Sunflower Fields Forever

I rarely talk about picture specifications. But on this occasion, through some stroke of luck, a difficult image turned out.

These sprawling sunflower fields were shot from the window of a moving train, somewhere in Switzerland. Camera settings were ISO 3200, 1/800 of a second at f 4.0.

Even though the picture isn’t fully sharp, it would have been nearly impossible to get a better result. I could have slowed my shutter speed to get a smaller aperture, giving more sharpness, but with motion I think a fast shutter speed is more important. ISO 3200 is already pretty high, so I don’t think much would be gained by going to 6400 and getting more noise.

A good image captures a feeling, and to me this represents a very fleeting moment of extraordinary beauty.

RainierMoss

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Train to St. Galen

Above: Beautiful vineyards and lake landscape shot through a train window in Switzerland. When photographing from any moving object a fast shutter speed is the number one factor to a good image. This was shot at 1/800 of a second, f 5.6, ISO 400.

After taking the cable car to the top of Europe on the Aiguille du Midi it was time to change countries. A brief trip through Switzerland was next on the list.

In my post Train Station Stretch I talked about the pleasures of riding on trains. Fantastic, constantly changing scenery and a intimate view of locals living day-to-day often made getting from A to B very enjoyable. This train was en route to St. Galen, northern Switzerland.

Yukon Quest day one

Above: Straight down view from the parking garage during the start of the 2014 Yukon Quest international sled dog race.

The Yukon Quest kicked off February 1, a world famous 1,000 mile sled dog race between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon.  Dog teams pull sleds and handlers along the namesake Yukon River, up and down summits and through treacherous trails in some of the worst weather imaginable. A true endeavor for dog and man alike.

The race alternates start and finish between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, this year was Fairbanks. The Chena River in downtown Fairbanks is the usual starting spot, but due to unseasonably warm temperatures the ice was deemed unstable and the race started on 2nd Avenue. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people lined the street to send off racers.

I wasn’t on assignment so I casually photographed the race from the top of the parking garage. I love the chance to combine rugged dog mushing with a city scape – particularly from a high perspective. 

Town of Adventure – Chamonix, France

Above: View of flower boxes, mountains and the river that runs through the town of Chamonix, France, July 20, 2013. 

Following the fantastic bike ride through Burgundy wine country, the adventure town of Chamonix, France, only 190 miles south-east, was a logical next stop. Surrounded by mountain fortresses, Chamonix is situated right on the border with Italy and Switzerland. It is perhaps the most accessible and popular gateway to explore the vast Alps.

Under foot a cold, silty, glacial-fed river bisects town. Overhead clouds veil and expose mountain peaks, gondolas whisk explorers in a web-like maze, climbers tackle treacherous peaks, and dozens of paragliders waft down and around in strong wind-currents.

The town itself is a resort town – crowded, lots of shopping, and lots of people tromping around in mountaineering gear. Needless to say the reason for visiting was not to explore then town – but the surroundings.  Those surroundings will be featured in future posts – particularly the Aiguille du Midi, an intense, two-gondola trip that ascends sheer-rock faces to an astounding 12,605 ft. (3,842 m,) in roughly 40 minutes.

Paragliders pepper the sky, cable-car wires hardly be seen stretching from one mountain peak to the other.

Paragliders pepper the sky, cable-car wires can hardly be seen stretching from one mountain peak to the other.

Being pulled on a bicycle through the main square in Chamonix, mountain peaks projecting in the background.

Being pulled on a bicycle through the main square in Chamonix, mountain peaks projecting in the background.

Fantastic Weather, Fun Skiing in Fairbanks.

Above: Snow-covered spruce trees lead to a hill north of Fairbanks briefly blanketed by the golden glow of sunrise.

While much of North America is recovering from the recent polar vortex, Fairbanks has been experience lovely weather. Temperatures were above zero degrees fahrenheit for much of December and January, including plenty of balmy days up into the 20-degree range. Not to say we haven’t had cold weather – last weekend was 40-below – but it has felt pretty mild so far.

All that warm weather was ideal for cross-country skiing. Nordic skiing is easily one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors while getting a killer workout.

One of the outings was directed toward a frozen pond (in the summer nothing more then a swamp,) overlooked by a old cabin on the bank. Whispery clouds provided a canvas for the pink and orange sunset to blanket.

An old cabin at sunset just north of Fairbanks Alaska, Jan. 2, 2014

An old cabin at sunset just north of Fairbanks Alaska, Jan. 2, 2014

Closeup of an old cabin.

Closeup of an old cabin.

 

Windows – Piano, Dog, Cat and Abstract

Above: Piano lessons at night through a window in the University of Washington district. Shot on a Kodak Retine IIIc, 35mm film.

Windows, the current weekly photo challenge, can mean many things. Look in or out a window to see opposites. Eyes are windows. A window of time carries heavy implications. Windows are simultaneous openings and reflections. Insight into others and self. 

Throughmylens posted two wonderful windows to look through – one in British Columbia and one in Italy. 

Im excited to feature film frames this post. I have been neglecting film recently, so it’s good stimulant to shoot and process more. Two are film, the abstract black and white and the color frames are film. 

Beautiful Burgundy Bike – Sunset Scenery

Above: A tree silhouetted amongst wheat fields at sunset, Bourgognes region, France. 

It’s time for the third and final installment of the bike through Bourgognes region of france. Part One portrayed some of the many small villages and vast vineyards. Part Two  took a closer look at some of the facades of rural French architecture. Today we’ll take another look at Rochepot Castle, some dramatic scenery during a stunning sunset, and a  few more looks at grape vines. 

Unfortunately my Alaskan blood deals poorly with warm temperatures. The three liters of water I took was insufficient for 22 miles, and by the end I didn’t have any fluids to sweat out. The result was a suspected case of heat shock. All in all nothing too serious, does make me glad we waited to start the bike until afternoon when it was cooling off, rather then heating up in the morning.