Teton Point View - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Wyoming Dreaming

A few weeks ago, my great friend, Steve Somers posted a series of his memorable trips to Alaska and Yosemite. Inspired by Steve, I am dedicating this week’s posts to one of my favorite states, Wyoming.

No matter where you go in Grand Teton National Park, the rugged Teton Range always seem to be visible. Driving the 42 miles of the main highway (US 191/89) that runs through the park, there are some wonderful turnouts where you can see these mountains in their full glory. Each turnout has its own personality and this one, Teton Point Turnout, is no exception. The unique part of this scene are the three levels of terraces on the land leading to the mountains. Adding the mountains and the terrific blue sky, the layers just jump out at you. Of course, shooting in early morning light is just icing on the cake.

Great Grey Owl - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Wyoming Dreaming

A few weeks ago, my great friend, Steve Somers posted a series of his memorable trips to Alaska and Yosemite. Inspired by Steve, I am dedicating this week’s posts to one of my favorite states, Wyoming.

Many who follow my blog know that my favorite subjects are related to landscapes and travel. On my visits to the Grand Tetons, my main goal is landscapes but the park is also known for its wildlife. There is some specific expertise (which I don't have) and equipment requirements (really big, long lenses that I can hardly lift) to get a great shot. On one of my Teton trips, I was fortunate to be with some very accomplished wildlife and bird photographers who were knocking it out of the park. We came upon a a great gray owl that was all but asking for us to photograph him. This is not a common occurrence, so we all took advantage of the opportunity. Despite my limitations, I actually got a couple of decent shots, this being one my best. I am sure that my fellow wildlife buddies would probably think this is a throw away shot, but I am happy with it. It reminds me what a great experience it was to watch this majestic bird in the wild.

Spouting Off - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Wyoming Dreaming

A few weeks ago, my great friend, Steve Somers posted a series of his memorable trips to Alaska and Yosemite. Inspired by Steve, I am dedicating this week’s posts to one of my favorite states, Wyoming.

A few years ago, I was able to revisit a location that I first visited in 2005, namely Yellowstone National Park. On that first visit, I hadn’t recommitted to my photography hobby, and the images from that trip showed the rust that had grown on my skills. When I started to get back into the hobby in 2007, I vowed to revisit some of the places and reshoot them. In some cases, I wanted to get the same composition as I did then but in better light. This is one of those compositions. It is of Mud Volcano, a thermal feature on the eastern side of the park. It has a nice boardwalk where you can get different vantage points to shoot from. I visited just after dawn when there was no one around, and had great morning light. I was hoping for and got some nice blue skies that I used as a nice color backdrop to make the steam stand out. All in all, a much better result that my first visit. On my next visit, I wonder if there is a way to deal with that bad sulfur smell of these thermal features.

Oxbow Splendor - Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Wyoming Dreaming

A few weeks ago, my great friend, Steve Somers posted a series of his memorable trips to Alaska and Yosemite. Inspired by Steve, I am dedicating this week’s posts to one of my favorite states, Wyoming.

If you mention Oxbow Bend to any serious landscape photographer, they know exactly where it is, even if they have never been there before. It is one of the most photographed landscapes in the western US, photographed millions of times. Standing anywhere along the shoreline of the Snake River or from the road above, Mount Moran is always present, towering above everything. I have been lucky enough to stand there many times in the past fifteen years, and I will say that every time the scene is different. Contributing to the variety are the clouds or lack of clouds, the time of day (sunrise is the best time to shoot there), the stillness of the water, the presence or lack of wildlife, low-to-the-ground fog or lack thereof, and the season of the year (ice and snow-covered peaks and/or fall foliage). Suffice to say, for some, visiting this majestic location moves you in ways that you never expect.

Barren - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Wyoming Dreaming

A few weeks ago, my great friend, Steve Somers, posted a series of his memorable trips to Alaska and Yosemite. Inspired by Steve, I am dedicating this week’s posts to one of my favorite states, Wyoming.

