Reports from the Field

Fall in the Smokys

George Theodore, November 14, 2017

The Smokys. What a great place to spend a few fall days photographing. The first couple of days looked rather bleak, as colors were a little late. But, rains and a slight drop in temperature promised colors were not far behind. As the week progressed, colors got better and better. The rains fed rivers, streams and waterfalls and we enjoyed capturing reflected colors shooting sections of them at a time. We got a little snow too.

Driving through Cades Cove, we counted nine black bears. One sow with triplets, another with twins. They were on the ground and up in trees; and, of course, it really slowed traffic. On one entrance into the Cove, a sign warning was up telling us the traffic was so heavy, it might take two to three hours to make the eleven-mile drive. Well, it wasn’t that bad; we did it in an hour. Cades Cove’s Sparks Lane looked good in the sun and in fog.

All in all, it was a good week. Here are images from our workshop participants.

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The Berkshires 2017

George Theodore, October 15, 2017

It gets tougher and tougher each year to predict fall colors; summers in some areas are longer, hotter and drier. This proved to be the case in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts the first week of October.  But, what do you do when you’re handed a bunch of lemons? Well, you know.

With the near absence of color (except for a five mile stretch in Vermont) the group’s challenge to create images from more everyday subject matter was met head-on in North Adams, Shelburne Falls, covered bridges near Bennington VT, Weston and as far north as Rutland VT and the countryside in-between especially along the Mohawk Trail. From old industrial buildings to blossoms and monarch butterflies on Shelburne Fall’s Bridge of Flowers, our workshop participants made lemonade with outstanding imagery. And, of course, we had a lot of fun. The weather for the most part was cooperative and the rains came as the workshop ended – perfect timing. Here is a sampling of images from our participants:

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Glacier National Park Fall Workshop 2017

George Theodore, October 9, 2017

What do you do when there’s smoke from forest fires on top of which you get rain and snow?  Why you get up, go out and shoot. This year’s Glacier National Park Fall workshop presented numerous challenges that forced us to think out of the box. For the most part, the winds cooperated by keeping smoke from Glacier’s west side fires away from us and, unable to go over to the west side, we were limited to east of Logan Pass. With few opportunities to photograph the “grand landscape”, our group excelled at making lemonade from lemons. Here’s a sampling of their work:

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Alaska Land & Sea Tour 2017

George Theodore, July 10, 2017

This year’s Alaska Land and Sea Tour was outstanding; mostly perfect weather, just enough sun but not too much so as to give us too much contrast. Starting in Anchorage, we made our way down the Kenai (pronounced keen’-eye) Peninsula to Seward stopping along the way at various point to photograph. The following day, we boarded our small boat at Resurrection Bay for our private cruise around Kenai Fjords National Park to Holgate Glacier and back; a delightful eight hours with Captain Tanya and First Mate Clay filled with great photo opportunities – whales, orcas, otters, puffins and, of course, the Holgate itself – one of Alaska’s smaller glaciers but still advancing and still awesome.

Two days later, we flew out of Anchorage over the Cook Inlet to the Lake Clark area staying at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge. The following three days were full of grizzly bear photography. We were just a day or two too early for spring cubs (maybe next year) but had plenty of company with yearlings and adolescent cubs along with their moms. A couple of boars were spotted as well. The crew at the Lodge was terrific attending to our every need. We were out shooting at all hours – before breakfast, after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner; it was daylight practically 24 hours and we took advantage of every shooting opportunity. The final afternoon, we boarded a couple of charter boats and made our way around Tuxedni and Chinitna Bays photographing birds including puffins, murres, oystercatchers, eagles and a huge kittiwake rookery.

Sadly, all had to come to an end but not before our farewell party at Simon and Seaforts in Anchorage where we raised a toast to the wonderful experience that is Alaska Land and Sea.

Here are images captured by our ten participants. Enjoy!

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Yosemite 2017 Workshop

George Theodore, May 15, 2017

This was the most water we’ve ever seen at Yosemite. The falls were just awesome and the Merced River was running wild and fast. While we had to make our way around flooded areas that made parts of the park look like Bayou Country, those very conditions provided for some spectacular reflections. And, the dogwood was at peak. What a great week not to mention a great group.

We covered Cathedral Beach (temporarily Cathedral Pond), meadows, the falls, the river, Swinging Bridge, Valley View and other areas in the “low country”. The road to Glacier Point was still closed due to snow (first time we struck out on that).

