2020 Year In Review

Enjoying a quiet moonlit night in the Snowy Range of Wyoming

This year was unlike any other I have experienced. The first 2.5 months were not so bad and I packed a lot of travel into a very short amount of time. Ending 2019 in Oregon for a couple weeks and being able to see my dad was a blessing. Mid Dec 2019 we were learning of what was happening in China, hoping it would stay there. That wasn’t the case. I arrived back home just after new years and got to spend some time with my family before embarking on a journey to Eastern Europe where I spent 8 days in Tallinn Estonia with a friend. While traveling back home we had a layover in Amsterdam and before getting on our plane we were asked if we had been to China or been in contact with anyone who had been in China. I’ll admit that I kind laughed it off at the time. I mean, modern science/medicine had taken care of all the deadly viruses, right? Wrong!

I was home for a couple days before taking off to Texas with my family to see a concert and visit friends on Feb 8th. Travel was easy, no restrictions and we Uber’ed all over Dallas that day in total freedom before arriving at American Airlines Stadium for a concert that was sold out. 20k people less than a foot apart for 4 hours… It was amazing and one of the best times I had with my family this year. Next up was Bandon, Oregon to teach a 4 days photography workshop on Feb 20th…Still no restrictions. We had great weather and really enjoyed our time on the southern Oregon Coast.. March 6th-9th we took off to Delaware for a little east coast time. No restrictions but there was quite a bit on the news about it… We got home on the 10th and it was only a few days later the world came to a screaming halt……And you know the rest of the story… Well here we are, 2020 is over and 2021 has begun.

I would be lying if I said 2020 was a horrible year for me…it wasn’t. Aside from not being able to host our workshops and not being able to eat out in restaurants, things weren’t all that bad. I work from home since I am self employed, the work I do do doesn’t involve many if any people and I got to spend more time with my family (Wife and daughter). We did have to cancel some travel plans, I have not seen my dad since Feb 2020 and I am really missing the beach.

All this being said, I did get to travel stateside and do quite a bit of photography on a personal level. This is one of the true joys of being a landscape/astro photographer. Since April I have been to Kansas x3, Nebraska x2, Iowa x2, Illinois, Wisconsin and South Dakota. So needless to say, I don’t let the grass grow under my feet.. People always say, “how can you do that?” “I wish I could do that.” Well, here is my secret. I travel alone, I pack my food before I leave and put it in a big cooler, my car gets about 50-60mpg and I sleep in my car 3 nights for each night I stay in a hotel. Trips that are 3 nights or less don’t require a hotel. I travel cheap and keep expenses low. This helps me pass on the great deals to those of you who purchase prints.

So like last year’s blog post I am going to do the same thing this year. I will showcase a couple/few images for each month of the year and talk a little about them. There is no way I could pick 10 or 12 images that would properly tell my yearly story. Without further ado, let’s get to the photography!

January

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 32mm, ISO 64, F/9, 3 seconds

“Monks Alley” AKA St. Catherine’s Passage

Tallinn Estonia – Built over 700 years ago and lined with predominantly 15th-17th century residences. It has a wonderful medieval atmosphere and was last restored in 1995. As I mentioned above, I like to travel alone or with very few people for photography trips. It was only a friend an I on this trip but one of the reason we decided to travel to Estonia in the winter was because of how few people were there. I had seen images from a friend who traveled here the previous year and that was what sparked my interest. The stonework and evening light played well with each other and the lack of people walking down the alley made it pretty easy to capture a great image like this.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 32mm, ISO 31, F/11, 20 min single exposure

“Viru Gates”

If you look up Tallinn Estonia on the internet, I can promise you an image just like this will come up. This might be the most popular structure/view in Tallinn. The Viru gates, entrance into Old Town, were built in the 14th century and the 2 towers you see here are part of the orig structure. The main tower of the gates was built from 1345-1355. Just to my left was one of the most beautiful flower markets I had ever seen. The flowers were bursting with color and they had a little bit of everything to offer us. It’s hard to believe from this image but on the day we were here it was actually quite busy with people. It rained most of the time during our trip but this was a very nice day and I think all the locals came out as well. Why don’t you see anyone in this image, you ask? It’s a 20 min single exposure. In order to make sure none of the people were showing I had to shoot a super long exposure in the middle of the day. I used a 15 stop ND Filter, the lowest ISO on my camera and an F stop of 11 to allow me a long enough exposure that all the people would disappear.

February

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 180mm, ISO 31, F/14, 0.6 seconds

“Splash”

I was so happy to get back to one of my favorite spots in the world. While visiting the beaches near Brookings, Oregon I found this unique overlook that gave way to a view of a secluded beach. You’d have to do some canyoneering to get down there. I used a long lens and shot several images as the waves came up and hit the rocks. This is only one small portion of the beach. I was fortunate enough to capture this wave just at the moment when it hit the rock and exploded. It’s hard to tell from this image but the splash is between 10-15 feet tall.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 35mm, ISO 31, F/10, 25 seconds

“Port Orford Pools”

During my Oregon Coast workshop, one of the evenings we visited the beaches of Port Orford, Oregon. Port Orford has always been a special place for me since the beginning of my travels to the southern Oregon Coast almost 20 years ago. It’s a gorgeous beach with very few people and nice views of the sea stacks. On this particular evening we visited during low tide which helped to create these pools of calm water in the sand. The tide was actually in the process of coming back in but we were able to take advantage of a wonderful sunset while the pools remained calm.

