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Archive for the ‘Landscape’ Category

Yesterday I bought a round trip ticket on the Laben Bergbahn, a small mountain cable car in Oberammergau, Germany that took us quickly from 900m to 1684 meters. Some folks, however, bought a one-way ticket up the mountain and used an alternative mode of transportation to come down.

I am not sure if I am courageous or crazy enough to jump off a mountain like that and paraglide to the bottom.

parasailing

paragliding

paragliding

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During most of my travel overseas, I stay at hotels operated by US chains, generally the Marriott. The accommodations are predictable, albeit a bit generic, no matter where I am in the world.

This week in Oberammergau, Germany, I am staying in the Alte Post Hotel, which is almost the antithesis of a hotel chain.  It is old, unique, and charming.

According to information in the hotel, it was initially known as the Lion Inn and was first mentioned in chronicles in 1612. Merchants frequently stopped in as early as the 17th century. In 1851, the first postal station was opened at the inn. In 1864 the inn, minus the postal station was purchased and the new owner renamed it as the Alte Post  (Old Post).

The hotel is a little quirky, but friendly, with lots of wood paneling, as seems to be the style in the region. The first photo below shows the front of the hotel. The second photo shows the view from my room that looks out onto the spectacular mountains.

Alte Post

Alte Post

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Here is a shot of some of the distant mountains that surrounded me on Sunday afternoon as I wandered about in Oberammergau, Germany. From this small Bavarian town, there are impressive mountain views in virtually all directions.

There was already a significant amount of snow on the mountains and we had almost 6 inches of additional snow on Monday. Unlike in the Washington D.C. area where I live, things functioned as normal with this snowfall, including a surprising number of people riding bicycles.

mountain view from Oberammergau

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Normally I plan my photo expeditions so that I arrive after the sun has already risen. After all, if I want to photograph wildlife subjects, I need to have enough light to be able to see them. Recently, however, I have been trying to get there before sunrise in order to capture images of the color in the sky. This is becoming a problem for me, because the gates of the wildlife refuge where I like to explore do not open until 7:00 in the morning and we have almost reached the point in the year where the sun rises even earlier than that.

On Tuesday, I arrived at Occoquan Bay Wildlife Refuge at about 7:05 and the color in the sky was amazing, a beautiful red color tinged the clouds. My view of the most colorful parts of the sky was blocked by trees, so I did my best to frame the sky with those trees. My the time I reached the water, the most saturated colors had disappeared, but in some directions I could still see some glorious pastel colors and I captured the second image. I love the abstract quality of that image, a depiction of nature at its simplest, a series of wonderful shapes and colors.

colorful dawn

colorful dawn

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The sun had risen before I reached the water at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge this past Saturday morning, but there still was some color in the sky that was reflected by the ice along the shoreline, imparting blue and orange tinges to the ice.

In the second shot, I used the wide-angle capabilities of my Canon SX50 superzoom camera to give you an overall feel for the moment. As you can see, the sun was not yet very high in the sky and the clouds helped to direct the sun’s rays directly down onto the distant water, giving it a kind of shimmer. I am now accustomed to carrying both my DSLR and the SX50 to give me greater flexibility in capturing different situations.

winter sunrise

winter sunrise

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The sun was rising as I pulled into Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge early yesterday morning. My view to the east was obstructed, but I did manage to capture this image of the fiery sun through the trees.

It was a fun challenge trying to choose settings for the camera that let me capture both the sun and the shapes of some of the individual trees. In some of my images, the trees became one dark indistinct mass, so I kept making adjustments as quickly as I could, because the sun seemed to be moving amazingly fast.

winter sunrise

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of my faithful viewers, Jet Eliot, commented on a recent posting that she was glad to get some views of the wildlife refuge where I take so many of my photos. (Jet has a wonderful blog that focuses on travel and wildlife adventures that is definitely worth checking out.) The problem is not that I don’t take shots of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, it is simply that I get so excited about posting photos of the wildlife that I forget about the more static shots of the land and water.

Here are a few shot of the refuge from this past Monday that help give you a better idea of the environment in which I am operating. The first image shows you what part of the shoreline at the refuge looks like during low tide. The refuge is located where Occoquan Bay meets the Potomac River and during tidal surges, some of the shoreline paths are underwater. Those surges tend to bring lots of debris onto the shore, including trash, like the beer bottle that you can see in the photo.

The second shot gives you an idea of how close some of the trees are to the shore. After big storms, downed trees often block some of the paths. As you probably noticed, there was a full moon visible that morning as the sun was rising and adding a little color in the sky.

The final image shows one of the streams that runs through the refuge. It is not unusual to see herons or ducks in these streams and at certain times, when I am really lucky, I have managed to spot muskrats, beavers, and otters.

So that is a brief introduction to “my” wildlife refuge. I used to most of my shooting at another nearby location, Huntley Meadows Park, but it became really popular and crowded. I prefer the solitude of this location—I am overjoyed sometimes when I arrive at the refuge and find that my car is the only one in parking lot.

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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