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.
A sign for Maple Lane Farm with beautiful fall foliage behind near Woodstock, Vermont
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post. I’ve undertaken the gigantic task of moving my entire workflow from editing photos in Apple’s now defunct – but formerly excellent – photo editing software to Adobe’s Lightroom. I’ll try to post about my trials and tribulations with that transition shortly.
In the meantime here’s one of the last images from last fall’s trip to Vermont. This is a simple, but beautiful shot from near Woodstock, Vermont. As you might imagine there is a recurring theme related to maple trees in New England. Maple syrup, maple trees, maple leaves, Maple Street, and all things maple can be found in the region. Add in the fall foliage and the occasional maple tree flaming with various colors and signs like these become representative of the region. I hope to have more for you soon. Enjoy.
Outbuildings in a snowy landscape in beautiful Suches, Georgia
As I sit writing this post I’m looking out from my home office at a beautiful snowfall beginning to cover my patio. It’s been an odd winter in Georgia. We started out with some of the coldest late November and early December temperatures that I can recall. Then, winter became mild and made me think we would have an early spring. Now, a fairly decent snowfall seems destined to cover us.
As the temperatures dove last week, I began to hear tales of people actually climbing giant ice formations in north Georgia. Then I saw photos of climbers with ice axes and crampons actually scaling the icy cliffs on Richard Russell Scenic Highway. I decided that I had to see that for myself. So, I drove up early last Friday morning to see the frozen landscape.
Unfortunately, despite checking the road closure list, the road I wanted to drive was closed. Anna Ruby Falls near Unicoi State Park was closed as well. But, having grown up wandering through those mountains, I had a few other locations in mind that certainly would be worth visiting. I wandered around Helen visiting the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River. That was fun because the slow moving parts of the river had frozen over and made for a beautiful landscape. Helton Creek Falls near Vogel State Park had also frozen over. The road was a bit slippery down in the valley where the falls are located, but the picture more than made up for the effort.
My favorite road in Georgia, Highway 180 leading from Vogel State Park to Suches was open and beautiful. The snow from earlier in the week was still on the ground and new visual delights awaited me around every corner. At the top of Wolf Pen Gap Road, Lake Winfield Scott was totally iced over. I wouldn’t have gone ice skating on the lake, but it clearly was frozen and held pockets of fresh snow.
At Suches I planned to go back down the mountain, through Dahlonega, and head home. Fortunately for me the most beautiful part of the trip was waiting for me in Suches. Snow still covered the ground and trees were still covered in ice. It wasn’t a deep snow, but it was enough to make for a lovely scene. I found this image and spent a while composing and recomposing until I had it just right. I love the pops of color on the storage sheds and the overhanging oak with its ice-covered limbs. The background of snow-covered mountains adds to the sense of a cold winter scene. Perhaps I’ll share some of the other images soon, but I hope this one gives you a sense of winter in Georgia. Enjoy.
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.
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.
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.
The Finger Lakes feature many scenes like this one from Keuka Lake with fall colors surrounding her
In my fall trip to the Finger Lakes, I was constantly on the lookout for shots that captured the unique essence of the region. The Finger Lakes are long narrow gorges formed during the last Ice Age that are now beautiful lakes surrounded by farms, towns, foliage, and wildlife. I had seen some images that appeared to be taken from high bluffs that gave terrific views of the shape of the narrow lakes.
I didn’t find that shot, but I did find a few like this one. Although this is taken at water level, it does show many elements of Keuka Lake – boating, fishing, farms, and lake houses. The real bonus here is the brilliant fall foliage that is nearing peak and adds a dramatic splash of color to the scene.
As I scouted the area, I noticed that many of the villages were founded in the 1700s. Being a bit of a history nerd, I began to think about the people who founded communities in this area during the colonial era. Can you imagine moving through the wilderness or along Native American trails looking for a spot to set up your new home and seeing this landscape for the first time? I suppose it wasn’t difficult for a settler to decide that a farm alongside a lake like this one would be a nice place to hang his hat. Although there would be quite a bit of wind and snow during the winter, the other seasons of the year must have seemed like paradise. The views would be incredible, it would be easy to move produce up and down the lake via barge, and water for irrigation would be plentiful. And the views would be pretty spectacular – especially during the fall. All in all it must have been a pretty easy decision for those early settler families to make.
Enjoy these last few images from New York. We will be wrapping up here soon and moving on to another beautiful spot in the world. Happy new year.
Houses are few and far between in certain parts of the Palouse
I mentioned earlier that the Palouse is sparsely inhabited. The population density of Whitman County – one of the large counties entirely contained by the Palouse – is 19 people per square mile. I can assure you that if you were to remove Pullman and one or two other towns, that density would be closer to one person per square mile. Once on the back roads it isn’t unusual to find farms surrounded by hundreds or thousands of acres of fields.
The back roads around Oakesdale are good examples of this. We spent a couple of hours exploring a series of farm roads that ran between two major paved roads. While we were back there we saw exactly one other vehicle. While there were cars on the main roads, there was almost no one on the unpaved roads. This image is from the Oakesdale area. We were driving on the road leading toward the home on the hill in the right side of the frame. I took this image because the combination of blue sky, white clouds, green fields, and the farm house captured the mood of the area we were exploring.
The one car that we did encounter was occupied by a friendly lady who lived in the area. I suppose she wanted to make sure that we weren’t up to mischief, but even then she was very friendly and engaging. As we discussed the remoteness and beauty of her region, she described it as God’s country. After spending a few days in the Palouse, I certainly would agree with her. Enjoy.
These structures have seen their best days but still reign majestically over the Palouse
The road system in the Palouse is a combination of mostly two-lane paved roads linking the major communities and dirt or gravel roads that allow access to individual farms. The paved roads are great for getting from one location to another quickly. The back roads may be slower to navigate and occasionally a bit slippery, but they are vastly superior for finding great images.
This image is a great example of that premise. We were wandering along the Washington-Idaho border and saw that a series of farm roads would take us from where we were in Idaho to where we wanted to go in Washington. The problem with maps and GPS systems is that they render a two-dimensional view of the real world. They don’t capture elevation changes, the type of terrain, or the location of barns, houses, churches, or other photogenic subjects. As it turned out, the entire route was full of interesting subjects and great viewpoints.
My favorite of the sights that we saw that morning was this farm. Once again, weather conditions were ideal. There was an overcast sky that still had enough texture in it to be interesting. The weathered red paint and gray metal roof of the barn and outbuilding were a beautiful combination. As with other barns in the area, the vibrant green grass of the surrounding pasture and fields contrasted wonderfully with the reds and grays of the sky and buildings. As a bonus, the back side of the old barn had fallen down allowing patches of sky and field to be seen through the structure itself.
I would have liked to stay and prowl around a bit. However, as we were setting up to shoot, we noticed that there was actually a camper set up in the remaining sturdy part of the barn. Basically, we were wandering around in the front yard of someone who had chosen to live in a trailer under a dilapidated barn. Something told me that they probably wouldn’t like us wandering around their home. We moved on quickly but made sure that we had our shots first. I love the way this image captures the feel of that Sunday morning in the Palouse. Enjoy.