Cholla Garden

Not exactly in chronological order but Thursday we set out from LA in search of Hadley Farm in Cabazon and wound up day tripping into Joshua Tree NP. The Cholla Garden is a highlight In the park and we managed to reach it just as the sun was setting.

These plants are gorgeous and damned dangerous. The spines are needle thin and razor sharp. The garden provides cover for small critters since the larger predators aren’t dumb enough to run into the place or for that matter swoop in.

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Yosemite Redux

Back in Yosemite this weekend for the annual Yosemite Conservancy Spring Opener. Another shot of a shot of Half Dome. Very mild winter here snow was never heavy and is all but gone since the visit in February. Drought may be in the forecast.

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Interesting chat with a Canadian photog named Bruce who had been on the road for most of three years. Had this neat minivan he’d converted to a sleeper. I need to look into that. If you read this Bruce, drop me a note. And let me know how it went in Death Valley.

PineRidge: Sunrise to Sunset


Mo asked me the other day how I go about selecting the photographs I post. Now I’d like to say that I diligently process the images as a I go along and attempt to post each one in chronological order replete with backstory. Obviously that’s not the case although I do occasionally give it some thought.

Recently I’ve been randomly culling through my archive and post-processing files that have languished all too long. And as I do that and see a few things I like I pull them out for the blog and beyond. You’ll notice too – I hope – that these are now click-through links to the SmugMug galleries I’m beginning to (finally) populate. If you don’t know what a click-through link is just put your cursor on the face of the picture and click. 🙂 And not to worry; your machine will not explode. This image comes from the PineRidge Indian Reservation that surrounds Badlands National Park in South Dakota. It was taken when I passed through there in August 2011. It was the first area I tent camped in on that particular trip. That was a big deal for me at the time. That was many tent-poles ago.

There are lots of ridges in this area of the country but I do not recall seeing any pines.


Along Merced Creek

Along Merced Creek

On the outskirts of Yosemite Valley


Checked into Yosemite today in hopes of catching a shot of

20130221-232802.jpgthis years Firefall at Horsetail Falls. It was a no go today – not enough melt to create the ‘falls’. So I ran up and took some shots at Tunnel View. Had I not left my laptop’s power cord in LA you would have seen some of those. But alas….. So here you have the iPhone shot and I suppose that’s all you’ll get until I get home and upload some stuff to Smugmug.




I was reading the latest post at Leanne Cole Photography last night about how she had been influenced by various artists but in particular by Edward Hopper – one of my favorites. It’s a good post that generated some interesting feedback.

People seem  torn between Hopper, the artist of renown, and Hopper the self-centered egotistical wife-abuser.

I can admire his work as a gift to humanity without connection to his character defects although I doubt I would have wanted to be personally acquainted.  Knowing him through his art is fine with me. And in that respect he is a giant of a human being, whose work, as a result of its later commercialization, is probably better known to the public than that of many of his peers. If you’ve never seen his tremendously popular painting Nighthawks , you almost certainly have seen one of the many parodies.

Anyway, I was culling through some of my pics this afternoon to select a couple more for my 500px gallery and I came across this one. It’s from a series of shots I took last October in early morning in eastern Montana and the lighting in it is unlike anything else I’ve ever captured. The distinct lack of shadow tends to flatten the scene, eliminating much of the depth of field. It appeared both strange and familiar to me but I could not quite put my finger on why. Now I know.

The photo is a link and if you follow it you’ll find one other of the series. I shot them both from the roadway. This one was on my left, the other on my right.  Incidentally, the photos depict a scene of utmost calm but there was a strong wind blowing that made it difficult to steady the camera. I felt lucky and pleased to have gotten what I did.


Santa Monica Red


Sunset At Pt Dume State Park, Malibu

Sunset at Pt Dume 01-13-7802

On 12 Jan Mitzi and I went to the first major west coast exhibition of the Kelly Collection of American Illustration Art ( at the Weisman Museum at Pepperdine University. By invitation of the collection owner I might add. The opening reception ran from 5-7 to be followed by dinner at a restaurant a few miles up the coast. We over-estimated traffic and arrived early so I drove up the PCH to make sure I knew the restaurant’s exact location. As it turned out it was on the entrance road to the Park. So we drove out to the beach to see what we could see. Now you can see what we saw.



Here’s a couple of photographs that so far as I know I haven’t posted anywhere. The first: Mt Whitney, at 14,505 feet the tallest peak in the lower 48. Just a touch of snow at the time – early December 2012.

I like it. But I had not gone into the Alabama Hills that morning to shoot Whitney. I was after a shot of another icon, the Möbius Arch, the signature natural landmark in the Hills.

I was out early and was lucky enough to run into two other photogs who were skilled and who had been there before. So I followed their moves. That’s how I got not only my best Arch shot but in process managed an image of an icon within an icon. The peak to the left which appears to be higher – and isn’t- is Lone Pine Peak.



It’s my shot but I’d never have gotten it without help from Bernie and Jim. Thanks guys!


At The Point

So, how’s your day coming along?


Sunrise – Moonset – Sand Dunes

One of the things I had been looking forward to on my recent camping trip to Death Valley – also my first visit – was seeing the night sky from one of the darkest places on earth. Being an eastern urbanite that sky is something that I am otherwise routinely deprived of.  I wasn’t fully aware of the depths of my deprivation until one summer night sitting outside my dwelling in Arroyo Seco, near Taos, I glanced up and really saw the Milky Way for the first time. It was almost as if I were looking at the underside of a very sparkly lid – it was that tangibly imposing to me. I had been in a few planetariums in my life and in a few dark areas; but nothing I ever saw displayed in any of them came close to looking at the real thing hanging there over my head that night. So, I figured this would be one of the many treats to expect in the Valley. A super dark sky and a big ol Milky Way.

