Valley of Fire – ep. 3

Brilliant colors and fiery reds!

As a follow up to the image from Valley of Fire state park that I shared in this week’s Monochrome Monday, I thought it might be interesting to see the color version…

Sunrise on Striped Rocks

My mind was blown by the variety of colors that are in the rock formations in this park and how the red becomes the fiery hue that gave the valley its name when the warm light of early morning catches it.

Travel Tuesday – Ep. 5

It’s an almost otherworldly landscape…

Last week’s Travel Tuesday might have been a bit tricky, even with a sign is written in Hebrew (it was rather small). It was a photograph taken at the Apollonia National Park in Israel just north of Herzliya. The park contains a 13th century fortress, roman villa and a 13th century mosque. Even on a hot day, it’s a wonderful place to explore, as long as you bring some water!

For today’s location, let’s find something a bit more straightforward…

Gorgeous Hills

This shot from almost 10 years ago reminds me that I wouldn’t mind retiring here, as I’d never be wanting for landscape to photograph.

Can you name these hills?

Monochrome Monday

The majesty of nature on display

Valley of Fire State Park definitely merits a return journey at some point in the future, as there are so many more vistas to capture!

For today’s monochrome image, I’m going for a thoroughly modern approach…

Sunrise on Striped Rocks

These glorious rocks were just getting lit up by the sun in our backs, as the tips of the buttes in the foreground are just getting a bit of light, while in the background light is bathing those formations already.

To explain the modern approach of this image. This is a focus stacked set of 5 images to get the greater depth of field and overall sharpness. There was a bit of processing to get them together and properly adjusted. There’s one more aspect to account for; the sky was a lovely, bland shade of blue, so with the help of Luminar AI, I created something a bit more interesting.

I’ll share the color version of this image later this week, so you can compare notes!

Valley of Fire – ep. 2

An Elephant appears out of the dark!

I mentioned that the editing was about to start on my images from this fun trip, so I decided to tackle the most complicated task first! One of our sunrise shoots was at Elephant Rock, which is a magnificent sandstone arch formation in the shape of a Mastodon!

While doing this shoot, the sun was slowly rising behind the arch formation, which gave me an idea to create something like this…

Elephant Rock at Dawn

As the arch is formed of gorgeous red sandstone, I wanted to be sure to get its color represented in the image. However, backlighting would make this very difficult to achieve in a single shot; so I hatched a plot!

In order to expand the range of light captured by my camera I shot HDR sequences to feed into this image. One sequence to capture the color of the rock…

Elephant Rock – HDR Light

…and another HDR sequence to get color of the sky back into the image…

Elephant Rock – HDR Dark

The above two images are the in-camera JPEGs of the HDR sequence, which was shot at 0 EV, -2 EV and +2 EV.

So all I had to do was process the HDR images and then combine them into a single image. Simple enough except for the mask to combine the two HDR images, which took a bit of trickery and some cool tools from Tony Kuyper. To keep you in suspense, I will write a separate post about the entire creative process.

Valley of Fire – ep. 1

Sand and minerals turned to butterfly wings; now that’s geology!

During the week of January 30, 2023, I had the pleasure of spending 4 days in a stunning state park in Nevada: Valley of Fire. This first of Nevada’s state parks lies in the Mojave Desert and is known for its red Aztec sandstone formations that appear on fire when lit up by the sun.

My visit was part of a photo tour organized by Joseph Rosbach Photography and was a wonderful experience, as Joe really knows the park and area. Joe organized our day to be in the park by sunrise to catch locations that set up great for that time of day and spend 3-4 hours shooting until the light was not ideal. A break and time for some quick editing tips and lessons (I learned some cool techniques), and then back to the park by 2:30-3pm to shoot until after sunset.

The park has many features and lots of color in the rock, so as I start my editing, I’ll kick off with one of my favorites so far…

Rainbow Vista Butterfly Wing

The rock formations in the Rainbow Vista area of the park present a stunning array of colors, as seen in the image above. As the dunes turned to sandstone during the Early Jurassic period, various minerals were captured in the sand lending vibrant colors. The continued erosion and geological forces created exposures that are dramatic in their appearance and form.

As there is still a lot of editing to do, keep an eye open for future posts, featuring a variety of colors, arches and stunning landscape features, even including bacon strips!

iPhone Friday

Summer’s End – a lasting memory

Sometimes a photo is not about creating the perfect image, but rather to capture something that speaks to us. This is very much the case for today’s image from one of my trips to Raleigh, NC…

The great John Prine

This wonderful mural can be found next to the GoRaleigh bus station on East Martin Street. It was part of a marketing campaign by John’s record company to draw attention to his album that was released in 2018; Raleigh was one of the selected cities, along with Chicago and Nashville, to get a mural, as it is home to a significant fanbase.

I captured this image on February 19, 2020, during what would be my last business trip prior to the pandemic. As I learned some of John Prine’s songs in guitar class, this mural touched me. Little did I know that John would pass away less than 2 months later due to complications from COVID-19.

Throwback Thursday

Do they float or are they submerged?

As I just went through a forced reconfiguration of all my storage, I poked around a bit in my back catalog to find something that for one reason or another never caught my eye.

Here’s a little bit of amusement that I came up with from an image captured in 2012…

Floating Pool of Mystery

As I used to have a sizable backroads commute to work back then, I made sure to always have a camera with me and frequently found something to catch my eye. In this case, I noticed a bit of marshy pond with a bit of nice light on the trees in be background. The result was a rather mundane image with not so wonderful composition; when that happens, I never throw away (aka delete) these images.

With a square crop and a bit of imaginative processing, it becomes more difficult to place the various components in the image and a bit of mystery appears in the image, as the marshy outcroppings might be floating, or are they lifeforms of an even stranger variety? Let your mind wander!

Sweeping Clouds

Velocity in the upper clouds

Some Winter mornings present us with beautiful, sweeping views that allow us to take a moment out of our busy days and breathe in the wonder that is Nature. Whenever we get one of these opportunities, we should simply stop whatever we are doing and allow the moment to embrace us.

On one such December morning in 2014, I was allowed to capture the following moment in the universe…

Sweeping Clouds

The higher velocity winds in the upper layers of the clouds create a magnificent vista, giving us the sense of motion blur. Our beloved Yoga Tree is very much stripped down for the season, conserving her energies for that change into Spring.

Shot with an iPhone 5S and cleaned up a bit in Luminar AI and Photoshop.

Monochrome Monday

Connecting to a monochrome past

Photographing in Valley of Fire State Park over the past week gave me a sense of connection to all those well-known landscape images from photographers in the early part of the 20th century. While definitely not comparing my work with theirs, I did draw some inspiration from them for this week’s monochrome image.

Pancakes in Fire Wave

The Fire Wave trail leads to an amazing area of multi-colored red and white formations. Right next to the ‘bacon strips’ formation, I found this lovely view against a cloudy sky; it reminded me of a stack of pancakes that would go well with the bacon just over to the right of this image.

This image was captured using a Canon EOS R5 and Canon RF 14-35mm F4/L IS USM lens; as I shot at 14mm focal length, I used f/8 for an aperture at 400 ISO. This was a series of 3 shots to generate the HDR using Aurora HDR; B&W conversion was done in Photoshop.

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