Posts Tagged ‘Death Valley’

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
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Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page

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Hiking the Panamint Dunes in Death Valley National Park

January 10, 2012

Photographer in the remote Panamint Dunes in Death Valley

The Panamint Dunes are the most remote set of large dunes in the park. They are also the least visited set of dunes in the park. It’s about a 4 mile one way hike and most of the hike is relatively moderate until you reach the sand and uphill on sand begins. You’ll begin to move a little slower this way. A high clearance vehicle is recommended for the dirt road to access the dunes north of highway 190 in the Panamint Valley. The turn off is easy to miss but it’s a few miles east of Panamint Springs and you can easily find it on a park map. At the end of the road there is a small parking area. From here you walk across the alluvial fan towards the dunes, there is somewhat of a foot path but no trail so keep in mind the angle of where you parked the car. A compass should help you find your car if it gets dark and you can’t make out the mountains near telescope peak.

What I liked about this hike, for the most part you walk through mostly creosote the whole way you’ll end up smelling like the Mojave Desert when you get back. On the dunes instead of human footprints you’re more likely to find lots of animal patterns and birds landing on the dunes to eat a bug or two, maybe even a few birds of prey. I’ve seen a golden or two in my travels here. You’ll also encounter a few fly byes of F-18’s from China Lake if you’re lucky. More so during the week, they’ve had control of the airspace before Death Valley was a National Park or Monument so we have to share the skies with them. Best of all you can enjoy one of the off the beaten path places in park with another view of Telescope Peak off in the distance. Snow on the peak give the scene a beautiful contrast to vastly open desert below.

Telescope Peak from the Panamint Dunes in Death Valley

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
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A Little Tent on a Big Hill

November 1, 2011

Backpacking amongst the bristlecone pines of Telescope Peak in Death Valley National Park

Backpacking on Telescope Peak amongst the bristlecone pines, in Death Valley’s highest point at 11,049 ft brings up memories the foothills of the White Mountains and slightly the peaks where the bristlecone pines flourish. Some of the best views in Death Valley can be found on Telescope Peak. We’ve done this backpacking trip before but I just happened to let Christina pick the trip from a list of backpacking trips that we have already done in Death Valley. We came back down with a little bit of water left over from the 2 gallons we each brought up. It was windier then it looked and we were weighted down pretty good. I built a good rock barrier around the tent to keep the wind out of the tent. Although we’ve been up here many times, the view of the Sierra always seems to get better every time! We could make out Lone Pine Peak’s side profile along with Mc Addie, Whitney and Russel.

Bristlecone Pines on the slopes of Telescope Peak in Death Valley. The Panamint Valley, Argus Mountains and Sierra Nevada Range are in the background.

These weathered bristlecone pines on the slopes of Telescope Peak can make one wonder how long they’ve been there. The Panamint Valley, Argus Mountains and Sierra Nevada Range lie in the background of the photograph above. I mentioned I let Christina pick the trip this time, but I was hoping we would of ended up in a canyon where it was a lot warmer. She got a new down jacket, figures she had to test it out somewhere. Anyway the view sure beats having to look through google earth. Even though I’ve been there before I still tend to look at Google Earth before every trip I go on. It’s just so much different in person. With a 360 degree turn there are views, views, views, I’m telling you!!

A fresh perspective on Death Valley

Here are a couple of fresh perspectives with light and shadow on a couple of buttes along the foothills of the Panamint Mountains in. I always like to keep an eye out for pyramid shaped peaks out there, I seem to enjoy composing images around them. I always plan to write and share much so much more from every trip but I never get the time do it so I hope you all enjoy this curt summary of the experience. Maybe I’ll come back to it again with more to share.

Light pyramids in the foothills of the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley.

*For those interested in workshops: Only 1 spot left in the Death Valley workshop this coming March, 2012. Only announced it last week and it’s practically sold out – The Death Valley Experience Guess a few happy students from previous workshops just can’t get enough!

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

Flooded Badwater Moon – Death Valley

December 15, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve posted in the blog. Here is a veiw from last years spring flood in Death Valley on the salt flats at Badwater. It was cetainly a sight to see in person and maybe it will happen again this year.

Flooded badwater in Death Valley after winter rains by Steve Sieren / ScenicPhotoWorkshops.com

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Panoramic Photography Part I: Simple Basics

August 10, 2010

While leading a private workshop I snapped this 3 exposure panoramic while my client had a clear path with out foot prints in front of us besides what was off in the distance. The fleeting light needed to captured quickly so each of the 3 exposures were only seconds apart. In winter the light is gone fast and it can create problems for slow creation of panoramic photographs.

A few simple basics I recommend keeping in mind.

• Use a tripod unless it’s a snapshot to you. There is nothing wrong with handheld snapshots at speeds of double the focal length with added image stabilization down to about 1/125 shutter speed. If you don’t have a panoramic head level the tripod as best you can. If the light is fleeting don’t let it get away, fire a few shots before you set up perfectly.

• Establish a beginning and an end point.

• Make sure you have enough overlap 20-30% is fine unless you go really wide, then you’ll need more. With older stitching software you might need the extra coverage or you’ll start to see gaps in the top and bottom. CS4 & CS5 do a great job stitching at 20-30%.

