Pedestrians along a walkway leading toward Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London
St. Paul’s Cathedral is an obvious landmark at any time, but at night it is even more so, especially if you approach it from across the River Thames by way of the Millennium Bridge. We visited the bank opposite the cathedral on several evenings, so I can no longer remember precisely what we had been there for on this evening — The Old Globe Theater, meeting up with relatives for dinner, a visit to the Tate Modern? I’m not certain.
In any case, we ended up crossing the river in this direction after dark on a warm summer evening when many people were out strolling around. This was one of the first times when I realized that my little mirrorless camera was good enough in low light that I could actually do handheld night photography.
In England on the Fourth of July (a bit ironic for an American, no?) we were out along the banks of the River Thames as the summer evening came on. We had wonderful weather during this visit — if anything it was too warm. A low deck of broken clouds covered the sky, but to the west the sky was clearer and the light streamed through the hazy air.
I think this photograph is probably more about the light than anything else. For some reason, when I found the image in my archive and began to work on it I barely thought about the subject at all — the light seemed to be enough. When I did look at it more closely I realized that the content of the image is really fairly ordinary — a dock in the foreground, a bit of the river bank. a tall building on the right and urban buildings across the river on the left, a bridge (a central subject in my view), the clouds, and the warm color of the evening light.
Cormorants nesting on rugged coastal rocks at Point Lobos State Reserve, California
Following a significant bit of photography near the end of April and the beginning of May, I had hardly picked up my camera for nearly a month — and I was itching to get out and make new photographs. Time was still tight, but I found a free day and headed off to the coastal areas of the Monterey Peninsula and the northern reaches of the Big Sur coastline, ending up at Point Lobos. Frankly, as much as I wanted to make photographs, I also simply wanted to get outside for a bit, and a morning of hiking and photographing here fit the bill perfectly.
The rock in the distance on which some cormorants are nesting is actually an island — an island that at some times of year is covered with many hundreds of all kinds of shore birds. This time there were far fewer. It could have been a seasonal thing, or it might be related to the changes in ocean temperature that have caused harm to marine mammals this season. In any case, I thought it would be interesting to juxtapose the small group of black birds with a landscape of rugged rock, so I wandered a bit until I found this camera position that put nothing but rocks between me and the island.
The east face of the Panamint Range is reflected in the surface of a desert pool
This is a photograph of one of those surprising features of Death Valley — water in the middle of a place that is astonishingly arid. This location is one of the lowest, hottest, and driest places in the Valley, and beyond this pool is a terrain that is particularly inhospitable, the famous salt flats. It is not pleasant to venture out there on a hot and sunny day, when not only is the heat oppressive but the light is so intense on the white playa surface that it is almost impossible to look.
I went here quite early one morning, in time for the sunrise light across the Valley on the mountains of the Panamint Range. In many ways this was not a hugely promising morning. I would have preferred some interesting clouds, though the thing high clouds are not completely uninteresting. It might have been nice to have white salt flats, but the playa had apparently gone so long without rain and had experience enough wind that the sometimes-white salt was quite gray. This little pool, at the edge of the Valley and the base of the tall and rugged hills, mirrored the early morning sky and a bit of the dawn color on the mountains.
The Salzburg Cathedral and surrounding area, Salzburg, Austria
On this trip to Europe in the summer of 2013 we did not actually stay in Salzburg, Austria — but we did end up in this town several times. In the middle of our visit, which started in London and then included Heidelberg, we took a weeklong trip to Bavaria where we stayed in a big old farmhouse near Berchtesgaden and Königsee, with views of the Alps. Our train from Heidelberg ended up in nearby Salzburg, we ended up visiting Salzburg again while we were “just up the road” in Bavaria, and then we went back to Salzburg again to catch the return train to Heidelberg.
This spectacular cathedral is a famous icon of Salzburg, and here it is seen from a slightly elevated location just outside of this central square. Since I shoot digital, the original photograph is color, but it seemed to me that the bit of dramatic cloudiness would be more effective in monochrome, and the brighter light on the close walls of the structure seem “right” in black and white, too.
Steep, tree-covered cliffs along the shore of the Königsee, Berchtesgaden National Park, Germany
I 2013 we spent a magical week in the Berchtesgaden area of Bavaria, right next to the Berchtesgaden National Park and a short drive from Salzburg, Austria. This was part of a longer trip that began in London and also included an additional week in the Heidelberg, Germany area. We met up with members of Patty’s family, and this big extended family group stayed at a big, rambling farm-house in Bavaria, from which the backyard view from the outdoor table where we often ate included a chunk of the Bavaria Alps culminating in the summit of the Watzmann, the second-tallest peak in Germany.
The Königsee was a short distance away. In a loose way, Königsee feels just a little like a Yosemite Valley with a Lake filling it. The lake sits in a long, narrow valley surrounded by much higher mountains — though these mountains have a more alpine appearance than those visible from the floor of Yosemite Valley. It also includes some of the “touristy” features of Yosemite — the lake itself is most certainly no longer a wilderness. One of the most popular of those features is the system providing boat rides up the length of the lake. (In deference to the purity of the lake water, these boats are powered by electricity.) The boat ride is quite something, beginning at a place that truly is “touristy,” but soon passing through this narrow section of the lower lake between steep, tree-covered cliffs, before the terrain opens up revealing longer views further up the lake.
Low dunes and the base of Tucki Mountain in evening light
This is a different interpretation of a photograph that I have previously posted. Here I have simply tried a different crop, one that eliminates some areas of from the top and bottom of the earlier photograph in order to focus more on the horizontal sweep of the shallow dunes and the more distant wash sloping up to the base of gigantic Tucki Mountain, here in nearly the last light of the evening.
I think that when we are in this place, one of the most iconic in Death Valley National Park, our attention is more likely to be drawn to the tallest dunes, which are located more or less behind me at this camera position. But there is much else to see here, ranging from the intimate landscape of ripple sand and small plants to the rugged slopes of Tucki Mountain just to the south, and including the many long views across the huge spaces of the valley. Here I had been mostly photographing an expanse of dunes leading off toward the northeast, when I turned around to see this view of the edge of the sand, with low dunes curving toward the sparse plant life at their edge.