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 200mm, ISO 200, F/3.2, 0.5 seconds

“Fire in the Hole”

Bandon, Oregon is a photographers dream….Shhh…don’t tell anyone… Actually I think the cat is out of the bag now and the dedicated ones are willing to travel to photograph its beauty. I joke about this because years ago it was rare that I would ever see anyone on the beaches of Bandon and now now there are more people. Lucky, the beach is rather large and expansive so you’re never close to people if you don’t want to be. Also, I do most of my work there in the late Fall and Winter so there are even fewer people. The southern Oregon Coast is far enough from any major cities that most of the people who live in those cities use their time to go to closer beaches..

In February the sun set at the right angle to shine its light through this opening in the rocks. The water also pounds its way through the rocks when the tide is coming in. When I saw what was happening I had to get a shot or at least try. This image is the result of knowing my camera, understanding the histogram and being able to use the correct shutter speed to keep the details in the water. Not only was timing crucial, I also had to make sure that I was exposed properly so that I could capture as much data without blowing anything out so I could properly process it when I got back home. A shot like this would not work well as an HDR because of the water moving. Trying to take several exposures to blend later would have been a lot of work too. In the end I decided on shooting it properly with one shot. Exposing for the highlights allowed me to capture all the data I needed to work with. When the water comes through the hole it can totally block out the sun before pushing out like you see here. It was a tricky image to shoot and I welcomed the challenge.

March

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 98mm, ISO 1600, F/2.8, 1 second

“Moon, Venus & the 7 Sisters”

This year was filled with great things to see and photograph in the night skies. With Covid taking over the USA and things shutting down, it was time for me to stay close to home. By that I mean here in Colorado. With the uncertainty of everything going on I stuck very close to home. So close that I actually shot this image from my deck in Littleton, Colorado. When I was done I just went back inside. It was kinda nice but it doesn’t make for a great story and that’s life… I roll with the punches.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 16mm, ISO 8000, F/3.2, 15 seconds, 36 images stacked for Noise Reduction

“Rustic Nights”

I had learned about this barn about a year earlier and I kept looking at it on google maps trying to understand why I hadn’t seen any other images of it. It sits out in the middle of a field, nothing else around it and it faces north. This means that it’s in the perfect location to shoot the Milky Way over it. With a little planning from PhotoPills I was able to nail down a window of about a week that it would be good to go shoot it. I kept an eye on the weather and when I saw a good opening I went for it. Sure enough, middle of the field far far from anything or anyone else and right on time the Milky Way was rising into the perfect position. This was shot in March and I still have not seen any other images of it. I hope this barn sticks around for years to come…It looks like it has some good bones. I am looking forward to shooting it again this year. Jupiter, Mars and Saturn are just to the left of the tip of the barn.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 20mm, ISO 3200, F/2.8, 20 Seconds, 36 images stacked to reduce noise

“Spring Milky Way”

I always get a little giddy when late Winter, early Spring come around and the galactic core of our Milky Way shows itself just before sunrise. Again, I shot this image very close to my home on the first day of Spring at 4:30am. It was bone chilling cold as I was looking for a composition. I don’t generally shoot night stuff so close to my home so I had to doing a little scouting. I came across this fence that was going to have to work. During this time of the year if you don’t already have a place picked out or you’re late getting there, the sun will come up and the milky way will be gone. Again you can see Jupiter, Mars and Saturn on the left side of the scene.

April

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 70mm, ISO 64, F/5.6, 1/200th second

“South Platte Snow”

Colorado seems to get more snow between Feb and May than it does between Nov and Jan. I can work with that. I prefer the snow over clear blue sky days anyway. During these snowstorms the skies are not always great but the snow creates lines and shapes that we can’t see otherwise. Not wanting to sit in the house and not being able to go much of anywhere I decided to head over to the State Park near my home. Never did I realize when I moved to Colorado that I would spend so much time at a State Park. Chatfield State Park is a 2 min drive and an easy “go to” spot when I just need some time outside to shoot. As I was driving around I looked back and this bend in the river caught my eye. I also liked how even in a snowstorm I could still see the warm colors of the bark on the tree on the left.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 95mm, ISO 64, F/7.1, 1/100th second

“Tree in the Fog”

This is another image from Chatifield Lake State Park. We have lived here in Colorado for almost 8 years now and on one hand I can count the times that I have seen fog in Colorado. I’m not sure if it’s just our location, but it doesn’t happen very often. When I entered the park and saw how thick the fog was I got excited. I already had in my head what types of shots I could get and was hoping for. Pre-visualization can be very important when doing photography. If you already know what you’re looking for or hope to achieve, it can make the shooting part of it easier. I was sure hoping to find a single tree like this and I did. The fog didn’t last long and as soon as I finished shooting this it started to burn off. The next image (below) was shot 3 min later.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 68mm, ISO 64, F/7.1, 1/160th second

“Morning Burn”

May

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 105mm, ISO 100, F/6.3, 1/20th second handheld

“Backroads Sunset”

