Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography: Blog http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog en-us (C) Rebecca Metschke Photography 2017 All Rights Reserved (Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) Fri, 08 Dec 2017 12:32:00 GMT Fri, 08 Dec 2017 12:32:00 GMT http://www.rebeccametschke.com/img/s/v-5/u611633439-o237784131-50.jpg Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography: Blog http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog 120 78 Joyeux Noël http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/12/joyeux-no-l The Christmas Project: Chapter 8

Begun in 2010, each holiday season I endeavor to find more vignettes to photograph and add to my portfolio of Christmas scenes. The first of this month I made my way to one of my favorite places, Québec City, to capture images of this lovely destination decorated for the season. 

When I lived in New Hampshire, my husband and I often frequented Québec. After all, it's reachable by car in just a few hours. Now that I'm living in the "wild west," the journey is quite a bit more involved. 19-hours later, via Toronto and Montréal, I finally made it! 

It was worth the effort. Never having visited in the winter, I was anxious to see the city dressed for Christmas. Founded in 1608, Old Town Québec maintains a feeling of yesteryear, with narrow, cobblestone streets and many old stone buildings. Beautiful any time, it is the perfect setting for Christmas scenes once decorated. The only disappointment was the fact that there was very little snow on the ground. That said, one morning dawned with a fresh dusting which was a welcome surprise.

I have another "Christmas Project" shoot planned, this one closer to home, in another week. Stay tuned!

You can view all of the Québec City images in the Christmas Project gallery.

Lower TownLower TownRue de Cul de Sac - in the oldest shopping district in North America - is decorated for Christmas. The imposing Château Frontenac is visible above. (Québec City, Canada)

 

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) canada christmas québec city rebecca metschke photography http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/12/joyeux-no-l Fri, 08 Dec 2017 12:27:09 GMT
The Neglected Fence http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/10/the-neglected-fence Since arriving in Idaho, I have been searching for a location near my home (30 minutes or less) at which I could work on a regular basis. Close proximity means there's a good chance what I see out the window will be somewhat similar to what it's going to look like where I'll be shooting. I can "drop everything" if there's something interesting developing, scoot over there, and see if I can make a picture.  

In New Hampshire, I had my wonderful tidal pool, where I spent dozens of hours over many years. Here, in spite of my best ongoing efforts to find something, nothing had yet materialized.

Until now.

Having moved locally (about 30 miles) just a few weeks ago, I embarked once again on the "quest." Our new house is in the foothills near a huge expanse of BLM acreage; I decided to drive up into the federal land to see what I might find. I didn't have to go far to discover a buck and rail fence which has fallen into disrepair.

I'm a huge fan of buck and rail fences. Not only do they epitomize the Old West, but there's something about the look of them which I find interesting. This fence, less than three miles from my house, was even more captivating due to its derelict condition. 

It's lengthy and bends to follow a curve in the road. Posts are falling down all along the length of it. As a result, I have some flexibility in terms of which direction I end up shooting (though this is not a sunrise location) and a variety of options in terms of compositions. 

It'll work!

I've named this newest project "The Neglected Fence." I'll be able to follow it through the course of the seasons, and certainly whenever the skies above are interesting - whether it's due to a colorful sunset, or a storm rolling through.

I embarked on this in earnest last week, and have been fortunate enough to have had a string of pretty skies at the end of the day in which to work. Looking ahead to when the snow flies, I'll be interested to see where this takes me.

The Neglected Fence IIIThe Neglected Fence IIIBonneville County, Idaho

 

 

 

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) buck and rail fence fence idaho rebecca metschke photography sunset http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/10/the-neglected-fence Mon, 30 Oct 2017 23:49:42 GMT
One of the Greatest Shows on Earth http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/10/one-of-the-greatest-shows-on-earth For my money, there's no better place to enjoy the spectacle of autumn than New England. It was my home for more than 20 years, so you'll expect some regional bias. :) That said, I've traveled to a variety of locations in autumn, and while each have been pretty, none compares.

I recently spent a little over a week back East working along the New Hampshire seacoast, in the White Mountains, in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, and at Acadia National Park. 

Just as the colors were late arriving at Grand Teton National Park, so were they off-schedule in the Northeast. I was dismayed to find most trees still green in and around Portsmouth. Once I arrived in the mountains, to my relief, there was color. It was spotty and not as advanced as it normally would have been based on the calendar, but it was still beautiful.

The bigger culprit were the conditions. The wind blew every day but one: even very early in the morning. This wreaked havoc with most of the water shots I had planned, and made close-up work challenging.

Tossed into the mix were the remnants of Hurricane Nate, moving quickly but dumping copious amounts of rain.

Wet weather is not a bad thing when it comes to photographing foliage. Drizzle, in particular, makes the colors pop even more dramatically. There are down sides to precipitation: sometimes the ceiling is so low it can obscure the very scenery you're trying to view and/or shoot. And when the drizzle or showers turn to heavy rain, it becomes nearly impossible to work. Even with a rain jacket on the camera, an umbrella is still required to keep the rain off the lens. This can be difficult logistically if you're working alone with no assistant. (Not enough hands!) Also, especially when working close-up, heavy rain will cause the subject to move.

On the day Nate blew through, I took advantage of the rain and kept working until there was just too much of it.

