Why Do Your Fall Images Look Better This Year?

Yellow aspen in the Eastern Sierra

Eastern Sierra Fall Colors

I often receive supportive feedback on my photography, as well as questions on how I get my results.  Since I’m “in this for the photography” I tend to prioritize photography over writing.  So my answers to questions provide a great opportunity to address common questions in a blog post.  This time, I’ll just have it all be the blog post, illustrated with photos that I’ve post-processed in the past month, fall 2017…

Yosemite Daylight Long Exposure Composite

On 9 Nov 17, 5.52PM PST ———- said:
Jeff:
I see a dramatic change in your fall images….much improved, even though the old ones were great to start with. What software are you using to develop your images? It looks like you are using focus stacking for the landscapes as well. Is this so?
Nice job, ————

Hi ———-,

I’ll answer in two parts, first regarding post-processing.

I honestly don’t know if I can narrow it down to one or two factors and answer the question completely, but here goes…Everyone’s looking for ways to improve their photography, and the questions often assume that a new camera or post-processing software must be the key.  To be sure, cameras and applications do evolve, so there are benefits to new versions, but there’s a lot to be said for the influence of experience and personal stylistic choices.

Spring in the FallIt would be really easy to simply provide “the answer” and point to one new product that will provide the magic bullet.  You find that all over the Internet with people paid to promote products, and they often do not follow FTC guidelines to properly identify their social media and blog “reviews” of their sponsors’ products as paid ads.  I’m unencumbered by product/manufacturer relationships, so I can take a more comprehensive and less biased approach.

I do find Adobe Lightroom 5 and lately 6 to be meter than older versions of the software, and I do often re-process results as recent as two years ago and get better results.  But here’s the catch: I also notice that I’m using a different approach and settings than I did even as recently as two years ago.  So I can’t really attribute the improvements to solely or even mainly to newer Lightroom software.

Fall Colors in the Virgin River NarrowsI’ve been using Photomatix from HDRsoft for many years, and I remember as early as 2009 I was occasionally layering my best edit of the original photo on top of the HDR result to make the result more realistic.  Unfortunately that required exporting the files to Photoshop for the layering.  I prefer the photography side of the process over the computer/graphics arts options, so I often just settled for an average of the three exposures in Photomatix, and touched that up on Lightroom instead.  The new version Photomatix 6 that I started using in beta last spring includes the layering of any of the original files on the HDR output, and enables blending using a slider from 0 to 100%.  So in addition to being to select from more preset HDR results, it’s little extra effort to blend in the best straight photographic result that you were able to produce in Lightroom.

That would certainly account for many of the files that I post-processed in Photomatix, but I try to tag all of them with HDR and Photomatix, so you can see for yourself that it’s not a huge percentage of my overall fall results.

Yosemite Fall DogwoodsSo what’s left is some combination of experience and what I choose to do with it.  I think that I’ve become more demanding with my results, which forces me to take a more critical look at them.  I often say that I prefer to spend five minutes or less post-processing a photo on my computer, but to get better results, at a minimum it is necessary to take the lead of Ansel Adams and at least invest some time in dodging and burning.

Stylistically, while I always preferred to produce more or less realistic images, sometimes digital cameras simply didn’t have the dynamic range to capture an entire natural scene well, so I’ve decided to accept the compromise of visibly manipulated results.  As cameras get better in subtle ways and I continue to master my skill with the various techniques and tools available, including the software tools, I can shift my focus to stylistic choices instead of fighting the tools to get an acceptable result.

Fall CalmI recall that I decided to get a little more assertive with contrast and blacks about a year ago.  At some point earlier this year I decided to produce some more colorful results, although I still don’t want the first impression people get to be “manipulated”.  I may not always succeed, but I’m exploring a wider range of results, and reining myself in when I can detect that the photo is crossing some invisible line.  I guess that you could boil it down to developing my own effects, range and style, mainly within the bounds of what Lightroom can do, but occasionally using Photomatix if/when the dynamic range of the scene warrants it.