Typically, I paid no attention to the state of the sky before arriving. I just go. I thought I would see exactly what I intended to see: A gazillion stars spread out endlessly across the night sky. The moon had different plans and for most of my stay was up early shining like a flood light and not setting until late the next morning.  But even had I done the research ahead of time my visit schedule wasn’t going to change. Fortunately I’m going to be under wide open western skies for some time and the Valley is only a short 5 hour drive from my base camp in Los Angeles. There will be other chances, assuming the Mayans weren’t hiding the real date somewhere.

I went with what I had and since I had to be up early for sunrise lighting I was also able to get moonsets. I suppose I could have done the moonrise but when it’s full like this it’s very difficult to acquire any contrast on its face and a moon without contrast just looks like – well, a big flood light. Nothing especially interesting about that.

I already posted one of my Zabriskie shots on Google+ in the Death Valley Photographers Community – a part of which I now count myself, but nothing’s come through the blog yet so here you have a sunrise scene that I took from the top side of the Texas Springs campground area – nice when the shots come to you – and then a shot of the moon setting on the western side of the Valley over the Panamint Range. These were shot on different days because the sunrise shots I got from the Zabriskie overlook just didn’t work. (I feel as if I’m lucky when any of them turn out.)


I also have to admit that this sunrise caught me by surprise. I was a little late getting out of the tent on this morning and hadn’t expected to see anything other than a bright morning sky. The gear was locked in the car. The camera had no lens mounted. So I had to scramble. Hand held. The shutter was a little on the slow side to get the image and it suffered as a result from a lack of sharpness. But still. I can’t remember the last time I saw so much sunfire in the morning sky. It is what it is. And that ‘is’ works for me.


I was more prepared for the moonset and I like the result. The geology and the astronomy that manifest their ways in Death Valley make it a wondrous place. This Valley certainly earned its name. It holds the bones of many men and animals who arrived in its depths at the wrong time and became permanent footnotes in its long and violent history. Even today taking anything in this place for granted can cost you your next sunrise – all your next sunrises. No matter. It is a visual delight and one of the grandest exhibitions Nature puts on anywhere on earth.

Since I’ve been recalcitrant in getting any of the première shots online let me add one more; this of the Mesquite Sand Dunes near Stovepipe Wells. I’m sure as people make return trips to DV that favorites places established in earlier visits become replaced by new ones that hadn’t quite resolved for them earlier. This place is simply too grandiose (is that redundant?) for anyone to make a selection for all time. But they can one at a time – and I did. The Dunes. They are mesmerizing. They are also easy to get lost in if you fail to hold the high ground. I posted a couple of videos on Facebook of my walking round these piles of sand and acquired a pretty spiffy self-portrait that is posted in the Selfy-Sunday Group on Google +. This shot is my favorite – so far. It’s a soft exposure and I just like the way so many of the colors that define this place blend together in it.


This was taken late morning and so the light here is also from the sunrise. The area in the foreground I think is referred to as The Devil’s Corn Field but I’m not entirely sure. If it weren’t so late and if I weren’t so lazy, I’d look it up.  As it is, if you’re really curious – or perhaps know – you can chime in.


Mono Lake

A number of people were thrown off when I told them a principal waypoint on this trip would be Mono Lake. For the most, easterners haven’t a clue what Mono Lake is. Aside from being a very large body of saline water, it sits in the middle of what once was the western portal of a project of the early 30’s that was designed (and run by) the LA County Water Department. LA County Water still plays a large role in the control of this area since it depends upon the basin to supply its jurisdiction with water. Turn off the spigot up here and people in Santa Monica will get mighty dry.

The reason I wanted to visit here once again – came last September with the Green Tortoise group – was to record the place to a degree that was impossible last fall. I needed to be here early morning and early evening to get the right lighting. I was also hoping for a little morning glow to capture the image you see here. Didn’t get the glow but its still a decent shot.


Mt Whitney

Taken from Lone Pine



Took the ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend this morning. Heading into Olympic NP. Temps mild but biting with the winds out here. Am thinking about camping here if it’s not too cold and they’re still some open camp grounds.

Picture is the landing at Pt Townsend.


Mt Desert Island

This is a shot of the Mt Desert Museum & Gardens. Passed it yesterday on a driving tour of the Southwest side of the island which included some hiking round the Seawall area and some reasonably good shots of the coast in the late afternoon. It was sunny and warm in the afternoon which made the wind rain and cold that blew through later even more of a contrast. Downright cold this morning but the sun is back and the fog gone. Topped Cadillac Mtn as the sun was rising. If the weather holds, hardly the norm, might get a sunset from same. If I do, so will you.


Déja Vu All Over Again

Room with a vu. Mt Desert Island, ME. Edge of Acadia NP


Project 365 – Day 37

Ogden. I suppose by now you’ve figured out there are some gaps in my Project 365 photo posts. It seemed simple to adhere to this schedule but I’ve found it more rigorous that I had imagined. So, I’ll get them up in numerical order but there probably  not one every single day.

What you see here is a crypt in the Fairview Cemetery on the outskirts of Bowling Green, KY. I visited there last Veteran’s Day near the end of the long 2011 road trip. I seem to spend a lot of time in cemeteries. Occasionally they make good subjects because of the stories that can be constructed from the stones.

Cemeteries were on my mind today. Their residents are the only ones completely exempt from tax of any sort in this country. But in some parts of the country they have been known to vote. 🙂

Big Sky



Sent from my iPhone