While I always begin a location shoot with a shot list, by necessity, it often ends up significantly altered. One never knows what Mother Nature will have in store! In this instance, I had to make significant adjustments due to the persistent wind, and to get the most out of the rain and fog.

The single morning which was calm, I was able to make a photograph at a spot at which I actually HAD planned on working. There was just enough definition in the sky to make this composition work. Shortly thereafter, the sky became flat and white, and the winds picked up - erasing this scene:

In the Stillness of the MorningIn the Stillness of the MorningThough "leaf peepers" crowd the area in early October, the landscape is quiet, peaceful and mostly deserted in the hour before sunrise. (White Mountains, New Hampshire)

 

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) autumn foliage mountains new hampshire rebecca metschke photography http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/10/one-of-the-greatest-shows-on-earth Fri, 20 Oct 2017 15:53:18 GMT
The Snow Came Early - While the Color is Arriving Late http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/9/early-snow---late-color Autumn color in both 2015 and 2016 came early to the Tetons. I was photographing peak color around the 20th of September two years ago. It was a little bit later last year - but not much. (Ironically, though foliage season came and went early, the autumn of 2016 was unusually mild. The ski resorts weren't happy about the fact that they had to delay opening.....though they ended up with record snowfall over the course of the winter.)

This year, though the early part of September was quite warm, snowfall came early to Grand Teton National Park. An unsettled weather pattern mid-month deposited quite a bit of snow at elevation, thus setting the table for interesting foliage photo opportunities; there is typically very little snow on the mountains in September. However, the trees apparently didn't get the memo that it's time to start the show! 

Here we are at the end of the month, and much of the park is still quite green. 

Though I pushed my long-planned foliage shoot back by a week at the last minute, it was no remedy. The trees remained stubbornly green.

This was one of those situations when something I read years ago in a landscape photography magazine was most certainly applicable: What kind of photograph CAN you make given particular conditions? 

This is one of the pitfalls of photographing nature. We are at the mercy of Mother Nature! You plan as thoroughly and carefully as possible - knowing you may end up being forced to toss your shot list out the window. 

In this case, there was that snow on the mountains: a big plus. There was also quite a bit of cloud cover the first two days I was there: not flat and white but interesting unsettled cumulus formations with lots of definition. Clouds may or may not pan out, but they're nearly always better than completely cloudless skies. Finally, it got very cold overnight which can create fog in the morning. 

So even though the color was lacking, the conditions were conducive to making some good images.

Shortly after I arrived in the park, I headed for the location along the banks of the Snake River at which I intended to photograph the following morning at daybreak. I wanted to see what the foliage situation looked like, and also see if the beavers had been able to rebuild any of their dams which were destroyed with the massive spring runoff. 

Making my way to the water's edge, I encountered a family of moose on the opposite shoreline. While I hadn't planned on making any photos at that spot that late afternoon, I quickly pulled out the camera and captured the mother and youngster. Fortunately, some of the grasses had turned color, so there were some yellows to provide contrast with the snow-covered Grand Teton in the background. 

I'd barely been there 30 minutes and already I had an image.

Landscape photography is as much about improvisation and quick thinking as it is about careful planning.

Autumn PastoralAutumn PastoralLate in the day, a family of moose feeds near the Snake River. The father is nearby, outside of the frame. (Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming)

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) autumn foliage grand teton national park moose rebecca metschke photography http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/9/early-snow---late-color Sat, 30 Sep 2017 23:10:22 GMT
On Things Celestial http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/8/on-things-celestial With the "Great American Eclipse" just two days away, I'm reminded - once again - of how capricious Mother Nature can be. (Actually, landscape photographers don't need to be reminded of this; it's a simple fact we deal with on a regular basis.)

I live in the path of totality. In fact, my town is nearly smack dab in the middle of the 70-mile wide swath which will experience complete darkness for 2 1/2 minutes on Monday at roughly 11:30am Mountain Time. Tens of thousands of people from across the United States - and around the world - are headed to eastern Idaho for the event, in no small part because the skies here are generally clear during the month of August. It being high desert, there's not a lot of cloud production this time of year unless you're in the shadow of the Teton Range.

Ironically, though Monday's forecast calls for the sunny day everyone expected, meteorologists are also watching some cloud cover that is expected to move through the area at mid-day. When the height of the "show" lasts for less than three minutes, a passing bank of clouds can be a very bad thing. 

Fingers crossed.

This situation got me thinking about my challenging relationship with the moon.

One September evening a few years back (when I still lived in New Hampshire), I decided on a whim to run over to the shore and photograph the full moon rising over the Atlantic ocean. I went to one of my favorite shoreline locations, a large tidal pool, and positioned myself so the moon was aligned with the trio of partially submerged rocks in the foreground. There were no clouds in the sky, but the twilight wedge added a lot of nice pink to the scene. 

Full Moon RisingFull Moon RisingHarvest Moon rising off the coast of Rye, New Hampshire.

Three months later, I went out again on a brutally cold and windy evening to Nubble Light in York, Maine to shoot the full moon shining over the lighthouse, decorated for Christmas.

Two nice moon shots in just a few months! I started thinking I should give the full moon more of my attention. 

Little did I know how difficult that endeavor would be. It wasn't for lack of effort. Mother Nature simply did not see fit to provide me another opportunity to photograph the rising full moon for the next 18 months (the rest of the time I lived in the Granite State). 

