Year end- London Calling- Night Photography Fun!

pubscene_2016Well 2016 has slipped away.
What were some of your favorite destinations of the past Year?
Today I am going to share a few favorite images from a last minute trip to London yes right before Christmas! As a traveler who loves to take photos I often think of destinations not from a sense of when to go based on Airfare, Vacation time or best temperatures but when is the best time to capture the place the way I envision it.

Think about it- do you see a City in Springtime with trees in full green, sidewalks edged with flowers or do you see a City in the heart of a season like the Holidays- sidewalks full, people hustling and lights twinkling.
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For me London has been a city I viewed in Black/White- stark, dark, mysterious, a place where the likes of shady characters, Sherlock Holmes roamed, writers walked and something always seemed amiss. The Tower of London, kings, beheadings… all seemed kind of dark and gloomy. London seemed a place perfect on a rainy day or dreary cold day… but how about Christmas when the streets might be full with people hustling to buy their gifts, Charles Dickens, children excited.. hmmm I thought..
The characters from Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol walked in my head, trampling my desktop with wet footprints… stirring my thoughts… Finally I just realized I had waited too long.. too long- I must go- I must see this place .. London..

So within a few clicks I found an Airfare/Hotel deal and off I was packing… a direct flight and my feet were on the ground LONDON!

London in December before Christmas at NIGHT does not disappoint. Take the tube to any number of neighborhoods, Soho, Kensington, Tower Bridge, the Thames, Hyde Park or Trafalger street… you will see streets draped in lights- store fronts with moving cakes-snow that seems to filter from the air as the lights shimmer, booths with Holiday Jumpers (sweaters to some of us) and all kinds of lights- music and people all moving past in a frenzy!
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Photo tips:
Carry a small camera something like a mirrorless- compact easy to blend in and to keep it tight to you. Many of the newer Mirrorless models perform very well in low=light situations that you will be photographing in at night.

Increase your ISO to try to capture some sharpness in your image=

Keep some composition in mind as you set up your shots- lights will draw a lot of attention in a mostly black image- are there shapes- can you hold you camera still and do a 2 second exposure to get a blurred red line of a car going thru your image? Moving people will just be ghostly barely there images but if someone is standing still where will they appear in your image.. sometimes you can crop them out and sometimes you cannot-

Carry an extra battery with you- low light photography can quickly use up your battery.

Dress to be comfortable- good walking shoes- jacket- hat- appropriate coat for cool weather. If you are cold you won’t be enjoying anything.

Check local websites- newspapers for special events- like tree lightings, Christmas markets,etc.

Most of all- be in the moment and have FUN!!

Thanks for reading my blog=
This is April with FallPhototrips.com and YourPhotoTravelGuide.com hope you had a most wonderful Holiday season and check back for more photography tips, where to travel to get great images and more! carnaby_2016

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New Year 2017- January Photography Destinations USA

Yosemite in Winter....One of the 10 Hottest Cold-Weather Photo Spots !January is here again.
Stark landscapes- great places for using black and white. Locations that have architecture can really benefit as buildings are not hidden behind lush trees and foliage.
Birds gather and migrate to warmer places.

If you have been following the news- California has been getting a bit of rain which can mean snow

Yosemite National Park is a beautiful treasure in any season but to me especially stunning it is quiet season.. winter- fewer visitors and more places to take in the parks majesty and wonder.
Besides the waterfalls, and traditional valley views check out the parks schedule of daily nature walks, photography classes and more!
https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/yg17-1.pdf

Plan your sunrise and sunset locations- many of the best photos take a little planning- be in a spot ready and waiting. A great guide to pick up is “The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite” by Michael Frye- pick up a copy before you go- Michael gives you details on locations=times and more-an excellent guide!

Give yourself time to wander- explore- you need to find your own unique place or image that inspires you- once you have collected your postcard image or that wall hanger just have fun or take some time to explore! And again it is always best to travel with a buddy- if you venture off alone be sure to let someone even if it is the front desk know where you are going and when to expect you back… many people are lost or disoriented and winter can descend quickly. Be smart- take a friend someone who enjoys similar activities and will allow you equal space to create and explore. yose_2011_bw

You don’t need to be an avid outdoorsman to take in the beauty or capture some great images here in the Park but you do need to be prepared.
Pack warm clothing- layers are best. A cold photographer is not one that is a happy or focused photographer. Look into fingerless gloves so you can still operate your camera. Warm socks- extremities- fingers-feet are most vulnerable to cold temperatures. Consider renting some snowshoes so you can hike a bit further into meadows or areas that off the trails a bit for unique winter perspectives or new takes on sights that have been photographed many many times.

