Archive for the ‘New Images’ Category

Moods of Mono Lake

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015
Fog and clouds over Mono Lake with the White Mountains in the distance, CA, USA

Fog and clouds over Mono Lake with the White Mountains in the distance. On this October morning we had planned to go the June Lake Loop, but some interesting clouds prompted me to photograph sunrise along the lakeshore. As the sunrise color faded, I noticed a layer of fog forming over the lake. We drove up toward Conway Summit to get above the fog, and stopped along the road, where I stayed for about 30 minutes photographing the shifting fog and clouds. This is a blend of three exposures using Lightroom’s new HDR Merge.

Mono Lake is a special place. First, of course, there are those amazing tufa formations. But it’s also unusual to see such large body of water surrounded by desert sagebrush. And then there are the mountains in the background, including the dramatic escarpment of the Sierra Nevada to the west, and the White Mountains to the southeast. Oh, and I almost forgot the wonderful bird life!

That unique setting is often adorned by interesting clouds, and occasional fog. We spent a lot of time in Lee Vining this summer and fall photographing the night sky and fall color, but we also had opportunities to photograph this beautiful lake under a variety of conditions, so I thought I’d show a few of those images here. I’ve included extended captions to give a little information about each photograph.


September’s Lunar Eclipse

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
Lunar eclipse sequence with light-painted Joshua trees, September 27th, 2015, Joshua Tree NP, CA, USA

Lunar eclipse sequence with light-painted Joshua trees, September 27th, 2015, Joshua Tree NP, CA, USA

Here, finally, is my photograph of the lunar eclipse on September 27th. We went to Colorado right after this, and then to the eastern Sierra, and in the middle of all that I had to deal with a computer problem, so it’s taken me awhile to put together this sequence.

You might recall that I had planned to go to Death Valley or the Alabama Hills for the eclipse, but a stream of high clouds threatened to block the view, so at the last minute we decided to head further south, away from the clouds, to Joshua Tree National Park.


First Snowfall

Sunday, November 15th, 2015
Snow-covered California black oak, late autumn, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Snow-covered California black oak, late autumn, Yosemite, Tuesday morning

I’m in Dallas today teaching a Lightroom workshop for the Sun to Moon Gallery. We have a nice group of people and we’re having a great time, but meanwhile, back in Yosemite, another storm is arriving. I won’t get to photograph this one, but did get to photograph the previous one last Monday and Tuesday.

That storm featured a brief, misty clearing on Monday morning, a dusting of snow on Monday night, and a couple of surprises. It began on Sunday night, but early Monday morning the satellite and radar images showed that there might be a break around sunrise before more precipitation arrived that afternoon. So I drove up to Tunnel View early, and sure enough, it did clear. It wasn’t the most colorful sunrise, but there was plenty of beautiful mist, as you can see in this photograph:


More Colorado Aspens

Sunday, November 8th, 2015
Aspens and reflections, Uncompahgre NF, CO, USA

Aspens and reflections, Uncompahgre NF, Colorado. This small, remote pond had a beautiful stand of aspens growing next to it. The trunks remind me of a baleen whale’s teeth.

As I said in this recent post, I had many opportunities to photograph aspens as part of a larger landscape this fall. But of course I photographed more intimate scenes as well, and I’ve included a selection of smaller-scale aspen photographs from Colorado here. Some of these images actually encompass a large geographic area, but I made the somewhat arbitrary distinction of defining an intimate landscape as anything that didn’t include sky.

On our first autumn visit to Colorado last year we split our time between the Kebler Pass/McClure Pass area and the San Juan Mountains. This year we spent the whole time in the San Juans, which allowed us to get to know this area better. There’s always something to be said for that. As you become more familiar with a place, you discover some of the lesser-known locations. You also start to learn the weather patterns, and know where to go at sunrise or sunset when there might be interesting clouds.


An Early Winter Storm

Thursday, November 5th, 2015
Clouds and mist from Tunnel View, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Clouds and mist from Tunnel View, Tuesday morning

It’s nice to see the Yosemite high country covered in snow on the Sentinel Dome webcam – an uncommon sight in recent years. On Monday a large, winter-like storm reached California, dropping over two-and-a-half inches of rain in Yosemite Valley, and from one to two feet of snow at higher elevations. The winter wet season is off to a good start.

I’m not celebrating too much yet, however, because I remember this happening before. During the last four water-starved winters several large, early-season storms have created initial optimism, only to be followed by months of sunny skies. Let’s hope that this is just the first of many big storms to arrive this winter.