Three Super Moons in a row: clear skies but extreme haze at the horizon. I trudged out to the ocean each time. It wasn't obvious whether it was haze out there or not - but as moonrise came and went, and there was nothing in the sky.....

On those occasions it took more than 30 minutes before anything was visible, and by then of course it was too high in the sky.

Other times, it was raining - or overcast.  

If it seems far-fetched when you hear a photographer talk about the fact that it took years to make a specific image, you can now understand how that can be.

Here's hoping for clear skies on Monday!

 

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) eclipse full moon rebecca metschke photography http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/8/on-things-celestial Sat, 19 Aug 2017 15:19:11 GMT
The Western Slope http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/7/the-western-slope The Western SlopeThe Western SlopeOften called "the quiet side," the western slope of the Teton Range is less often visited - but stunningly beautiful. Ample snow remains at the summit of Fred's Mountain, even in late July: a lingering reminder of the previous winter's record precipitation. (From Alta, Wyoming)

Referred to as "the quiet side," the western slope of the Teton Range is much less frequently visited. People who don't head over the pass outside of Jackson, Wyoming to see what's over in the Teton Valley are missing something quite beautiful.

Especially as you make your way north of Driggs and on into Tetonia, the views of the Grand are stunning.

Also on the west side, in a little sliver of Wyoming which is isolated from the rest of the state, you'll find the town of Alta and nearby Grand Targhee Ski Resort. If you're into skiing, you probably already know that Grand Targhee is considered one of the top four ski resorts in the country, averaging over 500 inches of powder each season.

I'm a big fan of Grand Targhee in the summer. The vistas from the summit of Fred's Mountain (roughly 9800 feet) are lovely. You can take the ski lift to the top and hike in a variety of directions from there. The Cathedral Peaks are only about eight miles away, so this is a terrific vantage point from which to view them. Also, unlike on the eastern side, there are foothills to the west which are quite green during the summer months and set off the higher peaks nicely.

I made this image yesterday. We've been in a monsoonal flow for the past few days, which generates beautiful storm clouds over the mountains each afternoon. Last week I captured an approaching storm from Grand Teton National Park. This time I was hoping to get the incoming action on the opposite side, and from altitude. The conditions didn't disappoint. In fact, it didn't just rain. Things turned interesting quickly as the rain morphed into a thunderstorm - which meant it was time to get off the summit quickly. 

There will be a few more chances as this weather pattern is expected to hold for another couple of days.

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) mountains rebecca metschke photography tetons http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/7/the-western-slope Sat, 29 Jul 2017 22:18:56 GMT
Summer Storms http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/7/summer-storms Monsoon SeasonMonsoon SeasonSummer in the mountains: a southwesterly flow creates sometimes spectacular afternoon thunderstorms. (Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming)

High pressure has been parked over the western United States in just the right spot to create a southwesterly flow and deliver monsoonal moisture to the Tetons for the better part of the past week. Just about every afternoon you can count on cloud production to create interesting skies. It's even better when things go one step further and we get some storms.

Yesterday, with the forecast calling for a 50% chance of rain, I hoped something would happen. By late morning, as cumulus clouds began to form, I kept one eye to the sky - and was thinking about where I'd want to photograph the storm if, indeed, one materialized. 

This being the height of tourist season, I was less than enthusiastic about venturing to the barns on Mormon Row in the middle of the afternoon. Still, based on the direction from which clouds were coming, it seemed like that might be a good spot. I went by and waited there for an hour or so while watching the changes in the sky. While the clouds did begin to darken, there weren't enough of them.....at least not at that point.  I bailed out and drove a few miles away to see what I could do with lupines dotting the fields. Better positioned to take advantage of the stormy clouds that were trying to thicken but hadn't yet filled the sky, I spent the next hour working there.

As I was wrapping up, though, things began changing rapidly overhead! Rain was definitely on the way.

I raced back over to the barn, hoping it wouldn't be mobbed but expecting I'd just have to make do with people milling about. Oddly - wonderfully! - I was the only person there. I grabbed my gear, ran over to set up, and started firing away. I shot from three different vantage points, moving quickly to keep up with the clouds which were shifting quite a bit. Suddenly, some sunlight found its way through a break in the overcast, lighting up the remaining snow on one section of mountain peaks. I re-positioned myself yet again to place that enhanced snow just to the left of the barn's roof, and centered the white "donut" in the clouds - like a huge punctuation mark - over the entire scene below.

After having endured a long stretch of tough-going in terms of shooting conditions, the afternoon's turn of events felt nearly magical. 

Of course, it wasn't a wild coincidence. Based on the weather patterns, at the very least I knew I'd get some nice clouds over the Tetons at some point during the afternoon. That's why I scheduled the shoot in the first place. (That said, I walked away with nothing the day before - in spite of copious cumulus clouds followed by rain.) Beyond that, yesterday's forecast called for a better chance of precipitation than the previous afternoon. I figured the odds were favorable in terms of the pattern repeating itself.

Still - there's rain, and then there's rain. Mother Nature delivered something special. I was fortunate the location I settled on ended up working as well as it did to capture the beautiful skies.

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) barn grand teton national park mountains rebecca metschke photography storms http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/7/summer-storms Tue, 18 Jul 2017 21:42:48 GMT
Back in the Garden http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/6/back-in-the-garden I just returned from a shoot in and around Chicago. One of my chief objectives while there was to work extensively at the Chicago Botanic Garden. While the Greater Yellowstone region (now my home base) is undeniably beautiful, there's no getting around the arid climate. Consequently, there are no public gardens to speak of, and of course not many trees. Big skies? Yes. Greenery? Not so much. Venturing back east of the 100th parallel is not only an opportunity for me to photograph flowers, it's also a welcome chance to soak up as much green as possible!

Unfortunately, the conditions all week were challenging. Most difficult to deal with was the wind, which was a factor every time I went out. Extra perseverance was the order of the day.....every day. 

Happily, in spite of the lack of calm air, I was still able to accomplish some of what I'd hoped to do. Even the water lilies, which were swaying to and fro in rippled pools that were seldom completely still, managed to briefly cooperate.

Water LilyWater LilyChicago Botanic Garden - Glencoe, Illinois

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) Chicago Botanic Garden Rebecca Metschke Photography flowers water lilies http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/6/back-in-the-garden Thu, 29 Jun 2017 23:34:46 GMT
Green Season http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/6/green-season The Fence LineThe Fence LineGrand Teton National Park, Wyoming

After a long winter during which the Teton Range received record amounts of snowfall, the arrival of "green season" is especially welcome this year. I find spring to be the prettiest time on both sides of the Tetons. Newly leafed out, aspens and cottonwoods dot the landscape in lovely lime and kelly greens. The grass and underbrush are lush. Wildflowers begin to bloom. Huge expanses of agricultural fields are painted bright green. Still covered with snow, the mountains add interesting contrast to the scenery: a juxtaposition of seasons.

There has been so much runoff that the rivers are not only quite high, but also churned up. As a result, some are not as photogenic as they normally would be. Over in the red hills of Bridger-Teton National Forest east of Grand Teton National Park, the Gros Ventre River and Slide Lake are brownish-red right now. The effect is even more pronounced on sunny days. Those locations will have to wait a while before I can make images including water. 

I'll gladly wait. All that additional moisture should be an asset later on when fire season is upon us.

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) Rebecca Metschke Photography Tetons green season mountains spring http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/6/green-season Fri, 09 Jun 2017 02:13:02 GMT
Eye to Eye With the Teton Peaks http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/4/eye-to-eye-with-the-teton-peaks I've been wanting to photograph the Teton Peaks up-close (via small plane) for months. In the summer, haze can be an issue - especially in a year like 2016 when fire season began early and burned within close proximity.

While the air quality is much better in the winter, obviously there is the weather to deal with at that time of year. The winter of 2016/2017 was especially snowy, which made travel between Idaho and Wyoming challenging on a number of occasions. With front after front marching through the area, it's also been difficult to find a suitable break between storm systems with a good chance for the kind of sky and quality of light I wanted.

Finally last week, it looked as though the conditions might be workable. I scheduled the plane and pilot for a late evening flight in hopes of catching alpenglow on the western faces of the mountains. 

(Side note: a benefit of flying in early April versus January or February is the temperature! With the window open in the plane, a winter shoot can get mighty chilly.) 

Unlike the eastern side of the Teton range, where flight restrictions over the National Park limit you to landscape shots (i.e. aircraft must stay to the east of the Snake River), you can get right up into the mountains on the western side. It's quite a view.

Though there were very few clouds visible from ground level on the Jackson side, once we got into the air we saw that cumulus clouds were blanketing the western side of the range. While this would limit some of what I'd be able to shoot, it also added something special: the highest peaks were poking out of the clouds.

We made a pass by the Cathedral Group and then up to Mount Moran before turning around for a second look. In that short time, the light from the setting sun had already changed dramatically and was even warmer. I photographed another series. Looking to the west, however, we could see we were soon going to lose our window of opportunity. High clouds associated with an approaching front were moving in much earlier than had been forecast and would put a damper on the hoped-for alpenglow. 

We made one final pass in front of the Cathedral peaks and then headed back for the airport.

Mother Nature always has the final say! 

Last LightLast LightThe last rays of sunlight warm the western peaks of Grand Teton and Mount Owen at the end of the day. (Teton Range, Wyoming)

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) Rebecca Metschke Photography Tetons aerial photography mountains http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/4/eye-to-eye-with-the-teton-peaks Mon, 03 Apr 2017 16:49:07 GMT
Movement in Sandstone http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/3/movement-in-sandstone Lower Antelope CanyonLower Antelope CanyonNear Page, Arizona Last week I had the opportunity to work in two of the slot canyons near Page, Arizona: Upper Antelope and Lower Antelope. There are hundreds of such canyons in the general vicinity; according to our Navajo guide, it's in excess of 900. Created primarily by erosion due to flash flooding, there is a lovely sense of movement throughout. The rushing water leaves behind not only elegant, curving shapes, but also etches graceful lines through much of the rock. 

These are challenging locations in which to photograph. Many of the passageways very narrow which limits maneuverability, and there is extreme contrast between bright light spilling in from above and many darker, shadowy areas. Another difficulty: the many tourists constantly passing by. 

From that perspective, Lower Antelope Canyon is the better of the two. Because it's more difficult to access, requiring visitors to slide through a crack and then descend down sets of narrow ladders, more people tend to bypass it. It was far less congested.

The slot canyons are further examples of the many wonderful things to be found in the Colorado Plateau.

