Olympic

 The magical Hoh Rainforest has every single tree covered in a thick blanket of moss.

The magical Hoh Rainforest has every single tree covered in a thick blanket of moss.

Back in the US and about as far west as we are going to get! One ferry got us onto Vancouver Island, and another to Port Angeles, Washington, from where we drove into Olympic National Park. This park consists of three main ecological areas – temperate rainforest, alpine mountains and coastline. While we would explore the rainforest and camp by the coast, we’d be skipping the mountains, having had them for the last couple of parks.

On our first day, we wandered through the incredible place that is the Hoh Rainforest: tall trees, covered in moss to such a degree that you cannot see the actual tree anymore! Allegedly, sometimes the moss gets so heavy, entire branches snap under its weight! Strolling through the green labyrinth, I felt transported to another world – something close to Avatar or maybe a Lord of the Rings set.

 Marymere Falls sport some wild green moss next to the tumbling waterfall.

Marymere Falls sport some wild green moss next to the tumbling waterfall.

Some good old fire bbq’d Hot Dogs later, we hit Rialto Beach, excited to shoot Split Rock and The Hole in the Wall. Arriving after a good 30-40-minute hike along the beach, I realised this wasn’t going to work: low tide prevented the water from flowing around the rocks and the sun would be setting in the completely wrong place. Slightly demotivated, I set out to find some other compositions. We did get some colour in the sky, but I would be lying if I said I was happy with the shots I got that evening. So, I told myself, I’ll be back in the middle of the night for high tide, to get a moonlit image of Split Rock.

That didn’t happen that night though, as we needed some sleep and drove to Marymere Falls to shoot some more waterfalls. A short hike through more of the amazing rainforest led us to the thin, but tall falls, where we got some decent images, despite the spray coming off of it.

On the way to our evening location, we stopped in Forks, the town the Twilight movie was shot it, to get some delicious dinner – we didn’t spot any vampires though, despite the “Vampire Threat Level” sign indicating a “very high threat”. Lucky us, I guess.

Arriving at Ruby Beach, we instantly knew that we’d be getting some good images here, if the light would play ball. Stacks, reflecting beaches and plenty of rocks in the sand to use as foregrounds. We settled in for the wait, which may or may not have included napping on some driftwood logs on the beach.

 Sunset at Ruby Beach - perfect reflection due to the lowering tide leaving lots of water behind on the flat beach.

Sunset at Ruby Beach - perfect reflection due to the lowering tide leaving lots of water behind on the flat beach.

As sunset approached, I set up in anticipation for the light, and play ball it did! The quickly moving clouds turned a soft orange-yellow and gave the whole beach a very serene and peaceful, paradise-ish look. Needless to say, I was plenty satisfied with that evening, and even motivated enough to go out at night to attempt my Split Rock shot.

Back at camp, I checked about 5 different weather forecasts – all of them giving me a completely different forecast: from clear skies to totally overcast and rain I had plenty of options to choose from. Knowing I would be royally annoyed with myself if I didn’t attempt it, I told myself that this was one of those situations, where gambling would pay off (spoiler alert – it didn’t). I napped in the car until 1 am, then headed to the beach. Seeing the spray from the incoming tide, I put on my rain jacket. Good thing I did, because 15 minutes into my hike through the loose gravel and sand, a light drizzle started coming down. Telling myself that this would pass, I pushed on. Big mistake. I made it to the Split Rock by 1.50 am, tired and wet. The rain started to pick up, so I found myself a driftwood log that was sheltered by some pine branches in the treeline and lay down for a little nap. The rain would surely subside and I would get my shot – after all, I could see the outline of the moon through the clouds!

The rain never stopped – it picked up instead. By 2.30 am I was tired and frustrated enough to head back. 30 minutes of stumbling through the dark, headlamp only illuminating the fog and mist in front of me, struggling with the loose pebbles, gravel and sand, I finally made it to the car by 3.15 am. I just wanted to be dry, warm and in my sleeping bag. One of those wishes came true about 15 minutes later, you can guess which one.

I felt like I deserved some sleep in and continued relaxing the entire day. We moved to another campsite, got a nice fire going and just kind of enjoyed the camping atmosphere, before heading to Ruby Beach once more for sunset. Arriving just in time to capture some amazing golden hour light, we then camped out in the car for another hour or so, waiting for darkness to fall. Once it did, we headed back to the beach to make use of the one-is hour we had to capture the milky way. Soon the moon would rise, though, and wash out our galaxy.

 The Milky Way next to a sea stack at Ruby Beach. The rising moon starts illuminating the sky from the left, and soon thereafter would wash out the stars completely.

