Sunday, August 31, 2014

California Trip Part VI: Napa Valley

All summer long, I've been blogging about my trip to California. First about Truckee and Lake Tahoe, then Bodie Ghost Townthe Mammoth Lakes area, Ahwahnee Hotel, and most recently the rest of Yosemite National Park. Today I'm going to share photos from the last leg of my trip, Napa Valley.

Dog on Board

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School!

Now that summer is almost over, I will return to my full-time profession, teaching, after labor day.  This morning I went into my classroom to set it up, and I just happened to bring along my 6D, 17-40 and 50mm lenses, along with my tripod.  What I ended up with was a little time lapse.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

California Trip Part V: Yosemite National Park, Continued

In previous posts, I've shared my photos from Truckee and Lake Tahoe, Bodie Ghost Town, the Mammoth Lakes area, and most recently the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park.  In today's post, I will share photos from the rest of Yosemite.

The first area of Yosemite that we visited was Tuolumne Meadows.  While it doesn't have the stunning vistas that many areas in the valley offer, it does have some neat geological features, such as the soda springs, which reminded me of Yellowstone National Park.

Soda Springs Cabin in Yosemite National Park

This wooden enclosure was built by Jean-Baptiste Lembert to protect the Soda Springs from grazing animals.

I rented the new Tamron 150-600mm lens to bring with me on the off chance that I might see a bear.  I knew that I wouldn't see any grizzly bears like I had in Yellowstone last year, and I also knew that bears are much less plentiful in Yosemite than they are in Yellowstone, but I would hate to have seen one and been unprepared.  Well, I did not see one, but lucky me, I saw marmots, deer, birds, and chipmunks.  Oh well, at least I got a good work out carrying around the lens.

Tenaya Lake Through the Trees

We stopped at Tenaya Lake just long enough to snap a few photos (including the neutral density long exposure below), but most of our time was spent in the valley.

I highly recommend the moonlit Valley Floor Tour to anyone visiting Yosemite. As a photographer, I was worried I wouldn't have enough time to set up my tripod and take photos, but the tram stopped in several locations. At some of them, you can't get off the tram, but if you work quickly, you can set your tripod up on the seat and take a photo from there (space allowing), and you can actually get off the tram for a few minutes at Swinging Bridge and Tunnel View. Aside from the opportunities for photos, the experience is way more fun than driving around at night in a car because you get to experience the open air while a park ranger tells you a little bit about your surroundings.

El Capitán at Night

Above is El Capitán, with the trees in the foreground illuminated by the lights on the tram.  This was taken from the tram, with my tripod set up on the seat.  This is one of the places where the tram stopped, but we weren't allowed off.  Below is Tunnel View.  Here, we got off for about ten minutes so I had plenty of time to set up and take a few shots.

Tunnel View by Night

The View from Swinging Bridge

Above is the view from Swinging Bridge, another location where we got off the tram.  Below are two trees illuminated by the lights on the tram.  I took this from the tram just before we got going again after stopping at Swinging Bridge.

Trees Under a Yosemite Moon

Above is a tunnel right by Tunnel View, and below is the other side of Swinging Bridge.

The Moon Shines Down on the Valley

Yosemite's Gates of the Valley at DuskI decided I really wanted to go to Valley View for sunset.  I was not prepared for how hard it is to find. It's about a 30 second drive from the Ahwahnee, but it's not marked, so unless you know where it is, you will keep driving by it.  Finally, after going by it about 3 times, I was able to locate it.

Yosemite Church at Dusk

This church was another item on my bucket list.  Dusk and a wide angle lens offered the perfect conditions under which to capture it.

The Mariposa Grove is about an hour from the Ahwahnee, but definitely one of the main attractions at Yosemite.  Here you can see some impressively large Sequoia trees.

The Grizzly Giant is one of the more popular trees.

The Mariposa Grove is really close to the Wawona Hotel, so we headed there for lunch and then to visit the adjacent Pioneer Village, which features old buildings that have been moved to one central location to educate park guests on the history of Yosemite.

