Mount Shasta Pluto’s Cave

Mount Shasta Pluto’s Cave

Mount Shasta Pluto's CaveMount Shasta #60134

Mt. Shasta is one of the most strikingly beautiful mountains in the Cascades. At 14,179 feet it is the second highest in the range. It is also a sacred mountain of the Klamath tribe. On my way south to the California coast I made a point of setting aside a few days to photograph this beautiful peak. In the image above I was lucky enough to arrive in the area just in time to photograph the mountain while bathed in evening light. The next morning I headed to U.S. Highway 97 for a view of the mountain as a backdrop for the road. Fortunately the morning fog lifted just long enough to make this compressed view image.

Mount Shasta, U.S. Highway 97  Mount Shasta Pluto's CaveMount Shasta from U.S. Highway 97 #60144

Pluto's Cave Mount Shasta California  Mount Shasta Pluto's CavePluto’s Cave  #60164

As an enthusiast of all types of caves I was thrilled to learn about and visit Pluto’s cave while photographing in the Mount Shasta area. This cave is really just a large Lava tube created by a past eruption of Mount Shasta.

While checking out the main chamber a group of people passed by to explore the further reaches of the cave. I quickly set up my camera in hopes of making an interesting image. Having no idea how long of an exposure it would take so I just took a guess by leaving the shutter open for 7.5 minutes. I also used my headlamp to “paint” light on the ceiling and walls.

The coolest thing about this image is that the group of people were there to meditate. On finding suitable spots they turned off their headlamps and the leader began singing Native America chants in total darkness. A wonderful experience I’ll never forget.

Pluto's Cave Mount Shasta California  Mount Shasta Pluto's CavePluto’s Cave  #60158

 

 

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Liking Lichens

Liking Lichens

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensLichens #59874

One of my favorite quirky subjects I love to photograph are lichens. Lichens grow just about everywhere but unfortunately are unappreciated by most people. They are some of the oldest organisms found on land, dating back perhaps 600 million years. They live in some of the most extreme conditions and are an important food source for animals such as caribou. For humans they are a natural source of antibiotics and pigments. Lichens are also an indicator of clean air as they will not grow in the presence of  pollutants.

During my recent visit to Cottonwood State Park in Oregon I saw some outstanding lichen colonies. A large outcropping of columnar basalt which remains in shade harbored a beautiful display in many striking colors. Juxtaposed against the interesting patterns and cracks of crystallized basalt, the lichens made a wonderful abstract study.

Admittedly this kind of subject matter isn’t appealing to everyone, but I had a great time picking out interesting compositions.

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensBasalt and Lichens #59895

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensLichens #59869

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensLichens and Basalt #59897

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensBasalt and Lichens #59881

Liking Lichens
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John Day River Oregon

John Day River Oregon

John Day River OregonJohn Day River, Oregon #59904

This post will begin a series of recaps from my recent spring photography trip. My first stop was Cottonwood Canyon State Park, along the lower John Day River Oregon. This is Oregon’s newest state park and it was a pleasure to visit. As you can see from the photos the surrounding country is part of the Coloumbia Plateau, with the John Day River cutting canyons through the flood basalt. The nature of this geology helps the river create many scenic winding turns and horseshoe bends.

John Day River OregonJohn Day River, Oregon #59852

Visiting this area in early spring offers cool green hillsides sprinkled with a variety of wildflowers. Most notably Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) and Desert Parsley (Lomatium laevigatum). Later in the season the hills will turn a golden brown, and the weather will be much hotter. The park was donated by a local ranching family and contains several remnants of its past, such as a picturesque red barn and some farming implements. A small campground is located right along the river where several nice riverside trails begin. If you’re not into natural history or photography the river is supposedly great for fishing and the spring runoff offers excellent rafting.

Red Barn Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon John Day River OregonRed barn Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon #59841

Hiker John Day River OregonJohn Day River Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon #59797

Photography, of course, was the main reason for my visit. The goal was finding some nice views of the river bends. This proved however to be a bit of a challenge as many of the best bends were inaccessible by road or foot. After scouring Google Maps I did manage to find a backroad close to the canyon rim with a nice view. My research showed the best horseshoe bend view is situated about an hour drive south of the park. The weather forecast didn’t look good enough to make the trip worth it though. That one will have to wait until my next trip to the area.

John Day River OregonDesert Parsley, John Day River, Oregon #59858

A couple words of warning if you visit this quiet and special area. All unsurfaced roads can be impassable to vehicles after a rain, they turn into a gluey gumbo. Trust me on this, I once almost got stuck and had to wait a couple of days for the road to dry out before I could safely proceed. Rattlesnakes are common, and in spring ticks can be a problem. Also in late spring and summer the temperature can be very hot, with little shade to provide relief.

If you’d like to see more photos from this area you can search John Day River or Cottonwood Canyon State Park on my website. All photos can be licensed for editorial or commercial use or also be purchased as prints. Thanks for viewing and please pass this post along to your friends!

John Day River OregonJohn Day River, Oregon #59912

John Day River Oregon

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New Images Mount Shasta

New Images Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta New Images Mount ShastaMount Shasta #60133

I’m still working on the long process of editing all the new images from my recent trip to California and Oregon. However, there are some obvious highlights I’m anxious to share, this photo of Mount Shasta being one of them.

Making this photo was one of those lucky close calls. After driving south all day from Hood River Oregon I noticed some interesting clouds developing as I approached the California state line. Nearing the town of Weed CA it became apparent there was going to be some good light over Mount Shasta. However I was still miles away and not familiar with the area. Taking a clue from my trusty guidebook, Photographing Northern California by Gary Crabbe, I sped down a nearby ranch road and managed to set up my tripod just in time to make several exposures.

I’m pretty happy with the results, but further scouting the next day revealed an even better composition just a mile further down the same road. There was even an exit on I-5 that could have gotten me there faster. Oh well, there’s always a next time.

 

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Sonoma Coast California

Sonoma Coast California

Sonoma Coast CaliforniaSonoma Coast Sunset

I’m back in the office today after five weeks on the road in Oregon and Northern California. Tons of work to catch up on plus a huge editing/processing project to begin.

Since while on the road I only posted a few quick iPhone pics I felt I should select and share one of the highlights from the main group of files. This photo is from the Sonoma Coast California, just north of Bodega Bay. I’ll add more as they come available, and of course I’ll be working on a trip summary to post soon. Stay tuned!

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Oregon Northern California Spring Photography

Oregon Northern California Spring Photography
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Hells Canyon Recreation Area Oregon Northern California Spring PhotographyHells Canyon Recreation Area, Oregon  #45010
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This week I will be leaving for an extended Spring trip to photograph landscape nature and travel imagery throughout Oregon and Northern California. During this excursion I’ll be photographing some new locations and subject matter, along with adding depth to places I’ve previously covered. Check out some of the exciting areas on the itinerary below.
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Oregon: Hood River Valley Orchards, Southern Coast, Owyhee River and Canyon, Wallowa Valley Hells Canyon Area.
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California: Redwoods National Park, Mount Shasta, Mendocino Coast, Point Reyes, Sonoma Valley Vineyards.
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Shore Acres State Park Oregon, Oregon Northern California Spring PhotographyShore Acres State Park, Oregon  #48705
 Red Barn Wallowa Valley Oregon, Oregon Northern California Spring Photography
Wallowa Valley, Oregon  #44829
 Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park, California, Oregon Northern California Spring Photography
California Redwoods  #44497

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Skagit Valley Daffodils and Snow Geese

Skagit Valley Daffodils and Snow Geese

Skagit Valley Daffodils, Skagit Valley Daffodils and Snow GeeseDaffodils Fields in the Skagit Valley  #50700

Daffodils and Snow Geese in the Skagit Valley, two sure signs that spring is here in the Northwest, even if the weather says it isn’t.

If you’re planning on visiting this famous destination in the coming weeks here is the latest report from RoozenGaarde. As you probably expected, blooms are a little behind schedule this year due to the prolonged cold weather.

snow geese, Skagit Valley Daffodils and Snow GeeseLarge flock of Snow Geese taking flight in the Skagit Valley  #15870

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Samish Bay Bellingham Bay

Samish Bay Bellingham Bay

Clayton Beach sunset Larrabee State Park Samish Bay Bellingham BayClayton Beach Sunset, Larrabee State Park, Washington  #59666

Once again its time to post some new photos from my favorite winter doldrum photo haunts, Larrabee State Park and Bellingham Bay. These locations are only a few miles from my home, so when I can’t get out on some winter ski trips I head to the local beaches for some fresh air and inspiration. These photos were made within a two day period when there was a lively mixture of sunny and stormy weather, a time during which you can usually get a wide variety of lighting conditions. To read more about Larrabee State Park check out this post from last year.

