2018 included our first actual Wisconsin winter. As usual, we spent a couple of months at our beach house at Hamilton Beach in Wareham, Massachusetts. I also made several trips back to California to visit my mother, brother and sister, and friends—and was usually able to do a bit of photography. In October, my brother Ward and I made a two day trip over to the Sonoma coast, where I was able to do quite a bit of photography. More shots from this trip are at The Wild Sonoma Coast.
While Big Sur may be more famous, the Sonoma Coast, some 80 miles north of San Francisco is just as wild. To my mind, there is no more dramatic meeting of land and sea. Plus there are redwood groves just a few miles inland along the Russian River.
The Russian River meets the Pacific at Jenner. Fort Ross is 12 miles farther north along a sometimes hair-raising Route 1. The restored fort, now a state park, was Russia’s southernmost fur trading outpost between 1812 and 1842. Salt Point State Park and Sea Ranch are a few miles north of the fort. These photographs were made October 17 and 18, 2018.
I took a day trip with a group from St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Middleton. We rode the bus through pouring rain for a while and two and a half hours later arrived at the autumnal beauty of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Happily, the rain had ended. Under broken clouds we visited the grounds of the Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe, located just outside LaCrosse. Following lunch we boarded a small sternwheeler for a ride on the Mississippi River. Returning to land, we traveled up to Grandad Bluff Park, 600 feet above LaCrosse and the Mississippi River for a satisfying view before returning home.
Even though fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts that does not stop the various beach communities along the South Coast (and I presume Cape Cod as well) from putting on their own enthusiastic amateur fireworks shows. Since the fireworks are set off on sandy beaches and explode over the water the fire danger is relatively low.
It’s not as dark as I’d like but on clear summer nights the Milky Way can be captured out over the relative darkness of Buzzards Bay.
Some 75 miles south of Bar Harbor and Acadia is one of Maine’s most picturesque harbors: upscale Camden—a major tourist draw on the state’s central coast. Camden’s centerpiece is its very active harbor, offering day sails for tourists as well as home port to lobstermen as well as wealthy yacht and sail boat owners.
In June 2018 Susan and I spent a couple of days at Bar Harbor and touring the beautiful rocky Maine coast in and around Acadia National Park (the only National Park in New England). The centerpiece (literally and figuratively) of the park is Cadillac Mountain—at 1550 feet the highest point on the US Atlantic coast. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular—and crowded. By coincidence I was there for dawn on the summer solstice—the earliest dawn of the year (4:48 a.m. EDT) which meant getting up pretty early. But certainly worth the effort.
Now that I’m a resident of Wisconsin, I come to the San Francisco Bay Area from time to time to visit my Mom and my siblings. This allows day excursions to some of my favorite areas. The two photos of the Sonoma Coast were made in January with my iPhone 6s. The remainder, made in Pacific Grove, Point Lobos State Reserve, and elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay area, were made in April using my Nikon D800.
2017 was a year of major change as Susan and I moved from Walnut Creek, California to our new home in Madison, Wisconsin in the Spring. As usual, we spent a couple of summer months at the beach house at Hamilton Beach, Wareham, Massachusetts. In the fall we drove from Wisconsin to a wedding in Albuquerque and the International Balloon Fiesta. Then, on to California, wending our back through the Wyoming outback, up through the Black Hills of South Dakota and back to Madison on Interstate 90. A highlight was a November trip to the national parks in southwest Utah.
You can find more photos at my 2017 posts, including:
There is much more to see and photograph than Zion and Bryce Canyon in southern Utah. Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument (not Park) occupies much of south central Utah—vast and less dramatic than the national parks, but with a stark and serene beauty all its own.
Bristlecone pine are found high in the mountains and Kolob Canyon is a less-visited part of Zion NP that possesses its own unique beauty.
We photographed another two days at Bryce. This park couldn’t be more different than Zion—except for the color of the rock. At more than 8000 feet above sea level our dawn shots were made in temperatures less than 10º. But there are few scenes as breathtaking as dawn lighting the hoodoos.
In November 2017 my friends, Jerry, Joel, Dennis, and I traveled to southwestern Utah and photographed two days at Zion National Park. Autumn was almost over and hints of winter lurked in the shadows. But the weather was gorgeous and this part of the country never fails to inspire.
You might think what could be more boring than a museum devoted to glass objects made in Sandwich, Massachusetts during the 19th century? Actually, the Sandwich Glass Museum is fascinating and colorful. For us photographers, it’s a great place to experiment with still life images that are in situ, i.e., we can’t arrange the objects we’re photographing.
Between 1968 and 1976 I photographed mostly in black and white because that’s what I could afford. Black and white photography can be more challenging than color since the impact of the image depends wholly on its composition and tonality. But I think this “limitation” also creates a more direct emotional connection between the image and the viewer.
So, I’m experimenting with B & W versions of color images I shot during 2016. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
During 2016 I was able to make photographs in a wide variety of places: from Redwood National Park in far northern California to Nubble Lighthouse on the coast of Maine—and a lot of places in between, including Pacific Grove, California, Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, and the usual haunts around Walnut Creek and on the South Coast of Massachusetts.
The Parks Department of the City of Walnut Creek features a working ranch in the Mt. Diablo foothills. It is the trailhead for an entire panoply of trails in the open space that divides the downtown from Ygnacio Valley. In this year of heavy rain the hills have been exceptionally green and beautiful.
The Berkshire Mountains are the western “outback” of Massachusetts. But they are not wilderness, and towns such as Lee, Lenox, and Stockbridge have been around for hundreds of years retaining their New England charm. The mountains are populated mainly by deciduous trees, which turn into a gorgeous palette of reds, oranges and yellows in mid-to-late October. Happily, Susan and I were headed west on a beautiful October day and spent a few hours enjoying this wonderful place at its best time of year.
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Stretching 2900 miles from San Francisco to Teaneck New Jersey, just outside New York City, Interstate 80 has few notable landmarks—natural or manmade—along its route. Between Omaha and Northern California, the highway effectively parallels the first transcontinental railroad. Like the railroad, I-80 is given over to enormous volumes of commercial traffic in the form of endless lines of semi-trucks. It’s not unusual for a passenger automobile to be outnumbered 10 to 1 by trucks.
Susan and I were on 1-80 in both directions during 2016 and the photos in this gallery are from places near or on I-80: Amana colonies in western Iowa, the Bailey Railyard in North Platte, Nebraska, and the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah.