From the Archives: The Complexity of Simplicity

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Story & photo by F. M. Kearney

I’m often amazed at just how much subconscious thought and planning goes into the creation of a “simple” photograph.

A couple of years ago I was in the Thain Family Forest of the New York Botanical Garden. Located in the center of the 250-acre garden, this forest is the last remaining tract of original forest that once covered most of New York City.

I was initially attracted to a rustic log fence at the entrance to one of the forest trails. Seeing it as the perfect foreground element to lead a viewer’s eye into the photo, I positioned my tripod in the center of the trail and leveled it to the height of the fence. This was the best perspective to show the lines converging as they disappeared around the bend in the distance.

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Subtle, But Significant: A Polarizer Filter Isn’t Just For Sunny, Blue-Sky Days

Cumulus clouds over Dickenson Bay St. John's, Antigua West Indies.

Cumulus clouds over Dickenson Bay, St. John’s, Antigua, West Indies.

Story & photos by F. M. Kearney

I’m a late-comer. I didn’t make the switch to digital until 2014. As a film shooter, I relied heavily on filters. Everything from warming to ND grads to a vast array of special effect filters were permanent residents in my camera bag. Nowadays, digital imaging can replicate many of those filter effects – often much easier and with far more control. But, as good as digital technology is, it still can’t duplicate the effects of a polarizer filter. The photo above is a classic beach scene where a polarizer works most of its magic. By filtering out the glare and atmospheric haze, the true color of the sky comes forth revealing puffy, white cumulus clouds as far as the eye can see.

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The Fantastic Four Corners, Part II

On the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, Mt. Hayden stands in solitary splendor against a backdrop of eroded ridges that seem to stretch forever.

On the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, Mt. Hayden stands in solitary splendor against a backdrop of eroded ridges that seem to stretch forever.

Story & photos by Jerry Ginsberg

Previously, we discussed the northern half of the Four Corners region. That included the most worthwhile photo highlights found in Utah and Colorado. The other half of the Grand Circle tour includes New Mexico and Arizona.

To close the loop (ouch!) on this route let’s now explore those great states of the desert Southwest. Both admitted to the Union in 1912, these two seem almost identical in size and shape, but possess very different topography and the singular scenery that exerts its powerful magnetism on us.

Continuing in the clockwise circle that brought us through Utah and Colorado, let’s cross into northern New Mexico.

While lightly visited, fascinating Pecos National Historic Park provides a great insight into ancient Native American life.

New Mexico

Traveling roughly from north to south, we can arrange a logical route something like this:

Not far south of Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is Taos, New Mexico. The tiny town of Taos has two time honored photo icons, both made famous by none other than legendary Ansel Adams. His seminal images of the San Francisco de Asis church in Ranchos de Taos and the centuries old Taos Pueblo leave us today with just our own comparatively poor efforts.

The Taos Pueblo has been continuously occupied for centuries with its original construction possibly dating back as far as a thousand years. Try to enter the pueblo as early in the morning as possible for the best light. Check the website for visiting hours, fees and any photography restrictions.

New Mexico also contains several early Native American sites that are now units of     the National Park System. Perhaps the best of these are surrounding the state’s capital Santa Fe.

Among them are:

Chaco Culture National Historic Park is certainly the biggest of the many surviving sites. This special place offers many great structures along a short loop road. Famed Pueblo Benito has some terrific classic compositions. Don’t miss Chetro Ketl and Casa Rinconada as well. Early morning light can work very well in Chaco. If you are not camping onsite, I suggest arriving at least an hour before sunrise to be in position early for the best light. Check for gate opening hours and allow at least 20-30 minutes to drive to Chaco from the paved highway.

Aztec Ruins National Monument is a small, but well preserved and very interesting site with a variety of original and reconstructed buildings. Although administered jointly with Chaco, Aztec Ruins is farther north and hard against the Colorado state line.

Bandelier National Monument is a fascinating place that offers many photo opportunities. Starting from the visitor center are trails running uphill along both sides of the canyon. Taking the trail opposite the photogenic niche at the top and packing a long lens will enable you to capture the best composition. Late afternoon light is the most favorable.

