Lori Carey Photography

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A New Look and a Little Chaos

My photography website host Smugmug released a major upgrade earlier this month. It involved a complete re-write of the underlying foundation, which means those of us with heavily customized sites have to completely re-do our sites because the code and customizations of our old sites will no longer work on the new platform. Ugh! I've known for two years that the release would be coming so I procrastinated on making any major changes because I didn't want to spend all that time customizing only to have it go to waste.

I decided to do a complete revamp of my site and I must say that customizing is SO much easier when you don't need to learn javascript hacks and other workarounds (once I understood the new interface). I finally unveiled my new look tonight although I still have some tweaking to do. I've been working on cleaning up 8 years of a mess, re-organizing and re-categorizing images and I'm ashamed to admit how much of my new work had never been uploaded to my own website. Plenty of work ahead of me still!! Please bear with me and if you run into any problems please do let me know.

The navigation bar you see here on my blog is not the right one. Please visit my main photography site and use the navigation bar on that site.

Right now my blog obviously doesn't match my photography website. I need a few days to figure out the customization code. I'll be out shooting at an event tomorrow so I hope to everything integrated this weekend.

I hope you like the new look!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Debut on DrivingLine

I am very excited to announce that I have joined the team of contributors at DrivingLine. It's a fantastic automotive lifestyle publication with amazing photography and I am incredibly honored to be invited to join them as a photographer and journalist. I'll be sharing beautiful images of jeeps and trails and writing about the offroad lifestyle, everything from how-to's and tips to trail reports.

This month my story is about an offroad trip to Big Bear I recently took during a major thunderstorm - Big Offroad Adventure in Big Bear. It wasn't quite the kick-ass debut I was hoping for, but when you get rained out and your friends bail on you but you still have to come home with a story, you work with what you have. Stop by and check it out!

Next up will be some hard core trail action on Bullfrog Trail in Johnson Valley, something a little more my style. :)

Photographer and master of light Peter Tellone braved the heat to do an incredibly cool sunset portrait shoot for me out in the desert earlier this week so I would have some updated pics and I'll be on the masthead as soon as I submit my profile pic and blurb to my editor.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Milky Way and Perseid Meteors at Red Rock Canyon State Park

I have been spending a lot of time in the desert heat this summer! With the Milky Way still at it's prime and the Perseid meteor showers peaking the weekend before last I couldn't resist making another trip in search of a dark sky. This time I decided to brave the heat to join some photographer friends at Red Rock Canyon State Park. I have spent time in the surrounding area but had never visited the state park before so this was new territory for me. I have many more photos from this trip but if I wait until they are all processed I will never get a blog post done.

I met up with Peter Tellone on 395 Saturday morning and he followed me to the Ricardo Campground, where Marc Briggs had secured a campsite for us. Marc left a message that he was out exploring Randsburg so Peter and I decided to do some location scouting. We spotted an interesting trail across the highway and set out exploring. The trail sign said this was Scenic Canyon, and it was scenic.

Exploring the Scenic Canyon jeep trail in Red Rock Canyon State Park, California
My jeep makes that 4 Runner look tiny!

It was in the low 90s, not too bad temperature-wise, but the bright midday desert sun isn't the best for scenic shooting so after we reached the end of that trail to see if Marc made it back to camp yet and see if Ed Bannister had arrived yet. After an early dinner and socializing we head for an evening of shooting. Peter had never been to Red Rock before so first we took him up to Burro Schmidt Tunnel. Marc knows this area like the back of his hand and was a great lead on the trail. We walked through the tunnel and reached the other side just as the sun was setting and Mark pointed out the local landmarks down below.

Mark Briggs points out landmarks on the far side of the Burro Schmidt Tunnel

From there we went to the Holly Mine to shoot the meteors and Milky Way. The meteor shower was supposed to peak after midnight so we focused on the Milky Way in the early evening and were excited that the meteors were off to a good start. Unfortunately they fizzled out later in the evening and I wish I had paid more attention to them earlier. There was still some ambient light here so again I tried to use it in my compositions. I wanted to do a silhouette shot and kept mumbling "A tree, I need a tree..." as I stumbled over boulders and mining equipment in the dark under a moonless night. Finally I found one and I think it is just the right size to convey scale and the immensity of the universe.

Milky Way in the Mojave Desert near Red Rock Canyon State Park

We played with light painting the mining equipment for some funky Alien Landing shots:

Milky Way and mining equipment, Mojave desert

Crash Landing - Milky Way and mining equipment at the Holly Mine in the Mojave desert

You can see a faint meteor on the left side in that last shot.

After midnight we moved to another location closer to camp to set up for star trails and meteor showers but there was hardly a meteor to be found. We did star trails shots until almost 3am before heading to camp to grab a few hours sleep, then up again at 5am for sunrise. None of us were up to venturing too far so we went to the cliffs at the beginning of Hagen Canyon. The fluted sandstone and mudstone cliffs here are very cool. The rock formation at the center of this shot is Turk's Turban.

The red stained fluted sandstone and mudstone cliffs of Red Rock Canyon State Park, California in the early morning blue hour just as the sun is starting to peek over the horizon lighting up the cliffs above. The center formation is Turk's Turban.

Sunrise was disappointing with not a cloud in the sky so once the sun was up we head back for breakfast and to pack up camp. Marc set out to do some hiking but it was already too warm for me, especially since I had no energy and wasn't really into midday shooting. Peter and I decided to start heading back south with a stop along the way to shoot an abandoned building we had both spotted on the way up but I'll save that for another post.

This is a beautiful area that I can't wait to visit again...in the fall after it cools down a bit!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Shooting the Milky Way at Joshua Tree

Milky Way galaxy over Joshua Tree NP

There is nothing I love better than spending a night under the stars in the desert, especially when the weather is good and the temperature is comfortable. This past winter was not a good one for night photography for me, the desert was cold this year, not like the year I could hike in just a t-shirt at midnight on NY Eve's. And the winds were ferocious. I spent so many nights hunkered down in my three-season tent and three-season sleeping bag that I was beginning to feel cursed by the wind, especially when it would follow me home.

But summer nights in the desert are absolutely wonderful and the summer months are the best time to photograph the Milky Way while it is high in the sky, something I've wanted to try for a while. You don't get to see the Milky Way growing up on the East Coast because there is too much ambient light. The first time I saw it was down in the swamps of Louisiana and it blew me away. Now that I live in the Southwest and can visit the desert whenever I want it is a regular sight but it still amazes me every time I see it. There is something very primal about gazing at the Milky Way spanning from horizon to horizon over an untouched landscape.

The center of the Milky Way galaxy is near Sagittarius. Following the advice of my friend Jeff Sullivan who points out that Sagittarius is at it's highest at midnight on July 22 I planned to shoot on the night of the new moon closest to that date, which was last Tuesday August 6. Peter Tellone was up to the challenge of making a wild overnight run out to the desert and helped me plan the trip. We both figured that Joshua Tree National Park would be a good location, relatively close by with great rock formations and Joshua Trees for foreground interest. We agreed that Geology Tour Road would be the best, with a side bonus that it would get me a trail where I could do some night shots of the jeep (more on that to come!!). What neither of us realized was that JTNP is an ambient light nightmare. The brighter south end of the Milky Way rises in the south and moves to the southwest. Palm Springs is directly southwest and we couldn't believe how bright it was. To the north is Twentynine Palms and although it isn't as bright as Palm Springs it still caused major problems because the northern end of the Milky Way isn't nearly as bright as the southern end. We tried to make the best of it with creative compositions that would block the worst of it, but all in all it wasn't what we had hoped for.

It was still a beautiful night under the stars with great company, stumbling around in the dark under a moonless sky enjoying perfect temperatures while listening to the coyotes howl. I would be happy just sitting out there under the desert sky even without my camera, and once in a while I would put it down and do just that. We shot until 3am because it was such a perfect night that no one wanted to leave.

I'll have another chance to shoot it this weekend when I head back out with some friends to shoot the Perseid meteor showers this weekend and hopefully the location we've chosen won't have the ambient light problem.

Here are a few more images from the night:

Milky Way galaxy over Joshua Tree NP

Milky Way galaxy over Joshua Tree NP

Joshua Tree silhouette and Milky Way, Joshua Tree National Park

Northern end of Milky Way Galaxy and Perseid meteor, Joshua Tree National Park
Milky Way, Perseid meteor, Andromeda galaxy (near bottom left of meteor) and Pleiades rising over the rock formation

I might have a few more to share later. Post-processing the shots was not as easy I had hoped, it takes a lot of work to bring out the Milky Way when using an older camera. But this was a great learning experience and I hope a try a few different techniques next time.

The experience made me realize how much I really really need/want/need a 5D Mark III for the high ISO performance if I'm going to continue with astrophotography and other night photography. Although my 7D was up to the task of capturing the Milky Way the images weren't as clean as I hoped for. My other limitation was that my Canon 10-22mm lens has a max aperture of 4.5. I'm happy with the 7D up to about ISO 500 and photographing the Milky Way requires an ISO of 3200 and up (ideally 6400). New technology really does make a difference when it comes to clean images with little noise at high ISOs. Now I just need to sell $5000 of prints to get the 5D Mark III and an ultra-wide lens for it. If you want to help me out, all prints and merchandise on my site will be 20% off until the end of August using the code "MilkyWay".