From Roan to Rainier

June and July were busy months, photographically and otherwise. One of the main attractions in the east in June is the Rhododendron bloom in the mountains of North Carolina. In July, we headed back to Washington State and Mount Rainier for some unfinished business there.

On the way to Roan Mountain North Carolina, we made a stop at Babcock State Park in West Virginia to photograph the Glade Creek Grist Mill. Usually, this is done in the Fall, but I wanted to shoot it with a more lush backdrop of green summer trees. We were fortunate enough for it to have been raining all day, giving the trees deep, saturated color. I got wet in the rain, but it was well worth it.

West Virginia, Babcock, Grist Mill
Summer Flow : Prints Available

The Rhododendrons were in full bloom at Roan Mountain. There is an ideal spot to photograph sunset from that turned out to be a couple of miles over and up some of the foothills. I wasn’t alone and we all made the hike back to the parking lot in the dark with the help of our headlamps, where my sister and daughter were patiently waiting for me. The results were worth the effort.

North Carolina, Roan, Mountain, Rhododendron, sunset
Rhoddies of Roan : Prints Available

Flowers were also blooming in a variety of areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was checking out a trail up the mountain to a viewpoint and came across this wonderful setting of Rhododendrons blooming under a tree. It was totally unexpected, which just made it all the more fun to photograph.

North Carolina, Rhododendron, mountain
A Pleasant Surprise : Prints Available

While scouting around the Parkway, we came across this beautiful area of ferns under the trees. I am just a sucker for ferns under trees. We immediately made plans to come back the next morning when the sun would be bursting through the trees behind them. We took a large number of multiple exposure images from various positions, but after all was said and done, this was the blend that worked the best.

Green Morning : Prints Available

Before heading to Mount Rainier after arriving in Seattle, we first headed to an area a couple of miles south of there. For several years, I have been wanting to photograph Lower Lewis River Falls, but just couldn’t get up there from where I was at the time in Oregon. It’s a short hike to the river, but the trail stops short of the river, about 6 feet above it. There is a rope you can use to repel down to the river at that point. With rubber boots on, we waded out to the middle of the river where you can get close enough to the deep aqua pool at the base of the falls. We had to keep wiping the spray off the lens between shots, and after taking a bunch of them, this was the one that really conveyed the beauty of the falls.

Washington, Lower Lewis Falls, Waterfall
The Aqua Pool : Prints Available

It was on to Mount Rainier, where I have been wanting to photograph it from the east side at Little Tipsoo Lake. The weather was a challenge, with either the mountain being covered by clouds and not visible or totally clear skies with no clouds. We would head out at 4am every morning to get there for sunrise, that would be behind us to light up the mountain. After days of zero clouds, they came back, but covered the mountain where you couldn’t see it.

With the heavy cloud cover, we took the chance to drive up to Sunrise Point to see if we could get above them. It was really spectacular. We captured this one image before the clouds moved in and covered the area that was picking up the color from the sunrise. In some ways, it was my favorite of the trip

Washington, Mount Rainier, Sunrise, Clouds
Clouds : Prints Available
Washington, Mount Rainier, Tipsoo Lake, Reflection
Tipsoo Morning : Prints Available
Washington, Mount Rainier, Mountain, Reflection, Tipsoo Lake
Reflection : Prints Available

It was a good couple of trips and I’m pleased with the images. We head for Glacier National Park in a few days. Hopefully, the flowers are in bloom at Logan Pass and we get some good skies. This is another one that has been on the list for a while.

Thanks for looking and feel free to share.

Patagonia!

Patagonia is an area at the southern tip of South America. It is comprised of two large national parks and has some incredible mountains. Being in the southern hemisphere, it is the fall season in April. This is a great time to go there, with cool weather, some fall color and the summer crowds are gone.

For a variety of logistical reasons, it is best to go with a photography group. This was my first trip there and it didn’t take long to realize that the group deal was the right decision. I departed Miami on a 9 hour night flight to Buenos Aires, followed by a 3 hour morning flight to El Calafate, Argentina to meet up with the group. We had a group of 12 photographers plus two guides and a great bus driver.

The next day, we headed out to our first location, the Perito Moreno Glacier. I have been to and photographed quite a few glaciers, from Alaska to Norway, but have never seen one this clean from dirt and debris. We were there all day, but the good light on the face of the glacier came in the late afternoon. The large area of floating ice in front is from a part of the glacier that calved (fell off).

Argentina, Patagonia, Perito Moreno, Glacier
Glacier Glow : Prints Available

Our next destination was the small town of El Chalten, about 3 hours to the northwest of El Calafate. Just outside of town is the famous mountain known as Fitz Roy. Our morning at the canyon, we had a clear sky with the sun rising behind us. This gave us the pinkish-orange glow behind the mountain just prior to the sun rising. This trip was a year in the making and it was truly exciting to be standing there.

