As I mentioned in my last post, we had an unusually nice run of cloudy days and rain this summer which is starting to feel like a distant memory. On one of those days, I headed out expecting to get wet. No, make that I was hoping to get thoroughly drenched. At least, that’s how it looked when I started. Mother Nature changed her mind as she often does, but this day turned out to be fantastic for hiking. The big storm lost its energy and in its wake left a couple hours of heavy overcast, light drizzle, and temps around 78 degrees. Technically, the subject in my photo could be called a waterfall, but that’s a stretch. There were tiny pools at the bottom, and several drops trickling down the wall, and that’s about all you might ever see here. The problem with this location is the lack of drainage to feed enough water over the top, unless of course, you were here getting thoroughly drenched by rain. I’ll keep trying. In the meantime, the contrast of the wet black streak against the sandstone and the soft light made for a nice image. Further up, wet plants and continued soft light made for lots of subjects later that day.
I was going through my media storage the other day, and came across this shot from a trip to New Orleans a couple years ago. I never got around to putting this one out, so here it is finally. It must have been quite a sign when it worked, and this was definitely the more preserved side of the sign. Only a few neon tubes remain and the paint has long since faded, but from top to bottom it reads, “Union Foreign American Parts”. Sounds like an identity crisis, or they were just trying to appeal to everyone.
I’m truly amazed at what a digital camera can see versus what the human eye sees. Anybody who has taken night sky images can tell you that. The original of this shot is on medium format transparency film, and I don’t see any details in the middle ground. Just pure contrast.
Since I’ve started “scanning” old film, this shot has stood out as as the biggest surprise. Even with Photoshop, I was not able to pull out any detail from the shadows from the file created with an actual scanner. I could have tried exposure blending, but I only used one shot and a little bit of Photoshop to create the final product you see here.
With all this time to catch up on things, I finally went through my collection of 35mm slides and disposed of most of them. While the favorites have been scanned and/or printed many years ago, most were in slide boxes and pages. These were mainly duplicates and outtakes from assignments, being held onto just in case. There was a time when referrals would come up from someone who knew I had covered certain events or places, but those days of out-of-the-blue stock sales are long gone. There were a few hidden gems amongst the thousands which hadn’t seen the light of day for decades. Below are two of those from Yosemite and Bryce Canyon.
As with most of the world, Las Vegas came to a screeching halt this spring. Getting out of the house for exercise was encouraged, and as I mentioned before, bike rides were part of that agenda for me. The weather was still cool for much of the stay-at-home period, but riding around my immediate neighborhood leaves much to be desired. I realized it wasn’t much of a ride to get someplace that most of us avoid like…..well…..the plague.
The Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace, which once held the distinction of being the most expensive retail space in the US, had a mostly empty sidewalk, with some occasional joggers, pedestrians and dogs. You would never see this most times of the year. Just down the street, Fashion Show Mall was just as quiet.
There is one spot that is almost always guaranteed to be busy, no matter what the temperature or time of day. The infamous sign. Other people were here when I took these, casually taking their time with lots of photos and videos, a luxury not allowed when there are 50 people waiting their turn. And yes, I was standing in the middle of the road with a tripod for the street view. This was only around 9 o’clock at night!
When I first started my LV Blvd bike rides, I was mostly alone. There were a couple joggers, pedestrians, and another bike or two. There was a very pleasant period where the temperatures and cloud conditions made me opt for hiking instead, and when I returned, all of a sudden, bike riding the Blvd had become a thing. Hundreds of other bike riders were filling the sidewalks and spilling into the street. The mall had even opened up a parking lot to accommodate the riders. Still, it was a far cry from the usual volume of this road.
Construction was deemed necessary business during the shutdown, and shortly after my first ride, cones and zones became abundant. A short distance off the Blvd, the Las Vegas Convention Center was working on an expansion. This is the most scaffolding I have ever seen in one setting, and I think this photo would be a truly maddening jigsaw puzzle.
About a half year ago, I suffered a severe leg injury which kept me from being outdoors with my camera. A couple weeks of being mostly bedridden and using crutches to get around eventually gave way to being able to do some work and the start of physical therapy. My physical therapist was hesitant about me hiking at first, so my first couple trails were relatively flat. No backpack filled with tripods or cameras either, just a phone. Earlier this year, I finally made a hike with all the gear on a trail that had more difficulty involved. I could feel the difference of the terrain versus just being in therapy. I can’t imagine how long I would have been out if I wasn’t taking care of myself before this accident, and now that we’re all being asked to stay home, I realize I need to keep moving more than ever.
While many National Parks and other recreational areas have closed, there are some which remain open. These may not be the desired locations which attract social media throngs, but those who’ve seen my work know I don’t really go there anyway. The first location (above) was after some areas had shut down, making this a more crowded parking lot than usual. Despite that, I had very few people on the trail I was on, and getting here requires a scramble, so I enjoyed the place to myself.
That area has since become off limits, as has the next spot, on a hike taken in March. While this area starts on a popular trail, it soon takes off to an old trail, which quickly fades and becomes a scrambling route. Again, social distancing didn’t apply here because there were no other groups.
One of the remaining open trails has plenty of open space to absorb a higher number of hikers keeping distance between them. Leaving the trail and boulder hopping the creek also provides more privacy and the best views.
Higher up, this canyon becomes more rugged and takes on different characteristics. While most would have a different opinion on what constitutes a waterfall, I’m going to state that this is southern Nevada’s largest waterfall. It had been raining earlier, but only a light amount, and had been snowing above. This probably won’t be noticeable at this size, but there are small streams of water coming down on almost all the canyon walls in this scene. While the wall to the left is the most obvious, the water can be seen in many spots when standing here (and on my computer screen in full size). Waterfall or not, I like how this one came out.
