Td’M DAY ONE
I have been “planning” this road trip for years. At the end of every year, as the school year winds down, teachers ask each other what they are going to do over the summer break. I always reply that I’m going to try to make my “trip”. But I never succeeded for some reason. This year I didn’t really plan on going, but two weeks ago, my sister made the point that I could. I had no good reason not to go. So I am.
The first day’s trip covered the same ground and roads I have traveled hundreds of times. Ok, it’s more like five, but the point is I’ve done it before.
395 is boring until you get to Big Pine. After that, you get to drive parallel to the eastern Sierra. That’s nice. But until then, it’s boring. Yesterday, it was boring and hot. 108 was today’s high temp outside. Only after leaving Bishop did it start to cool down. By the time I got to Lee Vining, it was a pleasant 79.
I stopped in Bishop for my traditional pilgrimage to Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light Gallery. I love going there because I ALWAYS walk out inspired to improve my photography and with a plan to find better light. I also had lunch at Raymond’s Deli. This is what local food is supposed to be; good, filling, reasonably priced. To top it off, the place rocked on decor. The best part was the bathroom. You have to view my Instagram video to understand why.
I’ve made several changes to Sandy to make life easier while traveling. One of those changes was to mounts iPad onto the dashboard, so I can use it while driving. No, I’m not on Facebook or checking email. I downloaded several GPS apps that I can use for navigation, planning, and track recording. The mount works great, but I’m still playing with the apps. I’ll talk more about the other modifications later, but until then, you can view today’s trip information here.
After arriving in Lee Vining, I was going to eat at the Whoa Nellie Deli, but I was still full from lunch and skipped that. Instead, I went shooting at the south tufas. At first, I wasn’t inspired. Why? Because the place was crawling with other photographers. They were everywhere. There were the tourists with REALLY cheap tripods, there were gangs if videographers. Of course there was the iPhone crowd. And none of them cared if they walked into your shot.
But I had a plan. I was going to wait until the sun went down below the mountains, but was still illuminating the clouds on the east. It worked. Most of the photographers left as soon as the sun set and I was able to get my images.
I found my dispersed campsite, popped open the RTT, got ready for bed, and climbed up. I’m typing this on my iPhone and will post it when I get better reception.
Tomorrow, the real journey starts. And maybe some Kansas and Toto. Sorry. Seriously, I’ve traveled today’s trip before, but tomorrow I start on roads I’ve never driven or seen. And honestly, I’m not even sure what route I’m going to take. I’ll figure that out when I look at the map.
The inside of Raymond’s Deli in Bishop, CA
Mono Lake tufa’s at sunset
A screen shot of my iPhone app Motion X HD, showing the location of my campsite.
Raymond’s Deli Bathroom Video
Posted 5 months, 1 week ago at 12:50 pm. 2 comments
This was taken at Fossil Falls, near Ridgecrest, CA off of Hwy 395. Fossil Falls is a lava formation that has been eroded by water to form a beautifully sculpted landscape that can capture a photographer for hours.
This tuft of grass was growing in the lava surrounded by sculpted rock, surviving in the bit of soil that was in the crevice.
Fossil Falls Grass
It was taken with a D300 and a 70-200 f2.8 lens at 70mm. The exposure was for 1/60 of a second at f5.6 with an ISO of 200.
You can view more of my Fossil Falls images on my gallery.
Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think.
Posted 3 years ago at 11:29 am. Add a comment
Two weekends ago I traveled to the Eastern Sierra to shoot the fall colors. Again, the Aspen trees did not disappoint. Using the Sacramento Bee’s website that has an great interactive page that highlights the fall color along that part of 395, I was able to determine the best places to visit in order to maximize my shooting.
On a quick side note about the Sacramento Bee’s website, I had the opportunity to actually meet the author of the website, David Henry, at the Morro Bay Photo Expo. He is also a Canon rep, but we can’t hold that against him. He makes the trip from Sacramento to the Eastern Sierra to visit every one of the spots he reports on and he does it every weekend. He is a very nice guy, if you get the chance to meet him, you are lucky. The photography world needs more people willing to give like Dave.