Argentina, Patagonia, Fitz-Roy, Sunrise
Before The Sunrise : Prints Available

From El Chalten, we also made the 4km hike up to Laguna Capri. I was told it was a 1,200 foot vertical climb and it seemed like every bit of it during the two hours it took me to hike up there. We started out in the dark two and a half hours before sunrise so we could catch early light on the mountain. Unfortunately, the mountain was covered by clouds, which took another 3 hours to clear away enough to photograph. They didn’t stay away long, but the wind subsided at the same time to give us reflections. It was a hard day, but all’s well that ends well.

Argentina, Patagonia, Fitz-Roy, Laguna Capri
Bright Morning : Prints Available

While in El Chalten, we had an afternoon trip to another angle of Fitz Roy. Although it’s not the typical angle, this mountain just doesn’t take a bad picture.

Argentina, Patagonia, Fitz-Roy
Another View : Prints Available

We left El Chalten and headed back south, past El Calafate, crossed the border into Chile and on to Torres del Paine National Park. It was about a nine hour trip on our bus, but I knew it was going to be worth it. Whereas Argentina had somewhat of a brown desert look, like Arizona, Torres del Paine had much more greenery with wonderful rolling hills. The iconic mountain in the park is Cuerno Principal (Main Horn), distinguished by its jagged horn-like peak.

Chile, Patagonia, Torres del Paine, mountain, Storm
Stormy Peaks : Prints Available

My main goal was to photograph it from below the river. It is so rare that you can photograph jagged mountain peaks from rivers or lakes that are so close to them. The rapids and cascades are a perfect compliment. Nearby, there were other options with the rolling hills.

Chile, Patagonia, Torres del Paine
Sunrise Cascades : Prints Available
Chile, Patagonia, Torres del Paine
Former Life : Prints Available

We also headed out before dawn to a lake at the north end of the park to shoot the mountains with the three iconic towers that are to the right. The wind picked up and prevented us from getting the reflection, but this was more than made up for by the cool lenticular-like pink clouds over the mountains.

Chile, Patagonia, Torres del Paine, Lake, Mountain, Sunrise
Morning Glory : Prints Available

Our other good morning, we went before dawn to an area with lakes called Nordenskjold. The morning wasn’t looking great, but with a little patience it delivered what might be my favorite image of the trip.

Chile, Patagonia, Torres del Paine, Lake, Sunrise
Morning At The Lake : Prints Available

It was another long day on the bus to get back to El Calafate and two long flights again to get back to Miami. This was one of those photographic bucket list trips. I have a few more of those yet to do, so I don’t know if I will make it back to Patagonia. Even if I don’t , I couldn’t have been more pleased with how this one worked out.

Next up are the rhododendrons near Roan Mountain in North Carolina and Tennessee in mid-June. These flowers make for great foregrounds for sunrise and sunset.

As always, you can follow our journey on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography

Thanks for looking and feel free to share!

Eastern Sierra Winter

There are many photographic possibilities in the Eastern Sierra Mountains of California. We arrived right when the big winter storms where hitting the mountains. We really didn’t know if this unusual weather was going to help our hurt our efforts.

We were based in Bishop, California. Initially, the blowing rain and snow limited the locations we would go to. The weather began to clear, but we still couldn’t go to some of the locations to the north because of heavy snow on the roads. Fortunately, there are some beautiful mountains to the south of Bishop near the town of Lone Pine.

The sunrises and sunsets were fairly spectacular because of the clouds from the storm system. Even though it was winter, there was still substantial color to be found within the various foliage, especially when it was being lighted by the warm early morning sun.

California, Eastern Sierra, Winter. Mountain, Sunset
Winter Colors : Prints Available
California, Eastern Sierra, Winter, Sunset, Mountain
Sunset Glow : Prints Available
California, Eastern Sierra, Winter, Sunrise, Mountain
Sunrise Peak : Prints Available
California, Eastern Sierra, Winter, Sunset, Mountain
Sierra Sunset : Prints Available
California, Eastern Sierra, Winter, Sunrise
Sierra Sunrise : Prints Available
First Light : Prints Available
Cottonwood Colors : Prints Available

We also went down to Death Valley. Much of what we wanted to do there wasn’t possible because of flooding there due to rare heavy rain. As we left Death Valley and headed back to Bishop, we saw a crazy cloud formation over Eureka Dunes. The contrast of the warm sand and the cool sky was simply striking.