Pecos National Historic Park is a fascinating gem of a well preserved Native American site. Paved walkways make it easy. Late light can be good; make sure to check closing hours.

New Mexico’s historic capital Santa Fe was founded over four centuries ago under the Spanish colonial regime. The Palace of the Governors, once the Capitol, is the highlight of the town’s welcoming central plaza. Several charming streets radiate from here. Don’t miss the Loretto chapel, small, but a real gem.

Albuquerque is New Mexico’s largest city, if not the easiest one to spell. While the center of this modern city doesn’t offer much in the way of photography, its edges do have a few interesting areas.

  • Old Town Albuquerque is historic and colorful.
  • The annual Albuquerque balloon festival is held each October. It’s exciting and challenging to photograph this dramatic event. Trying to maintain separation between the brightly colored balloons is fun, but not always easy.
Just minutes from the heart of downtown Albuquerque thousands of centuries-old petroglyphs record a long vanished civilization.

Just minutes from the heart of downtown Albuquerque thousands of centuries-old petroglyphs record a long vanished civilization.

On the city’s western edge you’ll find often overlooked Petroglyph National Monument. This treasure trove of ancient Native American rock art is best photographed in the soft, warm rays of early morning light.

South of Albuquerque between Socorro and Alamogordo lies the sprawling Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, famed for its bird life and great bird photography. Thousands of sandhill cranes and snow geese often spend the winter here.

Early morning light gives a soft quality to the sparkling white gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo, NM. Watch out for missiles buzzing by.

A bit further on, just past Alamogordo, we find White Sands, perhaps my very favorite national monument. Here the great natural gypsum deposit has been formed by time and the elements into a seemingly endless expanse of rippled dunes.

  • As with most all such dune photography, images made when the sun is very close to the horizon will allow us to capture the contrast within the ripples. Once the sun rises for about 30-40 minutes, most of that important contrast is lost.
  • With some luck, you might be able to recruit a NPS ranger to admit you before dawn – for a fee. This will enable you to capture the best light. Scout your location/s the day before. (Hint – The further away from the unpaved gypsum track that you roam, the fewer the footprints in the sands.

Out last stop in the far south of New Mexico close to Texas is possibly the jewel of this desert state and its only national park, Carlsbad Caverns. Descending into the caves via the original natural entrance or the quick elevator ride from the visitor center offers a few choices. Either wander around the Big Room on your own with the ability to use your tripod in the very low light or buy tickets for one or more of the ranger guided tours on which you will be restricted to handheld shooting at slow shutter speeds.

My favorite spot along the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park, Powell Point shows its very best colors just before sunset.

My favorite spot along the South Rim in Grand Canyon National Park, Powell Point shows its very best colors just before sunset.

Arizona

Eventually crossing into the fourth and last state of the Grand Circle, Arizona opens up yet another whole world of natural wonders. Our forty-eighth state includes three spectacular national parks and several national monuments. Premier among these is one of the great wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon. We can enjoy this grandest of all canyons from at least three very different viewpoints.

  • The popular and sometimes crowded South Rim with its long road accessing many wonderful viewpoints (my favorite is Powell Point) and entry to trails below the rim.
  • The corresponding and much more laid back North Rim with its very different configuration and views is about a thousand feet higher and measurably cooler. The only paved road to the North Rim is generally closed from mid-October to early May. Don’t miss Point Imperial (sunrise & morning), Cape Royal (late afternoon & early evening) and Bright Angel Point (both early and late light).

Also on the North Rim is the singular and very remote Toroweep Point. Contact me for details if this is on your bucket list.

But the very best way to understand and appreciate the Grand Canyon is via Door #3; a rafting trip down the Colorado River! This is, truly, the never-to-be-forgotten adventure of a lifetime. Days of alternating calm waters and turbulent rapids, putting in at such unique landmarks as Nankoweep and Elves Chasm will leave you with terrific memories and hopefully, many outstanding images.

Perhaps the most complete Anasazi granary anywhere rises several hundred feet above the Colorado River deep inside the Grand Canyon.

Perhaps the most complete Anasazi granary anywhere rises several hundred feet above the Colorado River deep inside the Grand Canyon.

