Lavender and Barn Door

Lavender and Barn Door

Lavender in bloom contrasts beautifully with an old barn door in a Sonoma Valley vineyard

On the last few days of our trip to California we stayed in Napa and visited both the Napa and Sonoma valleys. I quickly became educated as to which is which and the virtues that each have to offer. Let’s just say that each is beautiful and each has its own unique qualities. No matter which one is your favorite, neither is a bad place to hang your hat at the end of the day.

Even though we had just met them, we were treated like royalty by our new friends, Andy and Kelli VomSteeg. They toured the area with us and gave us insights that we would never had gotten if we had stayed near our hotel room. In fact, this picture is an illustration of that. On our way from a private winery tour to a dinner party I somehow mentioned that I’d love to photograph a lavender field in bloom. Of course, the only lavender field I recalled seeing was in France. But, they quickly pointed out that there was a beautiful winery nearby that had a lavender field in it. So, I quickly went from wanting to photograph a lavender field to actually standing in one and taking shots. Incredible.

The lavender was planted in long rows that were really beautiful to capture. So, once I had taken my fill, we headed to the car to leave. Literally on the way out I spotted this old shed or barn at the edge of the field. It caught my eye because of the cool farm implements hanging on the door and the way the colorful lavender contrasted against the rustic texture of the doors. Hopefully it’s beautiful to you as well. Enjoy.


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.

Sunrise at Jenne Farm

Sunrise at Jenne Farm

Often photographed but still beautiful Jenne Farm in scenic Reading, Vermont

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to mix in some of the classic Vermont landscape locations on my fall trip. Perhaps *the* most iconic subject in Vermont is Jenne Farm. I’ve photographed it before, but I wanted to capture a current image with a high-resolution digital camera. So, I woke up two hours before sunrise hoping that the weather conditions would give me a bit of sunlight at dawn.

I’ve shot at Jenne Farm at least two times before. On both prior occasions the light was dismal and the colors around the farm were either before or after their peak color. This day dawned mostly clear and there was good, if not great, color on the trees. I really couldn’t have asked for better conditions.

One thing hadn’t changed from previous visits. There were at least a dozen other photographers lined up waiting for the first rays of sunlight to fall on Jenne Farm below. Photographers from all over the country make their pilgrimage to this spot each fall to capture this Vermont landscape icon.

Once the sun rose over the horizon and light spilled onto the scene, each photographer composed and captured furiously. At least those of us who had been there before did. Unfortunately, as beautiful as the scene is at sunrise, the light can quickly become harsh and contain too much contrast making beautiful images almost impossible to capture. That was the case this morning. By thirty minutes after sunrise the light had become much too direct and it was time to pack up and move on.

Even though it’s been shot thousands of times before, I still love the location. I hope you enjoy it too.

Late Afternoon at Hillside Acres Farm

Late Afternoon at Hillside Acres Farm

Late afternoon light softly bathes Hillside Acres Farm and the surrounding hills covered with peak color fall foliage

Although not as iconic as the Peacham shot I posted last time, Hillside Acres is hardly a new discovery on my part. Although at one point I thought it was…

About twenty years ago I had my first visit to New England in the fall. At that point I was just learning about the craft of photography and developing an eye for composition. I had the same tendency which many fall into regarding composition. I wanted to capture everything my eye could see in one image rather than focusing on individual elements of the scene.

Nonetheless, it was a blast traipsing through New England at the peak of fall color just soaking it all in. On one of my trips I came across this scene. I have the almost identical scene captured on Fuji Velvia shot with a Minolta Maxxum, my first “real” camera. At the time I thought I had discovered a farm that most people had never seen. Now I now that Arnold Kaplan had identified this shot in his classic Vermont guidebook. Oh well, at least I had good taste…

I intentionally drove to this site to recapture the image with my current gear. As much as I loved Velvia, the detail I capture with my Nikon D800 is just superior to what I captured on film. And the adjustments I can make are superior now. So, here’s a new version of a classic Vermont scene, Hillside Acres Farm in beautiful late afternoon light. Enjoy.

Peacham, Vermont

Peacham, Vermont

A classic Vermont pastoral scene of Peacham, Vermont surrounded by fall color

I love to create new, fresh images. But, I must admit, I also am attracted to classic locations that have been captured hundreds and thousands of times. Today’s image is in the latter category.

I didn’t just stumble onto this scene. In fact, if you search for Peacham and Photograph on the internet, you can find dozens of shots very similar to this one. I’ve even shot it before on at least two different occasions. But, that doesn’t diminish the fact that this is a classic New England scenic that captures a once typical quaint New England town.

The image contains all the elements of a classic New England village. White steepled church? Check. Red barn? Check? Fall foliage surrounding village? Check. Rolling rugged hills? Check? If you look closely, you can see that there are also a few cars parked at the church. That’s not classic New England village. Unfortunately, on the day I was in Peacham, there was a fall festival going on and people were parked all over the village. Fortunately for me, the view from the hillside didn’t include most of the activity going on that day.

I hope you enjoy the image. You definitely should visit Peacham if you find yourself in north central Vermont. It’s a lovely little town and a slice of rural New England that is quickly vanishing. Enjoy.

Warren, VT Horse Farm

Warren Horse Farm

A horse farm and its fencing amidst beautiful fall foliage in Warren, Vermont

Although I enjoyed my time in the Adirondacks, the lack of flow in the rivers and the extreme morning fog caused me to shorten my stay there by a day. I had always planned to spend the last two or three days in Vermont, but the conditions in New York caused me to move on a bit faster than I had planned. I knew from my observations and from some internet posts I had viewed that color in Vermont was quite good. So, I cut my stay in Lake Placid a day short and drove on over to neighboring Vermont.

As always, I had some specific locations in mind to shoot, but my plan was to freestyle a bit in between those locations hoping to find some other beautiful places to shoot. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had caught the fall foliage in central Vermont at or near its peak. On my first day in Vermont I was planning to focus on capturing images of some of the covered bridges in the area hopefully surrounded by fall foliage.

I choose to eschew interstates as much as possible on these trips. Going east to west in Vermont that wasn’t a difficult choice. The gap roads are often the most direct way to get from town to town even if not always the fastest way. This was certainly the case as I found myself needing to drive from Warren to Roxbury.

As I headed out of Warren over the mountain to Roxbury, this scene presented itself to me. I drove past initially until I had one of those photographer thoughts. “Stop! That’s beautiful! Turn the car around now!” So, I listened to the voice and turned the car around quickly. Fortunately, the scene was just as beautiful as I thought it would be.

I shot a who series of images, but I decided that this one was the keeper of the bunch. I used an aperture of f/11 and chose a point on the fence to make my focal point. I wanted the fence and barn to be in focus but the background to be a bit soft. This combination worked well for that purpose. I don’t normally like so much direct sunlight in my images, but in this case it really enhances the vibrant colors in the trees and the green of the grass. I really like how the fence leads my eye into the scene. I hope you enjoy the image, too. Thanks for stopping by.

Keene Valley Barn

Keene Valley Barn

The fading red paint of this wonderful old barn was perfectly complemented by the fall colors in the Adirondacks

As I’ve mentioned often, one of my favorite aspects of a photography trip is the unexpected image that inevitably presents itself. The first half of my fall trip was in the Adirondacks of upstate New York. I based out of Lake Placid and made side trips out from there each day. Many of the spots that I had pre-selected based on my research were in the Keene Valley.

At the intersection of two heavily traveled roads in the Keene Valley stood this old barn. I passed it several times and made a mental note that in the right light it could be an interesting image. So, on one of the mornings in the area I headed toward the old barn hoping to catch some glorious morning light as it first kissed the weathered red paint and classic architecture of the barn. Sadly, the shot I had in mind would not come to pass. As did most of my mornings in the Adirondacks this one started with heavy fog in the valleys that wouldn’t totally clear until late morning. So, I made do with the conditions that I had.

I actually like this shot. I can’t say I like it more than the one I had in mind. However, this shot takes advantage of the soft, diffused light caused by the sun filtering through the heavy layer of fog. There aren’t harsh shadows to deal with as there would have been with direct sunlight. The vibrant colors of the lush grass, changing fall colors, and the roof and walls of the barn all complement each other nicely. It’s a great reminder of a beautiful fall morning in the Adirondacks. Enjoy.

Rustic Doors

Rustic Doors

Rustic doors on a barn near Elmira, New York

I love shooting architecture. There’s something about symmetry and texture and peeling paint that just appeals (hey, that’s a pun!) to me. These doors were on an old barn adjacent to a set or rail tracks near Elmira, New York. I saw them several times as I passed from my hotel out on day trips in the Finger Lakes. I finally stopped one late afternoon to take a shot of them. It may not be the best image I’ve ever taken, but something about it “works” for me. I hope it works for you as well. Enjoy.


The Old Green Barn

The Old Green Barn

This beautiful old barn has seen its better days but still made an outstanding subject

Did I mention that that the Palouse is a great place to shoot old barns? Oh yeah. I did. I suppose it’s to be expected in such a prime agricultural area, but I just wasn’t prepared for the quantity of beautiful old barns, each of them seemingly unique.

On our way to Steptoe Butte late one afternoon, we were driving at a pretty rapid clip. We were determined to find a prime spot on the butte to take in the late afternoon light on the surrounding farmland. When I saw this barn, though, I knew I had to stop and take a few images. This was shot from the road side with my 70-200 and a 2x teleconverter. I had to shoot off a tripod since my shutter speed was down to 1/60 of a second and I couldn’t handhold the equivalent of a 400mm lens. I shot several frames that were blurry, but I got a few that were sharp. I like the balance the old tree lends to this shot. You can still see the late afternoon light making the fields above the barn glow. I wish I had been there twenty minutes earlier to capture the last rays of light warming the barn itself before the sun slipped behind the surrounding hills. Alas, I was a few minutes late. In any case, I like the shot and hope that you do as well. Enjoy.

Barn and Windmill


Barn and Windmill

A barn and windmill stand the test of time in the Palouse region of Washington state

Now that I am posting my images from the Palouse, I realize how many of them are of old barns. There is something about old barns that just isn’t true of old houses. Perhaps it is their size. Or, maybe it is their simplicity. In any case, they always make amazing subjects for photography.

This old barn was visible from the main road and was just begging to be photographed. As I walked around the scene there were many intriguing elements that I wanted to include in my image. The barn itself was a classic shape. The roof shingles were peeling off revealing another layer of shingles underneath. The fences around the barn were interesting. The gable ends of the barn were unique. Finally, the windmill was in great shape and should be included in the image. The problem was finding a way to include all of those elements.

The barn was relatively close to the road and a private residence was immediately across the street. The road itself was narrow and it proved difficult to maneuver enough to compose the image I wanted. I tried walking up and down the road to change my angle of view and put the barn and windmill where I wanted them in the image relative to each other. I tried several compositions, but in the end this is the one I liked best. I don’t like that I cropped off a bit of the barn facade, but I love the windmill, field of grass, and peeling shingles on the roofline. Of course, the contrast of the red barn, green field, low-hanging clouds, and peeks of blue sky make for an appealing image as well. All things considered, I like the way the image turned out.

It may not look to have been necessary, but I used a five shot exposure-bracketed set to create a HDR image. As is my preference, I used the Exposure Blending mode of Photomatix Pro to create the image. I used Aperture to tweak the colors, contrast, and add a slight curve. My intent was to get the image to look like what I saw in the field that day. I think I have succeeded with this image. Enjoy.