I find that many photogenic boulder locations tend to be in lower deserts here in the southwest. Joshua Tree National Park comes to mind when I see what other photographers like to cover. The boulders there may receive more attention than the tree the park is named for. There are much better Joshua Trees to see than the ones there, so I completely get this one.
The subjects of my photo come from the cooler, higher elevations of Prescott National Forest in central Arizona. The tree at the back is what caught my attention here. It provides a nice contrast and an element of scale for these massive rocks. The clouds drifting into the frame completed the scene for me.
Back when I shot with a large-format view camera, I would certainly agree with Mr. Adams. Now that I use a camera that can shoot hundreds of frames in a day, oddly enough, I still agree.
I spent time in Hawaii this summer, and I’m sure I have twelve photographs that I like from just the first couple days. When I look at all of the images I have captured this year, and try to envision those which I will still cherish years from now, the process of choosing twelve became clearer. My time in nature was limited this year, but I made those moments count. In some situations I had similar lighting or compositions where I couldn’t really define one shot as a clear favorite, but in the end, I think I’m very happy with these 12.
I don’t own a drone, but I love taking photos from airplanes. This photo from over White Sands, New Mexico looks amazing at full size, with all the dunes at the edge looking like bubbling foam.
My ‘backyard’ location of Red Rock Canyon didn’t see me as much as in years past, yet I had plenty of images which made the A list.
Oregon was another place I spent some time last summer. Although the trip was mainly for a family gathering, I had time afterwards to head to the trails in the Columbia River Gorge.
As I mentioned earlier, Hawaii was part of my travels this year, and gave me many great photo opportunities. My time on the lava fields at sunset certainly stands out as one of my favorite experiences, not just for this year, but for a lifetime.
On my first full day on the big island of Hawaii this summer, I set out to return to some locations that I had visited my previous time there. I hadn’t checked the weather before I set out, so I was unaware that a tropical storm was a couple hundred miles offshore. The first place I stopped at was too wet to get out for pictures, and I thought the day might be a bust. I was pleasantly surprised to drive a little further, and see drier conditions for another spot with fond memories.
I chose my first location cautiously because the waves were more robust than my last visit. The area I picked didn’t have a single drop of water anywhere under my feet. Nonetheless, I waited about 10 minutes and watched wave activity before unpacking the camera and tripod. That first spot was on a ledge about 15 feet above ocean level, and the bigger waves splashed close to that height, but all towards the left. I spent over half an hour there, getting some great stills and video. Afterwards, I moved to some other areas along this point where the water was calm by comparison.
I thought I was almost done, but returned to the first spot, just slightly further back. The contrast between the close rock formations and the ones slightly further, with occasional light splashes of water, gave me a different perspective. I had my shutter release cable attached and my drive on high speed, because you never know what you might get with water splashing. You can always delete the boring ones.
All I will say is that I heard this one coming. Instinct told me to keep holding the shutter. This is not a telephoto shot, but actually a bit of a wide angle lens. Somewhere under all that airborne water is the spot I had been standing earlier.
This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week. In the first week of the month, there is a theme, with this theme being up in the air. To see what other photographers have contributed, or instructions to join in, please visit Leanne’s website.
As is probably obvious by now, I have a fascination with the desert. The plants, features, textures and moods always provide reasons to explore further. Although I have experienced serenity in the desert, I’m not sure I have images that convey that mood – especially to those who have never truly explored those same places.
I think there are many who would agree that oceans are a great place to find serenity, especially on a remote beach at sunrise. I find that sunrises, in general, tend to be more peaceful and calming than sunsets. Perhaps because they signal the start of a new day, often witnessed alone. Almost everyone I know thinks this is not a good time to be awake yet. That’s OK. More serenity for me to enjoy.
I can find calm settings just about anywhere in nature, but I think forested mountains would have to be second on my list, right after oceans. Having a lake or a small stream is certainly an added element of calming.
I spend a fair amount of time in airplanes. By allowing myself to get distracted looking out the windows, I find this can become very calming, especially when flying over seemingly infinite cloud cover.
Also making my list would have to be any moment when witnessing a rainbow. This one happened to be from an airplane. Ahhhhhhh!
- Feature photo: Early morning on a black sand beach in Hawaii
- 2nd: Same beach and morning as above
- 3rd: Sunrise from Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
- 4th: Small lake in the Wasatch Mountains, Utah
- 5th: Infinite rolling hills from the Black Hills, South Dakota
- 6th: Minimal cloud cover over the Gulf of Mexico
- 7th: Sea of clouds somewhere over Texas
- 8th: Rainbow upon approach to Sacramento, California
I’ve had plenty of time in airplanes recently, and this is the view of the desert just east of here in the Arizona desert. I have crossed this location several times, but never with this beautiful early morning light.
This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week. Next week there will be a theme of Up In The Air. My photo next week will not be another aerial view….this is just a teaser. To see what other photographers have contributed, or instructions on how to join in, visit Leanne’s website.
When I saw the title for this week’s photo challenge, I immediately thought of some of the canyons I’ve visited. The canyons of the southwestern US are great places to hike because there is often shade. Because of the shade, light reaching the bottom is often reflected off higher sunlit walls, resulting in a warm glow. In those canyons where water is present, the effect is magnified.
My photo comes from Zion National Park, Utah. As sunrise lit up the high cliffs on a morning with clear blue skies, the North Fork of the Virgin River glowed from the light being cast onto it.