The next logical question is what am I doing in Lightroom.  The short answer is that what I like about landscapes is the photography “pursuit of light” side in the field, experiencing the moment itself, so as mentioned, I tend to keep my adjustments under five minutes or so per photo on the computer, whenever possible.  I push as much quality as I can back to the capture side of the process, and automate some of the post-processing, so I can get back outside.  The fine details of how I achieve that, from image capture through post-processing, are probably best left for interactive post-processing demos during my workshops, since sharing my process and some of my favorite locations is exactly how I continue to pursue photography.

Yosemite's El Capitan in the Fall by Jeff Sullivan on 500px.com

 

Share This:

Eastern Sierra Fall Colors Peaking Now in Mono County

Eastern Sierra landscape photography

Mono County fall colors are peaking now!

If you’ve been waiting to head to the Eastern Sierra for fall colors, wait no longer!  These photos were all taken yesterday afternoon.  The spectacular color could last through the weekend, but maybe not: the forecast warns that Thursday could bring stormy weather that might knock a few leaves down before the weekend.

West Walker River in October

West Walker River October 15

Topaz Lake Cottonwood Trees

Topaz Lake October 15

Share This:

Eastern Sierra Photography Workshop in June: What’s in Store?

Eastern Sierra landscape photography workshops

Eastern Sierra wildflowers, late May

“The Traveler sees what he sees. The Tourist sees what he has come to see.” G.K. Chesterton

North Peak Sunset AlpenglowUpdate 1, May 31: Tioga Pass opened in Mid-May, so we can include Yosemite”s Tioga Pass area in our workshops starting this Thursday.  I’ve already been up there three times in the past couple of weeks to assess and monitor conditions.

Update 2, May 31: One of my customers has asked to extend the workshop with a few days in Yosemite Valley, so we’re adding June 6, 7, and 8 next week to the schedule!

The first week of June is amazing for the Eastern Sierra for so many reasons. Some snow remains on the Sierra Nevada (and possibly the White Mountains) to catch alpenglow, and there can be a fresh snowfall around the end of May to refresh that surface. Several species of wildflowers are starting to bloom, profusely in some areas.

This year the new moon and Milky Way shooting timing coincides with this week, and we have the possibility of a late spring storm from the northwest for interesting sunrises and sunsets, or warmer monsoon moisture from the Baja coast that could bring dramatic afternoon clouds, showers and rainbows, or evening thunderstorms.

I used to be nervous about the thunderstorms interfering with night photography, but I’ve learned through experience in Bodie and the surrounding area that convection-driven storms tend to break up or blow east by the time the sky is fully dark around 10/10:20, so they’re really just bonuses for sunset and twilight shooting, even when rain showers interfere locally for an hour or so (and even then they often give way to rainbows).

We’ll start with a sunrise on Thursday, pursue wildflowers and weather during the day, have an early dinner, and head back out for sunset at Mono Lake.
Entering the Earth's Shadow

We’ll pick from a number of spots for Milky Way shooting, and arrive by the time it’s fully dark at 10:07, when the galactic center of the Milky Way has already risen 6 degrees, perfect for placing it in our compositions.

Mono Lake Milky Way Panorama

Friday we’ll catch sunrise at Mono Lake before the weekend crowds arrive, shoot different wildflowers, maybe explore some interesting geology or head up to Tioga Pass if its open for snowier views. Another sunset spot, More night photography, and turn in not too late since most of us are continuing on to Bodie the following night, and Bodie interiors the following morning.

Storm Over Mono LakeWorkshops take me out of the field as I work on permits, itineraries, write descriptions, set up payment / registration buttons, and I perform a some kind of marketing to get them seen, if only a mention or two on social media. I’m not going for volume, and I personally lead all of my workshops, so they are designed to place you in a stunning place, in a peak season, as the exact best time.

Eastern Sierra Mules EarsI have to be efficient and pack as much opportunity as I can into my time in the field. Every day has the sun rising and setting. Some weeks have wildflowers. Fall colors may be peaking in a given location for only a few days to a week. The Milky Way is available during a few weeks of the year, a moon rise at sunset or moon set at sunrise about a dozen times each. So I am careful to hold my workshops in a prime season, and I then select the most likely peak days and times, including astronomical considerations.

