Lori Carey Photography

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

DrivingLine Articles

Jeep Wrangler on Bird Spring Pass trail
It's been a while since I've posted an update on my articles published on Nitto Tire's DrivingLine, most of which are trail reviews. Frankly I've been putting too much focus on generating content for DrivingLine and not paying enough attention to the rest of my business. That is biting me in the ass in more ways than one so my goal for 2017 is to find a better balance. We've been to many beautiful and interesting places in 2016, and I have lots of stories and beautiful photos to share that don't fit into the DrivingLine format. I'm looking forward to sharing them with you going forward.

I also decided a while back to stop shooting off road motorsports. Young kids half my age are taking great images for half of what I charge to walk out the door. It's not worth my time and effort to pursue it, and I won't work 18 hour days hiking up and down waterfalls for peanuts, money that barely covers my gas expense. If the business model works for other photographers, more power to them.

If you haven't been following my adventures on DrivingLine, here are the articles that have been published since I last updated the Published Articles section of my website (which I apparently haven't updated since 2014). Now that I look at it, I think it's about time I start organizing my trail reviews by geographical area. Actually I think it's about time I start working on a book.

Jeep Wrangler on Berdoo Canyon trail, Joshua Tree National Park

Trail Reviews
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - Inspiration Wash and Fonts Point
Exploring the El Paso Mountains
Black Canyon and Scouts Cove
Inscription Canyon and Rainbow Basin
Grapevine Canyon Trail - Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Surviving the Nadeau Trail
Holidays Hunting for the Kopper King Mine
Last Ride for 2015 - The Bendire Canyon Trail
Exploring the Mine Wash Trail - Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Fissure Mountain: The Original Hammer Trail
Bird Spring Pass Trail
Dove Spring Pass Trail
Counting Jeeps on the Sheep Spring Trail
Stranger Than Fiction: The Trona Pinnacles
Mangled Metal and Windy Memories on the Grass Valley Trail
The Tortoise and The Jeep: Koehn Lake Trail Hunt
Geology Touring in Joshua Tree National Park
Berdoo Canyon Trail Review - Joshua Tree National Park
Mining for History in the Mojave Desert's Kessler Peak Trail
Volcanic Wheeling in the Mojave: Aiken Mine Trail Review
Wheeling at Death Valley Mine Trail

Jeep Wrangler on Geology Tour Road, Joshua Tree National Park

2015 Tiera del Sol Desert Safari
SDJC Urban Poker Run Draws a Full House
2015 KMC Wheels Summer Jeep Bash
2015 Lucas Oil Offroad Expo
'Wheeling With Sol: The 54th Annual Desert Safari
2016 KMC Jeep Bash: Long Beach Invasion
2016 Off Road Expo: Where Trucks Are King

Jeep Debuts Seven New Vehicles at Easter Jeep Safari
It's a Jeep Thing
Ten Reasons To Take Your Top Off on National Go Topless Day
7 Great Android Apps for Your Off Road Adventures
8 Great iOS Apps for Your Off Road Adventures
Why Body on Frame Off Road Vehicles Matter
Off Road Basics: Axle Articulation - Got Flex?
Creative License - Some of our Favorite Vanity Plates
Nine Ways to Ensure Fire Safety While Off-Roading
Upgrading to a Genesis Off-Road Dual Battery Kit
Custom Jeep Storage Solutions
6 Ways Geocaching Can Improve Your Off Road Navigation Skills
Ten Tips for Surviving Desert 'Wheeling
Great Campfire Meals: Pie Iron Recipes
Trail Finder: Tips for Planning Your Next Off Road Adventure
Barbie Jeep Racing: the KOH Race You Didn't Hear About!
Pack Mule: How to Fit Overland Essentials in a Compact 4x4
Go Topless: It's a Jeep Thing
Two To Travel: A Wrangler with Serious Trail Tales - write-up on my Jeep build
Snorkeling In The Desert: Get Your Jeep Breathing Better
Putting OPTIMA's Digital Chargers to the Test
Trail Testing the Magellan eXplorist TRX7 Off Road GPS

Monday, August 1, 2016

Milky Way and Dusty Skies at Joshua Tree National Park

Milky Way in Joshua Tree National Park

I took four people out to Joshua Tree National Park to teach them how to shoot the Milky Way Saturday night. I was originally thinking to do a "Girls Night Out Under the Stars" with some adventurous Jeep friends and I posted an invite on my Facebook page, but the timing didn't work out for most people and I had guys asking to come, so we ended up doing a couples thing and I actually managed to convince my husband to join me in the desert in the middle of summer. The spouses had company while the shooters were busy, and I think it worked out really well. When we were finished shooting, we grabbed a few hours of sleep right there under the stars before heading home.

