Sometimes you get lucky and get a great shot when you least expect it. On this occasion, we were on a cruise around the British Isles and we had left the Orkney Islands around 6pm. Being summer and being so far north, it stays light very late into the evening. We ate dinner and retired to our room about 10pm. I laid down and began to doze off when the phone rang. Our friend Nancy was on the phone and said "Look at the guy, quick!" I jumped off of the bed, ran to the door, looked out the keyhole and saw...nothing. The hallway was empty. I called her back and told her there was no one there. Her comment was, "What is wrong with you? I said look at the sky! Bring your camera with you." I grabbed my camera, slid open the drapes and captured this image. Nice to be lucky and have a friend to help when you are not thinking or hearing straight. Thanks Nancy.
Yoho National Park in British Columbia is often a side trip from nearby Banff National Park, at least it was for me. After my visit there, I know that the next time I visit the Canadian Rockies, Yoho will more than just a side trip. The main attraction in the park is Emerald Lake which is the largest of the 61 lakes that are contained within it's borders. The lake is surrounded by the mountains of the President Range, as well as Mount Burgess and Wapta Mountain. The lake derives it's name from the color of the water which is most vivid in the summer. Due to its high altitude, the lake is frozen from November until June.
One of my favorite scenic drives was when I visited California for the first time and took the drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco on California Route 1 (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway). Being the first time on the west coast, I fell in love with that drive. Whenever I traveled to the west coast on business, I always managed to get there a day or two early to hop onto the highway. There are so many things to see and visit that it is hard to pick one that is my favorite. It is no secret that I have a love of lighthouses. That being the case, it would be hard to leave off the Pigeon Point Lighthouse pictured here off of any list of places to visit on the Pacific Coast Highway. The Pigeon Point Lighthouse is arguably one of the most picturesque lighthouses on the Pacific coast. Built in 1871, the tower measures 115 feet tall that seems even taller as it stands on a rocky promontory above the Pacific Ocean below. It is located just south of San Francisco outside the town of Pescadero. This particular morning, we left Monterey with my brother-in-law and his family and headed to San Francisco. The weather was quite foggy and a bit wet when we left and, along the way, my brother-in-law hopped off the coast onto a major highway. Knowing that the Coastal Highway can clear at any time, I stayed true to my route and by the time we reached the lighthouse, the fog was clearing. Sometimes, perseverance for the shot works out.
I hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving had a great one. I have posted a number of images from Mount Pilatus in Lucerne, Switzerland. All of the previous posts were from the top of the mountain. This image today is of Mount Pilatus itself from the waters of Lake Lucerne. This viewpoint shows the beautiful green countryside and small towns that line the lake, all within the shadow of the 7,000 foot mountain. The mountain got its name from a legend that states that Pontius Pilate was buried there.
Two of the characteristics of the American Southwest are the unique shapes and colors of its many sandstone formations. The combination of these characteristics are most prevalent in Monument Valley where you can sometimes feel that you have been transported to Mars. There are certain times of the day where the colors are nonexistent and the shape of the formations become the main focus. Such was the morning when I captured this image. I had gotten up early to shoot the sunrise. We were staying at Gouldings Lodge and was headed to photograph the Mittens a few miles away. I noticed that dawn was about to break and saw the outline of the formations known as (left to right) Brigham's Tomb; The King and His Throne; Stagecoach; Bear and Rabbit; and Castle Butte. The silhouette created by the dawn's colors made the shapes stand out more that in daylight.
Of the many attractions in Alaska, the area surrounding Glacier Bay in southeastern Alaska has to be one of the most beautiful. The area includes the national park of the same name along with numerous glaciers and mountains. When sailing the Inside Passage, there are mountains towering above the bay on every side. As a photographer, I have a habit of shooting with a pretty wide eye in trying to capture the overall scene that I am experiencing. I sometimes forget that I should should capture tighter shots that show the details within the scene. In this instance, I remembered to zoom in to capture the ruggedness of the mountains above Glacier Bay.