California, Death Valley, Eureka, Dunes, Clouds, Storm
Desert Contrasts : Prints Available

Next up in March is an expedition to Alaska to photograph the Northern Lights in the central part of the state and eagles down south near the town of Homer. As always, you can follow our journey on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography

Thanks for looking and feel free to share!

Fall In The Georgia Mountains

There are a variety of options in late October for fall color. This year, I was visiting with family in North Georgia, but I knew there were some opportunities there. I did my usual research in advance, made notes of my main targets and headed out.

I was pleased to see how much color there was in some of the locations. I don’t often shoot a scene with a road in it, but the paving was new, dark, wet and begging to be included. So, I obliged.

Georgia, Chatahoochee, Fall Color, Fall, Mountain, Road
Fall Road : Prints Available

As with anywhere, you have no idea if you are going to have any decent color in the sky at sunrise or sunset. Over the years I have done this, I would say it is about 20% of the time something good happens. This is making the 5am and early alarms harder to get up for. We did manage two good sunrises and one good sunset.

Georgia, Mountain, Fall, Sunset, Chattahoochee
As The Sun Sets : Prints Available
Georgia, Mountain, Sunrise, Fall
Georgia Sunrise : Prints Available
Georgia, Chatahoochee, Mountain, Sunrise
Chatahoochee Sunrise : Prints Available

Pretty much anywhere in mountain areas, there are going to be waterfalls. The first one, Brasstown Falls, required hiking a remote trail and then sliding down a steep, wet, muddy embankment on one’s rear end while carrying the gear. Clothes had to be washed, but it was well worth it.

South Carolina, Brasstown Falls, Waterfall
Georgia Cascade : Prints Available

The other waterfall doesn’t have an official name and is located at the end of a long dirt road along Dick’s Creek. The first morning, to my surprise, several guys and their large dog were there fishing off the rocks on the side and I just couldn’t get a good image without them or their dog in it.. I got there maybe 30 minutes after sunrise, which I guess was too late. The next morning, I got there before sunrise and beat them to it. It’s amazing who you can run into when you least expect it.

Georgia, Dicks Creek, Dicks Creek Falls, Waterfall
Streaks And Swirls : Prints Available

Next up in November are the South Georgia swamps, where the cypress trees should be displaying their fall colors. I’ve got my locations well planned, and just hope I don’t have to compete again with guys fishing.

Thanks for looking, feel free to share!

Utah and Colorado Fall Color

Utah and the Wasatch Mountains were the main target for western fall color this year, because different from Colorado, in Utah some of the leaves turn red in addition to yellow. Mark, from my office, came with me and did a fantastic job handling the driving. The weather didn’t cooperate enough to give us a wide angle view of mountains with red foliage, but we did have some success finding some really nice settings with fantastic colors.

Utah, Wasatch, Mountain, Fall, Color, Aspen, Tree
Pink Splendor : Prints Available
Utah, Wasatch, Mountain, Fall, Color, Aspen, Tree
Utah Colors : Prints Available
Colorado, Aspen, Trees, Fall, Color, Crested Butte
Fall Ferns : Prints Available
Utah, Wasatch, Mountains, Aspen, Trees, Fall, Color
Utah Aspens : Prints Available

Part of our plan was to take a few days over in Colorado and photograph a couple of my favorite locations there. Near Aspen is Maroone Lake, known for its reflection of the mountains in the lake. We had to get there 2 hours before sunrise to get a good spot because well over 100 photographers will show up there each morning during the fall.

Colorado, Maroon Lake, Maroon Bells, Sunrise, Fall, Aspen
Sunrise At Maroon Lake : Prints Available

Another location near Aspen is the view of Capitol Peak. The last part of the long dirt road to get there is an extremely rough section that requires a high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle and some good experience navigating it. Our rental F150 4×4 did the trick, although it was a little more exciting at a few spots than we wanted. But in the end, it was worth it.

Colorado, Aspen, Fall, Color, Capitol Peak
Capitol View : Prints Available

The color in Colorado was the best it has been in years. The view at McClure Pass was a prime example. Last year, it was half green and half bare. What a difference a year makes!

We also headed down to the aspen grove near Crested Butte. Nothing says fall in the western United States like the yellow aspen trees. The trick is finding some settings with some nice undergrowth with color.

Colorado, Crested Butte, Aspen, Trees, Fall, Color
Aspen Burst : Prints Available
Colorado, Aspen, Trees, Fall, Color, Crested Butte
A Little Backlighting : Prints Available
Colorado, Aspen, Trees, Fall, Color
Morning Aspens : Prints Available

We drove over 2,500 miles scouting for locations, and while the days were long, we still had a lot of fun. I have a feeling I’ll be back there next year.

Next up is October fall color in North Georgia. Will report on it as soon as I can.