The Mammoth Lake region in the Eastern Sierras is known for its large number of glacial lakes. I have tried to find out how many lakes there are, but have found it difficult to figure it out. A lot depends on how you define the boundaries of the region and the size of what defines a lake. I've seen a reference to maybe 100 lakes, but I am sure that many think it is a lot less. Nobody disputes the largest ones. Our small group found one of the smaller lakes, Lundy Lake, pictured here. It is hidden in the foothills in the Eastern Sierras above Mono Lake. It is about 100 acres in size, is popular with fisherman and is not very crowded at all. We visited during foliage season and I was taken by the colors of the leaves reflected in the waters of the lake.
Of all of the lakes that we visited in the Eastern Sierras, Convict Lake was my favorite one. The lake is a pristine lake that is a favorite of photographers and fishermen. There is a three-mile trail running around the lake and I spent a great deal of time working on the eastern section of the trail. The highlight of the lake on this morning was the peak of Mount Morrison lighting up. The mountain, part of the Sierra Nevada range, towers above Convict Lake at 12,277 feet. The lake was carved out by glaciers and is one of the deepest lakes at 140 feet deep in parts.
When talking about the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park is usually the first thing that comes to mind. It seems that its sister park, Jasper National Park, is a more of a step-sister. After spending some significant time there, I think that Jasper holds its own with Banff. Many may not know that Jasper is actually quite a bit larger (10,900 square kilometers vs. 6,650 square kilometers). Another factor is the proximity to a large city. Jasper is almost 4 hours from Edmonton, while Banff is only 1.5 hours from Calgary. Take into account that Calgary's population of 1.2 million is significantly greater that Edmonton's population of 878 thousand.
So what does all of this mean? To me, it means that there is so much more to see in Jasper and a lot less people to contend with. Take this shot of Edith Cavell Lake that I took in early morning. It was probably around 9am, and I had been in the area since around 5:30am. I literally came across only two other people in 3.5 hours. I felt like I had the park to myself (I actually did) and the serenity and beauty that I enjoyed is just what I love about visiting Jasper.
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 the castle from afar, 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.
No matter where you drive throughout the Palouse, there always seems to be scenes like this around the corner, especially during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset. The rolling landscape is prominent in the landscape and there always seems to be the top of a hill that shows the undulations of some of the most fertile farmland in the United States. Shooting during the golden hours really puts the undulations on display as the low sun cast a combination of light and shadows. As you drive through the Palouse, you will occasionally see a farmhouse like this one that is surrounded by trees. Trees are a rarity as the fertile landscape is too valuable for them. Usually the trees around the farmhouses are there to provide shade and protection to the residents.
California was steeped in history before it became a state and was greatly influenced by the Spanish, who first landed there in 1542. Spain, being a devout Catholic country, sent missionaries to California to convert Native Americans to Catholicism. During the period between 1769 and 1833, the missionaries established twenty-one Spanish Missions along the California Coast. Carmel Mission was one of the earliest missions, built in 1770. The mission was headed by Saint Junípero Serra from 1770 until his death in 1784. In the many years since then, the Carmel Mission church is one of the most authentically restored of all the mission churches in California and is listed as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. It still acts as an active parish and serves as a museum that displays the fabulous Spanish architecture. It is quite beautiful inside and well worth a visit.
I have visited Grand Teton National Park many times in the past and have usually stayed in town. That sometimes makes getting to Oxbow Bend a challenge for sunrise as it is a 45-minute drive. A few years ago, my son and I drove cross-country and stopped here and stayed at the Jackson Lake Lodge. One of the reasons I wanted to stay at the lodge was that it was only 5 minutes from Oxbow Bend as opposed to the drive from Jackson. I was very thankful for the choice when I left the lodge the next morning, as the clouds were very thick and I may not have made the drive if I was staying in town. Since I was so close, I took a quick drive, and about 15 minutes after setting up, the cloud cover began to clear, leaving this beautiful scene. The morning sunlight gave Mt. Moran and it's neighboring peaks a truly great early morning glow. I will be back in the Grand Tetons on Wednesday and I hope to be as blessed as I was on this visit.
The Red Hills are a great side trip when you are visiting Grand Teton National Park. Located east of the Tetons, it is a beautiful drive where you pass lakes and ranches. I have been here a number of times and the weather has always been so-so, until the last time when this photograph was taken. Photos of this often include the ranch to the right of the hills, but I wanted to focus on the foliage of the aspen stands that dot them.
The hills on my visits here have never looked that red to me, but rather more of an orange color. I was a bit puzzled by this, so I did a little research. Turns out that the hills were not named for their color. In the early 1900's, there was a bitter feud between two Jackson Hole ranching families. The feud resulted into a bloody showdown between the families, and shortly thereafter they were called the Red Hills.
About seven years ago, we were lucky enough to embark on a Mediterranean cruise. When we were planning for the cruise, the only destination that was a requirement was Santorini, Greece. Being a photographer, I have seen hundreds of photographs of the blue domed churches built into the side of the cliffs and I really wanted to visit and photograph them. Photographs of these churches can usually be found on the covers of most Greek Island travel guides. When the cruise ship approached Santorini, I was a bit discouraged as it was raining and windy. We had to anchor on the other side of the island because of the rough seas and take very unsteady tenders to the dock. We were met there by buses which drove us to the town of Oia at the northern end of the island.
The streets of this hilltop town are extremely narrow and, although it was October, it was quite crowded (probably all cruise ship passengers). The rain had stopped and I snuck off of the main thoroughfare to walk along the houses. I was mesmerized by the cliff "dwellings" and wished that I was able to stay for a couple of days to catch sunrise and sunset. I guess I'll have to go back someday to experience that thrill.
The Mammoth Lake region of the Eastern Sierras is well named, with a large number of large and small lakes dotting the landscape. Lake Mamie is a small lake that is situated between Lake Mary and Horseshoe Lake, but is very popular with fishermen as it provides a protected area for fishing. Another attraction is the view of Lake Mary from high above it which provides quite the scenic landscape. Like most lakes, walking around the lake provides some direct compositions and objects that can be used as foreground elements. My buddy, Bobby Strader, and I decided to explore and found this deserted old boat dock with a couple of boats. The only way to capture the dock and boats was to get low and shoot very wide. I think it came out better than I expected.
Sometimes when one visits an iconic location, they tend to get a photo that is the same as everyone else's is. While I often take that photo, I try to come up with an uncommon image of it. When I was in London, I was trying to figure out how to capture the London Eye in a way that showcased the size of this attraction and its popularity. I decided to zoom into a couple of the cars showing the tourists inside. The London Eye is about 450 feet tall with a diameter of almost 400 feet. The cables include 16 rim rotation cables and 64 spoke cables, which are similar to bicycle spokes, holding the rim tight to the central spindle.
One of the most photographed arches in Arches National Park is Turret Arch. It is almost always photographed from the North Window in the early morning. Since it was cloudy on both mornings I was there, I decided to take a less classical shot of the other side of Turret Arch near sunset. It is hard to get a good shot from this angle because there is a big formation in front of the arch (you can see its shadow in this image). Fortunately, I had my 16-35 mm wide-angle lens with me and the sun did the rest. As I stood there composing the photo, I thought that the arch looked like a doorway to the sky with a great cumulus cloud beckoning to me.
A few years back, we spent a whole day exploring Arches National Park. One of the spots we visited is Sand Dune Arch. This is one of the less frequently visited arches, but it shouldn't be. It is quite cool and it isn't that hard to get there. The arch is located on a small dune (thus its name) and has a unique shape when viewed from the front (to some, it looks a dog and cat kissing; others see different things - one friend thought he saw Jabba the Hut). It is sort of like looking at clouds and everyone seems to see something different. In any case, our group walked through a small slot canyon that leads to the arch, only to find two troops of Boy Scouts there running all around. Luckily they gave us some space (or at least most of them did) and we were able to get some shots.