Arizona’s two other national parks are Saguaro with its two separate sections chock full of elegant cacti flanking both sides of sprawling Tucson and fascinating Petrified Forest with its wide variety of fossilized trees and long extinct creatures near Holbrook. That small town is worth a stop just to see the nostalgic Wigwam Motel along historic Route 66.

This singular monolith, sacred to the Navajo people, stands at the far end of Canyon de Chelley National Monument, enveloped by the Navajo Nation. This view is from the rim road, open to all vehicles and accessible on your own.

This singular monolith, sacred to the Navajo people, stands at the far end of Canyon de Chelley National Monument, enveloped by the Navajo Nation. This view is from the rim road, open to all vehicles and accessible on your own.

Some of the often overlooked highlights of the Grand Canyon State are:

  • Canyon de Chelley National Monument is reached through the Navajo Reservation town of Chinle. Definitely worth a couple of days, this expansive red rock landmark is actually part of the Navajo Nation with limited access granted to the National Park Service. Drive both forks of the rim road and hike the permitted trails, especially the one to White House Ruin, best in mid-late afternoon light. Touristy group tours are available, but are not well suited to photography.
  • Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site near Genado is a very well preserved 19th century outpost worth a brief visit, especially for history buffs. While the owner’s home has become a museum, the store itself still operates as a genuine trading post.

Inside Upper Antelope Canyon (the Corkscrew) daylight penetrates only briefly.

The popular town of Page, AZ is the jumping off point for excursions on Lake Powell and just a stone’s throw from the Utah state line. Page is slot canyon central. Right on the edge of town you’ll find both Upper (the “Corkscrew”) and Lower Antelope Canyons. Once upon a time, these wonderful sculptures in sandstone were visited mostly by a small group of hardy professional photographers. On my first visit here many years ago, we had to lower the packs and tripods down on ropes and venture into the semi-dark unknown. It was all very catch-as-catch-can. Those early images created here within the Earth have introduced the uniquely exotic and sensuous rock forms to the world. The inevitable result is that both locations have now become well organized and commercialized tourist enterprises operated by local Navajo on whose lands these very special cracks in the Earth’s top layer are found. Shinnying down a rope has been replaced by walking on a custom made flight of steel stairs and tricked-out pick-ups quickly ferry tourists through miles of sand where once only a few hardy hikers trod. That said, it’s still worth the effort to search out singular compositions in these special places.  You can only visit Antelope Canyon with an authorized Navajo guide or tour.  Special photography groups are offered–book well in advance!

While visiting Page, take the very short drive out to the Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River. Make sure to bring your widest lens. A 16mm (on full frame) should be about right. There’s a per-vehicle fee to park and visit the overlook.

From Page, it’s a straight shot to drive back to Las Vegas airport.

More

But being so close, it’s tempting to drive north from Page across the Glen Canyon Dam back into Utah. From here, it’s not far through the tiny hamlet of Bad Water to Alstom Point with its sweeping view overlooking Gunfight Butte and Lake Powell. Further on up Rt. 89, is the turnoff into House Rock Road toward the less visited and still fairly wild Buckskin Gulch slot canyon, access to Paria Canyon and one of the most special places in all the Southwest, Coyote Buttes and the now famous Wave (permit required).

See? I told you it was a great big circle!

After hiking for a couple of miles, arriving at last at the entrance of the legendary Wave is likely to create a rush of adrenaline causing you to take off your pack and shoot immediately.

After hiking for a couple of miles, arriving at last at the entrance of the legendary Wave
is likely to create a rush of adrenaline causing you to take off your pack and shoot immediately.

Logistics

Most of the locations above offer a wide variety of lodging and dining options. Towns at or near these photo-worthy sites are very tourist friendly. The Grand Canyon is the only one of the national parks of New Mexico and Arizona with lodging inside its boundaries. Reserve early!

With very few exceptions, the places mentioned above can be successfully toured with a standard passenger car. Make sure that your tires are in good shape.

For some spots on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon such as Toroweep and Point Sublime, a high clearance vehicle is recommended.

