The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro is a 15-mile 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. The bay is actually a submerged river canyon of the Bokelj River which used to run from the high mountain plateaus of Mount Orjen. Numerous cities and towns are located on the bay such as Kotor (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Perast (a UNESCO World Natural and Historical Heritage Site) 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 dissipated and we discovered one of the most beautiful places that we have ever visited. As we passed along the shore, we were able to observe these wonderful towns and the surrounding mountains.
This image is from my recently found archives. One of the most visited national parks in the southwest is Arches National Park. Located in eastern Utah, the park is home to over 2,000 sandstone arches, many of which are not easily accessible. This was the first stop on a 2-week trip that Greg and I took in May, 2005. May is perhaps the best time to visit as the weather is not too hot and the park is not crowded at all. We had gotten into Moab the previous afternoon after a five hour drive from Salt Lake City. The bad news was that my luggage, including my tripod, was not on our flight. It finally showed up at 5:30 am (of course after dawn). Once we unpacked and hit the road, we headed for Arches. Our first stop in the park was Double Arch where I captured this image. Even though I had missed the sunrise, the light was amazing as the blue sky really enhanced the contrast with the orange sandstone.
On a very frigid day (about 2 degrees) in Manhattan, the sun was shining and the air was crisp. Every few blocks we would run into a store or a building lobby just to warm up. As I left one of these "shelters", I happened to look up and saw this wonderful reflection in the building across the street. The scene had a lot of contrast so I decided to hand hold a five bracketed burst and hope that the reflection of the building would come out okay. The dynamic range in this image is where HDR really shines, even without a tripod.
This the second image that I have reprocessed on my recently found archives or as Jimi Jones named them, “Lost Treasure of Len” (my wife is still chuckling about that). This image is from a trip I took with my son where we hiked for two weeks in Utah. This particular trail is the Park Avenue Trail in Arches National Park. It is a one-mile relatively flat trail that traverses the bottom of a canyon where some of the park’s well-known monoliths can be seen such as the Three Gossips, Courthouse Towers, the Organ and the Tower of Babel. This particular structure is the Courthouse Towers. Most visitors to the park stop at the Park Avenue Viewpoint, take a few snapshots, and return to their cars without really exploring this trail. They really miss a spectacular walk that is quite memorable. Once on the trail, it opens up to a wide dry wash, filled with a number of shallow sandstone basins and potholes carved out by erosion.
Okay, it seems that I received an unexpected late Christmas gift this weekend. I was looking for something and came across some backup DVDs that contained some of my images from 2003 - 2006. You may ask why I am looking at this as a gift. The easy answer is that I took some memorable trips during that period and, at that time, really didn't know anything about RAW files and processing (other than that, everything was fine). I processed the JPG files in Photoshop Elements with my very poor skills and DELETED the original files. That's right, all gone. I have rued the day I deleted them ever since. Now for the good news, the DVDs that I found contained the original JPGs. I now have a lot of my favorite images that I can now reprocess. This is the first image that I have reprocessed and it is significant in that it is the photo that started my photography hobby in earnest. I always had an interest in photography and in the early 1980′s even took a high school course in developing black and white film (boy, did they lose money on me). Career, family and finances got in the way of photography and I didn’t pursue it again until the early 2000′s. Then in 2005, I decided to see if I was serious about it.
My son Greg and I headed to Utah for two weeks for the sole purpose of hiking and photography. One of the places that I had longed to visit was Monument Valley. Located on a Navajo Indian Reservation on the Utah/Arizona border, it was the location of many famous westerns (Stagecoach and The Searchers to name a couple). I had seen a photo of Tear Drop Arch on the cover of a tour guide and always wanted to shoot it. The park has a 17-mile dirt road, but in order to photograph the more iconic places such as Tear Drop Arch, you must hire a Navajo guide. Our guide took us all over the park for four hours and saved Tear Drop Arch for our last stop at sunset. The biggest surprise was that Tear Drop Arch is actually about 3 miles outside the park. While Greg and the Navajo guide talked about his culture, I shot the arch until well past sunset.
This was one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had and it lit the passion that I still have for photography.
Okay, I admit it. I am fascinated by the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. I visited and shot the lighthouse four different times in 2011 in all types of weather except snow. This is amazing to me as I had absolutely no plans to visit Maine in 2011. I have posted four very different images of the lighthouse from the inside to the great view from the rocks below. To date, I haven't posted the iconic view of the lighthouse until today. Why? I wanted this perspective of the lighthouse to have a great reflection with very little wind in terrific light. I had given up hope that I would catch the right conditions but I convinced my wife and friends to take a detour to the lighthouse on the way from Camden to Newcastle. The ride turned out to take much longer that I thought. They probably would have made me turn back, but when driving down the northern side of the Pemaquid Penisula, there are very few choices to cut across to the other side. When we finally arrived at the lighthouse, it was late afternoon when the light is really good from this vantage point. I knew my time was limited given the looks I was getting and I quickly scrambled down the rocks, hoping that the wind was still. As you can see, it was.
