Tag Archives: Flowers

Hiking in the Dolomites, Part 6

The Tre Cime de Lavaredo are the three mountain peaks that are the highlight of the Tre Cime Natural Park.  (In German, they are called Drei Zinnen.)  From the end of the road at Rifugio Auronzo, we began our three mile hike around Tre Cime to Rifugio Locatelli.  The hike took us up to 8000 feet, to a saddle between Tre Cime and the nearby Monte Paterno (Paternkofel), where we had lunch.  The trail descended from the pass back down a few hundred feet, before ascending again to Locatelli, back at 8000 feet elevation.  Temperatures were in the 50’s, and it was somewhat windy.

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Shown below, the Locatelli hut, with the Torre di Toblin behind it.

(Click any image to enlarge.)

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On the side of the Monte Paterno, we saw some climbers on a Via Ferrata (Italian for “Iron Road”).  These are hiking and climbing routes that have a cable, fixed to the rock every few meters.  You wear a harness with two carabiners.  As you reach one of the iron stays in the rock, you unclip one carabiner and reattach it to the cable on the other side of the stay, then follow with the other carabiner.  Thus, you are always attached to the cable.

Many of the Via Ferrata in the Dolomites are left from World War I.  The Dolomites were a major battleground in the war between Austria-Hungary and Italy.

In the photo below, you see a couple of people on a fairly flat, easy section of Via Ferrata on Monte Paterno.

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We continued on to the Locatelli hut.  This is a much larger hut than the Resciesa hut we stayed in earlier—I’d guess they have room for over 100 people.  But note that they only have one shower, and it costs €5 to use it for six minutes.  (None of our group bothered with a shower that night.)

Many dayhikers come for lunch or dinner in the cafe.  Along with a lot of people, we saw a few dogs of all sizes on the trail.  Here’s a photo of a beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog.

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That night, the barometric pressure began to rise, and we set our alarms in hopes of clear skies for night photography.  We got started a little bit late, so this turned into a bit of night photography combined with pre-dawn photography.  Here’s a time-lapse sequence showing the transition from night to twilight.

We returned to bed for an hour of sleep before heading out for sunrise.  Here’s one of my favorite infrared images of the dawn light hitting Monte Paterno and the Tre Cime.

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We returned again to bed for another hour of sleep before breakfast, and then began our hike back to Rifugio Auronzo, where we waited for our taxi that would take us to Cortina.

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Up next, Cortina and Venice.

Hiking in the Dolomites, Part 3

The next day, we took the bus to the end of the road, and went for an approximately 7-mile hike near Santa Magdalena at around 2000 meters elevation.  Here’s the trail we took, hiking from east to west:

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As I mentioned in my last post, the weather turned overcast with a low ceiling, and a nearly constant threat of rain.  The good news is that it didn’t actually rain much—a couple of passing showers that lasted only minutes.  The bad news is that we had to imagine what the scenery looked like:

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(Click on any image to enlarge.)

Once again, I turned to my infrared Nikon D300 to find elements of drama in the larger scene.  On this trip, I used the versatile Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens for all of my infrared photos.  This shot is using a focal length of 65mm (35mm equivalent of 100mm) at f/5.

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Another approach to photographing with uncooperative weather is to focus on details, such as this flower.

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I believe this is a Phyteuma orbiculare.
Common name: Round-headed Rampion

The weather improved marginally as we neared the end of our hike, descending to Santa Magdalena to catch the bus back to the hotel.  The mountains were still in the clouds, but we could at least appreciate more of the scenery.

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The next day, we hiked again for about five miles in the same area, heading more east:

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The weather was slightly improved from the day before—the ceiling had lifted ever so slightly, and we saw some blue sky as the day progressed.

Here’s my favorite infrared photo from the day, with the brooding clouds hanging just at the top of the peaks.

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As long as the sky was cloudy, we could switch our focus to scenes that don’t include it.  I photographed these waterfalls with a 1/3 second exposure at f/22.

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The photo below is a 1/10 second exposure, also at f/22.

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If you haven’t figured it out by now, one of the themes of this week was to find different ways to photograph something interesting while having challenging weather conditions.  This led us to time-lapse photography.

Here’s a very short video of sixty time-lapse frames.  Each frame was taken 3 seconds apart, and the video below speeds it up by 36x.  I’ll have a few more examples like this in later blog posts.

Next up, an afternoon in Ortisei, on our way up to our first mountain hut, the Rifugio Resciesa.

Mystery Valley, and on to Hunt’s Mesa

On Sunday, April 13, we began in Monument Valley and, with a Navajo guide, visited Mystery Valley before making our way up to Hunt’s Mesa.

I got up for sunrise in hopes that we might get some good color.  I was playing around with HDR (high dynamic range) photography.  I didn’t get any colorful shots that I liked, but I decided to process the HDR as black and white, and I kind of like the way this turned out.  The sun is rising just behind this mitten…

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(Click to enlarge)

Here’s a map showing where my photos were geotagged.  We more or less worked our way in a counterclockwise fashion, starting at The View hotel at the top, Mystery Valley to the southeast, then further south as we and east as we worked our way up Hunt’s Mesa.

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Here’s an infrared photo from Mystery Valley.  They had a bad ice storm this winter, and several trees were damaged.

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Here’s a nice claret cup cactus in bloom…

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We saw plenty of pictographs and petroglyphs…

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As the day wore on, it was clear that we were in for windy conditions.  This affected visibility to some extent, but it wasn’t a complete bust.  Here’s a photo of El Capitan as we worked our way around to the back side of Hunt’s Mesa.

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I’ll save you the story about how our vehicle got stuck in sand for about an hour and how we managed to get it unstuck.  But a little later, we reached a sandstone cliff, and our guide, Tony, admitted, “I’ve never been up this way before.”  This was our signal to get out and walk.  Tony decided it was passable, but with our confidence waning due to getting stuck in the sand, we told Tony we’d meet him at the top.  Here’s a photo of him charging up the hill…

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Eventually, we made it to the top of Hunt’s Mesa.  Here are a few images from late afternoon and sunset.  It was still very windy, especially as we approached the edge of the mesa to take these photos.

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We camped out on top of Hunt’s Mesa that night.  The wind died down about midnight, and it turned even colder.  I was warm in my REI +25 sleeping bag, but eventually (at 5:30 AM), it was time to get up for sunrise.  We guessed the temperature was in the mid to high 30’s on Monday morning.

Doe Mountain, Coconino National Forest

I’m in Arizona this week, starting off in Phoenix, then up to Flagstaff to visit my friends Crystal and Paul.  On a day trip from Flagstaff this past Friday, I went down to Sedona and hiked the Doe Mountain trail in Coconino National Forest.

Map of Doe Mountain

 

Here’s a photo from early in the hike.  I hiked up to the ridge shown in this photo.

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There were some nice wildflowers at the top, including this Claret Cup Cactus.  (Echinocereus triglochidiatus)

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Next up, Monument Valley and a trip to Hunt’s Mesa.

Hawaii, Day One

Aloha from the island of Kaua’i.  I arrived this afternoon after nine hours of flying from Austin.  I didn’t do much photography today; just trying to cope with the five-hour time difference, the travel, getting settled in… I did take a few photos with my iPhone.

But let me back up for a minute.

Before I started this trip, I asked a few of my friends to send me some words to inspire topics on this blog.  I asked for non-concrete words—I think I used “love” and “laughter” as examples.  Anyway, I got some great responses, and I will try to use some of those words in my blog over the next several days.

Today’s (iPhone) photo satisfies several of the words (“purple” comes to mind), but the word that I want to apply here is “elegance”.  This flower, which came with my lunch, is imperfect, yet very elegant.

I have friends like that.  Amazing people with everyday shortcomings, insecurities, and flaws.  It’s wonderful to overlook those things, and build incredible, supportive friendships with people who are beautiful in their own, unique, elegant ways.  And thank you to all my friends who are willing to take a chance on me for those friendships—to overlook my own shortcomings, insecurities, and flaws.

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I plan to be back tomorrow with another image, and another word of inspiration.

Bluebonnets

Thanks to a wet winter, we’ve had a really good spring for wildflowers in central Texas.  There are millions of bluebonnets and other wildflowers along the major highways in Austin.  (Thanks, Lady Bird.)

Sometimes, I think I take the wildflowers for granted.  Growing up in Texas, I’ve seen and photographed a lot of bluebonnets.  So rather than go out and photograph them, I’ve just been enjoying the wildflowers as I’ve been driving around town.

Do I really need another bluebonnet portrait?  Can I find a new, interesting wildflower composition I haven’t seen before?  Still, the flowers are so good this year, maybe it’s worth at least a little effort.

Texas Bluebonnet

Click to enlarge

So this past weekend, one of my best friends and I decided to try to find a good spot for wildflower photography.

But first, we had lunch.  And then we went shopping for a hat for her.  Next, we drove down some country roads, but didn’t find any wildflower patches that inspired us.  Then we gave up the wildflower search to visit a neighborhood garden tour, and to spend some time with a couple of friends who live there.

Near the end of the day, we still hadn’t taken a photo of wildflowers.  As we left our friends, we drove by a neighborhood park flooded with the distinctive, blue, state flower of Texas.  We got out our gear and walked around.  I took several dozen photos, but we were tired, and I don’t think either of us felt particularly inspired.

Back home at the end of the day, I went through my images, and selected a few worth keeping.  And when I saw the image below, I was reminded that it’s not about the photography, and it’s not about the flowers.  It’s about being inspired by the people who touch us.  It’s about friends who make us laugh.  It’s about sharing life.  Thanks, Nicole, for being part of it.

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