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) Arizona Colorado Plateau Lower Antelope Canyon Rebecca Metschke Photography Upper Antelope Canyon slot canyons http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/3/movement-in-sandstone Tue, 21 Mar 2017 21:52:20 GMT
Bryce Canyon in Winter http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/2/bryce-canyon-in-winter Morning ColorMorning ColorIn spite of the lack of clouds, the rising sun still manages to paint the sky as it nears the horizon. (Navajo Loop Trail, Bryce Amphitheater - Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah)

I just returned from a 4-day shoot at Bryce Canyon National Park. Though we have been inundated with snow in Eastern Idaho this winter, I was dismayed to find the ground in Salt Lake City nearly clear as I drove through. Knowing that Bryce - though topping out at 9,100 feet - had also just experienced its first warm snap of the winter, I wondered what I'd find there. After all, one visits Bryce the first week of February hoping for winter conditions....not an early taste of springtime!

Fortunately, there was indeed snow - and plenty of it. In fact, the far southern end of the park was still closed following a recent storm. (Unfortunately, this meant I would be unable to access the bristlecone pines which had been on my shot list. Since it was winter conditions I was seeking, that was a price worth paying.)

With the exception of a snowstorm (the aftermath of which would have been great), I encountered just about every other type of condition. Clear blue skies, a few colorful sunrises, snow squalls, complete overcast, fog, high winds and extreme cold, borderline uncomfortable warmth....you name it.

Long distance location shoots can be a challenge. All the careful prior planning often ends up tossed out the window as improvisation - and perseverance - instead become the name of the game. The weather cannot be controlled! If you've driven hundreds of miles to get to your workplace, then you must make do with whatever is encountered. 

With an eye on both the sky and the clock, and keeping track of the forecast, you do your best to position yourself optimally to take advantage of what Mother Nature is serving up. If conditions are changeable, you must have the patience to wait - and wait some more - to see what happens at a given location. Sometimes this is time very well spent. On other occasions, it's just......time spent.

A little bit of luck never hurts, either.

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) Bryce Canyon National Park Rebecca Metschke Photography landscapes winter http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2017/2/bryce-canyon-in-winter Fri, 10 Feb 2017 23:07:29 GMT
2016: The Year in Review http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/12/2016-the-year-in-review Photographically speaking, the last 12 months have been busy indeed.

Still a relative "newbie" to the Intermountain West, I worked diligently to acclimate to a new region, while continuing to shoot back east of the Mississippi as much as the schedule allowed.

I was fortunate in February to explore frigid Yellowstone National Park. Probably the highlight of the year, this opportunity to see the park in the dead of winter when it's relatively empty - and when the brutally cold temperatures magnify the magnificent thermal features - was fantastic. Yes, stepping out in minus 24 degree weather first thing in the morning does deliver a bit of a jolt to the system! That said, I wouldn't have traded it. The hoar frost, the steam, the ghost trees....it was all that much more spectacular due to the extreme cold.

Ghost Trees IIGhost Trees IIWhen it's extremely cold, steam from thermal features coats nearby trees with ice. Combined with snowfall, the result is "ghost trees" caked in thick layers of white. (Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park) Arches National Park was on April's schedule. The weather was erratic the entire time, as a strong system which remained parked over Colorado tossed all sorts of wildly changeable conditions back into Utah. Patience and persistence were key. One afternoon, I spent nearly four hours at Balanced Rock watching storm after storm march through the area. It was worth the wait. While I didn't make the photograph I had anticipated, I ended up with some pretty special skies - and probably an even better image than the one I originally had in mind.

Early June took me to the Palouse in eastern Washington and north-central Idaho. This region is challenging to photograph due to its immense size. It's not as realistic/possible here to quickly chase the light from one location to another as it might be in a more compact area. The conditions during this week were also challenging in that it was quite hazy - a little bit of a surprise so early in the season. Still, the rolling loess hills did not disappoint.

Loess Hills of the PalouseLoess Hills of the PalouseLate day light accentuates the lovely rolling hills of the Palouse in southeastern Washington. Summer in the Tetons - what I now consider my "home turf" - is short but quite beautiful. This year, the season was truncated further as wildfires began burning in mid-July, filling the skies with heavy smoke. On the Idaho side, the fields are beautifully lush in early June while the mountains remain snow covered. Exquisite!

The Valley AwakensThe Valley AwakensWith the arrival of spring and its rains, the Teton Valley comes alive and is painted in hues of green - while the mountains provide a lovely snow-covered contrast. On this early evening, the sky quickly changed as rain approached the area. This formation was the most interesting, as a single vertically oriented cloud drifted into position above Grand Teton, mimicking its peak. (Near Tetonia, Idaho) Over on the Wyoming side, wildflowers bloom as everything comes back to life.

Mountain WildflowersMountain WildflowersArrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) decorates the fields of Grand Teton National Park in the spring. Meantime, I snuck back East to Virginia to do some work in Shenandoah National Park and the surrounding area in mid-summer.

Misty Summer MorningMisty Summer MorningAfter rainfall during the night, morning dawns with fog hovering over the valley floor. (Shenandoah Valley - Crimora, Virginia) I was also able to get one aerial shoot under my belt in July before the skies filled with way too much smoke from the many forest fires. Thanks to the folks at Fly Jackson Hole for the assist! One of the best ways to appreciate Yellowstone's Grand Prismatic Spring is from the air.   Grand Prismatic SpringGrand Prismatic SpringThe only way to really appreciate Grand Prismatic Spring is from the air. From this perspective, not only is its otherworldy appearance apparent, but also its size (note the man on the walkway...though only a speck from the sky, he casts a long shadow). Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming The one thing we needed to dampen all the fires was rain - but it was in very short supply. That said, I happened to be in the Teton Valley one afternoon just as rain was getting ready to move into the area. Though the fast-moving storm delivered very little precipitation, it created some dramatic conditions. I enjoy shooting from the western side of the Tetons since it's a view much less often photographed. 

And the Rain CameAnd the Rain CameSheets of rain darken the sky above this old homestead standing in a field of wheat nearly ready for harvest. The Tetons create an imposing backdrop. (Alta, Wyoming) Autumn came early this year to Grand Teton National Park; my foliage shoot was well underway by the middle of September. I find the colors to be the most vibrant (and varied) in the north end of the park, where some of the trees try to mimic their cousins back in New England. One morning at the Oxbow Bend of the Snake River, some surprise showers moved quickly through the area at daybreak - marching north from the Cathedral Peaks to Mount Moran just as the sun was clearing the opposite horizon. Both the mountain and the rain clouds were briefly painted in lovely pinks: an unexpected bit of added good fortune on a morning that delivered changeable and very special conditions for nearly 90 minutes.

Showers at SunriseShowers at SunriseJust as the sun is clearing the opposite horizon, a band of showers moves almost directly in front of Mount Moran - briefly painting both the mountains and the falling rain pink. (Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming) On the heels of my shoot at Grand Teton, I ventured back to my adoptive state of New Hampshire. For me, there is NOTHING like autumn in New England, so I was thrilled to be back on my home turf. There, I was treated to spectacular foliage in spite of very dry conditions. I shot both in the White Mountains and at Acadia National Park.

Birches IBirches INew Hampshire's state tree, the paper birch (Betula papyrifera) graces the landscape with beautiful white trunks. (Near Gorham, New Hampshire) In early December I continued work on The Christmas Project, which has now spanned seven holiday seasons. The highlight this time was Chicago's Morton Arboretum and its captivating Illuminations light show. I visited twice and could easily have gone back a third time had my schedule not been limited. I also did some work in Barrington, Long Grove, McHenry (all in suburban Chicago), and in the city itself. Ornament HillOrnament HillMorton Arboretum Illumination - Lisle, Illinois Finally, I'm ending the year working locally in eastern Idaho and western Wyoming. This abandoned house in Swan Valley seemed especially lonely over the holiday season. 

The Ghost of Christmas PastThe Ghost of Christmas PastContemplating this abandoned house on a frigid afternoon just before Christmas, one wonders how different it might have looked when it was occupied and decorated for the holidays. (Swan Valley, Idaho) I look forward to the photographic adventures which the new year will bring. Thank you for visiting the website!

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy new year,
Rebecca

 

 

 

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) Rebecca Metschke Photography http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/12/2016-the-year-in-review Wed, 28 Dec 2016 05:00:33 GMT
Holiday Greetings! http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/12/holiday-greetings Holiday Greetings!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year!

And so I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it's been said
Many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you.

YesteryearYesteryearThis landmark covered bridge stands at the entrance to historic downtown Long Grove, Illinois. On a mostly overcast afternoon, a bit of color still managed to peek through as the sun went down.

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) Merry Christmas Rebecca Metschke Photography http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/12/holiday-greetings Sat, 24 Dec 2016 16:42:57 GMT
Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/12/illumination-tree-lights-at-morton-arboretum Morton Arboretum IlluminationMorton Arboretum IlluminationLisle, Illinois

Chicago's Morton Arboretum (located in Lisle, Illinois) introduced Illumination during the 2013 holiday season. This year was my first opportunity to see it. There aren't enough superlatives to describe Tree Lights. 

Magical. Captivating. Enchanting!

I went straight from the airport over to Illumination, and decided even before I left the grounds at the end of the evening that I'd be returning again during my week's stay in Chicago. Fortunately, I'd anticipated this possibility when planning my shot list a few weeks prior and kept a slot open for just this purpose. :) 

What may not be obvious from the still photos is that these scenes are constantly changing. The color palettes shift. The lights move. It was easy to stand and watch a display for 20 minutes to see how it changed. And since I was there working with my camera, 20 minutes in one spot was a drop in the bucket! The changing hues (sometimes quite rapidly) made it challenging to shoot as the color temperatures varied wildly - but I was up for it, and this was part of the fun.

On the day of my second visit, the nominal snow which had been forecast turned into 6-8 inches. And it was wet. This made the trip to Lisle a little more interesting than I cared for, but some white knuckle driving was a small price to pay for what I was about to witness. Already magnificent when I was there four days earlier, the light dancing off trees now coated with thick snow transformed the place into a true winter wonderland. It continued to snow lightly for the first two hours, which enhanced the spotlights as they lit snowflakes falling from the sky. Consequently, the beams of light shining skyward became an integral part of many compositions. 

Illumination continues through January 2nd. If you live in Chicago and haven't seen it yet, or will be in the area over the holidays, I urge you to go!

