Tag Archives: Photography

Faroe Islands Q & A

Majestic natural scenery with waves crashing on coastal cliffs, Gasadalur, Faroe Islands
Majestic natural scenery with waves crashing on coastal cliffs, Gasadalur, Faroe Islands. Photo by Paul Zizka
The Faroe Islands, a group of rocky, volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, are gaining increasing popularity among photographers and adventure travel enthusiasts, due to their rugged hiking terrain, spectacular bird watching and interesting cuisine. We sat down (virtually) with 5 of Aurora's photographers - Paolo Sartori, Paul Zizka, Brandon Huttenlocher, Sergio Villalba and Jose Azel - to find out what it's like traveling to this outdoor playground. Aurora Photos: What first drew you to explore the Faroes? Paul Zizka: First and foremost, a sense of curiosity and a passion for isolation. The green, the ruggedness and the wild weather keep me going back. Brandon Huttenlocher: The remoteness and my curiosity, wondering what else is there after seeing a few other photographers' images. Paolo Sartori: I traveled there before the big boom of the Faroes on Instagram. I’m always fascinated about remote and diverse places so when I saw a photo of the Mulafossur waterfall, I said, “Ok, let’s go!”. Sergio Villalba: I have now been to the Faroes 3 times...once for windsurfing and twice for surfing. My first time was 2008. Jose Azel: I was lucky to have visited the Faroe Islands in 1990 when I was given a magazine assignment. Since I was into mountain biking at the time, I suggested I take my bike. The editor agreed. It was the first time I flew with a bike and while it was a bit of a hassle, in the end it was worth it.
Professional Windsurfer On The Freezing Water Of The Faroe Islands
Professional Windsurfer On The Freezing Water Of The Faroe Islands. Photo by Sergio Villalba
AU: What was your favorite island or area to shoot, and what was your favorite geologic feature?
Paul: I am big on ruggedness, and in the Faroes, the further north you get, the more rugged the landscape gets. The northern halves of Eysturoy, Kalsoy and Vidoy are particularly dear to me. The sea cliffs and sea stacks in the far north are incredible! Brandon: I really liked Kalsoy and Mykines! The sheer cliffs that jet straight out of the ocean are ridiculously impressive. Paolo: In the Faroes every village is something unique and beautiful…if I have to pick a single place, it's probably Saksun. The small house above the beach is totally insane. Sergio: All of them have this amazing, remote feeling. Streymoy and Vagar, though not the most isolated, have the most stunning places.
Scenery of Mulafossur waterfall on coastal cliff at sunset, Faroe Islands
Scenery of Mulafossur waterfall on coastal cliff at sunset, Faroe Islands. Photo by Brandon Huttenlocher
AU: One of the most iconic areas on the island is Mulafossur waterfall; how long did you spend waiting for the perfect shot? How many other photographers were standing next to you? Paul: I've made perhaps 5 or 6 visits to that location over the years, and I've shot it on my own as well as surrounded by several fellow photographers (in the context of workshops). I've probably spent 10 hours gazing at and shooting the falls in total. Brandon: I think I ended going there a total of 4 times throughout my time in the Faroes at all times of the day/night. As soon as I got my rental car I drove straight there, and I finished my trip there just before heading back to the airport. My first time, there was a photography workshop group; however, when I was there in the middle of the night, I was alone. Paolo: The day we went there, it was raining like hell and there was nobody around. I waited almost an hour and when I realized that the rain wasn’t going to stop…well, now I know my camera can still work under a storm! Sergio: I’ve been to this place several times, all of them on exploration trips. It’s one of those corners that are so perfect that seem to be designed on purpose by someone else. Anytime of the day (or the night) is ideal to get a nice shot. Since it was waves that we were in the search for, I always visited the Faroes in the middle of winter, so I had most of the spots to myself.