We plan to return to Yosemite in late 2018. Here are some images from our Yosemite 2017 group:

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Arches & Canyonlands Workshop 2017

George Theodore, May 8, 2017

Arches and Canyonlands are two of our most photogenic national parks with something for everyone – up early for great sunrises and early morning opportunities then out again in late afternoon through sunset. If you’re like us, we use the in-between hours to pull out our speedlights and shoot some more. Then we use after-dark hours to light paint. The weather was mostly sunny with some cloudiness in late afternoon.

For our first sunrise, we left the hotel at 4:30 AM to get to Mesa Arch an hour before sunrise; we were rewarded by being the first ones there. The rest of our sunrises were at Landscape Arch, North Window and Deadhorse. All pretty good mornings. Sunsets were spent at Balanced Rock and Fisher Towers. Storm clouds produced The group decided against the hike up to Delicate Arch and the clouds rolled in which would have made sunset a great disappointment. The light painting at Double Arch was very successful catching both the arches and star trails.

We had a terrific afternoon with speedlights and other artificial lighting equipment photographing cowboy/cowgirl models. Using both infrared and radio transmission, the group learned a lot about how speedlights produce much better images when taken off-camera and how gels can be used for wonderful effects.

The was camaraderie terrific and all returned home with lots of great photos. Here are images from some workshop participants.

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Death Valley 2017 Workshop

George Theodore, February 21, 2017

Death Valley! What thoughts are conjured up when you hear this? Bleak, desert, hot, sand, desolate, deserted, forsaken? Take a trip to Death Valley and have your mind changed. Our small group of 10 spent the greater part of five days roaming this magnificent landscape photographing everything from sand dunes to fields of borax.

The weather this year was typical 2016/7 California – wet. Death Valley gets around two inches of rain a year and our group agreed we had half of that during our photo adventure. Still, there were enough breaks in clouds to get images with great light and when it was overcast, the light was perfect for areas like Devil’s Golf Course and Rhyolite Ghost Town.

We had lots of wind too and boy did it blow up at Dante’s View at sunrise! The temp read forty degrees (actually warm for this time of the year) but the wind made it feel like the normal 25 degrees you get up there. All had a good time and here are some images created by our workshop participants. Enjoy.

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2016 FALL EVENTS

George Theodore, October 23, 2016

Colorado Fall Colors Tour
Acadia National Park Workshop

Fall came really early to Southwestern Colorado – almost two weeks early. When we arrived the first week in October, we thought we had missed it all. But then we had an overnight snow that covered the area in a two-inch blanket. Sunrise at Dallas Divide was a lot different from what we’ve been used to seeing in early fall. As we roamed the area, we were still able to find lots of yellow and the snow was a bonus. Because Oak Creek Pass and Last Dollar Road were snow-covered, we spent one afternoon photographing in Silverton  - especially the trains running to and from Durango. Once the Passes were open, we found the area around Silver Jack Reservoir had plenty of fall color left. A clear – and not too chilly - night gave us an opportunity to photograph the Milky Way, or as it is often called these days, the Galactic Core.

We hit Acadia on the button as Mount Desert Island peaked mid-way through our workshop. It was interesting to see the colors change even through just a couple of days. From fiery red blueberry to stunning oranges and reds of maple, we had it all. Even with the drought that New England experienced this year, we found enough water in streams to make interesting images. We made that cold and windy journey for sunrise atop Cadillac Mountain and the colors all around were magnificent; cold and windy but definitely not disappointing. Our last evening found us capturing a full moonrise at 6:00 PM with the moon looking so much like a giant beach ball as it broke the horizon. Of course, we spent time photographing sunrise at Otter Rocks and an afternoon at the fishing village of Bernard.

Below are sample photographs from our participants in these events:

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The Palouse Spring Tour 2016

George Theodore, July 9, 2016

The Palouse is one of those places that one forgets, as Claude Monet put it, the thing we're looking at. Hills, valleys, trees, crops, sky, clouds all very quickly become line, shape, form, texture, pattern and color. It's so easy to forget the names of things. Our group enjoyed five days of wandering around the Palouse, visiting locations well known and others known to but a few. Between Eastern Washington and Western Idaho, whether we were photographing barns or silos, garbonzo beans or canola, it seemed the photo opportunites were endless. 

The best way to describe it all is through the images of some of our participants and here they are:

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