I know many of you are as crazy as me to "get the shot". If it wasn't for the support (and patience) of our spouses and friends, we wouldn't be successful in pursuing it.
Just a quick post and run today. This image is from an antique store somewhere in New Hampshire. The store owner was nice enough to allow us in to photograph whatever we wanted. While there were so many possible subjects, I was attracted to this old book. I could just imagine seeing this scene a long time ago with the old-time typewriter in the background and the old pewter cup in the foreground. Have a great weekend everyone.
Canada Place, with its iconic white sails, is located in the heart of Vancouver's downtown harbor front. It was opened during Expo ’86 and includes the Pan Pacific Hotel, World Trade Centre, Convention Centre and serves as the main cruise ship terminal for the region, where most of the cruises to Alaska originate or terminate. On this morning, we were coming to the end of our Alaskan cruise that we took this past summer. We had a wonderful time in Alaska and the subsequent cruise down the inside passage. Vancouver is a fantastic place to visit and we were really looking forward to our 3-day stay in Vancouver. As the cruise ship began to position to dock, I fired off a 5-bracket burst and this is the result.
This is one of those very unexpected photos that we sometimes discover and become one of our favorites. When booking hotels for my lighthouse scouting trip with my son, I found this relatively cheap hotel within 25 minutes of Pemaquid Point. When Greg and I checked in, the hotel was the typical hotel room you would expect. We headed to Pemaquid Point to scout out the location for the next morning's shoot. After the scouting trip, we drove to Wiscasset to grab a quick dinner. Getting back to the hotel at about 8:30 pm, we walked around the hotel property and found this extremely long pier that was lit up. After seeing the pier and the great blue hour light, I ran back to the car and grabbed the tripod and camera. This was one of the images that I shot. It was a beautiful night and we spent a long time just hanging out on the pier. It was one of those totally unexpected moments and images.
Arguably the signature lighthouse of Maine, the Portland Head Light is actually located outside of Portland on Cape Elizabeth. The light was initially commissioned by George Washington in 1787. The light stands 80 feet above the land and 101 feet above the water. Edward Rowe Snow wrote about the light: “Portland Head and its light seem to symbolize the state of Maine—rocky coast, breaking waves, sparkling water and clear, pure salt air.” The lighthouse is surrounded by a huge park and when I visited it the day before to scout, it was swarming with people. I was sure that I would not be alone the next morning when I went to shoot the light at sunrise. Much to my surprise, the only other person there was a cameraman from the local television station who must have been telecasting a live shot of the light. As a result, I had the run of the park and shot the light from all angles. This is the first one that I have posted and it is the most familiar composition. The sunrise was beautiful and it was very serene except for the fog horn which blasts every 15 seconds 24 by 7. Look forward to posting other compositions of this wonderful light in the next few weeks.
When planning our recent vacation in Alaska, we decided to end our trip in one of my favorite cities, Vancouver. We elected to stay at the Pan Pacific Hotel that is part of Canada Place so we didn't have to go very far when our cruise ship docked. We were very lucky to have some great weather and spent a lot of time exploring the city. The last night of our stay, before we headed home, turned out to be the best night for shooting. There was a golden glow everywhere we walked and the reflections on the surrounding buildings were some of the best I have seen. This view is one of my favorites of the night and I took it as I was leaving the hotel. The hotel's glass canopy with it's geometric shapes nicely framed the buildings that surrounded the city block. As I processed the image, I noticed what I thought were halos but after careful inspection, they turned out to be reflections from the light on the glass.
Eastern Utah is home to two wonderful National Parks (Arches & Canyonlands). Tucked in between the two is Dead Horse State Park which is often overlooked. The signature image of the park is this one, where the Colorado River has carved the rock over thousand of years to leave us with this spectacular view which rivals any in the area. The park itself was named after the mustangs that used to run wild in the area. The overlook from which this image was taken from, acted as a natural corral where cowboys would drive the herds so they could be captured for personal use or for sale to others. According to legend, a group of mustangs remained on the overlook and were somehow trapped there. As there was no food or water available, they supposedly died of thirst within sight of the Colorado River.
