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Posts tagged ‘dramatic’


Back Packing to the Summit of Old Rag Mountain, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

This past week I sumitted Old Rag Mountain and spent the night up top with friend and fellow photographer Chris Kayler.  This is not the first time I have done this hike to the summit of Old Rag, but was in fact the first time for me to sleep on the summit. In fact, this hike is featured in my book 50 Amazing Things You Must See and Do in the Greater D.C. Area: The Ultimate Outdoor Adventure Guide . In hopes of getting away from the record high temps and humidity crippling the DC area, we picked a day that forecasted a cold front moving in across the mountains in hopes of cooler temps in the mountains and the chance of thunderstorms at or near sunset.  

We started the hike in the afternoon and quickly realized just how hot and humid it still was!  With the temp hovering around 90 degrees and the humidity at 85%, we knew we were in for a long and hot haul up the trail!  As soon as I hoisted my 45 pound pack filled with camera gear, sleeping bag and pad, overnight food, rain gear and 5 liters of water for an overnight on a dry summit, we quickly hit the road on the 1/2 mile approach to the actual trailhead. By the time we arrived, I was already drenched in sweat and decided to take a did in the swimming hole along the river to cool off before tackling the upward climb towards the ridge and the approach to the summit proper.  

Chris Rock Hopping on the Ridge

After about 2 mile of an upward climb through the sweltering heat of the forest, we arrived at the summit ridge and were greeted with the most refreshing breeze sweeping from west to east across the ridge line. It was just what the doctor ordered! In contrast to the cooler temps and great vies now comes the most challenging section of the hike, a .9 mile summit approach across a boulder strewn ridge that involves constant rock hopping, over hand climbing, bouldering, chimneying and in a few spots crawling on your hands and knees through rock cuts and small caves. This is usually a pretty moderate climb with a day pack or just camera gear, but add-on an 45 pound overnight pack and it becomes strenuous and in some cases very difficult. Below are a few shots I snapped of our climb across the ridge towards the summit.  

Chris bouldering his way through the rocks

Chris in one of the small caves below the false summit

 We arrived on the summit of the mountain after a long and exhausting 2 hour climb across the ridge and were greeted with an afternoon thunderstorm raging across the mountains and huge thunder heads to the east. It rained but briefly over the summit followed by strong 30 to 40 mile an hour winds. We had some nice although brief light at sunset. I found a nice composition of a jumble of car sized boulders on the summit with dramatic sunset skies and painted light at sunset. After the light faded, we settled down into a rock depression of the summit for a quick diner of freeze-dried Chili Mac and then a long night under the stars. Myself or Chris did not get much sleep over night due to the constant battering of the wind sweeping across the summit. I awoke around 3am and spent the rest of the night until civil twilight watching shooting stars and the constellations track across the night sky. 

Boulders on the Summit at sunset

Moon set and summit rocks at Civil Twilight

Sunrise over the Appalachians from the summit

After a great sunrise session and feeling really exhausted from lack of sleep and a hard climb the day before, we settled back down at our camp for some calories and bit of caffeine before packing the gear and tackling the summit ridge back down into the woods. The temps were pleasant that morning and we arrived back to the trailhead parking a little before noon.  It was a great little adventure and yielded some new images for me! All in all, a great time in the back country of the mountains. 

Morning at camp on the summit of Old Rag


New Portfolio “Hinterlands” added to the website!

Dillon Pinnacles

I have been working on a new portfolio entitled “Hinterlands” inspired by my travels and adventures in the vast wide open wilds of the US. 12 new images just added (most from my travels this summer in Colorado).

Explore the Hinterlands


Notes from the field: Shrine Pass Sunset

You can now read my latest instalment of Notes from the field on my website!

 Click here to read more and view images from last nights sunset on Shrine Pass!


Acadia National Park 2010

Thunder Hole at First Light

I just returnd home from a 14 day trip to Acadia National Park on the rugged coast of Maine. I worked the light and the weather every day from before sunrise at 3;30am until well after sunset each night. While many of the days were socked in with rain and fog, those rare moments when the weather and light came together made all my long hours and work worth the while. You can view a selection of my top 20 images from the trip on my website. Just follow the link below to have a look! Thanks in advance, Joe.

Acadia National Park 2010 Top Select Images


Notes from the Field: Acadia National Park

You can read about my first three days on the Maine Coast, and view a selection of the images I have produced so far by following the link below.

Notes from the Field: Acadia National Park


Autumn Transitions, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Autumn Transitions

Autumn Transitions

Summer is ending and autumn is beginning to take over in the Appalachian Mountains. This shot is from a favorite location at sunrise in Shenandoah National Park from this past weekend. I took my family camping and hiking on Saturday and Sunday. I managed to steal away for a bit and was rewarded with some great light at sunrise.

This is a manual blend of 2 exposures (Adobe CS4).

Thanks for your feedback! Joe


Mirror on the Atlantic

Mirror on the Atlantic

Originally uploaded by Joseph Rossbach(

Sunset along the Atlantic Ocean, Cape May, New Jersey. After the storms rolled through, I was rewarded with an amazing display of light along the beach just north of Cape May. I used a 3 stop graduated (hard) ND filter to hold back the exposure in the sky. I waited until after a wave came up and washed back which created a mirror reflection in the wet sand. Nature simply is mazing!


Old Friends, Shenandoah National Park

Old Friends

Originally uploaded by Joseph Rossbach(

For years I have been attracted to this old snag in Shenandoah National Park and for years the light and clouds never worked out for me. On my last trip into the park on the last day of the workshop, I took the group down to this spot. As the sun rose it illuminated the underside of the clouds floating by. I shot at f22 to get the sunstar and used a 2 stop ND grad to open up some additional detail in the mountains. I cropped this shot to 4:5 ratio to remove the empty space on the right of the composition and better balance the photo.


Potomac Highlands Sunrise

I  just returned from a few days of shooting and leading my “West Virginia Waterfalls” workshop on Saturday in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia. Good friend and fellow photographer, Alex Mody assisted me on Saturday and we shot together Friday and Sunday morning before I had to leave to get back home.

This shot below is the first of my favorite images from the weekend and was made on Sunday morning after sleeping in the back of my jeep to be on location at first light. Wicked thunderstorms rolled through around 12 midnight and lasted most of the night with heavy rain, thunder and lightning. It provided some amazing light at sunrise.

Allegheny Range of Light

Allegheny Range of Light

Click the above image to preview larger.

Don’t forget to check out our website for a full list of workshops and photo classes for 2009!

Upcoming featured workshops: Shenandoah Fawns and Vistas. Click here for more details and registration information.

Rocky Mountain National Park Summer Wildflowers and Reflections. Click here for more information and registration details.


Buck Hollow Sunrise

Spring is in the Air

Spring is in the Air

 Our Shenandoah Spring Workshop kicks of this afternoon but I have been in the park for a couple of days scouting and shooting new images. Here is one from this morning at Buck Hollow Overlook. The light broke for only a few minutes illuminating the scene with soft pink light and really nice glow. It looks like it is going to rain and generally be cloudy for the rest of the day, so we will be shooting waterfalls, forest scenes and streams. Hopefully we get lucky and get some light at sunset!

Please visit my website for a full list of photo workshops and classes for 2009: