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. 

Golden Drive - Agathla Peak, Kayenta, Arizona

A couple of months ago, I headed out to Moab to join my friend Jeff Clow on his Spring Photo Tour there. Every time I head west, I try to add some days to the trip to visit some new places or revisit some great places. This year, it was to revisit Monument Valley, which should be on everybody's list to visit. I convinced Jeff and Jaki Good Miller to join me there before the tour. I normally would fly in and out of Grand Junction when I visit Moab, but due to the timing of flights, I was forced to fly into Albuquerque. Jaki met me there and we headed out on the five hour drive. It was great catching up with Jaki during our drive, but as we got nearer to Monument Valley, I wanted to speed up and maybe catch the sunset at the Mile Marker 13 that was made famous in Forest Gump. That was not to be. I had never visited Monument Valley from the south and, as we past the town of Kayenta, we saw this very unique rock formation. We both immediately agreed to stop and shoot this. Turns out that this 1,500 foot formation is actually a volcanic plug that has blocked a vent of a volcano. As you can see, it really sticks out because of all of the flat land that surrounds it.

Aegean Gem - Oia, Santorini, Greece

It has been quite a while since I have posted a photo from Europe. We try to get there every other year or so, but we had to miss last year because of illness. There are so many places to see and never enough time or money. The architecture there is so different from the United States and I love learning about it and documenting it through my photos. The architecture is not limited to mainland Europe and can be found on its many islands. Up near the top of great islands and architecture to visit is the Greek Island of Santorini. Famous for its blue-domed churches, it is a mecca for photographers and vacationers alike. A great place to see them is in the town of Oia.  If you are simply looking for the blue domes though, you would miss out on some terrific scenes in other parts of town. After I shot the domes, I walked around town to the other side and was able to capture this scene. The uniqueness of the architecture is still apparent with the two unusual windmills in the distance. You can also get a great appreciation of how tightly together people live on the island. 

Banff Magic - Banff National Park, Alberta

Herbert Lake, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta

In about a month from today, I will be headed back to the majestic Canadian Rockies. No matter how many times I visit there, I always want to go back. June is a special time of the year for visiting and photographing. There is usually lots of snow left on the mountain peaks and there may also be a thin layer of ice on the lakes. The wildlife seems more plentiful during the month and there are sometimes babies to be seen. Lastly, the summer crowds are yet to make their way to this popular vacation destination. 

Whenever I have an approaching trip, I start reviewing my photos from previous trips to see what I may have missed. I also spend some time looking at other photographers works to see what I may have missed or maybe a different way to look at a scene. In any case, I am starting to get quite excited about my trip to Banff, as it is my number one destination of all of the places I have been. 

This photo of Herbert Lake is from my last trip there. All you have to do to get this shot is to wake up very early, hope that the weather cooperates, drive the fabulous Icefields Parkway to the lake, park on the shoulder of the road, get out of the car, and compose and take the shot.

Clouds Above Pemaquid - Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Bristol, Maine

Okay, I couldn't resist posting a different photo of my favorite lighthouse. One of the reasons that this light is my favorite is that it looks very different depending on the side of the lighthouse you are on and the time of day. I have shown people many different photos of it from all angles, and they are amazed to find out that it is the same lighthouse in each one. To put perspective on the different looks, check out the reflection shot of it in the puddle that I posted on Monday. If you walk (okay, climb) from where I am standing to the lighthouse and then climb down some rugged terrain, you will find the puddle. Quite the different look from this photo. To get where I am standing, you have to climb down along the fence and then climb up and over a bunch of rocks to get to this view. For this composition, I thought that including more of the amazing clouds that we had this morning would give a sense of scale of the bluff that the light stands on.

Mount Desert Reflection - Little Long Pond, Mt. Desert, Maine

I have been to Acadia National Park a number of times and have thoroughly enjoyed everything that the only national park in the northeast has to offer. It wasn't until I started to co-host Jeff Clow's Maine Lighthouse, Lobster and Coast Tour that I explored outside the park. There are some great spots that many visitors don't realize are there without some driving around.

