These are some of the places I love to photograph…
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA
GTNP is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque parks in the U.S. and that’s why seven years ago I chose to move to Jackson Hole and have it as my backyard. Photographic opportunities both for landscape and wildlife abound year round. Winter offers snow capped peaks and quite often blue skies; during this period I spend more time shooting Black & White landscapes. Early summer sees and abundance of wild flowers, such as Indian Paintbrush, Lupine, Columbine, Fireweed and these always make a great foreground for those Tetons scenic photos. On the wildlife side the most common sights are Bison and Elk, often along or on the road that goes from Jackson to Moran Junction; Bighorn sheep can be spotted on the road behind the Elk Refuge toward Curtis Canyon. Coyotes and Moose are other common animals and grizzly bears are often observed near the Jackson Lake Lodge. On a very lucky day you could even see wolves. The Fall brings an amazing variety of warm tones with the aspen turning red, orange and yellow and everyone’s favorite spot is the Oxbow Bend. Rent a canoe or kayak ( www.snakeriverkayak.com ) and by the end of the day you might have seen Bold Eagles, Golden Eagles, White Pelicans, Ospreys, Otters, Moose and more.
What to bring: Wide Angle, Telephoto Zoom (the Canon 100-400 L is perfect for wildlife here), and Macro lenses; Tripod; Circular Polarizer filter (an absolute necessity at this altitude and to reduce the glare caused by water and foliage); lots of water (you will get quickly dehydrated). As you will be doing a fair amount of hiking, an accessory I would not leave behind is the Cotton Carrier (see my review).
How to get there: GTNP and the Greater Yellowstone Area are well connected through the Jackson Hole Airport, just 15 min. outside of the town of Jackson, WY. By car, from Salt Lake City take I-15 North to Idaho Falls and take route US-26E to Swan valley, left on ID-31 (even if the signs says go straight for Jackson through the town of Alpine, WY, that road is 20 miles longer but it is the easiest road in winter, definitely take the road through Alpine on snowy days) and in the town of Victor right at the light and over the Teton Pass).
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
Yellowstone can be considered the mother of all national parks for many good reasons. When John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, described the area to his fellow explorers nobody believed him. Jets of hot water spouting from the ground, boiling rivers and such sounded too fanciful to the unsophisticated 19th-century mind. Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, has gone a long way since then. Visited every year by millions of people from all over the world, ranging from grandparents to professional photographers, is a true vacation destination. You won’t find the alpine beauty of the neighboring Grand Teton National Park, but the various basins with their geysers and hot pools, steaming rivers, immense lakes, plentiful of waterfalls and wooded mountains will make for an unforgettable visit and great photo opportunities. Sure, the Old Faithful Geyser is one of the most photographed landmarks in the world, but did you know that only about 2% of all visitors get out of their cars and go for a hike? It gets better: only 2% of that 2% gets to see my favorite places in the park: the very secluded Shoshone Lake geyser basin and the South and Southeast arms of Yellowstone Lake. These can be reached by kayak or canoe, I recommend a minimum of three days. Although winter brings a different kind of beauty to the park, most of it is inaccessible and you will be limited to where everyone goes. July and August are the busiest months, be ready to spend hours stuck in traffic as everyone stops in the middle of the road (please don’t do that) to take photos of rocks, grass, squirrels, chipmunks, bison, elk and occasionally a bear. My favorite months to visit (although you will find me there any time) are May to mid-June, before the summer rush, and September. Backcountry campsites abound, but be aware that you will need to get a backcountry permit from the rangers (free) and the weather changes dramatically: you could be caught in a snowstorm even in August.
What to bring: Wide Angle, Telephoto Zoom, Fisheye (I use it to make unique shots of the most common landmarks), Circular Polarizer filter, Tripod, Binoculars, Cotton Carrier if you plan to hike, and Bear Food (just kidding, DON’T!).
How to get there: Follow instructions above for Grand Teton National Park.
Arches National Park, Utah, USA
Just five minutes outside the lively town of Moab, UT is the main entrance to Arches National Park, a vast expanse of red rock desert dotted with over 2000 sandstone arches. The largest and most popular (also depicted in Utah’s license plate) is the Delicate Arch. Created by million of years of geological activity, you can also find many other interesting stone features, like the Fiery Furnace, so called because of the bright red color it takes at sunset, which make this park a unique place in the world. The park can be visited year round, Winter paints the red rocks with a blanket of white and Summer brings out the warm tones. My favorite times to visit are sunset and night with a full moon. If you plan to hike at night don’t go alone and remember: cell phones don’t work too well in the park.
What to bring: Wide Angle, Medium Range Zoom, Fisheye, Circular Polarizer, Tripod for night photos, Remote Release, Flashlight, lots of Water.
How to get there: Daily flights are available directly into the Canyonlands Field Airport (CNY). From Salt Lake City take I-15 South to US-6 to US 191 until Moab (part of 191 is I-70 East).
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Maine, USA
My first visit to Pemaquid Lighthouse was in 1989 while I worked in a summer camp in Maine, and I immediately fell in love with it. Maine has a beautiful coastline and this location is made even more interesting by the rock formation which, if taken from the right angle, guides the eye straight into the lighthouse. Seagulls are everywhere and can be used to give depth to the image. Often times pools form into the rocks below the lighthouse and if the water is still enough you can plan a reflection of the lighthouse in them.
What to bring: Wide Angle, Medium Range Zoom, Circular Polarizer.
How to get there: From Portland, ME take I-295 North to US-1 North for 25 miles, then US-1-BR and Right on Main Street, then Right on Bristol Road and ahead for about 14 miles.
Isola di San Pietro: ITALY
There are many locations in the Mediterranean Sea that are just postcard perfect, but the small island of San Pietro, off the South West coast of Sardinia, in Italy, is a true jewel. Most of the population is concentrated on the town of Carloforte, the only town on the island, and it’s easily reached by ferries departing from Portovesme and Calasetta, which depart on a hourly basis (cars can be embarked) with a ride lasting 30 to 45 minutes. The lively and colorful town offers a variety of restaurants specializing in local cuisine (mostly based on fish, but with some more exotic recipes from ancient time, like a particular type of couscous called Casca’ ) and unique opportunities for shopping. The photographer will have a blast walking around the town and photographing arches and squares of old architecture while crossing narrow streets called “carrugi.” Just outside the south side of town are the old salt ponds, home to pink flamingos, and a canal that hosts small fishing boats of many colors. This side of the island is mostly sandy, and the beautiful beaches will have waters of green and aquamarine tones. The opposite side of the island (north and west) is rocky, with natural caves that can be reached only by boat (day boat tours are available for reasonable prices and stop in the most picturesque locations) and sheer cliffs. On this side we find the Capo Sandalo Lighthouse, one of my very favorite places to photograph on the island. Sunsets are nothing short of spectacular here as there is nothing but the vast expanse of the sea. You could spend a day here, a month, or a lifetime.
What to bring: Wide Angle, Medium Range Zoom, Telephoto Zoom, Circular Polarizer, Tripod
How to get there: You can fly to Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital, from Rome, Milan or many major cities in Italy and Europe. From Cagliari you can take a bus to Portoscuso and then a ferry to Carloforte. A car is recommended as the bus system on the island is limited. I will soon be offering 10 days photography workshops in Sardinia with 3 days spent on this island.