Moon Rise and Ice On A Salty Lake

Blue Hour Moon Rise

Moon rise Mono Lake, New Years Eve

New Years Eve moon rise at Mono Lake

2018 has already gotten off to a great start, as I enjoyed a great sunset at Mono Lake on New years Eve, then the “supermoon” moon rise at Mono Lake on New Years Day. The angles and timing of the moon rise vs. the sunset seemed to work out well for Mono Lake for both dates. On the first evening, the clouds interfered with the moon rise, but clearer skies to the west let the sun’s light through, for a great sunrise.

The second night, the moon was a little bright relative to the landscape as it rose, but the view of it was uninterrupted, so I was able to capture a nice sequence of moon rise shots as the moon rose over Mono Lake’s interesting “tufa” calcium carbonate rock formations.

One of the most fascinating details, particularly on the first night, was the ice forming on the surface of the lake. Temperatures were close to freezing, but Mono Lake is nearly 3X saltier than the ocean, so ice would not normally form on the lake at that temperature. Mono Lake’s tufa rock formations form underwater, where springs deliver calcium-laden water. I noticed in places where fresh water was upwelling to the surface, spreading out and then freezing as it cooled. Apparently in the winter when there is little or no wind to encourage mixing, the fresh and salt water does not necessarily mix well and the less dense fresh water rises tot he top and can freeze. You never know what interesting things you’re going to see next as you spend time outdoors!

Mono Lake Icy Sunset Reflection

Mono Lake Icy Sunset Reflection

The other photos from the sunset weren’t too shabby either. I’m so fortunate to live surrounded by such great scenery and weather!

Eastern Sierra landscape photography.

New Years Eve sunset reflection at Mono Lake, California.

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The Road To Bodie Is Open!

November Snow in Bodie State Historic Park, California

Winter approaching, November 29, 2017

Bodie Road, State Route 270, is currently open all the way to the historic Wild West “ghost town” of Bodie.  The park is open year ’round, but the road is subject to closure when conditions warrant.  The Open Snow long range weather forecast says that models predict that we could some precipitation moving in after January 5, so if a winter visit to Bodie sounds good to you, get up there in the next week or so, while the road is open!

All Rodents Lead to Bodie, Bodie State Historic Park, California

Several inches of snow in Bodie, May 8, 2015.

If we do get some snow, will that close the road?  If it looks like the first in a series of storms, it’s probably simpler and safer to leave the road closed for the season.  Bot now that the ground is frozen up in the dirt portion of the road, it’s less likely that wet conditions will make the road muddy and subject to damage from vehicle traffic (or cause vehicles to get stuck).  So a brief and not-too-deep snowfall won’t necessarily close the road.

Bodie on a Snow Day, Bodie State Historic Park, California

May 20, 2014

Some of my favorite visits have been in May when we get a late snowfall.  I’ve seen the road stay open with as much as 8″ of snow on it.  It doesn’t get plowed, so at those times you must have a vehicle with high clearance, and it’s best to have 4WD to minimize the odds of getting stuck.  I believe there’s a chain control sign at one point on Bodie Road, so you could well be required to have 4WD and “M+S” mud and snow rated tires, or snow chains installed on vehicles without 4WD.

Window on Bodie, Bodie State Historic Park, California

Snowy Day in Bodie May 20, 2014


Thanks to Mono County Tourism for reminding me that the road is open! And thanks for sharing my Bodie photo, with credit, on Instagram and Facebook. The image is from one of the night photography workshops that I lead every summer… about 5-6 times most years, and over 30 times already! I should hear back on my 2018 date request by February.


There may not be much snow on the ground at the moment, but it doesn’t take much to create a whole different atmosphere in town, and there is probably noticeable patches of snow on the surrounding peaks. So if you can make it up soon, check out Bodie before the road closes for the winter!

Big Wheel Keep on Turning

Cold Seat

View from Ranger's Roost by Parking Lot, Bodie State Historic Park, California

Snow in Bodie on May 22, 2017

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Top 10 Travel Photos: 2016

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve: Super Moon Rise

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve: Super Moon Rise

Virgin River Narrows

Virgin River Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

From Here to Infinity

From Here to Infinity – Mono Lake, California

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California

Ancient

High Sierra , Sierra Nevada, California

High Sierra Sunset Reflection

Sunset Moon Rise, Topaz lake, California and Nevada

Sunset Moon Rise and Rainbow, Topaz Lake

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve, California

Jellyfish Cloud Over Mono Lake

Moon and Belt of Venus over The Minarets, High Sierra, California

Sunrise Full Moon Set on Summer Solstice

Merced River Fall Swirls

Leaves and Foam in Eddies of the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California

Kanarra Creek Hike

Kanarra Creek Hike, Southern Utah

New 2016 Results from Past Years

Dry Lake Bed Sunrise

Dry Lake Bed Sunrise, Death Valley National Park, California

I have many more images that I considered for my favorite photos and moments of 2016, and I’ve collected over 50 of them in 2016 Favorites album on Flickr.

