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The Colorful Fall Foliage of Vermont

Vermont eBook

Vermont eBook

In 1965, Leslie Gore crooned “Its my Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To.”  Well.  Its my Blog and I’ll brag if I want to :-).  Or Plug.  In 2012, I published my first e-Book:  Photographing Vermont’s Fall Foliage.

This book is a one-of-a-kind resource for photographers seeking guidance on how to find and get to some of the best photography opportunities in the world.

Craftsbury Common, Craftsbury, Vermont Copyright 2010 Andy Richards

Craftsbury Common, Craftsbury, Vermont
Copyright 2010 Andy Richards

Photographers, it is time (if not already too late) to plan your fall foliage trip and there is no better destination than Vermont, nor better shooting guide than Photographing Vermont’s Fall Foliage.  We are just a month away from September 15 and the beginning of the 2016 season!

Burton Hill Road Barton, Vermont Copyright 2010 Andy Richards

Burton Hill Road
Barton, Vermont
Copyright 2010 Andy Richards

I have traveled to Vermont during its foliage season (generally between September 15 and October 15) for many years.  I lived there for about 4 years back in the 1970s.  Returning in the 2000’s to photograph there, I was disappointed and surprised to find very little real useful information about shooting locations and conditions.  There are a number of very good books by some top-drawer professional photographers, but they seemed to either be designed primarily to showcase the writer’s own work, or to concentrate too narrowly on a geographic region, or type of image.

Lake Willoughby in Vermont's "Northeast Kingdom" Copyright Andy Richards 2010

Lake Willoughby in Vermont’s “Northeast Kingdom”
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

In the early years of my trips, I began to keep notes of not only the shooting conditions, but specific directions for locating the shooting vantage point, parking, and time of day considerations.  Over time this morphed from my personal notes, to a PDF document offered on my first website, to its culmination in the e-Book in 2012.  Due for a refresh in 2017, my friend, talented photographer, and sometime Vermont resident, Carol Smith, will be joining me as co-author.  We will be adding new destinations to the book (many of which she has found and shown me, including the Burton Hill Road farm shot above).

Grandview Farm Stowe, Vermont Copyright 2010 Andy Richards

Grandview Farm
Stowe, Vermont
Copyright 2010 Andy Richards

This Blog is designed to promote my book and to give a few examples of the near-unlimited photographic opportunities Vermont offers.

Waits River, Vermont Copyright Andy Richards 2005

Waits River, Vermont
Copyright Andy Richards 2005

There are a large number of barn scenes, and “New England” churches and villages to be photographed in Vermont.

Bragg Hill Road, Waitsfield, Vermont

Bragg Hill Road, Waitsfield, Vermont

Hillside Acres Farm, West Barnet, VT Copyright 2006 Andy Richards

Hillside Acres Farm, West Barnet, VT
Copyright 2006 Andy Richards

Stowe, Vermont Copyright Andy Richards 2005

Stowe, Vermont
Copyright Andy Richards 2005

The Village of East Orange, Vermont

The Village of East Orange, Vermont Copyright Andy Richards 2006

Windham County Courthouse, Newfane, Vermont

Windham County Courthouse, Newfane, Vermont

Vermont also has the distinction of being one of the states with the most wooden covered bridges (I believe it ranks third) in the U.S.  Many of these bridges are very photogenic.

Covered Bridge Cabot Plains Road, Cabot, VT Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Covered Bridge
Cabot Plains Road, Cabot, VT
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Dummerston Covered Bridge

Dummerston Covered Bridge Copyright Andy Richards 2010

Longley Covered Bridge Montgomery, VT Copyright Andy Richards 2005

Longley Covered Bridge
Montgomery, VT
Copyright Andy Richards 2005

COVERED BRIDGES NORTHFIELD VERMONT 100620100008

Bridge in a Bridge Copyright Andy Richards 2010

For Waterfallers, there are hundreds of great falls; many of them virtually unknown.  The mountain brooks and streams provide many exploring and shooting opportunities.

The Mad River Warren, Vermont Copyright Andy Richards 2016

The Mad River
Warren, Vermont
Copyright Andy Richards 2016

Bartlett Falls, Bristol, Vermont: Getting a "just right" shutter speed in difficult, but dramatic lighting conditions makes this image unique

Bartlett Falls, Bristol, Vermont: Getting a “just right” shutter speed in difficult, but dramatic lighting conditions makes this image unique

This shot involved a pre-sunrise, 20 minute hike down a very steep mountain trail on a Sunday morning. I'd rather be here than in church any day! Copyright Andy Richards 2008

This shot involved a pre-sunrise, 20 minute hike down a very steep mountain trail on a Sunday morning. I’d rather be here than in church any day! Copyright Andy Richards 2008

There are also numerous small lakes and ponds creating reflection, cloud and atmospheric opportunities.