It is unlikely that you will be allowed to enter the unpaved route through Canyon de Chelley itself with your own vehicle. If you are, do not attempt it without a good SUV equipped with 4 wheel drive, high clearance and off-road tires.

 

Jerry Ginsberg is a widely published photographer whose landscape, Nature and travel images have graced the covers pages of hundreds of books, magazines and travel catalogs. He is the only person to have photographed each and every one of America’s National Parks with medium format cameras. He has been awarded Artist Residencies in several National Parks and his works have been exhibited from coast to coast and have received numerous awards in competition. Jerry’s photographic archive spans virtually all of both North and South America.

More of Ginsberg’s images are on display at www.JerryGinsberg.com

Or email him at jerry@jerryginsberg.com

From the Archives: Add Scale to Your Grandscapes

© Kerrick James

© Kerrick James

Story & photos by Kerrick James

Like many of us, my love of photography began with the wild landscape. My early years were spent emulating icons like Ansel Adams, David Muench and Eliot Porter. I followed the grand landscape dream all over the American West, and after years of chasing light and doing “pure” landscapes with no signs of humanity whatsoever, I began to feel a little boxed in, as if I was repeating my favorite lighting formulas everywhere I went, and missing something I could sense, but not see. Continue reading

On Bended Stems: Explore the Beauty of Post-Peak Tulips

Lily-flowered tulips beginning to “show their age”

Lily-flowered tulips beginning to “show their age”

Story & photos by F. M. Kearney

Timing is everything. As nature photographers, we’re constantly trying to schedule our shoots during times when our subjects will be seen at their best. For landscapes, this is generally during the “Magic Hours” of the day – the hour just before sunrise or after sunset. Flowers can benefit from the warm light at this time of day as well, but more important than that is catching them at the peak period in their blooming cycle. It’s an absolute obsession for some photographers. A field of tulips in pristine condition is truly breathtaking. The photo below is one such example.

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From Lemons to Lemonade in Olympic National Park

Small waterfall in a creek in Olympic National Park.

Small waterfall in a creek in Olympic National Park.

Story & photos by John Pedersen

Sometimes we just have to make lemonade from lemons. We don’t control the weather, the sun or clouds, or even the subjects we like to shoot. There are those occasional days when we show up on location and the variables beyond our control just don’t seem to want to cooperate. So, what do we do? Turn around and go home and wait for better conditions? No! We stay, adjust our expectations and dig into our bag of photographic skills to make the best of the situation, making the best lemonade we can from the lemons that are given to us.

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The Fantastic Four Corners, Part I

Standing high above the Utah desert, eye-catching Sixshooter Peak is the calling card

Standing high above the Utah desert, eye-catching Sixshooter Peak is the calling card
of the Needles section in Canyonlands National Park.

Story & photos by Jerry Ginsberg

The Land

In only one place in all of America do four states come together. The perfect right-angled corners of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet at one spot in the desert of the great Southwest. That spot has become quite a tourist attraction. Here you’ll find a platform from which to take snapshots of fellow tourists straddling the many state lines, the local Navajo offer souvenirs, crafts and lots of artery clogging fry bread and Navajo tacos.

For Nature photographers like us, this little speck on the map is noteworthy because it is the center of some of the most stunning landscapes on Earth. Surrounding this tiny spot are no fewer than thirteen National Parks totaling almost 3,000,000 acres as well as many state and tribal parks.

Often overlooked Fairyland Point in snow and fog at the north end of Bryce Canyon National Park.

Often overlooked Fairyland Point in snow and fog at the north end of Bryce Canyon National Park.

The Route

A circular itinerary through the Four Corners region has long been called the Grand Circle. It’s one big loop. Since such a trip can be very extensive, you might want to break it up into bite sized chunks of more than one photo trip.

We can design a logical itinerary in any of several ways. For example, by state, by proximity or simply by highlights, while including some places and skipping others.

Just for the purposes of this column, let’s consider segmenting the whole area by state. It is certainly easy to combine portions of two or more states depending upon how much time you are able to devote to a major photo trip like this.

Your route can work equally well traveling either clockwise or counter-clockwise. Since I seem to have almost always done it in a clockwise direction, I’ll describe it that way.

