Dingle Harbor

Dingle Harbor

The rising moon and clouds lit by the setting sun hang over beautiful Dingle harbor

My favorite part of our trip to Ireland was our time on the Dingle Peninsula. It was everything that I hoped Ireland would be and more. The scenery was beautiful, the music was enchanting, the people were friendly, and the food was plentiful and tasty. I can’t imagine having a better time. I only wish that we could have stayed there for a week or more.

Our stay was made even more perfect by the hotel we stayed in. The Castlewood House is one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in. It’s either a large B&B or a small hotel. In either case it’s a perfect place to stay. The owners were helpful without being overly inquisitive. The breakfasts that we had there were some of the best I’ve had in my life. The rooms were modern and yet filled with antiques. All that and the walk to “downtown” Dingle was maybe five minutes. I can’t recommend Castlewood House highly enough.

This image was made just after dinner and just before the live music began in the pub we were in that evening. I kept looking up from our table to see how the light was looking. My long-suffering wife shooed me out of the restaurant knowing that I wouldn’t enjoy the music if I had missed the sunset. I spent twenty or thirty minutes taking in the show as the clouds turned cotton candy pink above Dingle Harbor. This image is a bit soft but it gives a glimpse of the pretty little town and harbor of Dingle. Enjoy!

Polyphemus Surprising Acis and Galatea

Polyphemus Surprising Acis and Galatea

This beautiful fountain is located in Paris’ Jardin du Luxembourg

Paris truly is a photographer’s paradise. I could wander around in the city for days and never run out of subjects to photograph. So, with only two full days to visit, I had to choose my subjects judiciously. After doing a great deal of research and after choosing the major attractions I wanted to visit, I began to fill in our itinerary with “secondary” sites. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, but there are prime locations in Paris (the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, etc.) and then there are dozens of other equally fascinating locations. Since we would be spending some time in the 6th arrondissement, the Jardin du Luxembourg seemed like a worthy destination.

It turned out to be a good choice. We visited on a beautiful Saturday morning when the locals were beginning to fill up the park. We saw a dance class in a weathered old gazebo, parents strolling with their children, a cadre of runners old and young getting in their runs, a college group running some sort of fun run holding all sorts of quirky items (wine bottles, baguettes, hula hoops, children’s blow-up toys, and many others), and the toy sailboats being set up in the pool in front of the Palais de Luxembourg. It was a wonderful glimpse into the lives of workaday Parisians enjoying a perfect spring Saturday morning.

I had a field day capturing as much of the atmosphere photographically as possible. In fact, I had wandered through most of the garden when I decided to explore the last remaining corner. That’s when I stumbled upon the Medici Fountain. It says something of Paris’ beauty that something as beautiful as this fountain simply doesn’t warrant a mention in most guidebooks!

I apologized to my traveling companions – including my long-suffering photography widow of a wife – as I set up my tripod in order to capture the scene in front of me. I wanted to capture the fountain and its reflection in the pond, but I also was intrigued by the fountain itself. I’ve included an image of each for you do decide which one you prefer. After twenty minutes or so of waiting for the wind to calm and tourists to pass by, these are the results. I can only hope you enjoy viewing these images a fraction as much as I enjoyed my time in the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg.

Polyphemus Surprising Acis and Galatea - detail

A closer view of Polyphemus Surprising Acis and Galatea in Paris’ Jardin du Luxembourg

Sunset at the Santa Monica Pier

Sunset at the Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier glows brightly as the sun lights up the sky over the Pacific

A few years ago, my daughter, Lauren, and I took a trip to California. During that trip I had envisioned a shot of the Santa Monica Pier lit up brightly with a glowing sunset overhead and a reflection of it all in the wet sand of Santa Monica beach. Alas, the weather did not cooperate. Fog rolled in on the night I was setting up for the shot and ultimately we couldn’t even see the pier from the beach! Fortunately, we were able to make it up the coast to Malibu and took another favorite shot of mine. You can view that image here.

So, on our recent trip to California I knew I wanted to take another shot at capturing that image. As it turned out, we spent our last night in Santa Monica. I actually wanted to stay in Malibu, but the hotel we wanted to stay in was already booked for that night. Fortunately, the hotel we chose was in the heart of Santa Monica and offered easy access to the beach and to the pier.

While my wife and daughters ate some dinner and rode some of the carnival rides on the pier, I worked my way over to the beach on the south side of the pier and scouted out my location for a sunset shot. That turned out to be pretty easy to do. The hard part was that a camera club had beat me to my spot and had already staked out some pretty good locations. I spent the rest of the night working around that group of people. Some of them were very talented and knew exactly what they were looking to do. Others really didn’t have a clue and seemed to be along for the ride.

I could tell that the clouds that were hovering offshore had a chance to create a pretty spectacular sunset. Of course, if there was no break in the clouds, the sunset could also have been a total bust. Fortunately for me and for the club members a pretty awesome light show ensued. I spent the next hour or so with my jeans rolled up standing on the edge of the surf (sometimes in it!) totally immersed in the experience of capturing the shot. What an awesome evening it was!

