Posted by: kerryl29 | November 20, 2017

Colorado Trip Prologue: Monument Rocks, Kansas

The trip from the Midwest to southwest Colorado is a long one.  Given the volume of items I wanted to bring along I made the decision to drive; it’s approximately 1400 miles from Indianapolis–where I was starting out–to Silverton, Colorado, meaning two very long days of driving.  I had to make a decision in advance about how far to go on the first day.  It’s worth noting that, until reaching a junction with US-24 in Limon, Colorado the journey from Indianapolis is basically following I-70 relentlessly west.

About 15 years ago I read something, somewhere, about a place called Monument Rocks, in western Kansas.  It sounded interesting: chalk edifices rising from nothing in the Great Plains.  I always said that if I was in the area (ha) I’d check it out.  When I was planning the trip to Colorado, seeing that the route included covering the length of the state of Kansas, I remembered Monument Rocks and I hastened to find its exact location.  I discovered that it was about 30 miles south of the tiny town of Oakley, which was right along I-70.  I decided to make Oakley the stopping point on the first day of the drive.  It would be roughly 840 driving miles from Indianapolis to Oakley, but given that it was all Interstate driving to get there, if I got an early enough start, I reasoned, I could reach Oakley early enough to find–and photograph–Monument Rocks by sunset.

I left at some absurd hour of the morning–I was in Illinois before the sun rose–and about 13 hours later I reached Oakley…about 3 1/2 hours before sunset.  It was hot–in excess of 90 degrees F and moderately breezy.  I checked into the hotel I had booked and then quickly set off in the direction of Monument Rocks.  I’d driven through the Great Plains before, several times, but this was my first occasion looking at it up close.  On the drive to Monument Rocks, a couple of scenes caught my eye and I pulled off the road to photograph them.

The Great Plains, Logan County, Kansas

The Great Plains Black & White, Logan County, Kansas

The Great Plains Farm Site, Logan County, Kansas

The Great Plains Farm Site Black & White, Logan County, Kansas

The final approach to Monument Rocks involves about eight miles of driving on a series of unpaved (but graded) county roads.  The rocks themselves lie on private property but are accessible to the public due to the graciousness of the landowner.

The Monument Rocks are quite a sight to behold.  The area in which they’re situated is essentially flat and largely treeless…and, suddenly, there are these edifices, up to 50-odd feet in height.  I reached the spot about two hours before sunset and spent some time walking around the rocks, just to gain my bearings.  It had been mostly cloudy to the southwest (i.e. where the sun was located) when I drove in but as I wandered around the rocks low-angled sun began to pierce the clouds, making for some brilliant light.

Monument Rocks, Logan County, Kansas

Monument Rocks, Logan County, Kansas

Monument Rocks, Logan County, Kansas

Monument Rocks, Logan County, Kansas

The rocks lie in two principal “collections,” located about 1/8 of a mile from one another on either side of a county road.  Both sets of rocks have their particular points of interest including, but not limited to, archways and windows.  Most of the compositions I selected were effectively east-facing, the better to capture the already nice and constantly improving low-angled light.  The chalk walls reflected this light beautifully in a way that reminded me to some extent of Bryce Canyon in Utah.

Monument Rocks, Logan County, Kansas

Monument Rocks, Logan County, Kansas

Monument Rocks Black & White, Logan County, Kansas

Monument Rocks, Logan County, Kansas

As sunset time approached, clouds and sun played footsie.  I decided to hang around to see if the sunset would be any good.  While I waited, I wandered around the second set of rocks, on the east side of the road.

Monument Rocks, Logan County, Kansas

Monument Rocks at Dusk, Logan County, Kansas

There was one isolated edifice, more or less between the two main sets of rocks.  I decided to focus on that tower, facing west, as the sun sank toward the horizon.  You can really get a sense of just how wide open and stark this place is.

Monument Rocks at Sunset, Logan County, Kansas

Monument Rocks at Sunset, Logan County, Kansas

In the shot below, you can see the first set of rocks–the ones represented in the photos near the top of this post–in the background.

Monument Rocks at Sunset, Logan County, Kansas

As the western sky lit up in what turned out to be a very nice sunset, I scrambled around to obtain a few different compositions before everything faded.

Monument Rocks at Sunset, Logan County, Kansas

Monument Rocks at Sunset, Logan County, Kansas

Monument Rocks at Sunset, Logan County, Kansas

When the sunset sky faded into twilight, I hastened to get back to my hotel.  As interesting as it might have been to view the locale under starlight, I still had nearly 600 miles–much of it through mountainous terrain–the following day to get to Silverton, so an early start was imperative.

Advertisements
Posted by: kerryl29 | November 13, 2017

Autumn in Colorado: An Introduction

One of the conundrums I’ve faced in recent years is that there are many places I want to go during the fall color period and a large percentage of those locations have overlapping historical peak color times on the calendar.  The referred to stretch of time overlaps the last week or so of September and the first week to ten days of October.  The Upper Peninsula of Michigan; northern New England; the Canadian Rockies; the Canaan Valley of West Virginia.  These are all locations that I’ve visited at least once in the past decade and they all tend to peak in the aforementioned period.  Among the fall color destinations on my list that I hadn’t visited prior to this year include (but are not limited to) the Eastern Sierra region of California; northern Wisconsin and Minnesota; the Adirondacks region of New York and southwest Colorado.

This fall, I removed Colorado from the second list and added it to the first.  I spent the last week of September and the first week of October in Colorado.  Most of that time was spent in the San Juan Mountains in the southwest part of the state but  I also embedded myself in the West Elk Mountains–the Kebler Pass area, to be specific–for five days.  I started in Silverton, Colorado, decamped to Gunnison and then returned to the San Juans, staying in Ouray.  It was a photo trip I’ve wanted to make for years, but I had never seriously looked into planning the trip until late 2016.

Before I present some images, I want to publicly thank several individuals for their assistance and support in planning the itinerary and with image location.  Thanks to Tony Litschewski, whom I met in the field at Crystal Lake, for helping with locations and scouting reports in the San Juans.  Many, many thanks to Nye Simmons for countless invaluable suggestions about timing and locations throughout the regions I visited and for advanced planning advice, including specific hiking trail recommendations.  And infinite thanks to Jason Templin for an endless stream of always actionable suggestions, beginning with my first planning attempts more than a year in advance of departure and not concluding until my trip was at end, covering subjects as diverse as itinerary, timing, locations and basing and other topics too numerous to enumerate.  My sincere thanks to all three of these gentlemen, without whose assistance my trip would have been far less successful than it turned out to be.  (I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that all three are excellent photographers.)

Aspen Color, Crystal Lake, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Snowy Conifers, Red Mountain Pass, San Juan National Forest, Colorado

Sneffels Range Sunrise, Ouray County Road 7, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

When I returned from this trip I was asked, repeatedly and naturally enough, how it went.  My response, invariably, was something along the lines of “pretty well.”  For what it’s worth, I clicked the shutter more times on this trip than any I’ve ever taken.  Yes, quality over quantity and all that, but the point is that I was inspired to produce more unique compositions on this trip than on any I’ve taken prior.

Red Mountain Creek, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Aspen Splendor, Ouray County Road 5, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Golden Band, Ouray County Road 5, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

For all the complaining I heard in the field from people with experience photographing in Colorado in the fall about how “mediocre” the color was in Colorado this autumn, it seemed pretty nice to me.  Admittedly, I didn’t have a real basis for comparison–given that it was my first visit to the area during the peak color season–but I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.  I’ll discuss this point more thoroughly in a thematic piece later in this series, but my recent entry covering my day visit to Starved Rock State Park in Illinois is instructive, I think.  At least some of the time, ignorance is bliss.

Ferns and Aspens, Ohio Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Snowy Red Mountain Pass, San Juan National Forest, Colorado

Sneffels Range Dawn, Ouray County Road 5, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

There’s a tendency to think of aspen groves as emblematic of fall color in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and there’s good reason for doing so.  But, I found out, it’s really not nearly that simple.  At lower elevations, particularly along waterways, cottonwoods and box elders are important deciduous sources of fall color.  And, at certain elevations in certain locations, scrub oak–which turns in a kaleidoscope of colors–is a major complement, if not a primary source in its own right.

Crystal Lake Reflections, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Autumn Road, Owl Creek Pass, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Farm at Sunset, Gunnison County, Colorado

While breathtaking wide angle opportunities were seemingly everywhere, as is my custom, I spent a significant amount of time poking around for tighter, more intimate compositions.  There were endless choices to be made in this regard, particularly in the Kebler Pass area.  Nye had told me, in one of our preliminary conversations, “you can spend weeks up there.”  I saw that with my own eyes and ran out of time in the region long before I ran out of image making opportunities.

Aspen Forest, Dark Canyon Loop Trail, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Dark Canyon Loop Trail, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Forest Floor Intimate, Dark Canyon Loop Trail, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

I also found a large assortment of rustic buildings and fences to use as complementary (and occasionally primary) subject matter, especially in the San Juans.

Rustic Barn, Last Dollar Road, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Molas Pass, San Juan National Forest, Colorado

Sunrise, Last Dollar Road, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

I had no shortage of variable weather conditions in which to work.  As they say, if you don’t like the weather in the mountains, just wait a minute.

Tarn Sunset, Red Mountain Pass, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Spotlighting, Dallas Divide, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Aspens in Fog, Last Dollar Road, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

The images accompanying this post represent a tiny, more or less random, sample that I quickly whipped together.  I’ll be working on image processing for weeks to come and think it very unlikely that I’ll complete the process by the end of the calendar year.

Bear Creek Trail, San Juan National Forest, Colorado

Fall Color, San Miguel County, Colorado

Conifers, Mineral Creek Road, San Juan National Forest, Colorado

One of the things I attempted–probably fruitlessly–to do in putting these samples together is demonstrate the sheer variety of subject matter available when photographing in the Colorado Rockies.  While probably not quite as varied as that of the Canadian Rockies, I hope it’s obvious that it’s nothing to sneeze at.  Hardly.

Red Mountain Creek at Sunset, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Owl Creek Pass, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Ohio Pass Fall Color, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Though it may not have seemed so based on the above images, there are ample opportunities to include water in photographs from the Colorado Rockies.

Lost Lake Slough Reflections, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Sunrise, Lost Lake Slough, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Lower Uncompahgre River Falls, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Gunnison River, Montrose County, Colorado

Here are a few more images, as I’m effectively out of supporting text:

Fall Color Majesty, Last Dollar Road, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Kebler Pass Afternoon, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Aspen Color, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Autumn Overlook, Dark Canyon Loop Trail, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Box Elders, Curecanti National Recreation Area, Colorado

Crystal Lake Color, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

I’ll start the chronological tale in the next entry, beginning with a prologue.  I drove out to Colorado from the Midwest and at the end of an 840-odd mile first day of driving, I spent a late afternoon and early evening photographing in western Kansas, primarily at a location known as Monument Rocks.  I’ll detail that experience next time.

Posted by: kerryl29 | November 6, 2017

Great (Unrealized) Expectations

My part of the Midwest suffered from an extended period of drought in the late summer and early fall of this year.  During an eight-week stretch that covered most of August and September, the Chicago area received less than one inch of rain–no more than a tenth of normal precipitation over that stretch of time.  The Indianapolis area was scarcely any wetter.  As a function of this development, I anticipated a poor fall color season in the region.  A spasm of rain beginning in the first week of October–and still ongoing as of this week–was enough to break the drought (in fact, there’s been a fair amount of flooding), but far too late to do anything about the quality of fall color.

