Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shooting the Big Sur Coast

If you're ever shooting on the Big Sur Coast, it helps to chat with the officers of the California Highway Patrol there. Aside fromresponding to accidents caused by the ocasional tourist who causes a truck to jackknife due to leaving her bicycle laying down on the road (true story), a lot of their time is spent interfacing with the public. They know every turnout and access point (and have participated in rescues people making their way to inaccessible spots), so they can help you spend your time there efficiently and safely

This waterfall, McWay Falls, is apparently one of two waterfalls dropping into the ocean in the continental United States, the other being Alamere Falls on Point Reyes.

This waterfall is accessed via the parking lot for Julia Pfeiffer State Park, but the park doesn't open until 8am, so I took this from a turnout up on Hwy 1, a few dozen yards higher than the standard path. The park also asks for a $10 fee for entry and parking!

There are some seriously quirkly rules and restrictions for accessing much of the coast, so I'll try to add notes as I add photos. For example, I blew off Pfeiffer Beach, a Forest Service access (due to all of those trees on the beach?), but unfortunately they've allowed a concessionaire to profit from Federal Recreation Passholders who bought the annual pass under the understanding that it would gain them entry to USDA Forest Service sites. They also close at sunset, not 30-40 minutes later when the sunset color is over, so it's virtually worthless to photographers who prefer to shoot in the best light(at least the ones who choose not to risk getting a ticket). I'll be sending the confused USDA bureaucrats some correspondence on that one... and I'll share the names with concerned photographers as well so your voices can be heard and your interests represented. Bureaucrats don't like risk, so I suspect they may show some flexibility if their users start raising a stink about counterproductive policies. Point Lobos State Park just up the road allows photographers to stay until 30 minutes after sunset, stilla bit tight but a far more reasonable compromise.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Topaz Lake Sunrise

Topaz Lake is one of those places that I rarely plan on being at when the light is best, but I often find myself there anyway as I make my way between Tahoe, Mono Lake, and Monitor and Ebbetts passes.

On this morning I was there in time to watch a nicely shaped Sierra Wave lenticular cloud gradually light up from orange to pink to white, and I stayed long enough to watch the warm morning sunlight slide down the foothills to the lake.

The only thing I regretted was not carrying my fishing rods down to the lake, as there were large trout feeding, taunting me just within casting distance. The lake straddles the California Nevada border, and although I was standing in Nevada facing California, I later determined that my California fishing license would have enabled me to take a few casts. Oh well, the fish will only be bigger when I return!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Fiery Mono Lake Sunrise

I camped on a sagebrush-covered knoll overlooking Mono Lake with an expansive view so I could easily assess the prospects for a great sunrise early the next morning. As I had anticipated, the heavier storm clouds from the night before had broken up somewhat, leaving interesting clouds for the sun to light up but also leaving enough of an opening to the East to offer the promise of sending the orange sunrise light shooting in under them.

I moved quickly to get dressed and drive over to the South Tufa site with enough time left over to alk to the lake before the best light arrived. When I arrived, the parking lot was empty! The Sierra Nevada however already ahd a deep blood red tint on them, so there was no time to waste. I half walked, half jogged to the lake. It was tempting to start shooting immediately, but I watned to get a timelapse sequence going a couple of coves over, so I made my way over there as fast as I could.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Smoky Owens Valley Morning

This morning started with smoke from a forest management fire the night before having settled with the coldest air down towards Crowley Lake, so I decided to stay a little higher at first so I could shoot towards the Sierra Nevada without much optical interference. I visited an area of nice cracked mud patterns.

Next I visited a pond where I could find a nice reflection shooting towards the Sierra Nevada as they caught the rising sun.

I was fortunate to also find a pair of American Avocets performing a courtship dance.
Once the sun was up I moved over to a large pond where, wind conditions permitting, I might zoom in on a reflection featuring the backlit smoke against a minimalist horizon.

Next I moved to a very small vernal pool that I had shot at a year earlier under more cloudy conditions, but this time the shot would ahve a totally differnt feel, as I'd catch the snowy Sierra contrasted against a blue sky.