Tag Archives: Love to travel

Right under my nose

I spent 3 wonderful days last week in Rockport, MA on a little retreat.  Rockport is a small, very old and historic port north of Boston.  Anywhere near the ocean is heaven for me and three days with only myself and my own thoughts was an added treat.  I made lots of images, spent masses of time on a rocky, shallow beach that begs to be explored for hours at low tide, played with images of the bobbing dinghys in the harbor, played with my Lensbaby, but the most satisfying images were made in the last hour I was there.

The tiny cottage where I stayed had a spiral staircase and a string of driftwood pieces hanging along side it.  Just before I was to leave, I noticed some interesting light and all the lines that were being created in that spot.  Packing stopped and I spent more than 30 minutes making images of the lines and light.  Of a week filled with things I love, for some reason this slice of time was extremely gratifying.

Perhaps because I had spent a few days exhaling and relaxing, I was more able to notice and appreciate this little scene of quiet wonder.  But, noticing these small things is what fills our days with delight and gratitude.  It was a reminder to me (because we all need frequent reminding) to stop often and appreciate what is right under my nose.

Lines-1-©GailSHaile Lines-2-©GailSHaile Lines-3-©GailSHaile

Fine art photography of flowers in Yellowstone National Park.

Flowers of Yellowstone 2

Some more Yellowstone flowers today.  Last week I shared some Yellowstone flowers that are thriving in difficult spots.   This collection is just a random collection of  flowers that we encountered during the week we spent in Yellowstone  and Grand Teton National Parks.  As it was early June, there weren’t yet meadows filled with flowers but rather spots of flowers appearing here and there.

As I mentioned last weekI mistakenly thought I could identify all these flowers through the internet when i returned home.   I’ve identified those that I could in the captions.  If you know what any of the unidentified ones are,  let me know in the comments.

Next week’s post with share images where I played with my favorite technique of swooshing the camera to create some impressionistic images in Yellowstone.

Be sure to click onto the images which will open the gallery and bring them up larger. 

Patterns of Yellowstone – More Water

Did you see the water patterns last week?  I told you I couldn’t choose, so here are some more for you to enjoy.

The water flowing out of the hot springs often causes elaborate and unique patterns in the rock and sand as in the first four images.  Some of the colors result from the minerals and thermophiles in the water and others are reflections from the sky.

Strong sunlight striking a mountain stream created the abstract patterns in the final four images. When you first look at the stream, it’s easy to overlook how many colors are actually there.

Do you have a favorite from this group?  Which one? and why?

Wildlife abounds in all forms in Yellowstone.  I’ll share some of those images next time.

Patterns of Yellowstone – Water

My favorite patterns in Yellowstone were those made by water.  In the last couple of posts, I’ve shared images of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, both panoramic images of the grand scenes as well as images of patterns created by the trees of those parks.

I am a water person.  Everything about water fascinates me and being near water connects with something deep in my soul.  Water is found in all forms in the parks from the snow and glaciers that cover the high peaks, to the rushing streams and waterfalls, to the steam rising from the hot springs.

Those hot springs provided some of the most interesting colors and patterns.  Some of the colors were present due to the minerals in the water, others were evidence of thermophiles that thrive in hot environments.   Whatever the source, I was fascinated with the gorgeous colors and patterns I saw.

I had a hard time choosing just a few water patterns, so next time I’ll share a few more.

Can you choose a favorite?

Patterns of Yellowstone – Trees

Patterns and textures are my favorite subjects to photograph. While I can capture the grand scenes, like the panoramics I showed last week, I am much more drawn to those things that are not so obvious.  When you look past the grand scenes, you begin to see details, patterns, and textures that have a  beauty that often goes unnoticed.

Of the almost 3000 images we brought home from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, probably  2/3 of them were of patterns and textures.   Once while concentrating on a particularly intriguing pattern, another park visitor watched me for a while and then asked me, “What do you see?”  When I explained that I was seeing patterns he still seemed unsure of what that meant.

Often, we have to look closer, past the grand scenes, to see the details and patterns within those scenes.  There’s so often many more layers of beauty that are easily missed.