Despite the dull hues of the foliage, three consecutive days of rain that opened the last full week of October, following several weeks of extensive rainfall, gave me reason to anticipate that the many ephemeral waterfalls that inhabit the numerous canyons of Starved Rock State Park in north-central Illinois would be flowing generously and, even if the fall color wasn’t great, should still make for an enticing canvas upon which to immerse myself…and my camera.

I’ve written about my forays to Starved Rock numerous times, most recently this past spring, and I’ve often extolled the advantages of my relative familiarity with this place.  But on this occasion, I was disappointed.  After making the roughly 100-mile drive from my Chicago area base, timed to arrive at around daybreak on October 26, I found the color to be–as expected–mediocre to poor, depending on the specific spot.  But when I found the water flow to be no better than mediocre following the roughly two-mile hike to the head of LaSalle Canyon…well, that wasn’t expected.  I’m still not sure how the flow could have been so poor after so much rain, but there it was.

I was faced with having to deal with the less than optimal conditions.  And, given that I’ve done that before, why should it be that difficult to do it again?  If you check out the linked entry in the previous sentence, you’ll see that I make the following suggestion:  “Adopting an attitude of making lemonade out of lemons–or lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness, if you prefer a proverbial expression–will maximize the likelihood of obtaining satisfying images since it will free one’s mind up from expecting a certain type of image.  Give yourself the chance to make the best images that conditions allow rather than fixating on the best images that theoretically could be made.”

Perhaps I should have taken my own advice, but given that I was expecting one thing–consciously or not–and was greeted with another, I was thrown for a bit of a loop.  I did eventually try to make the best of the situation, though it took more doing on my part than it should have.

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Note the heavy emphasis on foregrounds in these images.  That was, at least partly, a function of a comparative lack of interest elsewhere.  Remember, the water flow wasn’t very good (as you can see–compare that with the flow that I experienced in the same place earlier this year) and the color on the trees was sub par as well.

I ended up using a similar approach during my forays into Tonti and Illinois Canyons.

Tonti Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

As a function of the days of rain, the best color–even if it wasn’t that great–was on the ground, not on the trees, so that became the center of interest.

St. Louis Canyon–my last stop on this day–was an exception.  There weren’t a lot of fresh leaves on the ground near the head of the canyon and the tall, straight form of the St. Louis Canyon waterfall would make it a tough subject to incorporate with leaves on the canyon floor in any event.

St. Louis Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

St. Louis Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Regardless of specifics, there’s a lesson to be learned–or relearned–here, and it’s the same moral that’s laid out in the “making lemonade from lemons” blog entry of six years ago:  try to keep expectations to a minimum lest they blind you to real time opportunities.

Next:  I’ll begin documenting my early fall trip to Colorado.

Posted by: kerryl29 | October 31, 2017

California Day 14: Finale

You know how sometimes everything seems to come together perfectly?

Me either.

But on the last day of my trip to California this past spring, it was pretty close.  As I mentioned in the previous post, I discovered the proverbial mother lode of rhododendron blossoms in Del Norte Redwoods State Park, right alongside the Redwood Highway, no more than a half-mile or so from the Damnation Creek Trailhead and I spent an hour or thereabouts photographing this treasure trove.  How could it possibly get any better?

Fog.  And windless conditions.  That would pretty much cap it off.

As I have mentioned, despite being told prior to my 2015 visit to redwood country that morning fog amidst the coastal groves was a virtual given, I’d seen very little of it.  There had been some spotty fog two mornings earlier, but I hadn’t seen anything particularly thick.  As luck would have it, the forecast for this final morning suggested that there might be some fog in Crescent City, so I was hopeful.  When I awoke, well before dawn, and took a peek outside my window, I didn’t see any evidence of mist–to my chagrin–in the light of the street lamps.  But I got up and out before first light, just in case things were different in the groves, approximately 10 miles to the south.

As I was driving on the redwood highway, I started running into some patchy fog, lifting my spirits a bit.  I drove into fog, then out of it and, just as I got near the Damanation Creek pullout, back into it.  I stepped out of the car into a foggy world of dripping foliage, a surreal wonderland.

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

And there wasn’t a breath of wind.  It was time to go to town, photographically speaking.

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

For the next couple of hours I covered the familiar ground of the Damanation Creek and Coastal Trails, but these areas took on a completely different look and feel due to the fog.

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

On several occasions the fog seemed to be lifting, only to see a new wall of mist drift in to replace an earlier wave.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

While I always kept my eyes open for opportunities to photograph rhododendron, the presence of blossoms wasn’t a prerequisite.  If I saw something appealing, with or without flowers, I set up the tripod.

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail Black & White, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons in Fog, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

The absence of any wind made it possible to produce focus stacked compositions and a number of the images accompanying this entry are examples of the implementation of this technique.

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Everything in the forest was dripping with moisture, saturating the colors.  With no wind, exposures of several seconds were an available option and, since I was using a polarizing filter to remove glare from the soaked foliage, were requisite.

Rhododendrons, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

After finishing along the trails, I did what I had always planned to do–return to the mother lode.  As luck would have it, the fog in this area was even thicker and I spent the better part of another couple of hours photographing the same roadside rhododendron/redwood trunk spots as I had the previous afternoon.  At no point did the fog appear to lift.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

As had been the case the previous day, all sorts of compositions were possible here, with the additional mood and mystery afforded by the fog.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

I switched back and forth between slightly wider than normal and short telephoto perspectives.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Things that were omnipresent:  rhododendron blossoms, redwood trunks and fog.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

I finished that morning shoot with great satisfaction.  After dreaming about conditions like these for two years I’d finally realized my vision.