The Milky Way next to a sea stack at Ruby Beach. The rising moon starts illuminating the sky from the left, and soon thereafter would wash out the stars completely.

Satisfied, but tired, we returned to camp to catch some sleep, before we’d leave the park the following morning to head towards Portland. There, we’ll be meeting up with Dylan, whom we met in Yellowstone, and we’ll explore some gorges and waterfalls together. So yeah, looking forward to that!

Until then,
David

Jasper

Oh, how I’ve been warned… Jasper National Park a.k.a. Mosquito Country. 288 km north of Banff is Jasper, the town in the centre of our next stop, Jasper National Park, where we stayed for three days before making our way over to Vancouver and then back into the US.

Driving into Jasper, we followed the Icefield Parkway – probably one of the most scenic drives in the entire world. Jagged peaks, cliffs, wild forests and stunning glaciers line the road left and right. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t be shooting any of those. We did, however, receive plenty of tips on what to photograph once up in Jasper from all the photographers we met during our time in Banff (Thanks Aaron, Tiffany & Jeff!).

 This view greeted me on myfirst morning in Jasper, while on my way to Athabasca Falls.

This view greeted me on myfirst morning in Jasper, while on my way to Athabasca Falls.

 The gorge just below the Athabasca Falls is loud, wild and beautiful (and mosquito infested).

The gorge just below the Athabasca Falls is loud, wild and beautiful (and mosquito infested).

On our first evening, we decided to go location scouting at the two iconic waterfalls, Athabasca and Sunwapta Falls. Both extremely impressive, thunderous roars of icy water, carving its way through the rock. We got a good idea of when and how to shoot them and headed back to camp. Since the sun doesn’t set until 10 pm up here, we were in bed pretty late, considering I was planning on getting up at 4.20 am the following morning.

Get up I did, and found a suitable spot for sunrise within my first 20 minutes of driving. I was glad there wasn’t any traffic this early, otherwise this shot would have been incredibly reckless and irresponsible to get. As was, however, it was fairly safe. I then headed over to Athabasca Falls to quickly grab the image I had envisioned the evening before, before boiling up some water for some tea in the parking lot. A quick trip into the town of Jasper got me the road permits that we’d need over the next two days.

As I arrived back at camp, Derek started to stir in his tent, and wouldn’t you believe it – CLOUDS. Within the hour, the sky was completely overcast, allowing us a break from the clear skies we’ve been having so far. Amazed by the sight, we crossed our fingers they’d last until sunset… They stayed as we explored Mt Edith Cavell, and as we made our way to Pyramid Lake, all hell broke loose.

Storm clouds, wind, rain, yellows, purples, blues, oranges, what else could we possibly wish for? Oh right: a rainbow. What we got was worth the wait (remember, 3 weeks without clouds at sunrise or sunset to this point…)!

 The rainbow stayed for a few fleeting minutes only, hardly giving me the chance to capture it.

The rainbow stayed for a few fleeting minutes only, hardly giving me the chance to capture it.

Sadly, the clouds left as quickly as they’d appeared on the following day and we were back to blue skies. We used the time to relax a little, hang out at Maligne Lake, and head to Sunwapta Falls in the evening. We did not get there, however, as an awfully cute bear by the side of the road caught our full attention. Not getting to the falls was a small price to pay to witness the wild animal foraging for some weeds and roots about 2-3 meters away from our car.

 A black bear munching away at some dandelions by the side of the road.

A black bear munching away at some dandelions by the side of the road.

Getting up at 4 am on the last morning did not really pay off, as once again, there were no usable clouds in my frame at Sunwapta Falls: pink clouds to the left of me, orange to the right, yellow behind me, and boring greyish / blueish ones right where I’d needed the colour to be. Oh well, I had my highlight of Jasper at Pyramid Lake with the storm, and I’m not complaining too much.

To sum up, Jasper was a little underwhelming, in my opinion. This might be an effect of how amazing I thought Banff was, so anything not quite up to par would seem “meh…” in comparison. Good thing we have 2 driving days coming up on our way to Olympic National Park, back in the US, to settle and unwind a little, before heading back into camping & photography!

Until then,
David

Banff

Banff National Park is the site where Canadian national parks were born, so I was very excited to visit this place. Having been to the Canadian Rockies before, over 17 years ago, I vaguely remembered the beauty this place holds. I was not disappointed. Never have I seen a place where beauty in nature and stunning landscapes, rivers, forests, glaciers, peaks, emerald lakes and cosy lodges are as condensed as here – within one hour after arriving I swore I’d come back here again and again.

