Fog

Golden Gate Bridge in Fog

Golden Gate Bridge in Fog

The graceful Golden Gate Bridge extends into the fog of a cool San Francisco summer evening

This is likely my last post from our California adventure this past summer. And, yes, I know that I’ve already posted an image of the Golden Gate Bridge. But, this one was beautiful enough that I couldn’t resist ending with it.

You see, I had already captured some pretty nice images of the bridge (Golden Gate Bridge and Summer Fog), but I had another image in mind. What I wanted to capture was a night shot of the bridge with a flow of traffic as one continuous light stream. We went to the parking area on the city side of the bridge and I actually found the spot that I needed to get the shot. Unfortunately, that location was completely fogged in and the shot I had visualized just wasn’t there that night.

So, I had to improvise. I began to scout around until I found another angle that would work. Although you can’t see the traffic flow from here, you can see the arch of the bridge deck as it spans San Francisco Bay. You can’t see the towers either, but you I love the way that they disappear into the gloom and fog above. I cranked up my aperture to f/22 to lengthen the exposure yielding beautiful, creamy water below in the bay and a lovely starburst on all the lights visible across the bridge.

All in all, I like the shot – even though it wasn’t what I had in mind originally. Enjoy.

Golden Gate Bridge and Summer Fog

Golden Gate Bridge and Summer Fog

Fog rolls through San Francisco Bay and gently shrouds the Golden Gate Bridge

As a tourist, the negative about visiting the central California coast in the summer is that fog can hang around the coast all day long. As a photographer, the positive about visiting the central California coast in the summer is that fog can hang around the coast all day long. (See what I did there?)

As Pamela and I drove up the coast from Carmel Highlands to Napa Valley, we decided to stick to the coast road and go straight through San Francisco. Since it was Fourth of July weekend this was a risky strategy. As it turned out, there were rewards and penalties. The reward was a quick visit to the Golden Gate Bridge and a series of incredible images. We also got to visit a favorite park in the Marin headlands. The negative was a three-hour drive north from San Francisco that could have been only an hour or so. Oh well. The rewards outweighed the penalty but I’m certainly not going to complain about Atlanta traffic anytime in the near future.

We had another opportunity to visit the bridge later in our trip, but it turned out that these shots were my favorites. I love the vibrant orange paint on the bridge contrasted by the blue skies, white clouds, and sea-foam green ocean water. The Golden Gate is beautiful in just about any weather, but she was particularly pretty this day. Enjoy.

Summer on the Big Sur Coast

Summer on the Big Sur Coast

Wildflowers at your feet, seagulls overhead, fog clinging to the coastal range, and surf crashing below make the Big Sur coast a national treasure

The drive from San Simeon to Carmel should take two hours or so. In fact it’s an all day affair because you find yourself yanking your car into every overlook to drink in yet another incredible view. Just when you think it can’t become any more beautiful, it does – and often exponentially so. It’s just incredible how the combination of the coastal mountains, fog clinging to the coast, sunlight dancing in and out, wildflowers blooming, dramatic cliffs, and often the road itself can make a million different images, all unique and equally beautiful.

Such is the Big Sur coast. There are other beautiful drives in the world and I’ve been able to experience many of them. This may not be the most beautiful stretch of road in the world, but I’d say it’s in anyone’s top ten. It’s that dramatic and beautiful.

We were nearing Carmel Highlands where we would be spending the next couple of days when I noticed wildflowers filling the fields between the Pacific Coast Highway and the Pacific Ocean. I just couldn’t resist seeing what the actual coast would look like the few hundred yards away. So, my long-suffering wife patiently picked up her book and encouraged me to take a while to go scout and shoot what I saw. Have I mentioned how patient she is with my photography addiction?

Fortunately there were some well-worn paths through the vegetation leading to different vantage points along the cliffs. Apparently, this location is a fairly popular area for hikers and people walking their dogs. It’s not hard to imagine why. I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to hike while soaking in the views.

Unfortunately, I was so engrossed with getting to the vistas I expected, I totally missed the abundance of poison oak that was embedded in the vegetation – and I was wearing shorts. I wouldn’t find out for a couple of days, but this would turn out to be a big problem. I’m allergic to poison oak and ivy and I acquired the worst case I’ve ever had in my life. I don’t mean a few spots that turned into a rash. I mean my calves and lower thighs were covered in a rash that ultimately scabbed over and itched like nothing I’ve ever felt. I went through an entire bottle of poison ivy gel just trying to keep the itch under control. It took a full two months for the rash to go away entirely!

But even with the future onset of a nasty case of poison oak, the hike out through the brush was worth it. I rarely have one of these moments, but when the trail ended at the cliffs overlooking the Pacific, the scene literally took my breath away. In front of me stretched an uninterrupted view of the ocean to the horizon, blue sky, a golden beach, beautiful blue water and white foam intersecting with the coast, and a steep cliff side covered with native vegetation and flowers. It’s a scene that I can envision clearly as I write this post. It was beautiful and I took a few minutes just to soak it all in.

Then, I got to work. I moved up and down the cliff-top trail looking for a vantage point that captured as many of the elements of the scene as possible while still retaining a sense of composition that would fulfill my artistic vision. I finally found it in this spot. The view is north toward Carmel and captures all of the elements I described above. Patience added a small flock of birds lazily riding the wind down the coast and into my frame. It was a perfect moment in time for a landscape photographer – minus the nasty rash to come. But, all in all, it was worth it. Hopefully, this image and my words bring you a bit closer to that beautiful place in the world that is the Big Sur coast. Enjoy.

