Many Glacier Hotel is an historic hotel built in the early 1900's by the Great Northern Railway in an attempt to put Glacier National Park on the map. It was actually part of a series of resort hotels that the railroad built along its routes. The railroad was trying to promote Glacier as the "American Alps" and built the hotel on the shoreline of Swiffcurrent Lake in a Swiss Chalet style. The hotel, over 100 years old, is on the less-visited eastern side of the National Park and has one of the park's most iconic views from it's rooms, that of Mount Grinnell. The day I took this photo was a dreary, rainy day, but for a few moments, the waters of the lake were still and I was able to get a reflection of the hotel. The dreariness of the day gave this scene an almost black and white feel to it.
Sometimes the coolest places that you visit are the ones you never heard of or thought of visiting. Last year, Jaki Good Miller and I "discovered" this place by mere chance. We had flown out early to Las Vegas before a Death Valley Photo Tour to photograph the Valley of Fire. Rather than take the direct route, we decided to travel up the western shore of Lake Mead through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. What a great choice. The scenery there is amazing and definitely beat the interstate. As we headed to our destination, we saw this road that looked like it went down to Lake Mead, and it took us to this marina where there were literally hundreds of houseboats docked. The mountains on the other side of the lake made a majestic backdrop to the scene.
Straddling the border of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico lies the largest Native American Territory in North America, namely Navajo Nation. It's size (over 27,000 square miles) makes it larger than ten US states. The landscape that can be found there consists of desert, sand dunes, plateaus, mesas, buttes and mountains. The land is the color of sandstone (a beautiful orange) that contrasts wonderfully with blue skies, making it a great photographic destination. Perhaps the most desired location to photograph in Navajo Nation is the famed Monument Valley, with its unusual rock formations that have been given unique names by both Native Americans and settlers to the region.
Monument Valley was put on the map outside of Navajo Nation by movie director, John Ford, who filmed the first and one most famous western there in 1939, namely Stagecoach. It's start was a relatively known actor named John Wayne. Since then, many movies, commercials, television shows and music videos have been filmed there. Monument Valley is one of my favorite places and whenever I see it on film, I want to hop on a plane and visit it.
Sometimes the words don't flow. After posting almost 1,300 blog posts, I sometimes find it hard to come up with something new. So for the first time since I started blogging, I've got nothing to say that would enhance the beauty of this pristine lake along the Icefields Parkway. Don't worry. I am seldom at a loss for words for long.
Sometimes when you are driving through the Palouse, you really don't know exactly where you are. You know the area you are in (in this case, somewhere on Endicott Road). We had stopped by some farm structures to shoot and there was these railroad tracks running by them and this red barn across the away. I spotted this sign which indicated that it was the town(?) of Thera. I never heard of it so I looked it up and discovered there is an area called Thera on the map but there doesn't seem to be any information about it. A search for its population resulted in no census data. Perhaps it is just a stop on the railroad but it is not clear whether it is even used anymore. Just another of the many mysteries that the Palouse has to offer.
Lake McDonald is the largest lake in Glacier National Park measuring ten miles long and over a mile wide. It is also a deep lake at almost 500 feet. It is probably the most photographed lake in the park as it is perfectly located near it's western entrance. It is a perfect location for both sunrises and sunsets. Most of the sunrise photos are taken from Apgar Village where the Visitors Center is located, and there are always boats at the dock with a solitary boat anchored offshore. McDonald Lake is also beautiful from many other spots at other times of the day. I took this photo on the final day of my good buddy Jeff Clow's last Glacier photo tour. It was off of a parking area on the famed Going-to-the-Sun Road in early afternoon. Although the light isn't typically good at that time of day, there were some amazing clouds that allowed for some terrific shadows on the Rocky Mountains in the distance. Jeff is wont to making up names at different spots (some good, some not so much) and he named this one Ripple Point for obvious reason. I actually liked this name, proving to Jeff that I do like some (albeit a few) of his names.
