Finally catching up after an almost three week trip to the Palouse, Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. It was terrific revisiting these locations with old and new friends. During our stay in Alberta, we encountered snow, rain and wind, which can be typical in June. We also had some terrific weather days there too. This photo of Mount Athabasca was taken on our last day as we drove the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to the Calgary Airport. This section of the Parkway is just north of the Columbian Icefield looking south.
I am headed to Eastern Washington State tomorrow to co-host a Jeff Clow Photo Tour in the Palouse. If you are a landscape photographer, you probably have seen many awesome photos of the rolling fertile farmland and crops. The Palouse is not a vacation destination by any means and the majority of people living there are farmers that work extremely hard in cultivating their crops while making their livelihood. Every May and June, hoards of photographers show up to take photos of the handiwork. Most of these photographers respect the property rights and privacy of these hard working people. A small minority do not and will do anything to get "the shot". Like everything else in life, these selfish people give photographers a bad name. So, if you are headed to the Palouse, please respect the rights of the farmers who live there and realize that we are fortunate to be allowed there to photograph. This photo was taken a few years ago in June showing a farmer making the land ready for the next planting.
One of the most iconic spots in the Grand Tetons is Lower Schwabacher Landing. It is constantly ranked quite high on lists of places to visit and photograph. I have been there many times in the past and often was shut out by the weather and/or low-hanging clouds that would hide the peak of the Teton's highest peak (The Grand). On my last visit there in 2015, I finally got perfect weather (albeit without any clouds). On my trip last week, we had similar weather and got some terrific shots. We revisited a couple of days later and this one cloud was quite stubborn. It just wouldn't move. As I waited for it to clear, I noticed that there were flocks of migrating birds flying above the peaks in their normal "V" formation. I thought that this would add some unusual interest to the scene.
One of the best things about Grand Teton National Park are the many turnouts and overlooks that have been built along the park's two main roads, US Route 89 and Teton Park Road. These stops on the road provide many beautiful views of the massive Teton Range, which are part of the larger Rocky Mountain Range. I have a particular affinity for the Blacktail Ponds Overlook. Being a sunrise location, you really need to get there early enough to get the morning light as it begins to light up the peaks and work its way down the mountains. Last week, we visited the turnout in the late afternoon. As expected, the light wasn't at its best but we noticed that the trail down had been expanded since our last visit and now extended to the creek feeding the Snake River. Several of us went down and knew that the new spot would be a winner at sunrise. We decided to come back at sunrise a few days later which resulted in this photo.
When one thinks of our national parks, the last thing that they think of are places of worship. If you think about it, what better places to build them than in front of the Earth's most beautiful sites? There are two that are in Grand Teton National Park, and this one, the Chapel of the Transfiguration, has the best view of the Tetons. Built in 1925 before the establishment of the national park, this Episcopalian chapel has a view of the Cathedral Group of peaks from both inside and outside the chapel. It was originally built to serve the many dude ranches that were located in the area.
I have shot this many times in the past but always in the afternoon. Last week, I was able to shoot it at sunrise, which is the best time of day for this location. This early in the morning is a terrific time to take in the soft early morning light along with the majesty that God has created as a background.
I started a photo blog in 2011 and this photo was one of my first posts. I had posted it on Memorial Day along with a write-up about my father. My feelings for my Dad still resonate with me even though he has been gone for almost 16 years. I happened to come across the photo recently and realized that it was edited during my bad HDR days. I decided to re-edit the photo and repost it. The write-up below is exactly how it appeared on my blog in 2011.
I grew up in a small town in New Jersey right outside Philadelphia. We lived about an hour from Atlantic City and an hour and a half from Wildwood and Beach Haven. My early recollections of my grandparents were that they loved to fish in Little Egg Harbor, year-round. My father had the same love of the Jersey shore and he religiously packed me and my four brothers along with Mom into the station wagon every year to visit either Beach Haven or Wildwood. On this Memorial Day, my thoughts are of my father and how much I miss him. I don't know much about his experiences in the armed forces (he never talked about it) but I know he was in the Army Air Force and was a gunner flying over Europe. When I think of the things he loved, the Jersey shore always come to mind. To honor him, I am posting this shot of an empty lifeguard station on Wildwood beach. I was staying at my brother-in-law's place (who also has a love of the Jersey shore) and I had promised my nephew Danny to take him out shooting. I don't think he realized that I meant getting up before dawn to get the nice light. Anyway, I think Dad would have liked this shot.
I am known to take a lot of reflection photos. I have always been fascinated with them and there is no better place to take them than on one of my favorite drives on Earth, the Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada. The 140-mile road links two of the most beautiful national parks in Canada: Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. The road runs parallel to the Continental Divide. The natural attractions along the route include glaciers, waterfalls, icefields, canyons and too many lakes and mountains to count. Many of these attractions are a short walk or drive off of the parkway. This image is of Herbert Lake, just north of Lake Louise. It is literally 20 feet from the road. There is no better time to shoot the lake than at sunrise. The lake is usually abandoned that early in the morning and the peace and tranquility lends itself to become one with nature.
With the two year drought in Sabe Sands and Kruger National Park a couple of years ago, the existence of water holes is a key for the survival of the wildlife there. Some of the water holes were dried up and forced many of its wildlife "residents" to seek other water holes. Of course, those water holes are already "owned" by others and the only way to survive is in battle. We saw an example of that when a hippo, in search of a new water hole, presumably did battle with another hippo only to lose. That is not surprising, as the hippo probably had to walk a long distance in the heat, weakening him as it prepared to fight.
Water holes represent survival to many. We were lucky to spot a herd of elephants one late evening that our guide said was heading to a local water hole. Sure enough, that is where they were headed. As they got close, they began to start running to their oasis. We were lucky enough to watch (and photograph) them drink and cool themselves off. A short respite for the herd in the wild.
My first and only visit to Bodie State Historic Park was this past October. I have seen many photographs taken of the ghost town in the Eastern Sierras as it is a favorite location for photographers. The town of Bodie became a boom town when gold was discovered there in 1876. By 1879, the population of the town had grown to almost 7,000 people with almost 2,000 buildings, including 65 saloons (quite a change from the few people that lived there just three years before). By 1880, the decline of the gold reserves along with the town were on the decline. By 1910, the town's population was less than 700. The town is now a state park and is the official ghost town of California. This photo is from one of the remaining 170 remaining buildings.
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.