I am always beating the drum about revisiting locations when the weather doesn't cooperate, even if there are years between visits. I first stood at Sprague Lake with family and friends during a very cold and very windy day. Even though the lake is far from any real oceans, I swear that there were waves on the water surface. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit but not by much. The next time I stood on the lake's shore, there was a steady rain that made photography impossible. So the third time is a charm? I'll let you be the judge of that. I shot this photo one September morning, and, although it rained during the night, I was blessed with great light and clearing skies as the morning sun lit up the landscape on the opposite shore.
There is no better city to walk around than Venice, Italy. It has such a unique feel to it that transports you to a different time. Sure, the fact that the "streets" are canals contributes to the feel. But so do the gondolas, even though they are there for tourists rather than for transportation. Maybe it is the wonderful buildings, some of which have been there for hundreds of centuries. Maybe it is the museums that scream the Italian Renaissance wherever you look. Or it could be the history or the food. I could go on and on. When I edited this image, all of my feelings about Venice came rushing back to me. My wife and friends had headed back to the hotel to rest and I decided to spend the late afternoon just walking around with no destination in mind. When I came across this scene, I knew I had a winner (at least in my mind). Venice should be on everyone's bucket list.
Standing in the town of Banff and its surrounding area, it is hard to miss Mount Rundle. It can be viewed for miles and miles around. The mountain is almost seven and a half miles long and has seven distinct peaks along its length. It's highest peak is almost 9,700 feet, which puts it in the top twenty highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies. It might be the most recognizable one given that Banff is one of the most visited towns in the Canadian Rockies. While Mount Rundle is often photographed reflected in Vermillion Lakes or Two Jack Lake, it still is a beautiful subject from almost anywhere. This photo was taken off of Tunnel Mountain Road one late June afternoon.
Vancouver is my favorite city to visit in Canada. That's not to say the others aren't beautiful in their own right but there is something magical there for me. I am sure that geography has something to do with it (location, location, location) as it sits on the southern coast of British Columbia. It is a large city with a population of almost 2.3 million people (in 2016) but it does feel bigger probably because it is the fourth-most densely populated city in North America. The city has so much going for it, and for that reason, it is consistently named as one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life.
My favorite place to view the city's waterfront and skyline is from Stanley Park, a 1,000 acre public park that is almost completely surrounded by water. There are so many things to do there. Stanley Park was named "top park in the entire world" by TripAdvisor in In 2014.
Last September, I met with Mike Louthan in Reno before a Jeff Clow Mono Lake Photo Tour, and we spent a few days in Lake Tahoe and then Yosemite National Park. Yosemite might be my favorite location in the US. We had rented an AirBnb that was near Tunnel View and when we passed it on our way to check in, we decided to pull into the parking lot and take a look. As you can see in the photo, there was a cloud of smoke rising from the valley floor. I asked someone what was going on and he informed me that there was a small fire near El Capitan. We later found out that there was no fire, rather a large chunk of rock had broken off the formation and fell to the ground. On the previous day it had happened also, but that one was described as a small flake. The size of the one we almost saw was the size of an apartment building. There was so much concern in the park that the Park Service closed a large portion of the Northside Loop the next day, causing Yosemite's already bad traffic to become horrific. The loop is one-way and on Friday, it became two-ways with very little signage. Thankfully it was back to normal the very next day.
The Icefields Parkway has so many well known lakes, mountains and glaciers to visit, it is hard to fit them all in. Having visited there many times and seeing all of the iconic locations, when I have the opportunity to explore lesser known spots, I try to take it. On my last visit, we were heading from Banff to Jasper to spend a couple of days. One of us spotted this small sign for a beaver pond and pulled over. After a short hike through the trees, the area opened up to this view. A beautiful view of the Canadian Rockies reflected in the pond's water was our reward for stopping. Although there wasn't evidence of beavers or any beaver dams, I think we will revisit here in the future.
The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro is a 15-mile narrow winding bay leading from the Adriatic Sea. The bay is composed of four smaller gulfs and, due to its many twists and turns, is often called Europe's southernmost fjord. Numerous cities and towns are located on the bay such as Kotor, Perast and Prčanj. When we entered the bay, the fog was so thick that we could hardly see anything as we traversed the length of the bay. After we docked in Kotor (at the far end of the bay), the weather took a turn for the better and began to clear. By the time we started our tour of the bay, the fog had mostly dissipated, leaving some remnants as seen in the background. The early morning fog bank had hidden one of the most beautiful places that we have ever visited. As we passed along the shoreline, we were able to observe these wonderful towns that were fully surrounded by towering mountains.