Noyes Pond Seyon Ranch State Park Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Noyes Pond
Seyon Ranch State Park
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Cool (32 degree) temperatures following a very wet period created wonderful steam and colorful morning cloud conditions on this pond near Barton, Vermont Copyright Andy Richards 2010

Cool (32 degree) temperatures following a very wet period created wonderful steam and colorful morning cloud conditions on this pond near Barton, Vermont
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

Vermont also has a large number of state parks and recreational facilities.

Noyes Pond Seyon Ranch State Park Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Noyes Pond
Seyon Ranch State Park
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Kettle Pond from Owl's Head Overlook

Kettle Pond from Owl’s Head Overlook; Copyright Andy Richards 2006

I hope you will visit the eBook page and go to your favorite online retailer (the book is available on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble and Kobo, among others), and download this guideComments and reviews are very much welcome.  Hope to see you out there somewhere this fall!

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The Early Years – 1978

Orchard, Randolph Center, VT Copyright Andy Richards 1978

Orchard, Randolph Center, VT
Copyright Andy Richards 1978

As I noted in my last blog, I shot in the 1970’s with a couple different “fundamental” SLR cameras; my dad’s all manual (I mean really manual) Asahiflex and a Canon “automatic” TX.  While I made a number of images with both of them, only 2 (one from each body) reside in my digitally-scanned archives.

The Orchard in Randolph Center, Vermont, was somewhere on campus at Vermont Technical College, where my math professor, John Knox, inspired me to pick up the camera and begin shooting.  While the image shows many hallmarks of a “newbie” amateur, there are some elements of decent composition.  One of the things I remember about the images made with the Asahiflex camera was how great the color rendition and sharpness was from the Kogaku Takumar lenses, wonderfully built with stainless steel bodies, small (but heavy) size, and great, sharp, contrasty glass.  Both images were made with Kodak’s Kodachrome 25 color transparency film (my film of choice for many years).

By contrast (and surprisingly, as Canon lenses are currently highly regarded), the Canon did not seem to render as nicely, in either sharpness or detail.  And the color was even less accurate on most of the images made with this camera-lens combination.

Canon TX Kodachrome 25 Canon 50mm Slides - Scenic Vol. 1 #14

Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont Copyright Andy Richards 1978

The image here was made in Stowe, Vermont, at the famous Trapp Family Lodge.  The second image illustrates a regret, and a takeaway from modern digital development.  I used to be pretty heartless about culling my own images (which means, to my regret, that some of the technically poor results might have been salvaged today, if I’d had the foresight to keep them).  Today, I am very much less so.  Part of this is because of the ease and relatively low cost of digital storage.  But a large part is because with every advance in digital imagery and post processing technology, there is more of a chance to “salvage” an image that might not have been a keeper.

Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont Copyright Andy Richards 1978

Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont
Copyright Andy Richards 1978 Color corrected with NIK Viveza

The Stowe image – while not a glowing example – is nonetheless, an example.  The shot was taken in relatively harsh, early afternoon light.  The color suffers, as well as the quality of light.  The fix – done with Google’s NIK Viveza – doesn’t transform the image into an award-winning, magazine cover.  But it does illustrate the ability of digital post-processing to do things that traditional wet darkroom processing was essentially incapable of.

2015; A year to Remember

As I thought about 2015 year in review, it struck me that this was a big year for our travel and perhaps equally so for photography. But I couldn’t help thinking back to some other big years. I have made many trips in the continental United States, including Vermont, Maine, New Mexico, Virginia, West Virginia, California, Wyoming, Texas, North Carolina and Florida over the years; as well as trips into Canada. But around 2009, we began to expand the travel.

Every Cruise has landed us at St. Thomas. We wanted to get off the beaten Path, so we took a boat to St. John's and spent a few hours here at Caneel Bay Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Almost every Caribbean Cruise has landed us at St. Thomas. We wanted to get off the beaten Path, so we took a boat to St. John’s and spent a few hours here at Caneel Bay
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Sony RX100iv
Tokyo, Japan
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

In 2009 we went to Acadia National Park in Maine. In 2010, we went to Alaska and Vermont. In 2011, I made my first trip to California and spent time in San Francisco and Napa Valley. I also made a trip to West Virginia and Babcock State Park to shoot the Grist Mill and fall color. In 2012, we were back Napa and briefly, San Francisco. We also did our first ever Caribbean Cruise (and have not missed one since). 2013 marked a huge change for us, as I made my first visit to Europe and Asia (indeed my first excursion outside the U.S. – assuming you don’t count Canada and the Caribbean) on a partly aborted, Mediterranean Cruise. In the late Fall of 2012, I had purchased the Sony NEX-6; a huge departure from my 30-year Nikon affiliation (most of it shooting SLR/DSLR cameras and lenses). I carried that camera in Europe and fell in love with its small size and ease of use. Later that year, I took a very deep breath, closed my eyes, and sold all my Nikon gear; trading for the new full frame mirrorless Sony a7. In 2014, in we spent 10 days in Ireland. Some pretty big years; and some pretty new things.

Seiryuden Temple Kyoto, Japan Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Seiryuden Temple
Kyoto, Japan
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

But on reflection, 2015 will probably have been the biggest, busiest and widest-reaching of my lifetime. In this one year, we went for a week in the Caribbean. We then went to Japan for a week in August, and another 10 days in the Mediterranean in September. I topped that off with a 4-day trip to Vermont in early October. While I began saying to everyone that “I probably bit off more that I could chew,” and was just travel-weary, it was indeed and exciting and eventful year!  And now that we have turned the corner into 2016, a year with much more modest travel planned, I am looking forward to the next big adventure.  In  the meantime, here are some photos and narrative of 2015.

February

We began with our now-traditional week aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean in February. These trips have become less about excursions and photography and more about just getting some sunny warmth into our bones about ½-way through our long, cold, Michigan winters. But I do carry my camera. For reasons explained in other posts, I am mostly carrying “small gear” on these trips.  The Caneel Bay image is my favorite of the 2015 Carribbean trip.

Kyoto Temple; Kyoto, Japan Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Kyoto Temple; Kyoto, Japan
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

August

Our son was married in Japan in August. This was our first trip their.  Once the long (14-hour) flight from Detroit to Tokyo (Narita) was behind us, the rest of the trip was an unanticipated pleasure. While we knew there were many wonderful things to do and see in Japan, we also expected most of our time to be taken up by wedding and family activities. While this proved mostly true for Tokyo, our new family treated us to a wonderful 2 ½ days in Kyoto, with some really great tours and some great photo opportunities. We knew and expected our new family would be nice people, but their warmth and graciousness exceeded our expectations and we left, feeling a close bond with them. Our distance is great, but we look forward to our next visit!

Sushi Restaurant with conveyor belt; Tokyo Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Sushi Restaurant with conveyor belt; Tokyo
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

September

Our 2013, long-anticipated Mediterranean Cruise, as readers here perhaps remember, was at once, fantastic and disappointing. The disappointment came from the mechanical difficulties the cruise ship experienced in the middle of the cruise. As reported back then, the cruise line came through like heros, and we made “lemonade,” with what we had, seeing much of what we had hoped to see.

Kotor Montenegro Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Kotor Montenegro
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Better yet, we were able to book our “makeup” cruise this fall, and cover all the places we missed, and some overlap with places from the last cruise. And even better still, we were joined by our good friends, Paul and Linda and the four of us had a blast. They are great, easy company and it was nice to share this adventure. We spent 3 days prior to the cruise in Barcelona, and it proved to be as “cool” a city as it has been advertised to be. We followed in Provence, Tuscany (including Florence and Pisa), Rome, Montenegro, and Athens.

Barcelona, Spain Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Barcelona, Spain
Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

October

In 2010, a group of photographers and foliage fanatics who met and participate on the SOV board, got together for a “reunion” (since it was our first time, shouldn’t it have been called a “union”?). We had so much fun, we committed to another reunion in 2015. Sadly, one of our most notable group members died of cancer (some of us knew he was fighting it back in 2010) in 2012, and we named the 2015 reunion after him. I will never forget his support and his infectious optimism and infectious smile, as well. He was an inspiration.

Noyes Pond Seyon Ranch State Park Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Noyes Pond
Seyon Ranch State Park
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I will look back at this year and see a number of personal high points, though I am not sure I want another one like this. The travel was exhausting but exhilarating at the same time. I captured many memorable images (and even some good ones).