One of the most stunning hoodoos anywhere, the ochre colored pinnacle dubbed Thor’s Hammer rises high above Sunset Point in Bryce Canyon National Park.

One of the most stunning hoodoos anywhere, the ochre colored pinnacle dubbed Thor’s Hammer rises high above Sunset Point in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Utah

Setting out from the prime gateway airport of Las Vegas, head north up I-15 toward Zion National Park in the Southwest corner of Utah.

It’s an easy matter to loop across Utah from west to east through Zion and tiny Bryce Canyon National Parks sprawling Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument long and narrow Capitol Reef National Park (NANPA – June, 2016) and on to Moab, gateway to both stunning Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Right next to the must-see Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park is Dead Horse Point State Park, definitely worth both a sunrise and evening.

South of Moab you’ll find Natural Bridges National Monument (worthy of at least two mornings) and Hovenweep National Monument. From Natural Bridges, it’s a short drive to sprawling Monument Valley Tribal Park with its many fantastic red rock formations.

The Dilemma

If there is a problem with planning a photo trip such as this, it is one closely related to pesky syndromes such as eating potato chips or pulling weeds in the garden; it’s so hard to stop! There’s always another one – and it’s so close by.

Just past Hovenweep is historic Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado, just a bit past popular Zion is isolated Toroweep Point and the spectacular North Rim of the Grand Canyon and on and on throughout all four states.

Probably the most under-rated of all the ancient structures in Mesa Verde National Park, Balcony House looks best in the first light of early morning.

Probably the most under-rated of all the ancient structures in Mesa Verde National Park, Balcony House looks best in the first light of early morning.

Colorado

A completely different option is starting from Denver and making a circuit through Colorado, a place with a look very different from that of contiguous Utah, but a land with just as much glorious natural beauty. Colorado boasts four national parks, just one less than Utah and a host of other gorgeous places to photograph.

These four parks are arranged in a virtual rectangle within the larger rectangular shape of the Centennial State.

The best fall color can usually be found here in the Front Range of the Rockies in late September and in some years stretching into early October. The area surrounding Telluride and Ridgeway is simply loaded with quaking aspen groves and stunning mountain shapes which combine for an endless variety of thrilling compositions. 

One of the real gems of Rocky Mountain National Park, Bear Lake glistens just after sunrise.

One of the real gems of Rocky Mountain National Park, Bear Lake glistens just after sunrise.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Closest to Denver is Rocky Mountain National Park. This great park offers many rugged mountains, sparkling Alpine lakes, rushing waterfalls and lots of wildlife. It might take months to cover it thoroughly, but with a week’s effort, you should be able to come away with many wonderful images.

To start with, Sprague, Bear, Dream and Emerald Lakes, close to the really neat gateway town of Estes Park, are all excellent sunrise locations. In Estes you can tour the venerable Stanley Hotel, scene of the classic Jack Nicholson movie “The Shining.”

The many mountain vistas of the Morraine Park section of RMNP are stunning, but for real excitement, drive the length of Trail Ridge Road, one of the highest and certainly most spectacular roads in America. The views will look markedly different when driving in both directions.

Not far south of Denver is Colorado Springs featuring the Garden of the Gods with dramatic red rocks and great views of Pike’s Peak.

After crossing the small Medano Creek bed, the Great Sand Dunes loom before you. Sunrise is the best time to capture the contrasts that make dune photographs dramatic and successful.

After crossing the small Medano Creek bed, the Great Sand Dunes loom before you.
Sunrise is the best time to capture the contrasts that make dune photographs dramatic and successful.

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

In the San Luis Valley close to Alamosa in the southeast part of the state you’ll find Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. These seven hundred foot tall dunes lie just beneath the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the serrated Crestone Needles. They are wonderful right at sunrise when the play of light and shadow creates an endless variety of patterns on their sensuously undulating forms. As with all such sand forms, once the sun gets a little higher, the contrasts are lost and the scene becomes rather flat.

Once you walk across the steam bed of Medano Creek, many of the best compositions are to be found toward the left as you face the dunefield. Climbing up through the sand will certainly be your cardio workout for the day.