First things first – we got our campsite, drove to Banff town, ransacked the tourist information office for brochures and a map and headed for dinner on the roof patio of a nice-looking pub. Over salads and chips, we researched and discussed possible shooting locations and decided to take it easy on our first evening here. So far up north, the sun doesn’t set until 10 pm, and sunrise is as early as 5.30 am, so we wouldn’t be getting much sleep if we shot both in succession.

 Moraine Lake and the Ten Peaks being kissed by the first morning light.

Moraine Lake and the Ten Peaks being kissed by the first morning light.

After a short night, we got up at 4 am, drove up past Lake Louise (YES, we would not stop at this iconic location during our entire stay in Banff National Park) towards Moraine Lake, where we’d be shooting sunrise overlooking the lake with the Ten Peaks in the background. What a morning… While we were shooting from a lower section of the Rockpile (offers the best unobstructed views of the scene), we did not notice what was going on further up the hill: about 30-40 other photographers had arrived after us, and we were happy to have arrived early enough to claim a good spot! After telling some people off for launching their drone (strictly illegal within national parks in Canada), we headed back to camp for a nap – but not before screeching to a stop on our drive to photograph a black bear at the side of the road!

We spent the rest of the day resupplying groceries, getting some internet at Starbucks to get our blogs up, explore Banff town and visit the Cave & Basin Historic Site, the place where three railroad workers “discovered” the hot spring in a cave and decided to start a business there, which eventually ended up being the Banff National Park.

 The Emerald Lake Lodge in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada, just after sunset.

The Emerald Lake Lodge in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada, just after sunset.

In the evening, we arrived on our location early again, which was good, as there were plenty of other photographers also arriving at the Emerald Lake Lodge over in Yoho National Park. We ended up shooting until midnight and chatting to a local photographer, Aaron, who gave us plenty of tips on where to shoot around Jasper, which would be our next stop. Having been out so late, we decided to sleep in the following morning, which we both badly needed.

 A bald eagle flying over Banff, Alberta, Canada.

A bald eagle flying over Banff, Alberta, Canada.

Back in Banff, we rented a canoe to explore Bow River and Vermilion Lake – gorgeous out there. We even spotted a Bald Eagle flying low and got some shots in! Two hours and some intense paddling later, we had our first real camp BBQ, Bison Hot Dogs with mashed potatoes, before heading out to our evening shoot: an iconic stretch of train tracks running through beautiful Banff National Park. After 2 hours though, it seemed like the train services had also been affected by the power outage earlier that day, so no train showed up. Packing up, we decided to come back on our way to Jasper the following day.

 Sunrise reflections in Herbert Lake, allegedly the warmest lake in the entire Canadian Rockies, even sporting a diving board!

Sunrise reflections in Herbert Lake, allegedly the warmest lake in the entire Canadian Rockies, even sporting a diving board!

Sunrise on my last day in Banff was the same as the past couple of days: no clouds, calm, quiet. This time I headed out to Herbert Lake by myself, as Derek decided he was fed up with cloudless skies – can’t blame him. I met Jeff Bartlett, a local photographer, and we ended up chatting for quite some time, brewing some coffee and tea and just having a good time all around. After parting ways, I woke up Derek and we headed off towards Jasper.

Banff National Park was undoubtedly the highlight of this trip for me so far. Not even having left yet, I want to come back, for weeks, to explore all the lakes, hikes, rivers, forests and peaks! Another time…!

Until then,
David

Glacier

150 years ago, Glacier National Park was home to 150 glaciers – 26 of which are left today for me and Derek to marvel at. Being swiss and knowing the glaciers we have in the alps, the ones here are small – if not tiny – in comparison. The landscape, however, is every bit as beautiful as Switzerland. Entering the park, I felt like driving in the swiss alps, looking for a campsite. Only at our 4th stop did we find a site, and only for one night. Approaching 4th of July weekend, we knew it would be tough to get campsites. We switched twice, each time getting up before 6 and driving to the new site, hoping to catch someone just about to leave, so we could snag their site. It worked both times, for which we were very grateful!

In terms of photography, Glacier National Park offers a lot of similar subjects as back home: Rivers, waterfalls, gorges, forest and lakes reflecting the surrounding mountains. Unfortunately, the first evening turned out to be another day in our cloudless sunset streak, of which we are getting a little fed up at this point.