Barcelona, Spain Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Barcelona, Spain
Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

In May, I took another “leap” of faith in Sony and in the advice of my mentor, Ray and traded the NEX-6 and interchangeable lenses for the newest “pro” “point and shoot” Sony: The RX100iv. I have done a couple reviews of this camera here for those who would like to see the detail. But suffice it to say that I am pretty much smitten with it and it has now become my travel camera. It is a joy to carry through airport security, and around the streets. Its image quality is so good that I am basically willing to leave the a7 full frame behind on all but dedicated photo-trip travel.

Sony RX100iv

Sony RX100iv

I am blessed to have our (now on our third winter) winter-retreat (our second – soon to be “first” home in Florida), and continue to travel there on a regular basis and find things to shoot.

Tokyo Tower Sony RX100iv Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Tokyo Tower
Sony RX100iv
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

I am looking forward to a great 2016 and hope all of you have the same. I wish you all the best, a prosperous and happy 2016, and am eternally thankful for your readership and support!

My 2015 Vermont Fall Foliage Trip

Noyes Pond Seyon Ranch State Park Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Noyes Pond
Seyon Ranch State Park
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Every year, as September rolls in, I get excited. Fall is my favorite time of the year. The 3 “F’s.” Football, foliage and fotography. O.k. Maybe only 2 “F’s” but you get the idea. It is a kind of magical time when the light always seems nice and the changing colors make for wonderful photographic subject matter.

Crystal Lake Barton, Vermont Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Crystal Lake
Barton, Vermont
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

For those of us that like to photograph foliage, it has been a challenge

Well…………      2015 certainly has been an interesting year for foliage. We had an unusually warm fall throughout the northern U.S. For us late-season golfers, that has been a nice bonus. For those of us that like to see and photograph foliage, though, it has been a challenge. But the challenge is not so much because of the timing of Mother Nature – it appears that the colors will be there. But many of us make travel plans based on “normal” trends in color change.

Pond Jerusalem, Vermont Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Pond
Jerusalem, Vermont
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

That was my affliction this year. This was my first trip back to Vermont since 2010, when a number of us on the SOV foliage and photography forums got together in the Northeast Kingdom (NEK) in north eastern Vermont and vowed to meet again in 2015.

This year there was a special tie the binds a group of us who photograph Vermont; GIC

In a “normal” season in Vermont, you can expect to find good color (well-developed to “peak”) during the last week of September and first week of October. But the very thought of “normal” weather is actually humorous. Weather does what weather does, no matter how much we wish and hope otherwise. This year, it is “late.” And we were there early.

Blueberry Lake Vermont Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Blueberry Lake
Vermont
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

But, I think we were fortunate in many ways. First, there was a binding tie for our trip to Vermont this year. We planned to honor one of our departed members, a good friend and companion. That gave us a reason to be there at that time, and we had a nice celebration of his “photographic” life. George (or GIC, as we knew him on the forum) was in inspiration to all of us, with infectious optimism, humor and basic goodness – even in the face of knowing he was fighting a disease which would ultimately beat him. His spirit was with us during the week.

Strafford Meeting House Strafford, Vermont Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Strafford Meeting House
Strafford, Vermont
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Second, as I prepared my gear and packed for the trip, the weather forecast was dreary. 4 days of rain, with precipitation chances ranging from 20 – 80%. A tropical storm-turned hurricane was moving up the Atlantic coast toward us, on a collision course with a low-pressure system that just seemed to “hang” over the Northeast. Instead, I had my usual and customary good luck. The last raindrops we saw during the 4 days I was in Vermont were as I walked off the plane. The weather gradually, but steadily, improved.

Noyes Pond Seyon Ranch State Park Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Noyes Pond
Seyon Ranch State Park
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

And, while I won’t say they were the most compelling images I have ever captured, we did find some pictures. And, once again, Vermont has that draw to me that will bring me back again soon.

Covered Bridge Cabot Plains Road, Cabot, VT Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Covered Bridge
Cabot Plains Road, Cabot, VT
Copyright Andy Richards 2015

Maybe the nicest part of this very short, but busy trip to Vermont was being able to shoot with my good friends, Carol and Al.  I met them both on the SOV forum, and we have become good friends and compatriots.  On the last day I was their, Al and I spent the day together — just the two of us — and what a great experience it is to shoot side by side with a kindred spirit and share not only our thoughts on photography, but our philosophy of life!  Thanks to both of you for being wonderful friends.