It’s now May, I’ve been in the house and very close to home for 2 months and cabin fever is setting in. I need to get out…I need to explore…I need to scout places i’ve been collecting on Google maps. After careful consideration I decide to take a solo road trip over to Eastern Colorado for the day. Exploring the back country roads and checking out places I had pinned in my maps was just what I needed. Being in the car allows me to think and simply take time for myself. I had just finished scouting this amazing barn and was headed on to another location as I came upon this scene. This road I am on here is probably 8 miles long and loaded with these small hills. The sun was setting and very low on the horizon with the light being lightly filtered through the clouds. I loved what this scene said to me and the feeling it gave me as I was beginning to end the day.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 62mm, ISO 31, F/11, 1/4th second

“Sunset Lightning”

Another trip to North Eastern Colorado to shoot an old schoolhouse turned into a lightning storm and an epic fail on the schoolhouse. After scouting the schoolhouse I decided to drive around a bit more and see what I could find. Right behind me there is an old abandoned home I was checking out when I noticed the lightning striking on the horizon. The home did not offer any decent comps so I moved across the street where I saw this tree. I set up and braved the crazy winds. The sun was behind the clouds but about to set which gave a nice glow on the horizon. I took several shots and ended up liking this one the best as the road lets the viewer travel though the image past the tree towards the lightning.

June

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 28mm, ISO 200, F/4.5, 1/50th second

“Barn With a Sad Face”

In the corner of Southwest Nebraska is a very sad barn. It’s beautiful in my opinion and my goal this evening was to photography the Milky Way over it from the other end. I was able to do that eventually but during sunset the wispy clouds complimented the faded colors of the barn and I noticed that the barn looked sad and I wanted to get a picture of it. This old barn is tucked away down a dirt road behind a bunch of trees and it can not be seen from the main road. Because the homes down this road are abandoned (not lived in) there is not much need for anyone to travel down these roads. My friend does know the owner of this property and was supposed to meet up with me on this particular night but other but ended up not being able to. The barn and old home are something I am looking forward to going back and photographing again when he is with me so we can properly access the property. This image was shot from the public dirt road so no trespassing was being done.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 24mm, ISO 64, F/11, 1/125 second

“Roseman Bridge”

Built in 1873 and spanning 107 ft in length at it’s original location the Roseman Bridge was renovated in 1992 at the cost of $152,515. Featured in the movie, “Bridges of Madison County”. After being quarantined and isolated away from people for a while I decided it was time to go see part of our country I had never seen before… I can’t sit at home for too long or I go stir crazy, it’s just not me. Road trips are my escape. I have a niece who lives in Iowa so my daughter and I loaded up and went to visit. My niece had been quarantined for several weeks, we had been quarantined for several weeks so we felt safe making the 9 hour drive (my car can make it from Denver to Iowa without stopping for gas). While we were there we wanted to do things that would get us outside but not be around people and we decided to do the self guided “Bridges of Madison County” scenic tour. It was great. Iowa is so green and when I tell this to people who have never been there they don’t believe me. Remember I grew up in Oregon and it’s super green there but I have to say, Iowa is just as green if not greener. When the corn is growing you can see green for miles and miles. The day we did the bridges tour it was nice and overcast so the light was even and I was able to get decent textures in the clouds.

July

Nikon D850, Sigma 24mm 1.4, ISO 5000, F/2.5, 8 seconds, 42 images stacked for noise reduction

“Special Guest at Midnight Mass”

After a few months of road trips just to get out of the house to shoot and not really having any kind of a master plan, Comet Neowise shows up. I think I can speak on behalf of most people in the photography community or any community really, that this event was a true joy of 2020. Even people who were staying inside left their homes to see this amazing comet grace our night skies. It was here long enough that I think most people were able to see it and oh what a treat it was. There was so much info about it on the internet that anyone could find it and see it. This event was very exciting to me. After a little planning I knew that the comet would be in this exact location at 10pm on July 23rd. I arrived for sunset only to find lots of clouds. I also knew that based on my weather app on my phone that the clouds would start fading around 9:30pm giving way to generally clear skies from 10pm on. My PinPoint weather app has been the most reliable weather app I have ever used and I trust it. I set up my camera as the clouds started to part and just like clockwork, there was the comet. Neowise flying high in the sky right over this old church on the Eastern Plains of Colorado. I used a small light to illuminate the inside of the church and we photographed the amazing event.

Nikon D850, Sigma 85mm 1.4, ISO 3200, F/2.2, 4 seconds, 70 images stacked for noise reduction

“Neowise over The Citadel”

This is another shot I was able to capture of the comet over The Citadel in Colorado from Loveland Pass. Neowise was appearing just after sunset so the slight glow was still lingering around when the comet appeared.

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 200mm, ISO 8000, F/2.8, 2.5 seconds, 96 images stacked for noise reduction
<p class="has-text-align-center" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><strong>"Neowise"</strong>“Neowise”

I had to get a close up of this amazing visitor. The 2 tails were very impressive to see and capture.