Along Yosemite's Tioga Pass Road

Tioga Pass Road sunset reflection, May 2016

Plans are all well and good; I frequently plan something as simple as a sunset moon rise composition weeks in advance.  But landscape photography is about light, so if you’re on a workshop, you want a leader have enough depth in detailed regional knowledge to be ready to ditch all plans and react to the weather and light if there’s more potential 20 or 30 miles from where you are.  So leave the tourists behind who are stuck to their fixed agenda, and rather than a traveler who reacts to the weather and looks for a place to shoot it, you can travel with a local who knows the opportunities in every direction, and anticipates the conditions before you pick the next destination and hop in the car to arrive there just in time.

Sunset Rain Clouds Over Mono LakeEarly June in the Eastern Sierra offers an annual convergence of so many factors which could make photography conditions stunning.  Photography is more fun shared, so I can’t wait, and all the better that I get to share all of this bounty with old and new friends!

Spring is Coming to the High Sierra!

Most of the participants are returning customers, but we have room for one or two more if anyone’s interested!

Bodie's Standard Mill

Milky Way Arch Over Standard Mill

Connect with me in all of the usual places for photographers: Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+YouTube, 500px, Tumblr, or my Web site.

Share This:

Death Valley Wildflower Workshop This Week

Ashford Mill to Jubilee Pass
With modest enrollment, the participants have elected to make this a camping-based trip, so we can stay closer to where we want to shoot, and pursue night shots as well.  We’ll also have the flexibility to follow the latest wildflower reports, the unfolding weather, and the discoveries we make along the way.  

Desert Gold February 2016This is probably the best wildflower season in the last decade, with the added bonus of water on Badwater salt flats (as of a couple of days ago) for sunrise reflections.  I just passed through the park 2 weeks ago and I’ve been following updated wildflower reports, so I have a good idea from those and from past years where to go.

When we get tired of wildflowers and Badwater reflections, if that’s possible, they want me to show them a slot canyon and sand dunes that most park visitors don’t visit or see.  We’ll pursue a little night photography as well, and I have some good ideas on what we might want to do for that.
Temporary Inland Sea

This Spring in Death Valley album shows approximately what we might cover this week, with the most relevant being the first 50-60, up to the red fire truck and red Fiat: https://plus.google.com/photos/107459220492917008623/albums/5831194499079947137

Dune Lines

Although we’ll be camping, we’ll often be only 30 to 60 minuted from Furnace Creek or Shoshone to access a meal or shower.  We’ll have camp stoves for some meals and I’ll bring wood, steaks, etc. and cook over a fire Tuesday or Wednesday night.

It’s going to be a fun week!
http://www.jeffsullivanphotography.com/blog/death-valley-photography-workshop-2013/

Revisting an Old Friend

Desert Gold and Sand Verbena

Milky Way over Devil's Cornfield

Share This:

Top 10 Travel Photos: 2014

Milky Way rising behind the Standard Mill in Bodie, California

Continuing the retrospective look at my last decade of travel and landscape photography, 2006 – 2015, here are some of my favorites from 2014.

Sierra Crest Sunset Layers
The Minarets and Sierra Nevada at sunset
Snowy Day at Mono Lake
Mono Lake tufa rock formations selectively lit by the sun
Bodie Sunset Re-edit with HDR
Sunset in Bodie State Historic Park, California
SUCCESS!
NASA’s Orion EFT-1 launch at Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Sunrise Yesterday Morning
There’s no place like home.  A rock sheep enclosure at sunrise, Topaz Lake (on the California/Nevada border).
Revisting an Old Friend
One of the Death Valley slot canyons disclosed in my “Photographing California – South” guidebook
Partially Eclipsed Moon Setting, October 8, 2014
Moon setting over the Sierra Nevada, while emerging from the earth’s shadow during a lunar eclipse!
Wild Mustangs
Wild mustangs in the Eastern Sierra

Bristlecone Pine
Playing with depth of field in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest (iPhone 5S)

This was a selection of a few of my favorites from an album of over 45 photos from 2013, so there are many more that you might prefer over these. To see more of them, click on the link or album photo below.

More of my favorite photos from 2014:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreysullivan/albums/72157650285822751

2014 Favorites
#landscapephotography #travelphotography #photography #top10

Share This:

Top 10 Travel Photos: 2013

Fall colors season came early and went really fast in 2013
Sunset Over Bodie Main Street
The most amazing sunset I’ve experienced in Bodie so far!