View of Klaksvik town from tent and feet of relaxing tourist, Faroe Islands, Denmark
View of Klaksvik town from tent and feet of relaxing tourist, Faroe Islands, Denmark. Photo by Paolo Sartori
AU: The Faroes are sparsely populated, though that population is very diverse. Due to the small size, and the isolation of island life in general, what was the locals attitude to you? What was their attitude to you as a photographer? Are they tired of you over-running their country? Paul: As with many Scandinavian people, they are reserved at first. Eventually though, they open up and have been extremely friendly and helpful to me. Having said that, they are currently experiencing an unprecedented boom in tourism. Time will tell whether the Faroese government can manage that new growth in a way that the locals do not get disgruntled with it all. Paolo: There wasn’t that much instagram-based tourism just a few years back. I didn’t meet many people in the villages, but those few ones were really friendly. Sergio: As in most other cold places, people tend to be a bit cold in the beginning, but I don't think it has to do with me being a tourist or a photographer. Since I always visited the Faroes in winter, I never bumped into another tourist. The Faroese rely on their oceans to make a living; the soil is waterlogged all year long, so too tough to grow crops. They’ve been making big efforts to promote tourism. However, their tourist infrastructure is pretty small compared to other popular destinations; I don’t think they could welcome big crowds of people.
Salmon farm rings floating on calm water, Faroe Islands
Salmon farm rings floating on calm water, Faroe Islands. Photo by David Henderson / Caia Images
AU: The Faroe Islands are one of the 10 biggest salmon producers in the world, and many an image of the islands contains the tell-tale rings of salmon farming. There was also a long history and culture of whaling there. It seems many gourmet restaurants have opened recently. What was your favorite food? Paul: The fish is excellent. I've particularly enjoyed the halibut and haddock! Paolo: The best food was salmon, of course. There are a number of good restaurants, especially in Torshavn, but in general they are really expensive. Sergio: You can get some crazy good food there but you have to pay the price. Fresh salmon, dried whale or even sushi is mental, but most of the time you find yourself eating gas station hotdogs since there’s no restaurants or shops in most towns.
4x4 car driving along road on seashore, Faroe Islands, Denmark
4x4 car driving along road on seashore, Faroe Islands, Denmark. Photo by Paolo Sartori
AU: You've managed to capture the islands ruggedness, yet also add a sense of allure and invitation. How did you travel around? Bike? Hike? 4 x 4? Climb? Ferry? Sail? Strap a saddle to the largest sheep and hope for the best?
Paul: I first experienced the Faroes through extensive hiking, which was incredible. Since then, I've explored more thoroughly and further afield via ferries and the incredible road network. Brandon: My main mode of transportation was this tiny little rental car that felt more like a go-cart. Most islands are connected via underwater tunnels or bridges. I did take a ferry over to Kalsoy. They do some boat trips which are pretty awesone getting you out on the water and able to look back at the island and the sheer cliffs straight out of the ocean. But the best and most fun transportation in the Faroes is the helicopter! Its extremely cheap and scenic. I flew from the airport to Mykines island for about $30USD (round trip). Just do your research about it, as you can only do a 1 way trip each day. Paolo: I was moving around in a Land Rover