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.

Evening from the Sparrow Farm

Evening from the Sparrow Farm


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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.



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My October 2nd Journal post reported my arrival in Vermont for a four day photography workshop.  It was sponsored by Mountain Trail Photo with whom I visited Charleston and the Lowcountry plantations last March (see my April 6th post).   This workshop was under the direction of Joseph Rossbach, an accomplished nature photographer whose work has appeared in a number of national and regional magazines and galleries.  He was an “Energizer Bunny” who kept us moving from pre-dawn to past dusk, providing lots of advice along with his knowledge of locations in which to photograph.  There were eight of us and it was a great experience. 


At my age I was wondering if I should really be skootching down on to slippery rocks in moving streams in order to get a better waterfall angle.  One of our group, however, a lovely older  lady named Eva, an active photographer for some twenty years shamed me with her participation.  In addition, while driving between locations, she was fascinating, a child whose father foresaw the Nazi  tyranny and got the family out in the 30’s and into South Africa.  Then, with the advent of Apartheid, she and her family emigrated to the US in the 60’s and created a life here.


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I arrived a day early and took the opportunity to visit some favorite spots from earlier years.  (Did I refer to my age?  Well, I realized that I was visiting up here before our guide,Joe Rossbach, was born?!?)  Anyhow, here’s a different Weston view.  Everyone (me included) shoots the waterfall behind the Weston Playhouse (and I did too) but here’s a shot of the stream that’s headed for those falls around the distant bend.  I have great memories of the antique show at the Playhouse which was going on while I was there.












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As I have said in this Journal before, one of the values of these workshops is in the drilling in good practices.  All too often it’s grab the camera and shoot a scene.  The workshops provide the time to take time and practice.  The things that I will remember to take the time to do  from Joe’s drilling are: (1) use the mirror-up capability of the camera.  With this the mirror which reflects a scene into the viewfinder is pulled up and stable seconds before you shoot; hence its movement doesn’t induce vibration into the image.  This is particularly important with the slow shutter speeds we were using in the low light levels (the weather could have been a little brighter.)  (2) Use the live view capability of the camera to better frame your image.  It provides a more accurate view of the scene than does the view-finder, and I found that I re-composed several scenes as a result of seeing them in live view rather than just in the view finder.  (3)  Leave your circular polarizer on at all times.  Of course, it helps in reducing glare and reflections but it also makes the colors “pop.”  Yes, it costs you a couple of stops so you’ll have longer exposures but you’d better be shooting on a tripod anyway.


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Here’s a calendar or picture-book farm called Sleepy Hollow.  It’s on Route 12 north of Woodstock.  I discovered this on my own in 2002 and photographed it at that time.  Only later did I learn that it’s an iconic scene for Vermont photographers.












There is a gallery of more images on my gallery web site.  Click here.  Meanwhile, here are some samples:

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Above is the creek which drove the 1882 Kingsley Grist Mill near Clarendon.

To the right is along the shore line of the Chittenden Reservoir at dawn.

Below is a spider web at sunrise with droplets from the low hanging clouds that had been here earlier.  Click on the picture to see a larger version with the drops more visible.

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And, finally, the Chittenden Reservoir at sunrise as the clouds lifted.

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Image 02It’s the first weekend in October and Bergie’s in Vermont, seeing my breath on a cold morning for the first time since early spring.  I’ve been coming up here for about forty years but one forgets how  beautiful a place it is.  Driving yesterday up route 100 was a sensory experience as well as a memory jogger: driving through Londonderry; picking up my winter jug of maple syrup from the Vermont Country Store; passing the Weston Playhouse where the antique show is being held this weekend; being pulled to a stop by yet another small lake with gorgeous reflections of the mountainside foliage.

I’m here with a small group for four days of field trip photography under the leadership of the renowned Joe Rossbach of Mountain Trail Photo.  Should be a great experience.  More later.









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