Location and Camera tips:
Airport: Fresno http://www.flyfresno.com
Airlines that service Fresno- United, American, Delta and Alaska Airlines
Bus=public transport from Fresno – there may be service but you probably want to check first- Yarts is one. http://yarts.com/
Rental cars are available at Fresno Airport.
Lodging- highly recommend staying in the park to get the most out of your visit and increase your photography opportunities!
Yosemite Valley Lodge= originally known as Lodge At the Falls is my first choice for its proximity to the lower falls and valley floor, rooms are comfortable and you have dining options on site as well. Weekends will book quickly so plan ahead or be able to visit during the week.
https://www.nationalparkreservations.com/lodge/yosemite-lodge-at-the-falls/
Camera tips- extra batteries are necessary if out in cold weather.
Bring a back-up set-up. Tripod is really a good idea to get the sharpest images possible. A camera that is resistant to wet weather or be able to wrap your camera well.
Lens suggestions- this is really up to you as an artist but Yosemite is really about Big Landscapes- so a good solid wide angle lens for those postcard images, a macro for interesting and unique tight images that you may find right after a fresh snow or heading out on a trail. You may also want to do some night photography- so again a prime wide angle lens might be a good choice for long exposures for star trails.

Most of all- go explore- and have fun!! Your eye is unique and what you create will be special to you!
Explore and create!
Thanks for reading my blog and may you have an incredible 2017!

April
YourPhotoTravelGuide
www.fallphototrips.comyosemitewinter

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History in New England- Photo Day trips

New England is full of HISTORY! Historic spots can offer a wealth of opportunities for photography, architecture, events, and even just wonderful landscapes filled with old growth trees or at least properties that are being cared for continually which makes for great subjects for your photographs.

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Things to check before adding Historic spots to your photography stops is find out
1, Indoor photography yes or no.
2. Tripod or handheld only.
3. Location accessible such as the ground open after hours- some locations you can’t really lock after hours- so you can at least photograph outdoors at sunrise and sunset
4. Your use of the photos-many places are ok with photos for personal use- but selling them is where you may need permission etc.

Links:
http://www.historicnewengland.org
http://historicsites.vermont.gov/

Historic Sites

https://www.nps.gov/state/me/index.htm
http://www.nhstateparks.com/historicsites.html
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5 Places to Treat Your Father in New England

Fathers Day-that day when we honor our Fathers, with something more than another tie, or pack of golf balls.

New England has some great places to celebrate Fathers Day weekend-either for a day, a weekend or maybe a full week!MirrorLake2015

1.How about Lake Winnipeasaukee in New Hampshire-get a cabin by the lake, enjoy some time fishing, boating or just sitting and chatting with a cold drink!

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2.Catch the First Sunrise in the United States on top of Cadillac Mountain in Acacia National Park in Maine.

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3. Seek out a great meal- or again make a round of best burger places-such as Worthy Kitchen in Woodstock, Vermont.

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4. Ice cream at the Ben and Jerry’s Factory tour in Waterbury Vermont

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5. Plan a trip to the White Mountains for Hiking-walking and Photography! Spend time with your Father!

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The Maine Objective- A Dream-A Lottery?

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The Maine Objective… Being a Dreamer somehow and as of this morning I am not sure why I found this or how I found it. The Contest fell into my path, but now it caused my to spend a few sleepless nights considering it…

My Maine Objective- to share the home and Maine with others- no, not good enough, how would my essay stand out among 4200 others. I am a hard-worker but in the end not a great business person. I currently take my vacations every fall and return to Maine-chasing sunrise and those magical places that maybe no one else has captured and shared with a paintbrush or a camera click. The way the light might be hitting the lighthouse, or the storm rolling in across the Kennebec river that divided Bath.

