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!
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!
I’ve been holding this image for a long time. Since March of 2013 when I got to experience the magic that is snowfall in Yosemite Valley. In the frenzy that was that morning (which can be read about more in my other image “Pencil To Paper“) I recalled this spot which I had noticed on previous trips. Though back then the falls werent flowing nearly as much (if at all….something about a on-going drought). This time around a different story. As the snow was pounding down I set up the shot and luckily had my small umbrella hidden in my camera bag to protect the camera (not me) from the big, heavy flakes. Spending the better part of an hour at this location experimenting with different ways of capturing the scene as it changed. In the end this particular exposure really managed to translate the experience of that morning in the Valley 🙂
This image was made on my first major photography trip in Aug ’12. There are LOTS of images waiting for me to get to and this was a particularly nice morning. I had wanted to get shots of reflections, of which I’m a huge fan, while in Yosemite. This particular morning I had picked out a spot I saw on the map that I thought might lead to an interesting composition. Getting down to the trail a bit later than I wanted (that never happens of course :p) the clouds were already looking amazingly promising. And in August in California any clouds are a blessing! I hurried a bit more and then as I was wondering if I picked the right area the trail bent around the corner and there was the river pointing right at the direction of half dome. Perfect! The clouds were already doing their thing and worked quickly on a number of compositions. This one in particular requiring me to be thigh deep in the river. The stillness in the morning was truly special. The air felt cool, no rushing of cars in the valley floor, just the meandering river and myself. Great way to start the day 🙂
Having seen photographs of this mysterious place, I was excited to make my maiden voyage out to this remote stretch of playa or ancient, dried lake bed. While no one has ever seen the rocks move it is believed a combination of water and wind is needed to move these rocks, some up to 100lbs, across the surface. And in turn, they leave us their tracks. Some straight. Some curved. Some just mind boggling confusing. I spent a night, a very very cold night, and a morning out shooting this magical place. Wondering around by myself in the quietest place one could possibly imagine, surrounded by one of nature’s wonders was a real treat. As the sun crested the nearby mountain (the playa is at approximately 3700 ft above sea level), the strong backlight made for some wonderful textures in the playa and really accentuated the tracks of some of the rocks. I explored for quite some time letting my mind play with the abstract shapes and textures. This one in particular I found quite interesting. Enjoy!
Day 3 of my Death Valley excursion. Badwater. Aptly named as this is the lowest point in North America, at the hottest spot on earth, and there’s actually a small pool of water at this point! Of course the amount of salt in the water makes it completely undrinkable…hence the name. An ancient lake bed, this amazing place collects all the minerals and salt from the surrounding land that drain in to the basin during floods. These minerals then form amazing shapes and polygons out on this seemingly endless stretch of salt. As luck would have it this was my one good sunset with clouds…and it was super promising. As I scouted the area I eventually set off on a trek out to find the best examples of this phenomenon that I could. While doing so I came across this particular formation that really caught me. With the late afternoon light it seems as if it were a tree of salt. I snapped this photo and then moved on as I was constantly looking for unique shapes. Of course little did I realize that I would try, without success, to find this spot again once sunset took hold. Glad I stopped when I did 🙂
We now skip ahead to my third morning in Death Valley. Having seen plenty of photographs of Zabriskie Point, admittedly I was not overly enthused about capturing this icon. Dont know why really just the pull to capture it wasnt there. However, after photographing an incredible sunset at Badwater the evening before I had the time, and was in the right part of this huge National Park, to be able to try and catch sunrise from here. Easily accessible it’s one of the first stops coming in to the Valley from Las Vegas. This particular morning it was chilly…quite chilly. Even though much of Death Valley is below sea level this overlook is around 5000ft above the valley floor. Bundled up I made my way out to this spire of earth which placed me in a great spot to capture the unique landforms and colors that this location supplies. As the sky was quite clear (not what photographer’s hope for) the best light was actually about 20min before sunrise during the intense twilight glow that happens before sunrise and after sunset. This special light brought the scene to life and really enhanced the striations in the rock. Now if only there was a hot chocolate stand nearby… 🙂
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