The Road to Connemara

The Road to Connemara

An Irish country road leading toward Connemara National Park

I’ve talked before about how some shots happen just because you stumble onto them. This is one of those shots. Pamela and I were driving toward Kylemore Abbey and Connemara National Park. We had no real set agenda and we were just taking the roads that looked most promising in terms of scenery and views. While driving the light began to change as the sun danced in and out of the clouds overhead. At the same time we were approaching this row of trees lining the road we were driving on. We both immediately commented that this tree line looked like a poor mans version of the Dark Hedges we had visited earlier in our trip.

We drove through the alley of trees once and I immediately had that feeling that you may know as a photographer. A little voice in my head kept saying “Go back, go back..” Usually, when I refuse that voice I live with the regret of the picture that might have been. I drive on or walk away and have a mental image of the perfect image that could have been. Then there are the times when I actually stop and go back and the ‘perfect’ image that I had envisioned is flawed somehow. But, in this case the image was what I hoped it would be. So, I set my tripod in the middle of the road – while dodging speeding cars heading both ways – and got the shot.

I really like how the image captures the mood of the place. The road leads my eye into the image. The trees have just enough shape to create a moody vibe. And through the trees you can see the fog shrouded landscape beyond. It makes me think of that day and drive even now as I type. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Foggy Morning at Sleepy Hollow Farm

Foggy Morning at Sleepy Hollow Farm

Morning fog lifts as sunlight streams in over Sleepy Hollow Farm in Woodstock, Vermont

On the morning that I shot Jenne Farm I decided to stay in the Woodstock area for a while to see what else I could find. From my previous travels and my research I knew that I wanted to wander up and down Cloudland Road, Galaxy Hill Road, and explore the nearby communities of Pomfret and Barnard.

I began by driving back up to Woodstock and arrived before any of the businesses had opened. In the peak of fall foliage season it was a bit odd to have the town virtually to myself. But, I wasn’t interested in buying antiques or visiting galleries. I continues out-of-town to explore along Cloudland and Galaxy Hill Roads.

One unusual weather condition that occurs in the fall is patch fog. At Jenne Farm I had a virtually cloud-free sky. But, on my short drive back up to Woodstock fog was still lifting from the fields and clinging to the ridges. That was the case on Cloudland Road. The conditions were pretty awesome. Fog was lifting from the deep ravines and valleys revealing barns, houses, and rocky creeks.

At one of these spots where the fog was lifting, I noticed a particularly handsome old barn just emerging from the fog. I quickly pulled my car over to the side of the road, got my gear from the backseat, and rushed back down the road to capture the scene. In my haste, I had completely ignored some other photographers who were also pulled over at this spot taking advantage of the show evolving in front of us. As the fog lifted from the valley, the sun was streaming through the trees higher on the hillside and illuminating the fog beautifully. I quickly snapped this image and a few others. Only after the fact did I realize that I had stumbled back onto another classic Vermont icon, Sleepy Hollow Farm.

The classic view of Sleepy Hollow Farm is from just down the road from where I stood. There is a lovely curving road or driveway that drops down from Cloudland Road and makes a great foreground leading your eye right to the farm buildings. At the right time of the fall, a tree at the head of the driveway and all the surrounding trees can turn vibrant colors making for a beautiful shot. But, the shot I had found – quite by accident – was another intriguing view of the classic farm. I hope you enjoy it.

Fall Color at Chapel Pond

Fall Color at Chapel Pond

Fall color at its peak above Chapel Pond in the Adirondacks

One of the shots that I had visualized before my trip to the Adirondacks was a beautiful fall landscape reflected in one of the many ponds in the area. I had achieved my goal earlier in the day with my excursion to Round Pond. But, there was another shot that I also hoped to capture.

Chapel Pond is one example of many ponds in the area that sit at the base of steep cliffs covered in trees. The trees are a mix of evergreen and deciduous and create an interesting composition in the fall. The gray granite of the cliffs creates a wonderful contrast with the green pines and the yellows, oranges, and reds of the changing deciduous trees. I wanted that combination reflected in a still pond.

Unfortunately, finding a moment where the ponds were perfectly still proved to be more difficult than I had realized. In the early mornings, the water was calm, but dense fog settled in over the ponds and ruined any chance for a reflection shot. Later in the day, the fog was pushed aside by the sun burning through the fog and the wind that rose up to clear it out. But, the wind also ruined the mirror smooth water that I needed for a reflection.

So, I settled for a shot that focused on a cliff with foliage clinging precariously and its foliage at the peak of fall color without the pond. It isn’t the shot that I had envisioned, but it still turned out quite nicely, I think. Enjoy.

Emerging from the Fog

Emerging from the Fog

Colorful trees on a foggy day in the Adirondacks

All of the mornings that I spent in the Adirondacks this fall season started out foggy. Sometimes the fog was an aid in my photography and sometimes it ruined my plans. That’s just the way it is with landscape photography. You have to adapt to the conditions that you are dealt.

I had planned to shoot for at least one full day in the streams in the region. Unfortunately, the weather in late summer and early fall was very dry and the rivers had slowed to a trickle. They simply didn’t have the flow I needed to capture the images I had in mind. So, I changed gears. I explored other locations looking for examples of fall foliage at its peak.

This shot was taken after exploring a nearby lake for shots. Walking back up the hillside from the lake, this shot emerged. The fog was lifting slowly and these trees were less obscured than the ones in the distance. Fortunately for me, each tree was at the peak of its color change and still had the majority of its leaves. The lifting fog made for a unique and ethereal background. It wasn’t the shot I had anticipated taking that morning, but it turned out pretty well. Enjoy.