August

Sony A7r3, Sigma 14-24mm at 17mm, ISO 64, F/7.1, 25 seconds – separate shot for the moon to eliminate blurring

“Wild Night On the Plains”

Summer storms on the Eastern Plains – What a night this was to experience. I met up with a couple friends to shoot this old homestead and as luck would have it we ended up shooting a lightning storm just after sunset and then the stars came out later on. Meanwhile, during sunset, we had the pleasure of meeting the owner. He was a really nice guy and he gave us the story on the old home about how his grandparents used to live here. After talking to him for a while I told him I’d be more than happy to get some prints made up for him of the images I had taken over the years. He gave me his address and we said our goodbyes for the evening. I don’t think he really believed me but a few weeks later I went back to his place and found him working outside on his tractor. I told him we had met a few weeks ago and that I had promised him I would bring him some prints. I gave him 10 different 8×12 prints that I had shot of his place and he was super happy. He told me his sister was going to love them because the old place had a lot of special memories for her. We know this old place wont be around much longer so it was very nice that I was able to connect with the owners and give them some images.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 105mm, ISO 64, F/10, 255 seconds

“Sunset Rush Hour”

Colorado skies were filled with smoke this summer and my heart goes out to all of those who lost family members and or properties in the fires. It was really a horrible time compounding on the growing number of Covid cases. This is another image not far from my home which looks west towards the Front Range and Rocky Mountains. I captured this image of a smoke filed sky just after sunset. We had crazy orange skies for many many days this summer and at times it was hard to be outside and breathe. Nature can be brutal and harsh but at the same time it can create some beautiful scenes like this that help to put people at ease.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 14mm, ISO 64, F/9, 1/15th second +1 EV

“Sunset in the High Country”

An old barn under the partially filled smokey skies near Grand Lake, Colorado at sunset. This was just another reason to get out of the house and click some images. I had not been here before and wanted to see this place for myself. I met up with 2 friends and we were graced with gorgeous sun rays coming out of the clouds and some really nice light on the face of the old barn.

September

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 24mm, ISO 5000, F/2.8, 10 seconds, 30 images stacked for noise reduction

“Orion Over Estes Park”

If you know me on a personal level, you know I am always early for everything. Being late is something I just don’t understand at all and don’t have much tolerance for. My wife and I wanted to go see and hear the Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park one day during their rut. We left early enough that when we got there we could hear the elk but not see them. I got out of the car to look around and noticed Orion over the town of Estes Park. The thin layer of clouds was doing a great job of diffusing the stars, making them brighter than usual. I set up my camera to capture this gorgeous scene from Moraine Meadows. Shortly after this image was captured it began to get light out and we could see the elk not far from us.

Sony A7r3, Sigma 14-24mm at 24mm, ISO 64, F/9, 1/40th , -3 EV

“Old Town Sunset”

With the afternoon storms still happening these gorgeous wavy clouds were mostly grey all afternoon until the sun started to set. They changed colors from pinks and blues to oranges and purples. It was probably the most beautiful sunset I saw all year. And just like most days in Colorado, the clouds went away and the stars came out. We had a gorgeous view of the Milky Way over this old store most of the night. We met one of the locals on this night and he told us about some of the shenanigans that went on around town when there were more people living here. Now, this old store sits on a dirt road corner, empty.

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 175mm, ISO 200, F/5.6, 1/60th second

“At the Water’s Edge”

I love Fall and I love how not all the plants and trees change colors at the same time. The color variations are a big part of what make the season so wonderful. My plan at this location was to shoot sunrise with a much wider view. As I was down near the water looking more to my right with a 14mm lens I noticed they way the light was hitting these bushes/small trees and reflecting in the water. I quickly pulled out a longer lens and was able to capture it before it was gone. I had trees behind me that the sun was shining through and in only a manner of minutes the light went behind one of those trees and was gone.

October

Sony A7r3, Sigma 14-24mm at 18mm, ISO 64, F/9, 1/125th second

“Great Filling Station”

After being in Colorado for the last 3 months, it was time, once again, for me to spread my wings and go see some new things. I needed and wanted to see some new places that I had never been to before. Being cautious and aware, I loaded up the car and took off on a road trip from Denver to Madison, WI. The 4 images I share with you from October will all be from this trip. Now I’ll admit that I did have a few places picked out that I planned on stopping at and visiting. My end point was an old Grist Mill in Wisconsin. This image above is one of those totally random finds and the reason I try not to take the main freeways or highways. The backroads are always filled with better scenery. After I had crossed into Illinois and was headed north I passed this little place… I kept driving for a couple miles and usually by this time I would have kept driving but something told me to go back..One thing to note is that I rarely come home the same way I get to a place so I knew that I would not see this place again on this trip. I drove back, parked on the side of the road and started taking images. A guy came out, got in his Jeep and pulled into his driveway like he was getting ready to leave. I asked if this way his place and he said yep it was. I asked him if it was ok to shoot some pictures and he said, “sure, just pull your car down into the driveway so it’s off the road”. I said ok, thanks. He then left and took off somewhere so I stuck around and got some images of the old truck and gas can. This was just a super unique find an I am so glad I went back to shoot it.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 35mm, ISO 31, F/13, 1.6 seconds

“Hyde’s Mill Sunrise”

Located near Madison, Wisconsin this was my end goal for the road trip before turning around and heading home. When I arrived here it was already dark and there were billions of stars in the sky. I was super surprised to see how dark the sky was in this area. It was also fairly cold. The water must come from someplace that warms it because at night in the dark I could see steam coming off the water and it really made the scene kind of murky. I did take a few long exposure shots to make some star trails but nothing that ended up being that exciting. When the sun did start to rise and I noticed the clouds and the fall color that was hanging on I began to get a little excited. I knew it had potential. Had I been there a week or so before, there may have been more leaves on the trees but I liked how the bare trees played into the scene with the old mill. The mill was built in 1850 on a stone dam with a beautiful wooden water wheel. After shooting the sunrise I explored more of the area and began my way back home.

Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 38mm, ISO 64, F/8, 1/2000th second, -4 EV

“Our Lady’s Sunset”

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church aka Wilson Church – This is one of the places I planned to go, and I am glad I did. I spent most of my day here just enjoying the view, sitting in my lawn chair relaxing after being in a car for so long. I like to be patient when I need to be and this was one of those times. While I was sitting here a man came up on a 4 wheeler, he was the grounds keeper and just asked me what I was doing and keeping an eye on the place. I told him I was just here to do some photography and then some night shots when it was dark. He told me that the board of directors was thinking of tearing the place down because of all the recent vandalism that had been happening. He wasn’t sure when it was going to happen but that there had been talks. It wasn’t long after I got home and sure enough there was news about it being demolished in the near future. The cross came down on Jan 5th and based on friends IG post there is a gentleman who is working to save and reuse some of the wood. The pews have been gone for years. If you have anything you want to photograph or visit, go do it. Nothing lasts forever and you sure don’t want any regrets. I am very thankful I was able to photograph this beautiful church before the cross came down and they began the tear down. This gorgeous church was built in 1918, 103 years old…

Sony A7r3, Sigma 14-24mm at 14mm, ISO 100, F/8, 1/5000th second, -4 EV

“Old 55, Your time is Up”

Through photography I have been very fortunate to meet some great people from all over the world both on the business side of photography as well as the personal side. I am very thankful for these friendships and the opportunities they provide. On my way home from my trip I made a stop in Kansas for a few days. A friend of mine had lined up permission for us to do some photography on a private ranch. A very large ranch I should mention. With the help of a side by side 4 wheeler we explored the ranch and some of its offerings. There was old trucks, tractors, stone cellars, and homesteads. Towards the end of the day we arrived at this old 55 Massy-Harris tractor. It sits up on this little hill overlooking the valley below. The sky, still filled with smoke from the wildfires all the way from Colorado were turning this burnt orange color. We knew this was going to be the place for a sunset photo shoot. The rust on the tractor matching the smoke filled skies was a perfect combo. I was particularly drawn to the flat tires. When I close my eyes, I see this tractor in its working condition doing the work that needs to be done to keep the ranch going.

November

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 24mm, ISO 64, F/6.3, 20 seconds

“Little House Under the Stars”

Eastern Colorado, Sunset, Tiny house, Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. In this very very small town we met a young man who was willing to answer our questions about the nearby area and we told him what we would be doing so if he saw any lights not to be alarmed. He said there wont be any problems and told us to have a good night. The beginning of November was when people really started talking about the conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn that was going to take place on Dec 21st. It was fun to watch the 2 planets get closer and closer together as the first day of winter drew closer. After I got home I did some research to see if I could find out any info about this house. I called the assessors office and they were very happy to send over what they had. The house had 2 sales on record and the last one selling for $300 back in the early 90s. Based on the news papers we found inside the house has not been lived in or had anything done to it for many years before that. I have the owners name and address now and hope to send them an image of it in the near future.

7 image pano – Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm at 62mm, ISO 100, F/13, 1/60th second

“Spanish Sunset”

Southern Colorado is still a rather un explored part of the state for me. I took a drive one afternoon looking for old abandoned places and doing some scouting for potential Milky Way shoots. At the end of the day I arrived at this small meadow looking towards the Spanish Peaks. I liked the way the warm light was hitting the lingering fall colors in the trees as it graced the small hills of the meadow. This is a location you may see in a couple months when I return to shoot the Milky Way over these gorgeous peaks.

December

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 14mm, ISO 64, F/10, 1/40th second

“Winter at Monument Rocks”

Last trip to Kansas for the year and what a great trip it was. We got to explore some old abandoned buildings with owner permission, I had the pleasure of meeting some distant cousins of mine that I did not know I had and I got to see snow at Monument Rocks. Monument Rocks is a unique feature in Kansas that comes from when the inland sea split the USA many millions of years ago and this was at the bottom. The Niobrara Chalk is a geologic formation that was deposited roughly 85 million years ago. It’s very fragile and crumbles easily. Harsh Kansas weather is slowly taking it’s toll and deteriorating the formations. Even in the 5 years I have been visiting and photographing them, I have seen the changes.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 19mm, ISO 6400, F.2.8, 13 seconds. 30 images stacked for noise reduction and 28 images of meteors

“Sylvan Grove Meteor Shower”

Before I knew I had relatives in Kansas, my trip to Kansas was planned around the Geminid Meteor shower. I had a few places picked out that would work and this old stone house was one of them. On the night of Dec 13th we braved the frigid cold temps and let our cameras work for a couple hours capturing the shooting stars across the night sky. Each of the meteors you see here were blended by hand in Photoshop in the exact location where they fell. I loved that the late season Milky Way was still visible in this sky and in the right location for this image. This is the first meteor shower I have successfully shot in all the years I have been doing photography. Now that I have a better grasp on it, I plan to do more.

Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm at 14mm, ISO 31, F/14, 1/4th second

“Ice’s Eye”

This is kind of a random, lucky image. I had went over to the lake by our house one morning to photograph the sunrise not really know what kind of condition the water would be in. I knew it was cold but not sure how frozen it was. I was pleasantly surprised to see these unique patterns in the ice. The ice was fairly thick in this spot which allowed me to walk on it and set the camera up for a better shot. I was able to get down really low and use a wide angle lens to create a dramatic foreground while still capturing the colors of the sunrise.

Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 200mm, ISO 64, F/8, 1/800th second, -3 EV

“If It All Falls Down”

The final sunset of 2020…saying goodbye to an incredibly bizarre year. On Google Maps the back part of the house is still attached. I’m not sure when it fell off and at first I was a little upset that it has fallen since my plan was to shoot the setting moon over it the next morning. Then I realized it’s the perfect ending to a year that in so many ways has been unpredictable and full of surprises, what’s wrong with one more. I truly enjoyed this sunset. I enjoyed my time being here, alone in this part of Colorado. I had time to reflect on all that had happened and how thankful I was to be healthy with a loving family and a roof over our heads. Thankful for our friends near and far, thankful for the new connections I made in 2020. Thankful for all of you who take the time out of your day to read my blog, visit me on social media and help me be inspired by the work you do.

Some special thanks to the companies who help support my work and companies I work with

Robus Tripods and Ballheads – Vantage Series 5558 and RTH-1050 Ballhead

Sigma Lenses – currently using 14-24mm, 50mm, 85mm, 70-200mm and 24-105mm

Moab Legion Papers – Juniper Baryta, Entrada Textured, Somerset Museum Rag, Exhibition Luster

Englewood Camera – A great local camera shop and printers in the Denver Area

Nitecore Lights – Too many to list…check them out.

If you wish to view or purchase any of these images or any of my images you can do so a couple ways.

Darren White Photography Website – Contact me directly for best prices or simply use discount code CPJASS for up to $50 off your purchase.

Darren White Photography Instagram – Let’s connect and inspire each other.

Darren White Photography Facebook Page – Daily posts, what’s happening and special offers.

If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact me, I am always happy to answer questions.

Estonia – Jan 2020

Tallinn City Views
Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm Art at 14mm, ISO 200, F/3.5, 1/80th second

In the Fall of 2018 I traveled to Iceland with a friend and we explored the southern part of the island. While we were at one of the waterfalls a young lady asked me if I would take her picture in front of the falls. I took a few of her, we chatted for a little while and then parted ways. Later that evening while back at our house in Iceland I decided to scroll through Instagram to get ideas for our next days shoot. As I was scrolling I saw the image I took of the young lady. I commented on the photo letting her know I was the one who took the image. @Sunshinetravelr and I connected and I began following her travels. Towards the end of Jan 2019 she began posting all these amazing images of this old Medieval town. It had beautiful cobblestone streets, quaint alleyways and side streets as well as an “Old Town”  I asked her where she was and where all the people were.  She told me, “Tallinn, Estonia”. This place was unlike any place I had ever seen before and I knew I had to go see this place for myself.

Tallinn View
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art at 28mm, ISO 31, F/9, 52 seconds

Because she was posting images that did not have any or many people in them I knew this was the same time I would like to go. Low Season when tourism numbers are scarce. I kept searching online and reading more and more about Tallinn and it just kept sounding more and more interesting to me so in June 2019 I asked a friend if he wanted to go with me and we booked our trip for Jan 2020. We ended up going for 8 days and that gave us plenty of time to see all the things we wanted to see. We did a little traveling outside the city as well to some old ruins, waterfalls and we did a day trip to Helsinki Finland.

Tallinn Towers
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art at 52mm, ISO 64, F/11, 15 seconds

The “Old Town” part of Tallinn is an old walled city. Tallinn is the best preserved medieval city in Northern Europe. It boasts Gothic Spires, winding cobblestone streets and amazing architecture. The 13th century city is so well preserved that it became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The City of Tallinn celebrated its 800th year in 2019.  From Wikipedia – Tallinn, first mentioned in 1219, received city rights in 1248, but the earliest human settlements date back 5,000 years. The first recorded claim over the land was laid by Denmark in 1219, after a successful raid of Lyndanisse led by king Valdemar II, followed by a period of alternating Scandinavian and Teutonic rulers. Due to its strategic location, the city became a major trade hub, especially from the 14th to the 16th century, when it grew in importance as part of the Hanseatic League.

Viru Gates
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art at 32mm, ISO 31, F/11, 20 minutes

The Viru Gates were part of the 14th century defense system. The gates are now a historical landmark and are the entrance to one of the busiest streets in Tallinn. You can’t see anyone here in this image even though there were hundreds of people. I used a super long exposure to make the people disappear.

House of Blackheads
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art at 42mm, ISO 31, F/10, 1.6 seconds

“House of Blackheads” – The name doesn’t sound to great but this is really what it is… Tallinn is pretty well known for it’s doors. In fact their doors on their buildings are so old and unique that there are people who make projects out of photographing/painting each one. This is probably the most famous.
The following is from Wikipedia – House of the Brotherhood of Black Heads, in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is a former headquarters of the Brotherhood of Blackheads. Historically this was a professional association of ship owners, merchants and foreigners dating from the 14th century. They were active in Livonia (present-day Estonia and Latvia) but fled to Germany during the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States in 1940. The House of the Blackheads was visited by several Russian Emperors including Peter I, Paul I and Alexander I who also became honorable members the Brotherhood.
The building was acquired by this organization in 1517. In 1597 it was renovated under supervision of the architect Arent Passer. The façade was rebuilt in the style of Renaissance architecture from the Low Countries. The painted doors date from the 1640s. A Maure, a symbol of Saint Maurice, the patron saint of the Brotherhood, appears both carved in wood and sculpted in stone above the door.
The House of the Brotherhood of Black Heads today comprises three separate buildings, and has four halls and several other rooms which are used for a variety of events.[2] The White Hall was built in 1531-32, but was remodelled during reconstruction work between 1909 and 1911.[3] St. Olaf’s Guild Hall, whose interior architecture comes from the early 15th century, was purchased by the Blackheads in 1919 and was remodeled between 1919 and 1922.