Autumn Landscapes

Sunday, November 1st, 2015
Sunbeams, San Juan Mountains, CO, USA

Sunbeams, San Juan Mountains, Colorado. Driving over Lizard Head Pass we came around a bend and spotted these sunbeams coming through the clouds. Claudia found a place to pull over, and I scrambled to set up my camera as quickly as possible. Wind was blowing rain right toward the camera, so it was a challenge to keep water drops off the lens. I stayed for at least 20 minutes capturing images of the sunbeams as they moved and changed, but this was the very first frame. A challenging photo to process!

With their straight, white trunks and colorful leaves, aspens are great subjects for intimate landscapes. But in both Colorado and the eastern Sierra this fall we had lots of interesting weather, with great clouds, which created many opportunities to capture images of aspens as part of a larger landscape, with mountains in the background. I’ve posted a couple of these photographs already (here and here), but I’ve included a few more in this post.

These images were sometimes challenging to process. Often the aspens were in the shade, with sunlit, sometimes snow-covered peaks above, creating a lot of contrast. Yet all of these images were processed in Lightroom, with just one Raw file – no exposure blending or HDR. I used Lightroom’s wonderful Highlights and Shadows tools, plus some dodging and burning with the Adjustment Brush.


A Stormy Afternoon, and a Fall Color Report

Thursday, October 29th, 2015
Sunset light, Tunnel View, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Sunset light, Tunnel View, yesterday evening

Some interesting weather passed through the Sierra Nevada yesterday. It so happened that I had an errand to run in Yosemite Valley, which gave me an excuse (as if I needed one) to go up there and check on the weather. After taking care of the errand, Claudia and I ended up at Tunnel View, where we waited out a thunderstorm. I tried to take a nap in the car, but was rudely awakened several times by loud claps of thunder. After the rain stopped I went out to the viewpoint and waited for the sun to break through, joined by a number of other photographers, including some friends and acquaintances. Tunnel View is, by virtue of its popularity, the social gathering place for photographers in Yosemite.

Finally, just before sunset, the sun did break through and light El Capitan (see the photograph above). It’s funny how all those photographers can suddenly become quiet as they concentrate on composition and camera settings.


Colorado Color

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015
Aspens near Red Mountain Pass, Colorado, USA

Aspens near Red Mountain Pass, Colorado, USA

We’ve had a wonderful time in Colorado – again. The color hasn’t been as good as last year, but all the locals said that was one of the best autumns they’ve seen. This year the color was shaping up nicely around the San Juan Mountains in the southwestern part of the state, but then last Friday strong winds blew the leaves off many of the aspen leaves. Some areas seem to have received especially strong winds, leaving either bare trees or green ones, and few yellow leaves. But other places weren’t affected much at all, so there were still large swaths of spectacular color.

Here’s a photo from last week near Red Mountain Pass, outside of Ouray. This was made before the wind storm, but this is a high-elevation, early-changing spot, so some of the leaves had already fallen. Sometimes, however, a mixture of colorful leaves and bare trees is more interesting than just a mass of color; in this case the bare patches helped to make the diagonal lines of color stand out and create a pattern.


From Eclipse to Aspens

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
Autumn afternoon in the mountains near Telluride, CO, USA

Autumn afternoon in the mountains near Telluride, Colorado, yesterday afternoon

I had planned to go to the Alabama Hills or Death Valley for last Sunday’s lunar eclipse, but high clouds streamed in from the Pacific and threatened to block the view. So at the last minute Claudia and I decided to go further south, toward clear skies that were visible on satellite photos. We ended up in Joshua Tree National Park – along with many, many other people who seemed to think this was a good place to view the eclipse.

They were right of course – it was a great place. And the skies cooperated for the most part. I captured a sequence that I think will work, but I haven’t had a chance to process it yet, because the next morning we started driving to Colorado. We loved our autumn visit last year, and just had to go back. Colorado welcomed us with some nice clouds on our first afternoon; I’ve included one image from that evening above.


Bodie at Night

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Wagon wheel behind the Dechambeau Hotel, Bodie State Historic Park, CA, USA

Wagon wheel behind the Dechambeau Hotel, Bodie. I loved this wagon wheel poking out of the ground, and worked with one of our participants, Jeff, to light this scene. We started with an exposure for the sky, then lit the wagon wheel, getting close with a flashlight outfitted with a homemade snoot to try to light only the rim and spokes. Then Jeff lit the shed on the right from two different angles, and I lit the two-story buildings from both sides.


As promised, here are a few photos from the nighttime sessions during our recent Bodie, Inside and Out workshop.

The lighting for each of these photographs was rather complex, and required blending several exposures together. In each case I started with a frame for the sky (my standard pinpoint-star exposure: 15 seconds at f/2.8, 6400 ISO), then used separate frames (at lower ISOs and smaller apertures) to light different aspects of the scene. As I’ve described before, the individual exposures were blended together in Photoshop using the Lighten blending mode, and sometimes adding layer masks to hide stray light.