I created this dramatic image on the Badwater salt flats during the 2nd morning of my recent Death Valley National Park Photo Tour. My favorite landscape lighting scenario is the one that you see here, when sunrise light illuminates a mountain range underneath ominous clouds. I could not have asked for anything more. Over the next hour, the light interacted with the clouds giving me some very different images, but this early one is my favorite. On my way to Death Valley, California photographer G Dan Mitchell was kind enough to send me a Facebook comment about looking for nice salt crust patterns around the first corner south of the Badwater parking lot. I’m not sure if I found the exact spot that he was referring to, but I probably would not have parked in that area and walked the short distance from the road to these bizarre salt crust eruptions without his recommendation. As the sunrise began, I was mostly walking back & forth answering my 4 clients questions, but I still managed to briefly set up my camera to capture the wondrous scene unfolding before me.
Here it is! My “epic” sunrise image of Mobius Arch, created last week in California’s Alabama Hills. I spent over 1 hour photographing this arch as the color of the sunrise light intensified from pink to yellow and the clouds swirled in different textures. This was the most dramatic sunrise that I have witnessed from this location. I had visited Mobius Arch a half dozen times over the last 10 years hoping to create an image more dramatic than the typical one involving blue sky. I am happy that my persistence finally paid off with this incredible opportunity.
As promised, I am finally posting one of my incredible sunset images from New Years Day here at San Elijo State Beach in California. Not only was the sunset one of the most spectacular that I have ever witnessed, but there was also an extreme low tide that afternoon that exposed the reef & eel grass beds just in time to make an interesting foreground. I’ve got a few more that I will eventually share, but this will have to do for right now. I don’t have great internet access while traveling in California. Hopefully, I will see many more sunrises or sunsets like this during my Death Valley Tour this week. Wish me luck!
I just got back from a relaxing week in CA shooting with a few friends in Yosemite and Big Sur, visiting a friend in the Bay Area, and then attending an old college buddy’s wedding at Disneyland. Did I mention that CA is way too crowded for me?
This is a nice reflection image that I took early one morning of Yosemite Falls from the meadows in the Valley. It was a beautiful spot without any other photographers around. You might notice that this image is larger than what I typically post on my site. I’ve had a lot of requests for larger images, so I intend to redo my entire site this year with larger images that will also have a watermark on them again, since I have been having some problems lately with people using my website images for commercial purposes without my permission. I am also working on updating my blog to a WordPress blog that will have a lot more features like search-ability, SEO, and RSS feeds in the next couple of weeks.
Last night we finally got to shoot some beautiful flowers without wind. We saw a posting on the SoCal wildflower report a few days ago that mentioned walking about 2 miles north of the road to find sand verbana and dune evening primrose flowers. After we scouted this location 2 days ago during a windy sunset, we went back to shoot it last night and got some beautiful light. I am very pleased with the shoot, but I think that we are going back there tonight.
Mark and I did some exploring yesterday and finally found what I consider to be the 2 best flower displays in the area. In the afternoon, we hiked part way up Palm Canyon and found tons of brittlebush on display, so that is where we went back to this morning to shoot the sunrise. I also played around a bit with the video function on my new camera as well as my 6×12 panoramic camera. I don’t think that I did either of them justice. We are going to go hiking again this afternoon and are really looking forward to sunset tonight when we are going to photograph our secret stash of flowers that we located yesterday afternoon.
Last year, I put some effort into photographing sea otters in several different locations. I am proud of the few images that I created of Alaskan otters, especially since they are so allusive. I photographed a lot of behaviors, but the images that were missing were cute close-ups of their dry, puffy faces. I had heard that photographing sea otters was much easier at Elkhorn Slough near Moss Landing, CA than in Alaska, so I decided to give it a try. For 3 days in late October, I photographed them with my friend Phil Colla and my previous photo workshop client Nick Gorevic. This close-up of an adorable sea otter’s face is my favorite image from the entire shoot. The face is dry and puffy with some eye contact with the camera. The low angle sunset light brings out the golden color of the otter’s blond face. I like the hands being clasped together. Sea otters hold their hands out of the water in this position when they are on their backs because they do not have as much fur around their paws to keep them warm as they do on the rest of their body. This images was created with my Canon 50D digital SLR, 400mm f4 DO IS lens, and 1.4X tele-extender at f5.6 and 1/320 second.
My new friend Ken Howard was with me in Alaska last August photographing humpback whales, when I got an ominous text message on my satellite phone telling me to call home asap. Within a few minutes I was talking to my grief stricken wife about our house catching fire. Thankfully, she and my daughters were out shopping when it happened. I was only 2 days into a 10 day trip, but needless to say I cut it short and came home. Ken and I hit it off, so we started making plans for a trip to photograph sea otters in Monterey, CA. He introduced me to Phil Colla who we invited to join us. Unfortunately, one of Ken’s dear friends passed away right before our trip, so he had to back out at the last minute. Phil and I still went ahead with the trip and had a great time. In spite of our previous bad luck, Ken is coming up to Seattle next week so that we can try and have a successful trip. We are going to Vancouver Island to dive with the Steller sea lions near Hornby Island. I hope that the weather will cooperate and give us a little bit of a break.
In late October, I flew down to California and chartered a boat with Phil to photograph sea otters for 3 days. After the first day, I realized that the images I was after were during the last 45 minutes of golden light. Rafts of up to 50 otters were grouped together and quite easy to approach. Getting one to look at us at the correct angle was a challenge, but they were still much easier to photograph than any otter I have ever seen in Alaska. This portrait is one of my favorite images from the shoot. I like the dry puffy face, cute hand position, golden low angle light, and otter’s reflection on the surface of the water. I created this image with my new Canon 50D digital SLR, 400mm f4 DO IS lens, 1.4X tele-extender at f5.6 and 1/250 second.
I’ve been back home working for over a week while getting ready for some extensive travel coming up to Indonesia, Panama, and Patagonia over the next few months. I just finished processing all of my new sea otter images. Apple came out with a RAW converter for Aperture this past week. I was not happy how the DNG files were looking, so I wanted to wait to do the processing once Aperture supported my new Canon 50D. Overall, I am very happy with the results of using the new camera. My friend Phil Colla and I have been emailing back and forth about the quality of the images from the new camera. I’ve been very pleased with what I am getting, and have to go back to some of my 35mm film scans to realize how picky we are getting these days. The detail is so good that I am down to counting nose hairs on the sea otters. Overall, I am very pleased with the new camera, except for the fact that the larger LCD screen ends up getting covered in nose smudge while holding it up to my face. I’ll try and have more of the images in the sea otter gallery before I leave November 19th. Please visit more of my Sea Otter Photography.
The past few days we have seen a few different sea otter moms and babies, but it is pretty hard to get them to come in close enough to get a shot. This image just cracks me up! I kept laughing after I took it. The baby has eel grass hanging off of its head and there is good eye contact with both of the otters. I am glad that I had my new Canon 50D firing 6fps so that I was able to capture this funny moment. Please visit more of my Sea Otter Photography.