Defender, sleeping in a roof mounted tent. It was perfect because it allowed me to stay on location by night. Sergio: Car, lots of hiking and occasionally a chopper. The weather’s so rough you need to make sure to check the forecast properly every morning before you hit the road. Jose: The bus system is extensive and goes throughout the island. There are no official bus stops, at least not at the time, and I all I had to do was flag on down if I wanted a ride. To satiate my thirst for adventure, nothing beat biking on their narrow roads. They have many tunnels under their steep mountain terrain; speeding into these somewhat dark, narrow tubes on a fast downhill provided me with an adrenaline rush! Fortunately, the sparseness of automobiles kept encounters to a minimum.
AU: Is it EVER sunny there? Seriously. Epic photos guys, but the sun has to shine sometimes right? Paul: In my experience, never for very long. I've been to the Faroes at different times of year and fickle weather seems to be the norm. That's fine by me. I find the ever-changing, moody weather fits the landscape perfectly. Brandon:  If it is sunny, you’d better not blink, because it’ll be gone before your eyes open again! Oh, and the wind. If you enjoy the wind, this place is for you. I watched the water from the Mulafossur waterfall blow back up and not even touch the ocean one afternoon is was so windy. Paolo: I’ve been there for a week, and I got a couple hours of sun in total. On the last day I was talking with a local, and when I complained about weather, he said “oh, you are lucky, we had good weather this past week!" Sergio: Absolutely! Even in winter, I believe they enjoy more sunny days than UK or Belgium. The sun doesn't rise high enough to reach the deep valleys though.
The Town Of Tjornuvik In Streymoy, The Faroe Islands
The Town Of Tjornuvik In Streymoy, The Faroe Islands. Photo by Sergio Villalba
AU: What was the most interesting thing you learned about the Faroe Islands / your favorite experience / experiential wisdom you'd like to pass along to future travelers? Paul: The Faroes are truly a place like no other. I highly recommend you get there before the crowds do. It's really only a matter of time. And get out on foot. Even when the place starts getting the visitors it deserves, there will be many pristine stretches of shoreline to explore for those willing to put in the work. Brandon: Take the helicopter. Watch out for sheep while driving. Embrace the excessive amount of wind and gloomy weather.  You're not supposed to camp in cars like most people do in Iceland (we wont tell anyone I did this). Its an incredibly safe country. Oh, did I mention the wind? Paolo: For me the most interesting part was the people living there. For most of us that are living on the mainland would be really hard to stay there for more than a couple weeks. We are used to have relatively easy access to almost anything; driving a couple hours from home I can be on a 4000m peak in the Alps or on a sunny beach in the Mediterranean. I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be to live on a remote island with only 10 other people, hours away from the nearest hospital... Jose: Several impressions have stayed with me ever since my visit there. First and foremost was the stark beauty of the landscape: treeless and bright green, often with a clear blue sky and expansive views of the ocean. Perhaps I got lucky and had a fair number of good weather days. The other lasting mark was the quaintness of the buildings. So many seemed too perfect to be real. Almost none needed paint and the villages that lined the shores of the many coves and bays were incredibly picturesque.
Majestic natural scenery with coastal cliffs under dramatic sky, Kalsoy, Faroe Islands
Majestic natural scenery with coastal cliffs under dramatic sky, Kalsoy, Faroe Islands. Photo by Paul Zizka
To see more images of the Faroes, click here.
Or, check out more from their personal sites below:

