The Açores Archipelago was re-discovered 60 years before Columbus discovered North America. At this time, these islands were truly the end of the world as Europeans knew it. One can only imagine the thoughts of the first explorers when they saw this wild place in the middle of the harsh North Atlantic Ocean.
Despite almost 600 years of settlement, this place still feels on the edge. I feel like if there was a landscape to epitomize “end of the Earth”, this volcanic landscape would be it. However, there’s more to this than what’s visible on the surface. The reason for the Azores creation is that it literally is on the edge, of 3 tectonic plates! The Island chain sits directly on top of the spot where the European, African, and North American plates intersect. Here it is possible to sail from one island that is in “Europe” and arrive in “Africa” or “North America”. All of the pushing and pulling of these 3 massive continents is the catalyst for the volcanic activity that is still creating the islands today. Just 50 years ago, the island chain’s land area increased by 2km2 !
Panorma of the Capelinhos Volcano on the West coast of Faial.
The plateau beneath Pico Mountain looks like the savannas of Africa. Technically it is on the African tectonic plate.
Sunrise glow over the town of Magdalena on the island of Pico. The town was named after Mary Magdalene
Porto Pim Bay on the Island of Faial glows in spectacular storm lighting that is typical on the Azores in Winter
Beautiful black sand beaches are common throughout the archipelago.
The high altitude plateau of Pico is prone to frequent fog. The fog is created by the moisture laden air straight off of the ocean.
Michelle hikes around the rim of the massive volcanic caldera on the Island of Faial.
The mysterious volcano of Pico towers above Porto Bim Bay. often shrouded in clouds, I was fortunate to able to capture images of the mountain on 3 different days.
Because of this “creation”, one could argue that this isn’t the end of the Earth, but the beginning. Thanks to copious amounts of of moisture, the islands are incredibly green. In fact they are like gardens, growing citrus fruit and pineapples year round. Flowers bloom all year, and a deep shade of green pervades every hillside. The archipelago is so fertile, that most of Portugal’s milk (and excellent cheese!!) is produced here. Locals even figured out a way to cultivate grapes here and create world-class wines.
So, despite being at the “end of the world”, The Azores are a true paradise. However, little word has gotten out about this wonderful place, so you might have it all to yourself (as my wife and I did)!
The Caldera (Caldeirão) on the Island of Corvo is one of the most beautiful and enchanting places in the Atlantic Ocean
At the end of Europe is a place that is so far West that it doesn’t look like anywhere else on the continent. In fact, it’s geologically part of North America.
Poco Ribeira do Ferreio. Located on the West side of the Island of Flores, the steep cliffs here intercept copious amounts of moisture blowing off of the Atlantic. Moving water is so plentiful on this island, that locals employed numerous watermills to grind locally harvested grains.
Sunrise on the Island of Corvo.
The bountiful waters in the Azores are host to much marine life. So much so, that whale harvesting was once a common activity.
The town of Horta on the Island of Faial
The climate is warm enough and the soil is rich enough to grow pineapples!
An incredibly straight highway crosses the high-altitude plateau on the Island of Pico.
The residents of Pico devised a method of planting grape vines so unique that the area is now a UNESCO world heritage site. The vines are planted horizontally in enclosures to protect them from harsh mid-Atlantic winds. Thanks to the rich volcanic soil and cool summers, the area produces excellent wines.
Beneath Pico da Se is the lush Fazenda valley with the Island of Corvo in the distance. Every morning during the winter, this place is the first place on the North American plate to receive the sun’s rays.
Idaho is beautiful state with so many [unexpected] incredible natural sights peppered throughout its vast landscape. Many of these are sights that you can’t see anywhere else. Despite possessing so many wonderful places, the state never never feels crowded. We were even here for the eclipse which was supposedly the largest swell in population during the State’s history.
In this modern world, where National Park overcrowding has become a regular topic, it’s nice to find a place where one can truly escape to the wilderness for peace and quiet. Even as someone that regularly goes to remote areas, the peace and quiet was something that I was unprepared for, and it’s EVERYWHERE across this vast state.
Speaking of National Parks, Idaho has some world class National Parks, National Forests, and State Parks. Here you can climb through lava tubes, sandboard down the largest freestanding dune in the US, kayak on pristine alpine lakes, climb glacier covered mountains, raft through the largest wilderness in the lower 48, and gaze into North America’s deepest canyon (yes, it’s 2,000′ deeper than the Grand Canyon!). There’s a reason why they call Idaho the Gem State and not “the potato state.”
