Had the pleasure of visiting this incredible location early Sept of 2017 after this year’s Burning Man. Needless to say going to the desert after a hot event might have been a mistake as it was over 100F when this was taken. As we were hiking back to the car there were some storms off in the distance. With the obviously amazing rock in the foreground I was able to capture only one frame with lightning. Between the hot weather and lighting…definitely valley of fire.
As photographers we tend to intake lots of imagery. Being self-taught that is pretty much how I learned over the years. Along this path we come across photographs that tend to stick with us, or at least the idea of a certain scene or conditions. The ‘tree on a hill’ idea is nothing new. But of course I’ve wanted my own version. Well, while on a trip with my partner in March ’17 to the Central Coast of California we had the amazing opportunity to photograph this sunrise. Incredibly this was the property next door from where she grew up. What I couldnt expect was the incredible conditions we were about to experience. As the sky brightened this low ground fog hung around the small rolling hills. Then, all hell broke lose and the sky went nuclear. There are a number of photographs from this morning that are in my back pocket to share along the way but I will say this is a morning that will stay with me forever. Photographs or not 🙂
Recently I had the pleasure of photographing along the Central Coast of CA. While in CA a lot I hadnt been to this part of the state yet. Just so happened the trip coincided with the full moon so naturally my mind starts to line up ideas that could be possible. While we had been at the dunes earlier in the week the decision was to come back for sunset on our last night. Full moon rise right around sunset. While sunset was great (see previous post) the light was about to get crazy. There is a very small window of time, where the fading twilight starts to balance the brightness of the moon. It is in this brief window that I am now completely enraptured by. Nothing compares to the uniqueness of the colors that become possible. In the end I believe I was able to just take 3 photos before the light wasnt quite the same. This image I have two versions of, one cropped to make an interesting panorama. I am including both for your viewing. Which do you prefer??
Just got back from a 10 day trip to CA…of which I was able to shoot for 7 of them. Havent been able to shoot that much in, perhaps years. Not only was a pushing buttons but also exploring places I hadn’t been yet in California, then Central Coast. Even with all my trips I had not made it down to that part of the world. Needless to say I will be returning. Incredible seascapes, rolling hills, incredible Oak trees…dunes (my favorite). After looking out of the window on one of my many plane trips I noticed an area below that I had to explore. Didnt know it would take years to get there but we ended up spending 2 separate shoots there over 4 days. This particular shot was taken on the return trip for sunset. Which started out VERY windy (and chilly, even though the temperature was 15F higher just a bit inland). As the sunset the wind subsided and the light turned magic. In normal aF fashion I was scurrying around as the light dwindled trying to find whatever compositions I could. I was initially above this dune and then noticed the shape of the shadow and curves leading toward the point in the background. After tweaking the composition 3 times the 4th resulted in this image.
There will be lots to share from this adventure and please enjoy this surreal place!
Even with getting to California every 6-8 weeks to sign and ship artwork, often times I do not get out and photograph. Of course this isnt always true (see Yosemite images in the New Releases), but often it’s a quick work trip and back to the islands. On this particular afternoon I had some extra free time and decided to pull out my maps app and look for a spot I had flagged to go check out…so off I went. Driving there I had forgotten what had made me mark the spot but upon arriving I had an idea. A small beach tucked away with an arch and awesome rock stack in the tiny bay. Wicked cool spot. Approaching the cave first I set up for some rushing water shots at sunset. Watching the waves break further out and then crawl in definitely gets the heart racing even when they are benign. Without any clouds that day the light was still pretty and decided, as I usually do with clear skies (in Northern California even), to check my StarWalk app to see where things would be after sunset. Well…seems that my timing couldn’t have been much better. A bit after sunset the Milky Way looked to line up with the cave AND the moon wasnt too big to wash out the night sky. Bingo. So the wait began. With the tripod set up in the spot I had settled on (the back and forth conversation in my head was pretty comical) I bounced between the camera and my seat in the sand…wondering if a sneaky wave would knock the camera over. To capture the image with the best detail possible the plan was to take an image at twilight and then combine it with the sky, this way I would be able to print larger later and with more detail.
As expected, as day turned to twilight to night, the Milky Way revealed itself right at the entrance to the cave. As I took my exposures I wondered what this crescent moon looked like and as I emerged I saw another incredible scene…but that’s an image for another day 🙂
Last Wednesday I had just gotten back to Maui and headed up to Paia to play some ultimate. The weather in the eastern Islands had been stormy for a couple of days with damaging flooding occurring on Maui the day prior. While the sky was nice enough there were storm clouds further down the coast but weren’t tracking any further to the west. As the sun set we noticed a couple of the clouds starting popping off some awesome lightning. Standing there watching this awesome spectacle I decided to run back to the car and grab my gear and hurry to the beach to try and catch some. These kinds of conditions are VERY rare in Hawaii and standing out there with the ocean running up watching this show was special. To add to the surreal part of the scene the full moon had just rising and was lighting everything up as well! Not a bad way to start this trip!