We focused on shooting some reflections in Avalanche Lake the second evening, and again, no clouds. The Lake is fed by 6 waterfalls and wildlife frequents the area: chipmunks got into Derek’s backpack and a deer almost ran over our tripods! The 1 hour hike up to the lake was nice enough and the scenery quite relaxing, so missing out on any colourful sunset wasn’t too bad (except maybe for Derek, who forgot something at the campsite and had to run back and return up to the lake to get the time-lapse he wanted…)

 The sun is setting behind Rocky Point at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park - no clouds in sight, but still beautiful.

The sun is setting behind Rocky Point at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park - no clouds in sight, but still beautiful.

 Along the Going-to-the-Sun road, going across Logan Pass, there are countless waterfalls, such as this one next to the Weeping Wall.

Along the Going-to-the-Sun road, going across Logan Pass, there are countless waterfalls, such as this one next to the Weeping Wall.

 

On our third day, I started early to get another campsite and thoroughly enjoyed driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road across Logan Pass by myself! We shot the beautiful Avalanche gorge in the morning, before setting up at our new campsite. Our afternoon program included two more waterfalls: St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls, situated at the south-west end of St. Mary Lake. However, after seeing St. Mary Falls, we stayed there for about 2 hours, until I slipped on some moss, fell down a small cliff and got my trousers all muddy and wet. Luckily, I didn’t get hurt and I managed to get the image I wanted!

 Getting myself all muddy after sliding off of a moss covered cliff at St. Mary Falls. Worth it though to get the image I wanted!

Getting myself all muddy after sliding off of a moss covered cliff at St. Mary Falls. Worth it though to get the image I wanted!

 Me marvelling at the beautiful Avalanche Gorge, fed by Avalanche Lake on the west side of Glacier National Park.

Me marvelling at the beautiful Avalanche Gorge, fed by Avalanche Lake on the west side of Glacier National Park.

For sunset, it almost looked like the weather was going to cooperate, but decided not to in the very end, by giving us some colour in the most useless part of the sky. Still, it was nice to see that it is possible after all to get colourful skies out here! Since Derek and I needed a good rest, we slept in and spent the morning doing some photo management.

We headed to Two Medicine Lake in the late afternoon, where we planned on photographing another waterfall and Two Medicine Lake. While the lake was nice to see, we didn’t find a compelling composition and moved on to the Running Eagle Falls, which more than satisfied us. The waterfall really is two waterfalls, one coming out from the top, the other out of the rock’s face, behind the first one! While it was stunning to photograph and look at, I got cold pretty quickly and moved back to the car, dismissing our last night in Glacier NP for sunset, as once again, all the clouds had moved out.

 The Running Eagle Falls near Two Medicine Lake have a trick up their sleeve: They are actually two falls, one hidden behind the other. They are only visible individually only if there's a low flow of water coming from the top - otherwise the top waterfall would obscure the lower one.

The Running Eagle Falls near Two Medicine Lake have a trick up their sleeve: They are actually two falls, one hidden behind the other. They are only visible individually only if there's a low flow of water coming from the top - otherwise the top waterfall would obscure the lower one.

After a very short night I got up at 5.15 am to shoot sunrise at the Wild Goose Island Overlook, where I would get glowing mountain peaks and the Wild Goose Island in St. Mary Lake in the foreground. Despite the lashing wind I managed to get the photo I wanted, even though I would have wished for some (more) clouds, but by now I'm sort of used to that...

 The rising sun illuminates the mountains lining St. Mary Lake, Wild Goose Island can also be seen.

The rising sun illuminates the mountains lining St. Mary Lake, Wild Goose Island can also be seen.

As my visit at Glacier National Park comes to an end, I realise I discovered a passion to shoot waterfalls. We did some of them here, and I am looking forward to shooting some more in Banff and Jasper, but especially the ones we have planned in Portland! For now, off to Canada!

Until then,
David

Yellowstone

 Yellowstone River flowing through the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Yellowstone River flowing through the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The first national park ever to be created in the USA was Yellowstone and sits just north of Grand Teton. Having enjoyed a lovely sunrise on the morning in Grand Teton, we packed up camp and made the short drive up to Yellowstone. The iconic park is famous for its geysers, wildlife and fauna, so we knew we’d be shooting a lot less landscapes and much more wildlife – at least as exciting if you ask me.

Not even having reached our campsite, we ran into a horde of people on spotting scopes. We pulled over and I got out my binoculars just in time to witness a pack of 6 wolves hunting elk in the far distance. What a start for Yellowstone! Talking to some people in attendance, they claimed this is rare to see. Lucky us!

