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Posts tagged ‘California’

Northern California Wine Country

Just over a week ago, I was in Northern California and spent a couple of days in the Napa and Russian River valleys.  I was staying north of Sonoma, and departed about 24 hours before the area was evacuated due to the Kincade Fire near Geyser Peak.  Certain areas had a lot of smoke and ash, but I’m grateful for the time I was able to spend there.

One afternoon, I drove along the Russian River towards the coast, and took some photos near the Sonoma Coast State Park.  There were a few fall colors.  The Pampas Grass (an invasive species in California) was striking in the light of the setting sun.

(Click on any image to enlarge.)




I went to a handful of wineries.  Here are a couple of photos from Palmaz Vineyards, which has an interesting process flow that uses only gravity to move the grapes and juice around.



Here’s one of the iconic Napa Valley signs.


I also visited Truchard Vineyards, which is just west of Napa.  Tony Truchard was one of the first grape growers in the Carneros District.  They were rushing to crush the last of the grapes before potential power outages due to the high fire danger in Northern California.



Joshua Tree National Park

I was in southern California recently, and had an afternoon to drive over to Joshua Tree National Park. I first visited there in 2007, when I was in Palm Springs for a NANPA photography summit.

I planned my trip to arrive for sunset light. There weren’t many clouds in the sky, but I still managed to get a little sunset color. I just had a great time quietly hanging out among the Joshua Trees and watching the sun set.

Afterwards, I drove down to the town of Joshua Tree and had dinner before driving back west towards the city. It was an incredibly short visit, but I loved every moment.

Summer Trip Epilogue

bristlecone_pineI’ve been back for a couple of weeks now from my trip to the Pacific Northwest. The return to my “normal” life was slow and arduous. I was so ready to turn around and escape again.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s a lot I like about my “normal” life. But there’s a lot I like about traveling and experiencing new places.

As I look back on the experience, the most meaningful parts of the trip were the beginning and end. I started my trip visiting my college friend Claire and her family. I ended my trip visiting my friend Tricia and her collection of Hood River friends.

Yosemite, the Eastern Sierra, and the Cascade Range are fabulous. But they don’t hold as much meaning to me as renewing and growing old friendships. So thank you, Claire and Trish, for being the bookends of a wonderful trip. I can’t wait to see you again.

I was inspired by the long hikes.

I was inspired by blue skies and mild temperatures.

I was inspired by the beauty of the nature around me.

I was inspired by the people I met along the journey.

I was inspired by the photos that came out of my cameras at the end of each day.

I was inspired by my friends around the world who followed me on this blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.  I wish you could have come along.

Photographically, there were a few themes that really stand out about the trip…

  1. Mount_HoodWith each use, I grow more and more excited about the images coming out of my infrared camera.  (I had my Nikon D200 converted to infrared by Life Pixel.)  I’m pleased to announced that I’ve started making prints for sale directly from my Zenfolio Landscapes Gallery, and the first three images are all infrared photos from this trip.  I’ll be expanding this gallery in the coming weeks and months.
  2. windsurferI had a blast photographing the windsurfers on the Columbia River. It requires a lot of the same skills as bird photography. I flipped a few familiar settings on the camera, and I was ready to follow the action.
  3. Mikes_TreeI enjoyed learning about night photography from Michael Frye, Mike Osborne, and my fellow Ansel Adams Gallery workshop participants.

For those who care about equipment…

  • Nikon D200, converted to infrared by Life Pixel
  • Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens
  • Nikon D700
  • Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 lens
  • Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 lens
  • Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 lens
  • Canon Vixia HF S100 High-Definition Camcorder
  • Sandisk Extreme III and Lexar Professional CompactFlash cards, Delkin SDHC cards
  • Domke F-1X Camera Bag, my favorite camera bag ever
  • REI Lookout 40 Daypack
  • Gitzo G1027 Mark II Mountaineer Carbon Fiber tripod
  • Bogen/Manfrotto 3221W tripod
  • Really Right Stuff BH-40 Ballhead

And for those who care about numbers…

  • 688 photos with the D700
  • 516 infrared photos with the D200
  • 15 still photos with the Canon Vixia, and about 45 minutes of video

Yes, that’s right, I really took two tripods, three camera bodies, and four lenses with me. They all got used. (One tripod is lightweight and small for hiking.  The other is sturdy and great for night photography and windsurfing photography.)

Thanks for reading this blog. I can’t wait to take you along again. More to come soon.

Summer Trip Day Ten, Lassen Volcanic National Park

A video of Bumpass Hell.  Yeah, that’s really what they call it—Bumpass Hell.  Allegedly named for a cowboy named Bumpass who burned his leg there in the 1860’s.

Lassen Volcano had a major eruption in 1914-1915, but was a national monument even before that.

The hike to Bumpass Hell is about 1.5 miles one way at about 8000 feet.  The trail had a few patches of snow on it, and I’m glad I brought my hiking polls for some of the slush/snow traversals.  The temperature was around 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny.  Great hiking weather.

Other than that, it was a long day of driving—both before and after Lassen.  I’m now in Oregon, contemplating getting up early for morning light at Crater Lake.

Summer Trip Day Nine, Yosemite and Berkeley


Monday afternoon and evening, I did a one-day photo workshop with Michael Frye on night photography, through the Ansel Adams Gallery.  Assisting with this workshop was another great photographer, Mike Osborne.

I learned a lot, including how to do light painting with flashlights, as shown above.

I also played around with infrared night photography.  The image below shows a car driving by near Olmstead Point.  I kind of like the sweeping curve of the headlights through this image.


This image of Half Dome from Olmstead Point was taken earlier, near dusk.


I got back to Yosemite Lodge about 2 AM and was asleep a few minutes later.  It was a bit difficult, but I managed to get up early this morning to drive to Berkeley to visit a professor and a few students.  Tomorrow, I start my trip up north, eventually to Oregon.

Summer Trip Night Seven, Yosemite Falls at Night

Just wanted to post a couple of quick night shots.  The Yosemite Lodge is a few hundred yards from Yosemite Falls, so it was easy for me to walk over about midnight and try a few things.

These were taken with a Nikon D700 at ISO 800, with a 17-35mm f/2.8 lens at f/5.6, for about 3 minutes.  (Timed with my iPhone’s stopwatch.)

They look somewhat like daylight shots, except for the stars in the sky.



Summer Trip Day Seven, Bodie State Historical Park


Today, I visited Bodie State Historical Park, north of Mono Lake and Lee Vining.  Bodie was a gold mining town and is now a ghost town.  There are still a couple of hundred building there.  Most are standing.  A few are falling down.

The image below is the interior of the stamp mill, where the ore was crushed into dust to make it easier to extract gold and silver.  (Shot at ISO 6400.)


You can peer into most of the buildings and see the lives that people left behind in Bodie.  Wallpaper falling down.  Clothes littering the floor…




I walked over to the town cemetery.  Many of the graves were from the heyday of Bodie.  And a few are more recent, of family members returned, perhaps, to where they grew up.


After I left Bodie, I returned to Yosemite.  The Grouse Creek fire continues to grow, and the haze in the valley is worse than when I was here a few days ago.    


Tomorrow marks the halfway point of my trip.

Summer Trip Day Five, The Eastern Sierra

Bristlecone Pine

Today was pretty busy. I started the day at the Manzanar National Historic Site. Like many people, I first learned of Manzanar because of the work that the photographer Ansel Adams did there. Manzanar was a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II.

Below are images of the cemetery at Manzanar. Some visitors leave mementos at this monument, including strands of origami cranes.



After Manzanar, I drove down to the Whitney Portal, which is where the trail up Mt. Whitney begins.  It was very crowded there, and I only spent a half hour or so before heading down.

Next, I drove to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains. The oldest living organism on the planet is thought to be a bristlecone pine in this forest, at a little over 4800 years old. The photo at the top of this post is the skeleton of a bristlecone pine. I did a 4.25-mile moderately strenuous hike at about 10,000 feet. The temperature was in the high 60’s, which beat the high 90’s on the valley floor 6000 feet below.

Finally, on my way back through Bishop, I stopped at the Mountain Light Gallery, which is the gallery started by the late Galen and Barbara Rowell.

Tonight, I’m in Mammoth Lakes, where I just watched the July 3rd fireworks.

Summer Trip Day Four, Yosemite and Mono Lake


I continue to be inspired by my infrared photos. The image above is from the South Tufa area of Mono Lake, near Lee Vining, California. Mono Lake is an alkaline and saline lake, and the tufas are calcite rock formations in several locations there. The infrared camera highlights the interesting clouds we had today.

In Yosemite, the Grouse Creek fire continues to burn, and the Yosemite Valley had even more smoke today than yesterday. I did spend more time at the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

Tomorrow, I plan to explore south from Bishop.

Summer Trip Day Three, Yosemite


I spent the day exploring more of Yosemite, hiking to Taft Point, driving to Washburn and Glacier Points, and then spending more time in Yosemite Valley.

The Valley has a lot of smoke in it from the Grouse Fire, which started from lightning about a month ago. It’s a little frustrating that the grand vistas are pretty hazy, but I appreciate the benefits that fire brings to the forest environment.

The image above is another infrared photo. It is the classic view from the “Tunnel View” overlook. El Capitan is on the left. Half Dome is just left of center in the far distance. Bridalveil Falls is in the lower right.

Tomorrow, I work my way back through the Yosemite high country, and will end up in Bishop, on the other side of the Sierras.

PS: My friend Nancy wanted a photo of me driving through one of those “tunnel trees”. The California Tunnel Tree in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias isn’t big enough for a car (and they don’t allow them there anyway). When the tunnel was cut in 1895, they didn’t foresee the size of today’s cars. No car, but here I am under the tree.