Field Report – Other Faces of Yosemite

_4JS4565_HDR_v1I recently made a trip down to Yosemite with my friend from Boston, John Dubois, trying for the 3rd time to catch the famed “Firefall” from Horsetail Fall (more on that later). In years past, a winter trip to Yosemite always meant snow, great skies, color, maybe some skiing, and water from the 21 falls in and around the park. Sadly though, this time the now 4-year, unrelenting, drought in California left only small traces of snow that had lingered from what little had fallen weeks before in a very light snowfall. Unfortunately, that has become the latter-day trend which doesn’t look to change much in the near future.

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Fall in New England – 2013

The holidays, travel and a few other distractions got in the way of posting something from this most recent trip to New England.  I’m way overdue, but here it is anyway.

Back in the summer, I was scratching around to find yet another fun place to go shoot.  I’d just finished a great ‘shop with Bill Fortney across Washington state, so was juiced to find another, completely different, landscape locale.  Thanks to Moose Peterson’s BT Journal (very worth the modest e-subscription for iPad), and the fact that the Winter-2013 issue hit just at the right time, Maine in the fall jumped right out of the pages (well, the electronic pages anyway).  Yes, I know that every place with seasons has its own version of autumn foliage.  That includes my home in Oregon and my semi-annual route south through the Eastern Sierras.  But if you haven’t seen the Fall in New England, you’ve missed real autumn.

Fall colors in New England – dazzling!


For ease of words, I said that this trip was to New England for the colors.  But, as spectacular as autumn is during this two-week window, the real beauty and primary reason for this trip was to experience leisurely days meandering along Maine’s winding roads covered with fallen leaves, past farms, ponds, coves, harbors and just plain “Americana” at such a lovely time of the year.

Two weeks is not nearly enough time to cover much of Maine and certainly won’t even dent the rest of New England.  So, I call this a New England “sampler”.

After arriving in Boston and as quickly as possible navigating our exit from the airport and city, we headed northwest to Boxborough where we were fortunate to stay with our friends, John and Michelle Dubois, at their farm in Boxborough.  In this instance, “farm” is a relative term since John has turned his home into a veritable science lab amidst 25 acres of beautiful woods, horses, barns and serenity.  That was a great way to get tuned up for the rest of the trip.  And, if the truth be known, that would have sufficed for an entire two week’s stay.  There is plenty to see and shoot within an hour of Boston, especially if you’re lucky enough to be there at the right time and have good friends who know where and when to venture.

_1965While there, we drove out to the nearby Old Sturbridge Village for a wonderful day’s trip.  The Village is a 200-acre living museum which re-creates life in rural New England during the 1790s through 1830s.  And even though it is mostly a restoration of a 19th century town, it offers some wonderful opportunities for a number of very colorful scenes.


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A Great Workshop with Bill Fortney & Team

The Palouse, Mt. Rainier & The Olympic National Park, WA

(1st of 7 Posts from this Trip)


(Note:  Click on any of the images below to see an enlargement in a new window)


Shop1I’ve just returned from a photography workshop across much of the state of Washington, led by Bill Fortney, Matt Kloskowski and their team.  It was one of the most interesting and varied workshops I’ve ever taken.

I’ve known of Bill for some years from his Great American Photography Weekend workshops and as an instructor with Kelby Training.  But I had never met him nor taken one of his workshops.  Matt is well known to most every one who follows Photoshop User magazine and Kelby Training, and I’ve been a huge fan of Matt’s years.  So when a few slots in this workshop opened up (they typically fill within days after being announced), I jumped at the opportunity.

Most typical workshops are centered on one region or locale for 3 to 5 days. But one of the most intriguing parts of this ‘shop was that it covered much of Washington’s geography (and even a tad of Idaho’s).  The principal areas were the Palouse, Mt. Rainier National Park, and the Olympic National Park, all over eight days.  I’ve attended dozens of workshops and hosted photography tours, but this is likely to be one of my all-time favorites.  It not only encompassed some truly amazing scenery, but the quality of training, degree of organization and scheduling, and the camaraderie with all of the leaders and fellow attendees was truly outstanding.

There would be no way to cover the entire workshop trip in one post so I’ll keep this one fairly general.  It already shapes up to be too long, so I’ll try to focus on individual areas in later separate posts.  Stay tuned and come back soon for those (assuming I can survive plowing through thousands of frames and still have the energy to write).

Shop-2We started in the Palouse which is a loosely bounded region situated roughly between Spokane and Walla Walla, WA, and stretching eastward into western Idaho.  It is home to the second largest wheat growing region in the world (Ukraine is tops).  Its rolling hillsides and valleys set it apart from so many other agricultural regions, and the earliest growing season in June has become a favorite photography setting.  In many ways it reminds me of Tuscany.

Later in the year at harvest time, all of the green has disappeared, and the entire area truly is one of “Amber Waves of Grain.”  But at this time of year, the rich greens and characteristic farms, silos and barns make this a photographer’s dream.  Early morning and evening sun strikes the rolling hills and valleys to create ever-changing and amazing patterns, shadows and forms.  Each morning and evening, we perched atop Steptoe Butte for what can only be described as a fantastic vantage of an amazing place.  Between those times, we meandered around hundreds of miles of quiet highways and farm roads, shooting barns and the countryside for as much of each day as the reasonable light would allow.

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