Waterfowl Beauty - Waterfowl Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Waterfowl Lake, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta

Being one of the last photographers home from a trip to Banff National Park, I am a bit behind everyone else's posts. I must say that their work so far is stellar and that I have the great benefit of shooting with excellent photographers that I also call friends. I will try to post different compositions so as not to repeat their work. I believe that this photograph of Waterfowl Lake qualifies as that. In fact, on my previous visits to this pristine lake, I had never shot from the southern end of the lake. A few of us headed up to Jasper National Park for a few days, and when we saw Mount Chephren reflected in the lake, we just had to stop. 

After shooting the scene from the Icefields Parkway, I spotted something red at the far end of the lake. I decided to check out what is was and started the long walk to the end of the lake. Turns out that the red was another photographer who was just leaving. She was kind enough to show me the trail down to where she had been. When I got to the end, I stood and looked at this exact view. This was the best place to shoot Mount Chephren and also get the peaks to the north in the composition. I could have kicked myself for not exploring this section of the lake in previous trips, but now I will make this one of my first stops in future visits.

Blue Morning at Herbert Lake - Banff National Park, Alberta

Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta

I just got back from my trip to Banff and Jasper National Parks late on Saturday. It was great to shoot with so many photo friends that I have met over the years. It was one epic get together. Long days (sunrise at 5:30am and sunset after 10:00pm) filled with lots of laughs and great scenery. I have often said that this area was my favorite place on Earth (at least where I have been) and it did not disappoint. 

This week and next, I will try to show the beauty of the area. It all starts with the Canadian Rockies and mountain lakes. Weather patterns also play a role in its beauty. Snow one day and beautiful sunshine on others. On our first morning of the trip, a few of us traveled up the Icefields Parkway to the first lake of many, namely Herbert Lake. It was snowing off and on. The skies were stark and there were only two colors to be seen: blue and green. I have seen Herbert Lake in all of its glory in the early morning sunshine (we were to experience it later in the week), so I was actually thrilled to see a different look to it. The snow stopped long enough and the wind died down enough to get this reflection of the Canadian Rockies in the lake.

Road to Athabasca Glacier - Jasper National Park, Alberta

Tomorrow I will be flying to Alberta to meet up with a bunch of friends to spend time exploring Banff and Jasper National Parks. Some of my friends have been there before and are revisiting one of the most beautiful areas in the world. For others, it will be their first time there and I can't wait to see their reactions when they see it. No matter how many photos you see of this area, the reality is even better. 

I will be gone for almost two weeks, and have decided to take a break from posting on my blog and Facebook while I am gone. I usually have automated posts when I travel, but after a few years of not missing a post, I think I have earned it.

I leave you with this black and white interpretation that I took on my last trip there on the famed Icefields Parkway just north of the Columbian Icefields. See you in two weeks or so.

Sedona Evening - Upper Red Rock Loop Road, Sedona, Arizona

Just south of Flagstaff, Arizona, in the Upper Sonoran Desert, you find the resort town of Sedona. It is located at the south end of the beautiful Oak Creek Canyon and is completely surrounded by the Coconino National Forest. Sedona attracts many different visitors to the area as it is known for many things, but its red rock formations that surround the immediate town are probably the main reason why it is visited. I had been through Sedona many times, but usually just as a pass through on my way to the Grand Canyon. I resolved myself that I would eventually stay a few days there to photograph this amazing landscape during the golden hours. That is when the rock formations are at their best, taking on an almost unreal glow in the rising and setting sun light. I was hoping to have some clouds to add interest to the scene but, as a local reminded (scolded) me, "It is the desert, you know".

Santeria de Nuevo Mexico - Taos, New Mexico

I love traveling to new towns and cities and taking walks down the streets looking for eye catching murals, graffiti or other forms of art. On our visit to New Mexico, we headed north of Santa Fe to the mountain town of Taos. Located in Sangre de Cristo Mountain, Taos is known for its arts and culture. In fact, the town started out as an artist colony in 1899. It now is a popular destination for tourists that enjoy the arts, the quaint shops in town, as well as the mountains and Taos Pueblo. While walking around town, I spotted this mural on the side of a building painted by artist George Chacon near Taos Plaza.