After setting up camp we explored the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls – amazing waterfalls which we’d shoot if some clouds would roll in one morning or evening – for now, we settled for the amazing colour contrast of the Yellowstone river and the actual yellow stone which gives this park its name.

 Boiling up some water for morning tea and porridge to fight the cold!

Boiling up some water for morning tea and porridge to fight the cold!

After a frosty night (0°C), we had some porridge to warm us up and set out to explore Lamar Valley, where we were told to find some wildlife. Boy were we lucky that day: we started out with a black bear cub, ran into an osprey feeding on a fish, woodpeckers feeding their chicks, deer, ground squirrel, and even mountain goats and grizzly bears in the far distance. Lining the road left and right were plenty of bison, even some with calves!

Back at camp we took a nap until midnight, when we got up and drove to the Norris and Midway Geyser basins to shoot the milky way above the boiling hot springs and vents. Wow, walking across the boardwalks through fields of bubbling mud, water spewing geysers and venting fumaroles felt like exploring an alien planet and must be one of the most thrilling experiences I’ve ever had!

 The Milky Way behind the Grand Prismatic Spring at Midway Geyser basin at around 2.30 am.

The Milky Way behind the Grand Prismatic Spring at Midway Geyser basin at around 2.30 am.

After getting back to bed at 5 am, we slept well into noon, and then set off to explore the geysers during daylight. What a world of difference: hordes of tourists, not nearly as much mist and not nearly as mesmerizing as by night. As predicted by the weather forecast, some clouds started rolling in for sunset and we managed to get some decent shots of the Lower Falls of Yellowstone River, before we headed back to camp to chat with our neighbours until rain began to fall around midnight.

The last full day in Yellowstone was a rainy one – so we set out to capture the park’s more intimate landscapes and some more wildlife during those hours. We were captivated by the mist over some lake, the charred trees surrounded by green grass and newly growing ones and the ever-changing weather: rain, hail, sunshine and snow… The remainder of the day we spent catching up on photo editing and blog writing in the warmth of the lodge at Canyon village. On a whim, we went back to Lower Falls Overlook for sunset, and were rewarded with some nice colours and lots of mist rising up from the bottom of the falls. Also, we ran into Nina and Fiona, two swiss ladies, just finishing up their 2-month road-trip – what a coincidence!

 The cold weather and rain transformed some of Yellowstone's landscapes into scenes right out of a fairy tale, such as Sylvan Lake close to Sylvan Pass!

The cold weather and rain transformed some of Yellowstone's landscapes into scenes right out of a fairy tale, such as Sylvan Lake close to Sylvan Pass!

Yellowstone was a special experience with so many different aspects: geysers, bubbling hot springs, loads of wildlife, charred landscapes and tourism galore. I definitely see why the first National Park ever to be established in the USA is such a tourist magnet, but I wish it weren’t, for the park would be so much more attractive without all the people in it.

For now, we’re off to Montana, where we’ll have a long day of driving and a night at an AirBnB ahead of us, before hitting Glacier National Park!

Until then,
David

Grand Teton

Having left try dry, barren Badlands behind us and driving through the flat, sheer endless plains of Wyoming, I felt myself looking forward to what was to come. Boy was I not disappointed: as soon as we turned into the Teton National Forest, I started feeling like home. Mountains, forests, peaks, snow, cool and humid air, winds and lakes. Grand Teton National Park is pretty much the opposite of Badlands and would offer us plenty of vastly different subjects to photograph.

We started out with a lucky break – we snagged one of the last 5 camping sites at Coulter Bay Campground – YESS! We’d finally have access to a shower, though not until the following day, as it was way past the official shower hours. Exhausted from the drive and lack of sleep back in Badlands, we decided to take it easy that evening and just enjoy the sunset at the lake, 10 minutes away by foot. As is with photographers, we ended up taking an image each nonetheless.

 Sunset on our first night at Coulter Bay Campground on Jackson Lake.

Sunset on our first night at Coulter Bay Campground on Jackson Lake.

Waking up well rested, brewing some fresh tea, catching up on the travel journal and just taking the entire atmosphere in was something I had really looked forward to. Energized and freshly showered we started into the day which included mainly planning for the following couple of days, shopping, having Bison burger (holy mother of burger… delicious!) and hopping from WiFi to WiFi.

With a plan in writing, we then later headed out to our first stop for sunset: Moulton Barn. This was the first location where we feared our luck had come to an end – a wedding reception was being shot in front of our subject. Soon some more photographers joined our waiting camp and we had a good chat with them. Josh and John tuned out to be some very nice fellows, so we spent the entire evening talking and shooting the barn with them, well into the twilight. We did set off back to camp at some point to catch some sleep though, which we both needed.

