It had been a year since we had last photographed the Grand Tetons. Spring is a beautiful time there with the flowers in full bloom. Last year, the weather pattern had the clouds covering the mountains for almost the entire time we were there, preventing a vast majority of any photographic opportunities.
Ever hopeful of better conditions, we returned this year to these majestic mountains to try once again. As luck would have it, this time the morning skies (when the rising sun shines on the mountains) were almost completely without any clouds. A good photograph simply requires some clouds, hopefully with some sunrise color.
Accepting our situation, we worked around it the best we could, but opportunities were limited. With the clear skies, we went for the sunset photo of the sunburst just as the sun was setting behind the Tetons. The reflection of the sunburst in the water was an added bonus.
We had one morning when we knew a storm was coming through and had planned where we wanted to be when it did. It is a view of what is called Cascade Canyon and it resulted in one of the most dramatic images of the Tetons I have ever seen.
Just for fun, we headed south of Jackson to the Granite Creek area and were surprised by the huge fields of yellow Balsamroot flowers with some nice mountains in the background. Another mid-morning gave us some wispy clouds at the always beautiful Oxbow Bend. Minutes later they were gone and the sky was cloudless, once again.
We got up on our last day, a Saturday, greeted by cloudless skies once again. By-mid-morning, when we were headed to the airport, a beautiful set of wispy clouds formed over the Tetons. We blew past the airport turnoff and headed north to Glacier Point to capture the moment. I would have paid good money to have clouds like this in the early morning getting lit up by the rising sun. In a way, it was like Mother Nature gave us this small enticement to return again. We’ll have to see about that.
We’ll be heading to the red rock country of Utah in July with its 100+ temperatures and hope get lucky with some thunderstorms in addition to some nice sunrise and sunsets.
Deserts, canyons, mountains, rainforests and more. Oregon has it all and spring is a fantastic time to photograph there. I returned to Oregon with my good friend, Keith Miller, who assumed the driving duties allowing me to spend the time in the car forecasting the weather, planning and re-planning our itinerary.
We got off to a great start at Trillium Lake with Mount Hood in the background at sunrise, which required a 3:30am alarm, but it was more than worth it. From there, we headed south the Bend, for sunrise at Sparks Lake and sunset at Smith Rock. It took three days, but we got just the weather we needed. Smith Rock has some of the coolest hiking trails in Oregon. While dodging rain, we explored the area and found Sahalie Falls, a wonderful surprise in the rainforest.
We ventured south of Oregon to check out Redwood National Park and were dutifully impressed by these massive trees. We returned to the Columbia River Gorge to explore some of the small streams, like Gorton Creek. Northeast of Portland is Moulton Park, with a charming scene of a wooden bridge with its reflection in the calm river.
We traveled over 2,800 miles in the 10 days we were there and barely scratched the surface of what is in Oregon to photograph. It was my third expedition to Oregon and already have a commitment to return in June of 2016.
I returned to Charleston in early April for the annual bloom of the Azaleas at the Magnolia Plantation. Some very nice photographs of the white bridges surrounded by the flowers are usually possible. As luck would have it, the bloom was running far behind schedule frustrating quite a large number of photographers that had arrived in town for the occasion.
The peacocks of the plantation, however, were not interested in delaying their Spring activities and were providing a full display of their tail feathers for the ladies. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to do them much good. The ladies must have been waiting on the flowers to bloom to get in the mood.
Although the Boone Hall Plantation does not have much in the way of flowers, the line of oak trees on each side of their main drive offer a very nice arched canopy, complete with hanging moss.
The dirt road to Botany Bay, another photographic favorite in the area, was closed due to heavy rains and wet conditions. I took a look but the one car that tried to make it through was getting towed after being stuck in 12 inch deep muddy ruts. Anything less than a Hummer was not going to make it.
So, I headed to the north end Folly Beach for a nice sunrise over the old wooden jetty. If you are in the area, it is a fun place to go.
With so little working out, I made the four hour drive to Asheville to see what was going on along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The answer was not much, with most of the trees bare from winter. I did manage a respectable photograph of sunset from the summit at Craggy Gardens. This is another great place if you are on the Parkway.
Next up will be an expedition to Oregon in Mid-May. We’ll be photographing a wide variety of subjects from the Columbia River Gorge in the north to the Redwoods for northern California. I can’t wait.
We photographed the aurora in and around Fairbanks in March of 2012 and 2013, and as fun as that was, I wanted to go further north where we would have the incredible mountains of the Brooks Range as our backgrounds. I returned this year with my good friend Jess Lee and we drove a small group in two vehicles up to Wiseman, Alaska.
Photographing the aurora is always a risk with the weather and it is a long way from Miami to get there. It was worth it. We had a fun night photographing near Fairbanks by a frozen river before heading north the next day. We stayed out late after a 7 hour drive north and were just about to pack it in around 2am when the aurora went nuts. Patience does pay off. Clouds and snow prevented us from seeing aurora activity in the following nights, but we had already been well rewarded.
Last August I attempted to photograph the coastal areas but was plagued by the dreaded cloudless skies and came away with zip. So, I looked at winter sun angles and tide charts and decided to try again. The result, while never what you really want, was vastly better skies and 10 decent images.
In North Carolina, I had wanted to photograph the Manteo lighthouse at dusk, with its nicely lit pier and reflections. I didn’t get color in the sky, but I did get calm water, which was great for the reflections. The line of trees in Lake Matamuskeet provide for a unique photograph and it was at the top of my list. April would be when the sun rises directly behind the trees and a return trip may be in order.
There are only a couple of old wooden jetties in South Carolina that are in good enough shape to photograph. At Pawley’s Island the sun was going to rise in line with the jetty on January 20th and the tide would be high at sunrise, so this was a priority. If you always do your research for sun angels and tides, you will be rewarded. At the north end of Folley Beach is the only other jetty in such great condition. It was a different day, but the results were equally good. Also nearby, is Huntington Beach, which is worth spending some time at.
Just south of Charleston on Edisto Island is the Botany Bay “Boneyard”, where dead trees remain stranded on the beach. Once again, you need to be there when the tide is high at sunrise. I was fortunate to have calm seas, which really made the long exposures work well in smoothing out the water. Of course, some nice color in the sky didn’t hurt.