Saturday, February 11, 2012

Playing Catch Up

I've been ignoring this blog for a while but, I am feeling the need to do some updates. I did do some major expeditions since last summer, and I have the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion and Yosemite pictures to prove it.

For a nice easy(?) 5 mile round trip, I walked up Taylor Creek, in the Kolob area of Zion National Park. This reflecting pool, at the Double Arch Alcove, made for a nice photo. Well, since I can't edit properly on this ancient computer, I'll have to describe the next few photos. I visited all the main scenic points at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I think I made the best of difficult light and haze, and found some other spots I can exploit the next time.

My visit to Bryce Canyon included a few inches of snow, overnight. Since I stayed right there at the park boundary, it was easy to wait for the skies to clear a bit, and I was right there, at the base of hoodoos hundreds of feet tall, with a lovely dusting of fresh, white snow.

A January visit to Yosemite's Tenaya Lake was a once in a lifetime visit. Rarely does the Tioga Pass Road stay open into January. The lack of snow hasn't also meant a lack of cold, though. Tenaya Lake had ice plenty thick enough walk and skate on. There was only one spot where there was open water. The sounds of the flexing ice was pretty spooky but, I never felt I was in any danger. (Other than falling on my butt once... Ouchie!)

It was a glorious day but, I wished I had seen the frozen waterfalls before it was time to leave!

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tenaya Canyon revisited

My fascination with the mostly-inaccessible Tenaya Canyon, in Yosemite National Park, continues. Since I like to go where others don't venture, this dangerous canyon always draws me back. Maybe someday in the future there will be a safe trail connecting Yosemite Valley and Tenaya Lake but, for now, there are warning signs at both ends.

I followed Tenaya Creek on the flat granite slabs below Tenaya Lake. I knew what was ahead of me, as I descended down this immensely pleasurable walk. I soon came to the warning sign, and wanted to see the danger it warned of. So, I wandered up this ridge, to take a look over the edge, and to get a wider view of this "hanging valley", caused by ancient glaciers.

The landscape was peppered with these little pocket lakes, which were incredibly calm in the morning hours.

Here is where Tenaya Creek flows down these barren granite slabs, slippery from spring runoffs and glacial polish. I can see how people could easily slip, fall and die on the steeper slopes below this location. I'm really liking this picture.

I encountered this ancient Sierra juniper tree, growing on an exposed ridge above Tenaya Canyon. There is no doubt that this gnarly tree is hundreds of years old but, is it 200 years old or 1200 years old? Junipers are amazingly resilient and can survive where most plants cannot.

The "Golden Hour" seems to have been extended, with the morning light still providing perfect conditions for photography. Yes, it was a little buggy but ...

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Day in Yosemite Valley

I just had to go see what spring had in store for Yosemite Valley, after all that winter snow. I picked a perfect day, with blue sky, warm temperatures and some interesting clouds, as well. However, it is all about the waterfalls, this time of year.

Reflected in the "vernal pool" is Sentinel Falls, a somewhat seasonal waterfall not often seen by summer tourists.

I saw this cute young bear, doing what good bears are supposed to be doing, eating grubs and ants from under a fallen tree's bark.

I didn't go to Yosemite with a set plan but, I knew I had to check out the biggest waterfall there, Yosemite Falls. I climbed up, through the driving mists that soaked me where my raincoat didn't cover. The power of the lower falls is seen here, with the bridge barely visible below. I just waited for the inevitable big explosion of water to capture this scene.

The Upper Yosemite Falls was equally impressive, making a roar that could be heard throughout the east part of the valley.

This view from behind Lower Yosemite Falls is rarely seen, it seems. I had serious contrast and exposure problems, with the clouds and the water providing bright whites, and the skies and forests adding the darker tones. I'm still trying to find ways of getting around this dilemma.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Black and White in Yosemite

I had an urge to put some of my photos into black and white, to see if they would translate well into that style. My many high-contrast photos seem to look good without color. I hope people won't think this is a rip-off of Ansel Adams. I don't put near the effort into my shots as he did with his. He had serious restrictions on his freedom to explore his creativity by having to carry bulky and heavy 8x10 frames of film for his large format view camera.
This was my most serious attempt at imitating Ansel Adams. I planned out where I wanted to be at the "golden hour" of sunset. Framing the shadow area into the bottom of the frame helps to enhance the impact of Half Dome's bright face.