This shot was taken about twenty minutes after sunset with my D800 and a 24-70 f/2.8 lens. The shot was exposed for two seconds to create a silky feel in the water and I opened the lens to f/6.3 to get as crisp an exposure as possible and holding focus from a spot about ten feet in front of me to beyond the pier. I was also waiting for a set of waves to wash over the entire beach in front of me so that the reflection of the Ferris wheel would be as complete as possible. Of course all of this was shot on a tripod with a cable release and with the camera in mirror lockup mode in order to obtain as crisp an image as possible.

All of those elements converged at the right time on this occasion. There is a moment after sunset when the available light in the sky matches the subject matter and the image turns out just right. This was one of those occasions. If you can’t tell, I just love this image. It is definitely my favorite image of the entire trip. If only all the elements could come together on every photo shoot the way they did on this one. Enjoy.

Late Afternoon Light on the Saranac River

Late Afternoon Light on the Saranac River

Late afternoon light creates a golden hue on the wetlands and hills covered in fall foliage along the Saranac River near Saranac Lake, New York

Photographers refer to the golden hour often. Generally speaking the golden hour is the hour following sunrise or just before sunset. That’s when the sun is low in the sky and sunlight is filtered through more of the atmosphere. As a result the light is more subdued and can cast a golden hue on the landscape.

Although I’m always looking for great subjects to shoot, I become keenly aware of my surroundings in the golden hour. Good subjects become great subjects when the light is just right.

That was certainly the case with this shot. The Saranac River flows for about eighty miles from the mountains around Saranac Lake to Lake Champlain to the northwest. At times, it is simply a river making its way to its destination. In the fall when colors are peaking and golden hour does its magic, the river and its surroundings can become a canvas upon which beautiful scenes are created.

On this fall afternoon, the light was just right and the colors were peaking. I took a few minutes just absorbing the scene then I set my tripod up to attempt to capture the scene. Only a few minutes later, the sun had dropped below the mountains to the west and the magic was lost. Hopefully I captured a bit of that magic in this image. Enjoy.

Moose Pond Reflection

Moose Pond Reflection

Fall foliage reflected in lovely Moose Pond near Bloomingdale, New York

One of my favorite things to do on a photography trip is to simply drive around in a new environment. Although I almost always have a few locations in mind, I enjoy just driving and looking for images that suit my eye.

That’s exactly what I was doing just prior to taking this image. I was driving from one gorgeous spot to another in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks when I saw a sign for Moose Pond. Now, for me, that sign was like honey to a bear just waking up from hibernation. The curiosity in me surpassed any other agenda I had at just that moment.

So, off I headed down a lonely country road passing an occasional home or farm. I drove for perhaps four miles before entering a small local park where Moose Pond was the featured attraction. I really didn’t know what to expect at this location and as often as not this type of shot is a bust. Fortunately for me the afternoon light was slanting in toward the opposite shore from the boat access ramp. I was able to maneuver around enough to get a great shot of the shoreline. To add to my good fortune, the wind was calm that afternoon and the trees on the shoreline were fairly far along in their turn to autumnal majesty.

I spent an hour or so capturing the sign as well as I could and from as many angles as possible. I exited as a couple and their dog approached. I’m sure they were ready to exercise Fido by throwing sticks into the pond for him to retrieve. I had my time, though, and I was ready to exit and move on to my next location. Hopefully, this image conveys a bit of the beauty of the spot that mid-fall afternoon. Enjoy.

Round Pond Reflected

Round Pond Reflected

Small pockets of calm water captured a reflection of Round Pond in the Adirondacks

As I mentioned in a previous post dry weather conditions had caused me to change course from my original strategy of spending a couple of days doing stream and waterfall photography. So, I started scouting for locations that hadn’t been on my original shot list.

For me, that’s a bit like Br’er Rabbit being thrown into the briar patch. One of my favorite parts of these trips is simply driving back roads and seeing things I’ve never seen before. Sometimes hiking down an unknown trail is a waste of time and sometimes it yields an experience and an image that stays in my memory forever.

Round Pond doesn’t exactly fit into that category. It’s not an unknown location. It was just unknown to me. So, after thrashing around looking for the trail after parking my car, I finally found the trailhead. The trail was pretty straightforward although I recall wondering if I was headed in the right direction. There was only one other hiker in the area and I quickly lost sight of him. Finally, I topped a small rise in the trail and I could see the vegetation changing significantly. Soon, I was hiking along the shore of Round Pond looking for a stretch of calm water to take the shot I had in mind.