Epilogue

I was facing a nine-hour drive back to the Bay Area and I’d gotten a later-than-anticipated start, but given the experience with the fog and rhododendron, that was irrelevant.  I figured that the day’s–and, by extension, the trip’s–photography was at an end, but I was in for one more unexpected treat.  About an hour into the drive, as I made my way through the edge of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park south of Klamath, I saw a bit of a traffic jam and immediately discovered the reason why–an elk herd was present, on the other side of a fenced area, right off the road.  I cleared the jam, pulled off on the shoulder, grabbed my tripod and telephoto lens-endowed camera and walked back to check it out.  The elk couldn’t have been more cooperative.

Elk, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Elk, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Elk, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Elk, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Elk, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

That made the rest of the day-long drive go by even more quickly than would otherwise have been the case.

And with that, this long, exhilarating photo trip to California had come to an end.  I’m looking forward to my next opportunity to experience more of the seemingly endless beauty of the Golden State.  Hopefully that opportunity will be sooner than later.

Posted by: kerryl29 | October 23, 2017

California Day 13: Discovery of the Mother Lode

Day 13 was the final full day I would spend on this two-week photo journey to California.  I would have one more morning, but the bulk of Day 14 would be spent making the long drive back to the Bay Area in preparation for the following day’s flight back to Chicago.  There was a possibility of fog on this morning but it never materialized, though this was still the strongest single-day impact of the marine layer that I’d seen on this trip.  It was present at first light and, along the coast line, remained there all day long.  This meant even light in the redwood groves, so I spent much of the morning–until the breeze picked up–at Del Norte Redwoods State Park, in my usual haunts along the Damnation Creek and Coastal Trails.

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

I spent most, but not all, of my time in search of clusters of rhododendron, more specimens of which were popping up with each passing day.

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

As usual, the ground cover in the lush understory captured my attention.

Coastal Trail Intimate, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Redwood Sorrel and Ferns Black & White, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

I made another pass through the rhododendron growth late in the morning, with the focus primarily on long lens captures.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

When I left the grove, I thought I was probably done on this stretch of forest, barring another round of atmospheric fog.  I felt as though I’d shot everything I could at this stage and, truth be told, I was a tiny bit disappointed.  Oh, sure, I’d seen far more rhododendron blooms on this trip than I had during my time in the area two years previous, but I hadn’t quite come across the massive unfurling of blooms that I had envisioned.

I decided to take a ride south, to seek out the Klamath River Overlook in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.  It took about 45 minutes to make the drive and it was early afternoon when I arrived.  From the parking area, there’s a trail that leads down the slope to a raised platform of an overlook above the water and I decided, in lieu of anything better to do, to make the hike.  It ended up being on an essentially unmaintained trail that looped through towering stands of wild grasses and other plants the entire way, but I persevered and reached the platform, which I had entirely to myself.

Klamath River Overlook Black & White, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

I could see the occasional sea lion swimming in the waters below.  There was also an offshore rock that served as a perch for brown pelicans and cormorants.

Brown Pelicans and Cormorants, Klamath River Overlook, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

But my main interest was the rocky coastline.

Rocky Shoreline Black & White, Klamath River Overlook, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

I took a tour of the Klamath Beach Road after I returned to the parking area.  Some of the overlooks might have been interesting had the conditions been different, but given the sullen, featureless skies I didn’t find them appealing enough to photograph.  I was, however, interested in some of the mossy trees I found on the forested interior of the road.

 

Moss-Covered Trees, Klamath Beach Road, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

I drove back toward Crescent City and gradually made my toward Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, just east of town, but the park is several miles off the coast and up on a hill and as I approached the northern park entrance on Howland Hill Road I emerged from the marine layer into bright sunshine, the product of a cloudless sky.  Just a few miles to the west it was completely overcast; here, bluebird skies prevailed.  So much for photographing in the park.

Somewhat reluctantly, I made my back toward Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.  After another brief walk along the Damnation Creek Trail–where, unsurprisingly, things looked exactly as they had when I’d been there just hours earlier–I got in the car with the intention of heading back toward Crescent City.  There would be no sunset along the coast this day, given the omnipresence of the marine layer.  I planned to call it a day.  I pulled onto the Redwood Highway and made my way about a half-mile north when I caught a glimpse of something to my left, alongside a lengthy stretch of shoulder.  With no traffic present, I crossed the road and parked on the long, wide shoulder.  And then I saw what had caught my eye–the thickest, broadest spread of rhododendron blooms I’d seen to date…by miles.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

The access here, without even having to leave the paved shoulder, was so good that I spent the next hour-plus–until it was dark–photographing along this stretch of roadside.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

The compositional options here were nearly limitless.  I went wide; I went tight.  I included foreground elements; I omitted them.  Vertical; horizontal.  I placed emphasis on the rhododendrons; I used them as complementary elements.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

During the time that I was there, a number of passing motorists noticed me along the roadside, stopped themselves, invariably saw what had captured my attention and hastened to photograph the scene themselves.  There was plenty of room here, so no one got in anyone’s way.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

In the encroaching darkness I packed up my gear with a feeling of satisfaction; I’d finally found a truly thick stand of accessible rhododendron, with a very nice backdrop of redwoods trunks.  The only thing missing was fog.  But I had one more morning and hoped that this one would include the atmospherics…

Posted by: kerryl29 | October 17, 2017

Thematic Interruption: A Walk in the Woods

A walk in any wooded area can be therapeutic but a redwood forest hike is on another level altogether.  When the conditions are right, it can amount to a quasi-spiritual experience.