The galactic core of the galaxy is directly facing the earth this time of year, so if you want the best Milky Way photos this is the time of year. Saturday night/Sunday morning the moon was just a tiny thumbnail, it didn't rise until 2:57am and was only 12.1% illuminated; perfect for shooting the Milky Way. But as all outdoor photographers know, sometimes conditions don't work in your favor. As we were heading out to the park, when we crested the mountains and dropped into Riverside, the sky turned a dull gray and visibility was practically non-existent. We could barely make out the mountains. At first I thought it might be due to one of the wildfires raging in California, but as we continued toward Joshua Tree it only got worse and it didn't smell like smoke. I couldn't figure out what was going on - it didn't seem to be smog (and I've never seen smog that heavy way out in the desert, and although it was low to the ground it didn't seem to be fog either. I couldn't figure out what was going on because I had never seen anything like it.

It wasn't until I got home the next day that I learned from The Press-Enterprise it was due to a storm in Arizona -

"Across portions of the Inland area Saturday, the sky was filled with a smoky, grayish haze and many residents were scratching their heads and wondering why.So what caused the sky to look this way? National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Gregoria said you can blame a powerful storm in Arizona. He said the storm — which moved in over Arizona Friday night — not only produced rain and lightning there, it also kicked up lots of dust. That dust was then carried by down draft winds and pushed west as the storm moved west. It made its way across Yuma, into the Coachella Valley, through the Banning Pass and the rest of the Inland area. The storm eventually traveled into Baja California and dissipated. It didn't deposit any rainfall in Southern California on its way out -- just the dust, National Weather Service officials said.

Gregoria said it's a rare occurrence to have such dusty skies."

The view from Keys View during a dust storm event. Joshua Tree National Park

Just how bad was it? Here's the view from Keys View - above is how it looked on Saturday and below is from a previous trip on clear day. Normally you could see the San Andreas Fault, Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, Mt. San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio, and on really clear days you can see all the way past the Salton Sea into Mexico.

Keys View, Joshua Tree National Park

I knew that there was a monsoon blowing into Arizona, but it wasn't supposed to reach this area until Monday. Who knew that a storm in the next state could have such a drastic affect on us? We were hoping the wind would blow it out by sunset, and although much of it had dissipated by evening there was still a lot of low-level haze and the Milky Way, although visible, couldn't be seen in all of its glory. Disappointing for sure after we had all driven several hours, but we're all outdoors people who would still enjoy a beautiful evening under the stars even if it was a bust for the photographers. Knowing that the camera sees more light than our eyes do, I decided we would give it a try anyway, and as I had hoped my camera picked it up much better than I thought it would. We had a lot of fun shooting for several hours, playing around with some light painting, and enjoying the desert.

I did use much heavier processing than I normally would on the photo above in order to bring out the galactic center. That's always a judgement call and up to your own personal style. I usually prefer a more natural look, and I remember when everyone was shocked a few years ago when several photography heavy-weights were disqualified from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest due to excessive processing of the Milky Way. When post-processing an image I always keep in mind the intended audience and usage of the image when deciding how far to go. I love creating art but I also pride myself on doing spot-on documentary work. You can really see how hazy it was from all of the dust in the air. The ambient light from Palm Springs doesn't bother me much as it helps emphasize the silhouette of the rock formation. I've only processed one Milky Way shot so far; I shot material for several DrivingLine articles while I was in J Tree and as soon as I get those articles put together I'll come back to my Milky Way photos.

I have several people asking me to do another "mini workshop" so I'm going to try to do another one this month. Hopefully we'll have better weather conditions!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Exhibition: A Sense of Place

I'm incredibly excited that my photo is one of 35 that have been selected by juror Jane Fulton Alt for exhibition at The PhotoPlace Gallery's "A Sense of Place". I've been spending so much time lately photographing Jeeps to pay the bills while my heart is really in fine art and struggling with finding balance, and since I like to photograph strange things I find in the desert it can be hard to find a good fit for my images, so this is a great mental boost for me on many levels. I'm doubly excited because of the qualifications of the juror -

Jane Fulton Alt’s photographs explore universal issues of humanity and the non–material. She is the three-time winner of Photolucida’s Critical Mass for her Katrina and Burn portfolios, recipient of the 2007 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship Award, and multiple Ragdale Foundation Fellowships. She has authored two books; Look and Leave: Photographs and Stories of New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward,and The Burn. Her Crude Awakening portfolio was published worldwide.
She received the Photo District News 2011 Curators Choice Award and the 2012 Humble Arts 31 Women in Art Photography award. Alt’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, New Orleans Museum of Art, De Paul University Art Museum, Southwest Museum of Photography, Beinecke Library at Yale University, Centro Fotografico Alvarez Bravo in Oaxaca, Mexico, Center for Photography at Woodstock, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, and the collection of William Hunt.