I found an opening in the brush and a small set of rocks thrusting out into the pond. I set up my tripod and just soaked in the scene for a while. It’s quite a treat to have a spot like this all to yourself for a spell. As I sat, I noticed some movement in the water. At first, I thought it was just a fish catching insects on the surface. But, I quickly realized that a beaver was moving through the water and moving on an angle that would bring him close to me. As the beaver approached, I took a few shots, but he never really came close enough for me to capture anything memorable photographically. Nevertheless, it was a cool experience to watch him swim gracefully through the water looking for his morning meal.

As I waited out the wind gusts, I was rewarded with a few calm minutes here and there that allowed me to capture some images. I’m still working on the panoramas I took, but this shot gives you an idea of the conditions that magical fall morning. The overcast skies, peak fall foliage, and occasional lapses in wind allowed me to take some pretty spectacular reflections shots. I’m looking forward to sharing the rest. Enjoy.

Bog on Adler Brook Road

Bog on Adler Brook Road

Fall color and a partly cloudy sky reflect in a boggy area off Adler Brook Road near Vermontville, New York

My strategy on photography trips is to program lots of locations that look promising, be at those locations – especially at sunrise and sunset, and to drive slowly to the next site looking for unexpected photographic opportunities. This image is an example of the “drive slowly” part. The location wasn’t planned, but I was certainly looking for beautiful images in this area.

To be totally honest, I’m not absolutely certain this boggy area is on Adler Brook Road. I’m going from memory and Google Maps. I do know that the shot is within a thirty minute drive of Silver Lake Mountain and that I was headed toward Saranac Lake via the northerly route from Silver Lake Mountain. In any case, this scene was one of those unexpected shots where I found myself slamming on the brakes while driving down a small country road. The light was illuminating the scene brilliantly, the wind was calm so the reflection was intact, and the fall color was still vibrant enough to create a strong visual image.

It’s the kind of shot that could have ended up being a throwaway but instead turned out to be a keeper. It’s a great illustration of the incredible beauty to be found around virtually every corner in the Adirondacks in the fall. Enjoy.

Silver Lake Mountain Panorama

Silver Lake Mountain Panorama

Fall color stretches for as far as the eye can see in the Adirondacks as viewed from the summit of Silver Lake Mountain

I had already experienced an incredible sunrise and golden hour on Taylor Pond in the Adirondacks. Honestly, I would have been happy just driving on up to Lake Placid and hoping that I could have great light in the afternoon, too.

However, I had marked a trail nearby that looked promising as I was doing my research. As it turned out, the trailhead was only a few minutes away and the light was still great. So, I found the parking area for the trailhead, loaded up my backpack, and headed up Silver Lake Mountain. Although I didn’t know it as I did my research, it turned out that the view I would have from the peak of Silver Lake Mountain was of the landscape I had just photographed earlier in the day. Only now I would have a bird’s eye view of Taylor Pond, Silver Lake, and the surrounding forest and mountains.

The trail was steep but mercifully short – probably less than a mile. There was a good bit of scrambling over rocks and boulders to gain elevation but the view kept getting more promising. Finally, I cleared a short, steep incline and had gained enough elevation to be looking down over the treelike to the landscape beyond. I don’t remember if this was from that view or from one a few hundred feet higher, but the light was gorgeous, the fall colors were near peak, and the breeze was gentle allowing the trees to not blur under a long exposure.

The body of water to the left is Taylor Pond where the images from the last few posts were shot. The lake on the right is Silver Lake. The mountains in the background are the Adirondacks looking toward Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.

It truly was a magical morning. And it was only the first morning of my adventure in the Adirondacks and Vermont. There’s more images coming. Stay tuned and enjoy.

Morning in the Adirondacks

Morning in the Adirondacks

Early morning light illuminates the clouds and foliage over and around Taylor Pond on a spectacular fall morning

I’ve posted several images from my morning at Taylor Pond in the Adirondacks. I couldn’t resist this one last shot before moving on. The broken sky and sunlight filtering through it and the rising haze to illuminate the brilliant foliage on the shore and surrounding mountains made for some wonderful shooting conditions. If only every fall morning could be spent at a location like this one. It was magical. Enjoy.

Early Morning Light on Taylor Pond

Early morning light on Taylor Pond

Shortly after dawn the shoreline of Taylor Pond still reflects beautifully in the still waters of the pond

The morning I spent on Taylor Pond was truly magical. It was one of those mornings where the light changed constantly as the clouds moved overhead yet the wind stayed down enough to allow a beautiful reflection for an hour or more. I found myself just standing behind my tripod transfixed by the light show developing around me.

At sunrise I was focused primarily on capturing the pinkish hue in the clouds above reflecting in the pond. As the sun rose higher over the horizon and burned through the light overcast I became fixated on this shoreline. As the sun rose through the haze and over the low-lying mountains surrounding Taylor Pond, the trees on the shore caught more and more sunlight. Finally I was able to make a series of images with the trees fully illuminated. This is the first of those. I especially like the way the broken sky reflects in the still water of Taylor Pond. Enjoy.