My Favorite Landscape / Travel Photos from Each Year, 2006 – 2016

Here are some of my collections from prior years.  It has been a great dozen years of adventure, I can’t wait to see what I can find to show you in the next 12!

New: 2017 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2016 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2016 Top 10 Landscape/Travel Blog Post

2015 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2015 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2014 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2014 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2013 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2013 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2012 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2012 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2011 Favorites album on Flickr
2011 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2010 Favorites album on Flickr
2010 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2009 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2009 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2008 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2008 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2007 Favorites photo album on Flickr 
2007 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2006 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2006 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

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Wines to Taste at Hospice du Rhone, April 14 – 16

Rhone Ranger wines

Some of the wineries producing Rhone varietal wines in the United States

When exploring wines produced with various different grapes, it can take years of experimentation to sample enough wines with dinners to get a good feel for which wineries produce the style that you like, and what foods they go with best. Fortunately there’s an efficient, cost-effective way to find new favorite wines: wine tastings. I like to visit temperate regions and visit wineries while I travel, but there are many tastings in California where producers from all over the state, or all over the world, will come to you. The Hospice du Rhone (HdR) wine tasting event coming up this month in Paso Robles features top wineries from the United States, France and Australia.

Many wine lovers are familiar with syrah, one of over 20 wine varietals traditionally grown in the Rhone region of France. Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Viognier and the other Rhone varietals have done well in the New World as well, particularly in California, Washington and Australia. In Australia they call syrah “shiraz”, after a region in the Persian Empire that produced notable wines at the time, although those were apparently white wines, and not syrah. But I digress.

The first year that I attended the  HdR was 2001. Earlier that year I had toured the Australian island of Tasmania enjoying their pinot noir, then I flew to the shiraz-laden Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale wine regions near Adelaide. The Australians were enjoying the release of wines from their fantastic 1998 vintage, which was in a string of strong vintages. I was enjoying them too. Upon my return, I checked two cases of wine as luggage and packed more in my carry-on baggage, for a total of 39 bottles in all! Ah the days before airline restrictions on liquids. Then a couple of months after returning from Australia, I attended the Rhone Rangers tasting event in California, offering American-produced Rhone varietals, and I enjoyed many fine Rhone lineage wines there.

So I started 2001 with a great survey of Australian and American Rhone style wines, and Hospice du Rhone would be a great opportunity to add French wines to the mix, and try them all in one place. Let’s start with the American wines and wineries that I particularly enjoyed at the Rhone Rangers event. Although wines change from year to year, the best grapes are consistently grown in the best sites, and wineries and winemakers that have tuned their winemaking practices for those sites will consistently produce great wines year after year. So finding your favorite vineyards, winemakers and producers is a great first step. So among this year’s 239 wineries pouring at HdR, many of these producers will again be pouring great wines:

1998 Lewis Cellars Napa Valley Syrah 03/31/01 – Ripe nose, syrupy dark fruit, intense with ample tannins, a touch musty, long dusty finish with more dark fruit. 92

1999 Cedarville El Dorado County Estate Syrah $24.00 03/31/01 – Deceptively supple, fills the mouth with ripe soft berries and some vanilla. 91

1999 McCrea Cellars Yakima Valley Syrah 03/31/01 – Ripe and musty with minty plum and black fruit, intense acid and tannins, ripe on the finish. 91

1999 Truchard Vineyards Napa Valley Carneros Syrah 03/31/01 – Musty, concentrated, a little syrupy, intense on the finish. 91

1999 T-Vine Cellars Contra Costa County Syrah 03/31/01 – Ripe and very sweet,syrupy (American oak?), concentrated. A “no dump” wine. 91

1998 Joseph Phelps Vineyards Vin du Mistral Syrah 03/31/01 – Dry, deceptively well balanced, with a congue-tingling finish. Closed, masking ample intensity. Should be better in a few years. 91

1998 Justin MacGillivran Syrah 03/31/01 – (Barrel sample) Ripe, minty, fleshy, dark fruit, which carries into the finish. A “no dump” wine. 91

1998 McCrea Cellars Yakima Valley Cuvee Orleans Syrah 03/31/01 – Nice nose, plus ripe dark fruit, peppery, toasty, with ample tannins. 91

1997 Jade Mountain Napa Valley Paras Vineyard Syrah 03/31/01 – Supple with vanilla oak and coffee flavors. 91

1997 Swanson Vineyards Napa Valley Syrah 03/31/01 – Dry with dark fruit, oak, spices, herbs, nice acid balance. 91

1996 QupE’ Wine Cellars Santa Barbara County Hillside Select Syrah 03/31/01 – Supple with vanilla oak, skins, dark fruit, nice persistence. 91

1999 Beckman Vineyards Santa Barbara County Syrah 03/31/01 – Tannic, dusty, peppery. 90

1999 Cedarville El Dorado County Estate Grenache $20.00 03/31/01 – Medium to full body, plush texture, sweet black fruit, balanced with an acid-supported finish. 90

1999 Cedarville El Dorado County Zinfandel $22.00 03/31/01 – Fruity, slightly syrupy, vanilla. 90

1999 Lava Cap Syrah 03/31/01 – (Barrel sample) Syrupy berry, spices… blueberry pie. 90

1998 McCrea Cellars Yakima Valley Ciel du Cheval Syrah 03/31/01 – Supple, vanilla oak, toasty on the finish. 90

1997 Clos Mimi Paso Robles Shell Creek Vineyard Syrah 03/31/01 – Minty, fruity, with spices and vanilla oak on the finish. 90

1997 Seven Peaks Paso Robles Shiraz 03/31/01 – Ample body, dark fruit (blackberry), mint, plum, shuts down on the finish. 90

1995 Swanson Vineyards Napa Valley Syrah 03/31/01 – Dry, medium bodied, peppery with red and black fruits, some leather, nice intensity and acid. 90

My Background in Wine

But what qualifications did I have for attempting such a feat? I started enjoying Ridge Vineyards wine since the early 1980s: my mountain biking route took me past their tasting room. A friend of mine worked there. Ultimately they would be named one of the top 5 wineries in the world, so I was spoiled by quality from the start. As I worked in Silicon Valley’s high tech industry for a couple of decades, I had access to great wines and my budget enabled me to collect them. I started taking tasting notes in 1994. Given that my day job was selling servers to Netscape, Yahoo! and other startups, I set up a Web site and posted my notes there. That got me into the big wine tastings, often early as a wine trade journalist, before the crush of public made it a little more difficult to access the more popular tables and wines. Even just trying a wine each night with dinner would tune my palate with over 3500 wines in 10 years. But my friends and I got together for a “boys night out” every Wednesday night, and we quickly settled on blind tastings as the agenda, with the host selecting the theme each week. Add in a few trade tastings each year, and you start to develop an experienced palate, along with a pretty sizable database. Eventually I decided to be a wine broker for a few years, representing small wineries to wine shops and restaurants.

My taste in wine may not be identical to yours (the whole subject of reviews, ratings and rankings has been covered ad nauseum for decades elsewhere). But you can try wines and a producer or two that I’ve liked, and if we like similar styles, my experience may come in handy for you.

I both take notes on the flavors and characteristics of a wine, as well as assign a score on a 100-point scale, like the ones American consumers have become familiar with from Wine Spectator Magazine and Robert Parker’s newsletter, Wine Advocate. There’s a love-hate relationship with such systems in the industry as a score over 90 points can help sell a wine, and higher on the scale may mean bigger, bolder and more in-your-face, but that’s not what you want with every meal. There are many excellent balanced wines that score in the high 80 to 90 point range that might pair better with food. I think that many or most wine consumers have become educated enough to make educated choices, so there’s no particular need to shy away from putting a stake in the ground regarding where on such a scale a wine might fall.

Fortunately the Hospice du Rhone event provides one of those opportunities for you find what you like, and cut months or years off your search time, while you save many hundreds of dollars on the cost.

Maybe I’ll see you there!

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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

My Favorite Landscape / Travel Photos from Each Year, 2006 – 2016

Here are some of my collections from prior years.  It has been a great dozen years of adventure, I can’t wait to see what I can find to show you in the next 12!

