...wish you were here.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
"Enter at your own risk, Carry water. Avoid the noonday sun. Try to ignore the vultures. Pray frequently."
The view from camp on my NYE trek, overlooking the Valjean Hills with Dumont Dunes in the distance below Saddle Peak Hills and Tecopah Hills.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
This shot had been sitting on my hard drive for years with the designation "working", which means I think it has potential but I'm not quite convinced that I'm going in the right direction with the processing and I want to relook at it with a fresh eye at a later point in time. As newer images started taking precedent I forgot all about this one.
I'm in a high-key kinda mood today because it's finally sunny and warm so I took it out and reworked it. This was shot at the inlet in Dana Point in the direction of the sun in a heavy marine layer/fog and I felt that the sailboat needed a little burning in to bring out some detail. This morning I realized that I had gone too far with the burning, so I deleted those layers and reworked it with a lighter touch and now it has exactly the dreamy look I had envisioned.
That is why I always save my layered PSD files, it makes it so easy to go back and rework an image.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
We don't usually visit the typical tourist stops but after several friends told us we needed to see China Ranch while we were in the area, we decided to go check it out on NY Day after shooting the sunrise and having breakfast back in camp. China Ranch Date Farm is a family-owned working farm located in a canyon oasis in the Mojave Desert near southern Death Valley. The family has opened the property to the public to enjoy the beautiful and unique scenery. It has miles of scenic nature trails through various terrain that include slot canyons, arroyo badlands, China Ranch Creek lined with cottonwoods and willows, unique geological features, mining and railroad ruins from the old Tenopah and Tidewater line, and paleo-indian campsites. Some of the trails have interpretive information posted along the way.
After our hike we stopped at the gift shop/bakery to treat ourselves to a date shake and a snack (the date cookies are wonderful but the date bread is my favorite) before wandering around the farm to see the historical exhibits and roam among the palm trees. I never knew there were so many different types of date palms and it was a sight to see vast palm tree groves with bags of every color hanging from the trees (to protect the dates). Unfortunately by then the light was too harsh and I couldn't get a shot that I liked.
China Ranch is beautiful and unique and the friendly owners do a wonderful job maintaining it for the public. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
A few months back I planned to photograph the bioluminescence that was making a regular appearance along the Southern California coastline from Huntington Beach to San Diego causing our ocean to glow an eery neon blue at night. It's caused by a red tide; an algae bloom of dinoflagellates and I've never seen it glowing at night before. The night of the new moon would be perfect with not too much moonlight to interfere with the shot, so I spent the entire day scouting locations for a heavy red tide where there was something to add some foreground interest. I thought I had some good locations chosen right here close to home at beaches where it had been reported.
With no need to hit the beach until after dark I was putzing around the house when I noticed that the sunset was spectacular. I grabbed my gear and the sandwiches I had packed and made a beeline straight for my first choice location, cursing under my breath the whole way that I was going to miss the light. I rushed to set up my gear just as the last light was fading away and managed to grab this shot of a jogger and his Golden Retriever silhouetted on the beach with the rising new moon. Even though it's mostly a grab shot, I like that it shows the very exact moment when day becomes night, and it reminds me of 'back home' in NJ when I used to run on the beach with my Golden every morning and every night.
I never did find the bioluminescence that night despite hours of driving along the coast, and by the time I could fit in another night shoot the moon was too full, and then the bioluminescence was gone. Sometimes I get so focused on a planned shoot and in a certain mindset that when it doesn't work out because of the weather, the light or other factors, I forget to take time to look around and see what else is possible. Rather than throwing in the towel and thinking the day (or night) is a loss, one should always keep their eyes and especially their mind open for other opportunities (and maybe leave a little earlier than necessary!). So this shot is the lemonade I made out of the lemons I got that night.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Learning about light by studying the old masters of painting isn't just for portrait photographers; the more one learns about and understands light, how it reacts and how to manipulate it, the better ones photography can be even if it means simply knowing when NOT to take the photo. I love to spend time in my studio playing around with lighting various objects for different effects.
My favorite technique of the old masters is the use of chiaroscuro and tenebrism (tenebroso)...Caravagio, Rembrandt, Da Vinci and many more. It's rich, dramatic, and although it's usually considered dark and gloomy I find it to be very sensual because the light caresses the contours. When I brought these red pears home they were crying out for a visit to my studio before finding their way to the kitchen.
Monday, January 9, 2012
When I found a campsite 4500 ft above the valley floor and directly across from Lone Pine Peak in the Alabama Hills I knew this was where I wanted to wake up the next morning, so I quickly set up camp and said a prayer that I'd be able to find my way back in the dark. (Bill is a terrible co-pilot and he's the first to admit it. He can't read a gps to save his life and he really doesn't do well with land navigation, so route finding is always my responsibility). The trail up here here dropped down a little ledge and someone built a fire ring directly beneath the ledge and next to a large boulder, leaving people with the choice of driving over the fire ring or squeezing between the ring and boulder. I figured that was enough to make most people turn around at that point and leave us to ourselves while down below it was semi-crowded, and I was right.
Nothing better than being lazy and shooting sunrise right from camp...except having hubby bringing me hot coffee while I was perched out on the rocks.
I didn't quite get the alpenglow I was hoping for, and again with the boring sky (!), but I love this shot I took at first light.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
I always wanted to photograph a mirage in the desert but the conditions are always less than ideal. At 10am the light is harsh, the colors are washed out, the mountains are hazy and I had to shoot in the direction of the sun. Black and white seemed the way to go. Although this is a lake bed, it's a dry playa and there is no water in front of those mountains.
This is Silver Lake, a playa (dry lake bed) in the Mojave desert north of Baker. Together with Soda Dry Lake this is all that remains of the ancient Lake Mojave.