A Vermont Summer
Feb 11, 2017
Snow, it won't be long before we'll all be there with snow
Snow, I want to wash my hands, my face and hair with snow
The bookends "Holiday Inn" and "White Christmas" were some of my dad's favorite movies during the Christmas season. In White Christmas, the legendary cast of Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen find themselves on the same train heading north to Vermont; and soon singing about the mountains of snow they expect to find in the morning.
The scenes of Vermont, mostly set in the sound stages of Hollywood, were about the most I could imagine about Vermont. Some of my earliest years were in the small town of Batavia found in western New York. Now Batavia was a place for snow! But beyond that, Vermont was a million miles away for a five year old.
Circuit Mont-Tremblant Quebec... we'll get back to Vermont in a second; but this is the site of Le Sommet des Legendes. Le Sommet is a vintage auto race weekend that sees a wide collection of sports cars, Formula 1, Indy, prototype and Can-Am race cars from the past seventy years. I photograph for Vintage Motorsport Magazine, and this year was my second year north of the border.
Last years travel to Circuit Mont-Tremblant Quebec was anchored by a round trip on Air Canada's discount airline Rouge. With just 29" pitch (seat-to-seat), this euro-business seating plan forced me to sit sideways feet-in-the-aisle on a five-hour red-eye.* The return was worse when US-bound baggage delays required rerouting with few Rouge customer representatives to be found in the terminal and a lost day. The alternative airlines are WestJet or if you are lucky, a proper Air Canada flight from one of our larger cities. I was not going to repeat this experience!
As I explored alternative options for travel to Canada, I realized July 4 and the vintage race fell in the same week - and so I had to build a larger New England trip! I considered checking off a bucket list item attending the Boston Pops Fourth Show; or perhaps I would head to Maine. The Green Mountain region of Vermont had the most pull, so I booked a Bed and Breakfast and a United round-trip flight to Albany New York.
* I understand Air Canada Rouge has recently relented on the euro-business seating model and is adding premium seating to flights.
Sugarbush Summer Barn
We'll open the summer Vermont portfolio with one of the most iconic vistas in the Waitsfield / Warren area. This large barn rises atop Bragg Hill Road and overlooks the slopes of Sugarbush just south across the valley. I visited this location shortly after dawn on July 5, the morning sun casting a warmth over the slopes. I find the muted brown and slate gray color palette wonderful; sharp details can be seen including individual lift towers. I have created both a short panoramic 2:1 and wide panoramic 3:1 version.
Fuller Hill Wildflowers
Local Bed and Breakfast owners can be very helpful with local scenic spots. Fuller Hill Road was one notable recommendation by my hosts to showcase the Green Mountain ridge line. The road begins just beyond the covered bridge eastward out of Warren - a quiet country road with small family farms along the climb. About a mile up I began noticing the patches of wildflowers - what a view!
Shots like this usually want to combine the flowers with the horizon. A typical camera technique would be to use a small pin-size aperture to bring the close and far layers into focus. But lenses tend to diffract at small apertures I usually pull out a Tilt-Shift lens in these situations. The tilt shift allows me to tilt the focal plane so that all elements along the plane are in focus even at lower apertures. In this image, the Canon 24mm Tilt-Shift was used to capture this beautiful scene.
Howe Bridge 1879
Covered Bridges are common in the State of Vermont. I took a ride up Highway 110 north from town of Royalton to photograph several that cross the White River. While I look forward to photographing many during the fall and winter, the Howe Bridge looked great with the summer green foliage, potted red flowers, and ice cream blue sky.
Chelsea Vermont Farm
After passing several covered bridges on Highway 110, I found this beautiful red barn just north of Chelsea. Just a sliver of extra pavement allowed me to park just south and compose a handful of images at the edge of the road. Believing I was done, I moved back onto the road then caught a better view fifty feet ahead. It took me a few minutes before I got returned to the pullout and walked to the new location. Clouds had darkened the area; with ten minutes of waiting patience, I was able to catch the emerging soft shadows as the sun began to fill the scene once again.
