Sunday, January 29

Stretching Our Legs on Mt Lowe

On the spur of the moment, Mary and I headed for Mt. Lowe (in the San Gabriel Mountains above Altadena*) on sunny Saturday morning. This was a sort of warm-up as Mary will be leading her famous Seven SoCal Summits for the Angeles Chapter in the spring. It proved to be a great mid-winter stretch with a little bit of elevation for us flatlanders. The whole day was a reminder of how lucky we are to live in paradise.

With the unseasonable weather we've been enjoying, Mary thought we might see some early wildflowers. The manzanita and ceanothus were blooming but for wildflowers, we saw only one little red Indian Paintbrush. We'll have to keep looking I guess!

The San Gabriels are green and lush at the moment so you probably want to get out there and hike around. You'll be happy you did. The views are marvelous as the hillsides have been opened up by the Station Fire and the ground plants are waking up.Speaking of which...

Beware! Poodledog bush is everywhere since it was activated by the fire. It is not blooming yet so it looks like a shrub with long droopy leaves on tall stalks. It can be just the right height to brush your uncovered arm as you skirt by on a narrow slopping trail. I wish I had taken a picture because the ones I've seen on the web show the plant in bloom - which isn't due for weeks.

*The Angeles Chapter's Hundred Peaks Section describes the hike here.

Sunday, January 22

Point Dume with Alison and Bill

 It is too late to be writing a post, I should be in bed already. But...
Point Dume - Alison confers with Norm
Angeles Chapter Camera Committee leader Alison deserves an acknowledgement. She took me to Point Dume years ago at the beginning of her tidepool tour. She lured me back this weekend and she leads a great trip.
She stared down the rain and got 10 people out there with her.

Same tidepools, new adverse conditions, better pictures, no complaints. I wish I'd brought a polarizer - not complaining, just saying...

Also, welcome back to Bill, who has been sidelined for so many months now. He returned this weekend to assist on the tidepools outing as usual. He's coping.
We're glad to have you back, Bill.
Ed and Bill work the angles on the starfish

Friday, January 13

It's a wrap

Working up my vacation photos and daily blog posts has been a great way to kick-off 2012 but, with this post, I'm closing the Grand Canyon series. I'll probably add more shots to my Picasa gallery, so if you are really a Grand Canyon fanatic, check it out occassionally.
If you are curious about my travel companion, Vaughn, check out this experimental video of park portraits that I compiled.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, January 12

Watching over the Canyon

Yesteryear, today and tomorrow people have gathered and will gather on the edge of the Grand Canyon. It's a big, colorful hole in the ground with a river at the bottom. It tells geological stories, it's the "stuff of legends" and it figures prominently in so many human stories.*
It's a great place to launch a new year.
Mary Colter designed the Watchtower to have an ancient feeling. Locally sourced stones were selected and positioned in homage to the ancient builders of the region. The round frame from the Elph-monocular combination gives this image a vintage look - sort of in keeping with Ms. Coulter's concept, I think. This view is from Lipan Point.
In this utterly contemporary shot, a cluster of eager souls awaits first light on the first morning of 2012 at Yaki Point. Vaughn is second from the left, in a yellow parka looking through his camera mounted on a tripod. On my computer, you can see the parka and the tripod and if you click the image to enlarge it, I'm sure you will see them, too, on the blog and Picasa.
That is what morning looks like at accessible viewpoints. Great camaraderie, but BYO coffee and carry the cup out with you, please.

*Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon is the huge bestseller in park gift shops, on display everywhere.

Wednesday, January 11

Afternoon at Powell Point.

In the winter light, the Grand Canyon shows it's finest face.  This was captured a little before 4:00 pm.

Tuesday, January 10

Just another Friday night at Mather Point.

These are more traditional images of the Grand Canyon made on our first evening of viewing and shooting. Be sure to click the pictures to enlarge them. 
These composites don't lend themselves to cropping, as you can see. For the pan above, I didn't capture enough sky to fill out the right side of a cropped pan. Even an uninteresting sky would have offered a better balance.
Above, you see that the stitching process bends the horizon so that it can match the foreground. At some point, I'll make a nice, straight, layered composite in PhotoShop. Look for the Colorado River in this pan. You will see a bit of it in the lower left corner. Bright Angel Canyon runs away from us to the North Rim.

Just how does the Canyon glow after the sun has slipped behind the horizon in the west? Does it collect light all day long to release at this fleeting moment?

