Posts Tagged ‘sieren’

Lobster Claw Arch – Joshua Tree National Park

November 17, 2010

Lobster Claw Arch - Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is famous for it’s otherworldly trees scattered amongst some very unique boulder formations. These piles and piles of rocks are almost endless it’s not a wonder why people often get lost in the maze of monzogranite. Curiosity makes you wonder what you can find in the sea of rocks. This arch probably doesn’t have an official name but some climber friends call it Lobster Claw Arch and the name is well suited to it’s shape. I spent a little bit of time scrambling through the boulders to find it so it was well worth enjoying in the warm light. Sometimes it’s the little things you can find off the beaten path that keep you searching for more to photograph. We all love the icons but it’s the lure of new things that pushes me to keep searching for something I haven’t seen yet.

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.

Photographing the Kelso Dunes

May 25, 2010

A view looking north towards the Old Dad Mountains

If you’re looking for a little more seclusion then the more visited dunes of Death Valley try the Kelso Dunes. Although just like the dunes at Stovepipe Wells there is main walkway from a parking lot area but you can leave this freeway of foot prints and veer off to the east or west and truly lose yourself into the void of 45 square miles of dune field, the largest in the Mojave Desert. Slide down from the top of 650ft high Star Dune on a hot day and listen to the odd booming vibrations. Make sure you are gassed up and have plenty of water and snacks it’s one of those out of the way special places. There is a small coffee shop inside the Kelso Depot but it’s not always open so make sure you check before you plan on stopping there. If you have time the Mojave Preserve is an under appreciated place in the desert with many other unique photo opportunities.

Seeing creatively in the field, 2006
From a first visit back in 2006.

Equipment needed: The bare necessities and whatever else you may have. Photography is about seeing creatively not about what you have in the bag.

Getting there: The Kelso Dunes are located between I -40 and I – 15 towards the Eastern California border. Kelbaker rd connects to the 2 freeways, it will take you there. There is sign for the dunes a few miles south of Kelso. From here a dirt road with the dunes in view will take you 3 miles to the parking lot.

An aerial view of the Kelso Dunes.
The extensive view of the dune field from the air.

Steve’s Mojave Desert gallery
Steve’s workshop listings

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

Steve’s Gallery

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.. .

Workshop info

Steve’s Gallery

California’s Unknown Sea

January 13, 2010

A view from California's Central Valley

Ok, I’m kidding about an unknown sea in California. There isn’t one. These are just some rocks in a grassland and nothing more causing an illusion that helped my think of a title. The atmosphere just gave it a mysterious feel and a view I hadn’t seen before or anything similar at the least in California.. . .

One thing that I will always remember about this place before venturing in is that it is full of snakes and spiders and that you will not be able to see them because the grass is so high. Great, add mountain lions to that. I accidentally stepped on a poor little defenseless rodent walking around these parts. How easily could that have been a rattlesnake? I still haven’t seen one yet ever after hiking so many miles and miles. I have seen plenty of snakes but never a rattle snake unless it was crossing the highway as I was driving by probably over the speed limit. I should be shooting wildlife if I can see like that, however that is a different kind of patience I do not have. Waiting on the sun to do it’s thing is easy just like what happened here.

The Processing:

This was reprocessed 4 years after an older version, that I decided to replace. This is 2 bracketed exposures blended together in CS4 combined with the use fo a GND soft filter moved up and down during the exposure to reduce flare from the sun. The blending is not that difficult and the hardest part is adding the contrast to where the horizon meets the sky. Photoshopping images can take some time so if you don’t want to spend the time don’t take it out on me for being HONEST about it. Anyone that mentions only spending a couple of minutes in photoshop could be pulling your chain and revealing thier character. We shoot in RAW format which lessens contrast and color so we can adjust things to the look and feel we are aiming for.

Camera used Nikon D70, shot way back in 2006!

The Portfolio www.SierenPhotography.com

Learn to see in a different way www.ScenicPhotoWorkshops.com

Landscape Photography My Best of 2009

January 9, 2010

2009 was a great year! Here are a few images from throughout the year. Enjoy! I’ll give a little more detail on some of these in later posts. Thanks!


1. Wild California lilacs in the Santa Monica Mountains Los Angeles

2. Cold Toes

3. Warm Light from the south

4. This one above is kind of odd but I love it!

5. A bend in the Virgin River, Zion National Park

6. Nevada’s Great Basin Desert

7a. Mountain Shapes
Also known as Patrick the Starfish from Sponge Bob Square Pants
7b. Beer Gut Star Fish – Northern California Coast Mendicino County
Trinidad State Park, California
8. “Lupine Island” Trinidad, California

9. 10 minutes away from home – Newbury Park, California

10. Death Valley

11. Death Valley

12. Abandoned Mine – National Trails proposed Monument

13. Treasure Peaks, Eastern Sierra

14. Backpacking at White Sands

15. Antelope Valley with the glow of Los Angeles in the background.

16. Royce and Feather Peaks, Eastern Sierra

17. A new arch hidden out in the Mojave Desert

18. The one shown above is part of my new minimalist series. White Sands, New Mexico

19. Took the one shown above the night I slept on California’s 20th highest peak w/ out a tent and sleepbag

20. A spring snow storm in late April in Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay

21.Gaint sand storm in Death Valley, there is an RV in the large photo for scale.

22. Galen Rowell’s famous Milpond rendered in my own way.

23. Neopolitan Ice Cream – Artist’s Palette, Death Valley.

24. Red Rock Canyon State Park, California – I hope to photograph more black and whites in 2010!

25. Finally decided to broaden my horizons with abracts in 2009

26. Iceberg Lake, Eastern Sierra

27. Joshua Tree at Night. There is more I just didn’t have the time to process them all. It may look like I get out often but many of these were taken in the same day.

Let’s see what 2010 has in store for all of us. Make it a great one!

Death Valley workshops – www.ScenicPhotoWorkshops.com

My official website www.SierenPhotography.com