Posts Tagged ‘landscape’

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

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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.

Dealing with Lens Flare in Back Lit Scenes

December 29, 2011

Back lit Cholla cactus in the Maricopa Mountain Wilderness section of the Sonoran Desert National Monument
Maricopa Mountain Wilderness, Sonoran Desert, Arizona

Flare was the hardest thing to control when shooting this back lit desert scene. If you can control the lens flare you’ll get some very dramatic results. If you don’t block the flare you will lose much of the saturation and contrast that initially drew you to photograph the scene. As if you were looking through a pair old and dirty reading glasses. Since this shot has a higher percentage of shadows and minimal high lights it fooled the meter reading into thinking it needed to over expose the scene. I under exposed this scene but kept the high lights from overexposing on the histogram. Then pulled detail out of the shadows with a few layer adjustments and masks. Only a little detail was brought back to keep the stark contrast between light and shadow. Most cameras have a blinking highlight indicator you can use but sometimes that isn’t enough. Even if the highlights are not blinking, the percentage may be to small to blink, you may not be able to recover all the highlights that have been over exposed so be sure to check your histogram.

Here is a what the scene looked with the lens hood and hand to block out some of the flare.

The same scene with out blocking all of the lens flare.

Of course there are many other methods of blocking the sun.. .

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

Santa Monica Mountain Beach Workshop

November 22, 2010

A few shots from yesterday evening’s workshop down at the beach in Malibu. It was a little cold out and maybe the water was a little warmer then the air and wind but you never seem to notice it when you’re in groove. Like gargoyles on the side of a building cormorants, gulls and pelicans added a little bit of extra detail to the scene and they also held these photographer’s attention a lot longer then I thought they would.

Photography Workshop in Malibu just outside Los Angeles, California

I really enjoy shooting candids while people are so focused on what they are doing. They’re often so still even during a long exposure you might not capture any movement from them.

Ranger Bob photographing a sea arch during the golden hour.

If you are photographing a crowded place it can often be difficult to not included people in the landscape so you might as well try to use them to your advantage. Silhouettes are often a fast shot so you don’t have to worry about movement as much because your exposure is going to be a lot faster.

What do you do with people that won't move out of the way? Shoot them!

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.

Joshua Tree’s Cacti Bloom

April 9, 2010

For a short period of time the harsh extremes of the desert do not and exist and life florishes. If you drive into Joshua Tree’s south entrance you can’t miss the painterly scene along interstate 10. A painter must have painted the desert yellow, the brittle brush line both sides of the highways at points. At a 65 mile per hour glance I could make out beavertails blooming along with ocotillos and some arizona lupine here and there.
You can see all the brittle brush here in the background behind me here . I just met Jon Cornforth the current Outdoor Photography Magazine cover shot photographer earlier this week. Pretty hospitable guy, he was nice enough to share his I-phone shot. Hopefully I can meet up with him again after I get back from Northwestern Nevada. The photo shown was taken just outside the park’s south entrance.

Here are a few of the blooming cacti and yucca from the past couple of visits to Joshua Tree. They are all blooming now so it would a great time to stop by, especially if you’re conveniently located on the east side of Los Angeles. If you happen to smell a skunk while you’re out there it might just possibly be the breeze and the smell of an abundance of wildflowers.

Blooming hedge hog cacti
I found these in both the Mojave and Sonoran sections of the park.

Mojave Mound Cacti
I found these mojave mounds at the foot of boulder piles in the main northern section of the park.

The beginning stage of a joshua tree blooming
The joshua trees are in full bloom right now. This one is just at it’s beginning stage but you’ll find many in full bloom.

Beavertail Cacti
The beavertail cacti can grow to the size of a large ice chest with mutliple flowers on them.

Mojave Yucca
The mojave yucca, whew! In my own opinion these can be some of the most beautiful yucca blooms around.

This should give a photographer plenty to capture in Joshua Tree besides just boulders and joshua trees. If you still need more just remember the park is made of mountains, washes, tanks and palm oasis. Get creative and come up with something you didn’t think you would leave with.

What’s Blooming Locally in the Santa Monica Mountains

April 1, 2010

Spring always starts early in the Santa Monicas and there is plenty of sporadic blooms of many different species.

Here are a few examples from a drive I took yesterday along Pacific Coast Highway and some of the mountain roads:


Poppies


Datura


Sand Verbuena


Bush Lupine


Red Bud

There are plenty more, I have not found any fields of flowers yet just small patches of them so I wouldn’t go driving from miles away.

Unfortunately the Sunflower Trees are all past peak but everything else is blooming. I found it more of a challenge composing then anything else.

Workshop info

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Red Rock Canyon State Park California

December 19, 2009

Wild canyons just over the horizon.

Most of us Los Angelinos drive right through the Red Rock Canyon area on our way to the Eastern Sierra, I’m guilty of it myself. It’s designated a state park for a reason, it hosts beautiful cliffs and spectacular rock formations. Even hoo doos you would usually find in Utah. You can find crumbling sand castle formations and other geology here from another world just by driving off highway 14 and onto one of many side roads. When the high desert catches it’s seasonal cold spells, you can often find snow gracing the red canyon walls and after wet winters, the park’s floral displays are stunning.

Even outside the park boundaries you will find wild looking formations that make you wonder if you are still in California. It’s not a wonder that this beautiful desert enviroment was an establishment in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

You can even find arches and mines, any photographer shouldn’t have a hard time at finding something to photograph in this beautiful desert park.

A lantern's glow lights up a volcanic arch above one the cliffs just outside the park.