Last year, Convict Lake was the place I went and saw my first real fall colors. Just south of Mammoth, I saw a sign saying Convict Lake was only 2 miles up a small road and decided to visit. WOW! That was the only thing I could think to say. I went back this year and once again, the mountains with the lake at the base was great, but when you add in the bright yellow colors…
I spent about two hours there taking pictures along the south shore. While there you are surrounded by fishermen. I tried to use them in some of my shots to show the environment, but this is the only one that I really like.
Fishing Convict Lake
I also tried to get some details of the area. I wanted to show how the leaves look while changing and the damage done to the aspens by woodpeckers or what I assume are woodpeckers.
The holes created by the woodpeckers also attract insects that want to use the sap for energy.
Five & One
Finally, I liked the details in this image of the Aspens at the far end of the lake.
Convict Lake with Sierra Details
You can view all of the images of the Sierra Nevada from my trip by clicking here: Sierra Nevada
Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Posted 3 years, 1 month ago at 11:00 am. 2 comments
I took a trip last weekend to the Eastern Sierra Nevada to shoot the fall colors. My first night was spent in the Fossil Falls campground on 395, just south of Olancha.
Fossil Falls is a lave flow that used to have a river flowing through it. The result is some beautiful, worn lava formations that can be very photogenic.
The only issue with shooting there is that there are huge dynamic range possiblities or problems. The black lava against the blue sky or against clouds can create some metering concerns. Most of the problems, if you have exposed correctly, can be taken care of in post processing by recovering the highlights or adding some fill light.
Fossil Falls Lava Flows
Fossil Falls with the Sierra Nevada in the Background
Posted 3 years, 1 month ago at 9:52 am. 2 comments
I spent a week in the Lee Vining in August of 2009. Here are some of the images from that trip. Bodie-Mono Lake
Please let me know what you think.
Posted 4 years, 1 month ago at 9:02 pm. Add a comment
Again, posting an image that I got at June Lake on my ill-fated Bodie trip.
Driving on the June Lake Loop from north to south, I looked over at the lake and saw all of the white trees trunks against the dark background of the lake with the yellow leaves as a “foreground” element. The leaves weren’t really a foreground element, but I thought they anchored the bottom of the image well.
I stopped, flipped a U-ey, and found a place to park, walked up the road several hundred yards, and found the composition I liked. It got kind of hairy every time a car would drive by due to the narrowness of the shoulder (or the lack of one altogether), but I stopped and stepped off the road each time.
Posted 4 years, 1 month ago at 8:37 am. Add a comment
A very busy October is slowly coming to an end. The weekend of the 16th, 17th, and 18th was spent driving up highway 395 to Lee Vining and spent Saturday shooting around Bodie. But on the way home, I took a short detour through the June Lake area and shoot the fall color.
This scene was right next to the road. I got out of my car, turned around, and it was waiting to be captured. As I stood there looking at it, I immediately noticed and liked the dark green pine tree in the middle of the yellow with the semi-green aspens in the upper left.
I was very impressed with the color in the area and all along the eastern Sierra. I am going to have to plan trip up there next year.
I still have lots of images from both the ill fated trip up the 395 and the Morro Bay Photo Expo with George Lepp and will be posting LOTS more images over the next few weeks.
Posted 4 years, 1 month ago at 9:57 pm. Add a comment
It was an interesting weekend that started out well, got a LOT better, then took a disastrous, almost fatal, turn.
I took a trip up to Bodie State Historical Park last weekend to participate in their last photographer’s day of the year. Photographer’s day is held every third Saturday of the month from April to October. The cost is $50 and for that they open the park up at 6:30am instead of the usual 9:00 and close it at 6:30pm instead of the usual 4:00. Although, I have heard that they don’t really ask you to leave until you are actually done.
I was prepared for snow and bad weather after the week’s storm, but the roads were dry and, yet, there was snow on the ground to give the images more character.
