawn and you look out on the horizon where the Atlantic Ocean meets it, you anticipate the golden light lighting up the cliffs. To me, it is the quintessential Maine coastal scene.

Glow - Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

This year has been a terrific one for me as far as photography trips. I have been to Maine, Banff and Moab so far. The only problem with having so many trips is there is a backlog of photos that I simply haven't looked at. That's a good problem to have and I am not complaining. I finally took a quick look through my Maine photos and this photo jumped out to me to be edited and posted. I have always loved this lighthouse on the rugged Maine coast and, I suspect that it is the most visited and photographed one in a state that has more than sixty. It's location is actually in a ninety-acre town-owned park (Fort Williams Park) that attracts locals and tourists alike. My favorite time to shoot the light is at sunrise, as the park is usually deserted. It is also the time of day when the sun hits the rocks surrounding the light and they start to glow. 

Cameron Reflections - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Cameron Lake

This is the second post in my "Redo" series. Last week, I talked about how I was reprocessing some old photos that needed a "fresh coat of paint" from the bad processing that I applied in the past. This photo was taken in 2006 at Cameron Lake in Waterton Lakes National Park. While my "cringe" factor wasn't as high as the last photo that I reprocessed, it still was in need of a redo. The original was quite dark in the shadows and did not have the warmth to it that I remember seeing at the time I shot it. The water had an unnatural look to it, especially at the bottom of the frame, probably a result of an overuse of a vignette. In any case, I like the redo much better. What do you think?

"The Before"

The Mill - Stone Mill, Lawrence, Massachusetts

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to shoot the Stone Mill with my friends Bob Lussier and Steven Perlmutter. They conduct workshops in the Lawrence mills and I highly recommend them. This particular workshop was focused on light painting. I haven't done much light painting photography, so it was an interesting and learning process. 

One of the things that makes the Stone Mill a great subject for night photography are the lights that come on through the windows that create great shadows on the walls. These shadows, coupled with the use of colored lights, make some really cool effects. I typically might try some HDR processing with the high dynamic range of light, but the Lightroom has come such a long way in the past few years that it wasn't necessary. I also used Lightroom's new feature in the Transform Panel (Guided) which worked amazingly well. It was quite simple to use and it did wonders straightening the windows.

Atop Mt. Washington - Mount Washington Cog Railway, New Hampshire

Last month, my son and I headed up to the White Mountains for a couple of days to celebrate Father's Day (I had been traveling in June). It's funny, I have lived in New England for 24 years but hadn't ever been to Mount Washington before and I am not sure why. We were planning to take the Mt. Washington Cog Railway the next day but, on a whim, decided to drive up the famed Mt. Washington Auto Road. I have driven quite the few mountain roads, but I never had to pay $29 to do so. Turns out that the auto road and the cog railroad are privately owned, or at least a 66-foot wide strip of land from the base of the mountain to its summit is. They were granted ownership in the mid-1850's. For the $29, you get a cd that you can listen to on your drive, a bumper sticker that reads "This car climbed Mount Washington", and some terrific views of the White Mountains.

The road climbs 4,618 feet to the summit, which is 6,145 feet above sea level. The average grade is somewhere around 11%. It was a really nice day and, when we got to the top, we got to watch some of the cog trains climb to the summit. I was a little surprised that the train consists of one car that is pushed by a locomotive up the mountain. To descend, they go backwards down the mountain. When the first one let off the passengers, I quickly got a few shots before different passengers hopped on for the ride back down. 

Jasper State of Mind - Jasper National Park, Alberta

Pyramid Lake and Pyramid Mountain

The great thing about photos is that they can transport you back in time and allow you to re-experience the feelings that you had when you took them. A sort of time machine. This one took me back a couple of years. A short drive from my hotel and, as I saw my first view of Pyramid Mountain, I felt a sense of anticipation. When I reached Pyramid Lake, there was no one in the parking lot and I hoped that I would have the lake to myself (I did). As I worked the shoreline, there was fog across the lake and the mountain tops began to glow. The quietness and the beauty overcomes me and you realize that it is not the photo that is important but rather the chance to experience the wonder that Mother Nature has to offer. A sense of calmness is in the air and you are glad to be alive. Soon, the crowds of people will come and change the mood, but until then, enjoy the oneness with nature.

Shack View - Monument Valley, Navajo Nation

There have been thousands (okay, probably millions) of photographs of the magnificent scenery in Monument Valley. So many so that coming up with a new composition is hard to do. I still try to find something new and sometimes come up with one that I haven't seen before, like this one (that doesn't mean that it hasn't been shot before). We were just coming back from shooting the road shot that was made famous in the movie Forrest Gump. On the way back into the park, we spotted a road that leads to a series of shacks, and stands where the Navajo sell their goods to visitors to the park. Given that it was the first week in May and off-season, there wasn't anyone there. That gave us the run of the place and I wandered through each structure to see if I could use it to frame that amazing scenery. This was my favorite from the shots that I took there.

Garage View - Steptoe Butte Foothills, Colfax, Washington

Many photos have been posted of the Palouse that show its magnificent scenery of rolling rich farmland. The best ones are usually taken during the golden hours when the shadows and lights give the landscape a three dimensional look to them rather than the flat light of mid-day. The Palouse has become the new "must visit" location for photographers. Not into landscapes of farmland, no matter how beautiful? There are plenty of other subjects to shoot there, from farm equipment to barns to grain elevators to abandoned farmhouses. One of my favorite type of photos is shooting some of the abandoned houses. I think it comes from my fascination with Urbex photography (a genre of shooting abandoned buildings). But is an abandoned farmhouse considered Urbex or should it be called "Rurex"? In any case, I love shooting these abandoned places, as they always make me wonder what happened to cause their demise. This abandoned house is located somewhere in the foothills surrounding Steptoe Butte State Park. I wandered into the garage and saw this scene through the window and thought it made an interesting photo.