With 6000 lakes and ponds, 3478 miles of coastline not including the islands, 3,166 off shore islands, and 67 lighthouses it would take a lifetime and many seasons to even begin to see it all! But here Bath, Maine sits- right in the middle really of the whole of Maine-at least along the Ocean- 3 hours to Bar Harbor, and Acacia National Park, a few hours north of Portsmouth NH which I basically considered the starting point to any of my Maine trips.

What would one do with a 6000 square foot home- I eagerly thought great a place for those I like to go photographing with, a place for family to visit, or others… but then I thought… need.. I didn’t need the house-in fact did anyone “need” a house that large? Here I was trying to simplify-get rid of additional bills and worries- taking on a 6000 square foot home seemed maybe a step in the opposite direction.

But the house and the dream has kept me awake.
Maine is an incredible place to go-summers swell with tourists, but come October the coves go silent, the morning fog sits and slowly burns off sometimes revealing a storybook cove dotted with boats and trees painted with the brushstrokes of fall, reds, oranges, yellows!

So here’s the Link https://winamainehouse.com/
Good luck in writing a 300 word essay to score a lifelong dream of living in Maine, or in anyplace painted with the magical light that has drawn Artists for years!
I just don’t think I am that lucky!

The deadline is today so good luck with YOUR MAINE OBJECTIVE!
https://winamainehouse.com/

My name is April and I am an artist who enjoys sharing the beauty of nature in these 50 states, including the Fall Colors in Maine- if you want to join one of my trips/tours check out the details at www.fallphototrips.com

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10 Tips for Leaf Peepers!

IMG_9210wayside
Somewhere I missed March, April and May… sorry my calendar has passed before my eyes! Actually I have been busy doing a combination of traveling and writing itineraries!

LEAF PEEPERS- that fun somewhat obnoxious group of people who descend on destinations like Vermont, Massachusetts and in general New England in a swarm come late September and last until sometime around the end of October.

Like the “Ugly American Tourist” we don’t want to be labeled as “that or Those darn Leaf Peepers” so it is important to follow a few tips!

1. DO get up EARLY for best light and to make use of the limited light in New England this time of year! Some of my best photos have been made in early morning light! www.sunrisesunset.com can give you exact times and if you look-most days in October you have about 12 hours of good light-give or take. Cloudy days or rainy days will feel like they get darker more quickly.

2. DON’T stop in the middle of a busy traveled road just for your Photograph. Choose your spot to park carefully and with consideration for other travelers or private owners. Don’t walk into chicken pens-barns private property!

3. DO stop. Don’t rush past that pumpkin stand or country fair-stop and get out-wonderful home-baked goodies await as well as meeting the locals!

4. DON’T be LOUD-observe a quiet voice when walking in the woods or standing by a wonderful waterfall- a bit of quiet is important in observing nature and you may spot that elusive moose with a bit of quiet!

5. Do ask locals where to go- stay in a locally owned bed/breakfast, small hotel and get great tips on restaurants or where that beautiful trail is! Locals WANT to share the best places and are thrilled when you ask!

6. Don’t forget to pack proper clothes like any good traveler- Fall weather is a mix of sunny 70+ days and can be a chilly bite of frosty 32 degree mornings-bring a hat both for sun or cold. Rain-gear, boots, be prepared and you will find your days much more enjoyable!

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7. DO bring a camera with plenty of space even if you have been before I always see new things to photograph!

8. Don’t overplan. Leave room for spontaneity, you won’t be driving at 60mph (please no), and there is more to see than you will have time for- you can always return the following Fall! There is often much to see in a small area, historic sights, trails, and you need some time to just sit and enjoy. You need time to walk that trail that leads to a waterfall.

9. Do plan ahead for special excursions- boat rides or anything involving tickets especially on fall weekends! New England gets approximately 5 millions visitors in the fall from all over the world and this number may not account for residents who also get out on the weekends to enjoy the colors, fall foliage cruises, and train rides!