New: 2017 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2016 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2016 Top 10 Landscape/Travel Blog Post

2015 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2015 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2014 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2014 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2013 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2013 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2012 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2012 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2011 Favorites album on Flickr
2011 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2010 Favorites album on Flickr
2010 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2009 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2009 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2008 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2008 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2007 Favorites photo album on Flickr 
2007 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2006 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2006 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

 

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Top 10 Travel Photos: 2012

Mid-October, 2012, about a week before a storm dropped 3 feet of snow on the Sierra Nevada.
First Strike
I was out camping to catch the Lyrid meteor shower in April, and this storm started as I was cooking dinner on the campfire!

Continuing the retrospective look at my last decade of travel and landscape photography, 2006 – 2015.  Here are some of my favorites from 2012. Although this was my second full year covering Southern California for my guidebook “Photographing California Vol. 2 – South, A guide to the natural landmarks of the Golden State“, I still had an absurd amount of ground to cover for the book!

Moon Rise Behind Half Dome
I pursued a lot of astrophotography in 2012, including many moon-landmark alignments, which change every year
In the Pre-Dawn Mist
These fishermen didn’t even see the coyote on the beach behind them!
Starry Night over Bodie Church
In 2012 I started my night photography workshops in the authentic Wild West “ghost town” of Bodie. Join us this year!
Eclipse Moon Set Under Belt of Venus
This alignment I anticipated weeks in advance was photographed from over a dozen miles away.
Twilight at Mono Lake
Sometimes the soft  light of twilight can be better then the adjacent sunrise or sunset!  Mono Lake.
Lake Tahoe Winter Sunrise
Lake Tahoe in sunrise light
Storm Light at Bodie State Historic Park
Bodie during golden hour, after the park visitors have left and we have the place entirely to ourselves!
Venus Transit of the Sun, from Earth
Everyone was going to shoot Venus crossing in front of the sun, but I added earth to the composition as well!

This was a selection of a few of my favorites from an album of over 50 photos from 2012, 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 2012:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreysullivan/sets/72157651147837112

2012 Favorites

My Favorite Landscape / Travel Photos from Each Year, 2006 – 2016

Here are some of my collections from prior years.  It has been a great dozen years of adventure, I can’t wait to see what I can find to show you in the next 12!

New: 2017 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2016 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2016 Top 10 Landscape/Travel Blog Post

2015 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2015 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2014 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2014 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2013 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2013 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2012 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2012 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2011 Favorites album on Flickr
2011 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2010 Favorites album on Flickr
2010 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2009 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2009 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2008 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2008 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2007 Favorites photo album on Flickr 
2007 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2006 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2006 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

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Top 10 Travel Photos : 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

My Favorite Landscape / Travel Photos from Each Year, 2006 – 2016

Here are some of my collections from prior years.  It has been a great dozen years of adventure, I can’t wait to see what I can find to show you in the next 12!

New: 2017 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2016 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2016 Top 10 Landscape/Travel Blog Post

2015 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2015 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2014 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2014 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2013 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2013 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2012 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2012 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2011 Favorites album on Flickr
2011 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2010 Favorites album on Flickr
2010 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2009 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2009 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2008 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2008 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2007 Favorites photo album on Flickr 
2007 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2006 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2006 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

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Top 10 Travel Photos: 2011

Yosemite Falls Moonbow Star Trails, finalist in the 2011 Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest

Continuing the retrospective look at my last decade of travel and landscape photography, 2006 – 2015.  Here are some of my favorites from 2011. This was my first full year covering Southern California for my guidebook “Photographing California Vol. 2 – South, A guide to the natural landmarks of the Golden State“, so naturally I cris-crossed the state with much enthusiasm, to find the best possible sites to include, in the best possible conditions.

Skeleton of an Inland Sea
Skeleton of an Inland Sea, Death Valley National Park
Fonts Point Rainbow
Rainbow Over Font’s Point, Anza-Borrego State Park
Earth, Wind, Fire and Water
Earth, Wind, Fire and Water on the Big Sur Coast
Morro Rock from Montana de Oro
Morro Rock from Montana de Oro, California Coast
Alien Terrain
Alien Terrain, Mojave Desert, California
Goldfields and Poppies at Sunrise
Goldfields and Poppies at Sunrise, Antelope Valley
Out of this World
Out of This World, Mono Lake, Eastern Sierra
First Light on the Dry Lake
First Light on the Dry Lake, Eastern Sierra
Spring Storm Arriving in Yosemite Valley
Spring Storm Arriving in Yosemite Valley

This was a selection of a few favorites from an album of over 50 photos from 2011. To see more of them, as well as some of my road trip itineraries, click on the link or album photo below.