 Sunset over the Moulton Barn.

Sunset over the Moulton Barn.

Getting up at 5 am for sunrise was not really worth it – nothing spectacular happened and I was back in bed by 6.15 am, snoozing until 10 am. After some exploring, exiting the park to fly our drones and nearly being consumed by mosquitoes at Two Ocean Lake (screw bears, mosquitoes are the real danger out here!), we headed over to Signal Mountain, from where we’d be getting amazing views of the entire area around us for golden hour and sunset – sadly without clouds, once again. Getting up there, however, we decided that this wasn’t going to work and headed to camp for an earlier night of sleep.

Getting up at 4.15 am the following morning, we headed out to Schwabacher Landing to catch some sunrise glow on the Tetons. Wow, what a scene. There were so many compositions to shoot, we didn’t get around to capturing all of them in the best light, so we decided we’d come back here on the last morning we had in Grand Teton National Park. After a nap, we hiked up to Hidden Falls, west of Jenny Lake, and had a blast shooting the thundering waterfall.
A relaxing afternoon, some delicious cantaloupe and a freezing swim in String Lake later, we decided to skip sunset again, as it wasn’t looking too interesting anyways.

 Mountain glow at Schwabacher Landing on our last morning in Grand Teton.

Mountain glow at Schwabacher Landing on our last morning in Grand Teton.

Our second morning at Schwabacher Landing almost fell through, when we arrived and a group of other photographers was warning us to go down to the river because they’d just seen and heard a bear. After some debating and waiting around, we all made our way to the spot together, figuring we’d be safe as a noisy group of photographers. We were not disappointed this morning either, shooting the compositions we missed the day before, chatting to the lovely photographers who were there alongside us and marvelling at beavers, ducks, geese and birds.

With the last sunrise done we headed back to break camp, have breakfast and make our way up to Yellowstone National Park – to which I am very much looking forward to! Stay tuned for my blog entry from this iconic place.

Until then,
David

Badlands

After Baltimore and New York, the road trip with Derek (website) Morf was finally under way! 1600 miles and 3 days after meeting up in Verona, New Jersey, we hit our first stop: Badlands National Park in South Dakota where we would be spending a little over 2 days. After seeing some spires and towers in the distance, the ground suddenly drops away and unveils a sheer endless scenery of towering spires and undulating rock formations, created by erosion. The layered rock strata are simple stunning to look at and we immediately became excited to photograph this otherworldly place.

Since our campground was in the very back of the park in the Sage Creek area, we drove through the entirety of it, stopping often and marking possible photo-locations on the map we obtained at the entrance. Quickly, it became apparent that we would never get around to shooting all the possible locations (in prime light, that is), so we needed to prioritise. We decided to skip sunrise shoots and focus on sunset and astrophotography instead.

Along the way we discovered lots of wildlife: wild bison, pronghorn sheep, prairie dogs and racoon and even spent some time photographing the prairie dogs.

 Prairie Dogs lined the Sage Creek Rim Road leading to our campground.

Prairie Dogs lined the Sage Creek Rim Road leading to our campground.

 Conditions for Milky Way images were pristine during our time in Badlands - so we made the best of it!

Conditions for Milky Way images were pristine during our time in Badlands - so we made the best of it!

We caught a lovely sunset with a very untypical look for Badlands National Park on our first evening, up on the prairie with some bushes and lots of grass. We did make it to some rock later at night for some astrophotography, bringing Max and Abbey, two lovely people we met that evening, with us to show them the amazing dark skies. Speaking of, I’ve never seen dark skies like this before, so I spend the better half of the time just staring at the millions of stars above us.

After a (sadly almost sleepless) short night, we awoke to the first rays of the sun, got a little breakfast going and set off to explore a little more of the park and get some images in daylight as well. For sunset, we arrived at our location super early, where we soaked in the scene and picked compositions for when the light was gonna be right. This evening we focused on the typical Badlands scenery at Pinnacles overlook: the layered rocky spires and ridges. We met some nice photographers, Tristan and Mira, the later perfectly describing the landscape: “It’s like being on another planet, isn’t it?”

 The eroded ridges and spires unveil the many different layers of rock and soil usually concealed beneath the grasslands of Badlands.

The eroded ridges and spires unveil the many different layers of rock and soil usually concealed beneath the grasslands of Badlands.