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

I’ve spent time in seven different redwood groves in five different state and national parks over the past three years and each brought it’s own unique atmosphere to the fore.

Stout Grove, Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park, California

Whether it was the lush understory of the Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwood National Park..

Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park, California

…or the moss-covered complement of broad-leaf maples of the Rhododendron Trail in Priaire Creek Redwoods State Park…

Broad-Leaf Maple, Rhododendron Trail, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

…or the geometric precision of the trunks in the Roosevelt Grove at Humboldt Redwoods State Park…

Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

…or the splash of color from the pink rhododendron blossoms at Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park…

Rhododendrons & Redwoods, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

..each grove has its own character.  They may all seem more or less the same, superficially, but spend quality time in the different groves and you’ll see that every one has its own…well, its own unique personality.

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Head into your grove of choice on a quiet, foggy morning and prepare to be entranced.  The lush forest floor, filled with ferns, redwood sorrel and other forms of ground cover, will be a piercing green, soaked as everything will be with the ubiquitous moisture.

Forest Floor Intimate, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Move away from the roadside and stop; you will hear the quiet.  Look up and see the tops of the redwoods at dizzying heights, 300 feet or more, in some instances, above your head.

Towering Redwoods, Cal-Barrel Road, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

Wait for the sun to begin burning off the fog and treat yourself to the glorious sight of shafts of light penetrating the forest canopy.

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

One of the things that make the redwood groves so appealing is that they’re so remote.  Depending on the specific grove, they’re a full day’s drive from any major metropolis–the San Francisco Bay Area to the south and Portland, Oregon to the north.  The largest town within a two-hour drive is Eureka, California (population:  approximately 27,000).  Given that one of the things that make a hike in the redwoods so enticing is the solitude, this is a good thing.  If you want to be alone in the redwoods–and I heartily recommend it–it’s not a difficult thing to achieve.

Spring Greenery, Rhododendron Trail, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

There may be more spectacular locations than the redwood forests of northern California, but I’ve found few, if any, places more memorable.  And all you need to take with you to make the most of the experience is as many of the five senses as you possess.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods in Fog, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Addendum:  For an exceptionally thorough guide to hiking in the redwoods, check out the Redwood Hikes website.

Posted by: kerryl29 | October 11, 2017

California Day 12: Damnation Creek Trail

Day 12 was my first full day in the Crescent City area.  I had done some scouting of the various redwood groves on Day 11 and found that the best rhododendron blooms were to be found along the Damnation Creek Trail in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.  The Damnation Creek Trail runs for the better part of a mile before intersecting with the Coastal Trail and then continues for the better part of another two miles all the way down to a shallow beach.  (For a somewhat hair-raising account of an experience I had long this trail two years earlier, check out this link.)

At this time, however, there were two complications.  A bridge near the end of the Damnation Creek Trail was out (according to a sign posted at the junction with the Coastal Trail), making it impossible to access the beach.  Additionally, the northern part of the Coastal Trail was inaccessible, due to a massive fallen redwood trunk, just a few hundred feet beyond the junction with the Damnation Creek Trail.  Still, I had access to plenty of stimulating material even given the limitations.

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

It was overcast in the morning, with a bit of fog, when I hit the trail.  Even better, it was essentially windless–a virtual necessity for obtaining image sharpness given how dark it is in the forest.  (Consider my experience at the Founders Grove in Humboldt Redwoods State Park a couple of days earlier.)

Rhododendrons & Redwoods, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons & Redwoods, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

The soft, even light was perfect for photographing deep within this woodland area.

Ferns & Redwoods, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Ferns & Redwoods Black & White, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

After working the redwoods and rhododendrons for a while I decided to take advantage of the lack of wind by breaking out the macro lens and focus stacking a series of closeup images.

Fern Closeup, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Fern Closeup Black & White, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Redwood Trunk Abstract, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Redwood Trunk Abstract Black & White, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Oregon Geranium, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Forest Floor Black & White, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Wildflower, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Pacific Irises, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Ferns, Damnaton Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

I found another batch of rhododendron before long.

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Rhododendrons and Redwoods, Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

At this point I noticed that some of the fog was beginning to burn off and sunlight was now filtering through the canopy in spots.  This was a phenomenon I had hoped to see two years earlier but had been thwarted.  Not this time.

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

With the fog burned off and sunlight becoming a significant factor, I left the grove and drove to the overlook of Crescent and Enderts Beaches, at the very northern end of Del Norte Redwoods State Park.  From this perch, I spent some time photographing waves and other beach-related elements as the afternoon wore on.

Breaking Waves Black & White, Crescent Beach, Del Norte County, California

Breaking Waves, Crescent Beach, Del Norte County, California

Breaking Waves Black & White, Crescent Beach, Del Norte County, California

Crescent Beach Black & White, Del Norte County, California

Crescent Beach Black & White, Del Norte County, California

Crescent Beach Black & White, Del Norte County, California

As evening approached, I made my way to Wilson Creek Beach, which I had discovered during my time in the area two years previous.  Now familiar with the spot, I made my way to the point where Wilson Creek empties into the Pacific.  Other than the impact of the marine layer there weren’t many clouds in the sky, but I still felt that I came away with some decent images.  A group of cooperative seagulls made for a dependable mid-ground element, regardless of my specific positioning.

Wilson Creek Beach at Sunset, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Wilson Creek Beach at Sunset, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Wilson Creek Beach at Sunset, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Wilson Creek Beach at Sunset, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

The color in the western sky faded rapidly and the day’s shoot came to an abrupt end.  I had one more full day–plus a second morning–awaiting me in coastal redwoods country and I was still looking for dense fog and, hopefully, more as-yet undiscovered displays of rhododendron to punctuate the conclusion of the trip…

Posted by: kerryl29 | September 26, 2017

California Day 11: From Grove to Grove

The first order of business on Day 11 was to revisit the Founders Grove at Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  I made the short drive before dawn and could see evidence of fog.  That was positive, as it meant there would be even light in the forest, at least until the sun burned off the mist.  As had been the case on Day 10, there was some wind present when I arrived at the Founders Grove, but it was lighter than it had been the evening before.  (Still, I couldn’t help but conclude that this was apparently and inherently breezy spot as there seemed to be essentially no wind elsewhere in the forest.)  So I pulled out my gear and began to look around.  Shutter speeds were still a bit of an issue given how dark it was but this problem slowly took care of itself as it became brighter.

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

There are a lot of similarities between the Founders and Rockefeller Groves–not a big surprise given how close they are to one another (well under a mile as the crow flies).  Each has a loop trail of 1/2 to 2/3 of a mile winding through it, with little elevation change.  Both of the groves are thick with huge, mature redwood trunks.

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

I had taken a tour of the Founders Grove Loop trail the evening before so I had a pretty good sense of which scenes I wanted to photograph.  Unlike the previous evening, however, the light was soft and entirely even given the layer of fog (which was high enough to be essentially invisible at ground level).

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Much like the Rockefeller Grove, while the forest floor was rich with greenery the volume of growth was considerably thinner than I’d seen during my visit to the coastal groves to the north, in Del Norte County, two years earlier.

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

At points along the trail I came upon some enormous fallen redwoods, which had metamorphosed into nurse logs for the grove, critical to its health and proliferation.

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Redwood Stump Abstract, Founders Grove Black & White, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

As had been the case in the Rockefeller Grove, I ran across one area that was particularly thick with ferns.

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

The trail itself often served as a visual anchor, replete with leading lines.

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

A hollowed out redwood skeleton near the end (and beginning) of the loop was the final scene of interest.

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Founders Grove Black & White, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

After wrapping at the Founders Grove, and with the mist holding, I made the very short trip to the Rockefeller Grove, stopping briefly on Bull Creek Road along the way.

Bull Creek Road, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Back in the Rockefeller Grove, I hastened to photograph a few scenes near the beginning of the loop (heading counter clockwise) while the even light still prevailed.  I had been unable to shoot many of these scenes on the previous day due to hot spots–a function of the clear sky.

Rockefeller Loop Trail, Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Rockefeller Loop Trail, Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Forest Floor, Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Just as I was wrapping up I noticed the impact of sunlight in the grove.  The mist was burning off quickly.  Fortunately, I had already photographed all the scenes that I’d missed out on the previous evening.

Having completed my work, I resumed the journey north, toward Crescent City where I’d spend the final three nights of the photography portion of the trip.  It was only another two-plus hours north, but I stopped on several occasions along the way, first at Little River State Beach, just north of Aracta on US-101 where, from the highway, I noticed a plethora of wildflowers.  It was cloudy–perfect, even light–and just about dead calm.  I pulled out my macro lens and went to work.

Yellow Bush Lupine, Little River State Beach, California

Foxglove, Little River State Beach, California

Yellow Bush Lupine, Little River State Beach, California

Broadleaf Lupine, Little River State Beach, California

Varied Lupine, Little River State Beach, California

Wildflowers, Little River State Beach, California

Beach Grass Isolate, Little River State Beach, California

Beach Grass Trio Black & White, Little River State Beach, California

My next stop was a bit further up the road at Humboldt Lagoons State Park.  After stopping at the lagoon overlook to start…

Lagoon, Humboldt Lagoons State Park, California

…I subsequently moved along to the beach.  The light was pretty harsh–the “clouds” (marine layer fog, more accurately) down the road at Little River State Beach were absent at Humboldt Lagoons–at this point so I immediately thought “black and white” as I wandered about in search of compositions.  The cirrus clouds in the sky were a major part of the appeal.

Beach Black & White, Humboldt Lagoons State Park, California

I found a driftwood abstract that I really liked and, for the second time on the day, took possession of the macro lens.  I also dug out the white umbrella I often use as a diffuser and created my own soft light.

Driftwood Abstract Black & White, Humboldt Lagoons State Park, California

I then continued north until I reached the southernmost of the group of coastal redwoods state and national parks–Redwood National Park.  I’d photographed in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove during my previous visit to the area, two years earlier.  At the time it had been too early for any rhododendron blooms, but on this occasion, to my delight I saw quite a few.  It was sunny in the grove, so I didn’t photograph there.

I then moved on to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, to the aptly named Rhododendron Trail, which I hiked for a couple of miles.  There were some blooms–and countless buds–but fewer than in the Lady Bird Grove.  Again, the sunny conditions prevented my pulling out the camera during my scout.

Two years earlier, the Damnation Creek Trail at Del Norte Redwoods State Park, just south of Crescent City itself, had been the furthest along in terms of rhododendron.  I hoped that was the case again.  It was.  The Damnation Creek area was just about at peak when I visited.  Whereas two years previous I strained to find one or two spots with a decent number of blooms, this time they were everywhere.  Since a major part of the reason for my taking the considerable trouble of returning to the coastal redwood groves had been to catch the rhododendron bloom, I was extremely excited.  A significant breeze kept me from doing any photographing when I visited the grove in the early evening, but since I had another 2 1/2 days to spend in the area, I wasn’t bothered.  I’d be back, and the bloom would only get better.