Personal Project – “Oregon Outback”

David Hanson is in the middle of a long-term documentary photo project near his Oregon home. Sherman County is a rural, sparsely populated county in the eastern rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains. It's only two hours from Portland but light years away in terms of culture, politics, and way of life. The main artery through the county is Highway 97, which runs north-south down the east side of the WA-OR Cascade Range. In Sherman County, the towns along Hwy 97 are spread out at nine-mile intervals because that is an appropriate distance for a horse to travel in a day.

Ranching and wheat farming remain the backbone of the economy in Sherman County.  Kids actually stick around and take over their parents' ranches. But other than high-tech windmills on the wide-open landscape, not a lot new has come to the towns, and much of the old has gone. There are empty storefronts and the high school recently shuttered due to lack of funds. Most people have to travel to The Dalles (45 minutes) for groceries and medical care. David is beginning to collect images of the daily life in these ranches and small towns that are both timeless and fading.

You can see more of David's work on this project here: https://www.davidhanson3.com/oregon-outback/

160325_Road+Trip_Alvord_202-lores170222_Rhapsody_Keith Nantz_0062-lores160615_Grass Valley_Tim037-lores
150417_DSH_OR_CottonwoodCanyon181-lores
160829_portrait_Brad+Anderson_006-lores
170223_Grass Valley_Jack Jefferies_0039-lores
171011_portrait_Maria+Leckenby-lores+copy
170223_Grass Valley_Jack Jefferies_0009-lores
180210_Jack-Savannah+wedding0156
170223_Grass Valley_Jack Jefferies_0000-lores 171026_Sherman+County_Football_0344-lores 170223_Grass Valley_Jack Jefferies_0006-lores

Personal Project – “Woodsmen”

Too often, we vilify industries involved in our natural resource management, judging those involved, without knowing much about their lives or even the industry itself. This holds doubly true for industries with a checkered past and those that seem to belong more to the yesteryear than the present.  Michael D. Wilson spent time talking with and photographing loggers and folks in the lumber industry, people we often don't think about, but who have been vital to local economics in our home state of Maine. His beautiful portraits, best seen as large prints or in the 'zine he put together for his solo show in Portland, Maine, grant us some insight into their lives and work, and humanize this oft-maligned industry, continuing a cultural, historical and financial pillar in the region.

From the time the first sawmill opened in South Berwick in 1634, to the 1830’s, when Bangor was the world’s largest lumber port, through the mechanization of the industry in the 20th Century, to the current day’s focus on sustainability, logging has been part of the fabric of Maine.  In an industry constantly changing and reinventing itself, the one constant has been the Woodsman.  The faces pictured here represent in many ways Maine itself – hardy, resourceful, and determined.  Keenly in tune with the land, they continue to provide, as their predecessors did, the foundational materials for building and maintaining strong communities. - Michael D. Wilson

 Woodsmen-mdwphotographic--vb Woodsmen-mdwphotographic--a Woodsmen-mdwphotographic--v-x Woodsmen-mdwphotographic--va Woodsmen-mdwphotographic-aaWoodsmen-mdwphotographic-bc Woodsmen-mdwphotographic-ac Woodsmen-mdwphotographic-bdWoodsmen-mdwphotographic--v Woodsmen-mdwphotographic-bb

Fall Faves

Autumn is one of our favorite times of year, for many reasons (NOT the proliferation of pumpkin-spice-everything): Apple picking, hot cider, root vegetable harvests, crisp air, explosions of color, World Series / NBA opening night, holidays that bring us together, pumpkin carving, and let's not forget, mocking pumpkin spice products. Our photographers shared their own list of favorite places and activities in autumn, and what makes their spot the best spot in the fall months. The Eastern Sierras near Mammoth and June Lakes is a outdoor playground that offers incredible fishing, hiking, paddle boarding and scenic wonders.
Upper Owens River near Mammoth Lakes, CA
The water flows quietly, meandering around wide, sweeping turns where Browns and Rainbows are sometimes coaxed from small pockets of deeper water. Fishing the Upper Owens River near Mammoth Lakes, California, is like spending time with your best friend. It’s a place of solitude and comfort where no one needs to talk to understand the magic of being together. Set amid beautiful views of the Eastern Sierra range where faint glimmers of the idle lifts on Mammoth Mountain can be seen for miles, it’s where I’ve returned time again to create memories with my wife and son. As the summer crowds thin-out and the winter crowds still a few months away, fall is the best time to visit “The Owens,” as my family affectionally refers to the river. Tall grass, long shadows and silence, minus perhaps the moo of an errant cow grazing nearby, is what draws us to The Owens each fall. My son (pictured) learned to fish here as a youngster and loves every chance to return. He says it’s for the fishing but, of course, I always said the same thing. The truth is, no one in my family cares if we feel the tug of a trout as we wander along the river in a cool breeze. It’s about the warm feeling you get when you return to that special place every year.  - Todd Bigelow A backpacker lies flat on the ground in Illal Meadows.
Illal Meadows, BC

