JHP Newsletter - 2014, No. 1, 21 February
Greetings from the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona. It's been about four months since the last Newsletter, and it doesn't seem like we've done much because we only spent time in the Pacific Northwest and southern Nevada.
Tour: Tanzania in February 2015
Join me for an amazing 15-day photo safari to Tanzania in February 2015 where we will visit two of the most famous locations in East Africa to view and photograph wildlife: Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park. We will be there during the height of the wildebeest birthing season for lots of predator-prey interaction.
Tour: Gorillas in February 2015
Join me for an awesome photo safari to Rwanda in February 2015 to see and photograph mountain gorillas. This safari will be unlike most other African safaris because all of the photography will be done on the ground after hiking to the subjects. It's a wonderful experience to be in close proximity to these close relatives of ours in their natural habitat. The safari is scheduled to mesh with the Tanzania in February 2015 safari, so join me for both to make the most of your air travel to Africa.
In early November, we spent a week in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. The weather was mostly overcast with occasional showers, and that was great for photographing the rainforest in Olympic National Park. The trees in the dense forest were covered with moss (below L). A Douglas's Squirrel watched me make that last image, then I photographed it eating a pine cone (below R).
2 sec, f16, ISO 100
1/90 sec, f4, ISO 800
One of our goals was to photograph mossy cascades, but most of the streams were low at that time of year so it was difficult to find places with enough water flowing between the boulders (below L). With the high humidity and fluctuating low temperatures, some nice fog blanketed a hillside one afternoon (below R).
15 sec, f8, ISO 100
0.7 sec, f8, ISO 100
Another goal was to photograph some of the beaches, but the weather didn't cooperate. We did explore them, and I liked the beaches of Oregon better so we didn't wait around for the weather to improve.
We spent two weeks along the Oregon coast in the second half of November and the weather was pretty good for photography. We had a fantastic sunset at Cannon Beach with a low tide that exposed a lot of the very flat beach (below L). I used a 2-stop hard graduated neutral density filter to help balance the brighter sky and darker foreground, and also made three exposures to further handle the high dynamic range. We also had a nice sunset at Pacific City where the tide was just right to expose a large flat rock shelf (below R). Once again, I used a 2-stop hard graduated neutral density filter to help balance the brighter sky and darker foreground, and then the single RAW file was processed three times to further handle the high dynamic range.
1/15, 1/8, & 1/4 sec; f8; ISO 100
4 sec, f9.5, ISO 100
We didn't have great color at Bandon Beach, but one evening there was a hint of color and nice diagonal clouds (below L). We didn't have really good clouds or color in the morning, but by using a 10-stop neutral density filter to make long exposure (3.5 minutes), I was able to make a rather serene image (below R).
1.5 sec, f9.5, ISO 100
3.5 min, f9.5, ISO 100
We spent about a month and a half, from early December to mid February, near Valley Of Fire State Park in Nevada. The park has lots of wonderful sandstone formations, and the boondocking nearby had a fast cell phone connection for internet. It was also rather warm and the mostly sunny days were great for solar electricity. Because we were staying so close to the park, we could go there when the conditions were good for photography, as in some clouds and not too windy. It was my first visit to the park with full mobility, so I was able to explore lots of areas that I couldn't access on my previous visit shortly after hurting my knee. One of those areas became a favorite location and I returned there many times. This small arch (below L) was the destination on the first time there in the afternoon, and the clouds were great. Two days later, I returned to the same area for sunrise and found a nice swirly foreground to include with the wonderful clouds (below C). I also returned to anther new location many times, and found this nice knobby ridge early one morning (below R).
1/45 sec, f11, ISO 100
1/45 sec, f13, ISO 100
1/30, 1/10, & 1/4 sec; f11; ISO 100
One afternoon, Jan and I hiked out to three arches with a photographer friend of ours. Pretzel Arch (below L) was the most interesting and it was possible to frame another nearby arch through it. I made two exposures at different focus points to increase the depth of field. I didn't photograph as many intimate scenes of the sandstone patterns as on my previous visit, but this swirl of yellows and purples is my favorite from this visit (below R).
1/20 sec, f13, ISO 100
1/10 sec, f9.5, ISO 100
In the middle of our stay at Valley Of Fire, we moved to the other side of Lake Mead and spent the last two weeks of January in Gold Butte. It was our first time there, and we enjoyed exploring the area and photographing the sandstone formations and petroglyphs. One of the most interesting thing I saw was a large area of red sandstone covered with salt, and I loved the contrasting colors (below L). It was almost like photographing red rock with snow. Some of the sandstone formations had delicate tiered erosion patterns (below C). I was fascinated by the yellow and purple streaks on the wall of an alcove, and this extreme wide-angle view along the wall looks like a piece of modern art (below R).
1/180, 1/90, & 1/45 sec; f8; ISO 100
1/45, 1/20, & 1/10 sec; f11; ISO 100
1/8 sec, f13, ISO 100
Some of the sandstone was very hard and rough, and it eroded into fantastic three-dimensional forms (below L). One afternoon, we went to photograph some petroglyphs because the solid bright overcast created nice diffuse light for them. As we were heading back to the car shortly before sunset, the clouds started to develop some structure and then started to develop some color. I scrambled atop a sandstone hill to look for some kind of a foreground to use with the clouds and I had to keep changing positions as the color and interesting clouds shifted from the west to the south. This image (below R) was made at peak color on the clouds, and the color was unreal! The clouds were really vibrant against the dark blue sky and the whitish sandstone in the foreground was bathed in the reddish/purplish light.
1/45 sec, f13, ISO 100
0.5 sec, f11, ISO 100
The most interesting setting for petroglyphs was in a narrow canyon known as Keyhole Canyon (below L). We also visited the Kohta Circus petroglyph panel which is the largest panel in Nevada and the largest I've ever seen anywhere. It's about 25 yds (23m) wide and 6 ft (1.8m) high and is packed full of petroglyphs. The image below R is just one small section near the center of it.
We got together twice with another photographer friend of ours to photograph birds. The first time we went to the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. We saw lots of species including Great Blue Heron, American Coot, Mallard, Hooded Merganser, Green-Winged Teal, Northern Harrier, Red-Tailed Hawk, and American Kestrel. I also had my closest encounter with a Bald Eagle in the lower 48, but it was obscured by too many branches to get a good shot. My favorite image from the day is of a White-Crowned Sparrow (below L).
The second time we went to Veterans Memorial Park in Boulder City, Nevada. There are two man-made ponds, with a fairly-realistic edge, and it's possible to set up close to water level. There were lots of Double-Crested Cormorants and Ring-Necked Ducks (below L), quite a few Mallards, some Redhead Ducks (below R) and Lesser Scaups, and two Rudy Ducks. An Osprey made two passes over the ponds too. My favorite image is of a Double-Crested Cormorant with a fish (above L).
I'll tell you about Vermilion Cliffs (Coyote Buttes and White Pocket) next time.
Take care and happy shooting.
James Hager Photography :: www.jameshagerphoto.com