Posts Tagged ‘desert’

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

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Finding New Arches in Likely Places

October 20, 2011

Unpopular arch in the Alabama Hills.

Occasionally from time to time I spend a few hours looking for new arches in different places likely to have them. Here in the Alabama Hills I found 2 of them and not sure if anyone has seen them yet or at least the average photographer. The first photo in this series is one of them. The other one is pretty hard to get to and you have to climb a little but it might have some good potential if the roads don’t ruin the view. I’ll have to see next time I’m out there. On a separate trip while zooming into a snapshot of one arch I took from the road I found another on top of the boulder piles, even with it’s location in sight, it is still hard to find because you loose your depth perception as the walls get bigger and your surroundings enclose on you. It’s no doubt it takes time to find these unknown arches.

I’m really curious if anyone ever really spends the time trying to find them or is it just common practice to wait for someone else to direct them to these arches. I’ve driven the roads and spotted some of them from the roadside but now there was about 4 well known arches Mobius, Lathe, Heart and Whitney Portal arch. In recent years Cyclops and Lady Boot arch have become very well known. Cyclops is shown below with the rainbow. Does anyone feel that any of new found arches should be kept hidden or revealed?

I asked David Muench where his famous Kissing Meercats arch in the Alabama Hills was and he politely said it is so fragile that he cares enough not to reveal where it is, before asking him, I kind of thought he better not tell me. I didn’t beg and say, “C’mon, I won’t tell anybody!” I really respect that he didn’t tell me because it just encouraged me even more to do my own explorations. When a place is mysterious and full of unkowns the build up to exploring it is a giant lure for me as a creative photographer. Does anyone have any feelings on what they think the future of the Alabama Hills and it’s many unknown arches? David, wants it to become a protected monument, it’s one of his favorite places. It’s likely in the future there may be a handout with about 25 arches sometime in the near future. Some are fragile and some are not, do you feel this would hurt the environment or not?

Cyclops Arch - Alabama Hills, recently in the last couple of years it's becoming a very popular arch.

The Lobster Claw Arch in Joshua Tree National Park.  It's a boulder hop to get to this one.
Here is an arch off the beaten path at Joshua Tree National Park. I don’t think it’s location will be popularized because of the difficulties getting to it, from certain directions at least.

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

Art Without Photoshop

October 5, 2011

Havasu Falls at Dusk, Havasu Canyon, Grand Canyon, Arizona

Do You Really Need Photoshop to Make an Artistic Photograph?

If anyone tells you yes, that’s BULLSHIT!! If the light hits the sensor in an appealing way then you can get away without using photoshop or elements. You will need to convert the RAW image to a jpeg with a basic converter. Many times we will need need photoshop to make local adjustments meaning specific areas of a photograph. But yes there are times when the light is perfectly fine within the frame of what was photographed and if the composition is fine then it just may be artistic enough.

Just to clarify, this is not an anti photoshop blogpost, I wouldn’t own Photoshop CS5, 4, 3, 2 and other versions if I didn’t use them.

Havasu Falls at Dusk, Havasu Canyon, Grand Canyon, Arizona

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

The Power of Subject

March 26, 2011

Mobius Arch in the Alabama Hills with a dusting of snow.

During my Death Valley Eastern Sierra Experience Workshop I was taking some candid shots of the participants while they were in their moments of shooting the light at it’s peak. In the first image the arch is the main subject and in the second image it’s the photographer and what he is doing. I noticed the 2nd image to be even more powerful then the first and with a little bit of patience I was able to capture both images.

A photographer photographing Mobius Arch in the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, California.

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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My 2010 Best Photographs

January 7, 2011

2010 was a great year for landscape photography, we experienced a fantastic wildflower bloom in California. Here are a few of my best from the year, I wish I could pull a few more off the hard drive! Have a great year everyone!!

Petroglyphs Owens Valley

Light painted petroglyphs in the Owens Valley near Bishop, Eastern Sierra

Alpen glow breaks through the clouds in the Eastern Sierra's North Lake on a cold autumn morning.

Alpen glow breaks through the clouds in the Eastern Sierra’s North Lake on a cold autumn morning.

Burney Falls in Northern California is constantly fed by a natural spring.

Burney Falls in Northern California is constantly fed by a natural spring.

A wild lenticular cloud formation slowly grows and moves across the Northern Mojave Desert.

A wild lenticular cloud formation slowly grows and moves across the Northern Mojave Desert.

Early dawn light creeps across the flooded salt flats of Death Valley.

Early dawn light creeps across the flooded salt flats of Death Valley.

Dangle your toes off of Toroweap's 3,000 foot cliff overlooking the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park.

Dangle your toes off of Toroweap’s 3,000 foot cliff overlooking the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park.

Wild mountain lillies bloom in an open meadow in Northern California's Cascade Range.

Wild mountain lillies bloom in an open meadow in Northern California’s Cascade Range.

Tiles of Earth sculpted by wind, water and sand in one of Death Valley's dune fields.

Tiles of Earth sculpted by wind, water and sand in one of Death Valley’s dune fields.

Pines catching thier first light on old rolling dunes in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Pines catching thier first light on old rolling dunes in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Friends paddle through a Colorado River cave in the Mojave Desert.  I really miss this moment.