Now, if I could just experience some of that famous coastal fog everything would be perfect…

Posted by: kerryl29 | September 18, 2017

California Day 10: Redwood Journey

Most of Day 10 was to be spent traveling–from Lee Vining, back over the Sierras, through the Central Valley and up the Redwood Highway to the tiny town of Miranda, along the aptly named Avenue of the Giants.  But before leaving the Eastern Sierra I decided to photograph Convict Lake–about 45 minutes north of Lee Vining–at sunrise.  I scouted Convict Lake on Day 9, in harsh mid-day light; it looked like it would make a nice sunrise location, particularly if there were some clouds in the western sky and no wind.  Unfortunately, neither of those conditions were met on this morning; the sky (regardless of the direction) was entirely clear and there was enough of a wind to disturb the surface of this good-sized lake.

The lake, in case you’re interested, is named after an incident that took place more than 145 years ago involving a shootout involving represents of the law and several escaped convicts who had holed up near the lake.  Regardless of the name, the backdrop here–Mt. Morrison and Laurel Mountain, fronted by an aspen forest–is spectacular, so even though the conditions were less than ideal, I set up in the darkness and waited for the light of dawn.

Convict Lake at Dawn, Inyo National Forest, California

When the sun rose and caught the tops of the mountain peaks, I clicked the shutter again.

Convict Lake at Sunrise, Inyo National Forest, California

I pulled out the telephoto lens at some point to make a peak portrait or two.

Mt. Morrison at Sunrise from Convict Lake, Inyo National Forest, California

As the sun continued to light more of the slopes I moved to an area that allowed me to include a larger segment of the shallow water that’s sheltered by a series of rocks that form a kind of natural marina at the east end of the lake.  That water was much less disturbed, allowing for more interesting reflections.

Convict Lake at Sunrise, Inyo National Forest, California

Before long the best light was gone and I gathered my things and headed out.  I had a very long drive ahead of me–more than 500 miles, with only about 10% of that on interstate highway–so I anticipated more than 10 hours of driving.  Because of the length of the trip I stopped very few times, despite passing through numerous interesting locations.

I stopped briefly as I was headed south on US-395, along the West Walker River.

West Walker River Black & White, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, California

And I made one other short stop, hours later, at a spot in rural Colusa County in the Central Valley.  It was extremely hot–nearly 100 degrees (F), but I was intrigued by the scene, so I pulled off on the shoulder of the two-lane state highway and made a few images.

Open Range, Colusa County, California

Open Range Black & White, Colusa County, California

I arrived in Miranda at about 5:30 PM, checked into my lodgings and immediately made the 15-odd-minute drive north to a spot that provided access to two of the most interesting groves in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

I had spent time in the coastal redwood forests–several hours farther north–two years earlier.  But I never ventured this far south on that trip.

The Avenue of the Giants is a winding two-lane road that bends right through Humboldt County’s redwood groves.  In my limited amount of time in the area (I was only staying the one night) I turned my attention to the Founders Grove and the Rockefeller Grove, which are located no more than a mile away from one another.  It was a sunny early evening, but it was still very dark in the grove–given how low the sun was in the sky at this point and the breadth of the forest canopy.  It was also breezy, which was unfortunate.  I took a quick tour through the grove; it was beautiful, but given the slow shutter speeds I would be forced to use, I knew that I’d never be able to freeze any of the various objects swaying in the wind.  I decided to come back the following morning with the hope that conditions would be better.  And then I headed to the Rockefeller Grove.

For one reason or another, there was much less wind at this location, so I pulled out my photo gear–and my insect repellent, as the place was lousy with mosquitoes–and began a slow stroll along the grove’s loop trail.  There was still some sunshine bleeding through the canopy and creating some annoying hot spots, so I focused my attention in directions with minimal influence of sunlight until such time as the sun dropped entirely out of sight.

Rockefeller Loop Trail, Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

One thing that became apparent during my wanderings this evening–in both groves–was that the Humboldt redwood groves are thicker, with a greater concentration of redwood trees, than I had seen in the coastal groves to the north.  Perhaps because of this concentration, the canopy of these groves was thicker and more encompassing and thus there was less light on the forest floor.  This area also isn’t as moist as the coastal region.  As a result of both of these factors, the vegetation isn’t quite as thick at Humboldt.  And there’s no rhododendron to speak of.  On the other hand, the geometry of the trunks was arguably more pleasing.

Rockefeller Loop Trail, Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Redwood Trunk Intimate Black & White, Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

While it was nice to have the forest hot spots slowly disappear as the sun dropped, it also became extremely dark, causing my shutter speeds to grow longer and longer.  There wasn’t much breeze but there was some, so I spent a lot of time waiting for lulls in an occasionally frustrating attempt to keep everything sharp.

Rockefeller Loop Trail, Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Somewhere around the middle of the loop I found the thickest area of ferns that I had spotted in the grove to that point.

Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

This area really stood out because most of the forest floor in the grove looked a lot like that in the images immediately below.

Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Eventually I found a nice “circle” of trunks and utilized the spot to make a looking-up photograph.

Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Before it became completely dark I produced a final series of images on the backside of the loop which really captured the feel of this grove for me.

Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Rockefeller Loop Trail, Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

Rockefeller Grove, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

By the time I was done with this series, it was almost impossible to see in the grove.  I found my way out to the parking area in the dark and drove back to my lodging.  I was looking forward to returning to the beauty of the Founders Grove–and possibly the Rockefeller Grove–first thing the following morning.

Posted by: kerryl29 | September 12, 2017

California Day 9: The Eastern Sierra, Continued

I started Day 9 the same way I began Day 8:  at Mono Lake for sunrise.  This time there were some clouds in the eastern sky, and they lit up very nicely

Mono Lake at Sunrise, Mono County, California

Mono Lake at Sunrise, Mono County, California

Mono Lake at Sunrise, Mono County, California

Again, when things started deteriorate to the east, I walked down the southwest shoreline and faced the pastel peaks of the Sierra-Nevada.