World famous Cliff Palace was the first of the ancient structures discovered by two cowboys in 1888. It was built around 1200 C.E. and remains the largest such complex ever found.

World famous Cliff Palace was the first of the ancient structures discovered by two cowboys in 1888. It was built around 1200 C.E. and remains the largest such complex ever found.

Mesa Verde National Park

After driving west from here, pass charming Durango for now (see below) and head for Mesa Verde National Park, the very first national park established to protect the works of man, rather than those of nature. Don’t miss touring Wetherill Mesa (road open in summer only). Buy tickets in advance for Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Long House. Cliff Palace photographs best in late afternoon light; the other two in the morning; the first tour of the day is ideal for both. 

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Take a few days to explore the many fascinating ancient buildings and communities of the long vanished Chacoan people of Mesa Verde. Then head north to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

It’s not called a black canyon for nothing. These walls with their many ribbons of stone are as close to jet black as you’ll find anywhere. This presents a challenge in resolving the resulting high contrast ratios. Bright, high overcast light that opens up the deep shadows will be a great help. Absent that, you might want to employ some HDR. Shoot a very wide bracket. There’s no harm in going to seven, nine or more frames from one end of the scale to the other; perhaps at 1.5 stop increments.

Even though today’s HDR software offers improved alignment functions, I would attempt such a wide bracket only when using a good, solid tripod in order to avoid camera movement.

When tone mapping your Black Canyon images in HDR software, try using a light touch, come away with a fairly flat image that encompasses the entire tonal range and do the rest in Photoshop. Otherwise, you risk producing files that could look over-processed and scream ‘HDR.’

Most of your shooting along the well paved south rim park road will be from the many overlooks. Make sure to stop at the Painted Wall. A couple of trails start right along the road and descend into the canyon itself.

When exploring the unpaved, but maintained road along the north rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison, don’t miss shooting as late in the day as possible at the spot aptly named ‘Exclamation Point!’ Seriously.

Park at the little ranger station for the easy walk of a mile or so each way.

Towering Pike’s Peak is framed by the redrock forms known as the Siamese Twins in the sprawling and ethereal Garden of the Gods right outside Colorado Springs.

Towering Pike’s Peak is framed by the redrock forms known as the Siamese Twins in the sprawling and ethereal Garden of the Gods right outside Colorado Springs.

More

In addition to these four great national parks, there are several other locations in the Centennial State that you won’t want to miss. Among these are:

* Colorado National Monument is on the edge of Grand Junction and right near the Utah state line. Be careful not to include the city lights in your composition. A little fog will help and increase the drama of your images.

* The Maroon Bells: A short drive from Aspen, CO. Be there well before sunrise, find a spot along the edge of the lake and wait for the light to arrive.

* The area around Ridgeway is chock full of spectacular scenes. Explore some of the many byways and unpaved tracks through the San Juan Mountains. Among these is Last Dollar Road. You will be rewarded with a riot of colors and forms, sometimes blending, sometimes contrasting with each other. The patchwork of quaking aspens covered with blazing fall color is an embarrassment of riches.

To travel many of these remote roads, it’s a good idea to be driving a 4 wheel vehicle with high clearance, especially after a rain when these roads quickly become very sloppy.

* Mt. Sneffels: Look for the great pullout right along the northbound lane of Rt. 550 south of Ridgeway. Shooting from this pullout, especially when the autumn color is at or near its peak, is so easy, it can make one feel guilty. Almost.

This stunning Colorado fourteener is a great mountain to climb and is very popular with peak baggers and highly skilled heli-skiers.

* Crested Butte – Wildflower Capital of Colorado. July is best. Bring lots of insect repellent.

* The Durango-Silverton Railroad.  If you have never enjoyed this fun experience, board the historic steam powered train in Durango for the full day roundtrip to Silverton. Better yet, try to be there during the few days in autumn, generally the third or fourth week of September, when this venerable line offers special photography trips.

On those runs, the engineer stops the train several times at spots along the route featuring maximum color, photographers disembark and set up a short distance from the tracks. The railroad crew then runs the empty train back and forth a bit with the funnel spewing steam and ash with the autumn foliage as a background.

It can be glorious!

These special outings are held on just two weekends per year and usually limited to just 70 folks so reserve early.

That pretty much covers the highlights of Utah and Colorado. We haven’t even touched on the best of enchanted New Mexico and spectacular Arizona. Let’s save that for another day.

Each of the tourist friendly towns mentioned offers a wide variety of lodging and dining options. Some of my favorite Mexican food is in Crested Butte.

 

Jerry Ginsberg is a widely published photographer whose landscape, Nature and travel images have graced the covers pages of hundreds of books, magazines and travel catalogs. He is the only person to have photographed each and every one of America’s National Parks with medium format cameras. He has been awarded Artist Residencies in several National Parks and his works have been exhibited from coast to coast and have received numerous awards in competition. Jerry’s photographic archive spans virtually all of both North and South America.

More of Ginsberg’s images are on display at www.JerryGinsberg.com

Or e mail him at jerry@jerryginsberg.com

Season of the Cherry Blossoms: Creative Ways to Photograph One of the Crown Jewels of Spring

 

Cherry Esplanade, "Kwanzan" Prunus Serrulata, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, NY

Cherry Esplanade, “Kwanzan” Prunus Serrulata, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, NY

Story & photos by F. M. Kearney

To celebrate the nations’ growing friendship, Japan gifted the United States with a little over 3,000 cherry blossom trees in 1912. Considered the national flower of Japan, these trees were planted in New York City and Washington, DC. Since then, thousands of other trees have been planted in several other cities – delighting millions of admirers in annual Cherry Blossom Festivals across the country.

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Exploring South America

Montevideo’s beach on the Rio de la Plata (River of Silver) features a colorfully painted seawall.

Montevideo’s beach on the Rio de la Plata (River of Silver) features a colorfully painted seawall.

Story and photos © Jerry Ginsberg

The enormous continent to our south has a mind boggling array of natural and cultural beauty. Here we can marvel at the wonders of the rugged Andes Mountains, wild Patagonia, towering Iguaçu Falls, the sprawling Amazon basin and several historic Spanish colonial cities spread throughout many nations.

Easily overlooked among the behemoth nations of South America is tiny Uruguay. That is precisely the point. Throughout its two century history since achieving independence from Spain, this small country has perfected the art of hiding in plain sight. Sandwiched between mighty Spanish Argentina and even mightier Portuguese Brazil, little Uruguay, smaller than Missouri, has perfected the art of staying out of the way.

The bustling capital, Montevideo, with a metro population of almost two million, boasts the majority of the country’s three and a half million total souls. This leaves plenty of room for open spaces out in the countryside.

Often overlooked as a tourist destination, today’s Uruguay is still a land of ranches and gauchos, very similar to the pampas of neighboring Argentina, authentic seventeenth century Spanish towns, crashing ocean surf and quaint seaside villages.

Your exploration of Uruguay might well include these highlights:

Uruguay’s imposing capitol showcases a classic symmetrical design.

Uruguay’s imposing capitol showcases a classic symmetrical design.

Montevideo

This modern capital is a really appealing city with some charming architecture. Don’t miss the soft sand beach on the Rio de la Plata, the very imposing Capitol building and the lovely old (vieja) town.

Fine wine ages in huge 100 year old oaken casks in a cool wine cellar.

Fine wine ages in huge 100 year old oaken casks in a cool wine cellar.

Wineries

Uruguayans do love their wines. The country is liberally sprinkled with numerous picturesque vineyards and wineries. Many offer tours and tastings. This can be a fun way to spend a couple of hours on a sunny afternoon when the light is too strong for landscape photography. Keep your eyes open for signs as you drive.

The small fishing fleet of Punta del Este exudes a very laidback attitude for a commercial operation.

The small fishing fleet of Punta del Este exudes a very laidback attitude for a commercial operation.

Punta del Este

A great little resort town. Poised right on the corner of the Rio de la Plata and Atlantic Ocean, beaches wrap around Punta del Este. Strolling the charming streets, you’ll want to take in the lighthouse, the harbor with its little fishing fleet and sociable harbor seals and the shoreline itself.