No two national parks can be more different in landscape than Grand Teton and Yellowstone. The amazing thing about them is that they are located right next to one another in northwestern Wyoming. Grand Teton is one of my favorites, and I have visited there many, many times. On one of my trips there, I decided to spend a few days in Yellowstone to explore the park on my own. 

After spending a couple of nights at Lake Yellowstone, I headed to Mammoth Springs, with the hope to shoot Canary Springs during sunset. It was sunny when I left the hotel, and, 10 minutes later, I grabbed my gear and started to walk toward the springs. I noticed that there were dark clouds starting to roll in, and I thought that I had plenty of time. I didn't know how fast the rain was coming, but I knew I was in a race to get in a few shots. It turned out to be one of the fastest photo shoots that I ever had, and I barely had enough time to shoot a few photos before the deluge would start. I decided to process this as a black and white, as I wanted to make sure the mood of the moment came through in the image.

Rush Hour - Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, California

What do you think of when someone asks about San Francisco? I'll bet that the Golden Gate Bridge comes to mind. Every city seems to have a defining iconic symbol that somehow conveys what it is known for. For the city by the bay it is this bridge. The bridge is considered by many to be the most beautiful and most photographed bridge in the US, if not the world. Try finding a travel guide or website that doesn't have its image prominently displayed. 

I traveled to San Francisco often during my working career. I think one year I was there ten times on business trips, and I would often head down to the bridge and hope the fog would roll in. It is an amazing experience to see the bridge clearly, and then within a few minutes, it would be gone. Unfortunately, those trips were before my passion for photography was reignited. How I wish that I had brought a camera with me. Of course, this was before the iPhone was invented. Whenever I now travel to San Fran, a camera and a stop near the bridge is mandatory. This photo was taken from the Sausalito side of the bridge from Fort Point State Park. It was taken toward the end of rush hour one evening a few years ago. 

Grand Central Terminal - Manhattan, New York

Living in Connecticut, I have often visited New York City for various reasons such as work related trips, meeting friends and family, going to concerts, or just spending the day. Driving into the city is not only challenging but can also be quite expensive. As a result, I take the train from New Haven to Grand Central Terminal. Despite all of the the times I have been through the terminal, I had never stopped to take photos. That all changed a few years ago when I had the opportunity to join a workshop where we had the full run of the terminal for four hours with our tripods and gear. This image is of one of the hallways from the main level of the terminal to the gates below. Shown prominently are the beautiful chandeliers that illuminate the terminal.

Shining Brightly - Gold Beach, Oregon

The Oregon Coast, particularly the central and southern portions, have outstanding beaches and rugged landscapes. After multiple trips there, I think that this particular stretch of beach, just south of Gold Beach, is my favorite. The first glimpse of this area, called Myers Creek, is when you drive down Route 101 through the trees and the mountains. The first thought that enters your mind as you round the corner and see the landscape is "Wow". For that reason, I always anticipate my next visit and, thankfully, in two weeks I will back there while co-hosting an Oregon Coast Photo Tour with my buddy, Jeff Clow.

This photo of Back Rock was taken one morning looking north. It is not a sunrise location as the cliffs to my right block the the sun at that time. When the sun does clear the cliffs, the golden morning sun turns Black Rock into Gold Rock as it begins to shine brightly.

Life Sentence - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I know that the title of this blog post is probably a bit dramatic, but unless you have visited and spent time at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, you don't know how eerie it feels there. Walking around this immense place and seeing the small cells and peeling walls, I can't help but think what it must have been like being a prisoner there. I can only imagine the terror I would feel walking down this corridor to my cell for the first time. While the conditions were probably not as run down when the penitentiary actually housed prisoners, the place must have been so dreary, at least in my imagination. I think if there is not a "scared straight" program that takes troubled youths through the penitentiary, there should be.

