Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Western Vermont

Main Street, Bristol, VT

After a great weekend in Maine, it was now time to start making my way back home. I stopped for a few days in western Vermont to work and take in just a bit more fall color before heading back to the flatlands of Illinois.

Front Porches, Western Vermont

Country Store, Ripton, VT

Church, Western Vermont

I stayed at a lovely park near Bennington, called Pine Hollow Campground. Great wi-fi and cell coverage, quiet, peaceful, and absolutely gorgeous. A great end to a great vacation!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The best light and best lobster

Dawn, Portland Head Light

Perhaps the most scenic lighthouse in Maine is the Portland Head Light just south of Portland. I was determined to photograph it in the best light I possibly could-- sunrise and sunset. The difference between good and great photographs are often attributed to "the light", and photographers know that the best light is usually at the very start and the very end of the other words, the times that no normal tourists would be wanting to take the same picture!

I woke up at 4:30am and drove in total darkness for a half hour to arrive to Portland Head in time to capture the pre-dawn shot above, but the colors were spectacular!

Later that same day, I returned to the lighthouse for sunset photos. I started on a small rocky perch where a half-dozen other photographers had set up their tripods. It was a pretty standard shot, but nothing really spectacular.

I really wanted to include more rocks and long-exposure waves, so even though the sun was just about to set, I decided to continue down the walkway to a small passage where I could hike down to the beach. Here you can see a few of the photographers up on the bluff to the far right where I had just been:

This scene had better potential, so I stayed and waited for the light. The park closes as "sunset" and sure enough, at that time a voice began blaring over a distant loudspeaker that the park was now closed and to please leave. All the photographers up on the bluff started packing up and leaving, but I, like some demented rebel, stayed firmly planted on the beach still waiting for the glowing light that often comes about 10 minutes after sunset.

This night was a pretty hazy sunset, so it was starting to get pretty dark, and I was getting pretty nervous about the guard possibly locking the front gate and leaving me stranded on the beach, but just one more minute.... sure enough, just then, the full moon appeared from behind a cloud as the sunset afterglow appeared. I got my shot! And quickly high-tailed it back up to the car to head out. What a great day!!!

The next day, I returned just south of Portland Head to Cape Elizabeth, that has a terrific lobster shack with picnic tables right on the waterfront. The parking lot was packed and lunchtime line of people was long, but so worth the wait....a fresh lobster dinner for $20.

Cape Elizabeth Light

I decided to try my luck at the Cape Neddick Lighthouse near York for my next sunset shot. It was supposed to be best in late afternoon light, and I certainly was pleased...especially when the full moon began rising right behind the lighthouse!

As soon as the sun set on the lighthouse, I packed up and headed back to the car to let Millie out to walk around. Dumb move of course! Millie had barely walked around at all when I noticed the afterglow of the sunset starting to appear on the lighthouse. I barely got my tripod and camera set up again just in time to take this one last shot....and it was the best one of the night by far. Moral to the story is to always always always wait a few extra minutes after you think the light has gone (or in the morning, start shooting before the sun rises)!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lighthouses and Lobster in Maine

After a week of photographing cows and barns in Vermont, it was time for a change of scenery! Millie and I packed up the T@B and headed over to the southern Maine coast for Columbus Day weekend. It was a glorious weekend! Clear, sunny, and warm days with great sunrises and sunsets, lots of good lobster, and pretty lighthouses to photograph-- who could ask for more?

We set up base camp at a KOA just south of Portland and made day trips north and south along the coast. One of the prettiest areas was just north of Portland around the town of South Bristol, Maine. It had a harbor filled with lobster boats called Christmas Cove that was terrific to photograph:

After Christmas Cove, as I headed north towards the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, I came across this old graveyard with it's trees at peak foliage:

I arrived at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse around noon. Not an ideal time to photograph, especially when the other hundred tourists wanted to climb all over the rocks in front of my shot! But, it was a gorgeous day to enjoy the sun, so I just waited patiently for a few tourist-free pics:

On the way back to camp, I drove through a town that had decorated its sidewalks with "great pumpkin" art. This pair were my favorites!

While the foliage in parts of Vermont and New Hampshire had peaked by Columbus Day, colors were bursting and vivid along the southern Maine coast.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The most photographed farm in Vermont

Mid-October is not only prime time for foliage tourists to visit Vermont, but it's also prime time for hoards of photographers to attend photo workshops in the area. The number one destination for all of those photo workshop photographers is Jenne Farm, located about 10 miles south of Woodstock.

The farm is so used to having photographers snap pictures from it's front meadow and long dirt drive, that the family has a small collection box posted near this famous scene for considerate photographers to leave a small donation.

I photographed Jenne Farm on two different mornings, and at both times was there with about 5 or 6 other photographers. Mind you, this was not prime sunrise time, but later in the morning after most serious photographers had gone! But, regardless of the time and light, it's a terrific scene well-worth photographing!

On my way back to Woodstock, this country store in South Woodstock just begged for a quick photograph. Sure wish our corner convenience stores at home had this much charm!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Woodstock and Pomfret

Cloudland Road, Pomfret, VT

My favorite area was around the beautiful town of Woodstock. Surrounding the town were a number of beautiful farms and scenic dirt roads, particularly just north near the town of Pomfret (where Grandma Moses found a number of scenes for her paintings).

Thank goodness for GPS! I never would have found my way out of the maze of dirt roads in this area without it! My two absolute favorite drives were along Cloudland Road and Joe Ranger Road:

Morning along Joe Ranger Road

Welcome Committee, Pomfret Highlands Farm

Pomfret Highlands Farm, Cloudland Road

Farm along Cloudland Road, South Pomfret, VT

Farm along Cloudland Road

Joe Ranger Road

Old Kings Highway, South Pomfret, VT

Old Kings Highway Foliage

Nearly all buildings in the town of Woodstock are historically preserved and lovely. Here are just a few examples:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

On Grafton Pond

Not to be outdone in the "idyllic canoeing" category, New Hampshire has it's share of terrific paddling ponds. One afternoon, I drove down a couple of gravel roads to get to one such gem...Grafton Pond. There were a couple of houses at the put-in, but the rest of the lake was undeveloped and natural with a number of small islands to paddle around.

The foliage was gorgeous, and apart from seeing 3 other cars parked at the put-in (all Subarus!), there were no others around and I had the pond virtually all to myself.

This is what made hauling the canoe on the roof of my car for over 1000 miles all worth it... ah, tranquility!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quechee Gorge & Dewey's Mill Pond

Millie and I made the brief journey from Woodstock, NH to Woodstock, VT within a couple hours and set up camp at the KOA near White River Junction and the Quechee Gorge.

As we drove to the gorge for the first time, we saw Quechee's resident balloon taking off for an afternoon trip.
A tall iron bridge spans the Quechee Gorge, and allows pedestrians to walk over it and take pictures of the gorge. Most tourist shots are taken in the middle of the day and look like this:
So, one morning just after sunrise, I decided to try photographing the gorge again. This time, the ground fog was just lifting to provide a more interesting image.

Upstream from the gorge, was a small dam that created a marvelous small lake called Dewey's Mill Pond, which was an idyllic canoeing opportunity one afternoon, made even better when the Quechee balloon reappeared over the horizon!