Covered Bridges

Dummerston Covered Bridge; Dummerston, VT Copyright Andy Richards 2010

Dummerston Covered Bridge;
Dummerston, VT
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

I don’t know how many bridges there are in the world. Thousands, is probably a pretty safe statement. Most of my own bridge photography has been in the states. I have had some very limited opportunities traveling outside the U.S. – most notably in Venice, Italy. In many of these cases, bridges were only an element of the overall image.

Holtz Bridge Frankenmuth, MI Copyright Andy Richards 2009

Holtz Bridge
Frankenmuth, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2009

Bridges come in all sizes, shapes, designs and uses, from foot traffic, to vehicular traffic (trains and motor vehicles, and historically – animal-drawn vehicles. There are some very modern and spectacular designs, and some more “pedestrian” (no pun intended) designs. They range from 100’s of years old, to spans recently built.

Nearly all of my own covered bridge images were made in New England

One bridge design that always appeals to the outdoor and nature photographer is the Covered Bridge. The design of these bridges, probably brought over from Europe when settlers first came to the Northeastern U.S., was intended to increase the life of the bridges. This was particularly true in times when the primary building materials for structures, including bridges, was wood. It was soon learned that bridges that were not covered had a relatively short life span, with weather being the primary culprit. Covered bridges lasted longer, and had the added advantage in cold weather climates, of shielding the bridge surface from snow accumulations.

Comstock Covered Bridge Montgomery, VT Copyright Andy Richards 2006

Comstock Covered Bridge
Montgomery, VT
Copyright Andy Richards 2006

Nearly all of my covered bridge images were made in New England. New England – and especially Vermont – is known for its many picturesque covered bridges. Indeed, I believed Vermont probably had the largest number of covered bridges in the U.S. by a wide margin. On a per square mile basis, and probably on a per capita basis, that is absolutely true. Vermont has around 110 true, traditional covered bridges – most of them well maintained, and many of them very photogenic (particularly in the fall season).  For readers who have visited here for a long time and perhaps have been to my LightCentric Photography Website, there is an “Easter Egg” of sorts, here in one of the images :-).

The highest number of covered bridges appears to be in the state of Ohio

My assumption (and remember the old saying about those of us who ASSUME) was that the largest major concentration of covered bridges would be the New England States and most particularly, Vermont and New Hampshire. And they do have a lot of bridges between them. Vermont has around 110. New Hampshire has around 54. Maine and Massachusetts, to my surprise, only have around a dozen combined.

Longley Covered Bridge Montgomery, VT Copyright Andy Richards  2005

Longley Covered Bridge
Montgomery, VT
Copyright Andy Richards 2005

To my great surprise, I found – with a little research – that the highest number of bridges in any state appears to be in Ohio! Ohio boasts at least 125 covered bridges. And the largest concentration of covered bridges? Right here in my own “backyard.” Ohio has 125. Indiana has 98. Wisconsin has 35-45 (I am being ambiguous here, because the data isn’t as clear and it appears that many of them are not true road-based, working bridges). Illinois has many, but I wasn’t able to find an accurate count. My “front yard,” by the way (Michigan) has but 8. I have photographed only one of them, the Holtz Bridge in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

Montgomery Covered Bridge Waterville, VT Copyright Andy Richards 2005

Montgomery Covered Bridge
Waterville, VT
Copyright Andy Richards 2005

West of the Mississippi, with the notable exception of the state of Colorado, covered bridges are not remarkable. Most states have an average of 3 – 6 of them.

Bridge-in-a-Bridge Northfield, VT Copyright Andy Richards 2010

Bridge-in-a-Bridge
Northfield, VT
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

I have my work cut out for me

There is a lot of information to be learned about covered bridges on the internet. I am not going to get into what is authentic and what isn’t. Although great for architectural and historical purposes, I am interested in their photogenics only. I did note, for example, that many of the bridges in other states (especially states where you would expect there to be covered bridges) are not “working” bridges, or are ornate foot bridges, parts of resorts, golf courses, etc. But if it has photographic possibilities, I am willing to attempt to shoot it. With literally hundreds of covered bridges just in the U.S., I have my work cut out for me 🙂 .

Hutchins Bridge Montgomery, VT Copyright Andy Richards 2005

Hutchins Bridge
Montgomery, VT
Copyright Andy Richards 2005

The 7-Year Itch?