The countless visitors entertained us as we passed the time waiting for the perfect light. In this crazy scene, you will see one man with two right hands.
Check it out.

Monday, January 9

First Day, First Light at Yaki Point

Besides railings, I like the craggy snags found around the rim of the canyon. I kept company with this old fellow on New Years morning while we waited for the sun.  

In this pan, you can almost see the tangle of tripods and sun-worshippers on the point in the upper right corner. Vaughn was up there and I hope to be able to link to some spectacular image of his soon.
When the sun finally broke over the canyon and lighted the tree, I thought this branch looked like a fiery dragon.

Sunday, January 8

More Railings

Here are railings again.
Above, a view of the Colorado River from Mojave Point on the west end of the park. The three supports at left stand nearby.
Viewpoints like this, all along Hermit Road, have kept me time and again from reaching Hermit's Rest before last light.  I'm not sure that's a bad thing, but maybe next time I'll go directly to the end of the road and work my way back.
 At right and below, shots of the overlook at Desert View in the quiet light or, more rightly, after quiet light. But I loved the way the railings glowed, so I kept the camera in place. I figured I could go as long as the camera battery could withstand the cold.
It was fun to watch visitors approach the overlook to drink in the sights. Often, they made pictures of each other or the canyon or the Colorado River away out there to the northeast. The kids were kids and climbed on the railings and coin-op telescopes.
As the light faded and the cold came up, there were fewer visitors and smaller groups. A couple with two dogs came when it was just too dark to shoot. They were conscientiously staying out of the picture until I asked them to step in.
After that, we packed up and headed for the parking lot. Ours was not the last car. Others were still out there looking into the dark canyon.

Saturday, January 7

Light Play on the West End

We traveled west on the Hermit Road on Saturday afternoon, heading for last light at Hermit's Rest. By the time we got to Powell Point, the sun was getting low and the cloud shadows made interesting reveals. This is such a classic view, I had to convert it to black & white.

Usually, I like to see the jagged edges of a pieced together panorama. In this case though, the edges were not very interesting. I put the original composites in Picasa for the record. See the b&w pan here and the color pan here.

Friday, January 6

Out at Moran Point

See the rock right of center?
I hiked down to make the picture below. 

Thursday, January 5

Colorado River in the Round

If I hold my monocular up to the lens of  my Elph just right, I can capture a nice soft ring around the subject.  In this case, the winding Colorado River as spied from the overlook at Desert View
It reminds me of the vintage postcards and posters in the giftshops and bookstores. 
This may be the first keeper I captured in 2012.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 4

Hero of a Raven

This post is for Allan who will be offering a hummingbird photo workshop to benefit the Angeles Chapter's Camera Committee in March.

This heroic-looking Raven and his pal were posing for us on the hood of my Red Jeep.  He didn't take directions very well but I finally managed to catch him in the perfect position. I was shooting through the wind shield from behind the steering wheel.
Just to prove he was on the hood, I snapped a shot of his feet.  Look at those claws.

Tuesday, January 3

Hands of Man

While in the Grand Canyon for New Year's weekend, I fell in love with the restraints at some of the overlooks. There are the elegant and the awkward. Many are just ugly.

Are they protecting the visitors or the Canyon? Are they defining the views?

Millions of hands, gloves, elbows, sleeves and, no doubt, pant-seats have joined the elements in polishing the rails. Time has colored them. Weather added patina.

Some soar and others sag. You saw the bit of swoop in yesterday's post. Here are a couple of straight-standing specimens.
At right, I've posted the cropped version of the sliver seen above for those who prefer the more formal look of clean edges. The sliver was made just before sunset at Mather Point. The shrub was made in the Quiet Light about 10 minutes later, also at Mather Point.

All of these snapshots were made with my Canon Elph pocket camera. It makes crisp macros and dreamy landscapes. The haze that seems never to clear the Canyon contributes to the soft focus.

Monday, January 2

What's Your Pan Format Preference?

Do you like 
this "full-frame" stitched panorama format
this stitched and cropped panorama format?

Why?  Feel free to make a comment below.

Note: I should have mentioned that this is the first in a series of postings to cover my New Year's weekend in the Grand Canyon with my photographer friend, Vaughn Hart.  (You may see him in postings during the series and when he publishes his photos to his Picassa account, I'll let you know.)