The hike in to Illal Meadows, in southwest British Columbia is well worth the reward for effort. There are numerous tarns and mountain views in all directions with plenty of great options for lakeside camping. I try my best to make it up to the meadows at least once a year, ideally in autumn.  I love wandering through the colorful alpine meadows, feeling the crisp cold air, watching the golden sunsets and eating the plethora of late season blueberries that can be found here! The three peaks of varying difficulty accessible from the meadows (Illal Peak, Jim Kelly Peak (pictured) and Coquihalla Mountain), combined with the stunning landscape and scenery, make this area a great weekend destination for hiking, climbing, and camping. - Chris Kimmel

KLJO002757

Humphrey's Ledge, North Conway, NH

North Conway is an absolute zoo between mid September and mid October. Europeans, Asians, mid-westerners and anyone else within a days drive descend on out neck of the woods. They also loose all common sense and driving etiquette. I've seen a bus load of people standing in the middle of the highway taking selfies with the fall foliage on the side of the road. So this time of year requires locals to run for the hills, cliffs or remote spots to stay safe. Even a five minute walk off of the road cuts the crowds dramatically. One of my favorite local retreats is Humphrey's Ledge a short drive from town, it's got some bouldering under a canopy of maples that turn bright orange this time of year. A bit further up the hill is the cliff proper and it's a bit scruffy but it faces south and stays warm on those chilly fall days. After one pitch up our little valley stretches out, blanketed in a crazy mix of colors only New England can produce.  - Joe Klementovich

A Cape Cod cranberry grower and his crew "rack up" cranberries with booms after flooding a bog in Brewster, MA.

Cranberry bogs, Cape Cod, MA

Every fall, the cranberry bogs in my small town on Cape Cod are transformed from dull fields into exquisite bogs of floating red berries. To harvest the berries, cranberry growers like Ray Thacher, whose crew is working in this photo, flood the bogs with water and the berries float to the top. They can then be "racked" together and then vacuumed up into a waiting truck. Ray's family has been growing cranberries for over 60 years on Cape Cod and I love the visual transformation their work brings about. Visitors as well as local residents often stop beside bogs this time of year and watch the cranberry growers at work. And while most of us associate cranberries with Thanksgiving, there are so many things other delicious things to make with cranberries besides a sauce for turkey like cranberry scones, cranberry pancakes, cranberry butter, cranberry granola, cranberry smoothies, cranberry-glazed ham and even cranberry margaritas! - Julia Cumes   

The sun glows on the top of the peaks of Little Cottonwood Canyon as it sets above the Utah mountains on a clear fall day.

Mount Superior, Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT

Mount Superior in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, is a hike I had always wanted to do but never seemed to find the time. On my last day living in Utah a friend and I finally made it out to do the South Ridge of Mount Superior. This is more of a scramble then a hike. Lots of exposure and expansive views are encountered along the way as you gain over 2600 feet to the peak at 11,040 feet. The route we took on the way down (The Cardiff Pass Trail) was much more mellow. The elevation gain was still intense over a short distance, but much less exposure and risk of falling, but still an amazing viewpoint of the Wasatch Mountains, especially as the setting sun casts its yellow glow on the nearby peaks. Fall is the perfect time to do this hike. The summer heat is gone, with the cool crisp nip of fall in the air. The Aspen trees in the canyon have started to change. Vibrant yellows shine all over the mountainsides and even little bit of snow has started to cover the north faces up high. A quick jaunt up from Salt Lake, hiking Mount Superior is a perfect afternoon activity if you find yourself in town for a weekend, or for an entire season. If you are searching for a solid work out and amazing views of Little Cottonwood Canyon, a hike up iconic Mount Superior is a great way to get both. - Ben Girardi