Continuing the retrospective look at my last decade of travel and landscape photography, 2006 – 2015.  Here are some of my favorites from 2013.

Wild Iris at Sunset in Bodie State Historic Park
This is during that same June 2013 sunset in Bodie as the photo above!
Valley View Times Two
What amazing light at Yosemite’s Valley View!
Moon in Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Rising Over Mono Lake
I don;t know how many times I’ve pursued the moon rise at Mono Lake, but it’s different every time!
Monitor Pass Sunset Sun Rays
Amazing sun rays over Ebbetts Pass, as seen from Monitor Pass
Zabriskie Point Morning Light
Gower Wash below Zabriskie Point
Light Painting in Badwater Basin
Light Painting on the Badwater Salt Flats in Death Valley National Park
Lenticular Clouds at Sunset
Lenticular clouds at sunset in my front yard at Topaz Lake, on the California / Nevada border.
Cloudy La Jolla Evening
The “potholes” on the California Coast near La Jolla

This was a selection of a few of my favorites from an album of over 45 photos from 2013, so there are many more that you might prefer over these. To see more of them, click on the link or album photo below.

More of my favorite photos from 2013: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreysullivan/albums/72157651147968922 2013 Favorites

#landscapephotography #travelphotography #photography #top10

 

Share This:

Top 10 Favorite Travel and Landscape Photos from 2015

Bandon Sunset Reflection, Oregon Coast

Ansel Adams once stated that “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”  Perhaps Ansel would be more efficient and productive today with digital photography, or perhaps he simply had a really high bar for what he considered “significant”.  

I often produce a few dozen photos per year that I’m pleased with and collect into albums on Flickr, so reducing them down further, to something like an annual “Top 10”, doesn’t always reach the top of my “to do” list. But as the “Photographing California” book that I finished and released in 2015 starts to go into retail auto-pilot, I can take a moment to reflect on my past year of photographic adventures as I look towards 2016. 

The photo above was captured early on in my 3500-mile “victory lap” road trip that I embarked on in September, as my book was about to ship to wholesalers and Amazon.com. I visited Mt. Shasta, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Crater Lake National Park before turning west and heading for the coast. I arrived just in time for sunset. 

Evening Light in Eroded HillsIn March I took a quick trip across Nevada to scout for locations for possible Nevada photography workshops in 2016. I’ve been doing this for a few years now, but it takes a lot of experience to get to know a region, in detail, in a variety of season s and weather conditions. The photo to the right shows one of the sites that I really enjoyed for its geology and geometry.  Other sites in Nevada are good for wildflowers, dark, clear night skies, history (petroglyphs, mining areas and abandoned ranches), or cultural details. The state is huge though, and supporting resources such as gas, restaurants and lodging are spread out, so it’ll pose some interesting challenges to cover efficiently and comfortably with a group. Access can also be complicated by weather and washouts on the often unpaved roads, so vehicles with appropriate all terrain tires and adequate ground clearance can also be a consideration. A year wouldn’t be complete for me without astrophotography, so in late April I headed out to the Mojave Desert in search of some photos of the Milky Way rising. In the case of the image below, I captured a sequence of 54 photos around 2 am to show the movement of the stars.

 

Milky Way Rising Behind Joshua Trees.
Milky Way Rising Behind Joshua Trees, Mojave Desert

In June I still had the Milky Way on my mind, as I dropped by Mono Lake to capture a 360-degree panorama featuring the lake’s tufa calcium carbonate rock formations under the arch of the Milky Way.

 

Mono-Lake-360-degree--panorama-tufa-Milky-Way-night-photography-jeff-sullivan
Mono Lake Milky Way Arch Panorama

By July we had a nice summer monsoon season of sporadic storms, not enough to end our drought in the Eastern Sierra, but storms are certainly a plus for landscape photography! In this case a shaft of golden hour sunlight struck a column of rain, producing a warm-tinted sunset rainbow.

Shaft of Water and Light
Shaft of Water and Light, Topaz Lake

Although there are so many stunning photography locations to cover in California I only included a handful of backpacking destinations in my book, I personally love backpacking, so I took the opportunity to visit the Golden Trout Wilderness in July. Little did I know that the remains of Hurricane Dolores would come ashore that night, creating “super historic” record July rainfall across much of Southern California. Fortunately there was a break in the rain on the following day, so I could head to the trailhead to dry out my gear before selecting my next adventure.