I really like the long afternoon shadows shaping the grassy hill; the smaller shed to the right overlooking the river; and the distant trees framing the scene. Some artistic touches were added to remove street signage; reveal shadow detail; and soften the scene.
Maple Syrup Ahead
I had just photographed the the large barn overlooking Sugarbush Ski Area and was headed down an alternate route when I discovered this amazing structure along Number Nine road. I love rustic old structures; and atop one of the side doors was a hand-painted sign advertising its stock of Vermont Maple Syrup.
For the next half hour I photographed this place from a variety of angles as the sun rose and lit the trees behind. I think this image could fit well in a kitchen or dining area.
Moss Glen Falls
Any scenic drive up Vermont's famous Highway 100 corridor would not be complete without a stop at the extremely accessible Moss Glen Falls. The 125 foot drop, with a 77 foot main waterfall provides a cool moment on your travels. The falls is the final descent through a gorge that empties a higher valley.
On this day I decided to take a side view using Tilt-Shift Lens. I first set the tilting focal plane to bring the foreground rock and distant vegetation into focus. Then the imaged three times top-middle-bottom using the shift function at different exposures. The set of three images was then merged into a tall panorama. As for composition, generally one would tighten up on the waterfall; here I decided to expand to the forward rock to set the scale and a sense of cove setting.
Having spent three days in Waitsfield, Warren, and locations south, I traveled north to Waterbury and Stowe. After a quick deli lunch in Waitsfield, I naturally stopped at the Ben & Jerry's Factory in Waterbury. A short twenty-thirty minute tour includes a video about this revolutionary company, an overhead bridge view of the mixing and packing rooms; and complementary ice cream. The gift shop includes a wide range of clothing items; and of course a full-service Ben & Jerry's with the freshest ice cream available rounds out the small campus.
Sperry Farm Barn
This beautiful 1850's red barn located near Stowe Vermont was restored in 2008. I was unaware of the barn in my photography research. It was only when I reached a scenic clearing not far from the Trapp family homestead that I discovered this brightly painted red barn. I generally enjoy photographing more rustic structures. But against the white clouds and blue sky this barn scene looked great for a July scene. The Spear Barn is supported by the local Stonybrook community.
Shelter in a Storm
Late afternoon sunlight breaks through ominous storm clouds to light up the Stowe Community Church. Earlier in the afternoon I captured some great clouds over the fields near the Stonybridge, then headed up the hill to explore Smugglers Notch. Storms formed down in the valley as witnessed by the still very wet Ben and Jerry's Factory when I returned to nearby Waterbury. Coming down into Stowe, the sun danced through the clouds and in one spectacular moment gave direct light to the community church just as the sun was setting behind the mountains.
I could not finish a July 4 article without some fireworks! Sugarbush Ski Area is the site of the regions firework show. Earlier in the day, the town of Warren at the base of the mountain along Highway 100 holds an annual July 4 parade. This photo is from high up on a ridge several miles from the show.
Bethel Red White and Blue
An American Flag hangs proudly on a Vermont Barn just east of Bethel along the White River in Vermont. On my first trip into Vermont on Fourth of July weekend, a quick survey trip east on 107 found this classic scene of Americana. With the barn right on the highway, the only quick view would have been in the backyard of house across the way.
A few days later I was back down on the White River and decided to take another look. It was great to see the flag still waving after the fourth. I spotted a family enjoying the afternoon around a yard table at the neighboring house. After a quick U-Turn, I pulled up and asked them if they owned the barn. The family welcomed me as a photographer and invited me to photograph the structure. May favorite image used a tilt shift lens to look skyward with all the flag in full focus.
I thank Luke and Linda of Wilder Farm Inn in Waitsfield for their awesome Bed and Breakfast hospitality. And I have to thank the people of Vermont for their kindness, especially in allowing me to bring a camera into their private worlds. They know they have some of the worlds greatest countryside scenery.
As anticipated, I returned to New England in the Fall of 2016 with more photos of this beautiful area. I expect to spend a few days this summer along the Maine coast. Please send me your suggestions of favorite places to visit.