A solid support is crucial to sharpness and detail in this early morning light image

A solid support is crucial to sharpness and detail in this early morning light image

There is an old thought about relationships known as the “seven-year-itch” (something about getting an itch to try something new in the 7th year, which ultimately in most cases, terminates the former relationship). Before anyone gets alarmed, I have been happily married for 30 plus years now – that 7-year thing is well behind us. 🙂

Craftsbury Common, Craftsbury, Vermont Copyright 2010  Andy Richards

Craftsbury Common, Craftsbury, Vermont
Copyright 2010 Andy Richards

But, just trying to come up with a clever title for this blog, it came to mind. Next month, I will have been writing this blog for 7 years. So this coming year could be the year I decide it’s over and move on. Given my history, I probably won’t. Besides, I really enjoy writing this thing (the opening image is my very first posted image here).

Stone House; Manassas Virginia Copyright  Andy Richards  2010

Stone House; Manassas Virginia
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

I really enjoy writing this thing

In the winter of 2008, I began a series of “tutorial” e-mails to one of my sisters who had taken up DSLR photography. I was trying to explain the technical aspects of exposure, depth of field, etc. to her in steps. About the same time, a friend from Vermont began to ask questions about her point and shoot camera, and shortly, she acquired her own DSLR.

Glade Creek Gristmill; Babcock SP, West Virginia  copyright 2011  Andy Richards

Glade Creek Gristmill; Babcock SP, West Virginia copyright 2011 Andy Richards

Between the two of them, and some others, I spent a fair amount of time writing and editing and responding to questions and clarifying, and it dawned on me that maybe I should save these “writings” (mainly so I wouldn’t have to re-create them later). About that same time, I hired a company to create a photography website for me to showcase my own images. The idea of a blog seemed a natural follow-up and since everybody was doing it, and there was no cost to set it up, I decided to give it a whirl.

Bernard Maine copyright  Andy Richards 2009

Bernard Maine
copyright Andy Richards 2009

I started the blog as a Google Blogger site, but migrated to WordPress a few months later, as WordPress seemed to offer both a more pleasing theme and more versatility for photographic blogging. Since moving to WordPress, the blog has had more than 50,000 views, and currently has 50 followers – not exactly “viral,” but nonetheless very heartening.

Texas State Capitol, Austin, TX Copyright Andy Richards  2010

Texas State Capitol, Austin, TX
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

not exactly “viral,” but nonetheless very heartening

Over time, the blog has gradually evolved from my “tutorial” writings (there is only so much of that, and mine were specifically “conversational,” and certainly not intended to compete with the myriad of books and website offerings by the professionals out there), to more of a combination of a travel images blog and the occasional philosophical or political musing, with the stray tutorial thrown it. I have also spent some time reviewing equipment – primarily that which I have owned or used.

Ketchikan, Alaska Copyright  Andy Richards  2010

Ketchikan, Alaska
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

Perusing my “offerings” from the beginning, I was amazed to see the territory covered. Since the first writing, I have traveled and photographed fairly extensively in the United States, including (in addition to my home state of Michigan – upper and lower peninsulas and my new “home” away from home state of Florida) Texas, Alaska, San Francisco and Northern California; Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks from Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Virginia, West Virginia; New Mexico; Minnesota; Acadia National Park and surrounds in Maine and Vermont.

Split Rock Light; North Shore, Lake Superior, MN Copyright Andy Richards  2010

Split Rock Light; North Shore, Lake Superior, MN
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

It has gotten harder to do this

I have Traveled out of the country to Canada, Ireland, Italy, Turkey and Greece, as well as 3 trips to the Caribbean. In 2015, we will travel to Japan, the Mediterranean again; and I will go to Vermont again in the fall. So hopefully, there are many more images to come. In some of the places that I have visited multiple times, the challenge will be doing something unique.

Chili Ristra, New Mexico   copyright 2008  Andy Richards

Chili Ristra, New Mexico copyright 2008 Andy Richards

There have been some milestones over the 7 years. In March of 2010, I bid a bittersweet goodbye to my best buddy and fellow shooter and traveler, Rich, whose career took a sharp left turn, as he moved away from Michigan. While we knew we would try to stay in touch, it was not certain that we would. Over the following year, we did. Then, to my great delight, his career took yet another turn and he moved back here to Michigan. We will live to shoot another day!

San Francisco Night Skyline  copyright 2011  Andy Richards

San Francisco Night Skyline copyright 2011 Andy Richards

As I looked for images that seemed to make an impression on me from the places I visited, it ocurrs to me that 2010 was a huge travel and photography year for me in the U.S.

