My last photo trip to Vermont was four years ago. The itch was itchy. I googled Vermont photo tours and serendipitously found Kurt Budliger Photography offering an early October tour in the more northern part of the state. This was appealing as I’ve done plenty of touring down in the Weston-Chester area and below. Budliger’s landscape images have a dreamlike quality so it’s no surprise that he’s part of the Dreamscapes team which includes Ian Plant, Joe Rossbach, and Richard Bernabe, with all of whom I’ve enjoyed previous productive workshops. So, into the saddle and off to the great northland.
I joined eight others at a nice Comfort Inn in the countryside outside of Montpelier, which served as our base. We left early each morning to see the sunrises that absolutely no one else had ever photographed. They would be followed by some early morning scenes before the sun became too harsh. Then back to the inn for lunch, a rest, and afternoon classwork before setting out again for sunsets and twilight photography. The classroom emphasis was on composition ideas and post-processing. I learned things in both categories. Deep sigh: I keep thinking I know what I need to know but along comes someone like Kurt, and suddenly there’s a couple of those “Why didn’t that occur to me?” things.
For me, the above was our best sunrise location (Marshfield Pond). It was still quite gray when we got there and the fog was rolling in from the pond. It was somewhat surreal; my mood was excited but in awe of what I was seeing. I was so moved that I captured some video to better convey the mood. (Please, no comments about watching grass grow; rather, think how you’d be feeling in such a setting.)
Not all of our sunrises were so dramatic but they were at least peaceful, quieting, tranquil. Here the boats await the day ahead on Seyon Pond.
After our sunrise experiences we were guided to other locations to enjoy the scene as the day’s light evolved through the mists. One such spot was Ricker Pond.
I then hiked out on the above peninsula and was rewarded with lots of dewy spider webs. I wish the leaf hadn’t been there or that I had pre-processed by snipping that twig but that’s nature.
Just as we had early morning shoots, so did we have pre-sunset shoots on the way to a sunset location. Among these was Moss Glen Falls on Route 100 north of Granville. I had photographed this with Joe Rossbach in 2009 and had told Kurt that, having been there, I wasn’t keen on returning. But, his workshop so back we went. I was astounded at how large it had become as my four year old memory was of a rather unimpressive scene. Wow! I was glad we had returned to it.
Sunsets were also lovely. They induce mixed reactions. One is the warm power of the scene. Another is the primitive feeling of one’s own mortality: day is ending, darkness comes. This image is of Lake Champlain from Oak Ledge just outside of Burlington. It also brought back memories of piloting our rented houseboat on the lake years ago with my then two pre-teeners taking tricks at the wheel; of late afternoon anchoring and swimming, leaping from the roof of the boat; and cozying in for the night after a Marty Lou dinner.
The glow from a sunset can also result in some powerful non-sky-sun images as in this case. Note the rock alligator emerging at right from the grasses. Careful!
We finished the workshop on a hillside above Peacham, founded in 1776. Here we are in the fog again, waiting for some sign of the valley, and photographing whatever appeared with some promise.
It was here that I bid my new friends and colleagues goodbye. On the way down the hillside, however, I passed the cattle on the farm below, ambling out to pasture in the mists.
It was a splendid workshop, and I brought home some of the best images I’ve done in recent years.
There is a gallery of these and many more images from the workshop. It can be seen by clicking here.