Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sunrise at Lake Mead

I was in the Las Vegas area for a few days.  I know most people think wow Las Vegas and all the things most people want to do.  I think Las Vegas, close to fill in the blank....Zion, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Lake Mead.

For me I like to be able to get away from Vegas and see a sunrise or sunset and Lake Mead was the place.  

I had driven across the Hoover Dam once on my way home from Yosemite, but had never really stopped to explore.  Having a few days to do so, I looked up some possible places to photograph on Google Earth.

I was up pretty early one day and decided to drive out to see what the sunrise might bring.  On the way from Henderson to Boulder City, I noticed a few clouds.  I got to the lake and I could already see some hint of color.  The spot I picked out had shore access and there were a few small rocky outcrops and islands close by.

I set up the camera and started to make a few images.  As soon as I saw the orange light of the distant sunrise on the LCD, I knew this was going to be good.

I started at the lake shore but was never sure the location was the right one.  I moved left.  Then right.  Then back up the hill.  Then back to the shore.  The light kept getting better and I was firing off exposure after exposure.

The sky filled with color.

I kept photographing.  Never quite sure I was in the right spot, so I kept moving.  I must have walked a mile going back and forth, never quite finding the right spot.

I was still enjoying the light show and it was a great one that went on for a long time.  Finally the sun rose and I made a last few images.  Checked the time-only 6:45AM.

I made a few more shots, drove over to look at Hoover Dam and then drove up into Boulder City by 8 and to an appointment at 9.

Not a bad way to spend a morning!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Zion Narrows in Autumn

I had an opportunity to spend a few hours in Zion National Park in November.  Literally it was get to the park at 2pm on a Sunday and have until sunset.  Then drive back to Las Vegas.  Of course, I could not pass up that chance, and of course, I went right to the Narrows.

I have been to Zion in the summer months but always wanted to get there in November for the fall color.  I keep hoping to plan for a full week too, but when opportunity knocked, I took it.

Now if you have ever been to the Narrows, you know you wade into the Virgin River and walk in the water up into the canyon.  The water is chilly in the summer.  It's down right frigid in November.

Most people rent special waders and booties.  It allows them to wear base layers and wool socks.  They stay dry and probably fairly warm.

I went in shorts and Keens.

Having so little time, I did not want to waste any of it renting gear.  I clipped my Keen to my pack and boarded the shuttle bus for the end of the route at the Temple of Sinewava.  
Once I get there I hiked the mile down to where the trail ends and you wade.  It was already after 3pm and there was a line of people exiting the canyon.  I changed out shoes and socks for Keen sandals, shouldered my pack and waded in.

My first thought....WOW that's cold!

However, I was in Zion wading the Narrows......who cares about cold!!

I zig-zagged to stretches of dry ground then I was able to walk faster.  I also noticed my feet were instantly warm when I exited the water.  That told me they were already numb....

I made it up the canyon a few hundred yards and knew I best start making images.  My time is measured in minutes not hours before it is dark.  I set up the tripod and was looking for fall color, rocks, water, etc.

People were still walking out.  A few of them asked if I was cold.  I just smiled and said it was not too bad.  :-)

As the wind was blowing through the canyon I slipped on my thin lightweight down jacket and ultra-light rain jacket.  That made me pretty warm.  Well, mostly.

Besides, I was in the Narrows in November!  How cool is that!!

Answer-in the water really cool.  Downright cold.

I photographed as the light faded from the canyon and slowly started back to the entrance.

Everyone else was already out of the canyon.

I ended up making several images, a couple were even decent.

I got back to the trail, changed out to socks and shoes and realized my legs and toes were pretty cold.  I started back to the shuttle stop at a brisk pace to warm up.  then I saw a good scene and of course I stopped to photograph it.  

I walked on.  Then saw another scene.

Then another.

I finally got back to the shuttle stop at the edge of dark.  I was the last one back. FWIW, those who know me would say that is normal for me.

It was a long ride back to Las Vegas that night but wow was it worth it for a few hours in Zion in the fall!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Autumn Waters

You cannot visit Vermont in the fall without trying your hand at photographing the fall color along a stream. Now that seems easy enough, find water, find trees, take image.

However, it is not quite that easy.

You still need a decent section of stream.  Ideally with rocks and pools.  You need good color in the trees.  You also need the trees to overhang the stream to avoid a bright sky.  It also helps to do this on an overcast day if possible.

I visited several streams over the days I was in the Green Mountain State.  Often there was just something not right. Maybe the sun had dappled too much of the scene.  Maybe the stream lacked something.  However the usual scene had a big hole where the sky was there and far too bright.

However, after several walks and drives I managed to come across a few scenes where all the factors came together to give me one of those nice Vermont stream images.

Here are a couple of my favorites to share.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tumbling Water

Vermont has some great fall colors.  There are the Green Mountains.  It also has great views of farms, churches, and other Americana type subjects.  Another thing you can find in Vermont are some waterfalls.  Mountains and water can usually mean a waterfall.

On a foggy morning I decided to see what might be possible at one of the falls near Stowe.  I made the drive and found a small parking area at a trailhead.  It was just a five minute walk and I found this fall spilling over the rocks in a small gorge.

I made the standard, and about only, photograph of the falls from the side of the gorge.  I liked the fall color and I know that it really helps make the shot.  I am sure this is neat in summer but the splash of fall color adds something.

I hiked above the gorge and made a few images but nothing that really jumped out at me.  I then went down below the falls and rock hopped up the gorge to the base of the falls.  Here was a nice view looking up where you were close.  Again the fall colors add that something I just love about fall.

It was then I looked back downstream and found what I actually think is the best image of the morning.  It is this view looking downstream at the narrow gorge, rocks, fall color and hint of fog.

I have hear many photographer say you should always look behind you when you take an image as the view might be better.

This was one of those times.  Sure the waterfall is nice but there is a certain mystery and magic about the other view that I really like better.

So here is to those wonderful and magic places I hope to find more of them in the coming year!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Hiking in the Vermont Woods

Clear sky seemed to be the norm for Vermont and after the fog burned off it was a bluebird day.

Took a hike in the area around Smugglers Notch.  This is a neat area north of Stowe with some good rugged trails.  The colors were blazing gold in the trees and with the weather being sunny and warm.  As we hiked I realized this was probably going to be the last of the nice warm sunny weather.  In a few weeks the leaves will fall and it will get cold.  Snow is going to happen with the next several days.

So as I walked and occasionally made images I looked at it as the end of the season for them as the woods basked in the glory of autumn and winter lurking just around the bend.

Here are a couple from the notch area forest.  Both are fisheye images.  You might think that the fisheye would not go with a clear sky day in the forest as that "breaks" all the rules about forest photography.

However I found the expansive view really captured the essence

 of being in the autumn woods.  I might add the capabilities of a RAW file to recover highlights and bring up the darkest of the shadows helps too.  Just a few sliders in the computer and a very decent image appears.  

So as the calendar slides from fall to winter, I have some images of the glory of fall in the Vermont woods.