#WinterSouth: Anticipating Death

I’m staying in Lone Pine, California tonight. Getting up at the crack of dawn and heading into Death Valley tomorrow morning for a few days of camping and shooting. It looks like the weather will be cooperating. I’m also hoping to find a nice spot to finally shoot a video for my Kickstarter campaign: http://kck.st/1eEDQxl
Earlier today, I managed to get a decent shot on my phone from the Mono Lake vista point on US 395:

Notice anything? There’s hardly any snow anywhere!!! Not a good sign.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bulb photography on the rim at Bryce Canyon National Park
Bulb photography on the rim at Bryce Canyon National Park

I spent two nights at Bryce Canyon as well.  The first night, I walked a few steps from my campsite to the rim of the canyon to play around with some night shooting, including the moon rise and, later a series of bulb shots.  The 7D has a great bulb setting, and coupled with my tripod (of course) and a nice remote triggering system, I think my first endeavor with bulb shooting on the 7D was a success!  I almost fell in the canyon, but I didn’t, so, all’s well that ends well. 🙂

Twisted tree on the Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park
Twisted tree on the Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park

The following morning I headed out on the Fairyland Loop trail (approximately 8 miles) and took my camera along with me, including my filter wallet.  I started out with the rose UV filter while the sun was still low, but after a while I switched to the circular polarizer.  After stopping for lunch, I came across this wicked shot of a twisted, burnt tree set against the red rocks, practically grabbing the sun (I think the lens flare is a nice touch!).  This is, without a doubt the best shot I got in the canyon, and it’s probably the best shot I’ve taken so far on this road trip.  In fact, given time, it might find its way on to my top ten of all time!  If it does, who knows how long it might stay there?

Great Basin National Park

Apparently, Great Basin is one of the least visited National Parks in the United States, averaging about 85,000 visitors per year.  I camped at Wheeler Peak campground for two nights so that I could see as much of the park as possible, including a tour of Lehman Caves, a hike up to Rock Glacier, and reaching the summit of Wheeler Peak (13,063 ft) — in an apparently quick time of 1 hour, 55 minutes!

No tripods or flashes were allowed on the cave tour (for completely understandable reasons), so I did the best I could with an ISO of 6400 and the image stabilizer on my 18-135mm lens.  Considering these constraints, I think the cave pictures came out quite well!

I can now say that I’ve seen and touched trees one hundred times my own age – many of these Bristlecone pine trees are estimated to be between 3000 and 3200 years old!  There was actually a fairly nice interpretive loop trail set up through the pine grove on the way up to Rock Glacier — very informative, and a rather emotional experience.

As I stood on Rock Glacier beneath the towering spires of Wheeler Peak, the magnitude of the rocks was overpowering.  I did my best to capture the power of these rocks with the lens I had on my 7D (in this case the same 18-135mm).  I decided not to haul a tripod (or any of my camera bag, really) up the hill with me.

The next morning I topped Wheeler Peak, and after an afternoon nap, I decided to see if I could get any good sunset pics.  Coincidentally, this was also the night of the full moon.  I drove slowly down the 12-mile stretch of road connecting Wheeler Peak camp (at 9800 ft) to the Lehman Caves visitor center, looking for best spots to capture the sunset.  I settled on a view of the range you see here, and I think it works pretty well.  As I was snapping shots (yes, with a tripod this time!) I happened to turn around, and my jaw hit the ground.  The huge full moon you see here was just peeking above the other mountains.  I couldn’t believe my eyes, and I quickly broke down my gear and raced back up to another overlook with a better eastern view.  I whipped out my 100-300mm lens and (if I remember correctly) threw on a polarizer — I don’t have any ND filters for that lens (note to self…).

All in all, a successful couple of days shooting!  Check out the entire set on flickr.

Mammoth Lakes

Snowmelt waterfall at Horseshoe Lake
Snowmelt waterfall at Horseshoe Lake

I had a lot of fun shooting at Mammoth Lakes while I was there in early June.  On this particular day, I had finished fishing at McLeod Lake, and the trail from that lake had originated at the parking area next to Horseshoe Lake.  I took my camera and started hiking the shoreline looking for interesting scenes.  I’ve found that standing in the water with my tripod is the best way to capture these types of scenes — and of course thank goodness for neutral density filters!

Bee, a la 7D!

IMG_1765 by beerland
IMG_1765, a photo by beerland on Flickr.

I’ve been enjoying exploring the increased flexibility of my new Canon 7D, and although I like the fact that the new lens I got has image stabilization — allowing for on-the-fly closeups like this bee — I’ve come to realize that it’s causing me to forgo the tripod more than I should. I’m mostly happy with this shot, but I know it could be so much better with a tripod. The sad thing is, I had my tripod with me, strapped to my awesome new slingbag, but I just got caught up in the moment.
Ahh, well. Next time…