Sometimes Mother Nature takes pity on photographers and allows a few moments of joy to come into their lives. The morning started off with what is normal - up well before dawn, meet for a quick continental breakfast, and head out for some great landscapes. Not this morning. The weather forecast had not predicted rain, but rain it did. We decided to wait a while and head out a little later. It was still raining when we eventually headed out, and we headed to Red Cliff Lodge on River Road to wait it out. The rain finally stopped, but we were left with overcast skies and a bleary morning. Don't get me wrong, you can still get some stellar photos with these type of conditions, but the great orange color of the sandstone is muted. After shooting for the morning and the early afternoon hours, we began heading back to Moab, stopping at a few spots along the way. The last of our stops was Castle Valley. A number of us decided to hike on this trail rather than stay by the road. What a great decision that was. As we began the hike, we noticed small pockets of blue beginning to peek through. By the time we got to this spot, the photography gods smiled upon us and blessed us with some amazing blue skies and terrific clouds. Moments like these make photographers realize that waiting out the inclement weather can be worth it, and that when the weather is great, we appreciate it more.
On our first Mediterranean cruise, we had a stop in Naples for a full day. There were tons on things to see but we opted for a tour to the Isle of Capri. We boarded a jetfoil on the waterfront and about an hour later, we were in Capri. Part of the tour was to then take a small bus up to the small town of Anacapri to visit Villa San Michele. Anacapri is situated high above the town of Capri on the slopes of Mount Solaro. I wasn't feeling the tour of the Villa and wanted to explore the beautiful views from the Isle. When I got off the bus, I noticed this small sign for the Monte Solaro Chairlift that took passengers to the top of Mount Solaro. No Villa tour for me! I told my wife and friends where I was going and told them I would meet them later. They opted to join me. Turns out the chair lift is just that. Small chairs that fit one person. Up we went and got to enjoy some amazing views. On the chair lift ride back down to Anacapri, I captured this photo of the rooftops while my feet were dangling below.
Before you start looking on Google maps for Chicken Dinner Viewpoint on the Oregon Coast, don't bother, we made up the name. A little explanation is in order. Jeff Clow and I were scouting the length of the Oregon Coast last April for his upcoming Photo Tour there in September (we have two tours with a few spots left on the second one if you are interested). For those of you who follow us, you might remember that of the ten days we spent there, approximately nine of those days it was raining. We were near the end of the scouting trip on the southern coast visiting Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. The corridor is twelve miles in length and there are many challenging trails that show off some wonderful views of coastline. Luckily, there are also many pullovers that have some impressive views without hiking. Most of those have names but there are a few that do not. When we pulled into this unnamed pullover, it was drizzling. Being always wet, we jumped out and took a look and saw this scene. My first words were "Winner, winner, chicken dinner." Jeff, with his penchant for naming things proclaimed that this would be the new name for this viewpoint.
I really love the American Southwest and always look for a reason to go back. I have been to the target-rich Moab area almost ten times with its amazing National Parks (Arches and Canyonlands); State Parks (Dead Horse and Goblin Valley); the famed River Road (paralleling the mighty Colorado River); and, of course, the majestic La Sal Mountains. There is something for everyone. My favorite among all of these gems is Arches National Park. All of the amazing sandstone rock formations, along with its unique sandstone arches, are a sight to see. This spot where I took this photo says it all. To my back is Balanced Rock and looking forward are some of my favorite arches. The only one visible is Turret Arch in the middle. To the left, although hidden, are the North Window, the South Window and Double Arch. I particularly love this spot, because the La Sal Mountains pose as an incredible backdrop to the desert foreground and the sandstone formations. Having a nice blue sky and the lenticular clouds doesn't hurt the scene either.
Visiting Europe is always a history lesson, where I always walk away with a greater appreciation of the past. That was so on our visit to Lucerne, Switzerland, after our Rhine River cruise a few years ago. Lucerne is a great city that lies next to the blue waters of Lake Lucerne, and it is surrounded by towering mountains. One of the most beautiful areas of the city is where the Reuss River passes under the Kapellbrücke (literally the Chapel Bridge) on its way to Lake Lucerne.
The Chapel Bridge is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, as well as the world's oldest surviving truss bridge. The bridge is so named, as it starts on one side of the Reuss River near Saint Peter's Chapel. Originally built in 1333, it is 560 feet in length and is unique, as it houses many interior paintings that originate from the 17th century. Today, the bridge serves as one of Lucerne's main tourist attractions, and is prominent in almost any scene along the main thoroughfare. I particularly liked this composition that uses the bridge as a leading line with its beautiful flowers leading to the other side of the river.
Back in 2000, my family and I headed to Las Vegas on vacation. The plan was to spend some time there and visit some of the national parks in the southwest. After spending some time in Vegas, the family decided to spend more time there. I am not a Vegas type of guy, so I headed out to the Valley of Fire State Park to take in the scenery. I was not really into photography then and visited the park at the totally wrong time of day and got some so-so photos. Once I got back into photography, I promised myself to revisit the park and do it right. Well, it took me sixteen years and I finally followed through on my promise.
After spending some time driving up to Overton along the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, we headed out to the park before dawn. We came through the eastern entrance to the park. We crossed the park boundary and drove up the hill toward Elephant Rock, got out and waited for the sun to rise. After shooting the rock we drove to the top of the hill and had to stop once we saw this view. We knew it was going to be a great day.
Here is something a bit different from me. Back about six years ago, I signed up for a day of urban exploration (also known as urbex) to the Eastern State Penitentiary, a mecca for urban photographers. The day started at the Philadelphia's Graffiti Underground, located on an abandoned loading pier jutting out into the Delaware River. It is just a few minutes from the center of the city off of Route 95. I had grown up outside of Philadelphia and lived there for almost forty years and had never heard of it before. The underground is pretty big and is covered with graffiti. It also looks like it has been used extensively by paintballers. It looks like this cement "tase can" was a favorite target. The grit and decay associated with urbex can be seen at the underground as well as the great colors of the graffiti.
Living on the east coast, I have walked on my share of beaches before and enjoyed each one. Of all of my beach walks in the U.S., this one ranks in the top ten--Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint, which lies well above the beach overlooking some of the most iconic sea stacks on the Oregon Coast. To the left of the parking lot, there are steps that lead down to the beach. At the bottom of the stairs, turn right and head up the beach. If you continue to walk to the end of the beach at the South Jetty, you will pass sea stacks with famous names: Face Rock, Howling Dog/Wizard's Hat, Cat and Kittens Rock and Table Rock are just a few. About halfway, you will pass under Coquille Point and, if you continue to the South Jetty, you will see the Coquille River Lighthouse across the river on the North Jetty. For those who want to get a high level view, there is a flat, open trail leaving the Face Rock parking lot where you can get more of an aerial view of the landmarks with plenty of beaches. My recommendation is to walk the beach to the end and return on the trail. You won't forget the walk.
Boulder Beach is my favorite sunrise location in Acadia National Park. Getting there takes a little work and an ability to walk on unsteady footing. After scrambling down a steep incline, you are faced with walking on these round boulders that can be tricky to stay upright on (I have taken a spill in the past). The challenge is not only walking on rounded rocks, but also not knowing which ones are loose and which ones are slick from being wet. Despite these challenges, the payoff is worth it.
I have shot from this location many times, and it is hard to get new compositions, especially when there are lots of photographers already staked out. Fortunately, there were only a few photographers there before us and we were able to get into some good positions. I wanted to be able to get to a position with a good angle of the Otter Cliffs as the rising sun lights them up as well as the boulders on the beach giving off a wet glow.
Visiting Mono Lake is a unique experience, especially when in the South Tufa area of the lake. Mono Lake is 65 square miles in area, has no outlet and is one of the oldest lakes in North America, with an estimated age of over a million years. Over this period of time, salts and minerals have seeped into the lake from melting snow and the resulting fresh water streams. The freshwater eventually evaporates, leaving behind the salt and minerals that have made the lake very alkaline. The lake is more than twice as salty as the ocean.
Mono Lake has had an interesting history since 1941. Los Angeles began diverting water from it to meet the growing needs of its population growth. The water levels declined over the years, increasing the water's salinity. In 1978, a conservationist effort began and in the 1994 they won a crucial victory when the state ruled that Los Angeles had to stop diverting the water. The water level had dropped 40 feet up until then and they would only be able to start again once the water level increased by 17 feet.
The major attractions in Yellowstone National Park are the numerous thermal features that can be found throughout the park. There are many other spots that are well worth seeing in other parts of this very large park (almost 3,500 square miles). One such attraction is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Located on the eastern side of the park, this Grand Canyon is much smaller than its namesake located in Arizona, but it is still quite impressive, measuring 23 miles in length and featuring two magnificent waterfalls.
The canyon was formed over thousands of years by the erosion of the Yellowstone River. There are classic views from viewpoints along the north and south rims that are easily accessible from parking lots and result in a great view of the lower falls. I wanted to get a different view and composition of the area and decided to take the 1/4-mile trail from the overlook. While it is a very short trail, it drops 600 feet from top to bottom. It is an easy walk down but not as easy going up, especially being about 7,000 feet above sea level. The trail ends at the top of the lower falls and this is the view of the Yellowstone River looking toward the upper falls (they can't be seen from this spot due to a bend in the river). Pretty impressive example of erosion.
One of the challenges that face many photographers is that they get into a rut. I consider myself a travel and landscape photographer who loves to capture the beautiful places that I am lucky enough to visit. That is why I like shooting with other photographers who have different ways of looking at things and challenge your creativity. On a photo outing at a sunflower field a few years ago, I was reminded of an old photography trick. When taking a photo of a subject, zoom out while the shutter is open, which creates this effect. It takes quite a few tries to time it right, but the effect is worth it. Here I wanted the sunflower to have "sun rays".
On our way to join Jeff Clow's Death Valley Photo Tour, Jaki Good Miller and I headed to the Valley of Fire for a couple of days. After landing in Las Vegas, we were ready to head there for the hour-long drive on the highway. Using Google Maps, I saw that there was a much slower route that looked to travel on the west side of Lake Mead. Being a landscape lover, I opted to head on the hopefully more scenic route.
What a great decision that turned out to be. After getting out of Vegas, we came to the entrance to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. I hadn't realized that we were actually driving on Federal land. After getting through the gate, the scenery was absolutely fabulous. With a sunset scheduled at a very early 4:30pm, we were blessed with great golden hour light most of the way to our hotel. Near the end of the park lands, we pulled over for a road shot of this amazing scene.