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.
We arrived in Portland on a Wednesday knowing that a storm would be hitting the coast on Saturday. We took a day to photograph the Japanese Maple Tree in Portland that is probably photographed way too much, but we just had to do it too.
With the storm on the way, we headed down to the central coast a day early. Thor’s Well is this amazing hole in the coastal rocks that the ocean rises up and explodes out of and then is sucked back down into. If you fell in the hole, you would be a gonner. Of course, I just had to get there and photograph it.
The storm arrived with 45mph winds and all we could do was sit in the car and watch the wind blow. The following day brought us fantastic conditions with rough seas surrounding Thor’s Well, which is what made the photographs stand out. We got a little wet from the occasional large wave, but it was more than worth it.
The wide beaches of Oregon are some of the best I have ever seen to capture the reflection of sunrise or sunset colors. Needless, to say, we spent some time on the beach.
Ever since I saw the landscape photographs of Mount Assiniboine in Alberta, Canada several years ago, I knew I just had to get there. It’s a remote place, where you access a small lodge by helicopter. We arrived at mid-day in the rain, with more rain in the forecast for our 48 hour stay. To our surprise and joy, it cleared that night and we hiked up the trail to the point called The Niblet before dawn. It may have provided me with the best photo I have ever taken.
After Assiniboine, it was on to Ouray, Colorado to photograph the fall colors in that region. Shortly after arriving, it began to rain and snow. Although this was going to speed the decline of the color in the trees, I knew it would deliver snow to the mountain peaks. In addition, the snow was going to provide a special look to the golden aspen trees.
In one of those magic moments, I returned for a second attempt to photograph sunset at North Twilight Peak. The mountain was totally covered by a snowstorm and, just minutes before sunset color, the storm cleared resulting in the photograph titled Double Twilight. I kept thinking how lucky I had been during the one hour drive back to Ouray. Lucky ain’t all bad.