More of my favorite photos from 2011, including my Outdoor Photographer Magazine cover: 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreysullivan/albums/72157650751241608

2011 Favorites

 

Stargazing - Winning Image, People and Space Category
Stargazing

This image won the People and Space category in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2011 competition conducted by the Royal Observatory, Greenwich (home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian).

My daughter Nicole Sullivan won Runner Up (second place) in the Young Astronomer category. They sent a film crew up from Los Angeles and interviewed her for 7 hours! Here’s the video: www.vimeo.com/28740663

Full results including all awarded images: www.nmm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/astronomy-photographer-of…

My Favorite Landscape / Travel Photos from Each Year, 2006 – 2016

Here are some of my collections from prior years.  It has been a great dozen years of adventure, I can’t wait to see what I can find to show you in the next 12!

New: 2017 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2016 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2016 Top 10 Landscape/Travel Blog Post

2015 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2015 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2014 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2014 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2013 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2013 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2012 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2012 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2011 Favorites album on Flickr
2011 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2010 Favorites album on Flickr
2010 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2009 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2009 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2008 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2008 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2007 Favorites photo album on Flickr 
2007 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2006 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2006 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

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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! ‎

My Favorite Landscape / Travel Photos from Each Year, 2006 – 2016

Here are some of my collections from prior years.  It has been a great dozen years of adventure, I can’t wait to see what I can find to show you in the next 12!

New: 2017 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2016 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2016 Top 10 Landscape/Travel Blog Post

2015 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2015 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2014 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2014 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2013 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2013 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2012 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2012 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2011 Favorites album on Flickr
2011 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2010 Favorites album on Flickr
2010 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2009 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2009 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2008 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2008 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2007 Favorites photo album on Flickr 
2007 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

2006 Favorites photo album on Flickr
2006 Top 10 Landscape / Travel Photos blog post

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End of the Road for My SUV!

First light on the colorful aspen at Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (Canon 5D Mark III)

The day started like any other fall day on the road: the pink over blue Belt of Venus light leading to a  sunrise, golden hour light and calm morning reflections, fall colors, then driving to the next location on the itinerary.  Usually I don’t finish the drive in a tow truck, with my SUV on the back!

Let’s talk about the good news first.  Sunrise on Jackson Lake was uneventful, with no clouds, but gorgeous nonetheless.  The Belt of Venus color can be fantastic if you know how to coax its color out of the sky and into your camera, and the pastel pink and blue tones on this morning didn’t disappoint.

Fortunately the lake was calm, so the colorful light show in the sky was doubled in the water.  As the sun approached on the eastern horizon, the Tetons were bathed in golden light.  So far it was shaping up to be a good day.

Not far away was Oxbow Bend (above), where colorful aspen trees were lighting up in the first rays of the sun.  There was another spot to the east which had a nice stand of colorful aspen in front of Mt. Moran as well.

Schwabacher Landing (LG G4)

A few miles south on the way to Jackson was Schwabacher Landing, which can get really crowded at sunrise, but it wasn’t all that crowded by the time I arrived.  The sun was behind me, but with a little bit of waiting and some coordination with people walking by, I was able to get some shots without people or shadows in them.  The Tetons here make a long, narrow subject, perfect for the 16 x 9 aspect ratio of my LG G4 smartphone, but it was out of memory.  It has 32GB of memory, 16GB of that left for photos.  The LG G4 has a microSD slot for memory expansion, but I was using one microSD in my GoPro, and had misplaced my spare.

Fortunately, prior to the trip I had been asked to try out the 32GB SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick.  It looks like a USB flash drive that you’d plug into computers, but it connects to your smartphone via wi-fi.  Earlier in the trip I had started a complete gallery backup from the LG G4, and not only did that transfer over 4200 existing photos, it also transferred new photos as I took them.  So all I had to do on the smartphone was delete old photos, since they were already backed up.  I also filled my 64GB iPhone 5S with photos on this trip, and I was able to back up files from that as well, then delete them on the phone.

SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick with iPhone 6S+

Smartphone memory issue solved, it was on to Jackson for breakfast, grocery shopping, then I could move on to the next area to shoot.  In this case, the location change was from Grand Teton National Park and Jackson, Wyoming to Salt Lake City.  I should return home from there to prepare for a workshop in 2 weeks, but “shoulds” are for wimps.  Having invested so much time and so many miles to get that far, I could extend the trip underway to swing through Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, and continue on to Colorado to catch fall colors in Aspen, at the Maroon Bells, in Telluride and Ouray before returning home.  I’d still have a week to get ready to go back out.  Or I could wait until next year, but something could come up and it could end up being the year after that.  Heck, I may not live that long.  Life and time are precious; there’s no time like the present.

But as the saying goes, life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.

Somewhere between Jackson, Wyoming and Salt Lake City, a few miles south of the small town of Cokeville, in the middle of extensive hay fields, and outside of Verizon’s service area, the Explorer made a noise.  An unhappy noise.  A warning noise.  A message in the dashboard was trying to tell me something, but driving into the bright glare of the afternoon sun, I couldn’t read the fading light of its aging display.  Then it was gone.  Everything was apparently fine.  Without a warning indicator, the infamous “check engine” message, I couldn’t use the engine code reader to give me some clues.

The peace didn’t last long.  The light came on again, I was able to read it this time, and “Low Oil Pressure” meant that I needed to pull over ASAP.  The road was elevated with essentially no shoulder.  Just as I spotted a driveway coming up across the road, the engine cut off, so I had to wrestle the now-powerless steering and brakes to cross oncoming traffic and bring the vehicle to a stop.  The stall could have been an engine safety shutdown, but I would need to have it towed to somewhere where a mechanic could assess the failure.  Fortunately Lori Hibbett had flown in to Seattle to join me earlier in the trip, and her AT&T phone had one bar of service, so we could call for a tow.

It was late on a Friday afternoon, so Salt Lake City 150 miles to the south would be the best option for finding a mechanic working on a Saturday.  Thank goodness for premium roadside assistance plans covering tows up to 200 miles!  Not being able to look up shops or do a lot of calling to identify a shop open Saturdays, we had the SUV towed to the Courtyard Marriott at the airport so we’d be able to catch a shuttle to the airport and rent a car to get around.  When we arrived, I called every mobile mechanic in town, so see if one would come out late on a Friday or early Saturday.  No one called me back Friday, even the places which supposedly worked 24 x 7, but Saturday morning I did get a single call back, and the mechanic was there less than an hour later.  At first he was optimistic that the oil pressure sensor may have failed, since it had clearly been worked on, but he eventually tried to turn the engine with a large wrench, and it was seized.  The oil was topped off and there was no coolant mixed in from a broken gasket, so the mode of failure most likely had to do with the oil pump itself, possibly the timing chain which drives it.

Although I had kept the vehicle in immaculate shape to get me in and out of remote places, and I had recently put another $1000 into it to hopefully get another 100,000 miles out of it, the book value was only $2000 and a rebuilt engine would cost more, so it was a total loss.

One shuttle to the airport and one rental minivan later, we were leaving at noon for the 8-hour drive home.  Of course the minivan had weather stripping on both sides of the windshield that whistled loudly over 50 MPH, at what sounded like the exact frequency of my SUV’s warning beep!  A couple of stops and a few feet of gaffer’s tape, and the whistling minivan was silenced.

The following day I was able to locate a place that would buy my vehicle using its pink slip in Reno, but pick it up in Salt Lake City a couple of days later.  Done, except for the fact that I lost the vehicle and its $2000 value, plus expenses associated with the breakdown.  I guess that I need to come up with my next project, and include a new vehicle in the budget for it.

After the trip, I bought an Apple iPhone 6S+ using the Apple Upgrade Plan, and the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick worked like a charm with that as well.  Although the USB connection is mainly to keep the Wireless Stick charged, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that when I plugged it into my laptop, it worked like a USB drive as well, and I was able to copy photos from all three smartphones directly to the laptop.

Although we think of hard drives as being a weak link in our photography toolkit (right behind vehicles), smartphones also fail, often by being dropped in water, so I’m glad to have to have an easy backup solution for the photos on mine.  If you think that you might want to pick up a SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick for storage expansion, backup, or wireless transfer of files among your wi-fi capable devices, SanDisk has given me a coupon code to offer you 30% off: https://goo.gl/1HRPrF

It handles a lot more than smartphones and photos, you can stream music or HD movies to up to 3 devices at once.  Learn about the product here: https://goo.gl/Gp0mBm or watch a product video: https://goo.gl/SfTNNc 


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SanDisk . The opinions and text are all mine.

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