The winter months in Yosemite Valley always involve shadows. Finding that right mix of light and shadow in the right composition what I was trying to do here. Bridalveil Falls can be tough to capture but, I like how this one came out.

The majestic El Capitan often has such good light on it. Those pine trees on top of the cliffs hint at just how massive this rock is.

Here is another view of Bridalveil Falls, from the Tunnelview Vista Point. Just 5 minutes later, there was an abundance of blue skies and sunshine.

Here my recreation of Adams' "Half Dome: The Monolith", his famous close-up of the face of Half Dome. Legend has it that Adams arrived at this difficult spot with just one frame of film left. It is an arduous journey to get to this rugged spot, even if you are not carrying a large wooden tripod and 8x10 view camera. One main difference in our pictures is that his was taken when there was snow on the ground. Mine was taken during 100+ degree temperatures.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

January Jetsam

I've been busy during January, stuffing these frames with matted pictures. It had been a while since I had cut mats, and I needed to practice. So, the first one was rough, and now sits on my wall, in the upper left corner of this picture. The rest seem to be quite good.

The Carson Mansion in Eureka, California is one of the most photographed buildings in the state. This was built by a timber baron, with exotic wood from all around the world. There is so much detail to see. It now is an exclusive "club" for the movers and shakers of this small coastal town.

This is a shot of Empire Lakes, just down the street from where my Mom lives, in Coos Bay, Oregon. Just 10 minutes later, the rain started and Mom and I got pretty wet on the walk back home.

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Shore Acres Christmas lights, 2010

This time, we came right at dusk, with a little ambient light to make things look a little different. I also brought a tripod along, and that helped out a little bit in sharpness.

The lights look extra bright with this exposure, not using the flash. I had to hold the pop-up flash closed with one finger and pressing the shutter with another one. Once again, the wide angle lens excels with something in the foreground.

With the slow shutter speed, I was able to capture both the frog and the splash in one exposure. I like having a little bit of light in the sky on this one.

If I were to use the flash in this scene, the faster shutter speed would light the foreground but make the background very dark.

Before Thanksgiving dinner, Mom and I went out to the Shore Acres vicinity, including Cape Arago, for a shooting session. She wanted to see if the waves were big at Shore Acres, and this is what we saw.

It did snow in Mom's backyard, just a few blocks from the bay. We made a snowman, and then it snowed some more. Rhododendron leaves for the ears, peanuts for the teeth, moss for a mustasche, and a cedar twig and fuschia flower to top it off.


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Saturday, December 04, 2010

Oregon Coast Thanksgiving-style

As always, I go up to Mom's in Coos Bay, Oregon for Thanksgiving. I was able to avoid the worst of the season's weather by taking the coastal route.
The snow just doesn't get much lower than this, though. Empire Lakes is just a few blocks down the street from Mom's, AND from the bay, too.

Speaking of the bay, a crab boat ventures all the way in from the ocean to dock at the Coos Bay marina. Generally, crab boats will moor at Charleston, right at the entrance to Coos Bay.

Out near Shore Acres is Simpson's Reef and this viewpoint. I was hoping for bigger waves but, I had to settle for a small window between rain squalls. I had hoped to explore the trails along the top of the bluffs.

This is the view at the end of the road, looking southward towards Bandon.

I stumbled upon this rainforest scene on the return trip home. This is a small sample of the great photo opportunities I had for the week I was up there.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Utah's Wonderful Aspens

On the way to and from Bryce Canyon, I was treated to the glorious golden aspens. I was hard for me to drive by and not stop but, I was on a mission to explore Bryce, first.
Some of these shots were taken at a Forest Service fire station, closed for the season. There was already another car here, as a photographer was taking family pictures with these trees as the backdrop.

In the morning, while driving to Bryce, I just had to stop and grab some pictures with the morning light shining through the golden leaves.