Bay Cruising - Bay of Kotor, Kotor, Montenegro

Sometimes traveling to new places can be very surprising in a positive way. Our first Mediterranean cruise had many ports of call, most of which had been on my bucket list. Venice, Rome, Monte Carlo and Portofino to name a few. One of the stops that was on the cruise was the town of Kotor in the country of Montenegro. If I had ranked the ports before I went, Kotor would have been last on the list. After my visit there, it would be near the top. Why? The photo above helps explain why. 

It might help to describe how you visit Kotor by boat. After cruising the Mediterranean, you cross the Adriatic Sea. As you come to the coastline of Montenegro, we expected to dock in Kotor or so we thought. Instead we entered a twisting and winding journey through the Bay of Kotor. The bay is 17 miles long, and, along the way, there aren't any industrial areas to be seen. In fact, the bay is surrounded by large towering mountains with scenic little towns. We then enter this huge bay that shows what an amazing place it is. Montenegro has only been a country since 2006 and 60% of it is mountains. It is a small country (about the size of Connecticut) and is home to only about 620,000 people. According to our guide, the most amazing fact is that it has 365 churches. 

This photo was taken as we finished traversing the 17-mile entrance and the narrow space ahead is the entrance to the large bay.

Red Sails - Sailing from Volendam to Marken, Netherlands

A few years ago, we stayed in Amsterdam before taking a river cruise down the Rhine River. Friends of ours recommended a tour of Volendam and Marken. Volendam is a fishermen's village located on the Ijsselmeer (Lake Ijssel) and it has a great seaside feel to it, reminding me of some of the towns on the Jersey Shore. Marken has a much different feel to it. It is well known for characteristic wooden houses, is less crowded and commercial, and has a tranquil atmosphere.

One can reach Marken by either bus or ferry. We chose the ferry and enjoyed a beautiful trip. As we left Volendam’s enclosed harbor onto the Ijsselmeer, I was amazed at how many sailboats were out. I am no stranger to seaside locations, but I have never seen so many boats. This photo shows just a few of the sailboats that were out. All of the sailboats had white sails and the lone red sails of this sailboat stood out from the rest.

Mount Chephren - Banff National Park, Alberta

Waterfowl Lake, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta

A week from tomorrow, I will be headed to Banff to meet some friends to explore this mountain wonderland. Banff is my number one favorite place that I have been to, and I would go back annually if I could. If you have followed me for any length of time, you have seen my photos and read my write-ups. To me, my goal in writing a blog and displaying my photographs is an effort to convey my passion for photography and travel experiences. Hopefully, for those that can travel, it has convinced you to go there. For those who can't travel, I hope it allows you to see new places through my eyes.

So why is Banff my favorite destination? Mountains, mountain lakes, wildlife, glaciers, rivers and more mountains is why. A 143-mile drive that consistently is on lists as one of the most beautiful drives in the world. This photo of Waterfowl Lake is just one small part of the Icefields Parkway that is mere steps from the car. If you love mountains and have not visited, put it on your bucket list. You won't regret it.

Desert Snow - Canyon Rims Recreational Area, Utah

Back in March, after a week of shooting Monument Valley and Moab, we spent the last day heading south of Moab to Canyon Rims. We had had some rain earlier in the week but we didn't expect to drive through a snowstorm as we left the hotel. We literally could not see very far beyond the windshield. I wasn't sure if we were going to ride it out or head back to town. Fortunately, we continued on, and when we made the turn onto the long entrance road, the snow had stopped, leaving a nice blanket of white snow on the desert floor and the rock formations. The sun came out and we were blessed with scenes like this one to capture and enjoy.

The Shooters - Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Pemaquid, Maine

I usually don't include people in my landscape photos unless I am trying to accentuate scale or some other element. I am not sure why I don't include the human element, as plenty of other photographers do so quite successfully. I accidentally learned about my tendency not to include people in my photos very early on during my life-long photography journey. It was in the early 1980's and I had gone with a co-worker to shoot some gardens outside Philadelphia. When we had the film developed, we were showing our photos to others in the office. One person asked if we had shot in the same location. I was a bit puzzled by the question and asked why did he think we didn't. His response was that there were no people in any of my photos and there were lots of people in my co-worker's photos.