This past weekend, we all watched with fascination and horror as mother nature roared. Hurricane Irene left a destructive wake in her path up the eastern seaboard of the US. At times like this, we realize that nature can be quite devastating. This past May, I visited another force of nature that possesses the same brute force but in a beautiful and non-destructive way. I am talking, of course, of Niagara Falls. Standing alongside the edge of the American Falls, you can feel and hear the power of the falls as the Niagara River plummets over the edge on its way from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. While setting this shot up, I made sure that I had a rain cover for my camera and lens. It is a necessity as the spray from below can drench anyone and anything close to the edge. The river rushes over the edge so fast that you almost don't need an ND filter to get the silky smooth look to the water. For this shot, I used a 3-stop ND filter and fired off a 5 bracket set of images.
My recent trip to Alaska was a combined land and sea adventure. As I have probably mentioned before, one of my bucket list items is to visit and photograph as many US National Parks as I can. On this trip, I was going to get to visit two of them: Denali National Park and Glacier Bay National Park. After spending time on mainland Alaska and in Denali, we boarded a cruise ship to see the inside passage including Glacier Bay National Park. Sailing down from Hubbard Glacier the day before, we entered into the Icy Strait early the next morning. The Icy Strait is in the Alexander Archipelago and can be entered from the Alaskan mainland from the north. Continuing into the strait reaches the entrance to Glacier Bay en-route to Juneau to the south. To say that the scenery was breathtaking is an understatement.
This is one of the numerous images I shot from the deck of our ship. The wind was whipping around and I was dressed in layers with gloves on. The interesting thing about it was even though it was cold, I hardly seemed to notice. The light was good, the clouds added great interest to the snow-capped mountains. These mountains are actually part of the national park, namely Glacier Bay Park and Wilderness.
The Canadian Rockies are filled with spectacular lakes, mountains and scenery. Whenever I visit Banff National Park, I make sure I get to the "Valley of the Ten Peaks" to shoot at Moraine Lake. The lake is glacially fed and when it is full, reflects a blue shade. There are boats available at the lake and there are numerous hiking trails. Early in the day it is extremely serene and you can feel one with nature. This particular morning, the sun was hitting the opposite shore resulting in a wonderful reflection. While I like to have clouds in my images to add depth and interest, I think that the beauty of the lake and its surrounding mountains speak for itself.
One of the most surprising places that I have visited was Kotor, Montenegro. Once a part of Yugoslavia, Montenegro became an independent nation as recently as 2006. Located between Croatia and Albania, its shoreline lies on the Adriatic Sea. It is a small country (about the size of Connecticut); is mostly rugged mountains and is home to only about 620,000 people. According to our guide, the most amazing fact is that it has 365 churches. I have already posted about our visit to the Lady of the Rocks (you can read it here) located in the middle of the Bay of Kotor. After our visit to the church, I wandered outside and noted the smaller island across the water. I learned that this was a monastery (Saint George Benedictine monastery or Ostrvo Sveti Đorđe).
I was intrigued by the sight of the majestic mountains behind the monastery. I took a single shot as it was mid-day with the light and shadows being harsh and didn't expect it to come out. Only recently did I pull it out of the archives to see what I could do with it. I am pretty happy with the results.
There is something about trains that I really love. Can't really put my finger on it but whenever I see a train, I want to photograph it and ride on it. I've been on some memorable train rides including the Rocky Mountaineer that goes from Vancouver, British Columbia to either Banff or Jasper, Alberta. One of my favorites is the train ride from Durango, Colorado to Silverton, Colorado. The train is a narrow gauge, which is better suited to navigate the sharp curves of the mountain terrain. It was used to haul silver and gold ore from the Silverton area as well as supplies and workers. Today, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is used as a tourist attraction. The train leaves Durango for a 3.5 hour, 45 mile trip trip through the rugged San Juan Mountains. The scenery along the way is outstanding. It arrives in the town of Silverton for a two hour layover. Silverton is a small old-time mining town which has been designated as a National Historic District.
This shot was taken as the train was readying to head back to Durango. It is a HDR from a single photo.
This bright red building is a fishing shack In the small town of Rockport, Massachusetts. Located on Bradley Wharf, it is purportedly the most painted fishing shack in the America. The shack even has its own name, Motif No. 1 that was given to it by an art teacher in the 1920s who, after seeing his students repeatedly draw the shack, exclaimed "What? Motif No 1 again!" The original shack was destroyed by the blizzard of 1978 when it was swept into Rockport Harbor. Motif No. 1 was rebuilt within a year. The fishing shack has even been commemorated on a postage stamp.
We had vacationed in Rockport is the 1980's when we lived in New Jersey. At that point in time, I wasn't into photography. Since we now live in New England, I finally got around to revisiting Rockport with my son to photograph good old Motif No. 1 and the surrounding area. There are many places to set up a tripod but this location is probably the best angle. I highly recommend a visit to Motif No. 1 if you are in the Cape Ann area.
Last fall, 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. As you can see, there was no one in sight except one woman coming out of her house (see if you can find her). 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.
Click to find out more about Santorini and the famous town of Oia