_63Q2501

Door County, WI

One of my favorite roads in our entire state of Wisconsin is at the very tip of Door County, a favorite vacation spot for many folks (quite possibly due to the numerous apple and cherry orchards). Often simply referred to as "the winding road in Door County," this unique must-see landmark should be attributed to Jens Jensen, the famed Danish-born landscape architect that influenced this amazing spot. Jensen founded The Clearing, a Door County school for landscape architects. I always wanted to go in the fall and got lucky when a trio of corvette’s came through. The curvy road looks like it goes on forever but it actually stops where you can board a ferry to Washington Island. To get this shot I compressed the curves using a long lens and had to stand in the middle of the road. My wife had my back! - Jeffrey Phelps

Lake George New York in Fall from the Pinnacle
Lake George, NY

Much may have changed since Thomas Jefferson described it as “… the most beautiful water I ever saw”, but Lake George in New York’s Adirondack Mountains remains among the most beautiful lakes in the U.S., even more so when fall foliage blankets the shores with the jewell tones of autumn.  While there is no shortage of beautiful hiking around Lake George, one of my favorites for a quick outing is the roughly 1 mile trail to the Pinnacle on the Lake’s western shore. Short enough for an after work hike and family friendly, the trail offers a big payoff with a breathtaking panorama of the Lake. It is also the perfect spot to watch the sun rise with a thermos of coffee for a great start to the day. - Zaneta Hough, The Open Road Images

20141020 Town Cycling-3006lr

Anywhere on my Bike

Autumn, with its vivid colors, sights and smells, is my favorite time of year to ride my bike.  Every time I pedal out of the driveway I instantly revert to my mischievous 8 year-old self - skidding through every leaf pile, speeding through the tunnels of luminosity with a racing heart and a broad grin on my face. - Bob Allen

20171001_DSC_2519-Edit

Crystal Mill, Elk Mountains, CO

One day its hot and your paddling down the river, the next your trudging your way up a mountain through snow. Somewhere between those days is Autumn and we're gifted with perfect cool weather for hiking and the most amazing display of color among the aspen trees. Grab a friend and venture deep into the Elk Mountains of Colorado to the Crystal Mill. - Brandon Huttenlocher

pumpkins-5

Boston Hill Farm, Andover, MA

The only thing that has changed at Boston Hill Farm in Andover, Massachusetts, is us. We have been going to pick up our pumpkins there every fall for the past eight years. The hay rides are just as bumpy, the cider donuts just as yummy, the foliage just as vibrant. But now my boys pull each other in the radio flyer wagons, carry their own pumpkins and…..sigh…..no longer let me pick out their clothes. I plan to take them back again this year- and despite some preteen eye-rolling- I know they will still have fun searching the fall fields for the perfect jack-o-lantern. Even if they aren’t wearing absolutely adorable overalls. - Laurie Swope

Eastern Sierra Fall Color
Eastern Sierra, CA

Here in the Eastern Sierra, October ushers in crisp temps and the explosion of Fall colors. Trout are hungry and although every drainage in the region is active with fisherman, the fishing pressure of summer is significantly reduced. Mountains are alive with preparations for winter as wildlife is on the move. Migratory birds are passing through overhead, mule deer return from their summer hangouts and the local black bear population is preparing for hibernation. Cooler temps are perfect for hiking and the backcountry is almost deserted. Day hikes and longer backpack trips are solitary adventures in this quiet season. Fall is the BEST season on the Eastside. - Rick Saez

LostCoast-3485

King Range National Conservation Area, CA

I was thrilled to be able to share this autumn, a special time of year for me, with friends on Lost Coast Trail in Northern California. Located in the rugged and remote King Range National Conservation Area, with no major roads nearby, the area is secluded and mostly untouched by man. Along the hike, the golden grasses of costal prairies sway in the ocean breeze and glow during the vibrant Pacific sunsets. Often you will see and hear sea lions basking in the afternoon sun. The intertidal zones of this trail are also unique. For several miles, the trail is only accessible during low tide. Autumn has less visitors on the 24 miles of desolate shoreline and provides a fantastic solitary getaway, setting this trail apart from the rest. - Michael Okimoto