Rocha is just one of many lovely protected natural preserves throughout Uruguay.

Rocha is just one of many lovely protected natural preserves throughout Uruguay.

Rocha

One of many natural preserves, Laguna Rocha is a tract with a calming, laid back feel and lots of subtle beauty.

Once out in the countryside, ranches and mounted gauchos (paisanos) are common sights.

Once out in the countryside, ranches and mounted gauchos (paisanos) are common sights.

Florida

As the name of both a department (province) and its largest town, Florida is largely a rural area featuring ranches, cattle and horses. With patience you should be able to locate some gauchos (often called ‘paisanos’) working with the livestock. These colorful cowboys on their small and hardy criollo horses make great subjects.

The charming cobblestone streets of the historic neighborhood of Colonia del Sacramento hark back to the days of Spanish colonialism.

The charming cobblestone streets of the historic neighborhood of Colonia del Sacramento hark back to the days of Spanish colonialism.

Colonia del Sacramento

The historic 17th century colonial Spanish village portion of Colonia is one of my very favorite spots in all of South America. Reminiscent of Colonial Williamsburg, VA, these authentic buildings have been lovingly restored and maintained. Even the cobblestones that now pave the streets arrived here as ballast in the holds of Spanish galleons. Walking this compact neighborhood very early in the morning should allow you to capture the charm and romance without hordes of tourists.

Typical example of the historic buildings found all over the well preserved area of Colonia el Sacramento.

Typical example of the historic buildings found all over the well preserved area of Colonia el Sacramento.

Logistics

Flights to Montevideo’s international airport are available from several US gateways including Miami and Dallas.

Once in country, you will find a wide variety of accommodations. The cities offer modern hotels ranging from about two to five stars with three often being quite adequate. A buffet breakfast is almost always included.

Out in the countryside staying on a ranch (estancia) is an excellent way to quickly become immersed in the ambiance of the culture. It’s an ideal choice for equestrians!

Uruguayan roads are pretty good so renting a standard passenger car will prove adequate. To reach some of the roadless seaside villages, just hop on one of the shuttle-trucks that make the short run through the sand surrounding these little hamlets.

With its relatively long coastlines, the need for such lighthouses to protect navigation emerged early on.

With its relatively long coastlines, the need for such lighthouses to protect navigation emerged early on.

Note: While it is possible to get along without speaking Spanish, Uruguayans probably speak less English than residents of most other South American countries. Even in Montevideo, the last ATMs that I saw had no option for English instructions. A pocket dictionary or phrase book can be very helpful.

Jerry Ginsberg is a widely published photographer whose landscape, Nature and travel images have graced the covers pages of hundreds of books, magazines and travel catalogs. He is the only person to have photographed each and every one of America’s National Parks with medium format cameras. (Newly created Indiana Dunes N.P. coming soon!) Jerry has been awarded Artist Residencies in several National Parks. This October, he will be in residence in Shenandoah National Park in VA. His works have been exhibited from coast to coast and have received numerous awards in competition. Jerry’s photographic archive spans virtually all of both North and South America.

More of Ginsberg’s images are on display at www.JerryGinsberg.com
Or e mail him at jerry@jerryginsberg.com

 

 

 

Photographing Wildlife With a Home-Made DSLR Camera Trap

Renous, River, New Brunswick (August 2007).

Renous, River, New Brunswick (August 2007).

Story & photos by Phil Riebel

A favorite hobby on my woodland property.

As a nature photographer I feel very fortunate to own forestland.  I regularly visit one of our properties on the border of the Renous River in Northern New Brunswick, about 35 minutes from where I live.  This is quite a wild area, dominated by forest with few people.

There are many nature photo opportunities here, including several species of mammals such as Moose, White-tailed Deer, Coyotes, Black Bear, Red Fox, Weasel, and Bobcat, just to name a few.  However, because they often avoid humans, it’s a challenge to get good photos of some of these species.

My small trailcam has allowed me to capture some photos and see what is around, but the quality of the photos is not great, especially when compared to a high-resolution DSLR.  That’s when I got the idea of building a DSLR camera trap based on discussions with colleagues and a bit of research.

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