While I hadn't planned it, it seems that my postings this week have been from my archives. With this photo, taken in 2008, I continue to do so. Italy is where my mother's parents came from. I didn't know them, so I don't have any memories of who they were. Fortunately, I had many aunts and uncles that shared their culture with myself and my brothers, They all were warm and friendly. My favorite memories were all around the table eating dishes from the Italian cuisine. With that background, it's no wonder that my favorite country in Europe is Italy. While I have not explored the country as fully as I hope to, I will be hard pressed to top our experiences in the city of Venice
We stayed in the Hotel Monaco, which is located on the Grand Canal waterfront just steps from St Mark's Square. It is a very popular tourist destination with St Mark's Basilica and the Doge’s Palace as main attractions. What I loved most about the location was the ability to be so close to the waterfront at sunrise and sunset. This view across the Grand Canal was shot in the late evening, just before sunset. It features San Giorgio Maggiore, one of 188 islands that make up Venice. The buildings shown in the image are part of both the San Giorgio Monastery (built in 982) and the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore (built in 1566). The fading light gave the buildings a wonderful glow.
Another photo from my past that I discovered in my culling through some of my old photos that I just had to edit. This one was from the summer of 2009 when I stayed with my brother and sister-in-law in their Wildwood condo. My plan was to get up early before sunrise and shoot Cape May Light for the first time. My nephew said he wanted to join me and I had my doubts that he would get up that early, but I was wrong. He got up right on time and out we went. I gave him a small camera to use while we started working the scene. The light was really good and there were some pretty awesome clouds that day. We shot the light from just about every direction that we could and I was able to capture some of my favorite images that I have ever taken. This composition used the fence line as a leading line that took my eye along the beach and then made a right turn to the light in the distance. A memory and experience with my nephew that I won't forget.
I have been on a mission this summer going through my Lightroom catalog that contains over 65,000 photos that I have kept over the past ten years. The mission is to cull through the shots and identify those that I want to edit - my keepers so to speak. I always have had great intentions when I get back from a photo trip to do this but almost never fully do it. I tend to quickly scroll through the shots, identify ten photos to edit with the plan to go through them more fully. As you can guess, I almost never go back for that review. Until now. I am probably only through about a quarter of my photos and I hope to finish by year-end.
One of the great things about doing this is to relive the moments when I shot theses photos, remembering the location, the light and weather conditions, who I was with, etc. I have come across some photos that seem to speak directly to me that say "Edit me now!" This was one of those photos. I took this shot back in 2013 after attending a photo tour in Grand Teton National Park with Jeff Clow (my first of many tours with him). I had planned after the tour to head to Yellowstone on my own and explore the park for a few days. I had been there many years before and I remembered that Mammoth Springs was one of my favorite stops, so I stayed a couple of nights there to really explore. The first morning before sunrise, I headed up to the Upper Terrace Loop Drive and stopped at a few spots on the loop. One of them was this one at Canary Terrace. I was the only one there and the rising sun was lighting up the rocks and the steam from the hot springs below perfectly.
Many wonder (including my wife) why I like going back to places that I have already been to, and end up shooting many of the same scenes that I have previously shot. The answer is that one of the most important factors in making a great photograph, besides the subject, is the light and weather conditions. The light changes every hour of every day, and you never know what you will get. I remember that a famous photographer was asked how he ended up getting a particularly great shot. His reply was that he had visited that spot every year for over 20 years, and he finally got the shot that was being asked about.
This photo is an example of what can happen on any given day. I had been in Grand Teton National Park several years ago in July on a photo tour, and shot tons of images of Mount Moran from Oxbow Bend. While we had decent light, it was mostly overcast, which was a bit disappointing. Fast forward two months later when I revisited Oxbow Bend on a cross-country trip with my son. The first morning, off I went to Oxbow Bend and witnessed this scene. It was nothing like July, but the fog, clouds, and the sun all met at the perfect moment to light up the top of the mountain. Ten minutes later and it was all gone, and anyone who came later that morning didn't know what they missed.
It has been over seven years since I have visited my favorite National Park in the US but that is about to come to an end. I will be spending a few days there next month. I have always visited the park in June when the days are long and the water is flowing in spectacular manner. I have heard from friends that the drought over the past few years has been bad and the water has been gone by mid-summer. I hope the rainfall this past year will change that for my visit. I went on Yosemite's webcam and it looks like there is still water flowing, albeit not as strong as in June. Let's hope that it continues for another month or so.