Bill Swift, owner of Swift Canoe & Kayak, paddles canoe in early morning on Oxtongue Lake near Algonquin Park, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Henry Georgi/Aurora)
Oxtongue Lake, ON

Autumn is a great time for two of my favorite activities - mountain biking and canoeing! Canoeing in autumn is truly magical for many reasons; no mosquitoes for one! Also because of the cooler temperatures you almost always have some degree of mist in the early mornings. It lends an ethereal, timeless sense to an early morning paddle on a calm, flat lake. When you’re in this “zone" paddling becomes effortless. In this photo my friend Bill is paddling on Oxtongue Lake, just outside Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada, a prime canoeing destination. This image is one of my all-time favorites; in fact, a friend recently created an abstract painting from this photo that we now have hanging on our wall. - Henry Georgi

20150923-20150923-073A7756-HDR-Edit-Edit

Greenland

Autumn in Greenland is one of the most magical places in the world.  The Arctic tundra starts turning brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red in late August into mid-September, and provides stark contrast to the rocky, rugged, and sometimes icy surrounding landscapes.   This particular location along the shoreline of Disko Island off the coast of Greenland across Disko Bay from Ilulissat is one of the most magical places I've come across in my travels.  It took some hiking from the tiny community of Qeqertarsuaq to find, but once we crossed over the crest of a hill about 3 or 4 miles out, this scene unfolded before our eyes and took our breaths away.   Autumn colours, waterfalls, crazy basalt columns...and icebergs.  It truly had it all.  We called it, and still call it (I've been back, twice):  Arctic Eden. - Dave Brosha

BBBB8390vermont-4

Hamilton Falls, Jamaica, VT

This photo is actually a reflection turned upside down. It's of Hamilton Falls, a 150 foot waterfall in Jamaica, VT. I try to make an annual trip up to Vermont every Columbus Day weekend because foliage is usually at it's peak in the area. There are endless hidden streams, trails, and scenic barns down winding dirt roads in Vermont. If you look hard enough you can find new gems just off the road or deep down a trail. What makes this area even more special are the lack of crowds. Vermont draws "leaf peepers" from around the world, but you won't get frustrated by tons of tourists. There's always a sense of serenity. - Matt Andrew

A man fly fishing on the North Fork of the Payette River in Idaho on a Fall morning.
Payette River, ID
This spot on the North Fork of the Payette is chock-full of people all summer long.  Once autumn is here, they just disappear, and by midweek everywhere in town becomes my own private Idaho! I especially love this stretch of the river because of all the twists and turns, the massive trees and the hidden but easy access. - Melissa Shelby View Of Sports Authority Field At Mile High Stadium In Denver, Colorado
Mile High Stadium, CO
For my family, Fall will always be about October baseball, my husband's birthday and Denver Broncos football.  Attending a game on a crisp autumn Sunday, the stadium buzzes with energy and the fans joyously cheer with a contagious and inspired enthusiasm.  The friendly confines of Mile High have been a place of comfort for four decades for my family, so each Sunday standing in a warm shimmering sun with a cool Rocky breeze surrounding the wave of Orange feels like home. Fall and subsequently football brings family and friends together. - Leslie Parrott

Photographer Q&A – Geert Weggen Communes With Squirrels

red squirrels sitting in a camping bus

We recently sat down with Geert Weggen, nature photographer based in Sweden, to discuss his "naturally staged" tableaux of wildlife, usually focused on red squirrels. You can see more of his  fantastical, yet real, work here!

red squirrel on a chair holding an umbrella with nut in mouth

Aurora Photos: You have been featured on the internet a number of times (here, here, here...you get the picture) for your wonderful captures of, "squirrel lifestyle," let's call it. We have to ask. Why squirrels?

