Sunset and sandstone formations, Oregon coast. 16mm, five bracketed exposures at f/16, ISO 100, blended with Lightroom’s HDR Merge, then blended back with one of the original images in Photoshop to eliminate ghosting.
Recently Claudia and I visited our friends Gary and Charlotte Gibb up near Mt. Shasta, where they were renting a house for the week. We had a great time hanging out with them for a couple of days. And then we thought, we’re so close, maybe we should visit the Oregon coast. So we did.
I’ve never spent much time along the Oregon coast, but it’s a beautiful area, and a popular photography destination for a reason, so it’s one of those places that I’ve wanted to explore more thoroughly.
Northern elephant seals near San Simeon, CA, USA
I hope all you moms are having a nice, relaxing day!
Claudia and I found ourselves near San Simeon a few weeks ago, and decided to stop and check out the elephant seals. I became captivated by the patterns made by seals on the beach, so I got out my camera and we ended up staying for over an hour. A thin overcast created soft sidelight and backlight on the seals, which was perfect for highlighting their forms and textures – patterns of seal blubber.
Sandstorm, Mesquite Flat Dunes, Death Valley NP, CA, USA
We tend to think of deserts as barren and desolate, but most deserts are actually full of vegetation. The plants may be widely spaced, but they’re abundant. Some desert areas, like Saguaro National Park, and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (both in Arizona), seem almost lush.
In Death Valley, however, there are miles and miles of bare, naked earth, without a scrap of vegetation. It’s austere, yet beautiful in its simplicity. The earth is laid out in plain sight, without any plants to obscure its colors, folds, and textures.
Desert in bloom at sunset, Joshua Tree NP, California. I bracketed three exposures, two stops apart, and blended them with Lightroom’s HDR Merge. 33mm, f/16, ISO 100.
Last week Claudia and I visited family in Southern California, and, while we were in the neighborhood, detoured to some early-season wildflower spots: Walker Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and Joshua Tree National Park.
In past years I’ve photographed beautiful wildflower displays in semi-desert areas like Antelope Valley and the Carrizo Plain, but never in true, low-desert habitats like Anza-Borrego and Joshua Tree. It was amazing to see these normally-dry places blooming. The hills in Anza-Borrego were so green that in the right light, if you squinted (and used your imagination), it looked a bit like Ireland. The birds were in a springtime mood as well; we walked up a wash one afternoon accompanied by a symphony of bird song.
Early-morning light on Lone Pine Peak and the Alabama Hills, CA, USA
Claudia and I drive over to the eastern Sierra frequently in summer and fall, when Tioga Pass is open. We love it over there. But in the winter and spring Tioga Pass is usually closed, turning a two-and-a-half hour drive into an eight-hour drive. Until recently I had never been to Mono Lake in winter except during a couple of exceptionally-dry years when the pass stayed open later than usual – which hardly seemed like winter.
Our trip to photograph the lunar eclipse gave us an opportunity to do something we had always wanted to do: visit the east side in real winter conditions. I photographed sunrise at the Alabama Hills on Sunday morning before the eclipse, and then again on Monday morning, after the eclipse, as a storm was clearing over the Sierra.
Lunar eclipse sequence, Trona Pinnacles, CA, USA, January 20th, 2019
The weather forecasts prior to last Sunday’s lunar eclipse showed lots of clouds over the western U.S. Lots of clouds. On Thursday before the eclipse it looked like we might possibly find clear skies in southern Arizona, or around Death Valley, but the chances for either location looked slim.
By Saturday it appeared that southern Arizona would probably be covered in clouds at eclipse time. Yet computer models for the evening of the eclipse kept showing a small slot of clear sky extending from about Lancaster, California (in the desert north of Los Angeles) northeast through the Trona Pinnacles, Death Valley, and continuing into Nevada and Utah. I couldn’t think of anything in Nevada to use as a foreground, but Death Valley or the Trona Pinnacles could certainly work.