Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Fall is on the way to the Eastern Sierra!!

September 9, 2014

Fall is on the way to the Eastern Sierra!!
Fall color palette in the Eastern Sierra

I always see colorful leaves that have already changed after coming down from backpacking in the high country as soon as Labor Day. This always seems early but the scraggly small shrub like aspen always turn quickly. The larger healthier trees next to water hold on much longer into the autumn season. You’ll notice most Sierra in Autumn pics are mostly gold and orange. It’s tough to go out and find a good mixed color palette in the Eastern Sierra. Keep that in mind during your search for color up here.

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page

Arch on the Ledge at Valley of Fire

December 26, 2013

Newly discovered arch at Valley of Fire

Newly discovered arch at Valley of Fire

A beautiful wind sculpted arch with a landscape view of the Valley of Fire. I’ll call this a new arch since it’s not in any of the guide books. Scooted across a precarious ledge with a pair sticky shoes to get underneath the arch for a better view. I’ve got a few more shots of other arches not in any of the guide books that I’ll share in the future…

Fall Color in Southern California December 2013

December 19, 2013

Fall Color in Southern California December 2013

For anyone interested in autumn color in Southern California right now 12/18/2013, you can easily find it in just about any creek below a 1,000 ft elevation. Creeks with some flow will have more vibrant trees, sycamore trees vary in color from gold to bright rusty reds. Even a dull tree can become illuminated by backlight so you be surprised what you’ll find close to home. Some of the creeks that are known to more water then others may still be green such as many of the springs in the local mountains.

The creek shown here is located in the Front Range of the San Gabriel Mountains near Santa Clarita, California. Just how long will these colorful leaves stay on the trees? It really depends and can change from one canyon to the next. Temperature, exposure to wind, and the amount of water are big factors of how long the leaves linger into January. There are too many canyons to name in Southern California so I encourage you to keep an eye out as drive through any canyons or going out exploring for local gems you never really knew about!!

Fake Sky Landscape Photography

July 14, 2013

Fake Sky Landscape Photography

After watching this video – http://youtu.be/XrgxQzHhBl0?t=58m30s

Never had a day where there wasn’t a fabulous sunset and the moon appeared where ever or as big as I wanted it to be ….

Briefly at 58 minutes 30 seconds into the video the photographer states, “I was on vacation and I’m never coming back so I’ll just add clouds to the scene.” The video link is set to start right at that point.

To clear up questions this is a composite, the clouds were not there that morning at Fin Dome in the Sierra. I do not mention that I’m a documentary photographer in my bio but all shots I take have a RAW file or series of RAW files to match the scene or at least show the path I took in editing so I don’t share any images that don’t match up between sky and land other then bracketing beyond the dynamic range of a single image. No Delicate Arch photos from a Friday evening with a sunset from the porch here in Los Angeles on Tuesday. This is just my own personal belief that will vary from other landscape photographers sharing on social media.

Ansel Adams was known for heavily manipulating his captured film but he did not add a new sky from another time and place. If someone wanted to purchase the photo above or I shared it I WOULD SAY IT THE SKY WAS FROM ANOTHER DAY ADDED IN PHOTOSHOP. I couldn’t sell it or share it any other way.

Has landscape photography changed since the days of Ansel Adams?

This is not an anti art post, I love creating art

Example http://bit.ly/10URZO5

A few photographers I know that are really good at creating similar art photographs that I love to see are Klaus Priebe and Rich Martinez. They post some very interesting composites that just make you wonder how their imagination works. The art photographs that they create need no explanation or disclosure it’s in the work as you see it. I recommend friending or following these two guys because they do have some excellent work!!

Beliefs are highly varied when it comes to editing as to what people do and what they do not do. Should people have limits? No! Definitely not! An artist should do exactly what they feel helps them express their art in the way they see most fit. Art has no limits. If you feel you can’t compete with other photographers because they composite much better then you do then I recommend taking lots of graphic artist classes or watch many tutorials to get you up to speed with the people you want to compete with. Either way if you work as an artist or a photographer it will help you. Just make sure you put in the 1,000’s of hour of practice and you will see much improvement.

Merely looking for opinions on adding skies to images depicted as the way it was.

My 2012 Best & Unique Landscape Photographs

January 8, 2013

2012 was a great year and I hope you all enjoyed it. I had a some photos installed in the McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada (Food Court area) and an interpretive night pollution display set up in the newly remodeled visitor center in Death Valley. I’ll be getting married and having my first child in 2013 so I know it will be another great year. Looking forward to seeing all the 2012’s best from Jim Goldstein’s yearly list! I hope your 2013 is as great as you make it!!

A hidden sea arch along California's Central Coast
A hidden sea arch along California’s Central Coast

Cholla cactus garden illuminated by a spectacular desert sunrise in Joshua Tree National Park. The cholla cactus is famous for it's dramatic way of catching backlight from the sun for hours after the sun has risen and hours before it sets as well. Don't get too close or they may stick to you.
Cholla cactus garden illuminated by a spectacular desert sunrise in Joshua Tree National Park. The cholla cactus is famous for it’s dramatic way of catching backlight from the sun for hours after the sun has risen and hours before it sets as well. Don’t get too close or they may stick to you.

Wild yucca bloom in the Mojave Nature Preserve.  It's a beautiful place most photographers skip out on.
Wild yucca bloom in the Mojave Nature Preserve. It’s a beautiful place most photographers skip out on.

Death Valley Northwest Section
Death Valley Northwest Section

Death Valley Coyote Silhouettes
Death Valley Coyote Silhouettes

Death Valley Racetrack
Death Valley Racetrack Backlit Lenticular Cloud

Canyoneering in Death Valley
Canyoneering in Death Valley

Watchman Virgin River in the fall at Zion National Park
Watchman Virgin River in the fall at Zion National Park

Fiery sunsest through Elephant Rock Arch at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada's Mojave Desert.
Fiery sunsest through Elephant Rock Arch at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada’s Mojave Desert.

Eastern Sierra in Fall
Eastern Sierra in Fall

More Eastern Sierra in Fall
More Eastern Sierra in Fall

El Capitan and the Merced in Fall, Yosemite National Park
El Capitan and the Merced in Fall, Yosemite National Park

Canyoneer makes a 40ft jump in a very remote section of Jump Canyon in Sierra Nevada Foothills of California
Canyoneer makes a 40ft jump in a very remote section of Jump Canyon in Sierra Nevada Foothills of California

One of Zion's Canyons filled with fall color.
One of Zion’s Canyons filled with fall color.

Beautiful lone cottonwood tree on the Virgin River in Zion National Park
Beautiful lone cottonwood tree on the Virgin River in Zion National Park

Repelling a waterfall in Jump Canyon in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of California.
Repelling a waterfall in Jump Canyon in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of California.

Canyon Intersection - Zion
Canyon Intersection – Zion

Thunderstorm above an arch in Joshua Tree National Park
Thunderstorm above an arch in Joshua Tree National Park

Sea Arch in Big Sur, California Central Coast
Sea Arch in Big Sur, California Central Coast

S Curve at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada
S Curve at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page

Joshua Tree Photo Workshop

August 13, 2012

Joshua Tree Photo Workshop

Had a chance to look for Joshua Tree’s largest arch in the park, this is not it. I didn’t find yet so I’ll get back there once it’s cooled off a little more.

This is a shot from Saturday’s Meteor Photo Workshop. I didn’t advertise this workshop but just posted a single random post on facebook and picked up 6 students. With the small group it was so much easier to compose around each other. Hit the “Easy Button” !!! Sorry if you missed it, I’ll do another mini workshop somewhere in California and priced affordable for those who’d like an introduction to a unique way of learning creative photography.

Find more info please visit

Composing for the Edges

June 27, 2012

Plush greens at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, California

While composing this photograph I had to imagine the merged files together as one because the 2×6 or 4×6, etc box of the viewfinder didn’t fit the format I was looking for. When we create panoramics we have to use our imagination and establishing the borders or edges of the frame are probably one of the most important parts of doing this. Here I took note on where there were dark areas around the bright waterfall so as the image is viewed there is more of flow downward without distractions along the edges of the frame. Any bright water on the edges would of pulled the eye towards it and disrupted the path and flow of where the water leads the eye through the scene. Here I chose to have an exit at the bottom where the water comes out of the frame. You can compose differently and keep the eye in the frame by keeping the white water away from the edges, this doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t want to have any bright water near the frame just keep conscious thought of where you place it. Conscious thought is what composition is all about. Have you ever felt you placed all elements of frame exactly where they needed to be?

We can create typical images of scenes such as this one but another thing to keep in mind is has it been done this way? If so fine take the picture then move on to the next scene while looking for something different.

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page

American Galapagos Sunset

February 14, 2012

Channel Island National Park Seascape Image

American Galapagos Sunset – Channel Island National Park

Okay you got me it’s not the Galapagos Islands (I wish) but we like to refer to California’s Channel Islands as the American Galapagos because of their abundant variety of endemic species and plentiful sea life. It’s most certainly beautiful out there!

You can see the path of wind of in the distance. It’s partial evidence of how these high coastal sea cliffs are shaped.

The Channel Islands are some of the most beautiful islands on the West Coast. If you ever get a chance to see them it’s worth while. The weather is not the same compared to the mainland. You can be covered in fog while everyone is out on the beach back in Los Angeles.

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page

Concerned About Color Management?

February 10, 2012

Mt Ritter and Banner Peak above Thousand Island Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Eastern Sierra back country.

Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak 2006

In today’s digital photography world it’s possible to feel like the odd man out when we want to keep a natural feel of color to a scene. Keep that sense of being in a scene that really existed by standing in it and thinking it does exist and it isn’t fantasy. Maybe it’s just being old fashioned or sticking to the roots of what inspired us to begin shooting landscape photography. Maybe it was the books we chose to purchase it we were in inspired before the internet craze? Facebook, Flickr or the internet wasn’t the way people found 90% of their inspiration back then as they do nowadays. There has been trends in the cycle of photography some strange and some just evolution. Back in the 80’s and 90’s landscape photographers used something called a tobacco graduated filter, it was a fad that died just like disco. Today we have “The Magenta Cast” and the “Glow Filter” (gaussian blur / Orton Effect), shoot I’m embarrassed to say I have a few of those images!!

Look at how heavy my hand was at adding magenta, extra warmth and too much saturation, I'm guilty and don't like how fake this one feels to me.  Just can't be proud to look at it this way, I call this a need for saturation or Color Vomit.

Maybe that will be like saying, “I used to wear platforms with live fish in them” ?

Did a canyon really change color in the last decade??  Faux cast added in second shot.

Has anyone noticed a change in color of the canyons of the Southwest or am I seeing things? I last visited Antelope Canyon in 2005 and noticed a lack of magenta casts in the photograph during that time period and now it seems that canyon has more of magenta cast in it from most photographs shared on the net from Upper Antelope. Am I out of my mind or this is trend of adding a magenta cast right now?

We have to use photoshop as a tool 99% of the time to make our adjustments but there is a certain amount of discretion that highly varies between photographers. It should vary, we are all different. Many of the newer photographers not knowing how to use it well enough to express their imagination to it’s fullest potential feel limited without the knowledge of how to use it. Others overdue and that’s their intent, either way you can learn to connect with the way you would like to present your artwork or photographs. It just takes a little bit of time and if you’re concerned about color management consider backing off on the magenta a little.

White Balance – Another Approach

November 10, 2011

Court of the Patriarchs in Zion National Park

This image was taken the previous year at Zion. At this location it can be a little precarious getting down to the water’s edge so the average group will not be found here. It’s a man made waterfall despite it’s realistic look. I’d like to disclose that I cloned out part of a footbridge in the far right hand side.

While I was processing this image, I found there were so many different white balances inside the frame. The blue sky at dawn had it’s own, the alpen glow had it’s own, the peaks were in between the the sky and the fall foliage, plus the waterfall had so much of a blue cast and the shadows in the far right corner were even cooler on the white balance scale. You may often see some guru talking about white balance and if you set it to an exact setting it fixes all your problems, I find that very hard to believe when many scenes have so many different white balances inside them so it helps but it’s not a fix all. A general setting will help but it’s highly likely you will need to make adjustments during your processing or blend multiple RAW files with different WB* settings. For this image I used Nik’s Color Efex Pro (sieren discount code). The brilliance & warmth slider made some of the white balance adjustments pretty easy and I masked them with a brush to keep the parts I wanted and discarded what I didn’t want to use. Also, I used the Remove Color Cast option for the “too blue” waterfall because the selective color adjustment in PS didn’t do enough. Although it still remains cool, it’s personal taste how warm or cool you may want something to be. Tonal Contrast was also used to bring mid tones to only specific areas I wanted them in. I thought I would share a few processing steps some people may have trouble with.

This year there was a log jam from a flood here at this waterfall so I didn’t bother shooting it but found another little piece of Virgin River shoreline with a couple of golden cottonwoods that I hope to share later after I get back from the Joshua Tree Light Painting Workshop this weekend.

*WB abbreviation for white balance.

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page


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