We were treated to a nice sunset, nothing overly spectacular, only for the sky to completely light on fire in the distance shortly after the sun went down. Satisfied (well, not so much for Derek, as his timelapse gear decided to stop working and he spent the better part of the evening trying to get it to work, only to end up in utter frustration, which was a shame), we cooked ourselves some dinner. We waited out the skies clearing up until midnight, and when it didn’t happen we returned to camp for a good night of sleep.

 The Sage Creek area of Badlands is defined by rolling grassy hills with the occasional bush or group of trees.

The Sage Creek area of Badlands is defined by rolling grassy hills with the occasional bush or group of trees.

Monday we spent winding down a little: sleep in (well, 7 am), breakfast and some quality naps, reading and frisbee battle. While Derek decided to get some more timelapses in, I explored the Sage Creek area around our camp on a short hike and nearly fell over a sleeping Buffalo while doing so... I discovered an entirely different face of the park compared to what most people associate with Badlands. The park really has two parts: the rocky spires and ridges give way to rolling grassy hills with the occasional trees in the north-west.

Getting to our sunset location at White River Valley early was key for Derek setting up his timelapse and us not being too stressed. Sunset appeared to be an utter disappointment, until about 5 minutes before it actually went down: the skies and rocky faces exploded in colour and we had a blast shooting until the light was gone.

 Me enjoying the spectacular colours on our last evening in Badlands.

Me enjoying the spectacular colours on our last evening in Badlands.

A good dinner later we geared up for some serious milky way photography, as skies promised to be clear that night. The weather reports got it right and we did have a blast shooting until we were simply too tired to be crawling across the ridges and spires, so we headed back for a last night in Badlands.

Badlands National Park surely surpassed our expectations in photographic terms, we consider ourselves very lucky to have gotten so many great opportunities and scenes to capture. I will keep this one in mind, especially as it reminds me of Bungle-Bungle in Australia (check it out if you don’t know it!), stirring some fond childhood memories of mine.

For now, on to Grand Teton and hopefully a shower at some point..

Until then,

David

New York

 My shot-list for a total of 48 hours in New York.

My shot-list for a total of 48 hours in New York.

The city that never sleeps offers countless opportunities for fantastic images. Two years ago I already managed to get some good ones and this time around I planned to make the best out of my 48 hours in the city (and yes, this involves only getting around 7h of sleep overall). Since my time was so short, I had a tight shoot-plan to stick to, as you can see in my note posted to the right...

One focus I had was getting the images I wanted to get last time, but couldn't, due to circumstancial reasons, such as the World Trade Center station not being completed or the One World Observatory not yet being open to the public. Logically those went to the top of the list. Shooting them was a blast - the architecture of the WTC station is simply stunning - and resulted in quite a few nice images. The WTC station ones are even going into their separate series at some point. 

 East River with Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge during the blue hour of dusk, as seen from One World Observatory.

East River with Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge during the blue hour of dusk, as seen from One World Observatory.

 How to shoot through glass without reflections. Also, how to stabilise your camera when security confiscates your tripod.

How to shoot through glass without reflections. Also, how to stabilise your camera when security confiscates your tripod.

Above is the one image I just had to get from One World Observatory: Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge over the east river, with 8 Spruce Street in the foreground. I did quite some research into how to best shoot through the glass on the observatory and still avoid unwanted reflections, and this is what I came up with: a dark cloth with a hole in the middle to stick the lens through, attached to the glass by four suction cups. Nothing beats a little DIY the day before you have to fly out. Thanks mum for the sewing :)

After only 3 hours of sleep I was up again at 3.30 am to catch the A Train to Brooklyn Bridge Park to shoot the sunrise behind Manhattan Bridge. The nice thing about sunrises is that you are all by yourself. You can soak in the whole atmosphere, enjoy the scene and really live the moment. Sunrises over sunsets anytime! The rest of the 2nd day was spent chasing other shots I had planned: Details of the building facades (below), Grand Central Station (finally!!), New York Public Library (what a bust, there is a witch cursing everybody with a DSLR upon sight, smartphones are fine obviously), 8 Spruce Street (my favourite building in the whole of NY, by far) and skyscrapers on Park Avenue / Madison Avenue / Lexington Avenue for a project I am working on.

 Detail shots of building exteriors - such as this image - were one focus of my time in New York.

Detail shots of building exteriors - such as this image - were one focus of my time in New York.

In the afternoon I rewarded myself with a little naptime (after backing up my images of course) at the hostel, until it was time to start camping on the Top of the Rock on Rockefeller Center. 2-3 hours I stood in place to reserve my spot for a shot of the Empire State Building at dusk. Sadly the weather did not cooperate at all and all the action and colours were happening in the opposite direction, uptown. Still, got a decent image, but I will need to go back there at some point. Highlight of the evening was definitely meeting a friend of mine from Switzerland and hanging out with him.