Bellingham Bay Washington Samish Bay Bellingham BayStorm clouds over Bellingham Bay, Washington  #59689

Clayton Beach Larrabee State Park Samish Bay Bellingham BayClayton Beach Sunset, Larrabee State Park, Washington  #59666

Bellingham Bay Cormorant Washington Samish Bay Bellingham BayCormorant, Bellingham Bay, Washington  #59699

Bellingham Bay Washington Samish Bay Bellingham BayBellingham Bay, Washington  #59692

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Creative Roots

This new year is marked with an attempt to return to my creative roots. Last year there were many events and signs urging me to review the direction of my photography. I began to realize that over the years I gradually lost touch with my creative side. I was making better images as time went on, but I wasn’t growing creatively. Without actually realizing it, I was following a safe mainstream path and not pushing myself.

Over the past year I began to go through my files looking for images which could be used to illustrate an idea I was forming.  The images appearing in this post represent the beginning of  a project called Poles of Light. In this project I am trying to create images which reflects a character of light present in subject. Since I don’t express myself very well verbally, it’s difficult for me to describe in words exactly what I’m trying to convey. Hopefully I will be able to elaborate on this theme as the project matures. However, for now I will let the images do the talking for me.

White Sands National Monument New Mexico, creative rootsPicnic Shelters, White Sands New Mexico #57053r

Borrego Badlands from Font's Point, Creative RootsBorrego Badlands California  #56776r

Corona Arch, Creative RootsCorona Arch, Utah #40907r

Bisti Badlands, New Mexico, creative rootsBisti Badlands, New Mexico #57344r

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Photo Highlights 2016

Photo Highlights 2016

Another year come and gone already, it seems like just yesterday I was writing about the 2015 Photo Highlights. For me, like many others, 2016 had some great highlights that were overshadowed by sadness and uncertainty. So many creative and influential people had passed this year, famous public figures I admired and close family members. It often made me pause and wonder.

On the creative side, 2016 was a year that saw me finally visit and photograph several locations that have been on my list for many years. New Mexico and the Canadian Atlantic Provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, to name a few. Perhaps even more important were a number of events and realizations that had me look back into the roots of my art and photography, resulting in a growing awareness of the direction my photography should take. Several of the images shown below represent the beginnings of this effort.

So without further ado let’s look at some of the Photo Highlights of 2016, and please feel free to vote or comment on your favorites!

Borrego Badlands, California, Photo Highlights 2016Borrego Badlands Cloud  #56801r

My first major trip of the year was a return to the Desert Southwest. Beginning in Anza Borrego Desert State Park of California I met up with my good friend Cyril Albrecht, visiting from Belgium. Although we both had different itineraries we were able to photograph together in a couple of locations, Fonts Point overlooking the Borrego Badlands was one of them. During one evening while waiting for the light I noticed this wonderful cloud formation developing in the opposite direction. I loved the abstract graphic qualities and how the round softness of the cloud contrasted with the harsh desert environment below.

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico Photo Highlights 2016White Sands National Monument #57148

White Sands National Monument in New Mexico was one of the new locations I visited this year. Sand dunes are always fun to photograph, and the white gypsum dunes in the monument added an extra level excitement to my visit. The area is wide open for roaming and exploration. Due to the amount of tracks in the sand created by visitors, it was necessary to hike further out for pristine conditions. Although the area is fairly small it is extremely easy to become disoriented and lose the path back to the trailhead. This image is definitely one of my favorites that I brought back. The cool tones, layers, angles, and ripples in the sand created a pleasing composition.

Bisti Badlands, New Mexico, Photo Highlights 2016Bisti Badlands New Mexico  #57428r

Another new location was the fabled Bisit/De-Na-Zen Wilderness, or simple Bisti Badlands, of northern New Mexico. Badlands and hoodoos are among my favorite subjects to photograph, and Bisti contains some of the best examples of these whimsical eroded rocks. I stayed there for three days and managed to just scratch the surface of creative possibilities. On the second evening I was treated to some of the most dramatic light I’ve seen in years. On that evening, after finishing photographing my prime subjects I hurriedly scrambled around to locate more compositions. This nearby hoodoo exemplified the oddities of Bisti, and post-processing the image to reflect the harsh alien-like environment added to this feeling.

