Double Sunrise

I’ve mentioned this before: the sunset is not over until it is dark. The reverse applies to sunrise: the sunrise is not over until it is day light.

On my recent trip to Hawaii I went for sunrise to this spot that I had scouted ahead of time. I had to scramble thru the bushes in the dark with a flash light but what wouldn’t you do to get to a spot you like.

I started photographing even before sunrise to see if anything interesting comes out from that. Nothing interesting was coming out. Then the color showed up in the sky.

After a few images the light, the color disappeared. It looked like twilight again. I guess the cloud ran over and blocked sun light.

But I knew not to abandon my post. I simply sat and enjoyed the motions of waves back and forth, back and forth. Until the sun broke out in earnest.

One Step Back

I’m back from Norway. Well, I’ve been back to Seattle for two months, enjoying my old friends: Olympic National Park, Rainier National Park, Enchantment Lakes and trails around Seattle.

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One of the icon places in Rainier National Park is Reflection Lakes. In fact by far this is the place to photograph at sunrise. And pray the water is still as a mirror. I had not visited it for a while as it is over-photographed in my opinion. I had preferred exploring new places in this vast park.

On a whim of nostalgia since I have not been in the park for four months I went there to enjoy the classic view. It was the first  freezing night of the season. Frost was covering grass, logs, and few remaining leaves. Fog was rising over the lakes and slowly moving over the still water.

There were a few more photographers besides me there. All of them trying to get as close as possible to the water going for pure perfect reflection photograph. I on the other hand step back a bit and have edge of the lake nicely framing the mountain reflection. Here is my almost classic image of the mountain:

But then I thought that what was really interesting and unique about that morning was the first frost. So, I walked away from the lake to the point where I had seen two logs pointing in the direction of the mountain. To me these images are more interesting. The first one was taken before sunrise during twilight and the second one was taken right after sunrise.

Busiest Time of a Year

Fall. So many colors. Changing quickly. Fleeting moments…

I love fall most of all. When I was a teenager my favorite time of a year was spring when everyone springs into action, when air is filled with scents of blossom and fresh greenery. Now fall is my favorite. Is it because of age? Or simply the fact that I live in an evergreen state now?

Fall is the busiest time of a year for me. I like spending hours meditating with my camera in a solitude of the Nature. I love diving into its colors. This year I’ve already spent time photographing fall in Colorado, and in Rainier National Park. This week I’m going to yet another location. Naturally, I cannot keep up with processing all the photos. Well, I’ll have the whole winter for that. But I feel like I have to keep up with writing blog. I promised that to myself. So, here is one image from Colorado.

Colors of Fall
Colors of Fall

Strolling thru Kubota Garden

Sometimes plans don’t work out and I’m glad they don’t. One weekend another photographer and I were planning to hike up a mountain trail to photograph a lake in snow. When time came my buddy bailed out and I did not want to risk hiking in snow after dark alone. Instead I went to Kubota Gardens in Seattle and spent a day there.

Typically, when for places like parks or gardens close to home I try to find time during week or go with family during weekend for one or two hours to do photography. This was the first time I spend whole day in one relatively small garden. And it felt really good – photograph without rushing, lying under a tree, taking time, observing.

I’ve fell in love with this garden.


Early Morning Mist


Let Me Offer My Hand


Passage


Bush on Fire


Due Drops Caught in a Web


Simple Yellow on Red


Lying on the Ground Looking Into Sunny Sky


Explosion


Butterfly


Light

A Dream About Water

I’ve wrote about light painting before and I’ll likely write more again as this really fascinates me in photography. For me it is a lot of fun playing with lights, a lot of creativity as I create something that was not there in the first place, and a lot of surprise as most of the time what I get is unexpected.

Here is an image that got me very excited about light painting again. I spent a day photographing fall foliage in Kubota Gardens in Seattle (I’m still working on post-processing those photos). At dusk as it got dark enough for exposures to go up to 30 seconds I started playing with light painting with two waterfalls I found in the gardens.

I found the upper waterfall to be more interesting of the two because it had red leaves caught in the stream and I could get a more dynamic image with foreground and background.

There were two new things I played with this time. First, I brought two different flashlights: one had cool light and the other one had warm light. So, I could do not only light painting but also color painting. The other thing that I played with was focus, shifting focus in the middle of light painting. This created dreamy effect.

For those interested in more technical details here is how I took this image. The camera was on a tripod, aperture wide open (f/4 for the lens that I used), shutter was 30 seconds. It was pretty dark already, my camera was not able to focus just using ambient light. First I would use very powerful warm flashlight. I would point to a rock in the middle of the frame and focused the camera using auto focus. I would turn off auto focus then. Turn off the flashlight, so it does not light up something accidentally, and release shutter. Then quickly with the same powerful warm light I would trace the waterfall and the creek back and forth a few times to ensure that individual spots or streaks of light a now visible. That was taking me about 5 seconds. Then I would turn off flashlight and defocus the lens. The rest of 25 seconds I was using weak cool flashlight to light up sides of the frame while the camera was out of focus. I did this ten times or more, every time getting a different image – I love the element of surprise. This I think is the best out of the series.

A Dream About Water
A Dream About Water

Rhododendrons or Not?

Recently I went with a fellow photographers to photograph rhododendrons which are common on eastern hills of Olympic mountains. We were hoping for fog to have a good separation of rhododendron bushes from trees in background.

There was fog but not where we needed it. The only option left was to use shallow depth of field. My fixed 50mm lens got second life. I had not used it for a while but it was most appropriate in that case since it had the widest aperture of all my lenses.

Rhododendron
Rhododendron

The other options was to let it blend with with forest, make it part of it.

Spring Green
Spring Green

Did I mention there was fog but not where we needed it? Well, we ended up spending most of the time photographing that fog that was somewhere else:

Fog Over Lowlands
Fog Over Lowlands

Fog Over Puget Sound
Fog Over Puget Sound

Dante’s Peak

Day 5, Noon

What an amazing breathtaking view of Death Valley opens up from Dante’s Peak!

The elevation gain of Dante’s Peak is so high that the temperature drops 15C comparing to the the temperature at the bottom of the valley. I got there in t-shirt and shorts but quickly had to put on long-sleeved shirt, warm jacket and gloves to keep myself warm.

Here is a panorama with Badwater in the front (click on the image to see bigger size):

View from Dante's Peak

Here is horizontal photo of the part in the distance:

View from Dante's Peak

And here are is a vertical:

View from Dante's Peak

Sand Storm

Day 4, Dusk

At night dunes are calm and quiet. But as sun rises strong winds start moving sands. Dunes become violent and unpredictable.

Today I went into dunes for sunset. There was little to no wind at first then within a few minutes wind became very strong. It was not only moving dust, it was moving sand.

Would you want your skin be polished with sand paper? That’s how it felt standing in that sand storm. I had to hide behind a bush hoping that it will be over soon but it was picking up more and more. As I was standing behind the bush I saw sand settling on camera. I needed to get out.

I was walking backwards toward a road to keep my back against the wind. The fun part in walking backwards was seeing my footsteps disappear right in front of my eyes. The wind and moving send would repair the dune texture within seconds.

Sand Storm
Sand Storm. No Visibility

Barefoot

Day 4, Dawn

Walking dunes barefoot adds another dimension to the experience of being in sand dunes. The dunes density changes – sometimes it feels like walking on a paved road and sometimes your feet sink deep into sand. Sand texture changes too – sometimes it is grainy and rough and other times it is powder soft.

And it is so quiet and calm in the morning before sunrise. Working barefoot on sand that cooled down during night is such a relaxing experience.

Morning in Dunes

Death Valley

Day 1, Afternoon

This is a beginning of a story about my photographic trip to Death Valley. One of the things that I did differently this time around was writing a journal of some thoughts about scenes I saw and events that happened.

Death Valley is an unique place. It is a place of extreme heat, lack of water and Nature’s way to show adaptation and survival of life. It is a place of extreme contrasts – from heat of the bottom of the valley to cold mountain tops, from dunes at the bottom to forests at the tops.

Every time I go to Death Valley I spent most time in dunes. I’m captivated by their perfect geometry of line, shape and texture. That’s where I stent most of my time on this trip too. But let’s not skip too far ahead and start at the beginning.

Upon arrival to Las Vegas airport I rented a car – a large SUV with foldable second row of seats, so there is a large enough flat area in the back. The reason was that the way I travelled was very minimalistic: I slept in the car. Before going to Death Valley I stopped at the closest grocery store and loaded up the car with water and food for the whole trip.

Once all preparation was done without much delay I took off to Death Valley. After about 3 hour drive I arrived there. The weather was great. The sky was filled with clouds. It was not typical for Death Valley but great for landscape photography.

Road in Death Valley
Road to Eureka Dunes