 

Muir Lake Morning Reflection
Muir Lake Morning Reflection, Golden Trout Wilderness

In August the big event for me is usually the Perseid meteor shower. Sometimes I like to maximize sky in my meteor shower photos, but in this case I decided to include an interesting Joshua tree. So back to the Mojave Desert I went.

 

Perseid Meteor Shower 2015
Perseid Meteor Shower and Milky Way over Joshua Tree, Mojave Desert

Another location that I visited during my whirlwind September road trip was Morraine Lake in Alberta’s Banff National Park. I was fortunate to arrive right after the first snowfall of the year, and it was still snowing lightly as the last light of the day faded, so there weren’t many people out in the cold to wander into this shot along the shoreline. I also picked up the more typical elevated view from a nearby knoll, showing the glacial blue color of the lake, on the following morning.

 

Morraine Lake, Jasper National Park
Morraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

I captured a number of nice Bodie and Eastern Sierra fall colors images this year, but one of my favorites was this late, snowy fall colors shot from Conway Summit in early November. Many of the compositions I was capturing on this morning were a little too evenly lit, but for a moment a thin spot in the cloud cover had the lower portion of this line of trees brightly lit while the trees and hill in the ravine in the background fell into darker shadow. This highlighted the lower line of trees and gave the whole scene a more 3D feel to it.

Snowy Fall Aspen
Snowy Fall Aspen, Early November in Mono County

Later in November I headed to Death Valley to pursue some new locations for an upcoming detailed guide to the park that I’m writing, but one of my favorite images ended up being from the Mesquite Flat Dunes near Stovepipe Wells. I had other photos with arguably better light, but the photographers add scale and a nice point of interest. I’ve photographed these dunes a lot, but the combination of low angle sun and broken light passing through breaks in the clouds created some unique opportunities.

Stunning Light on the Dunes in Death Valley
Exploring the Dunes in Death Valley, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

New 2015 Results from Past Years

Sunset reflection at Valley View, Yosemite National Park
Valley View Calm Evening Reflection, Aug 2007
As I was working on the book I occasionally came across good photos from past years… when either I lacked the tools to complete a nice result, or I simply overlooked an image due to time constraints or simple oversight. Fortunately I can rediscover and rescue these old files on future visits to the folders that they’re in. The one to the right was from Yosemite, way back in August 2007. It was captured on a Canon Digital Rebel XTi! A little adjustment in Lightroom 5, and voila! It’s as good as new. I used it as the title page for my guidebook.
One of my more stunning finds was from an incredible sunset in Bodie during one of my workshops on June 29, 2013. Bodie was just outside of the area I was covering with my book, so post-processing photos from there hadn’t been a priority. My loss then, and gain now! It was an unusually purple-tinted sunset, as confirmed across many photographers and cameras from various manufacturers.A few shots in the middle of the sunset’s transformation had a wide variety of colors, ranging from orange-yellow to magenta-pink and blue to indigo shades, in addition to the base purple that dominated many adjacent shots.

Sunset Over Bodie Main Street
Sunset Over Bodie Main Street, June 2013

There was another surprising overlooked shot that I found in an old Yosemite folder from 2008. Covering Half Dome at sunset from Glacier Point, the Yosemite chapter had already gone through layout before I found it in February, but it’s a nice addition to my Yosemite portfolio for future uses! Sunset Alpenglow on Half Dome