Marching Men Arches National Park, Photo Highlights 2016Arches National Park  #57869

This image from Arches National Park was made in the Klondike Bluffs area. Although I’ve been to Arches several times before, this remote section of the park was new to me. Klondike Bluffs offers several dramatic arches and lots of red rock pinnacles, in addition to lots of solitude. While the main park attractions were swarming with visitors I enjoyed sharing this beautiful area with just a handful of people. Once again, some wonderful clouds glowing in evening light added to the drama, here balancing the composition with red sandstone pinnacles.

North Gardner Mountain, North Cascades, Photo Highlights 2016North Gardner Mountain, North Cascades Washington  #58051

Back home in the North Cascades, my first backpacking trip of the year yielded this image of an approaching storm over Gardner Mountain. A grueling hike, post-holing through snow and downed trees, led to the summit of Driveway Butte. Although my camp near the top had wonderful vistas, it didn’t really offer the compositions I had hoped for. However, as day broke my fortunes changed as the leading edge of  the storm glowed with light and mirrored the angles of the mountain ridges. I made several photos of this event before sitting down to enjoy the show.

Watkins Glen New York, Photo Highlights 2016Watkins Glen State Park New York  #58452

September marked the beginning of a long anticipated trip with my wife Coleen to New England and the Canadian Atlantic Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The first new location on this trip was a brief stop at Watkins Glen State Park in New York. Situated in the Finger Lakes region, the main attraction in Watkins Glen is a beautifully sculpted narrow gorge. Only about a mile long with moderate elevation gain, the trail passes numerous pools, waterfalls, and hanging gardens. One of the highlights is this view framed by a stone bridge. Unfortunately, I only had a short morning to explore the photographic possibilities of this gem. Oh well, there is always next time.

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse Nova Scotia, Photo Highlights 2016Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia  #58903

Nova Scotia was one of the highlights of the trip for me. For many years I’ve wanted to visit and photograph the Atlantic Provinces. The colorful fishing villages and seascapes have a powerful attraction for me. One location was high on my must see list. Peggy’s Cove, is arguably one of the most photographed and visited spots in all of Canada. After spending several days in remote and quiet Cape Bretton Highlands National Park, we were unsettled to be confronted by endless tour busses and crowds of people swarming everywhere! While waiting for evening light and the crowds to thin, we spent a relaxing day picnicking and exploring the nearby granite shoreline.

Photographing sunset at the lighthouse was a bit disappointing due to the lack of clouds. The local weather forecast had predicted rain the next morning adding to our frustration. With a chance the storm may arrive after sunrise we spent an uncomfortable night truck-camping in the parking lot near the lighthouse. The next morning clouds began to move in just at sunrise. Perfect conditions for those extremely rare light shows that starts great and continues to improve over time. I ended up making many images before the clouds finally blocked the sun and everything went grey and rainy.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Photo Highlights 2016Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Maine  #59018

Next on our trip was Acadia National Park. The park, situated on Mount Desert Island, is said to be the most visited national Park east of the Mississippi. We had several instances of good light here, one of these being at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Photographers can’t visit this park without making a photo of this iconic lighthouse. On this evening I was among a sea of tripods. Everyone crowded into a very small space on the edge of the rocks. One photographer told me that it was a low turnout, the previous evening had twice as many photographers!

Cobblestone beach Acadia National Park, Photo Highlights 2016Cobblestone Beach Acadia National Park  #59047

The next morning I planned to make some long exposures at a popular cobblestone beach in the park. Arriving before sunrise, there were several other photographers from the previous evening setup well above the waterline. I, however, wanted to get down to the water’s edge to create a smoky effect of water among the rocks. The wet bowling ball sized boulders were treacherous. Smooth and extremely slippery, I had to carefully plan every step, the effort was worth it though.

Onondaga Falls, Ricketts Glen, Photo Highlights 2016Onondaga Falls, Ricketts Glen, Pennsylvania  #59553

The last new location we photographed in 2016 was Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania. This park was only a little out of our way as we travelled back home, but it was worth the detour. I’ve seen many wonderful images come from this park, and like Watkins Glen it really needs time for exploring all the hidden gems in all seasons. The northeastern states were experiencing a drought, so the water flow through the glen was low during my visit. I didn’t mind since there still was an abundance of subject matter to work with. In the image above I utilized a long exposure to create a swirling pattern by the motions of the leaves.

With so many new images and locations added to our files in 2016 selecting the top ten was a very difficult task. There were many images from the SW and New England that I very much wanted to add. To see more from this past year please take a few minutes to check out the New Images Galleries. You can also search images by location or keyword.

Thank you so much for visiting this post, and don’t forget to vote for your favorite image and feedback!

Photo Highlights 2016

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