Yosemite has a long history with great men. It was actually created when Abraham Lincoln signed a bill in 1864, creating the Yosemite Grant. This is the first instance of park land being preserved for public use by the US Government and was the precedent for the creation of Yellowstone as the first national park in 1872 (Yosemite was the third national park established in 1890). Other famous men associated with Yosemite are famed naturalist, John Muir and perhaps the most well known photographer in the world, Ansel Adams. Muir was a preservationist that was instrumental in making Yosemite a national park. Adams helped put Yosemite on the map in the late 1920s and thereafter. His stunning black and white images of Yosemite mesmerized the American public and made it a must-see destination.
This photo of El Capitan reflected in the calm waters of the Merced River was taken shortly after sunrise.
Next month, I will be traveling back to San Francisco for a few days and I cannot wait. It is my favorite US city to visit and I am always excited to be visiting there. There are so many things to do and see there that you can spend a month and not experience everything. Of course, there are so many different subjects to photograph, it is hard to pick your favorite one. If I had to pick one, it would be the Golden Gate Bridge pictured in this photo. I guess I am not alone. Just for kicks, I did an image search on San Francisco and at least a third, if not more, were of the bridge. Looking at the images, you realize how photogenic it is, as there seems to be an infinite number of compositions represented from just about any angle you can think of. Add in the fast-moving fog and the mood changes dramatically. You never know what conditions you will find when you visit, but I will be ready for anything.
Every time I think or see photos from Yoho National Park, I think of what a strange name it is for a National Park. The next thing that comes to mind is the song from Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride that, for some reason, gets stuck in my head. "Yoho, yoho, a pirate's life for me." Usually when I think about these things, I head onto Google to find out the origin of the name. Oftentimes, there is a convoluted discussion about it. Not in this case. The word Yoho is taken from the Cree Native North American language meaning "awe". Simple explanation and describes the park perfectly.
The park was established in 1886 and contains 28 mountains that tower 10,000 feet or higher. The park was carved by the glaciers over the centuries that have left thundering waterfalls and spectacularly colored glacial lakes. Perhaps that most famous of those lakes is this one, Emerald Lake where visitors can rent canoes and paddle below the towering Canadian Rockies. The lake is aptly named because of the beautiful emerald color that many think isn't real in photographs. Trust me, it is real but you can't tell it in this photo. I had perfectly still water the day I shot it which caused the lake to reflect the colors of the surrounding landscape. If you look at the far shoreline, you can see it's true color.
Alleys. I love them. I don't know why but I do. When I am walking down a city's streets, I am constantly looking down the side alleys to see what is there. Most times there is nothing great. Trash cans, dumpsters, dirt, grime are all there to see. Most alleys seem to end while others go through to the next street. Sometimes, though, I hit pay dirt and get scenes like this one in Amsterdam. What is the pot of gold for me in this photo? Shooting from a darker alley, the sunlight is coming at just the right angle to bathe the Amsterdam architecture with just the right color of light that accentuates it. The ever-present bicycles that are a fixture in Amsterdam are also present. So, the next time you walk past an alley, take a look in. You might be surprised at what you might find.
The famed Icefields Parkway. The most beautiful road that I have ever driven on. I am not alone with this opinion. The parkway was named “One of the 10 Most Beautiful Drives in the World” by Conde Mast magazine and “One of the World’s Great Scenic Highways” by National Geographic. The parkway is 140 miles long and every bit of it is beautiful in its own way. Towering mountains, pristine glacial lakes, glaciers and wildlife can be seen all along the road.
I had someone ask me recently how long it would take to drive it from the town of Banff to the town of Jasper. My response was "How much time do you have?". It always depends on how many times you stop to take in its beauty. It also depends on how long you stay at each stop. I think you could stop every five minutes or so, as every curve in the road (and there are lots of them) brings a different beautiful scene. If you did stop that often, it might take a week to get it all in. That's not feasible, so many of us return time after time to see what we missed. We also go back because weather conditions change so dramatically that everything looks different - different light, different mood, different weather, etc. I can't tell you where along the parkway I took this photo other than it was north of Lake Louise. That's the amazing part. There are so many scenes like this that it is hard to take it all in.