I’ve organized my Yellowstone pattern images in to different groups that I’ll share over the course of the next few weeks.  Today’s patterns are just some of those created by the trees of Yellowstone.  In 1988, fires ravaged 36% of the park and the effects on the forest are still extremely evident 28 years later and create some quite interesting patterns.  Lodepole Pines are the most common tree in the park and often the only kind you can see for miles.  The geyser basins and hot springs have their own very unique effects on the surrounding trees.  The images here are just a sampling of the many tree patterns to be seen in Yellowstone.

Make sure to click on to the images in the gallery so that you can see them larger and read the captions. 


Water patterns were some of my favorite captures in Yellowstone.  Watch for those next time. 


Where in the world? Yellowstone

For the past five months, it’s been a bit like being part of “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”    We’ve been on the road a great deal, at least five different travel destinations in that time with the shortest trip being a week. One of the many good things about that is that I have lots of images to share. 🙂

Our most recent trip was truly 20 years in the making.  We have been talking of going to Yellowstone National Park (YNP) for at least 20 years.  One thing or another always took precedence until we decided not to put it off any longer.  Despite it’s slightly lesser known status but due to it’s proximity to Yellowstone (due south 7 miles) we also added Grand Teton National Park to the itinerary.  We were there a week and felt like we only scratched the surface of these incredible places.  The word “amazing” was uttered hundreds of times throughout the week.

Breathtaking scenery, incredible wildlife in their natural habitat, the largest geyser field in the world, wildflowers galore, endless patterns and textures, water in all it’s forms, and much more ensured that my cameras were in constant use.

Almost 3000 images were captured and I’ve only begun to process them.   My favorite subjects to photograph are the details and the patterns and textures that often go unnoticed inside the larger scenes of life which present themselves to us, especially in places such as Yellowstone and Grand Teton.  Most of what I captured does fall in to that category of the often unnoticed.  But I could not deny the grandeur and majesty of these places and it seemed best to capture that in panoramic images (though, even these fall short of reality).

Unlike the panoramic photos that your phone may take, each of these images is a composite of from 2 to 8 different images merged in Photoshop to create one very large and wide scene, somewhat closer to how we see it with our eyes.  The wider panoramics have used the largest number of images to create them.  A blog is not really the best format to show panoramics, for instance the first image, a scene from the Lamar Valley in the NE part of YNP, is actually 36″ wide.   (Click on the images in the gallery to see them larger.)

This was the perfect place to play with creating panoramic images.  Every turn offered spectacular vistas.  However,  most of what I focused on were the details – the colors, the patterns, the textures.  I’ll share some of those, as well as details from other travels, over the next few weeks.  

Have you done anything recently that’s been on your list for a long time?

Portrait of an Inn

We often stay at country inns and b&b’s when we travel.  We learn so much more about an area that way than we would by staying in a big chain hotel.  For several years I’ve made a habit of photographing the inn where we’ve stayed and creating a “home” portrait like those I’ve been recently sharing with you.

We were traveling recently and stayed at Cooper’s Landing Inn, in Clarksville, VA for a couple of nights. The inn was loaded with the ambiance and charm that only an 1830 Southern home could possess.  I knew it would make a good subject for one of my home portraits.

Straight digital capture often doesn’t portray what our eyes see and our bodies feel in a scene. 

It took a while to decide the best time of day as well as the angle to photograph the inn.  AS we arrived back after a day of exploring, the early evening sun was glancing off the upper windows so I took that opportunity.  That time of day, it can be difficult to capture the true sense of the light with the camera.  Straight digital capture often doesn’t portray what our eyes see and our bodies feel in a scene.  I knew I could bring out those qualities as I was creating the digital painting.  Finding the right angle took a quite a few minutes as well as quite a few bug bites. It’s always a good idea to walk around a bit, change your perspective, trying various angles till you find the best one.  I finally found this angle but didn’t like the lack of surroundings in just one image of the inn.  Finally, I took 4 separate images while panning across the scene, planning to merge them together into the one you see here.  That gives a better sense of the setting of the inn.

Original image used to create Digital Painting of Cooper's Landing, Clarksville, VA.Original image (4 images merged together) used to create Digital Painting of Cooper’s Landing, Clarksville, VA.