Even today, I have this unconscious tendency. For this photo, I overcame it to show the scale of the cliffs around Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. To the left of me is John Bishop, who was one of the few of our group that climbed down the rocks. Up at the lighthouse level are a few members of our group that seem to be mere specks in the scene.  

Golden Light - Colorado National Monument, Colorado

How can you drive through the west and not be awed by the various rock formations that Mother Nature has created for us to enjoy? What is even more amazing is that you can be driving along the interstate with the surrounding area being totally flat and, then bam, there is some unique rock formation that seems to pop up out of nowhere. Sometimes, some of the most beautiful places are unseen as you speed from one place to the next unless you know about them. Fortunately, internet searches, all kinds of apps and travel sites provide us with the ability to research just about anywhere on Earth. 

Colorado National Monument, pictured in this photo, is one of those places that many people driving on Interstate 70 near the Colorado / Utah border probably miss. A small turnoff and a short drive takes you up to the majestic 23-mile Rim Rock Drive. From there you can view some amazing rock formations. While it is spectacular any time of day, the best time to see it is in early morning or late evening when the soft light is still present, creating terrific contrast between light and shadow. This particular photo was taken in evening light.

Evening at the Farm - Steptoe Butte State Park, Washington

Just about a year ago, I made my first and only visit to one of the coolest landscapes I have photographed, The Palouse. This area encompasses a large part of eastern Washington State, as well as parts of Idaho and Oregon. The land is some of the most fertile in the world and is a major producers of wheat and legumes. 

The landscape is amazing to photograph, and the best place to start is Steptoe Butte State Park. The butte is the tallest feature in the Palouse area, rising about 3,600 feet above the surrounding rolling hills and mounds. At the very top, you get a 360-degree panorama of some of the best farmland in the United States. The best times to shoot are at sunrise and near sunset, when the shadows begin to accentuate the many mounds, roads and tractor tracks. In my opinion, zooming in to capture the many small scenes is the best way to capture it. Wider shots tend to lose some of the intricate detail. For this photo, I zoomed into this small farm as sunset approached.

Run Free - Mt Pleasant, South Carolina

Boone Hall Plantation, Mt Pleasant, South Carolina

A quick post on this Memorial Day. Today is reserved to honor all of those who have served and protected our freedom. Many of them lost their lives in this pursuit. Others have come home wounded either physically or mentally and have had to persevere. My father was one of those who came back from World War II after active duty flying over Europe. He never talked about his time there with me but I know it must have been a traumatic experience. Thanks Dad to you for your service and sacrifice along with everyone else who served this country. It has allowed us to be able to run free. 

Autumn Splendor - Echo Lake, Franconia, New Hampshire

By now you must know that I am a sucker for reflections. I look for them everywhere that I go, whether it be on city streets, hiking on trails or going to a lake with the purpose of capturing a reflection shot. This shot of Echo Lake was one of those stops where a reflection was the main goal. 

For a compelling reflection photo, there are several things that are needed. The first is shooting during the golden hour to get that soft light. Second is to hope that the water is perfectly still - almost glass-like. Sunrise is the best time to avoid any rippling of the water caused by the wind. The next requirement is having a good subject matter like mountains that will reflect well in the water. The last requirement is to have a foreground that adds an anchor to the overall image. After you have these things, you then hope for a little icing on the cake, like clouds that will light up when the sun begins to rise. This photo has all of these things, with the additional bonus of the fall foliage on the mountains.

Stable View - East Burke, Vermont

The Inn at Mountain View Farms, East Burke, Vermont

One of the coolest places that I visited in New England was the Inn at Mountain View Farm in East Burke, VT. The inn is located on a 440-acre historic farm on top of a mountain, with picturesque views of the surrounding Vermont countryside. There were a number of us that had the opportunity to shoot the property even though we didn't stay at the inn. We were given the run of the property and one of the places I headed to was the stables. There I spotted these windows with some great afternoon light shining through. The light angled into the room and onto a storage basket. The way it was shaped led me to believe that, when full, the horses could reach up and eat the hay. The light coming through the window was wonderful and lit the weathered wood, giving it a golden glow.

