sunset, hart mountain

hart-mountain-sunset

Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is a rather unbelievable place, 422 square miles of wilderness tucked deep in the southernmost part of Oregon, at 4,000 feet. It is primitive and magnificent, and we were fortunate to spend a week there in September, among the antelope, coyotes, birds, jackrabbits and more. It is definitely a place worth exploring — and revisiting.

I took many photos, but few of them seem to capture the raw beauty of the place.

(There’s a little more about the trip over on our trip blog, if you’re interested.)

 

 

sunset, Pine Valley Peak

sunset, pine valley peak

This was a glorious evening, spent in a little-visited part of Zion National Park, Kolob Canyons. I was up at about 7,000 feet, with snow on the ground, a brisk wind in the air and a temperature of 39°F. That said, I was prepared for both the elements and a gorgeous sunset. I wasn’t disappointed.

This is a three-image panorama, taken with the Sony A7RII and the Sony/Zeiss FE 16-35 mm f/4 lens.[1.I keep thinking that the lens isn’t all that great, when compared with my trusty old Canon 16-35 mm F/2.8L, and then I see something like this when I’m back at my Mac.] I have a couple of other sunset images to post from this evening (I posted a version of one on Facebook the other day, but I still need to go through the batch to find the right one.)

[where is this? | see it bigger]

sunset in the valley (panorama)

sunset in the valley pano

I’m currently camped in Valley of Fire State Park, north of Las Vegas. I’ve been coming here for years, but I have never seen the desert as green as it is right now; this is a banner year for the deserts of southern California and Nevada, and we’ve been lucky to see the blooms (although we wish we had made a detour to Death Valley on our way down).

There are wildflowers everywhere, but what’s really stuck with me is the different shades of green that are everywhere — even up into the mountains. There are shades of green that range from the bright greens you see in a baseball park, to the earthy slate greens of olive branches, to the warm yellowish greens of spring trees in Portland. I’ve been struggling with trying to get that range photographically. Here’s one attempt, from this beautiful valley I’ve been looking at every evening.

Click to see it larger.[1. I know there’s an issue with the top of the image getting cut off when you view it larger; I’m looking into it, but won’t really be able to get it fixed until I’m in a place with better–and more regular–wifi.]

dawn on Lake Cahuilla

moon over cahuillaThe mornings down here in the Palm Desert area have been wonderfully cool, with beautiful skies; they’re a good contrast to the full-on heat of the midday sun. Most mornings, Susan and I have been enjoying coffee in our little camp, and I haven’t been motivated to get the full camera rig out. (Truth be told, it’s not terribly photogenic, this spot.)

This morning, I was up a bit earlier than usual, and was captivated by the waning crescent moon above the hills behind camp. So I went off to shoot for a bit, and walked away with two nice images to start the day. (Click to see them bigger.)

sunrise over lake cahuilla

waldo sunset (nos. 1 and 2)

630-pm-waldo-lakeSusan and I went back to Waldo Lake this past weekend with the travel trailer; she in need of a connection to one of her sacred places, and I in search of foliage, woods and water. (We also wanted a good shakedown cruise with the trailer before winter sets in.) It was beautiful most of the time we were there, and with evening temperatures in the low 30s, we were glad for the heat and comfort of our new little house.

Photographically, I didn’t find much: we were at 5,500 feet, and most of the trees were evergreens, although there were stretches of vividly colored scrub brush sprinkled around the lake. In addition, the wind also kept the lake fairly choppy, which was disappointing, given how calm it was when I was there in late August.

I lucked out the last day we were there, as the winds died down and the late-afternoon skies had the promise of a spectacular sunset. Ultimately, however, the infamous “Kloskowski effect” wiped most of the clouds from the skies at about 6 pm. (“Damn you, Matt!”) Not long before the sun dropped below the horizon, I thought about returning to camp, but I told myself that it was worth the exercise of composing and exposing. It was also a beautiful night, regardless of the photo op, and when I did go back to the trailer, I came away with two images that I liked, taken about 30 minutes apart.

The first one was taken at 6:30, and there were some gorgeous pinks and blues in a small group of wispy clouds that had remained on the horizon (to the left of the setting sun). With the calm lake in the foreground, I underexposed a stop, to get some deeper color, and I ended up with what you see above.

I liked what I saw on the screen of my camera, and I kept shooting, but the best shots were still those first ones, so I started packing things up a little bit before 7 pm. The clouds had dispersed and there was only a fairly generic yellow glow where the sun had gone down, but the lake was still calm, and the blues of the skies were starting to contrast quite beautifully with the greens (and colorful scrub brush) of the pines along the shore. I ended up taking this shot (below) at 7:03, overexposing slightly to pick up some of the color in the trees.

7-pm-waldo-lake-2

 

It always amazes me how much the skies can change in hue in the space of an hour (or less) at sunset, and it was good that I kept at it. I’m not sure which photo I like better, but I am glad I at least stuck to my guns: I walked out of the woods with something.

dawn, new mexico

dawn-new-mexico-3
A few weeks ago, I drove down to New Mexico to pick up a trailer that Susan and I were buying. It was a long, crazy, two-and-a-half-day drive to get there, and I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about photos. On my last stretch, I left very early and was driving down the interstate when I noticed the beautiful dawn sky in the east. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I finally pulled over, got the tripod out and took a few shots before the light got too strong.

I loved the little wisp of haze, the deep blue of the sky, and the beginnings of bright sunlight on the horizon. Would have been nice to see a cloud or two (or the rising crescent moon), but I’ll take it.

(Click the image to see it bigger.)

blue hour, chambers lake

chambers-lake-blue-hour

Susan and I went camping in the Goat Rocks Wilderness in central Washington this past weekend; we were planning to do a 12-mile hike on Saturday with some friends and wanted to spend some time camping as well. It felt great to get out of town, although with the spread of wildfires in the Pacific Northwest right now, it felt as if we were surrounded by smoke, especially for the last two days we were there.

Our camp was on Chambers Lake–more a small puddle than a lake–a few miles from the Goat Rocks trailhead. When we arrived Friday night, the winds had kept the skies clear, so I went down to the lake to set up the tripod and grab a few sunset and dusk shots. It was too early for the Milky Way, but I was able to find some stars in that beautiful blue hour.

When we woke up Saturday morning, the winds had shifted: the skies were brown, and you could smell the smoke. The 12-mile hike was difficult (lots of ‘up, up, up,’ with what didn’t seem like comparable ‘down, down, down’) and quite beautiful. We need to go back when it’s clear, because some of the vistas were stunning, and you knew you would be able to see for miles across the Cascades.