Acadia is actually on an island off of the coast of Maine. It is the largest island in the state, which consists of 3,165 other islands (yes, you read that right). Acadia was formed by donations of land by many philanthropists led by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in the early 1900's. While the park takes up a significant portion of the island, there are many small towns and homes that dot the landscape. On the southern part of the island near Seal Harbor is this "little" pond, aptly named Little Long Pond. It is privately owned, but the signs indicate that the public may use it as long as they respect the property. On the morning that I shot this, the water was as smooth as glass. The building on the right is actually a swimming hole for kids in the summer. The landscape in the background is actually the southern back of Acadia.

Sunrise in Acadia - Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park, Maine

If you want to be one of the first people to see the sunrise each day in the continental United States, head to Maine. A great place to capture the first light is Acadia National Park. While it is not the most eastern part of the state (West Quoddy Head is), it is pretty close. You also won't find a more beautiful part of the coast to shoot it from. The Maine Coast in Acadia is one of the most rugged in the US. Jagged rocks and boulders of all shapes and sizes are the norm for the coast. Every step might land on what looks like solid rock, but sometimes the rocks move unexpectedly. 

There is nothing like the feeling of climbing to your spot on the rocks before the sun rises above the horizon. As you stand there waiting, the sound of the waves hitting the rocks, and the clouds beginning to light up in different shades of colors make you feel insignificant in the overall scheme of things. On this morning, the tide was out, so Thunder Hole was rather silent for the most part. Then the sun crests the horizon and you are glad that you were out of the hotel by 4:45 am to experience the scene.

Perkins Cove - Ogunquit, Maine

Jeff Clow's Maine Lighthouse and Coast Tour started off with some challenging weather. Jeff and I arrived the day before to do a little pre-scouting before the group met for the first time. The weather was predicted to be rainy most of the day, but we were hopeful we would catch a break. Out just after dawn, the weatherman's prediction was actually accurate for a change and it was raining. As we drove around all morning, we encountered a little more than we bargained for. Heavy downfalls changed to ice and then to snow. To me the snow was just a little dusting, but Jeff, being from Texas, was positive it was more than an inch in some places.

Luckily, when we met our group in the afternoon, the rain, ice and snow stopped and we headed to Perkins Cove. The cove has an interesting history. The cove was originally unprotected, and fisherman had to bring their boats onto land each evening to protect them. In order to solve this issue, they purchased land and dug a channel across it to create a tidewater basin now known as Perkins Cove. The cove has a footbridge crossing it to allow boats with high masts to pass as they head out to the Atlantic Ocean. I shot this from the footbridge that shows the quaint cove and the dreary weather.

Return to Pemaquid - Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Bristol, Maine

Back from Jeff Clow's Maine Lighthouse and Coast Tour and I have started to look at the photos that I was able to shoot. Other than some stormy weather on the first afternoon, we were blessed with nice weather, although it was a bit cold and windy. Over the next week or two, I will be posting from the trip.

To the surprise of anyone who has been with me in Maine, my first photo is of my favorite lighthouse, Pemaquid Point Light and its famous puddle reflection. Many people have asked if that puddle is real and did I Photoshop a reflection in it. I can state unequivocally that the puddle is there year round (or at least over the course of my 15+ visits). The puddle may be bigger or smaller on each visit depending on the weather. The better question to ask is "Was the wind blowing?" That question is easily answered in that, if there is any decent wind, there will be no reflection. Our group visited the puddle in the late afternoon and the wind was pretty steady. While we got some reflections, the ripples made it barely recognizable. Fortunately, we visited Pemaquid on our last day at sunrise. After shooting from the front and the other side, some of us revisited the puddle, even though the wind was blowing. With a little patience, the wind died off periodically in order to get some still reflection shots.

