Archive for category Nature

Oregon Coast 6

Here are a few more images from the Newport Aquarium.

I just had to follow the tufted puffins around and this one finally got into the water. He did a lot of swimming and some preening, but this is a nice capture with a pretty good reflection. And now you can see why they’re called tufted puffins.

As always, click for full size and proper color.

 

Tufted Puffin 3

Tufted Puffin 3

 

After watching the birds for a while we went into the watery displays. The first thing we saw was the jelly fish display. These orange critters against the blue background were hypnotic. It was something of a challenge getting an image of them without some awful reflections, but it was possible. I tried a few images of the shark tank, but they weren’t very interesting and the person in SCUBA gear cleaning the inside of the glass was fun, but moved before I could get a good portrait. Oh, well, even humans have their own agenda.

 

Jellyfish, Newport Aquarium

Jellyfish, Newport Aquarium

 

More to follow,

Bob

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The Oregon Coast 4

It’s interesting to watch people with cameras at sunset. When the sky gets all pretty and the sun hangs on the horizon they snap away. Rightly so, of course, because that nice, soft, colorful sunset light makes for some interesting compositions. But as soon as the sun drops below the horizon, most people put their cameras away and disappear. I’m always glad to see that happen because I know I’ll get the better photographs. The light continues to get interesting and colorful after the sun goes down, but most people think that when the sun sets it’s all over.

I showed you some pre-sunset images the other day. After I made them, I moved on along the beach to see what else was there and to see what would happen after the sun went down. Sure enough, there was some good photography left in the day. Here are a couple post-sunset images. See what you think.

Click to see them full size and properly colored.

Post sunset Seal Rock Beach

Post-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

Post-sunset Seal Rock Beach

 

In the waning light, the sky took on a very dramatic appearance.

Post sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

Post-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

Post-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

 

Yes, it’s always a good idea to wait just a little longer to see what happens.

More to follow,

Bob

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The Oregon Coast 3

Our trip along the Oregon coast was easy to take because we didn’t have to get up early for sunrise. And sunsets were easy to stay awake for. I like shooting sunsets because you can find all sorts of colors and tones in the light. The problem sometimes is that there’s a lot of haze in the sky at sunset. Daytime warming by the sun stirs things up, the wind blows and stirs more, so sometimes sunset shots just don’t look right. Add to that the fact that most of our sunset photography tries were ‘clouded out’ and you get a limited choice in exposures to make.

We went to Seal Rock Beach for our first ocean-facing sunset images. While my friends were out photographing seals and pups, I was fiddling around, trying to catch some color and some mood. I think I got there. These two images show how a photographer can capture some nice colors and silhouettes just before the sun goes down.

Of course, it helps to have a very active ocean to provide some sense of movement and some nice reflections. The cormorants and gulls flying out for supper make some nice points of interest in the sky, too.

Click on the images for full resolution and proper color.

Seal Rock Beach Before Sunset

Pre-sunset Seal Rock Beach

Pre-sunset Seal Rock Beach

 

Seal Rock Beach Before Sunset #2

Pre-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

Pre-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

 

There’s a little bit of Photoshop magic going on here, of course, but I don’t mind ‘fiddling’ with an image if I get decent results. I think this worked.

More to follow,

Bob

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More from Capitol Reef

If you follow my blog, you know that Capitol Reef and Factory Butte are my favorite places on the planet. We were there a couple weeks ago and I’m slowly poring through the several hundred exposures I made.

A few of them are worth sharing, so I’ll drop them in as time moves on.

Factory Butte is a real attraction for me. I’ve tried and tried to get a good image of it, and while I’ve got some that I’m glad to share, the perfect image is still out there. I’ll get it someday, but while I wait, here’s one that’s not too bad. A nice dramatic sky after a very disappointing sunrise (click to see the image full size):

Factory Butte, Sunrise April, 2015

Factory Butte, Sunrise April, 2015

 

And the skies were dramatic all around. This one was taken in Capitol Grand Gorge Wash (I can never remember if it’s Capitol Gorge or Grand Wash). Ma Nature really put on a show that weekend. As an added attraction, the moon appears in the only open piece of sky. See if you can spot it.