Finalist Images for 2015

I named my Top 10 for people who prefer the predictability and order of a preset and finite number, but I’ll show a few of the other contenders for people who prefer not to be arbitrarily constrained. This sunset shot is from the Cambridge Hills south of Yerington in Mason Valley, Nevada. I was looking for some old cars that were supposed to be in the area, but they were apparently either moved or stolen. The road had to serve as the subject and leading line, heading to that last bit of orange sunlight on a shaft of rain in the distance. Storm Chasing in NevadaThis dune shot was captured at 200mm to isolate the dune ridge and blowing sand from the dark background. I was hoping to see a desert tortoise or two in the area, but the burrows I found had cobwebs in their entrances. Windy Day on the Dunes in Death ValleyAt the bases of Death Valley’s mountain ranges, on the edges of their alluvial fans of gravel and debris, you sometimes find small springs. In a landscape that only receives an average of 1.93″ of rain per year, these are precious sources of water for nearby wildlife.  They are delicate places as well, with soft mud that will easily become severely trampled if hordes of visitors show up and love them to death. Sunrise in Death ValleyI spend a lot of time in Bodie, and occasionally I’m there for the evening break-up of afternoon thunderstorms. In this case I saw a rainbow forming over town, and I knew that if I shifted my camera position a couple of hundred yards, I could place the rainbow over the Standard Mill. These opportunities can change quickly, so I hopped into my car, and drove east to move the rainbow. Rainbow over Standard MillThis rainbow and reflection shot was one of my favorite mobile phone images in 2015, and one of my first photos taken on an LG G4 smartphone that I was provided with as part of the #G4Preview program. Wet Rainbow ReflectionThis sun shot captured through geyser basin fog in Yellowstone is another of my favorite mobile images, this one captured on my 2 year old iPhone 5S.  It won an +Instagram / iPhone assignment being conducted by Outdoor Photographer Magazine. Sun and Trees in Yellowstone FogI have many more images that I considered for my favorite photos and moments of 2015, and I’ve collected over 50 of them in a 2015 Favorites album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreysullivan/albums/72157651316649769

Favorite Photos from Prior Years

Here are some of my collections from prior years.  It has been a great decade of adventure, I can’t wait to see what I can find to show you in the next 10!

2014 Favorites album on Flickr
2014 Top 10 Blog Post

2013 Favorites album on Flickr
2013 Top 10 Blog Post

2012 Favorites album on Flickr
2012 Top 10 Blog Post

2011 Favorites album on Flickr
2011 Top 10 blog post

2010 Favorites album on Flickr
2010 Top 10 blog post

2009 Favorites album on Flickr
2009 Top 10 blog post

2008 Favorites album on Flickr
2008 Top 10 blog post

2007 Favorites album on Flickr 
2007 Top 10 blog post

2006 Favorites album on Flickr
2006 Top 10 blog post

#landscapephotography #travelphotography #photography #top10

Share This:

Top 10 Travel Photos: 2010

Mono Lake Sunrise
Mono Lake Sunrise, June 4, 2010

Continuing the retrospective look at my last decade of travel and landscape photography, 2006 – 2015.  Here are some of my favorites from 2010.

Part-way into the year I found a publisher for the California landscape photography site guide I had started, and scope expanded to include all of Southern California from Mono Lake and Yosemite south! In 2015 it became available as “Photographing California Vol. 2 – South“.  Stay tuned for more guides in the near future!

Dawn at Thousand Island Lake, Sierra Nevada, still with a lot of snow in mid-July
Sierra Nevada Fall Colors
Eastern Sierra Fall Colors, October 2010
Windy Day on the Dunes
Windy Day on the Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California
Valley View in Pink II
Valley View in Pink II, Yosemite National Park. Outdoor Photographer Magazine’s calendar background image for July
Sometimes Little Things Make All The Difference
Jet and Shadow on Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park

 

First Light on Carson Peak
First light on Snow-capped Carson Peak, Eastern Sierra
Moving Rocks on the Racetrack: Mystery Solved
Illuminating the “Sailing Stones” on The Racetrack, Death Valley
Weston Cove Sunset
Weston Cove Sunset, California Coast

 

Early Morning Calm
Early Morning Calm, High Sierra

This was a selection of a few favorites from an album of over 50 photos from 2010. To see more of them, as well as some of my road trip itineraries, click on the link or album photo below. Over 50 of my favorite photos from 2010:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreysullivan/albums/72157650751721288

2010 Favorites

Semi-finalist Images/Moments/Experiences
Not being much of a fan of limits or rules, I’ll show a couple of my favorite international travel photos, and also offer my favorite photos from family expeditions, including the growing photography interests of Nicole and Thomas Sullivan:

Death Valley Dune Hike
Thomas on a Death Valley Dune Hike
Eastern Sierra Wild Iris
Nicole was filmed for the movie Timescapes (seen here in Big Meadow near Bridgeport, Mono County)

 

Thomas with his first digital camera, 2010

I won a couple of Samsung digital cameras in monthly +Samsung USA  (SOAphoto.com) contests in 2010, and those cameras helped my kids get into photography.

