Category Archives: Photo Post

Travel Report/Photo Post: Lake Tahoe, Grand Canyon, Bryce…

Bryce National Park
Clouds loom over Bryce while sunshine spils in from the west as a little tree stands sentinel over the canyon.

In June of 2018 Diane and I set off on a west coast to east coast cross country round trip. We couldn’t stay in some places as long as we would have liked because we had a wedding to attend on the east coast. On the return leg of the trip we also felt a little rushed because there were some things I wanted to attend to within a certain time frame out west. All told that trip was 7 months long. I know it may be hard to imagine that someone could feel hurried taking 7 months to get across the country and back, but hey, there’s a lot to see and do in this country–it could easily take 7 years to make the trip if you ask me.

Grand Canyon, Sunset
The scope and scale of the Grand Canyon is breathtaking. While it is some 270 miles long, visitation is concentrated along the south rim where the Visitor Center is located, just north of the town of Tusayan. This photo was shot there, close to Mather Point.

At the beginning of last month we set out on another trip. Before we did we decided we would spend more time camping and less time driving than our previous trip. So far its been that way. On our first day of travel we drove from the San Francisco bay area into the Sierra Nevada mountains where camped for something like 11 nights at Alpine Meadows campground in Truckee, CA.

"A Matter of Life and Death", dying log and blooming flowers
Dead and decaying matter nourish the soil in which the fresh new life of spring and summer teems in the forest at Cedar Breaks.

Originally we had hoped to travel south from Truckee along US 395 boondocking for a couple or three weeks in the shadow of the eastern slope of the Sierra. The view of the mountains to the west is pretty spectacular along 395. It’s best where the mountains are highest–the Sierra Nevada peaks get higher the further south you travel until they reach Mount Whitney which at 14,505′ is the highest mountain in the contiguous 48, then they rather abruptly fall away.

Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe
This view of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe was taken a few steps from the roadway a little North of Inspiration Point where there are some roadside Turnouts.

We had to skip our boondocking plans along 395 because they weather was too hot. Originally we had planned to hit the road a couple months earlier in which case the weather would have been just fine but life got in the way and we were delayed. A little factoid of interest, BTW, is that while Mt. Whitney at 14,505′ is the highest place in the lower 48, Badwater in nearby Death Valley is the lowest at 282′ below sea level and it’s possible to drive from Badwater to Whitney Portal in the same day. Whitney Portal is not the top of the mountain but rather where you can begin the climb to the summit some 6,000′ above.

Wild columbine Cedar Breaks National Monument
It seemed there were a bazillion wild columbine in bloom on our hike along the Alpine Pond Trail in Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Although we skipped our boondocking plans we spent one night in the Crowley Lake area and 3 more in Lone Pine in order to visit Manzanar, the WWII Japanese internment camp and Mobius Arch along Movie Road in the Alabama Hills.

Mt. Whitney Over the Alabama Hills
Mt. Whitney (background just left of center) rises over the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, CA. While snow was still present on the mountains in July the temps in the desert below were in the neighborhood of 100º.

From there we hightailed it to Ten-X campground in the forest just outside Tusayan, AZ by Grand Canyon National park where we parked ourselves for 12 days. Another nice, long stay… long for us, anyway.

A Field of Flowers at Cedar Breaks
We caught the peak of the wildflower bloom in early August at Cedar Breaks. It was delayed somewhat in 2019 due to heavier than normal winter snows.

Our next destination, Bryce National Park in Utah. We had hoped to visit the other amazing National Parks in southern Utah–Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, and Capitol Reef–but again, due to our late start it’s too hot to visit any but Bryce which is cooler due to its elevation.

Diane chats with Patti Lewis
When passing through the Kanab area Diane spied an artist painting a mural on the wall of a building. We pulled over and enjoyed a nice chat with Patti Lewis who’s painted a number of murals and tromp l’oiels in town–a delightful serendipitous encounter.

Along the way we passed through the Kanab area, Utah, where we had a serendipitous encounter with artist Patti Lewis  who was painting a mural on the side of a building in town where she as adorned a number of others in similar fashion. 

Rhyolitic Tuff Rock formation, Cedar Breaks National Monument
A rhyolitic tuff, a rock formation created by volcanic action seems perfectly framed and accented by the clouds overhead. Cedar Breaks National Monument.

As I write we are happily boondocked in a terrific location in the Dixie National Forest. Our nearest neighbors are at least a few hundred feet away. We’re in a ponderosa pine forest. It’s quiet, and lovely, and free. We’re about 20 minutes from Bryce. Yesterday we made a day trip to Cedar Breaks National Monument where we went on a short hike and reveled in the beauty of the wildflower bloom there which is at its peak. We expect to spend about 14 days camped here, another nice long stay, before heading north to the mountains in Idaho, but we’ll see.

Photo Post: McArthur-Burney Falls, Burney, CA

McArthur-Burney Falls
Situated just outside Burney CA is the lovely McArthur-Burney Falls. It is a worthwhile but often over-busy sight to see if you’re in the area. We visited when camped at Hat Creek Hereford Ranch & RV Park north of Lassen Volcanic National Park which is about 20 miles from the falls.

Diane & I set out on a cross-country RV trip on June 29, 2018. The first destination of note was Lassen Volcanic Park in CA. We camped to the north of the park at Hat Creek Hereford Ranch & RV Park which is situated about midway between the park and the waterfall. The latter is lovely to see, of course, but it also offers a cooling respite on hot summer days as the canyon below the falls remains naturally chilled. Despite some trail closures in McArthur-Burney State Park we were able to enjoy a short hike that encircled the falls. Note that parking at the falls is limited and it can be difficult or impossible to get in to see them. Choosing your arrival time can make all the difference. Admission was $10 per car when we were there, $9 for seniors. See their web page formore information.

Photo Post – Fireworks

The fireworks this year had some rockets with streamers that zig-zagged in unpredictable ways. I caught one of them here along the the purple trails possibly remaining from a previous shell.

Click to Enlarge Images

It’s that time of year: barbecues, burgers and beer, hotdogs and a trip out to see the local fireworks display. I always look forward to photographing fireworks because “it’s like a box of chocolates… you never know what you are going to get.”

I cropped this image from a larger one placing the white spot of an exploding rocket near one of the “power points” of the frame. Have you heard of the rule of thirds?

In this post I’m including four shots I like best out of about 100 I shot during one of the area’s smaller shows. I think three of them are a little less typical than most fireworks photos I’ve seen. I think that’s why I like them so much.

Here, I kept the shutter open only momentarily capturing a small part of the rocket’s stars.

Getting cool fireworks photos is surprisingly easy. I could tell you how, but then I’d have to kill you… hahah. Kidding!

For this shot I opened the shutter after a single rocket was launched and just before it exploded. Then I closed the shutter a few moments after the white streamers appeared.

For how-to tips on photographing fireworks see my how-to post titled… drum roll… How to Photograph Fireworks. Well, what did you expect? LOL.


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How to Photograph Fireworks

I often like fireworks photos where they spill out of the frame.
I often like fireworks photos where they spill out of the frame.

I wish I had posted this a week or so ago in order to give you a little more of an opportunity to soak it all in, but better a little late than never. Right? There’s still a day till the 4th.

Fireworks are intensely hot explosions but photos of fireworks can be pretty cool. How’s that for some clever word play? OK, forget that… I’ve had a glass of wine…

I probably didn't leave the shutter open very long for this shot.
I probably didn’t leave the shutter open very long for this shot.

Seriously, getting good photos of fireworks requires both knowing how as well as good luck. I can help with the first part. READ MORE…

Sunset Over San Francisco

Sunset over San Francisco Bay & Mt. Tam
Mount Tamalpais to the west, across the San Francisco Bay as seen from the Berkeley Hills, January 17 or 18, 2013. This isn’t the most spectacular shot from that night, but it’s still one of my favorites. Click on it to enlarge.

I always try to include at least one really nice photo as a lead-in to my posts so as to catch the eye and raise interest in reading further. Today, I’m using one of my favorites of the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ll tell you why I chose this particular photo for this post but first I think you might find the back-story of its making of interest.

One of my customers, a business in Marin County, CA is a gift store that has sold some of my note cards. (If you don’t already know I make a line of fine-art note cards with my awesome-if-I-do-say-so-myself flower photos.) The proprietress asked me if I’d consider making some cards for her with “local color”, shots of the bay area. I decided I’d try at least one.

To make the image for this card I thought I would go up to the top of the east bay hills at sunset and shoot a silhouette of Mt. Tamalpais across the San Francisco Bay to the west, then composite-in a sunset I liked that I’d photographed some years ago in Death Valley. That was my plan, anyway, because we don’t get that many spectacular sunsets around here. When I arrived at the top of the hills to shoot my the mountain silhouette, however, what I just happened to stumble upon that evening was one of the most amazing, if not the most amazing sunset I’d ever seen. When I say that I’m including all the sunsets of my life, not just those in the Bay Area. I was beside myself with excitement, literally jumping up and down with glee. The lead shot for this post is one that resulted from my shooting that night. So, no need to do any photo compositing or image enhancement after all.

This shot reveals why I wrote that this was the most spectacular sunset I've seen in all my years. In the murky, dark, horizontal strip it's possible to make out the Golden Gate Bridge as well as Alcatraz.
This shot reveals why I wrote that this was the most spectacular sunset I’ve seen in all my years. In the murky, dark, horizontal strip it’s possible to make out the Golden Gate Bridge as well as Alcatraz.

Now, as to the reason I chose it for this post, it’s because I thought it quite appropriate—as the sun set over the San Francisco Bay Area that night, so it has recently set on my year and a half adventure of traveling America in my motorhome. That adventure is now behind me, which isn’t to say that I won’t have other RVing adventures in the future—I’m already contemplating the purchase of a 5th wheel RV, but that won’t be until at least next spring or summer, if at all.

As year end approaches and we plan our holiday get-togethers with family and friends and our farewells to 2015, let me take this opportunity to wish to you and yours greetings of the season and a happy and healthy 2016.

Meanwhile, should you have any additional, last minute shopping to do via Amazon.com or any shopping with Amazon in the future, please bookmark and use this link. I’ll get a little credit when you do and it won’t cost you anything more. Thanks. (My Amazon link is always available via the navigation menu at the top of all pages on the blog.)

Passion Flower
One of my flower note-card shots. Passion flowers like this one grow on vines, and there are about 10 varieties growing within walking distance of my apartment in Berkeley, CA. One right next door produces an edible fruit, a yellow banana passion fruit which reminds me in taste of a grapefruit. They are just amazing flowers. I mean, look at it. Wow!

Photo Post: Arches NP, Monument Valley, Goosenecks SP, Trona Pinnacles, Canyonlands NP, Valley of the Gods

I’ve been covering quite a bit of ground lately. Here are a few photos from places I’ve been: