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 ten 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.
Well the best laid plans often get impacted by weather. I now appreciate what visitors have gone through to get a look at New England foliage. I shot this photo a few weeks back on a trip with my son to northern Maine. The trip was for him to do some research for a novel he is writing. After completing his research, we headed up the Golden Road to soak in some foliage which, luckily for us, was peaking late. I took this shot of him taking in the view and taking an iPhone shot of Mount Kadahdin reflected in the Penobscot River. When we headed home to Connecticut, I was looking forward for the foliage to make its way south. Unfortunately, that is when the weather stepped in. We had a big Nor’easter this weekend with drenching rain and heavy wind which dramatically affected the dying leaves. I think the best of the color was adversely impacted here.
I have posted numerous images in the past from Banff National Park and the famed Icefields Parkway. Many people who have commented on these images have wondered how long of a hike it was to reach these beautiful mountain lakes. They are very surprised when I tell them that many of them are just a few hundred steps off of the highway. They are some of the most accessible (and some of the most beautiful) lakes that I have ever been to. That is why I recommend the Icefield Parkway to anyone who wants to visit the Rockies. Just imagine 140 miles of glacier and mountain-fed lakes along with majestic mountains on either side of the road. This image of Bow Lake is just one example of what will be right outside your car.
This past June, I co-hosted a Jeff Clow Photo Tour to the Palouse. It was my fourth trip there in the last three years. Many of the photos that I have posted from this beautiful area center on barns in all stages of repair (or disrepair); occupied or abandoned farmhouses; farm machinery; rolling farmland; and, of course, the iconic views from the top of Steptoe Butte at sunrise and sunset. The butte towers about 3,600 feet above the surrounding farmland. There you get a 360-degree view from its top. I thought I would post a different shot of the butte (instead of from the butte) from below. I really like the grand old tree and used it to frame the butte. I have shot this before but this time I was lucky to get some sun rays that seemed destined for the tree.
I was blessed with some amazing light during a trip to Banff National Park a few years ago. This was especially true of Two Jack Lake. Being only about ten minutes from the hotel, I visited there twice and was treated to beautiful light each time. This contrasts with my visit a couple of years before when I visited the lake four times before getting decent light. As you can see, the light was amazing even though Mount Rundle was only partially lit (it never did get fully lit on this morning). Regardless, the clouds and the reflection more than made up for it. This is the reason you wake up at 3:30am for a June sunrise shoot.
The Golden Road in the North Woods of Maine is a 96-mile private road built by the Great Northern Paper Company. Of that, about 32 miles of the road is paved (some would say semi-paved). Fortunately, the Paper Company allows the public access to it, and many visitors and sportsmen use it as a major thoroughfare through the North Woods. The west branch of the Penobscot River parallels parts of the road and it is a prime destination for whiter water rafting. The Golden Road is believed to be named so because of the cost of it, but the company has stated that it was actually cheaper that floating the logs downstream to its mill. The road has many spots where you can see the superb landscape and fall foliage on full display.
The Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only trail in the world, measuring almost 2,200 miles. It is estimated that more than 2 million hikers hike at least part of the trail each year. Hikers that hike the entire trail in a given year are known as thru-hikers. The northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail is on Mount Katahdin's Baxter Peak in Baxter State Park. The most isolated portion of the Appalachian Trail, known as the "Hundred-Mile Wilderness", is in Maine. The closest town to Mount Katahdin is Millinocket which is home to the Appalachian Trail Lodge. Established as a boarding house in 1906, it has hosted hikers since 1988. In 2006, two former trail hikers took over and now offer a broad range of services for hikers including the Ole Man's Gear Shop.
The great thing about fall in New England is that the foliage is some of the best around. The biggest challenge is guessing when the leaves will begin to peak. This year, the foliage is coming much later than usual. My son and I decided to head up to Maine and drive into the heart of northern Maine. Using Bangor as our base, we headed up to Millinocket so he could do some research for a novel he is thinking about writing. We spent most of the day exploring the town and getting into some local color. Near the end of our visit, we found Crandall Park and discovered a different kind of color. Yes, peak foliage had reached Millinocket. Next to the park runs the Millinocket stream and, on the other side of it, the trees were showing off their beauty before going to hibernate for the winter. The stream was very calm and gave us a double dose of color.
My trip to Maine a few weeks ago was like all of my previous trips to Maine—with a stop to Pemaquid Point Lighthouses. Unfortunately, the weather was not great, so I am posting a photo from one of my previous trips. I wanted to show a different perspective of this lighthouse. There are two classic views that are normally captured. The first one is from the vantage point from the rocks on the southern side, which usually has the lighthouse reflected in the collected water. The other classic view is from the rocks on the other side that show the strata in the rocks that lead toward the lighthouse and the sea. This perspective is from the ground level and is probably the best angle to capture an early morning sunrise. While it doesn't have the drama that the rocks provide from the classic shots, it is still a pretty sight with the right light. This particular morning, the skies had cleared up significantly from the night before. The warm glow from the rising sun cast a wonderful light on the scene.
I went out this weekend to check out the foliage in northwest Connecticut and it seems that the color will be coming very late this year. The good news is that the photos that I took a couple of weeks ago in northern Maine show that the colors are on their way. I have been anxious to use the new Fuji XT-3 and this is the first photo that I have posted with it. It is an impressive upgrade and is what you would expect from Fuji.
This is a photo from the Abol Bridge on the Golden Road. The view takes in Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine, and the Penobscot River. The mountain was named by the Penobscot Indians and means “The Greatest Mountain”. It is well known by serious hikers who know that it is the grueling northern terminus to the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail.
The fickle weather of the Oregon Coast is well known by frequent visitors there. It is said that mountains can make their own weather but I suspect that the Oregon Coast can give them a run for their money. When we arrived there, there was a little fog in the distance. It wasn’t long before we noticed that the thick fog was gradually consuming the sea stacks in the distance. The fog on the coast doesn’t roll toward you but rather just engulfs the landscape. As it approached the large sea stack known as Black Rock, I figured that I better get a shot of it before it disappeared from sight. I was able to capture it before the fog arrived, although Black Rock was not completely engulfed before we headed to our hotel.
On our second photo tour of the Oregon coast, we kicked off the tour on Cannon Beach with a sunset shoot of the Haystack Rock and the surrounding area. As we headed back down the beach after the shoot, I spotted the Stephanie Inn which brought back some great memories. In the 1990s, my wife and I made our first trip to the Oregon Coast and I tried to make it special staying in the best hotels available. There is no question that the Stephanie Inn exceeded our expectations. Not only was it well located with a great view of Haystack Rock but it also was one of the best appointed inns that we stayed in. Add to that a world class restaurant that made it a memory that won’t be forgotten. I just had to snap a shot of it as I walked by.
After the first week of our Jeff Clow photo tour on the Oregon Coast, we headed inland for the weekend before the second tour. Our destination was Bend, Oregon, where we planned to explore the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway as well as Smith Rock State Park. Before we left Bandon, we stopped at Tony’s Crab Shack in Old Town Bandon (the crab cakes are amazing) and had lunch. Before we left, I plugged in our destination into Google Maps and it came up with a route that took us over some back roads for our five-hour drive. About three and a half hours into our drive we saw a sign stating that Crater Lake was only three miles away. We followed the road, spent some time there and headed back toward Bend. As we left the park, we pulled over for this amazing scene. Here, Mount Thielsen rose from the landscape towering over the trees. The mountain is part of the Cascade Mountain Range.
Sometimes you accidentally come upon a scene that you never anticipated. We had left Bandon before dawn and headed south toward Brookings. After about an hour or so, we pulled into a restroom spot, got out of the car and saw this rainbow that arched over the Pacific Ocean. There were two things that I immediately noticed as unusual. First, it was the only time I had seen both ends of the same rainbow (no, I saw no pot of golds on either end) and second, it was a double rainbow. The other rainbow is barely visible on this photo (if you look at it large, you can see a portion of it), but it sure was visible to my naked eye. Who thought that a restroom stop would result in a photo opportunity?
Walking along the beach in Bandon is a photographer’s dream, especially during the hours leading to sunset. This is when the magic starts to happen and the numerous sea stacks seem to come to life. The setting sun shines its warm light on these numerous and amazing rock formations and they begin to glow all shades of yellows and oranges. Add to that the wet beach, which allows you to see the beauty in double with the formations’ refections. This particular sea stack is aptly named Wizard’s Hat and is probably my favorite one in Oregon.
The advantage to living in New England is that you can experience the foliage as it moves south from Maine. I just got back from Maine where I experienced some terrific colors in Maine's North Woods. Back home in Connecticut, the colors are just beginning to turn so I will be able to enjoy the foliage a second time. This photo, shot s few years ago, is what I will be waiting for.
Even in the windows, fall foliage is present.
What do you do when you have two photo tours over a two week period and want to do something different on the weekend? If you thought rest was in the cards, you are wrong. We hopped into the car and headed Northeast five hours to spend it in Bend, Oregon. I had dinner there several years ago when headed down to San Francisco. I remembered liking the area and wanted to explore it. On the way there, we stopped for a little while at Crater Lake National Park. Upon getting to Bend, we set out and spent the day exploring the many lakes south of Bend along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. The highlight of the weekend was visiting Smith Rock State Park on Sunday. This impressive park reveals its secrets on the many hikes that take you through the rugged landscape along the Crooked River. We only had about 90 minutes to spend there and it is already on the list to revisit next year, albeit for a much longer stay.
Near the northernmost point in the coast is the port city of Astoria. The city lies on the Columbia River a little east of where the river meets the Pacific Ocean. Astoria has a rich history, being the first permanent United States settlement on the Pacific coast. Lewis and Clark, on their famous expedition to the Pacific Northwest, established Fort Clatsop just outside what is now Astoria. Being a port city, it became a hub for the fur trading industry led by John Jacob Astor, who the city was named after. One of the highlights of the city is the Astoria Column that has moments in Oregon’s rich history etched on its cylindrical rise above the city. The views provided offer a 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside. While the view overlooking the Columbia River and the Astoria-Megler Bridge is a favorite composition, the view above looking south is also a beautiful view.