Waiting for Dawn - Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Mount Rainier and Reflection Lake, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Many photographers stumble out of bed well before dawn to shoot sunrises during the time known as the "golden hour". This time is typically when the sun peeks above the horizon each morning and casts a very soft light that takes on wonderful colors of red, orange, yellow and sometimes purple( and the colors change very rapidly). The length of an hour is not literal. It can last shorter or longer depending on the season, latitude and the sun's altitude. Sunset also has "golden hours".

It is clear from this photo of Mount Rainier that is was not taken during the "golden hour". This was taken before sunrise during, you guessed it, the "blue hour". The blue hour actually occurs during the twilight, when the red light of the sun passes into space and the blue light is scattered into the Earth's atmosphere. It is a great time to take photos, but it requires photographers to get to locations even earlier than sunrise, many times a good hour before. 

Sunlit - Stone Mill, Lawrence, Massachusetts

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join fellow photographers and friends Bob Lussier and Steven Perlmutter on their Light Painting Workshop at Stone Mill. I posted a photo of an Urbex subject early this week and, while this is not quite the abandoned property that defines Urbex, it is still a slice of history of days long past. Bob was kind enough to take Mark Garbowski and me to the mill before the tour, and we were able to get some images during the daylight hours.

The mill was built in 1846 and was one of oldest mill buildings in Lawrence, and one of the only mills built out of stone. Over the years the mill was a small cog in the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing locomotives and fire engines. The mill was purchased in 1981 by a local family, and today some of the floors are used for commercial businesses. There are still some abandoned floors like the one pictured here. Even though it wasn't very sunny, the light coming through some of the windows without the decayed shades was enough to attract my attention.

Badlands Ruggedness - Badlands National Park, South Dakota

It is often hard to explain the landscape of the Badlands. I had seen photos of it over the years, but it wasn't until I set foot in this national park that I truly saw it. The diversity of rock formations range from jagged peaks to erosion-carved rock. The park has one main road that runs 31 miles from end-to-end. Every curve in the road brings you to a different type of scene. The road follows  a portion of the famed 100-mile "Wall" that acts as the spine of the park. If you were driving along Interstate 90 in South Dakota, you drive somewhat parallel to the Wall, but you would never know it because the landscape is relatively flat. I am sure many don't realize that if they headed south, they would be seeing a landscape that they might think was on another planet.

Silk Tags - Lonaconing Silk Mill, Lonaconing, Maryland

And now for something completely different. Some of you may recognize that line from the British television show Monty Python's Flying Circus. It was one of my favorite shows and I can still remember many of the lines and skits. I think I have a two-volume book with every script of the show. They used this catch phrase to transition to something that was outrageously different.

My transition is not as outrageous as the show, but many of you know my work as a nature photographer that focuses on documenting my travels. I often try new things and, over the years, I have found a love for Urbex (urban exploration) Photography. Simply defined, Urbex is the exploration of man-made structures, mainly (in my case) abandoned buildings that once housed the unusual. I don't regularly post these photos, but I should, as I really enjoy taking them. They are not everyone's cup of tea, but I like the history of the places that I explore, and try to document what urban decay has done to once thriving places.

This photo of tags in Lonaconing Silk Mill is an example. The silk mill closed in 1957 and was the last operating mill of its kind in the United States. The years have not been kind to the mill, but much of the interior is unchanged from the day it closed it's doors. The owner of the mill is trying to raise funds to repair it and allows photographers access to shoot it.

Fall Splendor - Jordon Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine

Jeff Clow's Lighthouse and Lobster tour ended up with a post-tour excursion to Acadia National Park. One of the few national parks on the east coast and the only one in New England, the beauty of this rugged place attracts many visitors from far and wide. No matter how many times I visit, I always seem to come home with thousands of photos that seem different from the trips that have come before. That is not unusual, as the weather and lighting dramatically changes what landscape photographers capture on digital film.

We had lots of long days in the past week. Out of the hotel by 4:30am and not returning to 8:00pm or later. That, along with being a co-host for the tour, meant that I barely had time to look at my photos, let alone edit them. As a result, I present to you an image that I shot on last October's tour of the Bubbles with their foliage colored trees from the far end of Jordan Pond.