Mono Lake at Dawn, Mono County, California

Mono Lake at Dawn, Mono County, California

Mono Lake at Dawn, Mono County, California

Mono Lake at Dawn, Mono County, California

When the sun came up I began the drive south on US-395 to the June Lake Loop, where I photographed both June Lake and Silver Lake in the still nice light of early morning.  I had both spots to myself.

June Lake, June Lake Loop, Inyo National Forest, Calfiornia

Silver Lake, June Lake Loop, Inyo National Forest, Calfiornia

From here I continued south on 395 toward Mammoth Lakes.  On the way, I stopped several times, when I spotted scenes that caught my attention.

Mono County Morning, California

Mono County Morning Black & White, California

I was particularly taken with an abandoned homestead on the west side of the highway, something I had first noticed the previous morning.  I finally got some light–and sky conditions–that I thought complemented the scene.  The site was surrounded by fencing, which I could have easily cleared.  Still, it was posted and even though the property was obviously abandoned, I don’t ignore posted warnings–I stay off any posted private property (or, for that matter, any private property that’s obviously private, even if it isn’t posted).  So, I remained behind the fence and snapped the image you see immediately below.

Abandoned Homestead, Mono County, California

Mono County Afternoon Black & White, Calfiornia

I arrived at Mammoth Lakes and followed the scenic loop up to the base of Twin Lakes–the first set in a series of lakes.  Unfortunately, the road above Twin Lakes was still covered by snow so I had to settle for some mid-morning shooting around the lake and then down the hiking/biking path that parallels the road back in the direction of town.

Twin Lakes Black & White, Mammoth Lakes, Inyo National Forest,, California

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes, Inyo National Forest,, California

Twin Lakes Black & White, Mammoth Lakes, Inyo National Forest,, California

The walk down the road was fun.  The images that I saw were mostly on the subtle side of the “wow” continuum.

Conifer Trio, Mammoth Lakes, Inyo National Forest,, California

Snowy Mountainside Black & White, Mammoth Lakes, Inyo National Forest, Calfiornia

Conifer Trio Black & White, Mammoth Lakes, Inyo National Forest, Calfiornia

I spent several hours at Mammoth Lakes; if the entire area had been accessible I’m sure I could have spent an entire day there…or more.  This was a common thread running through my experience in the Eastern Sierra during springtime following a snowy winter.

Before I returned north I spent some time scouting out Convict Lake, an impressive area just south of Mammoth Lakes backed by a pair of tall, snow-covered peaks.  The light was too harsh to photograph at the time, but I thought I might make the drive back the following morning to shoot sunrise from this location before pulling up stakes and heading to redwood country in the far northeast part of the state.

My mid-afternoon stop was at Panum Crater, a volcanic remnant adjacent to Mono Lake.  The relatively short unpaved road to the parking area was atrocious, but I took it slow and made it there in one piece.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, in terms of photo opportunities, at the crater, but I was thrilled with what I found:  a dry, pseudo-desert-like environment, sprinkled with isolated conifers and lichen-covered rocks.  The interesting sky conditions were a big part of the positive experience.  Black and white rendering was a regular consideration.  An added benefit was having the place almost entirely to myself.

Panum Crater Black & White, Mono County, California

Panum Crater, Mono County, California

Panum Crater, Mono County, California

Panum Crater Black & White, Mono County, California

Panum Crater Black & White, Mono County, California

Panum Crater, Mono County, California

Panum Crater Black & White, Mono County, California

Lone Tree Black & White, Panum Crater, Mono County, California

Panum Crater, Mono County, California

Panum Crater, Mono County, California

Mono Lake from Panum Crater Black & White, Mono County, California

Panum Crater, Mono County, California

I returned to Lee Vining Canyon early in the evening, with my focus on the creek now that it was entirely in open shade.  I had identified a series of images I wanted to make, in even light, the day before when the sun was still penetrating that part of the canyon.

Lee Vining Creek Intimate Black & White, Lee Vining Canyon, Inyo National Forest,, California

Lee Vining Creek, Lee Vining Canyon, Inyo National Forest,, California

Lee Vining Creek, Lee Vining Canyon, Inyo National Forest,, California

Lee Vining Creek Intimate Black & White, Lee Vining Canyon, Inyo National Forest, Calfiornia

I decided to end the day back on the north end of the June Lake Loop.  I had hoped to shoot at Silver Lake but there was a breeze which meant there would be no reflections, so I settled into the canyon between Silver and June Lakes.  The light was nice and the setting was interesting and I assumed that I’d end the day here.

Dusk, June Lake Loop, Inyo National Forest,, California

Dusk, June Lake Loop, Inyo National Forest,, California

Dusk, June Lake Loop, Inyo National Forest,, California

But the pink clouds interested me and I zipped into the car and headed to the east, back in the direction of Grant Lake.  Just as I reached the Grant Lake Overlook–a spot I had checked out when scouting the June Lake Loop the previous day–I saw an impressive sunset unfolding; it had been almost entirely obscured by the ridge line in the canyon in which I had been previously situated.  I brought the car to a halt, almost immediately found a boulder and tallgrass foreground I liked–good thing because the sunset sky was at its apogee–and fine-tuned the composition.  Lucky for me, though there had been a breeze back at Silver Lake it was dead calm in this new locale.

Grant Lake Overlook at Sunset, June Lake Loop, Inyo National Forest,, California

And with that, a day of almost non-stop photography (between drives) came to an end.  It was my last full day in the Eastern Sierra.  After a sunrise shoot the following morning I was looking at a nearly 500-mile drive, including returning over Carson Pass, to the tiny town of Miranda, amidst the appropriately named Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt County’s redwood country.

Older Posts »

Categories