Our visit to Zaanse Schans, an open air conservation area and museum just outside of Amsterdam, was intended as a visit to see the six working windmills that are situated there along the banks of the Zaan River. After parking after our drive from Amsterdam, we walked to the entrance and discovered this scene of some of the houses and their reflections. We found out that Zaanse Schans is actually a small village complete with wonderful little houses, small museums, shops and restaurants. It was a beautiful time to spend the morning taking in the Netherlands countryside.
Sailing along the Alaskan coast is an amazing experience. The scenery is wonderful with majestic mountain ranges seemingly guarding any intrusion inland. Wildlife is plentiful from humpback whales that can be seen swimming parallel alongside our ship as well as seals and otters that surface everywhere. Above our heads, bald eagles are searching for fish in all of their magnificence. As we headed toward the Alexander Archipelago via the Icy Straits, our destination was through Glacier Bay to its inland jewel, Glacier Bay National Park . As I stood on deck in the cold morning, I couldn't help but stare in wonder at the beautiful scene in front of me. As I composed each image, I wished that instead of only spending the day in this beautiful part of Alaska's coast, we could set anchor and spend a week.
A quick post and run today. This image was taken during last year's trip to shoot Niagara Falls. After shooting the falls at sunrise, I headed out to St Catharines and Lake Ontario to see what I could find. I stumbled on this marina that had a long jetty along with two lighthouses. The marina was surprisingly deserted and I really liked these benches that extended out toward the lake with one of the lighthouses in the background.
The first stop on our recent river cruise was to Kinderdijk, Netherlands. Kinderdijk is located in a polder at the the meeting of the Lek and Noord rivers. After docking, we headed to the Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout. This attraction is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and consists of 19 windmills that were built around 1740. The reason these windmills were built was to reclaim the land from the water thus creating the polder. Before visiting the Netherlands, I hadn't realized that 27% of its land mass is below sea level and how much land has been reclaimed from the sea. It seems amazing to me that about 250 years ago, someone came up with the idea of building these windmills to reclaim land. This is an image of one of the windmills at the the Mill Network. The river is to the right of this windmill and I was standing in front of another windmill. I really liked this composition as it shows some of the reclaimed land.
Fort Pickering Light, also known as Winter Island Light, is pictured in this image on a very windy day near Salem, Massachusetts. The lighthouse is located just offshore Winter Island which is now connected to the mainland. Winter Island was the site of Fort Pickering which is now abandoned. The 28 foot light was built of iron lined with brick in 1871 to serve as a guide into Salem harbor. The original lighthouse keeper was a Civil War veteran who watched the light from 1871 - 1919, only being absent for 5 days during that period. It was later taken over by the Coast Guard who abandoned the light in 1969.
I have previously posted images of the smallest and least famous national park in Alberta, Waterton Lakes National Park. It's location in southern Alberta, makes it a forgotten park when compared to Canada's national parks to north (Banff & Jasper) and the famous U.S. Glacier National Park that abuts Waterton. While Waterton is famous for it's lakes, It would be a mistake not to mention the mountains that are prevalent throughout the park. We stayed at a quaint lodge in Waterton Townsite and really enjoyed it's location on Upper Waterton Lake and the majestic mountains that surround the town. I had to get a shot of the town and this location provided the perfect viewpoint. Also pictured is Emerald Bay just to the foreground to the town.
In previous blog posts, I described the trip we took to Mount Pilatus that towers over Lucerne, Switzerland. The mountain got its name from a legend that states that Pontius Pilate was buried there. After taking a cruise on Lake Lucerne and riding the steepest cog railroad in the world, you reach the observation deck just below the summit of the mountain. After spending time at the summit, the trip continued with a 48 person gondola ride (which can be seen just leaving the mountain) down the other side of the mountain. About halfway down, you switch to a 4 person gondola to waiting buses on the ground. The observation deck, pictured in this image, gives a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. To the south, the world famous Alps can be seen in the distance. Almost straight down, a small portion of Lake Lucerne is visible. A little to the west (not shown in the image) is the city of Lucerne. Just to the right (also not in the image) is a Swiss Army base. Male citizens are required to serve in the army annually until the age of 34.
Today we return to 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.
