I left Carrizo Plain National Monument on Saturday morning (April 17) after photographing this attractive display of tidy tips at sunrise near the south end of Soda Lake. It was my first visit to the area. Most of the wildflowers were already about 1 week past peak, but I still found this delightful 10’x10′ bloom that was worth photographing. The blowing wind made still images of the flowers impossible in the afternoon, but I woke up to calm conditions with gorgeous skies both mornings. The fleeting pink-purple cloud color lasted just a few moments. I used my Singh-Ray 3-stop Hard Graduated Neutral Density filter to balance the exposure of the sky above the wildflowers. I also created this image with a loaned Carl Zeiss 35mm f2 ZE lens. I’ll be writing a blog post about it and the 28mm f2 lens soon. I have appreciated using them so much that I do not plan to return them!
I just returned from 11 incredibly productive days shooting wildflowers in Southern California. I am exhausted after 20 hours of driving back to Seattle and only home for 3 days before leading my Olympic National Park Photography Tour later this week. I took this beautiful picture of the poppies in bloom last Thursday (15th) at around noon in the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve. Several locals told me that this years’ bloom is turning out to be one of the better ones that they have ever seen. I found the hills covered in poppies overwhelming to look at. I had a conversation with a volunteer who was wearing one of those bright orange worker visibility vests which seemed a dull orange in comparison to the brilliant poppies. Anyone visiting the Antelope Valley this week should still find the flowers at their peak.
This is my favorite wildflower image that I have created so far during my visit to Death Valley National Park. I photographed this enormous field of desert sunflowers near Ashford Mill at sunrise on Friday April 9. The interminable wind all weekend has made it impossible for me to shoot this type of big depth-of-field scene since. However, the weather forecast optimistically predicts calm winds after today, so I will here with my fingers crossed for a few more days. The display is especially brilliant between Mormon Point & Ashford Mill. If you still have time to visit this week, you will not be disappointed.
This is my favorite image from my recent shoot in Joshua Tree National Park. I sat through 4 days of bad weather, including snow, before I finally experienced these dramatic clouds at sunrise. During that non-shooting time, I scouted the park looking for interesting compositions and found this Joshua Tree lying on its side. I always look for odd numbered patterns in my images, so I especially liked the way that the 3 blooms framed the funny looking tree in the background. The low-angle light at sunrise and the yellow-gray clouds sweeping across the sky completed the scene.
My image “Racetrack Sunset” will be the April cover photo of Outdoor Photographer! The Racetrack is a seasonally dry lake located in the northern part of Death Valley National Park and is famous for its moving rocks. With the right combination of rain and wind, the rocks move slowly across the surface of the playa, leaving a track as they go. I photographed this amazing rock at sunset during my first visit to the Racetrack in January 2006. I was enthralled with the unusual arc that it had created as it was moving. This rock was still in the same location during my recent Death Valley National Park Tour.
Here is another unusually dramatic image of Mobius Arch that I photographed last month. The clouds went from pink to orange, yellow, and then white by the time the early light began to illuminate the arch. I was very happy to finally shoot the arch with a more interesting sky after several typical blue sky attempts over the years.
Here’s an image that I took from the Piedras Blancas elephant seal colony near San Simeon, CA last month. The day I got this shot I was not having any luck shooting critters, so when the sun started to set I turned my attention to the landscape. The scene before me was the epitome of Big Sur: waves were crashing against the rugged coastline and heavy clouds were billowing down from the mountains towards the ocean. This spongy mat of icicle plants covering the cliffs served as the anchor point for this image of unspoiled California. (Correction-Icicle plants are an invasive species from South Africa. My bad.)
I just spent a nice week with my family camping near San Diego. We flew home yesterday, and Monday I fly back down for 10 days with some client-friends. All this while trying to balance my family responsibilities. Wish me luck!
This is another dramatic image that I took on New Year’s Day at San Elijo State Beach in California. I can’t believe that I have been home for over 4 weeks and it is now time for me to start traveling again! I could stay home for the next 6 months just working on my website & new images, but how fun would that be? Tomorrow morning, my family and I are flying back down to San Diego for my daughters’ mid-winter break to use our truck & camping trailer that I stored there last month. Not too much planned, other than enjoying the nice weather with my girls.
This is another image that I created during my recent Death Valley National Park Photo Tour. My 3 LA based clients unfortunately missed this photo opportunity because they drove home the day before. My remaining client & I left the Badwater parking lot in the dark an hour before sunrise. We wore our headlamps and hiked towards the center of the salt flats. After 40 minutes, we stumbled upon these salt patterns and set up our cameras to capture the magnificent scene. I like the textures on the salt flats, but I love the puffy sunrise clouds over the mountains.
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.