Some photographers like to capture photos of lions either on safari or at zoos. I have done both, but when I saw this statue at the Cathedral of San Lorenzo in Genoa, Italy, I knew I had to take a photo. The Cathedral, reconstructed during the 12th century, has since the time of the Crusades protected the ashes of Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of Genoa. The entrance to the cathedral is protected by this statue of this lion. What struck me was that it has the saddest eyes that I have ever seen on a lion. Maybe being there for all of those centuries without moving and having tourists hanging all around and on it makes him sad.
A few years ago, we drove up the Oregon Coast from Gold Beach in southern Oregon and ended up staying overnight in the coastal town of Yachats. Visitors to the coast of Oregon can oftentimes find fog and rain in bunches. This day was no exception, and the wind and cold, even for August, was challenging. After checking into the hotel and having dinner, I was determined to go outside and shoot, especially since the hotel was right on the Pacific Ocean. This scene was shot maybe a block from the hotel, and I decided to shoot a long exposure that would have the water match the same texture as the storm clouds in the distance.
A couple of years ago, I visited two of my friends in Boston, Bob Lussier and Stephen Perlmutter for their light painting workshop at the Stone Mill. 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 light on the inside of the building was cast from a set of duplicate windows to my back.
I have done my share of hikes in the west and most of them are memorable for different reasons. Some are exhilarating due to their difficulty or heights that give you wondrous views and vistas. Others are favorites because, as you traverse the trail, there is beauty all around you. Some are memorable because you shared the experience with close family or friends. No matter what the reason, they are experiences that you never forget.
The Park Avenue Trail in Arches National Park 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. I love this hike because of these formations but, even more so, is that I first shared it with my son after he graduated from college. We spent two weeks exploring Utah together and this was the very first hike that we did together. I will always remember that hike and him whenever I am there, and it makes it one of my all-time favorites for that reason.
I will be heading to Grand Teton National Park in mid-May and I cannot wait. There is so much beauty that is contained in this small National Park located in the northwest corner of Wyoming. Iconic locations are many and with the majestic Teton Range of the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, it is hard not to be awed. Of the many spots, Oxbow Bend may be the most iconic. There, the Snake River flows past Mount Moran, and if you get there early enough before sunrise, you might be able to capture great light as well as smooth-as-glass water resulting in wonderful reflections. Get there a little late and you lose both the light and the reflection. Of course, the Tetons seem to create their own weather so you never know what you will see.
Most compositions feature the Snake River with Mount Moran and its neighboring peaks in the background. Lord knows that I have plenty photographs of that scene. For this photo, I wanted to show that the Snake River has its own kind of beauty without the mountains in the background.
I always am surprised what other photographers see when shooting the same subject. I always seem to say to myself, "I didn't see that." This simple question has trained me to continue to work a subject from as many angles and perspectives as I can think of. I try to shoot high and low; left and right; and close and far. Depending on the subject, I always make sure I look up. On our trip to Alaska several years ago, we stayed at a wonderful lodge in the wilderness, The McKinley Lodge. I wanted to photograph the lodge and realized that the only way to shoot it was to get up before dawn, as it was crowded throughout the day and night. I was able to get some great shots of the lodge and it's enormous windows looking out at the famous mountain. As I was finishing up, I started to look up at the ceiling and discovered this great view of the lodge's cupola and it's light. It is probably my favorite image of the lodge and was not even on my list of shots before I started to shoot.
Those who regularly follow me know of my fascination with lighthouses. I am not sure exactly why. Maybe because they are quickly becoming relics of the past with the advancement of GPS electronics, maybe because they are often built in some wonderful location, or maybe because most of them have stories of sunken boats and how they were built to save lives. Whatever the reason, whenever I travel, I always am on the lookout for them. On this particular trip to Maine, I was co-hosting a Jeff Clow Photo Tour featuring the Maine Coast and it's lighthouses. One of the highlights of the tour was stopping at this particular lighthouse, the Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde. If it looks familiar to you, you probably have seen it before in the movies. The light was featured in the movie "Forrest Gump" (one of my favorites). In the movie, Forrest starts on a 3-year run across the country and back. When Forrest hits the east coast, he stops at a lighthouse (the Marshall Point Lighthouse), turns around and starts running back to the west coast.