Lori Carey Photography

Friday, May 31, 2013

More images from Taylor Lake

Early morning steam on Taylor Lake, Picacho State Recreation Area, California

Mornings at Taylor Lake are truly magical. It's hard to believe that this area is surrounded by Sonoran desert. Picacho State Recreation Area is truly a hidden gem for those willing to make the 25-mile dirt road from Winterhaven trek out there. There is also a great jeep trail that will take you in the back way from Ogilby Road through the Indian Pass and Picacho Wilderness areas to the banks of the Colorado River and the northern end of the SRA.

Boat on Taylor Lake at dawn in Picacho State Recreation Area, California

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Last chance to see planetary trio tonight!

Planetary trio of Venus, Jupiter and Mercury. Jupiter and Venus in conjunction with Mercury above, May 28, 2013. A planetary trio is when three planets fit within a circle no greater than 5 degrees diameter.
Planetary trio of Jupiter, Venus and Mercury on May 28, 2013

Tonight is the last night to see Jupiter, Venus and Mercury all within 5 degrees of each other in what is called a planetary trio. You can find them in the west just as the sun sets. This is the closest grouping of three planets you'll see until January 2021.

Last night Jupiter and Venus were at their closest (1 degree apart) as Venus passed Jupiter in right ascension. We finally had relatively clear skies (the marine layer can be brutal here this time of year). I missed the closest grouping of the three on the 26th (when they were all within 3 degrees of each other) because of clouds and fog and I didn't plan on shooting last night...so I had no pretty foreground because I was shooting over the fence in my backyard! Tonight the three will form a relatively straight line as they stack on top of each other, so if the sky is clear I hope to be someplace a bit more scenic.

A friend asked how I know ahead of time to watch for things like comets, planetary alignments and eclipses and I had a one word answer...RESEARCH. Outdoor photographers typically spend more time researching and planning than they do actually shooting. If you like to shoot night skies you really need to know what's going on up there! In addition to the cool things like alignments and eclipses every outdoor photographer absolutely must know the moon phase and location to plan a night shoot.

Two of my favorite resources to stay on top of what's going on in the night skies are:


Sky and Telescope's This Week's Sky at a Glance

For night shoot planning my favorite tool is The Photographer's Ephemeris. This map-centric tool will help you see the exact direction of sun/moon rise/set and how the light will fall for any location in the world. The best part is that you can account for things such as the height of surrounding mountains so you can know exactly when you will lose daylight or see the moon pop over the top of the mountain. The desktop version is Free and there are versions for iOS and Android phones.

Do you have any other favorite sites or tools for keeping track of the night sky?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dawn at Taylor Lake photograph

Dawn at Taylor Lake, Picacho State Recreation Area

Some mornings begin with a whisper...

After a long hot dusty day exploring the mines and trails of the nearby Cargo Muchaco Mountains, when I finally reached the cool, verdant banks of the Colorado River I felt as if I had happened upon a mirage. It's hard to believe that this is in the middle of the Sonoran desert. We followed the trail south and when I saw Taylor Lake I knew this was were I wanted to be for sunrise. It turned out to be another cloudless California desert sunrise but with a gentle pink sky and birdsong greeting the new day, a hot cup of coffee and my camera, how could I complain?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

When Sunset is a Bust - Photographing Seascapes at Little Corona del Mar

Little Corona Beach under stormy skies

A few weeks ago we organized a photowalk at Little Corona Beach (Robert E. Badham Marine Life Refuge) while Jeff Sullivan and Lori Hibbett were in town working on more images for Jeff's upcoming book on Southern California Landscape photography. Unfortunately here on the southern California coast this time of year we frequently have to deal with a heavy marine layer, thick and very low-lying clouds and fog, known locally as May Gray and June Gloom. It is most common during the morning and evening hours (the midday sun burns off the fog) but when it's really bad we sometimes only see the sun for a brief half hour during the day.

As luck would have it we had very overcast skies the night of the photowalk and there was no chance of seeing one of the gorgeous sunsets we are known for. A few photographers decided to head home because it wasn't 'worth their while' but those of us who remained took out our ND, grad ND and polarizing filters and set out to do some long exposures. Little Corona is known for it's spectacular tide pools and a few rock arch formations within reach of those who are willing to brave a long walk on the slippery rocks during a negative tide. The tide was up this night (low tide, but not low enough) and we couldn't walk out to our favorite spot near the arch but the rocks and tidepools of Little Corona gave many compositional choices.

For a brief moment it looked like the clouds were breaking up and we might have a spectacular sunset after all, but our hopes were soon dashed.

Google+ photographers at Little Corona Beach, Corona del Mar, California
Photographers at Little Corona Beach in Corona del Mar

During blue hour Jeff spun light orbs for everyone to shoot but being a minimalist at heart I couldn't drag myself away from the warm/cool contrast of this scene with the arch lit from a light up on the cliff. By the time I felt I had what I wanted everyone was cold and ready to head up for drinks and food so I missed out on the orbs. Light orbs are all the rage these days on social media so I felt a bit like the nerdy kid not hanging out with the cool kids, but when I saw the results I was very happy that I made the choice to shoot what I did.

Little Corona Beach, Corona del Mar, California

When I see a scene I like I try to always shoot both a vertical and a horizontal composition because you never know how the image might be used. I really liked how the texture of the clouds echoed the texture in the rocks, the way the arch seemed to fit into the gap in the tidepools and the tree perched on top of the point. I'm not sure if I prefer the vertical orientation of the photo at top or the horizontal orientation of this photo. I like them both!

Moody skies over the Robert E Badham Marine Life Refuge tidepools at Little Corona Beach, Corona del Mar, California
Little Corona under Stormy Skies

While I tended to play up the drama and moodiness of the scene, a few took a more dreamy approach with longer exposures of swirling water while others decided to go with black and white images. I always enjoy seeing a scene through other people's eyes and it never fails to amaze how drastically different each of us can interpret a scene. I was hoping to be able to link to the photos from the other participants but since there are on a private G+ photo page only the participants are able to view them.

It was cold and windy but it was a great exercise for those of us who live here and are usually spoiled by our choice of beautiful sunsets. Most of us would normally take a pass and wait for a better night unless we absolutely had to shoot, so the conditions made us all put a lot of thought into what and how we would shoot to make the most of the conditions we had. And it is always great to spend time with old friends and meet new ones!