A few of the steps in this digital painting:

The first step was to crop the image.  I used the walkway and the light streams as leading lines to draw the eye to the inn.  As it often is with digital images straight from the camera, it was a little flat, so I enhanced the contrast, color, and detail a bit.  I brought out the detail of the chairs and trees in the shadows on the left of the inn as well as some of the details on the porch.  The foliage on the trees also needed some attention to give it more contrast and detail, more life.  The sky was dull as well as blown out in places, which often happens that time of day.  I added in some blue and some clouds to make it more interesting.  the light in the scene didn’t reflect what I saw that evening so I brightened and warmed it up to better express the scene I had been in as well as the warmth and coziness of the inn itself.

Digital Painting?

Many people have asked me to explain digital painting.  The short answer is that it is using tools on the computer to create paintings.  As with traditional painting there are a great many tools and the results depend on the tools used and the person using them.  They are just different tools.  As one of my instructors states, “the magic is not in the brush but in the mind and soul of the artist.”

Instead of moving paint around a canvas, pixels are moved around. Instead of using a paintbrush, a pen and tablet as shown below become the brush.  Within digital painting programs, there are thousands of brush qualities that you can create with the pen. Some digital artists begin with a blank “canvas” others begin with a photograph and work with and add to the information available there.  Because of the prevalence of push button effects for images on phones and such, it is often assumed that digital painting is simply clicking a button but it is much more than that.

 As one of my instructors, Jane Conner-Ziser states, “the magic is not in the brush but in the mind and soul of the artist.”

Wacom Tablet and pen used in digital painting.

Wacom Tablet and pen used in digital painting.

The pen is used instead of a mouse and brush-like strokes are made on the tablet service.

The pen is used instead of a mouse and brush-like strokes are made on the tablet surface to create the strokes in the image.

The final painting of Coopers Landing  reflects the warmth and charm that we experienced during our stay there.

Coopers Landing © GSHaile

Coopers Landing © GSHaile








Christmas Market in Zurich

The Christmas Markets of Europe are legendary.  We spent the better part of November in Zurich, Switzerland with family.  The trip was mostly for the purpose of greeting our second grandson and helping out, all great fun but not the usual tourist activities.  We did, however, take  a few hours one day to stroll around the city and enjoy the Christmas season atmosphere of Zurich and it’s Christmas Market.  I wanted to give you a glimpse of the sensory feast that is Zurich at Christmas time.   (Be sure to also read the captions included with many of the images.)

Many towns in Europe, large and small, have Christmas Markets.  Zurich’s is located in the main train station, though the nearby shopping district along the famous Bahnhofstrasse also takes on the air of a Christmas Market.

Zurich Christmas Season-1

Zurich main train station, Bahnhofstrasse entrance.

The main train station is often teeming with people.  This was a “slow” Monday morning as we tried to avoid the crowds.

Zurich Christmas Season-1

A slow mid-morning on Monday at the Hauptbahnhof in Zurich.

The ubiquitous Mondaine clocks of the Swiss Railway, a smaller version of this clock can be found at every train stop in Zurich.  True to Swiss precision, they self correct every minute.

Zurich Christmas Season-1

The huge clock in the main station in Zurich.

As you turn around from the previous scenes, the Christmas Market fills the other end of the station.  Grüezi” is the Swiss German equivalent of “Hello”.   The huge central Christmas tree is dripping with thousands of Swarovski crystals. 

Zurich Christmas Season-1

All manner of items are on display.  My favorites were the intricately carved wooden decorations and the pop-up cards.

Zurich Christmas Season-1

Zurich Christmas Season-1

The Christmas Market spills over into the outside corridors of the station as well as along the famed Bahnhofstrasse.

Zurich Christmas Season-1

Just a few of the special foods that tempt in the Christmas market.

Zurich Christmas Season-1

In the US , our notion of “swiss cheese” is pitifully limited. This is a very small selection of Swiss cheeses.

Zurich Christmas Season-1

A plain pretzel from Brezelkönig (Pretzel King). You can also get them with butter, with cheese, with meat, and much more. There are pretzel stands on most every corner in Zurich.

Zurich Christmas Season-1

One of the many sources of chocolate. The Swiss chocolate shops are more like jewelry stores. This one even had a guard by the front door.

Zurich Christmas Season-1

Läderach chocolate Santas.

Zurich Christmas Season-1

Roasted Chestnut (Heisse Marroni) stands dot the city beginning in November.

Zurich Christmas Season-1

Christmas cookies are an age old tradition in most European cultures.

