Skiing in Vermont During the Christmas Holiday Week

Skiing during Christmas week in Vermont can be a crap shoot. Some years we get powder and great conditions, other years it’s a complete washout.

Without fail, though, Vermont gets crowded during the holidays. There was a line at the Smuggler’s Notch ticket window from 9:30am to 2:30pm.

The week started with cloudy skies that deposited 6-8″ of snow on the mountain providing us with frosted trees and great skiing & riding.

Monday and Tuesday were cold, though, with temperatures hovering around 0ºF and wind chills in the -20ºF range according to one ski patroller.

The riding, however was worth it. The trails were all soft snow and the trees were powder. It’s still early season in Vermont, so we were skiing carefully in the woods, but if the line was well maintained the skiing was incredible.

On Thursday, the sun made an appearance and we were treated to a Vermont rarity: a bluebird day!

The view from the top of Madonna was great with Mt. Washington and the rest of New Hampshire’s White Mountains visible on the horizon.  This one’s worth seeing a little larger.

New friends Chris & Ilene made their first visit to Smuggs and enjoyed Chilcoot  from top to bottom.

As the week came to an end, though, the temperatures rose and the snowpack started to melt.

I was solo for Saturday’s turns, so I only took my iPhone with me for a few documentary shots. 

The skiing was fun, but the terrain was getting limited. Snowmaking was a saving grace for trails like FIS, Smuggler’s Alley, and Black Snake. I was considering going up today, but instead of just warm temperatures, Mother Nature delivered a steady rain in Essex. The snow reports weren’t encouraging, so here I am in front of the computer. Tomorrow I’m obligated to head to the mountain & enjoy my last day off before returning to work. Let’s hear it for refrozen snow!

Family & Infant Photographs

Last weekend, I headed over to a friend’s house for some family portraits now that their newest family member has arrived.  About a year ago, I took some photos with them down at Oakledge Park in Burlington, but with snow on the ground I packed up a portable studio kit and headed to their living room.

Vermont family infant portrait photography

Vermont family infant portrait photography

Vermont family infant portrait photography

Vermont family infant portrait photography

Vermont family infant portrait photography

Vermont family infant portrait photography

Vermont family infant portrait photography

I’m not usually a fan of highly processed images, but for some reason this style seems to suit the photos below. It reminds me a bit of Norman Rockwell.

Music Photography

Just before Thanksgiving, I was contacted by the Vermont band Shakedown to take some new photos for their website.  They had just experienced a shakeup and had some new members.  Normally, I connect up with bands in the spring, summer, and early fall and take outdoor photos around Burlington. This time, we met in a dance studio to set up the white background, a few lights, and take some indoor photos.

One of the benefits to traveling light is that setup and teardown is quick.  In about an hour and a half, we had set up everything, taken all the shots, and packed everything back into my car. (It helped that all of the band members showed up on time.) In that time, we took three or four group shots and a combination of full length, 3/4, and head shot photos of each band member.

I haven’t heard them play live yet, but I’m looking forward to it.  If you’re looking for a wedding band, I’d feel comfortable recommending them based on what I’ve seen so far. They’re prompt and professional when needed, but also fun people that can let loose and have a good time.

A Perfect Fall Season in Vermont

Some years, Vermont throws curve balls all year long.  Spring is muddy, summer is rainy, and fall foliage gets annihilated by strong wind and early snows.  This year wasn’t one of those years.  Summer was comprised of mostly beautiful days. Fall rolled in and we had cool nights, sunny days, and a long, gradual change of color as fall foliage rolled down from the peaks of the Green Mountains into the Champlain Valley.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to walk around both in my back yard and along some local recreation paths and document some of the sights in Essex.

I posted a few of these on my Flickr stream over the weekend.  Someone commented that it almost looked like the foliage was blooming like flowers. I hadn’t considered it while I was shooting, but a common theme across many of the photos I took was the contrast between the vibrant color leaves and the rest of the forest. Either growing up out out of the grass, as below, or lying peacefully on a passing fern. As a photographer, I struggle with what to expose about the photographic process. Some of the photos I took this weekend required some intervention on my behalf while others were a pure documentation of a scene in the woods. Can you tell which ones were “staged” and which ones were 100% natural? Does it matter to you?

While walking with my wife and dog, I had an idea for a photograph in my head. Below are the results of the first frame, 100% out of the camera except for a quick contrast adjustment.

I have to say, it matched what I had in my head.  I love the combination of colors. It almost feels like a painter’s palette to me, blending the dark greens of the leaves yet to turn against the yellows and oranges contrasted with the hints of blue from the sky above.  I tried it again in a few other locations, but wasn’t 100% happy with the result. It’s a technique I would like to continue to experiment with.

Near the end of our walk, Tawny & I noticed that the ground just ahead of us was shimmering as the sun played hide’n’seek with the clouds. Upon further inspection, there was a long swath of ground covered in crushed glass. An odd thing to experience outside of a recycling plant, but beautiful in its own way. Similar, but different to the Vermont foliage that surrounded us.

Turning around, we were greeted by one of my favorite sights; sun illuminating the trees with dark storm clouds still in the sky. Sometimes people ask me why we choose to live in Vermont…there are so many reasons, but the scene below is certainly one of them! Having a landscape like this within miles of my house is priceless.

Fall Family Photos

The leaves are changing around most of Vermont, but last weekend they were just getting going in Burlington.  With a 5 month old and a 2 year old, we didn’t want to stray too far nor take too much time out in the ~50 degree weather, so we headed down to the Burlington Intervale.  The leaves may not have been colorful, but did we ever have a beautiful day!

As any sane two-year-old would on a beautiful Vermont morning, Winslow only wanted to run around and have fun. We took a few minutes off and let him play in the puddle (keeping mostly clean!) before we started up again. He may have been squirmy in some of the posed photos, but his cuteness makes up for it completely!

What an adorable family.  Thanks for spending some time out in the brisk fall weather!

Before and After: Flooding on Vermont’s Winooski River

A few weeks ago, I walked down to the Winooski River on the boarder between Williston and Essex. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to walk around, but somehow I had never stopped until that day. I was surprised to see that you can walk all the way down onto the rocks and “in” to the river. I walked down pretty far and scrambled over the rocks, looking for the shot I had in my head. I’m not sure I found it, but it was a fun experience.

Yesterday, after two days of heavy rain all across Vermont, my commute was redirected because of flooding and I passed by the same spot.  I had to stop. The contrast to just two weeks ago was astounding. It looked like we had been transported back to April or May with the spring runoff raging down the river.

You see those rocks straight across the river? That’s where I was standing for the above picture.  For the photograph below, I was standing just to the right of the building in the photo above.

I’ll finish off the post with a panoramic photo snapped on that day a few weeks ago. The river almost looks like a pleasant place to hop in with an innertube and float towards Lake Champlain (well — except for the knowledge that there are a few dams and waterfalls along the way…)