I left SoCal at about 5:30pm Thursday afternoon, staying in Ridgecrest for the night. I got an early start at about eight o’clock and continued up highway 395, stopping in Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light Gallery for my traditional look at his gallery as I pass through Bishop. I am always amazed by his work and the work of the guest artists that are exhibited. I strongly recommend stopping at his gallery to every photographer passing through the Bishop area.
- Fall Color at Convict Lake
I stopped by Convict Lake in the Lee Vining/Mammoth Lakes area and took some images there. I tried out my new Lensbaby and captured the fall colors around the lake before traveling to Mono Lake and taking some pictures at the South Tufa area. After that, I checked into the Lee Vining Lake View Lodge. Ok, there is no lake view, but…
Saturday, I got up at 4:45 and was out the door by 5:30, arriving at Bodie by 6:20. Checked in, got to the parking lot, then hiked up the west side of the valley to get the sun rising over the town. After that, I went back into the town and shot pictures of different things in the morning light. By noon, I was mostly shooting macro and using the Lensbaby to while away the time until the afternoon golden hour when I hiked back up the west side of the valley to get the sun setting on the town.
- Bodie Before Sunrise
After a good dinner at Whoa Nellie Deli in the Mobil station. (It’s really good food. Honest.) I went to bed and got a good night’s sleep, waking up at seven and getting on the road at about 9:30 after a good breakfast at Nicely’s in Lee Vining. I took a side trip up into Yosemite to see the affect of the snow on Tuolumne Meadows and the high country. Above 9,000 feet there was lots of snow. Below 9,000 feet there was almost nothing. I still got some good shots of small streams and lakes with the mountains and snow in the background.
- Tenaya Lake
Finally, I started home. After four hours of driving, I had just past Ridgecrest when some idiot in a white Dodge Ram pick-up tried passing in a no-passing zone forcing me off the road, up an embankment, and into a sign post. Ironically, the sign I drove through was “PASS WITH CARE”.
The X-Terra is probably totaled and the CHP officer said that the only reason I am not dead or busted up is because of my decision to put my car into the dirt and then my skill at keeping it upright. To top it off, the bastard took off, making it a “none collision hit and run” accident. Fortunately, two local kids from Ridgecrest stayed and were witnesses for me to the CHP.
My wife picked me up after a two-and-a-half hour drive from home and we ended up spending the night back in Ridgecrest before driving home Monday morning.
The bottom line: I’m glad to be alive, well, and to have come home with some great pictures. I will be posting a few here over the next few weeks.
Posted 4 years, 1 month ago at 10:30 am. Add a comment
During my recent trip up highway 395 in the middle of August, I stopped at the Manzanar relocation camp. I have stopped here before and after my first visit, I looked into different photographers takes on the camp. I was surprised to find that Ansel Adams had spent considerable time there and took one of his more well known images there.
The cemetery monument. Here is his image from the Library of Congress.
Ansel Adams' Cemetery Monument at Manzanar
When I went back this time, I remembered his image and tried to capture the same type of thing. It wasn’t an attempt to copy his work, more like an exercise in seeing like a master. It took me some time to get the camera angle and the clouds in a position that I liked, but it was fun and challenging to do so.
Here is my image.
There are differences between Adams’ image and mine. (Other than the obvious that mine will probably never be considered an iconic image or be in the Library of Congress.)
His is black and white. Mine is color. I don’t see in B&W and prefer color for my images. I used a different angle than he did and my sky has clouds and his doesn’t. I’m not sure that I like the empty sky in Adam’s image.
Also, the trees that were there in the background when Adams made his image are very different and I didn’t use them in my image because I wanted to include the clouds in the sky. And he actually made a great print in the harsh mid-day sun. I can’t do that to save my life, at least not yet.
I think it is important to try to emulate the masters, it is a great exercise in seeing different images and techniques in capturing what you see. The exercise is good because you can compare your final images to those that are universally accepted as being good.
My result? All-in-all, I think I did a good job. I’d really appreciate your feedback.
Posted 4 years, 2 months ago at 8:12 am. 3 comments