Landscape Clouds and Lighting

Here are a few examples of just how nice mountain landscape photos look when they were made with puffy clouds overhead and sunlight filtering through. These were made last week at about 4000 feet elevation at mile marker 169, on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. Fujifilm X100T.¬† PS: It won’t be much longer before the colors are going to change. I’ll be there.

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Mountain Market

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It’s the time of year here in SW Virginia when mountain area markets display outside all kinds of produce and other items that tempt visitors to grab their wallets and buy. Like the five-foot high, painted metal roosters above. What I’d do with one is a good question, but it’s still interesting. And no, I didn’t buy one. Fresh-picked peaches, apples and other farm produce fill baskets outside the market. It’s one of my favorite places to visit during the spring, summer and fall seasons. The locally-made, hand-sized Fried Apple Pies sold there are a great treat.

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It’s not always location

I’m a believer in a trusted fact of photography that says being in high value photo locations, such as National Parks or popular tourist destinations, should generally provide great photo opportunities. For me recently it was a week-long trip to Alaska, when weather conditions were perfect. I’ve been posting some of the images I made up there here on my blog. However, I have to say that great photo opportunities exist just about anywhere one goes, if we take the time to look. Like this image.

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Last Saturday my wife and I went on a “road trip” to the Blue Ridge Mountains near where we live in SW Virginia. It was a bit cool and windy, but the lighting and puffy clouds were just right for me. On the one hand I traveled thousands of miles to see wonderful photo ops in Alaska, while on the other I know they exist within an hour of where we live. The key is looking and finding.

When to be Thankful

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There have been many times over the years when I’m presented with a view in front of me that makes me say, “Wow!” Last month while in Alaska, we took a five-hour high-speed boat cruise in Prince William Sound, with its beautiful glaciers. When we departed Whittier, the weather wasn’t good. The best part of it was that it wasn’t raining, but low clouds, fog, and generally dark conditions made me think I’d have to change my photo focus to closer up views versus far away. But, having been to Prince William Sound several times before, I was prepared for whatever the weather gave us. When I spotted a brightening in the sky far away, I thought maybe our luck might change. And it did. The sun started to pop out and what I saw made me really thankful.

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Waiting for the Train

In the wilds of Alaska, it’s not always a simple matter to “get there.” A primary mode of transportation is via small “bush” and other forms of private aircraft. There are roads for vehicular traffic, but depending on where you’re headed there may be none. Then there’s my favorite form of transportation, Alaska Railroad. Major cities such as Anchorage and Fairbanks have large passenger depots, but at many locations, such as Girdwood where I was, with our daughter and grandson, it’s a “depot” in name only. Take a look and I think you’ll get the idea.

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Right on time, the trains Conductor stepped off, checked our tickets, and helped us climb aboard, and we were underway in less than five minutes. My main point here is to note that Alaska Rail stops at many locations much more remote than Girdwood. That says a lot about just how “frontier-like” Alaska is compared to much of the rest of the United States.

Exploring Alaska Streams

Regular readers of my Blog might think I’ve changed it’s focus completely on Alaska. It’s true I have lots of recent photos from there I want to share. The main reason for doing that is because we were exceptionally fortunate during the five days spent traveling via car, with just about perfect photo weather. I’ve been home for two weeks and am still in awe about the weather. Mainly because it went completely downhill after we flew home. Sadly for others who came after us. I’m going to keep sharing what I saw. Thankfully I wasn’t alone. My youngest daughter and her son went along. My fifth time, their first. What a way for them to start.

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Alaska Waterfalls

During our recent week-long trip to my favorite place in the world, we saw many beautiful waterfalls. And I do mean “many.” There are also spectacular waterfalls outside Alaska, here in the lower forty-eight, but put the large ones we saw in Alaska down here, and I suspect they’d each be a major tourist attraction. Alaska is so wild, so remote, so varied in terrain, that our senses can be easily be overcome. I love that!

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Wide Open Alaska

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The scenery in Alaska is just incredible … no other word describes it better. Other than photo opportunities by living full time there, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have visited our great frontier state five times since 1999 and thus I’ve accumulated a very nice collection of photos. Of course, weather plays a key part up there because much can be hidden from view with low clouds, fog and misty conditions. I’ve said to many of my friends, if you’re worried about weather in Alaska, don’t go. My latest visit this month was just about perfect in that regard. But the week after, it all went downhill. In a way I felt like we stole all the perfect photo weather. Having said that, however, there really is no “bad” weather in Alaska. It’s what you make of it.

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World’s Largest

Lake Hood is the world’s busiest seaplane base, handling an average of 190 flights per day. It is located on Lakes Hood and Spenard, next to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, three miles from downtown Anchorage. Last week I was there, enjoying a picnic supper with our daughter and grandson, watching float planes land and take off. As you can see, the weather was perfect for photography.

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Along most of the lake’s shoreline there are small “hut’s adjacent to the dock where planes are secured. Some are decorated in unique ways.

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The best part of our evening was making photos of planes, close up. It took my telephoto lens to make a few, and the images I was able to capture made me smile.

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There is lots to do in Alaska, watching small planes is just one activity. There are more small planes in the state than anywhere else in the country, because that’s the primary way to get around such remote and wide open spaces. That’s what makes our “last frontier” so special. Go if you can.

I’m back … from Alaska

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My fifth time in my absolute favorite place on the planet. Each visit had its own character and experiences, but this one was special to me because I was able to share my joy with our youngest daughter and youngest grandson. Over the next several blog posts I’ll share with you some of the best things we saw. I’m almost 76 and whether or not I’ll be able to go back again is a question to be answered later. But for now, I’m sitting here kinda tired, because long distance traveling isn’t as easy as it once was. However, for the first time ever, we flew First Class both ways and that made it much, much more comfortable and enjoyable. Thank you Alaska Airlines! Commercial intended. So, here we go, my first entry. Mind you, these photos were all made within a relatively short drive from Anchorage. These were made near Portage Lake¬†with its surrounding glaciers. Oh yes, over five trips up north I’ve learned to take the weather as you get it. Some days are perfect, others not so much. If you’re more worried about the weather than the place you’re standing, don’t go.

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Three “hanging” glaciers on the peak of the mountain in the first photo. (top left, right and bottom center)

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That’s Alaska Fireweed in the foreground. It’s all over up there and beautiful every time.