Next day, same procedure: up at 3.30, ride to Brooklyn Bridge Park for sunrise. Just as light starts getting interesting, BOOM, out of nowhere a flash thunderstom hits me. I just managed to throw the camera and electronics into my bag and flat-out sprint to the closest shelter I could find. Completely soaked, freezing and shocked I managed to get me an Uber back to the hostel, where I would get a few more zzz's, still freezing from being wet.

The rest of the day I dedicated to checking out and wandering the High Line and Chelsea Market with my friend from Switzerland I met the previous evening, what a great coincidence!

Now it's time to move on to Jersey to meet up with Derek, so we can get the road trip started tomorrow. I'd be lying if I said I was done with New York photographically speaking. I'm a long ways from it. Already making plans on what to shoot next time around. First, some National Parks though!

I'll be back with an update after the first stop - Badlands National Park.

Until then,
David

Baltimore

A little over 4 days in Baltimore are coming to an end - and boy was it worth it! Since my main focus was to relax and enjoy the time with my friends I was staying with, I did not expect to walk away with so many great shots!

Baltimore is a city with a lot to offer, but most notably it has a lovely Harbour and a beautiful marina promenade. This is where I spent most of my time, taking walks with my friends, but also looking for possible compositions for photographs. Friday morning I did get up at 4.30 am, got an Uber to the harbour and whitnessed a beautiful sunrise over the quiet harbour. The image below is only one of many I got this morning.

 The Baltimore Skyline as seen from the inner harbour, just after sunrise.

The Baltimore Skyline as seen from the inner harbour, just after sunrise.

Speaking of Uber - this is a city where you basically need to use it. While there are great neighbourhoods, there are a few areas that need to be avoided for safety sake. Ubering makes this super easy and saves you valuable time you'd otherwise spend detouring those not-so-safe blocks.

Besides the harbour, there are lovely streets, especially Thames, where you get one tavern after another, each one more lifely and attractive than the other one. Leaving those behind, I managed to get my drone in the air close to the inner harbour and I was stunned by the sunset I was capuring with it. The returning boat adds a nice touch to the already beautiful scenery with absolutely otherworldly colour.

 A boat returning during the incredible post-sunset show the sky was putting on over Baltimore.

A boat returning during the incredible post-sunset show the sky was putting on over Baltimore.

Unfortunately my time in Baltimore has come to an end, and I am today taking a train up to New York, but I feel like I have made the most out of it, both socially and photographically speaking. Ihave a lot of new memories and photographs to hold on to. For now I am looking forward to what New York has in store for me, I'll keep you updated!

Until then,
David.

 

The Great Summer Adventure

It's time. Time for adventures. Time to go out and shoot again. Time to discover new cities. Time to discover new landscapes. Time to discover new countries. And most definitely time to start a blog!


So, welcome to my blog where I will write about my photographic adventures and all that goes with it.


In this first entry I would like to share my big summer adventure with you. Over the course of three months I will be travelling to cities and national parks in the USA, Canada and Iceland.
First stop is Baltimore, where I am visiting some friends of mine. Of course there will be some time dedicated to photography, I hear the city has a beautiful harbour area, let's see what I can make of this.
Second stop will be New York - if only for two days. I have been to this metropolis before, but I am still missing a few shots that I would really like to get. One of them being a shot from the One World Observatory on top of One World Trade Center which wasn't open to the public two years ago. So yeah, pretty stocked about that!
Next up will be the main part of this adventure: a 70 day road trip through the USA and Canada with my friend Derek Morf (see his work on his website), visiting 15 national parks, with two simple goals: Having an amazing time and getting photographs out of this world! I cannot put into words how incredibly excited I am to hit the road with Derek and finally see those amazing places with my own eyes. Instead of describing the itinerary, just have a look at the map below to see where we plan to go.

Summer 2017 National Parks Road Trip on Roadtrippers

Being out in nature, sleeping in tents, cooking on a gas cooker for 70 days may not sound so appealing to you, but it sounds like heaven to me..
After this large leg of my summer adventure, I will head over to Iceland and meet up with a friend from Switzerland and we will explore the island of ice and fire together for another 14 days - with all the focus on photography once again.
Despite all the excitement I am aware that I will have A LOT of images to go through and edit, but hey, that's a small price to pay if you get to see all those amazing places.

Stay tuned for individual blog entries for every stop along the way, be it city or national park!


Until then,
may the light be with you,
David