Geert Weggen: The amazing thing about squirrels is that they can do many things similar to humans. Their front legs are like hands and they can stand on two legs, like us. Besides all that, they can do even more...they're very acrobatic! With those talents, I can capture photos where people can imagine themselves in the scenes: Driving, riding horses, cleaning, opening doors, holding umbrellas etc.

I live in nature, with the forest literally next to my house. I built an outside studio where animals can come and go. With all the wild squirrels visiting me every day they are the perfect subject to take photos of.

red squirrel standing on moped with yellow orchids

Au: Can you describe your process and technique?

GW: My studio is about 30 square meters and has a half open roof and 2 open sides. The rain and snow can come in, but still my equipment will stay dry. I created a 2-meter square table, which is the same height as my kitchen window from where I can shoot. The flashes are on remote and I use a big reflector. There is always back light, which is why many times only ambient light is not enough. I create scenes on my table and put food in the places where I hope squirrels will come. Sometimes I have to clone away small food buckets or wires from my photos. Sometimes I can do four scenes in one day.

great tit is painting abstract art

Au: Was there a trick you tried to get a squirrel to do that didn't quite work?

GW: There have been shots which I worked at for 5 days, but in the end I got my result. Like I had the idea that the squirrels were skiing in the snow, and I really wanted them to hold both poles in each hand. I am not a very patient man, but when I have an idea in my head it is hard for me to walk away. Sometime, I have difficulty capturing the squirrels with flowers; most of the flowers come from my garden, and there's a short window of time where they still look fresh.

I've had issues with mischievous squirrels in the past...some love to take props in to the trees and disappear before I can even take a shot. I lost a beautiful tea pot some years ago, though I was lucky then, and was able to capture the images I wanted before it disappeared. In fact, I FOUND IT this year in the forest, after all these years!

red squirrel standing on jumping horse with a hurdle

Au: What's the one shot you'd love to set up, but haven't tried yet?

GW: For 4 years now I've been photographing the red squirrels and I have literally worked with thousands of ideas, but there are still a few I haven't tried. It would be wonderful to capture two squirrels kissing, but I have no idea how to get them into that shot. I have captured squirrels sniffing each other, but these situations are impossible to plan.

squirrel with water, light tower, shark and canoe

Au: It’s a common saying in the business, "don't work with kids and animals”... would you say that's true?

GW: Well...It can be frustrating. I often find myself cursing. There are many potential issues...Of course there is wind, and weather problems, etc. In the winter days, I sometimes only have 3 hours of light, and it can be so cold that in 5 minutes I cannot feel the buttons on  the camera, but all that is not even the biggest challenge. The animals do exactly what they want, and I have no control. They are always on the move and very quick! Photography is not really relaxing when they are in front of my camera; I need to be alert and very quick to capture those moments! Lucky for me, there are so many squirrels that I have many chances to capture what I hope for.

Red squirrel holding a Mobile Phone in hands

Au: Do you think some of the techniques you use on squirrels would work on kids?

GW: For me, the trick is food and trust. The animals are always looking for food and looking for it in my studio with me nearby. It takes a long time before they feel safe. Similar to deer, they are alert the whole time. However, when they started to trust me they naturally became curious and dared to challenge themselves in new situations. Whenever I set up a new scene, they almost go directly towards it and act like they are familiar with their new surroundings, and behave like I am not there.

I don't photograph children, but I guess it has a lot in common with how I approach photographing wildlife. Children need to feel safe so they can behave naturally and they like a reward as motivation. When I have a good shoot, and the wildlife cooperates, I will climb out my window to give them a nut, as a reward. I assume child-photography involves rewarding the kids when they cooperate and listen, as well. However, I do think you can guide children in a different way than squirrels.

Here's a few action shots and behind the scenes of Geert's studio. You can see more of his furry friends in action here! man feeding a red squirrel which is standing on a wishing well man feeding a red squirrel  with a shark in hands with water and canoe man feeding a red squirrel which is standing on wooden blocks with text happy fathers day