10. Don’t be that “Ugly Leaf Peeper!” Wave when driving down country roads, be friendly at the country stores, SMILE, be courteous especially to the locals who may just be trying to get to work in the morning. Pull over and let faster moving vehicles pass you, let the locals get in and out of the convenience stores quickly- be patient and most of all just enjoy!! You aren’t working you are enjoying the beauty of fall in New England! NE_LAKE11

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February -Photographers Calendar – Blossom Trail California

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California is a wonderful destination for February. While many parts of the United States are still receiving snow, cold and grey skies California has warm days and opportunities for landscapes abound.
Death Valley is bearable- and this year with some rains there is what is being called an EPIC bloom of wildflowers.
Yosemite National Park experience a unique phenomena when the setting sun can create a glow appearing like FIRE against Horsetail Waterfall in the Valley. Be prepared to get there hours before sunset to get a spot and hold it.
In the mid section of the state where acres of Fruits and nuts grow.. the rows of trees all briefly bloom- pale pinks, bright pinks and white blooms, meanwhile the surrounding hills can be carpeted in bright greens and other wildflowers.

To find the Trees- take Highway 99 and exit when you start to see the trees- follow any of these roads many follow a grid. Be aware many the groves of trees are private property. Stay near the road or obtain permission before you just start trampling into the trees.
Fresno California is a good place if you need to stay over=night or on the Southern end you have Bakersfield. In between there are some newer hotels along Highway 99 check with your local AAA office, Holiday Inn, Best Western or Super 8 for locations.

The blossoms are beautiful and getting close to afford some wonderful images.

Places you may want to look for : The Blossom Cafe (closes by 2pm I believe but serves homemade pie!)
Simonian Farms –
the giant Teapot at Kingsburg California

Tips:
Fixed lens.
50mm or portrait lens for some wonderful portraits
16mm, 18mm or 24mm for some wider angle images to include various compositions of the trees-trunks or rolling hills you may encounter on your way.
Filters such as a polarizer may be helpful to adding some dimension and depth to a washed sky or one that has only a hint of clouds.
Most of all take some snacks and water- there are a few small towns here and there but you may get caught up in the chase of the colors,fruit stands, nuts for sale and honey tastings along the way!

Thank you for reading my Photography blog.
My name is April and I enjoy photography, eating local foods and the thrill of driving down backroads in search of new vistas! Hope you will join me on my next Road Trip, day trip or longer adventure.

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January- Photographers Calendar- Birds

SaltonSea_Birds5Salton_BirdSaltonSea-BIRDS_4Salton_Bird2

January is stark. Basic colors of black, greys and whites in many places. The Northern Hemisphere is resting- and gone dormant- so often we sit and stare wondering where to take ourselves and our cameras.

January brings me to mind also of poets such as Emily Dickinson sitting at her desk staring at a cold quiet landscape.
January is a time for photographers to embrace these stark landscapes, chase winterscapes, go to the deserts which often prove to be too hot in a few months and look to the skies. Birds- there are many places where birds migrate to – more moderate places such as California so we watch and see many many birds sharing open water-open fields and sticking together.

There are many places that attract many birds such as Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico, the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, Humboldt Bay California, San Diego Bay and many other spots- check online or visit www.fws.gov for complete listing of sites near you.

Tips for photographing BIRDS:
You will need a long lens- like a 300mm or greater depending on your budget, what feels comfortable to hand hold and the larger the lens the closer you will be able to zoom in and capture more details of the birds. tur
If you use a tripod when photographing birds which tend to move a lot you will want a tripod with a gimbal head to be able to quickly move your camera, refocus and lock in on the bird.
Personally I prefer hand-holding for more mobility.
Patience- I think getting a good solid bird photo you need to stay focused and patient to wait- wait for the birds, and wait to compose the shot you really want to take.
Image stabilized lens- if you will be handholding as I sure some of you will it is important to turn the stabilizer function on to increase getting a strong solid image.
Like any other subject you can photograph many birds and create landscape images, or create portraits with single birds- try to get in as close as possible or you feel comfortable and capture the “expression” of that bird.
Watch your edges- be aware to give extra space around the image you want. Make sure there isn’t an odd object such as a stick going the wrong direction in your photos, heads, hands or binoculars you didn’t want in your image.
Compose with elements such as tree branches, telephone lines or early morning sunrise.
Remember it is not the CAMERA that creates the image- even a cell phone can capture a great image.. it is being at the right place, right time and strong composition skills!