Canyon, Clouds and Moon

Canyon, Clouds and Moon

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Birds at the Zoo

There are interesting birds at Zoo Montana, too. The first one we encounter is a bald eagle (actually two of them). When I first came in, neither felt like posing. One hid behind a rock and the other was nowhere to be seen. As I was leaving the park, I decided to check one last time, just in case. That was a good decision. I found an eagle perched in a very good location. He seemed to be giving me the skunk eye in one of the images below, but I don’t blame him. If anyone tried to take a picture of me, I’d probably do the same.

Here’s the stern look from the eagle (click on the images to see them full size and with proper color):

 

Bald Eagle portrait 1

Bald Eagle portrait 1

 

I guess he decided it was OK for me to take photos, because he started to strike a few poses. This profile is one I particularly like:

 

Bald Eagle profile

Bald Eagle profile

 

Well, the bald eagle is a beautiful bird (even thought Ben Franklin didn’t like them too much), but there are others that aren’t native to the Americas that are awfully pretty, too. I caught this guy looking something like a teenage boy strutting his stuff:

 

Peacock

Peacock

 

I think I really like my new Sigma lens. All the zoo photos were taken with it and it seems to work just fine.

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

I got a new lens last week. I had read quite a while back about the Sigma Contemporary 150 – 600 mm lens. 600 mm is a good length for taking pictures of critters and birds that don’t necessarily want their pictures taken. And the lens looked like it would be a good choice, so I ordered one. It finally came last week. I got the first one shipped west of the Mississippi, according to the dealer. I was going to wait until the weekend to test the lens, but once I got home and read through the instructions, I thought I’d better make sure it worked. It did.

My first image was a portrait of Sparky, my furry, fat cat. I used flash on this one, and it worked out just fine, I think (click to see full size and proper color).

 

Sparky

Sparky

 

Sparky is a handsome fellow, but a rather small subject. I bought the lens in hopes of catching a little bigger wildlife. With that in mind, I went to Zoo Montana, Billings’ own small zoo. They’ve got a few cats there, too. This one seemed to be pretty photogenic and willing to give me a nice profile as well as an environmental portrait.

 

Tiger profile

Tiger profile

 

A little while later he seemed to be looking for something. I thought this got a rather nice view of his environment:

 

Tiger portrait

Tiger portrait

 

Lots of pretty kitties in town.

More to follow

Bob

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Valley of Fire 2

Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada has a lot of great geology. The Earth was particularly tortured long ago in this area and the combination of multiple levels of sedimentation and twisting have made this a place of stunning geology. But geology isn’t the only attraction. There’s anthropology, too. There are petroglyphs in several places in the park. I visited some of them and will share them here.

 

First, a little more geology. The forces of nature must have been tremendous to cause this sort of fracturing and twisting:

Click the images to see them full size and in proper color (at least the ones that have color):

 

Fun with Geology

Fun with Geology

 

Yes, it’s interesting in color, but I think this monochrome view shows a lot more.

The rock art is as good as any I’ve seen. Atlatl Rock has some petroglyphs high up. So high that the park management built a steel staircase to bring visitors close enough to see the glyphs well. Here’s what they look like:

 

Atlatl Rock Petroglyphs

Atlatl Rock Petroglyphs

 

Some of the themes are familiar, being pretty common among many rock art sites in the Southwest Desert, but some are a little different, bringing a lot of interest and speculation to the scene.

As I left the rock, I noticed the sun was in a position to play hide-and-seek as I walked in and out of the rock’s shadow. That rang a bell in my head that said, “Starburst.” When the sun just peeks over a rock or tree and with the right lens and f/stop, you can catch a starburst in an image. Here’s one I saw at Atlatl Rock:

 

Atlatl rock starburst

Atlatl rock starburst

 

As a bonus, you can follow the stairs and see where the petroglyph panel was.