View from atop a volcanic cinder cone in Craters of the Moon National Monument
View of the Atlanta Valley in the Boise National Forest
“Moonscape” of Craters of the Moon National Monument
Ruts from wagons climbing a bluff on the Oregon Trail in Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
The Great American Total Solar Eclipse over the Sawtooth Mountains as viewed from The Atlanta Ranger Station in the Boise National Forest outside the town of Atlanta
Lava tube in Craters of the Moon National Monument
View of the Sawtooth Mountains just after sunrise at Fishook Creek
The abandoned ghost town of Custer.
Sunset glow in Greylock Mountain in the Boise National Forest
The abandoned ghost town of Custer.
Lupines in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area
Post sunset glow from atop one of the dunes in Bruneau Dunes State Park
Old barbershop in the Historic mining town of Atlanta.
The Minong Crevice Bridge above the River of No Return
Fishook creek in the Sawtooth national Recreation Area
Cows grazing below the Seven Devils Mountains
Seven Devils lake at sunrise in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Idaho has the largest contiguous area of National Forest Land in the Lower 48.
Hells Canyon, the deepest canyon in North America (2,000′ deeper than the Grand canyon)
Dunes in the Bruneau Dunes State Park
Ancient petroglyphs in Hells Canyon
Historic homes in Atlanta
White Bird battlefield, where the Nez Perce War began.
Irrigated fields and sand dunes in near-sunset lighting
A rainbow appears above a horse pasture West of Leesburg
Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow: The Loudoun County Executive Airport
A post-storm sky full of Mamatus Clouds above the rural Loudoun Suburbs, West of Leesburg
Zoomed in, its clear to see the puffy mamatus clouds drooping beneath the thunder head. In the distance is Sugarloaf Mountain and Dickerson, Maryland
This past week saw some of the first thunderstorms of the season for 2017. Rolling through on Thursday night, they caught most of us off guard, as the forecast wasn’t calling for thunderstorms until the following day. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to head out, upon learning about them.
This shoot started on the West side of the storm as it departed Western Loudoun County. Eventually, I ended up at Dulles Airport to shoot “The Iconic Dulles Shot” with lightning in the background. This was by far my best image of the night. I love how my D810’s imaging sensor was able to extract dim details from the scene, like the faintly visible mamatus clouds in the sky above.
It’s a place that had always intrigued me, but until recently I had never been to. The reason was simple, it’s a peninsula that isn’t on the way to anywhere else. Which in reality is a good thing, allowing the area to develop a character all it’s own…far from the hustle and bustle of the nearby I-95 corridor/megalopolis. Here, small towns and sleepy waterways reign supreme, adding to the area’s relaxing atmosphere. Driving through Reedville, we passed by an oyster and shrimp feast at the local fire hall. We would’ve stopped had we not just filled up at the Northern Neck Burger Company (seriously some of the best burgers that we’ve had anywhere).
Bald eagles can be easily seen along major highways
Loblolly Pines here are at the extreme northern end of their range
The Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay
The “Horsehead Cliffs” at Westmoreland State Park
A Tupelo tree glows brighly in fall colors
Working on my upcoming book, one of the primary things that brought me to the area were the natural sights along the Potomac. Our first visit was on a gorgeous fall day to the beautiful cliffs at Westmoreland State Park, where it is possible (and encouraged!) to find ancient fossils such as sharks teeth. In addition to beautiful scenery, the neck has an incredible bald eagle population. I was able to see and photograph numerous eagles just by driving down major highways. Outside of Alaska, this was the largest amount of bald eagles that I’ve seen.
Stratford Hall, birthplace of Robert E. Lee
Historic episcopal church
Birthplace of president James Monroe
An abandoned lodge of the Order of Odd Fellows
The area’s former jail
Reedville – one of Virginia’s most important fishing ports
Historic mill at Stratford Hall
Despite the area being “off the beaten path” of today’s travels, it wasn’t always that way. The Potomac was once a major shipping thoroughfare for goods grown on the Neck’s rich soils. The productive agriculture gave root to some of Virginia’s most famous families. In fact, George Washington, James Monroe, and Robert E. Lee were all born here. So significant is the area’s history that the New York Times wrote an article about it, titling it “Virginia’s Forgotten History.”
Jutting out into the North Atlantic Ocean; one of the furthest reaches of North America is also one of its crown jewels. Here is a place where land meets sea in a way that is unmatched by any place southward.
Sunrise glow above the MacKenzie River Canyon
Waterfall in the Aspy Valley
Looking North across the Gulf of St. Lawrence
The most famous section of the “World Famous” Cabot Trail
Forests that are bright green in summer come ablaze in autumn before becoming cloaked in white in winter. The French were the first to settle this land, eking a living off the bountiful seas teaming with cod and lobsters. Later came Anglos, who notwd its resemblance to Scotland. This landmass is where the province Nova Scotia (New Scotland) gets it name from. And by listening to local accents, one might think that you were still on the other side of the pond. Today the island hosts the world’s largest Celtic music festival.
Our short stay on the island was focused around the dramatic Western side of the Cape Breton Highlands National park. Here, the mountains jut 500m out of the sea. Along with the differing elevations are differences in climate. Mixed hardwood and spruce Acadian forests cling to the hillsides, while Boreal spruce forests dominate the headlands. In some places, Taiga dominates, mimicking landscapes found in Labrador and Northern Quebec.
A cloud bank rolling oin off of the Gulf of St. Lawrence creates a surreal fog atop the highlands
The Boreal forest floor begins to show the colors of autumn
the Skyline Trail is cape breton Highlands national Park most popular trail for good reason
Bountiful ocean harvest
Sunset glow on the headlands
late afternoon sun on the Trans Canada Highway
A waterfall cascades into the Atlantic Ocean
Sunrise over Sydney Harbour from the Newfoundland Ferry
Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site over looking Lake Bras D’ Or
Porpoises in the strait separating Cape Breton Island from the mainland
Fishing boats in Cheticamp Harbour beign stored for the winter season
Long exposure sunset along the shore of the Gulf of St. lawrence
This past weekend, my wife and I hit the road on a day trip to explore Douglas Point–an unexpected treasure that you likely won’t find in your DC guidebooks.
After scarfing down some delicious local BBQ at George’s BBQ in Indian Head, we arrived to dense mixed forests cloaked in brilliant autumn colors. Despite this beauty, we pretty much had the area to ourselves. Although we were within a 75-mile radius of DC, I could set a tripod in the middle of the road for ten minutes without a passing car. The colors alone are worth the trip, but the real hidden gem is Mallows Bay.
Mallows Bay is a small bay on the Maryland side of the Potomac River in Charles County, Maryland. It is a unique recreation area resulting, in part, from abandonment and maligned plans. It is regarded as the largest shipwreck fleet in the Western Hemisphere and is described by many as a “ghost fleet”. How did this come to be in the Potomac? More than 100 of the vessels are wooden steamships, part of a fleet built to cross the Atlantic during World War I. However, most of these ships were obsolete upon completion since the war had ended. The US Government sent these vessels to Mallows Bay to be destroyed–and today the bay has evolved into a beautiful recreation area where visitors can tour the remains by walking the shoreline (like we did) or by paddling around the ship graveyard. We will be back with kayaks one day!
Douglas Point, a US Bureau of Land Management site, sits along a quiet road and sports beautiful mixed hardwood and pine forests–a rarity in the DMV region.
We then headed to the Douglas Point Recreation Area, managed by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Although BLM is the largest landholder in the western United States, this is one of only a few sites on the east coast so it was certainly an unusual discovery in Maryland! Originally slated to become a nuclear power plant, public outcry resulted in the local electrical utility abandoning its plan, and eventually in the land’s public acquisition. The recreation area exceeded expectations. In the same afternoon, we toured the ruins of a 17th century home and walked the sandy Potomac shore in search of fossilized sharks teeth dating back 58 million years (we found one!). Given the beauty of this site, I’m glad that it is now protected from further development.
A picture of a swamp: it’s not a bad picture, but compared to my numerous other pictures of swamps, it may not look like much at first. However, this piece is the result of over a year’s worth of research, obtaining access to private property, crawling over boulders, trudging through wetlands, and numerous cuts/scrapes/wet boots.
What’s so special about this image is not the composition, lighting, or other photographic qualities. Instead, as I’ve been working on my book about the Potomac River, I’ve been trying to highlight all of the unique aspects of this watershed, namely the plants that call it home. Particularly, I’ve been searching for a naturally growing bald cypress, to demonstrate how the Potomac watershed houses so many unique plant communities.
The bald cypress, is a beautiful tree (used ornamentally in many locations, including in LaFayette Square next to the White House) that grows naturally in the swamps of the Southeastern US. Despite being a hardy plant, its seedlings cannot survive the winters endured North of here.
Sure, I’ve shot much more visually interesting images of this tree in the Great Dismal Swamp and Louisiana Cajun Country, but I want to convey how much the Potomac is at the juxtaposition of the American natural landscape. Travelling down the 302 mile long River is “biologically” equivalent to the 1500 mile journey from the Gulf of Mexico to the Bay of Fundy.
A stand of Loblolly Pines grows on Virginia’s Northern Neck. A tree common to the deep South, it is at the extreme northern edge of its natural range here.
Descending from the upland hardwood forests to the lower wetland forest at Westmoreland State Park in Virginia
A canopy of Tupelo Trees is emblazoned in fall colors.
After you visit somewhere, you’re supposed to check it off of your bucket list. However, every once in a while you find somewhere with so much depth and so much to see that you feel that in order to truly experience it you have to spend at least a month there, seeing numerous sights and getting to know the people who call it home. That’s how I feel about Newfoundland.
To be honest, it’s a place that I knew very little about. But, everything that I did know said that the place was incredible. As a result, when the fall foliage was being stubborn (due to the drought and a warm fall), I rearranged what was supposed to be a Maine vacation to a trip to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the results.
Arriving off of the ferry in Newfoundland, we were greeted to some of the island’s famous weather of 50km/hr winds, 4 deg. C temps, and rain squalls. However, the skies began to clear and the island soon revealed it’s glory. Autumn color had begun to arrive, turning the tundra like “barrens” red and the boreal forests a mix of bright colors. By the end of the week, bright blue skies abounded and an “Indian summer” was in full swing, helping to usher in even more brilliant autumn foliage.
To an American who’s never seen the island, the best way to describe it is to cross what Maine was in the 1950s with the scenery (and wilderness) of Alaska. Between the small fishing villages that dot the coast (and produce incredibly delicious seafood!) and the boreal/sub arctic landscapes, this land is a landscape photographer’s dream. However, there’s more: Newfoundlanders are a wonderfully friendly people with a distinct culture all their own. While most are proud Canadians, there is a strong sense of independence here, born out of the island’s isolation and the self sufficiency that it requires.
While we spent 5 days on the “rock”, most of it within the confines of the massive sized Gros Morne National Park, there is so much more to see. Everyday we were out from sunrise to sunset and only saw a small fraction of the island. And based upon that fraction, I can only imagine what the rest of the island looks like. For that reason, Newfoundland will remain on my bucket list. That and I want to come back and see the island in spring/summer when whales, wildflowers, and icebergs (melting off of glaciers in Greenland) abound!
Early morning lighting on the Tablelands and the South Arm of Bonne Bay in Gros Morne National Park
Coastal boreal forest at Green Point, Gros Morne National Park
Welcome to Canada (Natiaonal Parks)!
Credit goes to my wife who snapped this image while I was charging across this mountain pass.
Humber River in full autumn glory
A local tipped me off to Steve’s Trail at Green Point. We went out 2 nights in a row to catch sunset and were the only ones enjoying this view
The Southern edn of Bonne Bay, which is actually a fjord that (due to its depth) houses subfreezing water that supports arctic marine species
UN, Canadian, and Newfoundland & Labrador flags flying outside of the Gros Morne National Park Visitor’s Center
Bonne Bay at Norris Point.
Trout River Pond
The Tablelands are equally as stunning at sunrise as they are beautiful
The mars like appearance of the Tablelands is due to the mineral rich rocks. The rocks, which are from the earht’s mantle are the only place on the Earth’s surface where the mantle is exposed.
Tools of the trade
Certainly one of the prettier settings for a cemetery…
Tablelands and fall foliage
Woody Point lighthouse overlooking Bonne Bay
Bakers Brook Falls, Gros Morne
Sunrise on the Tablelands from Norris Point
The Arches Provincial Park on the Gulf of St. lawrence
The prettiest picnic table in all of Canada…
Norris Point, NL
The sun’s last rays filtering through the Spruces along Steve’s Trail in Gros Morne
Sunset in Norris Point
Rose Blanche Lighthouse on the Southwestern coast
Blowmidown Falls. There was barely a sign off the highway to the “tree clearing” of a parking lot. I guess this is just “normal” everyday scenery in these parts
As a landscape photographer, I enjoy capturing the visual “fruits” of every season. And as much as I love winter weather, I look forward to the annual “greening” that spring provides. While winter landscapes can be beautiful, they can be extremely difficult (and sometimes downright dangerous) to capture. For this reason, summer is one of the best seasons to capture visually appealing landscape photography.
See an interesting scene that you’d like to shoot, but don’t have time that day? – Come back in a week, or wait a month until the lighting conditions are just right, no problem! Unlike in Autumn, where if you come back 2 days later the leaves may be gone, there is a greater degree of flexibility. While fall is without a doubt my favorite season, one miscalculation could make the difference between getting a perfectly lit vibrant shot and something that just looks brown and downright “Meh.” As I had posted on my facebook page, the difference in foliage can affect an image greatly:
With the impending “brownout”, I plan to make the most of the next 2 months and look forward to shooting the vibrantly colored hillsides to come. One thing for sure though, I certainly won’t miss dripping sweat all over my camera equipment!