Winter Photography in the Italian Dolomites

The Dolomites in the winter is absolutely beautiful. The snow is deep, and the mountains are very photogenic. I didn't get to spend too much time photographing here like I wanted to though. That's because I came here without a car (big mistake). Getting around the Dolomites without a car is nearly impossible. There are buses, but if you're there to take photographs during sunrise and sunset – you're pretty much out of luck. Buses stop running once the sun goes down, and if you're like me traveling on a budget without winter camping gear, staying in these fancy ski towns is pretty expensive. 

I opted to couch surf, and since I was here right around Christmas time the only place I found was an hour outside of the Dolomites. So I got to spend only one day taking photos of one location in Val Gardena, and that was the Seceda Ridgeline. BUT, since I had to catch the last bus and take the cable car down to the city I wasn't able to photograph that spot during the sunset liked I hoped for. It also cost me $50 to ride the cable car up and back down. 

For me, it would have been a much better experience spending time in the Dolomites if I had a car. I wasn't able to explore at all. Being dependent on the trains and buses in this region was a big disappointment. I was alone traveling here – so I wasn't able to afford renting a car either. Hopefully you'll be here traveling with friends and can split the cost of renting a car.

The other downfall of being here in the winter is the lack of open refuges. In the Spring, Summer and early Autumn there are refuges that you can stay in. You can even trek refuge to refuge passing by the best photography locations. This would allow a better photography experience since you can be out in good locations during sunrise and sunsets.

Photography in Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt, Austria is an iconic place for photography. This quaint town on the lake surrounded by the Austrian Alps is one of the world's most beautiful. Visiting in the winter time was a magical experience. Snow fell continuously coating the cottage roofs with snow, blanketing the cobblestone streets and covering the evergreen trees. I was oohing and awing as I walked through the city and photographed its perfectly photogenic layout and scenery.

Getting to Hallstatt was a great experience as well. Take a train that winds through the mountains and at the very end of the tracks you'll take a ferry across the lake. Make sure you get a clear window seat in the train.

It was remarkable being able to spend a few nights here (I stayed in an AirBnB). Not only is the town beautiful, but the area has tons of waterfalls, creaks, hiking trails, viewpoints and so much more. I was able to hike high up into the mountains through the snow – I didn't have any, but I would definitely recommend snow shoes if you're looking to take big hikes. The town was once known for its salt mines, so there are some great side excursions you could take to see some of the salt caves.

I spent a lot of time walking around and taking photographs from a few of the iconic locations (they're easy to find). Walking around the town is very easy because it is so small. There's just a few restaurants and one grocery store in the area so be prepared if you visit in the slow season – the restaurants might be closed. It might be smart to bring some food along to get you through the first day in case the restaurants are closed the day you get there.

The snow was wet and soggy near the lake, but as I hiked up in elevation the wet snow turned to powder. It was a blast hiking through the forest, next to the rushing creak and seeing snow pile higher and higher throughout the days. I spent some time photographing the creak with some small waterfalls, but there are also very large waterfalls to see as well (they're almost too tall to photograph well). 

I definitely love Hallstatt, and this is one place I'd love to come back to in the Spring or Summer with friends or family. There's so much to do, from hiking, kayaking and exploring that I wasn't able to do in the snow that I'd love to do in the fair weather. But hey, sometimes you gotta go places when you can. Happy traveling!

A Couple Days Photographing in Nuremberg, Germany

Wow, this town is so cool! With gorgeous bridges, great viewpoints and incredible old buildings, Nuremberg is definitely a great town to stop in.

I spent two nights in Nuremberg and it was a blast. The largest Christmas market in Europe was happening so the city was bustling in the City Center. Gluwhein, sausages and other traditional German happenings were everywhere, and it was great indulging in the culture for a couples days here. Nuremberg is a small, walkable town but it also has some great pubs, nice restaurants and plenty of site seeing available. 

I spent a lot of time walking around the time admiring it's traditional architecture. At the Nuremberg castle you can catch a full view of the lovely city and I definitely recommend heading there for the sunrise. 


A Photography Day Trip to Füssen, Germany and Neuschwanstein Castle

In the German Alps sits this fairytale town called Füssen. The history of these castles are quite remarkable, and Disney based its castle actually off of Neuschwanstein. So it was really cool being able to take the tours and see these beautiful structures with incredible history. I won't get into anymore history here, but if you'd like to learn about Mad King Ludwig II then you can Google him or go to the castles too.

I traveled Europe without a car. Unfortunately that made it extremely difficult to get to photography locations at sunrise and sunset. I relied on bus and trains for transit so I was at the mercy of those schedules. Füssen deserved more than just a day trip. If you get the chance to go here I recommend being at the lake for sunrise. You can watch the early morning light shine on the mountains in the distance with the reflection in the lake. I wasn't able to get there that early but if I ever have the chance to go back I definitely will make a point of that.

There are also some really great hiking trails. Since I wasn't able to bring along a lot of my gear, I stuck to the pathways rather than the hikes. One path lead to a bridge with an incredible view of Neuschwanstein. I was blessed with a fresh layer of snow turning this gorgeous scene into a winter wonderland. 


Photography in the Kansas Prairies

The open Kansas landscape is extraordinarily beautiful. It doesn't get the credit it deserves. With it's vast prairies and endless sky, it's a true wonder to photograph. The following is a collection of images I photographed in the late Summer and the Autumn.

In the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in central Kansas I observed a large herd of bison. It's such a marvel watching these giant animals in their natural habitat. I love photographing these bison - their large horns and thick fur are so cool. They look on curiously, and it's important to keep your distance and only photograph them with a very long lens. I used a 70-200 with a 2x adapter that extended the reach of my telephoto lens to 140-400.

Many of these images were taken in the Flint Hills. The rolling landscape with the low sun is gorgeous. It's easy to find photographic compositions in the Flint Hills and it's one of my favorite places to photograph. Others were photographed in Douglas County where I live. I'm lucky enough to be able to hop outside my back door, head into the prairies and photograph the sunrises and sunsets.

The first five images were taken with my medium format film camera, a Bronica SQ, with Ektar 100 film. The rest of the images were taken with my 5d MkIII with various L series lenses. 

There are often high winds in the Flint Hills. The images you will see with the blurry grasses are long exposures. I do this to show the impact of the wind. I love how it resembles water against a rocks on a seashore.

I was also fortunate enough this year to catch a few storms. I'm by no means a storm chase – I'm more of a fair weather person. That's why you don't find too many astro images in my portfolio. It's just too cold at night and I'd rather be sleeping anyway. At the very  end of this set you'll see a few storm images I captured this summer.