For more information on WHERE to capture Bird Images- try the Audubon Society, follow a local birding group, and check the internet.
I will close with a few lines from Emily Dickinson who wrote…
“Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm. I’ve heard it in the chilliest land And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity, It…
Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/author/3956-Emily_Dickinson/tag/bird

January is a time of hope- new ideas- new creative challenges!
My name is April and I am an avid photographer and traveler. I enjoy sharing the beauty of the world around us and leading others to explore their creative spirit!
I hope you will get out and capture the magnificent world around us and take some photographs to remember and treasure!

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United States-Destinations to Photograph in 2016

Yosemite_2011_Family

Happy New Year 2016!
The Lists are out.. Where to go in 2016 by CNN, The Guardian, Budget Travel Magazine, Travel and Leisure Magazine.. and more.. The National Park System turns 100 and appeared on each list.
The 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade also featured the National Park System and Ken Burns as Grand Marshall who did an entire documentary in 2009 on the Parks System.
If you haven’t visited the parks… what are you waiting for…
Living in California I will feature Yosemite National Park today-

Yosemite National Park is a gem and located here in California.

Tips for visiting and photographing Yosemite National Park-
The park has all kinds of lodging-from tents to the Grand old Ahwahnee Hotel which opened in 1927 and became a model of “parkitecture” that tries to integrate indoor and outdoor space.
Lodging can fill up fast- weekdays are best to try and snag a room and off seasons such as winter. Or you can always find rooms just outside the park generally but be prepared for the long drive in and out of the park.

Yosemite holds claim to the Tallest Waterfall in North America but being fed by snowmelt the waterfall can literally almost disappear in times of drought- as was the case last summer when I visited.

For the best experience I would plan to book early, stay in the park so you can experience first light and last light. Visit in different seasons- the Park does experience changes in its plants, colors and look with each changing season.
Free Photo walks are organized thru the Ansel Adams Gallery. Check their website to preplan-walks are limited in participation size.
Travel with a buddy- be it a friend or fellow photographer- the park is large and it is an outdoor space with animals etc…
Check weather conditions- it can be sunny in Los Angeles and a winter storm can be howling in the park- dress appropriately.

For more information on planning your visit to Yosemite National Park-check the official National Park Website
http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm

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What to SEE and Photograph in 2016

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January 1, 2016 !
Good Morning! Being on the West Coast for most of you it is mid afternoon! But here goes- I am determined to get a blog post done today-now before today becomes tomorrow!

Each year dawns with a Fresh Start- a clean slate and an open palette for creatives.. what shall I say thru my writing, my Art, or not say.. or share.. or SEE !
So as I contemplate what I want to SEE in 2016 … most of you probably are out doing just that SEEING !

Being a photographer to me is all about SEEING and to see you need to DO … it is an action- get out there!
And sometimes to SEE we must imagine… dream a little ..no 2 people I find SEE the same way-try it- go out somewhere new and take some photos- each of you will probably SEE in a bit different way. Of course we will all capture the establishing image.. here I am say at the top of the mountain but after a few moments- some of you will focus on the way the light is hitting the blades of grass wet with dew.. some will zoom in on the blaze of colors painting the sky, while someone else may seem an incredible silhouette created by a gnarled old tree. It is a constant fascination to not only SEE and capture new places but surround myself with others who SEE and share in the excitement of discovery!

Was I not going to share a PLACE TO PHOTOGRAPH… well I am and speaking of SUNRISE ..if you want to capture the FIRST SUNRISE (most of the time) to occur in the Continental United States- you need to find yourself at the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine!

SUNRISE is a fresh start to each DAY and that light that breaks changes and is different each morning- angle of the sun- weather.. and of course where you are ! But how exciting and inspiring to be one of the first to see the Sunrise (Oct thru March approx) in the United States!

So add ACADIA NATIONAL PARK to your Places to SEE and experience SUNRISE… and hope it is not clouded or fogged in 🙂

My name is April- and I have a passion for SEEING new places and experiencing all that is around us- trees, water, sky and sharing it… if you want to join me check out my longer trips on FallPhotoTrips.com or for day trips and shorter explorations check out Meetup.com/tours4women

Happy 2016!

PS. this image was photographed in Acadia National Park in October with my Cell Phone!

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