Tag Archives: fine art photography

How to Photograph the Hana Highway

The Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

(Click on each image for a larger view)

Running 42 miles from Paia to Hana, the Hana Highway is considered one of the top scenic byways in America. But I think that’s misleading. It’s not really a highway, and “scenic” doesn’t do it justice.

Frequently, two lanes become one, and for several stretches, 15 miles an hour seems too fast. Blind curves segue into fleeting waterfall views, and for nearly its whole stretch, dense tropical forest enshrouds the steep hills. In fact, I’d bet that if the Hawaii Department of Transportation left the highway alone for a month, the forest would swallow the pavement. From start to finish, its wild, unkempt, and wonderfully free of everything that defines the rest of Maui.

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The Moment: Star Trails Over Western Colorado

Time lapse of the North Star over the Ute Lodge, near Buford, Colorado

(Click on image for a larger view).

The highlight of my trip to the Trappers Lake and the Flat Tops area was hanging out with my dad in a rustic, 400-square-foot cabin in the woods. I cooked up spaghetti with red wine sauce one night, and we polished off a bottle of Plungerhead — which plunged my head pretty badly the next morning, but man, it is such a good wine.

Sure, the lake was beautiful. Sure, the respite from the city was needed. But there’s nothing that compares to good conversation with a good friend over good food and good wine. It made the trip.

While we chatted, I set up my Canon 5D Mark II on a tripod outside the cabin and captured two 20-minute exposures of the night sky with a Canon 24mm f/1.4. This is a situation where the quality of this gear really comes through. Both the camera and the lens are remarkably clear when it comes to shooting the night sky.

 

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The Moment: The Matterhorn Eclipses the Moon

A nearly full moon passes behind the Matterhorn's summit.

It took nearly an hour to discover what was happening.

We had hiked up to this meadow just outside Zermatt, on the trail that eventually leads to Zmutt and the North Face of the Matterhorn. It was getting hot, and Varenna was inspecting the gravel on the trail, handing her best specimens to Mom, and then pushing her stroller like the big girl she was proclaiming to be (“bick guhr! bick gurh!). We were all content, and not planning to go too far. After all, this appeared to be it: the iconic view of the Matterhorn, the one that conjures visions of alpenhorns and men yodeling “Ri-co-la” into the crisp glacial air.

But as we turned to head back to town, the moon was suddenly quite noticeable and on a very interesting course.

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The Semi-Complete Shooters Guide to: Berner Oberland (Part 1)

The Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau as seen from Männlichen, Berner Oberland, Switzerland.

Here’s my dilemma: I have too many good photos from the Berner Oberland for one post.

This has little to do with me and my photography skills. It has everything to do with the extreme beauty of the area. Never before have I been anywhere as dramatic and scenic as this alpine region smack in the middle of Switzerland. We spent almost an entire week here, and it still wasn’t enough. Every day was different, and we kept moving, but even then, I can’t pretend that I am a fountain of definitive photography knowledge on the area.

But what I did learn, I’m putting here, so hopefully there are a few kernels of insight.

In full disclosure, I ran out of time (and money) in the valley to shoot the following areas: Interlaken, Brienzsee, Thunersee, Jungfraujoch, Shilthorn/Piz Gloria, Schynige Platte, Gimmelwald, Grindelwald, First/Bachalpsee and — tops on my Unfinished Business List — Hinteres Lauterbrunnental.

That’s a ton. In fact, if you are reading this because you are researching a vacation in the area, it may sound like I didn’t see any of the big sights. Not true. There’s just simply that much to see and shoot in the Berner Oberland.

This post covers the following subjects:

  • The Lauterbrunnen Valley
  • The Jungfrau
  • The Jungfraubahn

Part 2 will cover:

  • The Eiger
  • The Mönch
  • Staubbach Falls
  • Mürren
  • Swiss life
  • Cows, cows, and more cows.

I’ve included a Google Map of these places — and where I took these images — at the bottom of this post.

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Alpenporn: Hardcore Swiss Mountain Vistas

A lone hut beneath the Jungfrau, Berner Oberland, Switzerland.

(Click on images for a larger view)

Go ahead. Ogle all you want.

The Jungfrau emerging from the mist, Berner Oberland, Switzerland.

Words often fail me. They fail me the most when it comes to mountains. Grandeur. Majesty. Magnificence. Please: those words are chumps when you are beneath the Jungfrau (above two images), a hulking mountain that towers over the Lauterbrunnen Valley like a glacier clad bully. It’s name (roughly translated as Young Girl in German) is hardly worth dissecting. It makes little sense. This peak is a beast.

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The Semi-Complete Shooters Guide to: Lucerne

The Chapel Bridge, Jesuit Church and a moored boat, Lucerne, Switzerland.

Lucerne is said to be one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. I still have a lot of Europe to cover, but its hard to imagine a cleaner, more idyllic, more photogenic city than Lucerne. The place seems designed for postcards, coffeetable books and small 1-inch-by-1-inch decorative chocolate wrappers.

To get my best shots in Lucerne, I made my way to these places:

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The Road to Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park

Red dirt cascade descending from the Waimea Canyon area, Kauai.

On the Friday morning before Thanksgiving, I had a feeling my brother was trying to talk us out of going to Waimea Canyon. It was a long drive, he noted. Time on Kauai was precious, and Varenna — our 8-month-old daughter — would be facing backwards for the whole ride. Poipu had a baby beach.

But I acted like the typical younger brother: the more he discouraged it, the more determined I was to go. This was a verdant miniature Grand Canyon, and at the end of the road was a window to the Na Pali Coast. Yes, time on Kauai is precious. But for me, that meant not letting a week slip by without seeing this magnificent sight.

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Kauai Through a Tilt-Shift Lens

Hanalei Valley Lookout, Kauai, Hawaii (tilt-shift)Hanalei Valley Lookout; Canon 45mm TS-E, ISO 400, 1/3200 sec, f2.8

I’d hesitate to say I’m “into gear.” I’d rather read a personal finance blog than the Digital Photography Magazine Buyer’s Guide. In writing, gear is just not interesting.

Where things get interesting for me is when gear enables new techniques. Last year, I used BorrowLenses.com to rent a 200mm prime lens and a 24mm tilt-shift for Holy Week in Mexico. To have two new weapons in my bag made the week’s imagery 100% better. The 200mm allowed for more intimate candid shots during the processions, while the tilt-shift opened up hundreds of doors of creativity for my cityscape and architecture. It was like shooting in a third and fourth dimension.

For Kauai, I once again rented two lenses: this time, a 24mm–105mm zoom lens (a must for the helicopter tour) and a 45mm tilt-shift lens. Once again, the tilt-shift rocked.

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6 Photography Tips for a Kauai Helicopter Tour

Aerial photos of the Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii.(Click on images for a larger view)

While on Kauai, Hailey and I took a 90-minute helicopter tour of the island with Jack Harter Helicopters. The tour was billed as a photographer’s tour because it went slower and took its time with each section of the trip. Because of this alone, I highly recommend it. Kauai’s interior and much of its coastline is inaccessible (to most of us) and seeing it by air is really the only way to truly get a sense for the island as a whole.

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10 of Kauai’s Best Beaches

Footprints in the sand at Kalihiwai Beach, Kauai(Click on the images for a larger view)

So remember how a few posts ago, I said that I wasn’t much of a beach person?

Well, I’m back from Kauai, and you can consider me converted: I love beaches … if by “beaches” you mean the stunning, drop-yer-jaw, how-could-God-design-such-a-perfect-thing beaches that seem to be nestled into every corner of the Garden Isle. In fact, after visiting Kauai for eight days, it may be safe to say I’m forever spoiled. The bar will be high for any future strips of sand I encounter (sorry, Chatfield Reservoir).

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