 

I was impressed with Valley of Fire and will go back!

More to follow,

Bob

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Valley of Fire

I’ve heard about Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada for decades. I’ve always wanted to go there, but never seemed to find the time to head that way.

A couple weeks ago, I had to go to two conferences in Las Vegas (yes, had to go is the right term. I really don’t like Vegas for more than about two hours). I decided to go out a day early and visit Valley of Fire. I made the right choice.

I was only able to spend a few hours there, but what I saw confirms for me that I’ll be going back and spending some time there. It’s a beautiful place with so much to see that one day simply isn’t enough. I’ve got some images I’ll share with you over two posts, so check back next Wednesday for more.

There’s an area in Valley of Fire called The Wave. It’s photographed often and for good reason. I hiked into The Wave to check it out and came back with some images I rather like.

 

Here they are:

 

The first is a sort of establishing view. A desert garden with some very interesting geology. (Don’t forget to click on the images to see them full size and with proper color.)

It’s a beautiful area, I think you’ll agree.

The Wave #1

The Wave #1

 

But if you’ve known me for any length of time, you’ll know that I love Black-and-White photos, probably more than I like color, so I converted the above scene:

The Wave Monochrome

The Wave Monochrome

 

I really like this view. For some reason, the lack of color accents the scene far better; to my eye, at least. As long as I was doing B&W, I decided to move up a little and capture the heart of the scene with a little desert garden:

 

The Hear to the Wave

The Heart of the Wave

 

Check back Wednesday to see what else I found at Valley of Fire!

 

More to follow,

Bob

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More from the Desert

Our recent expedition into the desert was only a week long, but, man did we take pictures. The total for the five of us was a little over 8,000 images and I actually did more than 1,000. Back in the day, I would have likely done twenty or thirty, but digital photography offers a lot of options that require a lot of exposures. You might remember a couple weeks back I posted a panorama from the Totem Pole. That was made of about seven separate images. I’ve posted some High Dynamic Range images that take somewhere between four and seven exposures to blend into the final product. So it’s not all promiscuous shooting, sometimes the multiples are there for a reason.

Sometimes it’s necessary to do a lot of images just to get the one right shot. That’s the situation at Horseshoe Bend. The light is constantly changing, the framing always seems to be a challenge, so the photographer has the choice of either figuring out the exact right shot and being in the exact right position at the time the light is exactly right or finding a good frame and waiting, taking several images until the right one is there. (click on the images to see them full size and in the right color space.)

 

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend

 

Or one might be driving up the road to Monument Valley and see a stunning sky outlining El Capitan. If you’ve watched the John Ford/John Wayne movies filmed in Monument Valley, you’ve seen El Capitan off in the distance. If you’ve driven by it, you’ve undoubtedly been impressed. I had to stop in two different places to make images. Again, if it had been in the old view camera days, I’d have carefully composed, metered the scene and waited for the clouds to be perfect and the light on El Capitan to be just right. With digital, we have the option of shifting our composition, our exposure and our zoom to capture the right image. It’s tempting to just blast away, but I hope that I’m thoughtful enough only to capture good scenes and only blast away when the light is constantly changing as it was in this situation.

 

El Capitan Navajo Nation

El Capitan Navajo Nation

 

I kind of like what I found in both circumstances.

More to follow,

Bob

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The Frameup

It’s been a busy week. Lots of time in the field making photographs, not much time to process and post before doing a nose plant into the pillow to be ready for the next day’s adventure. On a very auspicious day we hooked up with a guide. He asked us what we wanted to see and we told him.

That started a long day of traveling the back roads of Monument Valley Tribal Park. Harry, our guide, often made suggestions about where to find good photos and he was seldom wrong. Harry suggested the framing below and it turns out it was a good idea. We all stood in line to get the right position and framing for the West Mitten.

Here’s what I found:

West mitten framed

West mitten framed

 

More to follow,

Bob

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