Zurich Christmas Season-1

Christmas cookies with intricate “painting” of traditional Swiss farmers.

I found this little pocket for Christmas  solitude and meditation in a corner of a shopping area.

Zurich Christmas Season-1


I hope you enjoyed this tiny glimpse into the Christmas market in Zurich.  It’s always fun to be exposed to traditions that are unique to our own but it also makes me pause to consider what my traditions are.  Take time to savor and appreciate the details of your family’s particular holiday traditions.

Connecticut River Valley Colors

The Connecticut River Valley, specifically Chester, CT,  is where I was born.  It’s where my father’s family lived and farmed for generations.  On a perfectly picturesque day a couple of weeks ago, we met with old friends and enjoyed a steam engine ride along the shores of the Connecticut River, traveling past small towns whose names play a large role in my family story. Part of the trip included disembarking from the train and boarding a riverboat for a cruise along the Connecticut River, offering a wonderfully different perspective than the train.

The fall colors were putting on a show and I took the opportunity to continue my play with long exposures.  Either the camera or the subject and sometimes both, were moving during the exposure to create these impressions of that beautiful day along the Connecticut River.

Have you been able to get out an enjoy the fall colors?  What are the fall colors like in your area?

Connecticut River Valley Colors ©Gail S. Haile

Connecticut River Valley Colors ©Gail S. Haile

Connecticut River Colors 1 ©Gail Haile

Connecticut River Colors 1 ©Gail Haile

Connecticut River Colors 2 ©Gail Haile

Connecticut River Colors 2 ©Gail Haile

Going with the Flow

We’ve all had those times when things work against us.  When we traveled recently to Delaware, even though water scenes are among my favorite subjects, I did not take all my “good” equipment that I normally use to capture those scenes.  There were a total of 19 different family members  gathering that week. I knew that the week was mostly about family so kept it simple and only took my small Canon G-16, a great point and shoot that still allows  a good deal of control with image making.  I also happen to have a waterproof covering for that camera so thought I might get in some play time with that.  I had it so well planned.  🙂

The second or third day in to the week, I went to take a picture and the lens on my camera stuck.  No matter what I did the lens would not open fully.  I determined pretty quickly that I needed to stop trying to get it to work or I could cause further damage.  I was afraid that a grain of sand had made it’s way into the lens mechanism.  I was feeling more than a bit sick. Meanwhile memories were being made so rather than spend time stressing about my camera, I put it away and got back to flying kites and playing in the sand.

The rest of the week, I took just a few images with my phone, definitely not my preferred equipment, but I was just capturing a few moments.  It was a great week with many great memories created.

Our last night at the beach was the best of the week.  It was a perfect evening with gorgeous soft colors to the sky and water.  I admit I was feeling just a bit sad that I didn’t have a camera to capture that softness.  My son-in-law could tell how I was feeling and offered his camera to me.  It’s a great camera and I was quite happy to accept.  Still, normally when I work on images like this, I’ve used a tripod, my Nikon D800 camera, a large lens, a remote shutter and timer, among other things.  Now I had just a camera and one I was not accustomed to at that.  But I was so happy to just play and see what I could make work given what I had.  I took 30 or 40 images playing with 1 and 2 second exposures.  It’s difficult to hand hold a camera for that long of an exposure and not have it just look blurry.  Many of the images were just that, bad blurry images.  With the 3 images below, though, I carefully panned the camera during the exposure, dragging it slowly and steadily across the scene during those 2 seconds.  It seemed, at the time, that this was working but I couldn’t really tell until I received the image files this past week.

Sometimes you have to just go with the flow.  It can be a good exercise in creativity as it forces you to get out of your normal way of doing things and try something new.  I’m glad that I had that experience and pleased that these 3 images match my vision for the scene.  The soft colors and flow capture the mood on the beach that evening.   I will definitely give that technique a try another time.

Beach Flow 1  ©GailHaile

Beach Flow 1 ©GailHaile

Beach Flow 2  ©GailHaile

Beach Flow 2 ©GailHaile

Beach Flow  3  ©GailHaile

Beach Flow 3 ©GailHaile

 When have you had to go with the flow?  Was it a good experience?

PS  My camera was sent in for repair and returned in full working order and it was all under warranty. 🙂

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