Copyright 2012  Andy Richards

Copyright 2012 Andy Richards

the challenge will be doing something unique

I cannot even count how many times I have mentioned the word “Nikon” in my blog. I have been a loyal Nikon user for thirty plus years. As my more recent blogs have noted, I have completely moved to another name and system in the past few months. I still think Nikon makes top quality DSLR bodies and lenses. But they haven’t moved toward the mirrorless system in a way that fits my thinking.

City Center Rome, Italy Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

City Center
Rome, Italy
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

On a couple occasions, I mentioned New Year’s resolutions in my late December posts. In one case, in 2011, I noted that I don’t make them (because I don’t keep them). In 2012 I made one (and didn’t keep it).

Oxbow Bend; Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming Copyright 2012  Andy Richards

Oxbow Bend; Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Copyright 2012 Andy Richards

It has gotten harder to do this. I still enjoy it, but inspiration for subjects or topics are tougher to come by.  For those who have read, followed and commented over the past 7 years, I am very grateful. I will be traveling again in the next couple weeks, and so may not be consistent with my weekly input. I guess it is one of the nice things about the nature of a personal blog. I can post when I want to.  🙂

The quintessential symbol of Venice is, of course, the Gondola Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

The quintessential symbol of Venice is, of course, the Gondola
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Until next time ……….

It Was a Very Good Year

Alamo Square Row Houses Copyright  2014  Andy Richards

Alamo Square Row Houses
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

A good friend and mentor likes to borrow from song lyrics for blog titles and sometimes to caption his images. They say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” so I am taking a page from his book for the title of this blog. I am not sure whether he is a Kingston Trio Fan, but I’ll bet he likes Sinatra. Who doesn’t? 🙂 But as is so often the case, I digress ……….

2014 has been a good year for us. I have said that our home in Michigan can be a tough place to live during the months of Jan – April. Lots of cold, not enough sun, and often lots of snow. I am not a snowbird (got that out of my system in my youth), so I don’t miss it when its gone. 2014 was the first year we were able to take advantage or our second home in the Tampa Bay area. It was nice to be warm in the Winter months, even if only for a few days at time. And, as we have gotten the “drill” down, I have now established a “home office” in Florida and am able to visit for longer periods and work from there. I am looking forward to finding photographic venues there.

Shortly after Christmas, I ordered my first “mirrorless” “full frame” interchangeable lens camera, the Sony a7r. While I didn’t completely fall in love with this camera, it certainly gave me lots of “fodder” for this blog. :-). I did learn to “respect” it, however. It has taken my photographic thought process in a new direction. I think I have finally settled in with a “keeper” version of this camera (the a7 – sans r) and look forward to actually giving it a good workout in 2015. Along with it have become new lenses, tripods, etc. Lots to do and think about. But now its time to get back to making actual images!

D.H. Day Barn Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore; Glen Haven, MI Copyright  2014  Andy Richards

D.H. Day Barn
Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore; Glen Haven, MI
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

In February, we joined a group of our Michigan friends on a Caribbean Cruise. This mid-winter, warm weather cruise has become a tradition for my wife and me. We try to visit new venues with each cruise, but it is not difficult to overlap stops and we have now been to several of the stops multiple times. St. Maarten continues to top my list. One of the things that will become increasingly difficult will be finding new and unique photo ops. It seems to me that the more time I spend in the Caribbean, the more it seems that there is a “sameness” to these little islands. I don’t mean any disrespect to the people or cultures of these islands. They are undoubtedly each unique and very proud of that. Indeed, we try to take some kind of tour in most of the places where we learn about some of those cultures. I meant photographically. The flora, fauna and “hand of man” seem to be pretty ubiquitous. First, in all of these places, there are the commercial tourist traps built around the cruise lines (unfortunately in my opinion). The one exception to that seemed to be St. Croix. There was no real “cruise line mall” at the port their. Unfortunately for us, we arrived there on a Sunday. Not much was going on in the little portside community, but it looked like it was pretty genuine. There have been many colorful photographic subjects on these cruises, and I will look forward to finding new ones as we head South again in mid-winter 2015.