The inn was a wonderful place to visit and shoot, and I hope to revisit with my wife sometime in the near future to get the full experience. 

Ranching - Telluride, Colorado

I always find it fascinating to envision life in the old west and how challenging it must have been to survive. No lights, electricity and modern conveniences to rely on, just hard work and sheer determination. When I first come to scenes like this one, the first thing that comes to mind is how beautiful the landscape is with the lone ranch house and the beautiful mountains in the background. The next thing that pops into my head is how resilient the people who first came here and built this house must have been. I wonder how many people that live in today's world (including myself) would have survived the harsh winters, lack of food and wildlife. I'd like to think that I would have, but that is just conjecture on my part. Suffice to say that I will never know, and all I can do is take in the scene and capture it on digital film. By the way, that mountain is Wilson Peak which is featured on Coors beer cans.

Lightkeeper's View - Marshall Point Lighthouse, Port Clyde, Maine

When you visit the same location a number of times, it is often hard to come up with a new composition. But that doesn't mean you stop trying. I don't know how many times I have been to this terrific lighthouse but, suffice to say, it has been more than a few. Every time I visit, I imagine Forrest Gump completing his cross-country run at the door to the lighthouse. I started to try remembering the exact angle that was shown in the movie, and in doing so walked around the back of the lightkeeper's house (now a museum). That is when I spotted this composition that I haven't seen before, getting both the house and the lighthouse in the frame. Thankfully, my wide-angle lens was wide enough to capture the scene.

Pyramid Morning - Jasper National Park, Alberta

Pyramid Island and Mountain, Jasper National Park, Alberta

The Canadian Rockies are calling me. It is T-Minus three weeks to my arrival there.

When many (including myself) think of them, the first thought is Banff and why not? Banff continues to attract visitors at a record pace. Approximately 3.6 million people visited there in the 2014-2015 season. The challenge in visiting are the crowds, especially in the summer months. So where do you go instead to avoid the crowds and still have all the beauty the Canadian Rockies have to offer? The answer is quite easy. Simply drive about three hours north on one of the most beautiful roads in the world and stay in Jasper.

Jasper National Park "only" gets 2.2 million visitors and covers 4,200 square miles (Banff covers 2,600 square miles). That translates to much more open space  per visitor. In fact, there have been some mornings that I have been there when I didn't see another person for several hours. This photo, for example, was taken just after sunrise of Pyramid Mountain reflected in Pyramid Lake. There was only one other person there. This is significant, as the lake is basically located in the outskirts of town. As you can also see, the full beauty of the Canadian Rockies is on display in Jasper.

Coastal Tranquility - Pacific Coast Highway, California

The Pacific Coast Highway conjures up many different images in peoples minds. Perhaps they are different because of the length of the highway. The road runs 656 miles along California's coast. The road changes names here and there, but it is essentially the same road. Pick a section of the road and it will bring different things to mind. It might be the rocky shoreline of Big Sur,  the sea stacks in the ocean in places like Morro Bay, or the great small towns like Half Moon Bay just south of San Francisco. That doesn't include places like Monterey or Carmel or Pebble Beach or Santa Barbara. How about unusual places like eating in the Artichoke Restaurant in the artichoke capital of the world, Castroville. The list goes on and on. The point is that if you haven't driven that road, make sure you add it to your bucket list. I have lost count on how many times I have driven it (somewhere between 10 and 20 times) but each trip is a new adventure. 

Dreary Day - Nubble Light, York, Maine

I almost felt like a mail carrier on the first day of Jeff Clow's Maine Lighthouse and Coast Photo Tour last month. To steal from the Post Office's creed, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these photographers from capturing photos." The first day of the tour we had snow and rain with some hail thrown in. We didn't have heat, but we had cold that was made worse by strong winds. We also had the gloom as you can see in this photo of Nubble Light. But like the mail carriers, we persevered and got some good photographs. Our plan was to get the a sunset photo of the light, but when the weather was not in our favor, it was time to look for different compositions. Fortunately, the snow and rain left some big puddles on the rocks, and some of them were surrounded by rocks so that there was no rippling. I hope this conveys some of the mood that I felt when I took this photo.