On our last trip to the Eastern Sierra, we explored Big Pine – Death Valley Road. Twenty-five miles from Big Pine, CA, the pavement ends, and you enter Death Valley National Park. The route took us through Eureaka Valley, over the Last Chance Mountains to Crankshaft Crossing where we made a right to continue on Death Valley Road. That led us to Ubehebe Road then to Scotty’s Castle Road and further to Stovepipe Wells. It was a fun trip through beautiful desert despite the tire shredding rocks and washboard grating on the road. If you ever take this route be careful. Have really good tires and plan your timing; there are many washes that cross the road. They were all in good repair when we took the trip in early autumn. But, they could be bad in other times of the year.
Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.
On our day trip to the mountains, we decided to visit and photograph a burn scar; a section of burned forest from a fire a few years ago. The burned trees were intriguing with their swirls of white wood and black charred wood. The grasses had repopulated the area and the Rabbit Brush was blooming. It was a fun time.
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The Tricolored Heron is an amazingly beautiful, small heron – up to 30” tall. They are found, year-round in Florida and along the US Gulf Coast. During nonbreeding periods, they can also be found along the Pacific Coast of Southern California and Mexico as well as parts of Central America. They breed in areas of North Florida. They like the coastal estuaries, saltmarshes, mangrove forests and lagoons.
Tricolored Herons prefer to eat fish from brackish waters. They stalk and attack like other herons and egrets with a few minor uniqueness’s. They nest in colonies with other herons and egrets.
All About Birds from Cornell Labs posted an interesting observation about the Tricolored Heron: “Angsty teenagers aren’t just a human phenomenon. As Tricolored Herons get older they often lunge and snap at their parents when they arrive at the nest with food. To appease the youngsters, parents greet them with bows.”
I was amazed when I first saw one of these birds. I think all herons and egrets are beautiful but, for me, this one tops the list.
Note: Click on caption to see image at higher resolution.
Today I am sharing images of various mountain peaks we see as we travel along US Route 395 in eastern California. Highway 395 extends from the US-Canada border to its southern terminus in the Mojave Desert at I-15 near Hiperia. Much of its way through California it traverses desert valleys sandwiched between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the White-Inyo mountains. It is absolutely stunning scenic drive. For the adventurous, there is mountain hiking and climbing and fishing. There are back road drives into the mountains to scenic lakes and great vistas. There are attractions like Mono Lake with its Tufa, the Ghost Town Bodie, The Ancient Bristle Cone Pine Forest, the museum and remains of the Manzanar Internment Center from World War 2 and the Movie Museum in Lone Pine. If you’ve never explored this area, I strongly recommend you check it out.
Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.
My wife, my mother and I decided to visit Daffodil Hill, a beautiful spring attraction in Amador County, CA. After the visit, we decided to wander some of the lesser traveled roads in rural El Dorado and Placer counties; an area where my wife spent a lot of time during her childhood. As we wandered, we crossed a small bridge spanning the North Fork of the Cosumnes River. The Cosumnes is a 52 mile long river starting as 3 forks in the Sierra Nevada, eventually merging with other rivers and flowing into the San Francisco Bay by way of the Sacramento/San Juaquin delta. We were somewhere along the North Fork near Somerset, CA. The recent rain and snow, brought on by the El Nino, has given us a brief respite from the years of drought. The river was flowing rapidly through this shallow gorge. The morning sun filtered through the forest, highlighting the bright spring green of life reawakening.
I hope you enjoy these 2 perspectives of this beautiful canyon.
We are very lucky to be near the delta that flows into San Francisco Bay because it attracts many beautiful migrating birds in the winter. One of the birds that makes California’s Pacific Flyway their home is the Pintail Duck. I shot this image of a beautiful pintail Sunday morning, DEC 27, 2015.
Last week, I was in Washington visiting my son and his family. It was a great week capped off with a camping trip on the Puget Sound. We camped at Sequim Bay, on the Olympic Peninsula, near the point where Puget Sound meets the Strait of Juan de Fuqua. It was a beautiful weekend and lots of fun. I took a few images and want to share 2 with you.
The first is A Sunrise on Sequim Bay. The sky was overcast on this early morning. Fog shrouded the mountains to the north and west. The water was smooth as glass except where gentle currents caused small ripples. The only sign of life were the few gulls beginning their hunt for breakfast. The sun found a few small breaks in the clouds which allowed it to highlight the sleeping vessels and parts of the shore. A confluence of events that provided a moment of peace and tranquility. Look at the image, close your eyes and imagine yourself there for a few minutes. I hope it will brighten your busy day.
The second is West Peak, Mt Olympus and Glacial Valleys. This image was shot near the visitor center at Hurricane Ridge National Park in the Cascade National Forest. In this case, dramatic clouds obscured most of the sky. Breaks in the clouds allowed bright sunlight to dapple sections of Mount Olympus and the surrounding peaks, highlighting the glaciers and valleys below. I felt a longing while viewing this scene. My spirit wanted to hike up to that mountain valley and camp by the stream. I wanted to be near the base of the glacier; to see and touch the glacier before our changing climate devours it and drives it to extinction.
The California drought has garnered a lot of attention and it is bad. But, over the past few weeks, storms have driven some rain along the White-Inyo Mountains and the valleys east of the Sierra. So, Donna and I wanted to get a rare glimpse of a green desert landscape in July. Bodie did not disappoint. The desert vegetation was a beautiful spring green. The skies were overcast, covered with rain clouds. We were treated to light hail, cold, light rain and a few claps of thunder. I had hoped for some golden light to peer through breaks in the clouds, highlighting the landscape, but that did not materialize. The rain dampened the wood, saturating the colors and highlighting details of the decaying structures. Here are 2 examples. I hope you enjoy them.
I regularly walk along various stretches of the American River Parkway trail system. It is a great place to get exercise and enjoy the beauty of an urban forest and riparian habitat. I rarely have my camera because, if I did, I’d never get exercise. But, I always have my phone.
On several of my blogs, I remind readers that it is the composition and lighting that make the image and not the camera. Especially with today’s smartphone cameras and their incredible software. But, I have a problem using my phone. I can’t hold it steady enough to lock in the composition and get the focus right. So, I invested in a walking stick/monopod/tripod by Manfroto and a bracket to hold my phone. Now, I can overcome my shakiness. I also carry a microfiber cloth to clean the lens – it can get grimy being carried around in purse, pocket or holster. Grimy lenses impact the clarity of the image.
I have the Samsung Galaxy S6 with its 16MP rear camera. It does a great job. You can use it as a point and shoot by using auto mode or you can put it in pro mode which allows you to manually control functions just like on a DSLR. I find manual selection of the focus point to be the most useful but wish it wasn’t tied to the auto exposure so I could control them separately.
The attached image was shot with my phone last week. I am very pleased with it. Enjoy and make the best of your photography.