Celebrity Summit St. Croix; USVI Copyright  2014  Andy Richards

Celebrity Summit
St. Croix; USVI
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

In April, we were privileged to joint Bart and Barb O’Brien, proprietors of The O’Brien Estate Vineyard in Napa, California, on a rather unique trip to Ireland. Readers here have been inundated with my Ireland photos and know that we had a great time. If I were arranging my own trip to Ireland (a likely occurrence some day), I probably would not have done it the way we did. But this was a rather unique historical and cultural voyage, centering on the life of Ireland’s perhaps most famous of Kings; Brian Boru. History tells us that all of the O’briens, worldwide, descended from him. Not surprisingly, a fair number of the O’brien surname find their way to The O’Brien Estate – and become regular customers. While I do not have any Irish DNA that I am aware of, I could not have felt more welcomed by the people of Ireland. And I can also say that I have very much enjoyed my new found friendships with the several O’Briens who joined us on the trip — A friendly bunch!

Somewhere In Ireland Copyright  2014  Andy Richards

Somewhere In Ireland
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

In early October, we made our third of hopefully many trips, to the San Francisco Bay area. There are (so far) 2 cities I have been to that seem to have endless subjects for photographers. One is San Francisco and the other is Venice, Italy. I know there are others, but these two have impressed me in a way no others have. I am an (relatively – it seems to get harder as I get older) early riser. The 3 hour time change makes it even easier, and my wife indulges my early solo walks around the downtown. The early and late light is magnificent and there are so many things to capture. So I rise each morning and spend a couple hours discovering.

Lombard Street; San Francisco, CA Copyright  2014  Andy Richards

Lombard Street; San Francisco, CA
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

This trip, we also did some driving, visiting the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse (which might be photogenic – I don’t have any idea – we couldn’t see it through the heavy fog) and the Pt. Bonita Light, which is difficult to find a really good spot to shoot from. The 2 magnificent bridges, the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridge seem to be always somewhere in view. San Francisco is a peninsula and a very steep hill, so views are easy to find.

Palace of Fine Arts San Francisco, CA Copyright  2014  Andy Richards

Palace of Fine Arts
San Francisco, CA
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

Almost every fall, I make an extended trip somewhere to photograph fall foliage. With the travel schedule such as it was, that didn’t happen this year. There is this pesky little thing called a “job” and my clients do expect me to be there. 🙂 This year, I decided to try to make a couple short trips and that limited my venues to places reachable by day trip or weekend overnight.

Bay Bridge in morning Twilight Copyright  2014  Andy Richards

Bay Bridge in morning Twilight
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

I did a day trip with my buddy Rich, and then, the following weekend, went “home,” to the town I grew up in, in Northern Lower Michigan, Traverse City.

Round Bales in Foliage Harrison, MI Copyright 2014  Andy Richards

Round Bales in Foliage
Harrison, MI
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

Between of Lake Michigan and two deep bays extending south from the lake, the climate there is more moderate in the Fall (they pay for it in the winter, with significant snowfall – though some probably think that is a blessing). So I was able to take advantage of very late October and “discover” some shooting venues I had never before done (my love affair with photography began after I had moved away from there). All in all, my fall shooting was more rewarding than I expected.

Vineyard on Old Mission Peninsula; Grand Traverse County, MI Copyright  2014  Andy Richards

Vineyard on Old Mission Peninsula; Grand Traverse County, MI
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

This is sounding a lot like one of those annual “Christmas Letters.” 🙂  I am looking forward to another eventful year in 2015. We will kick things off with another Caribbean Cruise, Tokyo in August, the Mediterranean in September, and with some luck, a whirlwind trip to Vermont to meet some old (photographer) friends and shoot New England Fall Foliage. There should be some photos coming away from these trips – especially later in the year. Mixed in with that I hope to find a chance to do some winter scenic shooting in Northern Michigan.

National Lakeshore Farmstead; Port Oneida; Leelanau County, MI Copyright  2014  Andy Richards

National Lakeshore Farmstead; Port Oneida; Leelanau County, MI
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

As I write this, my blog has had over 50,000 visits and almost 75,000 page views (average 30/day). When I started this, I had no idea whether anyone would ever read it. Thank you, thank you to all who have visited, and a special thanks to all of the “followers” out there. I also have a couple “regular” commenters. Thanks to you too, for your input and your support. I would love to seem some comments and discussion come out of this, so please comment in 2015.

Kilkenny Castle; Kilkenny, Ireland Copyright  2014  Andy Richards

Kilkenny Castle; Kilkenny, Ireland
Copyright 2014 Andy Richards

I want to wish all of the regular readers and anyone else who comes here a very happy and prosperous 2015. I hope you find all your photographic dreams.