Moab is a town that is the hub to access two major national parks of the southwest, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Those parks usually get the majority of the crowds that stay in Moab. There is, however, a much less visited area even closer to Moab that is every bit as spectacular known as the Colorado River Scenic Byway. Also known as the River Road, it follows the twists and turns of the mighty Colorado River for 44 miles and is one of the most scenic drives in the US.
Rock formations rise from the ground everywhere you look, and each one seems more amazing than the last. Many of these formations have unique names, such as the formation on the left in this photo that is known as the Priest and the Nuns (it is also known as the Rectory). We started out here on our first full day in Moab at sunrise and captured the early morning light and deep shadows that started our day. This particular formation can be found in the Professor Valley section of River Road.
There are so many reasons to visit European cities, it is hard to name them all. Some of the major reasons are the age and history, the architecture, the culture and the food. The one characteristic that really fascinates me are the canals. While I have only visited around ten European cities, they all seem to have a pretty extensive canal system. Of course, Venice and Amsterdam are high on the list, but even the smaller cities have them.
On our Rhine River cruise a few years ago, one of our stops was Strasbourg, France. We docked on the Rhine in Kehl, Germany and after a quick bus ride over the bridge, we were in Strasbourg. Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace region of France. As we walked the streets, we came upon their canal system, which was really quaint. Not a lot of hustle and bustle, but rather beautiful homes and architecture all along the canals.
"To a person sitting quietly at home, Rocky Mountain traveling, like Rocky Mountain scenery, must seem very monotonous; but not so to me, to whom the pure, dry mountain air is the elixir of life.' -- Isabella Bird
To me, this quote says it all about my love for mountains. No matter how many photographs I take of them and no matter how many photographs I view of them taken by other photographers, nothing beats the spiritual nature and exhilaration of being there. It is hard to describe the chill in the air and the anticipation that you feel in the pre-dawn hours. It is hard to convey how you are feeling as the sunlight kisses the peaks of the mountains. For me, I feel insignificant when the light slowly lights up the landscape. The silence and the tranquility is so real that you think you can reach out and touch it. Before a trip to the mountains, I think that the reason that I am going is to get great photos of beautiful landscapes. When I am standing there taking in scenes like this, I realize that I am lying to myself. I am there for their beauty and what the experience does to rejuvenate my spirit. While the photos are important they are secondary. They are reminders that I can relive when I get back to real life that helps me to look forward to my next visit.
I like to dabble in photographing abandoned buildings, including factories, homes, prisons and mills. While many of the ones I have photographed are truly abandoned, there are others that have been partially converted and renovated to usable space. This photo is from the Stone Mill that was built in 1846 and is one of the few mills of the time that was built out of stone. The mill manufactured locomotives and fire engines. Today, some of the floors are used for commercial businesses. There are still some abandoned floors like the one pictured here. We experimented with light painting with some colored lights, and I really like the chair in red backlit by the lights from an adjoining mill.
Can you imagine a mountain range that stretched from Philadelphia to San Francisco with many of the mountains in the range towering over 14,000 feet? How about one that was up to 300 miles wide and had numerous glaciers, lakes, forests and national parks? That imaginary mountain range would be almost 2,900 miles long. Wouldn't you love to visit it whenever you could? Well, I am here to tell you that it DOES exist, but instead of going east to west, it goes north to south. That's right, I am talking about the Rocky Mountains that starts (or ends) in northern British Columbia and ends (or starts) over 3,000 miles away in New Mexico.
The Rockies are my favorite place to visit and the beauty that you see in photos, videos and movies do not do it justice. I wish I could explore their entire length, but due to money and time constraints, I have to pick the best places along the range. One of those best places is Banff National Park, pictured here at Johnson Lake, which is located just outside the town of Banff. I try to get to Banff every two years and am planning to revisit this coming June. That's a long way away, but I guess I will have to rely on photos and my memories to revisit from Connecticut.