Pre-Dawn Glow - Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Arguably the signature lighthouse of Maine, the Portland Head Light, is actually located outside of Portland on Cape Elizabeth. The light was initially commissioned by George Washington in 1787. The light stands 80 feet above the land and 101 feet above the water. Edward Rowe Snow wrote about the light: “Portland Head and its light seem to symbolize the state of Maine—rocky coast, breaking waves, sparkling water and clear, pure salt air.” The lighthouse is surrounded by a huge park and when I visited it the day before to scout, it was swarming with people. I was sure that I would not be alone the next morning when I went to shoot the light at sunrise. Much to my surprise, the only other person there was a cameraman from the local television station who must have been telecasting a live shot of the light. The sun began to light up the sky and it began to glow along with parts of the lighthouse.

Footbridge Crossing - Bow Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Banff National Park is home to some of the most beautiful mountain lakes. There are fabulous lakes throughout the whole region, starting in the town of Banff and continuing northward passed Lake Louise and the world-famous Icefields Parkway. From the Parkway, you have your pick of great lakes along the 140-mile road, some close to the road while others require a hike. Each one of these lakes could easily be your favorite one. One of the most visited lakes is Bow Lake, about 30 minutes north of Lake Louise. This lake is a magnet for photographers, visitors and tour buses. If you time your visit early enough, you can have the lake mostly to yourself. One of the most photographed scenes is that of the footbridge with the massive Crowfoot Mountain in the background. I decided to take a different approach by standing on the footbridge and looking south, with the lake and the magnificent Canadian Rockies on display.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse - Pescadero, California

Those who have followed me for a while know that I cannot pass a lighthouse without stopping and capturing photos of them. A couple of years ago, we decided to drive from Portland, Oregon down the coast of Oregon and then continue down the coastline of California as far as Big Sur. One of the lighthouses that we stopped at was Pigeon Point Lighthouse, which is the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast. Built in 1871 on a rocky promontory, it is one of the most beautiful in California. The point was named for a clipper ship named the Carrier Pigeon, which had set sail from Boston and sailed around Cape Horn on its way to San Francisco. About 50 miles from its destination, it crashed near the point where the lighthouse now stands. Its loss as well as several other ships was the motivation to build the lighthouse.

Cascade Morning - Banff National Park, Alberta

There are so many places to photograph Mount Rundle around the town of Banff, it is hard to choose which one to go to first. Two Jack Lake and Vermilion Lakes are top notch locations to do so, but there are other less visited spots that offer great views like this one at Cascade Ponds. Just outside of town, the ponds are a day-use facility with hiking trails, picnic tables, restrooms and, most importantly, superb views. The ponds are fed by snow melt from Cascade Mountain, so the level of the ponds is often dependent on the past winter's snowfall. I have been to the ponds when they have dried up. Fortunately, the water level at the ponds last June were quite healthy and I was able to get a good reflection of Mount Rundle in them.

Valley Fog - Glacier National Park, Montana

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is the main (and only) road that runs west to east through the park. From the western entrance to the eastern entrance, the 50-mile road passes along great vistas and valleys that make up some of the best landscapes in the west. The road is very narrow with lots of twists and turns. Because there are very few and very small pullouts (and the great views), many visitors stop at the Heaven's Peak parking area that is located on a hairpin turn. On this visit, we were blessed with great conditions, including nice morning light, terrific clouds and wonderful low-lying fog in the valley.

Yosemite Tranquility - Yosemite National Park, California

The Merced River is a 145-mile tributary of the San Joaquin River flowing from the Sierra Nevada to the central valley of California. The most famous section of the river is where it travels through the renowned Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park. The Merced drops over the Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls and passes into the valley, where it flows in the pine forests that fill the valley floor. Visitors to Yosemite Valley can go almost anywhere along the Merced's banks and see the famous granite cliffs and formations. One of my favorite spots along the Merced is Cathedral Beach. Here, one of the most famous rock formations in Yosemite is often reflected in its waters, El Capitan. It was early morning and the soft light was bathing the formation and the opposite bank. It's no wonder that the Yosemite Valley is one of the most visited national parks in the US.