I really should have used the telephoto lens, and stayed on the highway, like several other shooters, that morning. Instead, I wandered around the lava rocks, looking for "golden gems".

I could have spent a LOT more time gathering aspen shots but, Bryce was beckoning and I didn't get the earliest of starts that morning.

I considered coming back the next day to continue my quest for these awesome fall colors. Alas, thunderstorms moved in and continued through the morning hours the next day. Instead, I began my journey back home. Chances are, I'll be returning to Bryce and Zion in the spring again, with plenty more places I want to explore.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Bryce Canyon-2010

While I got to Bryce Canyon a bit later than I had hoped, due to the magnificance of the blazing aspens on the way, I was able to concoct a plan for the day. The Navajo Loop offered an experience that is very hard to match.
I had heard about "Wall Street" but, I wasn't quite prepared for the incredbly amazing views, and extreme terrain surrounding you. I usually seek the places where other people don't go but, the people in this shot makes the composition soooooo much better!

Hikers are treated to the view of a couple of surprisingly large Douglas-firs at the outlet from Wall Street. The shaded nooks and crannies don't get all that much sunlight during the day, and apparently, hold on to the bits of precipitation it does get from afternoon thunderstorms.

A perfect rest stop on the Navajo loop is "Twin Bridges", at about the halfway point. I wandered up the dead end trail to sit down and relax, for about 20 minutes. As the clouds continued to thicken, I knew I needed to hustle on up the trail, as thunderstorms can be quite violent in this region.

Of course, the elevation you lost going down Wall Street has to be gained back. Although the park's trail guide says to hike the trail clockwise, I felt that going the other direction was easier, with a more gentle climb back up this wonderful section of trail.

This slender and delicate hoodoo greets you as you approach the top, again. I'm sure that most people view this as a religious icon, for obvious reasons. It seems that most hoodoos have a more rounded shape, here in Bryce Canyon.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Zion-Fall 2010

My first day back in Zion turned out to be hazy, with crummy light. Often times, it's better to just exclude the drab sky and focus on other points of interest. I used my telephoto zoom to make these massive cliffs look close together.

The next day was brilliantly perfect for photography. Alas, my plans for the day were thwarted, due to weekend traffic and intense road construction near the long tunnel. Parking was at a premium and most of the turnouts were clogged with the idle road construction equipment. I kept driving until I reached the east entrance, then turned around and finally found an empty space to park. Luckily, all of this higher terrain excited my camera eye.

I spied this "slot canyon" from the highway and decided that it wouldn't be difficult to approach it from a mile away. The reflected light makes this picture so compelling, and the canyon was so narrow in one spot that I had to take my backpack off and squeeze through sideways. I also had to do some tricky rock climbing in my attempt to go as far up the canyon as I could.

These higher elevation parts of Zion offer a lot more places to hike than around the cliffs of Zion Canyon. It is also noticeably cooler, while still being exceptionally beautiful.

The texture of this particular rock is reminiscent of a lakeshore as the water level goes down. Sandstone erodes into tiny specks of sand, and over thousands and thousands of years, you end up with these wonderful, everchanging textures.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A visit from Family

I had a great visit from my niece Julie, her daughter Idarah and our family friend Greg, Jr. The first evening, we grabbed some yummy sandwiches from the local market and went up to Calaveras-Bigtrees State Park. We drove through the park and looked around, then returned to the main grove of Giant Sequoias.
Idarah was very happy to be wandering on the trails, just like the rest of us.

Yep, she's getting bigger but, so is this "bigtree".

Idarah does the cutest things. She's such a good baby, just like her mama was!

The next day, we all went to Yosemite. I figured Glacier Point might be less crowded, and provide a more awesome view for Greg, who had never been to Yosemite before. We had lunch with a view of Half Dome and the high Sierra Nevada. Here's the view of the valley floor, looking over the edge of Glacier Point.

We descended back into the valley and decided to stop off at Bridalveil Falls, which was still running. Yosemite Falls was merely a trickle so, this was our best bet to see a waterfall up close. Winds always affect Bridalveil, and that day was no exception.

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