Hodgdon Homestead Cabin

The View from Glacier Point

Glacier Point offers arguably an even more incredible view of the valley than Tunnel View.  I especially enjoyed being able to view the Ahwahnee from above.

Clouds Over Tunnel View

When we passed by Tunnel View on our way back from Glacier Point, the clouds were gorgeous, so I had to step out for a long exposure photo.

I chose Sentinel Bridge for a classic sunset.  The light rapidly changing over Half Dome was quite a site!  I was surprised it wasn't more crowded than it was.  There were plenty of photographers there, but I was still able to find a spot to set up.

Sunset from Sentinel Bridge

The Light on Half Dome at Sunset

It was really hard to leave Yosemite, but up next was Napa Valley!  Stay tuned for my final post on this California Trip!

Tools I used to create the photos this post:  Canon EOS 6D, Canon EOS 60DCanon EF 17-40mm f/4L USMCanon EF 50mm f/1.4 USMCanon 24-105mm f/4L F/4.0L IS EF USM AF Lens, Manfrotto 190XDB Tripod, Manfrotto 496RC2 Ball Head, B+W 77mm 3.0 ND 110 Filter, B+W 77mm Circular Polarizer Filter, Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, Adobe Photoshop CS6

Saturday, August 16, 2014

California Trip Part IV: The Ahwahnee Hotel at Yosemite National Park

In previous posts, I've shared my photos from Truckee and Lake Tahoe, Bodie Ghost Town, and most recently the Mammoth Lakes area. Today's post will feature photos I took at the Ahwahnee Hotel at Yosemite National Park. This hotel is so spectacular that it gets its own post! A subsequent post will feature other photos I took around Yosemite.

Peering into the Ahwahnee Great Lounge

Thursday, August 14, 2014

California Trip Part III: Mammoth Lakes Area

In previous posts, I've shared my photos from Truckee and Lake Tahoe and Bodie Ghost Town. Today's post will feature photos I took in Mammoth Lakes, Mono Lake, Bishop, and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. What a beautiful area this is!

Mono Lake is known for its Tufas, mineral deposits that form underwater and kind of look like they belong in a cave!  I got here just as the light was really starting to get pretty.

Dusk at Mono Lake

Another View of Mono Lake at Sunset

Minarets in Mammoth

Views of the Eastern Sierra like the one above are commonplace in this area.

Eerie Skies Over Convict Lake

Convict Lake, pictured above, is actually quite small.  I was able to capture most of the lake in this one shot.

Eastern Sierra Vista

The Little Town of Bishop, CA (1)

You probably haven't heard of Bishop unless you've been there, but there a lot of great things to see near here, such as the controversial Native American petroglyphs (not really controversial in and of themselves, but opinions are mixed as to whether or not their exact location should be made public to tourists because they are so vulnerable to vandalism), and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.  I visited the latter on this trip.  The former is at the top of my list…if I ever find it.

The Little Town of Bishop, CA (2)

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is home to the oldest trees in the world, some as old as 4,000 years.  In order to see some of the more majestic bristlecone pines, at least a short uphill hike is required.  The view on the way, pictured above and below, is breathtaking.

The Gorgeous View from the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Ancient Bristlecone Pine

This was my favorite tree.  It looks like it's reaching for the sky!

Coming Down the Mountain

The view coming down the mountain is pretty incredible too!
And hey, the view once you get down the mountain isn't too bad either.  In short, there are no bad views in the Eastern Sierras.
Sunset at Benton Crossing in Mammoth Lakes

Sunset at Benton Crossing next to the Owens River was beautiful.  I heard a coyote howling in the distance, but he never showed his face (and I totally had my 150-600 poised and ready for if he did).

A Gorgeous Sunset Sky Over Owens River

My next post will be dedicated to the gorgeous Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park!

Tools I used to create the photos this post:  Canon EOS 6D, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, Adobe Photoshop CS6
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