When booking a trip, a little luck comes into play especially when you are booking a hotel. Often when you go online to check out the place, there are great images of the facilities and the surrounding area. I've stayed in some places that look good and when I get there, I am disappointed that the property is nothing like the pictures and the reviews. There are other times they surprise you in a good way. Such was our stay in Sedona. The Orchards Inn was located in Old Town and the entrance was hard to find as it is tucked behind stores and restaurants. It looked okay from the outside but not what I was hoping for. We checked into the hotel and moved our luggage to the room. The room was nice, maybe a little better than average. And then I opened the sliding doors and walked out onto the balcony. I stopped in my tracks and stared at the wonderful view that I had. I quickly ran back into the room and grabbed my camera and tripod and rushed back onto the balcony. I shot off a few photos and realized that I wasn't getting what I wanted, so I decided to shoot a panorama to see if I could capture what I felt and saw. I don't usually shoot panoramas, not sure why, but after this experience, I need to shoot more of them. Anyway, this is the result. This 21 image panorama captured the scene as I hoped it would with the great evening light giving the famous Red Rocks their great glow.
To finish this week's posts, we leave Europe and travel across the pond to Arizona and the Grand Canyon. There are many theories of how the Grand Canyon was formed, but the most prevailing one is erosion. The present day canyon is the result of nearly two billion years being exposed to water, ice and wind. Many geologists believe that the Colorado River established its course through the canyon at least 17 million years ago cut channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. I tried to keep this geological feat in mind when I composed this image of the Colorado River on the eastern end of the park. It is hard to believe that it could have formed such a dramatic landscape but I guess a lot can happen over 17 million years.
In yesterday's post, I described the tour we took from Lucerne to the top of Mount Pilatus, which towers 7,000 feet above the city. After taking the cruise of Lake Lucerne and riding up the steepest cog railroad in the world, you reach the summit of Mount Pilatus. There you have a full 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside. To the south, one can see the snow-capped mountain tops of the Alps (from a geological aspect, Mount Pilatus is the northernmost branch of the Alps). Looking toward the north, I was surprised to spot one of the most remote chapels I have ever seen. Perched on a ridge is The Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor. The chapel was built in 1861 and has been renovated a number of times, the most recent renovation being in 2004. I was unable to find out if it is open; whether or not services are performed there; or if there is even a parish associated with it. Suffice to say, one must really be dedicated to attend church there, especially in the winter.
My recent trip to Europe ended with a few nights in Lucerne, Switzerland. Up until then, I hadn't seen the type of landscape and mountains that I envisioned before visiting Switzerland. After spending our first day in the city of Lucerne, we signed up for a tour to travel to Mount Pilatus, which towers 7,000 feet above the city. The tour consisted of a cruise of Lake Lucerne followed by a ride on the Pilatus Railway, the world’s steepest cog railway. During the cruise of Lake Lucerne, we passed some of the most picturesque landscapes I have seen. Along with the mountains that surround the lake were beautiful green rolling hills that were spotted with chalets. This image captured some of the wonderful countyside bordering the lake.
One of the main attractions of a Rhine River cruise are the castles that tower above the river. There is a particular stretch of the Rhine River in Germany from Koblenz to Rüdesheim that is home to twenty-eight castles and fortresses. Some of these structures are in ruins while many of them are in good shape and are tourist attractions. There is at least one that is now a hotel. As with any outdoor photography, we were at the mercy of the weather. When we left Koblenz, the weather was threatening but all in all wasn't too bad. As we approached the prime section, the heavens opened up and we were forced indoors to watch from the ship's lounge. It was still great to see despite my inability to shoot it. As we began the last third of the section, the weather cleared and I was able to run up to the observation deck to grab a few shots.
The first castle I was able to shoot was this one, the Rheinstein Castle. Rheinstein Castle is built on a steep cliff overseeing the town of Assmannshausen on the other side of the river. Built in the 14th Century it is great example of castle reconstruction.
Quick post and run today. When one thinks of Maine, the first thing that comes to mind are lobsters (or in New England speak, Lobstahs). The lobster industry is one of Maine's primary sources of income from the agricultural sector. One cannot travel up and down the coast of Maine without spotting lobster huts and lobster cages. This particular image is from Bernard, Maine just outside of Acadia National Park. It was early in the evening when the shadows were beginning to lengthen and the wind was really blowing. Unfortunately, there were no lobsters in sight and so we had to settle for a lobster-less dinner.