Piazza del Campo - Siena, Italy

This public square is the centerpiece of Siena and is often referred to as its heart and soul. The Piazza is considered one of Europe's best examples of a medieval square for its beauty and architecture. The piazza is often crowded with people and is the gathering place of both residents and tourists alike. The square is home to the twice-a-year horse race known as the Palio, in which the 17 distinct areas of the city race against one another. When you first walk into the Piazza, the first thing you notice is the Tower of Mangia. Built in the 13th century, the Tower rises 335 feet above the square and is the the third tallest in all of Italy. Legend has it that the tower got its name from a bell ringer who would climb the 400 steps to the bell and ring it. His nickname was Mangiaguadagni, which he purportedly earned because he often ate through his money.

Park Avenue in Shadows - Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

Park Avenue in Arches National Park is the very first stop after passing the Visitors Center and gives visitors a view that is a great preview of what this park has to offer. Right next to the parking lot is this great overlook, as well as the trailhead for one of my favorite hikes in the American Southwest. The trail is not overly difficult (mostly flat), nor is it overly long (1 mile one way), but the scenery along the way and in front of you is beautiful. It got its name due to the sandstone walls that tower over you, reminding one of walking on Park Avenue in NYC. The rock formations at the end of the trail and easily visible from the overlook is amazing. This view will look very different in the mornings and afternoon. In the mornings, the sandstone monoliths on the left are lit up while, in the mornings, the opposite is true. I captured this photo in the late afternoon from the overlook, zooming in toward the end of the trail to get the interplay between the dark shadows and the golden color of the sandstone.

Picturesque - Auronzo di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy

In northeastern Italy, the Dolomites (aka Italian Alps) provide a dramatic backdrop to the many towns and villages that are located there. One of the last towns we visited, before heading to Venice, was Auronzo di Cadore. This quaint town sits in a valley that borders on Lake Santa Caterina and is surrounded by towering mountains, specifically the Three Peaks of Lavaredo. The peaks are Cima Piccola ("the little peak"), Cima Grande ("the big peak"), and the Cima Ovest ("the western peak"). The town attracts all types of visitors, from the casual tourist looking for a relaxing vacation to sports enthusiasts to mountaineers. To get this view, our guide took us up this hidden trail partially up the mountainside. There was a small area to shoot from and the sun and clouds kept the town in a constant ever-changing play of shadows and light.

Italy Reflections - Siena, Italy

Walking through the center of Italian cities is often like traveling back in time. Siena for example, dates back to 900 - 400 BC. While the architecture may not be that old, Siena is known for its medieval brick buildings. The streets are narrower than one might expect, which allows for some great reflections in the windows of these old brick buildings. As I was wandering through the city, I couldn’t help noticing this particular window on the second floor. The tree and the shutters, along with the color of the building across the street, caught my eye and I just had to photograph it.

Typically shooting upwards from the street level is challenging, as the subject, in this case a window, will not be square and will look to be leaning backwards. The trick to getting it composed properly is to shoot a lot wider than you normally would and use the guided option in Lightroom to fix the distortion. If you don’t shoot wider, the guided option will not have enough room to result in an acceptable composition.

Circle of Cypresses - San Quirico d'Orcia, Tuscany, Italy

As one explores Tuscany, you cannot help to realize that cypress trees contribute to the landscape that make this region distinct. Even though cypress trees have become synonymous with Tuscany, it is believed that they originated in Persia or Syria. Cypress trees have long lives and it is believed that they can have a life of 2,000 years.

As you drive around Tuscany, you can see them lining the tops of ridges, lining roads leading to villas, and in gardens and many other configurations, like this one. The cypresses of San Quirico d'Orcia attract many visitors, as they are located along a major road. There are actually two groves of cypresses in the area, both located on the top of small hills with very little growth around them, which makes them stand out. This particular group is circular in scale with a path that goes through the center of the circle. The views of the surrounding Tuscan landscape provide a 360° view