Town Square Tree
Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm Art at 24mm, ISO 200, F/8, 1/30th second

Sunset in the Town Square
Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm Art at 17mm, ISO 200, F/8, 1/250th second

The town square is the most popular part of Tallinn. Each year it hosts a massive Christmas market (google it for amazing images). We arrived after Christmas and missed the market but the tree was still up. I’m not sure when the tree is taken down or who is responsible for that task. Being there at the end of January and seeing the tree still up with no lights was a little odd to me. Nonetheless, we enjoyed it just the same. If you look at the small puddle in the street on the top image you will see that that is where I took the 2nd image from. Just getting down lower with a wide angle lens allowed me to capture this beautiful reflection of the sunset. There are many streets that lead to and from the town square so it’s easy to find compelling compositions for photography.

Window to the Past
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art at 35mm, ISO 64, F/13, 1/100th second

Cathedral Towers
Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 85mm, ISO 64, F/6.3, 1/1000th second

On the second to last day of our trip the clouds broke and allowed some nice blue sky to come through. We took full advantage and explored the city with our big cameras. Yes, there were some days we only took our phones because of the rain. On the day we visited Helsinki, Finland it was a downpour so we decided not to worry about lugging the big cameras and only took our phones..Even then, we didn’t take too many images because of the weather.  These views from the Hellemann Tower were sure a fun experience. Again you can see there were just not many people here and we used this to our advantage to take our time with our tripods and set up good shots without having to worry about people getting in our way. It’s a 14th century, 3 story tower that offers amazing views of Tallinn’s medieval defenses.  It was used as a prison and a weapons store. Now it simply attracts tourists and houses art galleries.

Welcome Home
Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm Art at 14mm, ISO 31, F/6.3, 1/25th second

Depending on which way you’re walking, this massive door leads you to or from Short Leg Street.  I have not been able to find any history on this door but my guess would be that this is a newer version of an original that was built in the 15th century. This small walkway along these steps is what connected upper town and lower town hundreds of years ago when tensions were tight between the 2 towns. The rich merchants of the lower town and the nobleman and knights of the upper town both wanted to obtain more power. This door is probably 10ft tall, 4-6 inches thick and very heavy. Now that I think about it, I wish I would have taken some images of the iron hinges.

Take Me Back in Time
Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm Art at 14mm, ISO 31, F/7.1, 1/160th second

The previous image with the door is the walk way that leads to the stairs in this image. I simply stepped back through this archway to snap this shot showing the stairs and cobblestone street. This is a walking only street as it’s too narrow for cars.

Painter in the Alleyway
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art at 82mm, ISO 64, F/13, 30 seconds

This guy was painting the scene you see here and selling the small art works. I did not see anyone buy from him while we were there. This cobblestone street leads you into Upper Town before walking down the small passage to Lower Town.

Cobblestone Cafe
Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm Art at 18mm, ISO 64, F/16, 10 seconds

My favorite time to shoot was very early in the morning when the locals were walking to work before the sun came up. The yellow building you see here is Cafe Maiasmokk. It’s the oldest operating cafe in Estonia, let alone Tallinn. It’s been in the same location since 1864. It was just beginning to show when I was shooting this image. The building also has museum about the history and uses of marzipan.

Quiet Mornings in Tallinn
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art at 105mm, ISO 64, F/13, 13 seconds

Simply turning around from the previous image provided me with this view. Empty streets, storefronts and beautiful soft pre sunrise light. Veta is an Estonian clothing brand that began in 1994 and they opened their 5th store in Tallinn in 2011. While the brand may not be new by Estonian standards, it’s in a beautiful old building that dates back to the 15th or 16th century and has quickly became an “instagramable” hot spot.

Porsche Graffiti
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art at 52mm, ISO 64, F/8, 3 seconds

While out walking around one evening we came across this dirty Porsche parked next to an old wall with lots of graffiti. I don’t know what it all says and I think the not knowing makes the image a bit more striking to me. Seeing it and photographing it in color was nice but the black and white is what really spoke to me.

Monk's Alley
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art at 32mm, ISO 64, F/9, 3 seconds

St. Catherine’s Passage – formerly known as the Monk’s Alley, winds its way from Vene Street past the southern end of the Dominican monastery to Müürivahe Street. St Catherine’s church, from which the alley took its name, is thought to have been built here more than 700 years ago. The southern side of the alley is lined with predominantly 15th-17th century residences. The alley as a whole retains its medieval atmosphere. It was last restored in 1995. This was one of the places I really wanted to photograph. To get this shot, timing was crucial. Evening light, shops closed for the day and no one walking through the passage. It didn’t take long to get the shot, I simply waited until the business (red door on the right) closed for the night. There were people walking through from time to time and I did shoot some of those as well but the emptiness of this old passage was the feeling I was going for. I may also try it in black and white to remove the warm tones from the lights.

