Stove Pipe Wells Sand Dunes from the Road to Beatty, NV

Stove Pipe Wells Sand Dunes from the Road to BeattyStovepipe Wells Sand Dunes from the Road to Beatty

If you drive east from Death Valley on highway 374, you will pass the backcountry road to Titus Canyon and then pass through Beatty, NV. When I visited Death Valley the first time, it was right after some sever rains that caused some damage to the roads, including Titus Canyon.

After making the drive to the entrance of the canyon I was heading back and came upon this view of the sand dunes near Stove Pipe Wells. Most of the time they are photographed from the south and fill the frame. In this view I think it shows the dunes in their environment. It is an impressive sight.

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Morro Bay Sunrise HDR

Morro Bay Sunrise HDR

Morro Bay Sunrise HDR

At the Morro Bay Photo Expo in 2009, I took a panorama class that met at the peak of Black Rock near Morro Bay State Park. After learning about nodal points, tripods, and the RRS pano head for tripods, we hiked up to the peak and started setting up for the sunrise.

Honestly, I didn’t shoot to many panoramas, but I did play with HDR. I try to make it a point to shoot both panoramas and HDR in almost every situation where applicable. In this situation the lightening sky would either be blown out or the hills and forground would be blocked up. By bracketing and merging into HDR, I was able to bring out the small in the valley, the plants in the foreground, and the beautiful sky at the same time.

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Grant Lake Fall Colors

Grant Lake Fall ColorsGrant Lake Fall Colors

The June Lake loop, when taken from the north, takes you past Grant Lake on the left before you pass into the June Lake area. I was looking for fall color and the road was a tunnel of color!

I pulled off the side of the road and started exploring the possiblities. At first I just shot the color, but then I realized that if I climbed up the hill on the other side of the road, I could get the blue lake and the fall colors together. I loved the contrast of the colors and the bare trunks extending into the frame from the bottom.

The fact that the color was at the bottom of the frame and the water was at the top played into my sense of whimsy of having confusing or different compositions in my images.

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Death Valley Joshua Trees and Panamint Mountains

Death Valley Josha Trees and Panamint MountainsDeath Valley Joshua Trees and Panamint Mountains

Death Valley National Park has on of the most inviting back country road systems in California. Near the north end of the park is the road that passes Ubehebe Craterand on to the Racetrack. It can be done in a passenger car, but I don’t recommend it.

If you don’t continue on toward the Racetrack and turn left at Teakettle Junction, you head up toward Hunter Mountain. As you travel south west on the road, you continue climbing in elevation and into roads that require a fairly good four wheel drive vehicle. Their not impossible, but they are very rough.

There is a small pass that you climb through, picking your way over the rocky road, make a slight left turn, start down an incline, and enter a valley that has this amazing Joshua tree forest. Everywhere you look as far as the valley extends, there are Joshua trees.

I was fortunate that the sky had clouds to help make it interesting and that I had the time to look for the composition I wanted. I also had all day to explore, but the best part was I was the only person in the valley. I was alone.

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Hiroshima Bank Atom Bomb Memorial

Hiroshima Bank

Hiroshima Bank Atom Bomb Memorial

On August 16, 1945 a single plane flew over the Japanese city of Hiroshima and dropped one bomb. That bomb changed the world forever and ended thousands of live in an instant.

One of the only buildings to remain standing was what has become the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. It was a bank at the time and one of the few building made of cement in the area. It has remained standing since that horrific day as a reminder of the power of man and the destruction of war.

The atomic bomb exploded directly over the dome and because of the down force, the building remained standing. Every other structure in the area was instantly obliterated.

When I was there I went for a walk around the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park at night trying to capture the eerie that I felt. The memorial is lit up with a ghostly green light and the interior has some incandescent lights in it. You can see the scaffolding that supports the weakened structure, but I think that lends itself to the image.

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Origami Cranes Hiroshima

Origami Cranes  HiroshimaOrigami Cranes Hiroshima

Visiting Hiroshima is a overwhelming experience. History was made there. Thousands of lives were lost in less than a blink of an eye. A whole new city has risen out of the ashes of historic tragedy.

Yet the population almost embraces the experience. There is a park dedicated to the event, the history, and what has become of the population since. Different memorials are spread through out the area honoring different groups lost in on horrific moment.

But there is also a subtle celebration of life too. Everything seems to say “We will carry on with our lives, but we will never forget.” People leave beautiful items to remember and honor those lost.

This display showcased some of the thousands of origami cranes sent to the city by classes and school throughout the country to honor  the city and it’s population.





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Bodie Reflections

Bodie ReflectionsBodie Reflections

Another shot from Bodie State Park. It was nearing the end of the day. I had traveled to Bodie for a photographers day, where they open up the park early for the photographers and then let them stay late. It costs extra and they only offered it about once a month, but for a photographer, it is worth it.

I was tired and sitting on a bench on the mains street. My plan was to catch the last light on the buildings as it went down. I was looking across the street at some of the artifacts and then turned my head and noticed that the ground was on fire. At least that was what it looked like.

What I saw was the reflection of the sunlit building in a puddle on the street. I wasn’t really tired anymore. I shot for another half an hour before I moved on to get the sunset shots I was looking for.

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Bodie Bank Vault

Bodie Bank Vault Bodie Bank Vault

The ghost town of Bodie, a California State Park, is a turn of the century mining town in “arrested decay”. That means that they don’t help prevent the decay of the town, but they don’t help it either. If you want to see an old gold mining town, Bodie is the place to visit.

On a warm spring day, I spent an entire day exploring as much of the site as I could. While they have blocked off a lot of the buildings from entrance, you can still get some good vantage points from which to shoot from. The screen they use to cover the windows, is at least four inches square.

In the old bank building, they still have most of the brick vault and the original door to the safe. While it is inside of the brick building, there is enough room near the entrance to position a flash and the camera to get some interesting shots.

I liked the ornate painting that they used on the door and the simplicity of the combination lock and handle. I can imagine the bank manager opening the vault at the beginning of the day to get the money for the teller and locking it up every night after placing the deposits inside. If only it could talk.

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