• Shoot in manual or lock your exposure so that it does not change. (Advanced tip: I will occasionally add more light into a dusk scene where light is changing quickly. You can read more this in part 2.)

• Lock your focus. Be careful not move the focus ring or zoom between moving the camera for each exposure.

• Make sure to set the white balance to something besides auto.

• You don’t always need a foreground or a middleground. I have heard countless photographers say you need a foreground to create depth, that is not true. Some subjects don’t lend themselves to that, it’s best to stay open to change. You don’t want to witness the best light you have ever seen on your favorite mountain but not take a picture because you don’t have a foreground.

• Don’t limit yourself to a horizontal rectangle. A panoramic can be vertical, square or whatever you decide on. You can make a circle for all I care.

Most of these simple tips can be found anywhere on the net, some even copied verbatim. Don’t limit yourself to what I have mentioned here, take the bits and pieces that work for you. You can subscribe to the blog if you feel want to stick around for Part II: Advanced Tips of Panoramic Photography. I don’t blog heavily so you will not be bombarded with emails, this is no daytime talk show.

Some of Steve’s Panoramic Photographs gallery.

Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.

About the photograph: While leading a private workshop I snapped this 3 exposure panoramic while my client had a clear path with out foot prints in front of us besides what was off in the distance. This scene with fleeting light needed to be taken quickly so each of the 3 exposures were only seconds apart. In winter the light is gone faster then you think and that can create problems for slow creation of panoramic photographs. With a longer lens I can stay closer to clients when the light is at it’s best. This helps me show examples of what I have created in the field during a workshop without the need to disappear in search of that perfect foreground. Surprisingly enough most students don’t want me attached to the hip but I stick around anyway.

Read part II 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

Jackalope Sighting

April 1, 2010

Elusive jackalope

Ever been to the salt flats in Death Valley and wondered what in the world could live in such a place?

Here is a story I won’t forget. While photographing the hexigon patterns in the golden hour as usual it soon became dark and I found these uplifted salt tiles stacked up higher than I’d seen before maybe 2 1/2 ft or higer. While getting a more intimate view, there it was starring me down with those eyes that don’t lie, as I got closer and closer they began to take on an unearthy evil red GLOW! By this time my thumb had already depressed the cable release. I only managed to snap the shutter once before it let out it’s high pitched shrill and charged me. It was so loud by the time the gesture was made to cover my ears, I was knocked over and the air was filled with goose feathers falling like snow flakes on the salty crystal floor.

Then in the almost complete darkness the real panic began, my head lamp must have fallen off my head in all the commotion, I didn’t know if “it” got me or not.. . I frantically rummeged the uneven floor trying to find the lamp, I couldn’t find it. My facebooking, twittering, blogging I-phone lit up the darkness and I could see that I was saved by a mere layer of clothing, my down jacket. It all happened so fast all I could remember was a giant pair of buck teeth glisten in the darkness of night.

Mom always knows best, put on your jacket it’s cold out there, little did she know it could save a person from a little more than the cold.
Some people will believe but some will not, here is a link containing evidence supporting the existence of the wild Jackalope

Which holiday is it today?

The following post has info on wild flowers just outside of Los Angeles, you could be back home in time Easter!

Workshop info

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Life at Badwater

February 5, 2010

Life existed - Death Valley Badwater Salt Flats at dusk.

Twenty thousand years ago Death Valley was submerged by a lake 600ft deep. Could you imagine a place such as Badwater to be actually green at one time in the past? Life did exist here and that is the feeling I wanted to capture in this image. The unique clouds in the sky and hovering planet float above the basin like a spirits in the sky.

When something is seen in the skies that is unusual or uncommon, it’s easy to just say that is not real or it’s trick. The photographer might be trying to fool us, “we’ll have to keep an eye him and catch him sometime.” I can’t blame anyone for thinking that way, I’ve seen some odd things and have thought the same thing myself. The only way I can find a way to relate this to anyone is if you have actually stood in the Owens Valley long after the sunset glow has dissappeared and seen the oddly shaped lenticular clouds catch their light so long after every other cloud has lost it’s color. If you have seen this you know the clouds must be so high up in the atmosphere for this to occur. At the time of this capture I was a hundred miles east of the Owens Valley so I’m seeing the backside of one of these so called UFO’s. We all know the most famous guy for photographing these lenticular clouds so I don’t need to mention his name but he does have a nice example on page 5 of his Eastern Sierra gallery in color.

There is a little bit of unnaturalness happening here, I did use my i-phone to light up the dead stems during the long exposure. That isn’t much light so I don’t know if we could call it light painting. As for that planet there in the sky, I’m not an astronomer and I do not know which one it is but I did take this a few days earlier this week.

If you have any questions on how this was photo was created or think it’s not real either way I would love to hear it. If you are into night photography or it’s not your cup of tea please feel free to voice your thoughts and opinions.

One last thing there is life on the badwater basin, it’s a microscopic bug called an extremophile, it thrives in the 120 degree heat of summer and it’s name suites it well. What kind of slang could we call them, fire lice maybe? hmmm.. .

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