Trip Report – Railfest 2017

Last fall, I attended Steamtown National Historic Site’s annual Railfest. The highlight of the event was a night photo session that included scenes at the Sand Tower, Mattes Street Tower and the Roundhouse. I arrived in time for the night session Saturday night and then stayed over to see the event Sunday. Special events included demonstrations in the machine shop, tours of the Office and Stores Building, and of course train rides pulled by Baldwin Locomotive Works #26.

Sand Tower:

Mattes Street Tower:

Roundhouse:

Machine Shop Demonstration:

Ring of Fire:

Singing the Theme Song:

Through The Lens 116 – Night at the Roundhouse

One of my favorite photos from the night session held during the 2017 Railfest at Steamtown National Historic Site. Steve Barry provided the lighting and did an excellent job as usual. Unlike the typical practice of late where night sessions are lit with a constant light source, this one was done with flash which produces a much better quality of light and freezes the smoke and steam.

Just finished editing the photos from Railfest, so look for a trip Report Tuesday.

Through The Lens 114 – Night at Mattes Street Tower

Taken during the night photo session at Steamtown National Historic Site’s Railfest last year. Steve Berry organized the night session and did a great job as usual.

I’m still editing images from Railfest. More to come in a couple weeks.

Through The Lens 108 – Yellowstone

The recent cold snap had me thinking about the coldest weather I’ve experienced. It was -31°F the morning we went to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and it was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen.  Clear blue skies and the air shimmered with tiny ice crystals floating.  Its hard to believe it was ten years ago.  It seems like I was just there.

Through The Lens 103 – Antietam Memorial Illumination

Tomorrow (unless postponed by weather) is the 2017 edition of the Antietam Memorial Illumination.  I won’t be attending this year as I have other commitments, but I highly recommend anyone in the area making the trip to Sharpsburg to drive through the Battlefield.  The army of volunteers places one luminary on the battlefield for each casualty.  Antietam remains our bloodiest day in war with 23,110 casualties, a number that isn’t fully understood until you see it represented in candles.

More information here for those who wish to attend:  Antietam Memorial Illumination

Through The Lens 100 – Big Creek Cascades

Big Creek Cascades - Autumn

Big Creek is one of my favorite locations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Big Creek is full of these little cascades and pools and is a lot of fun to shoot.

Through The Lens 97 – Gettysburg Fall Color

Fall color from a day trip to Gettysburg a couple of years ago.  The purple wildflowers contrasted nicely with the reds and oranges of the fall foliage in the background.

Trip Report – Colorado Fall Color 2016 Part 3

Continuing on from Part 2, the next stop was Maroon Bells for sunrise. Located in the Snowmass Wilderness, this is a very popular sunrise photo location. Unfortunately a storm was blowing through so I didn’t get the alpine glow sunrise that you typically see here. Instead I got a nice pre-dawn shot (above) with some stars visible between the clouds and a late morning shot when the sun came out and the wind stopped just long enough to get a decent reflection in the lake.
From there I traveled south over Independence Pass, stopping at a couple of spots to take photos of the spectacular landscape before heading to Great Sand Dunes National Park.

The Ghost Town of Independence:

Roaring Fork River:

Snow Squall:

Twin Lakes:

I arrived at Great Sand Dunes in a windstorm, so I didn’t spend much time on the dune field.  Clouds over the park with clear skies to the west provided some nice storm light on the Dunes.

Dune field from the Entrance Road:

Dunes from the Entrance Road

High Dune Hikers:

Dunefield Storm Light:

Look for Part 4 covering the two railroad photo charters this trip was centered around in a couple of weeks.

Trip Report – Colorado Fall Color 2016 Part 2

Devil's Lookout

Continuing where we left off in Part 1 of the trip report, after leaving Mesa Verde National Park, I drove North to Montrose Colorado to be in position for sunrise at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison became a National Park on October 21, 1999, encompasing 30,750 acres and is known for its incredibly steep cliffs and narrow canyon.  At its narrowest point, Chasm View, the canyon is 1,100ft wide at the rim, 40ft wide at the river and 1,820ft deep!  This unique steepness and narrowness is caused by the steep route the Gunnison River takes through the canyon.  It averages 34ft of drop per mile which causes the river to cut deeper into the canyon faster than the walls can erode and widen the canyon.

Island Peaks:
Island Peaks

Pulpit Rock:
Pulpit Rock

Chasm View:

Chasm View

The canyon is difficult to photograph during the day due to the huge contrast between the shadows and the sunny side of the canyon. I think this park may be best captured in the pre-dawn and post sunset light.  A second trip to better capture this park is definitely in order.

Part 3 of the trip report will cover Maroon Bells and Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Through The Lens 76 – Painted Wall

As magma cools and solidifies, water becomes concentrated, making the remaining magma more fluid.  That last bit of magma to cool moves easily into the cracks in the surrounding rock before cooling and forming a type of granite called Pegmatite.  The light colored streaks at Painted Wall in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park are an impressive example of this phenomenon.  For reference, those are full size trees above the rim of the canyon.  At 2,250 feet high, Painted Wall is Colorado’s tallest cliff.

The patterns in the rock look great in black & white too.

Check back Tuesday for the long overdue Part 2 of my Colorado Fall Color Trip Report.