Path to Church
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art at 24mm, ISO 64, F/11, 30 seconds

Nevsky Begger
Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm Art at 20mm, ISO 100, F/13, 1/100th second

Uptown in Oldtown
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art at 35mm, ISO 64, F/8, 0.8 seconds

The above 3 images show the Alexandar Nevsky Cathedral. I have heard a lot of mixed feelings about this place and while some people love it, some people feel it’s out of place and doesn’t belong here. Neither of these opinions are for me to decide. To me it was a very unique building with amazing architechture that was Soviet inspired. It was built between 1894-1900 while Estonia was still part of the Russian Empire.  From Wikipedia – The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is Tallinn’s largest and grandest orthodox cupola cathedral. It is dedicated to Saint Alexander Nevsky who in 1242 won the Battle of the Ice on Lake Peipus, in the territorial waters of present-day Estonia.  One rainy day we went inside to get out of the rain for a little bit and much to our amazement we heard a young man reading from scripture. It was more of a chant than reading and it sounded amazing. If any of you have heard this, you will know what I am talking about. Pictures were not allowed inside.  The second image you see above, black and white, is one I felt compelled to take. As we walked out of the cathedral there was a lady who appeared to be homeless standing at the bottom of the steps. It didn’t seem like she was begging and I am not sure what to really make of why she was there. As I walked away and turned around I saw this image. It hit me like a brick. With the woman at the bottom of the empty stairs and no one around it created an emotion inside of me. Partly because I did not know why she was there and partly because she completed the image and finished telling the story.

Ungru Lossi
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art at 52mm, ISO 64, F/7.1, 1/50th second

We did have a rental car and we only used it one day.  I had done a little searching online to find things outside of Tallinn that may be of some interest and unique that those who just visited Tallinn would not see. From Baltic Coastal Hiking – The ruins of the Ungru manor used to represent one of the most impressive Neo-Baroque buildings in Estonia, although it never was really finished. Its sophisticated footprint and the numerous baroque volute ornaments on its gables are characteristic for the castle. Interesting to know: The Ungru Manor was an almost exact copy of the Merseburg castle in Germany. After World War II the manor fell into the hands of Soviet troops, in 1968 the chief of the airport decided to use the ruins of the manor to fill in the holes in the runway. About one third of the manor was torn down, fortunately the rest was preserved until today.

I’ll be honest, it was the unique features and remoteness that made me want to see this. This image was shot on a flat grey overcast day so I decided to use some creative processing to create an older more appealing image that appears to date back to it’s time.

Rail Museum
Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm Art at 22mm, ISO 200, F/4.5, 1/40th second

Haapsalu, Estonia is home to the Railway and Communications museum. It was built from 1903-1905. Just to my right are some old train cars. I felt the design of the building with its bright colors was a better picture. This covered area is 648 feet long and where passengers would have waited to board the trains. Passenger trains continued running until September of 1995.

Jagala Wide
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art at 24mm, ISO 31, F/16, 30 seconds

Jagala Falls
Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm Art at 16mm, ISO 31, F/10, 15 seconds

Jagala Jogi River was simply a waterfall I wanted to see. It’s located east of Tallinn about 15 min and we arrived when it was almost dark. There are 2 access points, one on each side of the falls and we make the most of our time and shot from both locations. As you can see from the 2nd image the water was shallow and not covering the entire rock face. We could have walked across if we wanted to get wet.  The waterfall is roughly 24ft high and 150 wide making it the widest natural waterfall in Estonia.

1760
Nikon D850, Sigma 14-24mm Art at 14mm, ISO 200, F/7.1, 1/8th second

Driving on the highway through Taebla you will see Lääne-Nigula Church. The building was built in 1760 and restored in 1816, the steeple dates back to 1882. The height of the church is 156ft of which the spire is 81 ft tall.
There is an old cemetery around the church filled with old crosses and headstones. This was not a planned find. We were simply driving and saw this huge spire from the road and decided to turn in and see what it was.  I loved the old green door.

Olde Hansa
Nikon D850, Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Sport at 200mm, ISO 200, F/5.6, 1/25th second

The medieval restaurant Olde Hansa is the home of a rich merchant, whose guests enjoy delicious, authentic Hansa-era meals and drinks, true period music and always friendly service.  Our waitress was a very fun, outgoing lady who played her part well.  All of the dishes on the menu, including many wild game delicacies, are cooked using 15th century recipes and methods. Medieval musicians sat high above us in the corner of the room and played their music. This image was shot from our apartment as 2 ladies walked around the corner shops.

All in all I took over 3000 images while I was there. I simply had to pick the ones I felt worked well and were to the point.  If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you will see more from the trip as I get them edited. I sure appreciate the time you took to read and look at the images. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to ask.

A huge thank you to the following companies who support my work and products I use on my photography adventures.

Sigma Lenses

Nitecore Lights

Robus Tripods

Moab Fine Art Papers

Englewood Camera

All images are available as Fine Art Prints, Canvas, Metals or Acrylics. I will be adding them to my website soon. If you wish to obtain one of these please contact me directly.

Darren White Photography Website

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