 

 

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) Christmas Illumination Morton Arboretum Rebecca Metschke Photography Tree Lights http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/12/illumination-tree-lights-at-morton-arboretum Sun, 11 Dec 2016 00:52:36 GMT
The Splendor of Autumn in New England http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/10/the-splendor-of-autumn-in-new-england The colors of autumn are a sight to behold. And while there are many wonderful locations from which to enjoy the annual "show," I'm partial to northern New England. Having lived in New Hampshire for more than 20 years, and having traveled to quite a few other prime foliage destinations as well, I can honestly say I have never seen a more spectacular display than what was served up every year right in my own backyard. 

Now based in Southeastern Idaho, I made it a point to get back to my adoptive home this autumn - scheduling a shoot for the first part of October, right on the heels of my local foliage shoot in Grand Teton National Park. I began and ended in New Hampshire's White Mountains with a few days at Acadia National Park along Maine's coast in between.

In spite of a very dry summer, the color was excellent. What's more, my timing was nearly perfect. The trees had just begun to pop a few days prior to my arrival, and were nearing peak by the end of my trip. Given the capriciousness of Mother Nature, of course it's nearly impossible to "time" anything like peak foliage in a given location - so this was indeed a fortunate turn of events. 

With the temperatures projected to dip down to the freezing mark one night, I knew exactly where I wanted to work the following morning at daybreak: Chocoura Lake. I expected fog would be hanging over the water, and wanted to see what kind of images I could make once it began to burn off. 

Fog can be tricky. (Talk about capricious!) It's impossible to know how it's going to behave: how thick it'll be, how long it'll take to burn off, and how it will dissipate. It can be a challenge to expose correctly, and you have to be prepared to react very quickly. Still, I like those types of conditions. Fog can deliver a special result. 

That morning at the lake, I was hoping I might be able to work with a part of the shoreline featuring a line of maples which turn intensely red. Unfortunately, they were completely shrouded. That said, the opposite shore danced in and out of sight for more than 30 minutes. The lines of the mountain began to peek through, and then hide themselves again. 

By now, the sun had been up for a while. Though it hadn't yet been able to burn all the fog from the lake, the colorful trees on the nearest shoreline were quite clear, the landscape beyond was completely lit, the water droplets were tinted pink, and some of the blue sky began to show through. Beautiful! I had my image.

Landscape RevealedLandscape RevealedClearing fog just after sunrise picks up color from the first light, and reveals part of the shoreline at Chocorua Lake. (Tamworth, New Hampshire)

 

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) Chocorua Lake New Hampshire Rebecca Metschke Photography autumn sunrise http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/10/the-splendor-of-autumn-in-new-england Thu, 20 Oct 2016 21:38:26 GMT
Making Unique Images in Often-Photographed Locations http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/9/making-unique-images-in-often-photographed-locations Sunset at the BarnSunset at the BarnA beautiful sunset fills the sky over the Moulton Barn with fiery color. As there was a herd of bison not too far away, tourists bypassed this stunning scene in favor of the animals - leaving it to be enjoyed in solitude. (Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming)

National parks can be challenging locations in which to shoot: stunningly beautiful, yet often-photographed. How to make a unique image?

First, there's what each person sees and how they choose to convey it. Drop a dozen photographers in the same general area at the same time and you'd be surprised how different the photos they make might be. Where do they choose to position themselves? Do they shoot from eye-level or closer to the ground? Do they go for a wide shot, or a tighter framing? What lens(es) do they use? 

Next, the conditions. The same spot can look vastly different from season to season, morning to night, hour to hour. Interesting weather, or light, or color, will change a scene - sometimes dramatically. The photo one makes is driven in large part by conditions (forecasts aren't always accurate!), and one's ability to work within those constraints. 

Finally, a little bit of serendipity can be helpful. Especially when a photographer is familiar with an area, a nudge can sometimes be provided - setting the table for Lady Luck to step in if she so desires.

The landmark Moulton Barns in Grand Teton National Park are examples of iconic locations to which a lot of photographers flock. Earlier this month, though, I made a picture there one evening as the sun went down that is one-of-a-kind.

The sky that day had been quite active as cumulus clouds constantly formed and moved through the area. Not just hovering over the mountains, they appeared in every direction. For a while in the late afternoon, it looked as though it might rain - though the clouds retained their interesting shapes and never transitioned to flat white. The threat of rain passed. But would there be a colorful sunset? Too many clouds and the western horizon might be obscured.

I thought about where to go to wait it out and see what would happen. Where could I make the best photo if there was going to be color? It had been a very windy day; therefore, any shot involving reflections in the water wasn't going to work. I was going to need a location where I could use a wide shot to emphasize the cloud-filled sky. I drove over to one of the Moulton Barns, watched the sky for a while, then opted to scope out the situation from a vantage point closer to the mountains. Off I went to a little log-constructed chapel sited at the base of the Cathedral Peaks. After perusing that scene, I decided I needed more flexibility in terms of how to compose the shot given the changeable nature of the sky. Back to the barn.

How many people was I going to have to contend with? The wide shot I had in mind wouldn't work if there were scores of photographers lined up nearer to the structure. 

That is where serendipity (and my past experience) stepped in. I've found that people are much more inclined to shoot the barns at sunrise rather than sunset. Also, at this time of year it's not uncommon for a herd of bison to be in the general vicinity of the barns late in the day. Exceptional tourist and photographer magnets, the animals appeared about a half mile down the road an hour before sunset. Each time a car passed by I held my breath and wondered if it would stop - but no, not a single vehicle even slowed down to see the amazing things that were beginning to happen up above. They had a singular objective: the bison! 

I set up and shot the changing sky until well after the sun went down - and had the place all to myself. 

So while there are certainly many other images of the barns, the one I made that evening is unique: the conditions will never be duplicated in exactly the same way, and I was the only one present at that location. It's still possible to make a photo that is truly your own even in a place that is well-traveled.

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) Grand Teton National Park Moulton Barn Rebecca Metschke Photography Wyoming sunset http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/9/making-unique-images-in-often-photographed-locations Tue, 27 Sep 2016 16:21:03 GMT
Autumn in the High Country http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/9/autumn-in-the-high-country Early in the month I was sweltering in the New York City heat. Two weeks later, as I began my week-long foliage shoot in Grand Teton National Park, I started each day in layers (the last of which was my ski jacket) with temperatures hovering near freezing at dawn!

Autumn comes early - and progresses quickly - in the Tetons. 

Though the color wasn't that far along when I began to work, within just a few days it had developed significantly. The season is fleeting, to be sure.

Mother Nature served up quite a few challenges, as is typically the case, but I was also treated to some very special conditions - such as an excellent stretch of interesting, dynamic, changeable skies. 

Case in point: arriving in the dark at Oxbow Bend about an hour and a half before sunrise a few days ago, I watched showers move across the peaks from south to north (which had not been forecast). The falling rain was eventually lit by the sun as it cleared the opposite horizon, which was spectacular. Following that, there was significant cloud build-up ahead of rain which was forecast for later that day. By this point, the sun had risen far enough to light the aspens along the shoreline, some of which were nearing peak color. However, the increasing and rapidly-moving cloud cover was now limiting the sun's ability to illuminate the entire scene - which created wonderful (and quickly changing) effects.

I shot for about 90-minutes, and walked away with a handful of "keepers," each of which is very different.

A great way to start the day, indeed!

First LightFirst LightThe sun's first warm rays light the trees along the Snake River Shoreline, making the foliage pop. The effect is magnified with Mount Moran in shadow, and darker storm clouds both in the sky and reflected below. (Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming)

 

 

 

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) Grand Teton National Park Mount Moran Rebecca Metschke Photography autumn foliage reflections http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/9/autumn-in-the-high-country Sun, 25 Sep 2016 21:44:56 GMT
Bridges http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/9/bridges On the one hand, bridges are utilitarian as they make transportation easier by connecting point A to point B. At the same time, the best of them are beautiful works of art.

If you like bridges, as I do, New York has many to offer. I've been wanting to photograph three of them for quite some time (Queensboro aka 59th Street Bridge, Brooklyn, and Manhattan). Unfortunately, when I'm in the city I typically have a lot on my plate and consequently there never seems to be enough time.

Last week I made it a point to rectify this. The Brooklyn Bridge was at the top of my shot list, and Mother Nature cooperated in a big way as I had only one evening free in which to shoot. Just a single chance.

It did not rain. It wasn't completely overcast. And as an added bonus, though it had been a clear-blue-sky kind of day, some clouds appeared to the west as evening drew near - poised to pick up color from the setting sun. Nearly perfect conditions! 

It's not unusual to spend many days - or months, or longer - waiting for favorable conditions in order to make a photograph at a specific location. When you have only a single opportunity and everything comes together, it's pretty special. That night at Brooklyn Bridge Park was one of those occasions. 

While the Queensboro Bridge will have to wait until my next visit, I was extraordinarily happy to have had the opportunity to capture the other two. 

Brooklyn Bridge IBrooklyn Bridge IThe setting sun punctuates the end of the day with a colorful sky over the Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan. (New York City)

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) Brooklyn Bridge New York Rebecca Metschke Photography skyline sunset http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/9/bridges Sun, 04 Sep 2016 04:14:21 GMT
Unexpected Treasure http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/8/unexpected-treasure Cloaked in GreenCloaked in GreenVines are overtaking this abandoned homestead both inside and out, as it slowly disappears into the landscape from which it came. (Swan Valley, Idaho)

One of my brothers, in town visiting recently, has explored a great deal of the west - with the exception of Idaho. As I was taking him around to see some of the sights, we came across this abandoned homestead. Since moving here, I've only been on this stretch of road once - and that day, I was looking for opportunities to photograph foliage. Because my attention was elsewhere, I hadn't seen this structure.

It is quite spectacular, with vines overtaking it both inside and out. One side is beginning to collapse. Unfortunately, the conditions weren't conducive for me to make a photo from the angle which would have highlighted just how precariously the house is standing. Shooting from the opposite side, however, I was able to take advantage of clouds that were being generated by afternoon storms beginning to move into the valley. This vantage point also enabled me to include the portion of the structure which has been almost completely covered by its living blanket.

Ironically, the vegetation may be helping to keep the house propped up - though it does not seem likely it will withstand the elements much longer. Strong, sustained winds or heavy snowpack appear destined to topple it sooner rather than later.

Now that I know the house is there, I plan to return to try to shoot its collapsing west side either early in the morning or during a storm.

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(Rebecca Metschke Photography | Fine Art Landscape Photography) Idaho Rebecca Metschke Photography abandoned homestead http://www.rebeccametschke.com/blog/2016/8/unexpected-treasure Wed, 24 Aug 2016 19:48:43 GMT