Friends paddle through a Colorado River cave in the Mojave Desert. I really miss this moment.

Wildflowers bloom under Mt Shasta in a wild fire recovery area.

Wildflowers bloom under Mt Shasta in a wild fire recovery area.

A view through an arch in the Alabama HIlls displays a rainbow against rainy skies.

A view through an arch in the Alabama HIlls displays a rainbow against rainy skies.
A nocturnal alignment of earth and space in Joshua Tree National Park.

A nocturnal alignment of earth and space in Joshua Tree National Park.

One of the largest wildflower blooms I have ever seen occured in California's Central Valley.  Only 80 miles from Los Angeles.

One of the largest wildflower blooms I have ever seen occured in California’s Central Valley. Only 80 miles from Los Angeles.

You will eat me no more!

You Will Eat Me No More
Death Valley National Park

The Mojave Desert Tortoise is the largest reptile of the Mojave Desert. They walk on ground that can get over a 130 degrees. They avoid the heat in their giant burroughs where it is about 40 degrees cooler and hibernate there durning the winter. They can live for a year without water or maybe even 2 years without water.

In certain areas of the Mojave the average number of tortoises per square mile in the 1920’s was 100, now in the same areas there are less then a dozen per square mile. A host of animals depend on their large burroughs for homes. The Mojave Desert Tortoise is an endangered species because it’s population has dwindled in recent years. In order for it to be removed from the endangered species list it’s population must grow and be sustained for 25 years.

This series is part of a yearly tradition that Jim Goldstein has started where he posts a blog with links to many other yearly collections from other photographers. See them all here http://www.jmg-galleries.com/blog/2011/01/12/best-photos-of-2010/. Here are my 2009’s collection https://stevesieren.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/landscape-photography-my-best-of-2009/

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

Hyperthermia in the Heat?

September 29, 2010
Hot Sand Box

"The Hot Sand Box" Sometimes it can be too hot out to be hiking.

You don’t have to be in the desert to experience hyperthermia, Sally Menke, an Oscar-nominated film editor known for her association with director Quentin Tarantino, was found dead in Los Angeles early Tuesday morning. She went for a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains on the hottest recorded day in Los Angeles history where the temperature reached 113. Without any signs of foul play the cause of death could be hyperthermia, police have not given a cause of death yet. The film industry has lost a great person, I was a fan of much of here work. My condolences go out to her family and everyone that she was close to.

Do you know the difference between hypothermia and hyperthermia? If you do the difference the title doesn’t make sense but your average person may not know the difference. Hypothermia causes symptoms such as shivering and mental fatigue and confusion due your body’s core temperature dropping below safe levels. Hyperthermia can cause heat cramps and heat stroke. Can you treat your own heat stroke? The answer to that is NO! At this point hopefully you have someone with you or someone knows where you are. Heat cramps are only a sign that you need to slow down your body’s loss of water and salts (electrolytes). You will always hear drink plenty of water but once your body’s core temperature rises to unsafe levels you need to rest and find shade.

It’s easy to lose water faster then you replenish it. Every breath you exhale your body loses precious water vapor. To avoid hyperthermia you may need to decide your health is more important then making it back to your car where your lunch is miles away. Heat stroke is very serious and fatal if not treated quickly. Signals of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal. Complications include shock and brain damage. If you are with some that may be experiencing a heat stroke call 911 or get help anyway you can!

"Desert Mirage" Keep aware of your mental state while hiking in the heat.

Here are a few tips to avoid hyperthermia.

• Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. Cotton dries slower then synthetics and keeps your body cooler if it worn loosely. It is also a good idea to wear larger brimmed hats or even use an umbrella.

• Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.

• Eat small meals and eat more often.

• While hiking avoid high-protein foods, which increase metabolic heat.

• Carry a flashlight or GPS device to find your car in the dark in case you need wait for it to get cooler out.

• Don’t hike alone, hike with an experienced desert hiker if you can.

Hottest temps I've ever hiked in the Mojave Desert was 115°. Can you imagine how hot the water was in my camelbak? I lost more water then I could take it on that short afternoon hike.

Dunes of the Mojave Desert

August 2, 2010

Mojave Desert Dunes

If someone were to mention dunes in the Mojave Desert, Death Valley’s Mesquite Dunes at Stovepipe Wells would come mind first for some people. The Kelso Dunes might even come up. There are more dunes out there that in lie outside of the National Park and Monument boundaries, you just need to look a little further. With all the dry lakes out there the sand has to blow somewhere.

Dunes in black and white

Some dunes fields are extremely small and others such as what is shown here are significant in size. Many dunes are similiar and usually can be identified with the mountain back drop if there is one.

OHV use in designated wilderness

These dunes are designated wilderness where people may seek desert desolation but I have come across people ignoring the desigated wilderness boundaries with OHV use. I can imagine how dificult it can be trying to protect something out in the middle of nowhere. It would be nice if there were signs posted with violation fee amounts in all parking areas near wilderness areas.

Mojave desert dunes

Frost covered dunes in the Mojave Desert

Frost covers the dunes during winter in the early morning. Sometimes solitude comes with no foot prints.

Moon and dune

If anyone is interested in a private or small group workshop between the late fall and early spring please email me via the contact page on my website.