Thomas now has one of his Milky Way photos on the cover of a book of winners in the annual Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest, an international contest conducted by the Royal Observatory, Greenwich (home of Greenwich Mean Time: GMT).

Nicole with her first digital camera, 2010

One of Nicole’s night images won 2nd place in the annual Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest, an international contest conducted by the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. The Royal Observatory hired a film crew from Los Angeles to interview Nicole for 7 hours to produce this profile video: https://vimeo.com/28740663

Nicole later entered a photo in the California State Fair, entirely on her own initiative and effort from concept through execution and submission, and she won top honors in the Under-18 category.

Nicole currently has a part-time job as a photographer that helps her cover college expenses, and she volunteers at the local SPCA, including producing photographs of shelter animals, so they can be posted on Facebook for adoption.

Sultanahmet Mosque at Sunset
Sultanahmet Mosque, AKA the Blue Mosque, at Sunset in Istanbul
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia, church turned mosque turned museum, can fit Notre Dame inside under its dome!
Blue Boat at Sunrise
Blue Boat at Sunrise, Selimye Harbor, during a blue water cruise of  the (literally) Turquoise Coast

While my focus turned decidedly towards California from 2011-2014 as I researched sites for my upcoming book, I’m excited that its completion in 2015 leaves me with a world of opportunity for 2016! ‎

#landscapephotography #travelphotography #photography #top10

Share This:

Sunset Moon Rise Coming December 24

Mono Lake moon rise November 16, 2013

A few times each year, the moon rises at just the right time to be visible during sunset, while there’s enough light on the landscape to capture that in the photo as well.  That will happen this month on December 24, Christmas Eve.  I’m not suggesting that you ditch the family to go chase the moon, just step outside at sunset, look to the east, and you’ll have one more reason for the night to be a particularly memorable one.

If you might also want to photograph the moon, I’ve collected some notes on this blog post that I started in 2006:

How to Plan Great Full Mooon Rise and Set Shots
http://activesole.blogspot.com/2006/11/plan-ahead-for-great-full-moon-rise-and.html

I’m not sure if we’ll head down to Mono Lake.  I’ve been going there for decades and my kids have been going there for all of their lives, so it holds a lot of sentimental value for us. It’s pretty close by, so if the weather is nice, we may head down there.  The light could be particularly nice around: 4:35 – 4:55 pm.  Ping me on social media if you’re down there, in case we’re standing a few feet down the shore from each other!

Share This:

Leonid Meteor Shower Nov 17-18!

The Leonid Meteor Shower, one of the best meteor showers of the year, is happening this week, peaking around November 17/18. The meteors appear to originate from the constellation Leo.  The radiant point that the meteors seem to originate from rises slightly north of due east shortly after after 11 pm.

Leonid Meteors Near Mammoth Lakes

Leonid Meteors over Long Valley, 2009

Long, earth-grazing meteors could be visible coming out of the eastern horizon before the radiant point rises. You can download an app such as StarWalk to a smartphone or tablet to make identification of the constellation and radiant point easy. As night progresses the portion of the earth that you’re standing on rotates around to the forward path of the planet hurtling through space, where it collides with more space debris.  The path of the earth is due east at midnight, so the sky and atmosphere above you acts like a big scoop collecting meteors and creating long fireball trails.  The eastern half of your sky can collide with slightly more debris at that point, and more and more of the sky above you is directly facing the direction the earth is travelling as dawn approaches.  That’s why early morning hours are often advised for meteor shower watching.

In pursuit of Leonid meteors, 2010

For 2014 however the moon will rise around 3 am at mid northern latitudes, so the best viewing will be roughly midnight to 2:30 am. Adjust your shooting direction to accommodate the east to west movement of Leo as it seems to circle the North Star and rises towards nearly overhead and slightly northeast as dawn approaches.

Check the weather forecast and moon rise times in your area to fine tune your viewing experience. To find a prime viewing spot, travel east away from cities to put the light pollution at your back. Good luck!

Leonid Meteor Shower at Topaz Lake

Latest image: Leonid and Taurid meteors over Topaz Lake the night of November 17-18, 2017

Share This: