Camera in Hand, Capturing the Beauty of the World

Guest Post by Justin from The Roaming Lama
I’ve been very fortunate to find a job that allows me to travel often and the flexibility to extend these business trips to explore the world around me. The accumulation of airline miles and hotel points that accompanies the amount of business travel has also allowed my wife and I to do a fair amount of travel for pure pleasure as well. In the past several years, I’ve accumulated a few hundred thousand airline miles and with my camera in hand I try to bring the beauty of the world to the regular readers of my blog (of which I hope you reading this will also become) through photography three – four times a week.
Over the years I’ve accumulated thousands of photographs and published close to 700 of them on my blog and website. I am working on a new website currently where I’ll share tips on both capturing the photograph initially and processing it afterwards to bring your true vision to life. The human eye catches light and detail in a much broader spectrum than a camera is able to and thus the post-processing of the photo to bring your image to life is of the utmost importance.
Selecting my favorite photograph is extremely hard because there are aspects to every photo that I publish that I like and it makes each one special to me. As a result, I’ve selected a dozen or so photos that I think gives a nice overview of the types of photographs I typically publish on my website which tend to be landscape and/or travel photos.

Rocky Mountain National Park

I was extremely fortunate over the past few years to have a client based in Denver, Colorado and as a result I visited that city four to five times a year. About two hours away from Denver is one of the most beautiful National Parks in the United States – Rocky Mountain National Park. Fortunately, I’ve been able to leverage these business meetings into half dozen or so trips to RMNP. My two favorite photos from these trips are called ‘Fog over Sprague Lake’ and ‘Dream Lake Sunrise’.

Fog over Sprague Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park

 Fog over Sprague Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park

On this particular day, the sunrise was disappointing as clouds shrouded the peaks of the Continental Divide over Sprague Lake. Disappointed I packed up my gear and started the hike back to the car – wishing some of the other photographers luck. Half way around the lake I turned to see if they had also packed up their gear and realized they had disappeared in the fog that had engulfed the lake. The eeriness of the scene and the quickness at which the fog moved allowed me to only take three photos before the visibility was completely gone.

Dream Lake Sunrise – Rocky Mountain National Park

Dream Lake Sunrise – Rocky Mountain National Park
My favorite location in all of Rocky Mountain National Park is Dream Lake at sunrise. Dream Lake is a relatively short hike – about a mile and a half – and the trail to the lake is well marked so it is easy to find even in the darkness of night. I try to arrive at the lake 30 – 40 minutes before sunrise to ensure I’m in a good position for the light hitting the face of Hallett Peak.

Banff National Park

I recently started to work with a client in Calgary and one of the world’s most photographic places is located 90 minutes away – Banff National Park. It continues to be one of the highlights of my year when I get to spend the weekend in Banff.

Mount Rundle Sunset – Banff National Park

Mount Rundle Sunset – Banff National Park
One of the best locations in Banff to photograph is the Vermillion Lakes area. The area is comprised of three relatively shallow lakes – the first lake tends to freeze over in the winter whereas the other two often have areas of open water where you can try to catch reflections – like the photo above at sunset in the middle of a cold, cold, cold winter day.

Lake Moraine – Banff National Park

Lake Moraine – Banff National Park
Unfortunately, I’ve never captured the ‘magic’ light (see the next section on California images) above Lake Moraine at sunrise. However, I’ll be back in September and I’m going to try again so fingers crossed. However, even in mediocre light the aqua blue water of Lake Moraine is still remarkable. Being here in the early morning hours (i.e. 4:30 AM) is an amazing experience and one I’m looking forward to again in a couple months.

California

I have a client in Los Angeles and I always take advantage of these quarterly trips to head to the ocean – which is especially appreciated in the depths of the Chicago winter which drives me crazy!!! On a remarkably warm day in California (80 degrees in January!) I watched the sunset over Santa Monica Pier. Five minutes after the sun went down the sky lit up in one of the most remarkable sunsets I’ve ever experienced.

Sunset over the Santa Monica Pier – Santa Monica, California

Sunset over the Santa Monica Pier – Santa Monica, California
On a layover in San Francisco (on my way to Seattle) I decided to head out and shoot the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise. The night before I spent a couple hours scouting Marin County for my favorite views of the bridge so I could come back and quickly setup at sunrise and get a nice shot. I was extremely lucky on this morning since the bridge is often shrouded in fog at sunrise. As you can see this wasn’t the case here! The sunrise was spectacular.

Sunrise over the Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, California

Sunrise over the Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, California

Europe

Unfortunately, I don’t have clients in Europe, but my wife and I have taken three trips ‘across the pond’ in the past four years based on all of the business travel miles (we’ve also been able to go to Belize, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic). Two of those trips have focused on our favorite country – Italy – whereas the third trip hit on London, Paris and several cities in Germany. I have lots of photos from Europe on my website but two of my favorites are from Cinque Terre (Italy) and Neuschwanstein (Germany).

Monterosso at Sunset – Cinque Terre, Italy

Monterosso at Sunset – Cinque Terre, Italy

Neuschwanstein Castle – Bavaria, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle – Bavaria, Germany

Grand Canyon National Park

We had an annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona in 2012 and I took the opportunity to drive out to the Grand Canyon for a few days. There is no denying that this is one of the most amazing places in the world but it is also one of the most challenging places to photograph because it is so expansive and no matter how many photos you take it always feels like you are leaving something out. The photo below is one the highlights from this visit:

Purple Rain at Sunset over the Grand Canyon – Grand Canyon National Park

Purple Rain at Sunset over the Grand Canyon – Grand Canyon National Park

Glacier National Park

Last year on my way to Calgary I was able to schedule a layover in Glacier National Park that lasted a few days. I took advantage of that layover to explore the park and while it rained on me almost every single day I was still able to capture a few shots that I really enjoy.

Valley Before the Storm – Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park
In this image the storm clouds actually helped me as they make the mid-day sky really interesting. Shortly after I took this picture the sky opened up and it started pouring. Fortunately, I only had a mile or so to get back to the car so I wasn’t stuck out in the rain for too long.

Wind over Swift Current Lake – Glacier National Park

Wind over Swift Current Lake – Glacier National Park
One of the things I enjoy about landscape photography is trying to convey the mood of the day visually. On this particular day I went to Swiftcurrent Lake for the sunrise in Glacier National Park. The sunrise was subpar as clouds to the east blocked the early morning light – however because of the wind the clouds were moving extremely fast and the water was very choppy. As some of the others who were there for sunrise packed up and went home after a half hour or so of waiting for colors I decided to strap the ten-stop ND filter on and I took some longer exposure shots to capture the wind and the speed of the clouds above the mountains. With the help of the ND filter I was able to leave the shutter open for 25-seconds which both showed the speed of the clouds and smoothed the choppy water.

34 thoughts on “Camera in Hand, Capturing the Beauty of the World

  1. Pingback: In pursuit (a limerick) | Into the Forgotten

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