Big Sur Burnt Trees
Driving on a back road above Big Sur, I came across the skeletal remains of trees after a forest fire. A lot of people thing that wild fires should be extinguished, but in reality, they are needed for the health of the ecosystem.
The fire clears the forest floor of excess detritus, eliminates the weaker members of each species, and actually helps the trees reproduce. The heat of the fire melts the resin in the cones, allowing them to open and release their seeds. If the fire doesn’t burn long enough, the seeds aren’t released. If it burns too long, the seeds are burnt too. A good fire will result in the release of over 500,000 seeds per acre and those seeds don’t have to compete with other plants because of the fire.
When I took this shot, knew there was something, but I wasn’t sure what. After playing with it, I found that I really liked it in black and white.
Death 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.
Jedediah Smith SP Leaves
Jedediah Smith State Park is probably one of the most beautiful places in the state. You can’t walk around a tree without another amazing image presenting itself in front of you. Fallen trees with fungus growing out of the trunk, ferns and endless green, huge redwoods. You even get a shot if you just look up.
These leaves were back lit by the gray overcast sky. The branches dark in contrast and dividing the image into it’s different parts. Seriously, I couldn’t take a bad picture if I took my time and looked around. This is one of my first serious image taken with a DSLR and still one of my favorites.
If you have a chance to stop by Jedediah Smith SP, don’t hesitate, do it. You won’t be disappointed.
Cypress Branches at Whalers Cove, Point Lobos
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is an island of well preserved wild on a very popular coast just south of Monterey Bay. You can walk for a few hundred yards and forget that just up the coast are some of the country’s most expensive golf courses and Highway 101 is less than 1/2 miles east.
Whalers Cove is a small cove which offered sanctuary to whalers in times past. They have preserved an old cabin used in past time. Just outside the cabin grows these cypress trees. I love the way the branches point in one direction and the tree in the background give a sense of opposite direction to it.
Atascadero Trees in the Fog
My mom and dad lived in Atascadero before they passed away recently. I would travel up to visit often to see them, but also to take advantage of the central location Atascadero has in the central coast. It’s a small town located on Highway 101 between San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. It’s just over 10 miles from the coast and a 15 mile drive from Morro Bay.
From my parent’s house I could get to more photographic locations than I could visit in a day or even a week. But this shot was taken on a foggy morning in my parent’s driveway. They lived on a hill overlooking a small ravine and on this December morning the fog had gathered in the valley and obscured most of the view. Visibility was limited to less than one hundred yards.
I was out looking for some moss to shoot with my macro when I looked up and saw that the fog was thinning and the shapes of the trees across the ravine were slowly emerging.