The Call for Entries:
Photographs that convey a “sense of place” blend the physical characteristics of a scene, landscape or object with the mysterious essence that emerges from gradually and perhaps unconsciously inhabiting a place over time. The photograph ceases to become an objective document. Instead, it takes on a particular feeling that is invested with something that is often intangible, revealing a deeper understanding of what lies beneath the surface.

A special thanks to photographer Marc Briggs for his personal guided tour of Carrizo Plain, mostly in the rain! Marc shoots there often and he helped me feel the Sense of Place in a way that I wouldn't have discovered so quickly on my own. I hope to be able to join him out there again one day, and I can't wait to take my husband out there one day and show him around. Carrizo Plain is a large grassland where the antelope (and tule elk) still roam and it boasts some amazing landscape...mountains, forests, wildlife, petroglyphs, the San Andreas Fault and the brilliant Soda Lake (a dry lake, but not the same Soda Dry Lake of the Mojave Preserve). It's a wildlife and nature photographer's paradise, but Marc also showed me many of the old homesteads and ranches from when this was a thriving farm community.

...the funny thing is, I've been so busy with Jeeps that I haven't even finished processing all of the photos from this trip or made the gallery public on my website yet. You can view eight other images from the Carrizo Plain by clicking on the photo above, it just isn't listed in the menu. We had such weather extremes that I have one set that is dark and moody, and another that is bright and bold and colorful. I haven't decided yet whether to combine them in one gallery. I always prefer dark and moody

And don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't enjoy photographing Jeeps, off road events, and trail adventures. I love every minute of it and I'm incredibly fortunate to get paid to do it. But it does get hard sometimes when I want to remain in a location and wait for the light to change for the "perfect" photo, or take the time to set up some lights to make the exact image I want, but I have to keep moving because I have a schedule to keep. For the most part, it's "taking" photos not making them. They are both satisfying for different reasons; it's just a completely different mindset.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Western wabi-sabi

Abandoned quonset hut in the Mojave Desert, wabi-sabi

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There's a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
~ LeonardCohen, "Anthem"

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mean Mojave Green

Mojave Green rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)

This rattlesnake decided to get in a standoff with my Jeep the other day while we were prowling around the outskirts of the El Paso Mountain Wilderness in Kern County. The Northern Mojave Rattlesnake is more commonly known as the Mojave Green because it often is a silver-green color that allows it to blend into the creosote scrubland it inhabits. It is considered to be the most deadly of all pit vipers because its venom contains a neurotoxin in addition to a hemotoxin. The venom of a Mojave Green is estimated to be as much as 16 times more potent than that of the Western Diamondback. Immediate treatment is required if you are bitten, so you don't want to mess around with this snake.

They are also more aggressive than Western Diamondback rattlesnakes (crotalus atrox). While other snakes will usually slither away if you give them a chance (stomping on the ground can help), the Mojave Green tends to prefer to stand its ground. This one refused to budge from the center of the trail for more than 15 minutes despite our remaining a good distance away once we spotted it. The upside is that I had more than enough time to grab a telephoto lens so I could photograph it from a safe distance. We didn't want to take a chance trying to drive over it, so we carefully chose a path around it where we would cause minimal damage to the plants.

The Mojave Green looks similar to the Western Diamondback. If it doesn't have the characteristic green color, the Mojave Green has a light stripe that extends from behind its eye to behind its jaw while on the Western Diamondback the stripe goes from behind the eye to intersect with the jaw, and the Mojave Green has 2 large scales between the supraoculars while the Western Diamondback has multiple scales, and near the tail where the diamonds fade the Mojave Green has narrow black rings that are often offset while the Western Diamondback has broad black and white rings that are fairly equal in width.

My husband had never heard a rattlesnake in the wild before. "That's not how I expected it to sound," he said. It's a buzzing sound, not unlike a large swarm of cicadas. It doesn't sound at all like a "rattle" if that's what you are expecting. You can listen to a Mojave Green rattle here on the California Herps website.

The snakes are out and about on warmer days this time of year, so be careful out there! Wear boots, watch where you're walking, and be especially careful when scrambling on rocks.