It all began on a winter day. Ok, it was a Kauai winter day and we were at a friend’s birthday party dancing. But I was approached by a couple of friends who were getting married in May 2016 and asked if I could join them on this wedding adventure to Kalalau. Unknowing of my schedule I tentatively said yes, because well, Kalalau. I had actually only been to the beach once before about 6 years prior and was in desperate need to get back. Of course I didnt realize how much I would be working at the time but nonetheless, all in good time.
We arrived Friday morning and got things set up. And was pretty much in relax mode. Without having a day off in more time than I could remember I was now completely off the grid for 3 full days. That evening while laying in my tent I decided to check out my photo apps; The Photographer’s Ephemeris and StarWalk. I knew that summer season is better for viewing the Milky Way and had an inkling that it might be rising over the cathedrals. As for the moon and timing, that I needed to figured out. Doing some quick calculations it seemed that my window would be in the middle of the night so I set my alarm for 1am and went to bed. Hearing the phone go off and wanting to stay in bed are all too familiar feelings for most of us. I through on my sarong and grabbed my pack and walked (ok it was a pretty short walk) down to the beach. However this night it was not to be. Clouds. However I was able to see that my hunch was correct. Now to hopefully catch it. 2 more chances.
Next day was wedding day. Most of the day again, spent hanging out and relaxing. Per the expected forecast we had some clouds/rain start up around early afternoon and the mountains were pretty socked in. With the land/sea breeze regime in place I was expecting the weather to break around sunset…and right on queue as we headed out for the ceremony…blam! Here are some of the first edits from the wedding, but yes, the conditions were amazing! (story below photos)
We returned to camp after an amazing event (and photos) and had ourselves a merry little time that evening. This day however instead of going to bed and waking up again I stayed up until my window. As the night progressed and my time came to be our friendly little clouds decided to make an appearance again while I was shooting! Bastards. At least it was an eventful party (clearly I was the last still awake at this point). Off to bed. Strike 2.
Last day. More of the same. Clouds building up during the day, some slight rain. And clearing toward sunset. My window now pushed back until 3am. Alarm set. I poke my head out of the tent and see some stars. A good sign. I walk out enough to see over the cathedrals and there she is. Milky Way arcing right over. The moon getting close to the horizon gave a sunset/moonset feel to everything and I started to work quickly. Of course after 3 days of shooting, including a wedding, I had already finished one battery and was working on one bar on my 2nd and last one. As luck would have it. That is all I would need 🙂
It surprises me, living so far away from Yosemite, that I’ve been able to now catch snow in the Valley twice. This particular coincidence lined up with my usual mainland trip to sign and ship artwork. Being that the forecast was for a few inches of snow, but not down to the valley floor, I wasn’t sure my plans. When I got word that the webcams were showing the white stuff all the way down I knew where I was headed. At the same time I found out a long term photographer contact I had was also in the area. I made the drive and arrived around 11pm. Of course with an early wake up call coming. As we ventured out in the morning the darkness was starting to give way and we could see that the clouds had parted. A good sign…potentially. Landscape photography is a tricky thing. Too much or too few clouds can be problematic (sometimes). My goal for this morning was Tunnel View. The iconic location that I really was looking forward to capturing with fresh snowfall AND flowing waterfalls (finally a non-drought winter). Arriving to the view in front of me was incredible. White and green speckled throughout the valley. A low hanging cloud among the trees. And of course…chilly!!
As the sun started to rise the cloud that was hanging in the Valley proceeded to flatten out and dance across the trees. Constantly changing and sloshing about it was a smorgasbord of intimate photography. I spent the next 2.5hrs in awe as the constantly changing light and fog really got my creative juices flowing. So much to capture and so ephemeral. To say that the morning was productive would be an understatement! There is lots to share but we shall start with just this one.
Having spent a lot of time in California over the last 4 years it was such a welcome (I’m sure for lots of people!) change to see things so green this year. This is an afternoon shot taken on Mt. Diablo, east of San Francisco. The greens, shadows and clouds were just too much fun to pass by!
Back in August 2014 I had the opportunity to meet a friend from college and head down to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Arriving late in the afternoon on our first day we quickly decided to change our plans and spend both nights camped at this awesome location. The tallest dunes in the US (~700′) up against the almost 14k foot Sangre De Cristo Mountains made for a dramatic and beautiful location. Given the craziness that we witnessed the day before (see High Voltage) I was after more of an overview shot of the dunes as they leap out of the plain below and up against the impressive peaks. After shooting sunrise up in the dunes that morning under some pretty wonderful light the day quickly went overcast and dreary. As the afternoon went on I noticed a slight opportunity to the west across the San Luis Valley. Finding a good spot along the road the waiting game began. A familiar one with landscape photographers this was no different, except for the proximity to comforts. The waiting game looked like it was going to pay off as light started to dapple across the grasses below the dunes. But not quite where it was needed. Then, as photographer’s tell stories of, the beam of light moved up over the dunes, for a mere 3 minutes. I rattled off a number of panoramas and then it was gone for the afternoon. Moments like this are what help keep the photographic ambition alive and chasing those moments. Glad I was there 🙂