Tag Archives: desert

Wanderlust :: CO

11 Jul
Wanderlust :: CO

Wanderlust :: CO

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed … We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.” -Wallace Stegner

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado is a spectacular place. ❤

Although the idea of our national parks is deeply rooted in American culture, there was a time when preserving wild spaces was just the merest wisp of an idea.  It was an idea, however, that resonated deeply with people like John Muir, whose prolific writings stressed that these natural spaces were necessary for the soul.  His advocacy later became the driving force behind the creation of several national parks.

In response to growing pressure, Yosemite was placed under the protection of the state of California by Abraham Lincoln.  In 1872, Ulysses S. Grant made Yellowstone the world’s first national park.  In 1916, the National Park Service was created to oversee the growing network of national parks, refuges, forests, etc with a mandate to protect the parks “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations,” and to promote their use by all people.

So where does that leave us now?

Just like anything else, not everyone agrees with the idea of protecting and preserving the land and animals that live within the land set aside by the government.  In particular, designated National Monuments – which come into being through the executive branch, under the Antiquities Act, for the purpose of preserving sites on federal lands with significant natural, cultural, or scientific features – have come under fire recently.  The Antiquities Act, however, was specifically created to protect these spaces from OURSELVES.  At the time, precious native american historic sites were defiled and artifacts were being stolen from the lands by treasure hunters to be placed into the hands of private collectors.

The arguments against many of the designated monument lands generally boil down to resources and money.  It costs money to maintain the lands.  The local towns are more and more overwhelmed and their resources are stretched thin to accommodate visitors.  There are natural resources within those lands that someone wants to consume more of – lumber, grazing lands, fossil fuels, etc.  Most recently, the American people have been “loving places to death” and there isn’t enough man-power to stop them….  The list goes on.

But in the end, there is only one argument needed to convince me that these lands need protection though…. Humans.

Now, let me clarify by saying that not all humans are short-sighted or greedy.  And often times environmental damage is done because of limited choices, lack of options, the need to survive.

That being said, it can’t be denied that we only have one planet, and we haven’t always been good stewards.  There are billions of pounds of garbage in the worlds oceans.  We poison and acidify our drinking and recreational waters.  We pollute our air, and then cry foul when our populations develop higher incidences of cancer, asthma and copd. We create environmental dead zones, with our waste killing off millions of birds and animals.  We deforest huge swaths of land without re-planting trees, who are major players in the “you need oxygen to breathe” game.  Most importantly, and humans ignore the fact that we live in a web, where every single thing on this planet is connected to the others.  Food chains are delicate and small changes to environmental conditions can have far-reaching consequences which will likely affect your children.

So while I personally believe there is almost always room for compromise, I also strongly believe that our nationally designated spaces serve an important, long-term, survival-as-a-species function.  They are pockets of hope for future generations.  I hope with my whole heart that we continue to appreciate our wild spaces, and they function they serve not only as a safe haven for our weary souls, but as a space where the other important strands in the web of life can thrive.  I hope we continue to think about the big picture, which is keeping this planet hospitable to our species for as long as possible.

Or at least until we figure out terra-forming and light speed.  We comin’ atcha, Earth 2!

 

Sands of Time :: CO

27 Jun
Sands of Time :: CO

Sands of Time :: CO

“What makes a desert beautiful,’ said the little prince, ‘is that somewhere it hides a well…” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I decided to go a bit dramatic on this one, because I’ve always loved the red filter-Ansel Adams look and it just felt right here. ❤️

This is from the Great Sand Dunes in CO, and spoiler alert…they really were great! 😊

Shadows and Swirls :: NV

28 Mar


“Not all who wander are lost.” ❤

I’m not entirely sure why I never got around to editing these. I think it might have had to do with how special this sunrise felt to me….like I had the whole desert to myself, and I was hesitant to create something that wouldn’t live up to my memory of it. But in the end, beauty is meant to be shared. 😊
Quick shout out to David Pasillas Photography for his help with this edit. He’s a creative powerhouse, editing wizard and all around great guy….make sure to check out his page and leave him some comments to remind him he has a blog. Lol
This is a blend of 3 shots, two foreground (one with sun flare, one without) and the sky, combined to recreate the morning.

Caliche

9 May
Caliche :: OR

Caliche :: OR

 

Strange name for a photo, eh?  Well, it’s actually quite literal.  This was shot in the Alvord desert of Oregon (a stunning place, in my opinion) on a mostly dry lake bed.  I say mostly, because when we arrived, the northern end of the playa still had some water – not much, but enough that there was a thick mud along the water’s edge called “caliche”.  (At least according to the locals!  I am certainly no mud expert.)

Anyway, this whole set up was interesting in a few ways.  First, in the span of just a day, a slight wind caused the water on the northern end of the lake to migrate significantly south vastly changing the face of the damaged playa in just 24 hours.  Anyone who was silly enough to park / camp close to the migration area would have been in for a rude surprise.

Second, I have never seen such sticky mud before.  Our hike across it got progressively harder…and taller, as the caliche built up beneath the soles of our shoes.  According to some of the people living on the playa’s edge, visitors can easily bury their vehicles up to the axle if they don’t heed the subtle color changes that signify the transition from hard, dry earth to mud.

As for the actual image, this was our first sunrise at the desert and obviously, it was pretty dang stunning.  This was shot with a wide angle lens and a grad ND filter.

It was also taken as part of a series of images to be used in this month’s lesson, Hyperfocal Distance, that David and I are teaching over at Light & Landscape (a fun, online teaching and critiquing program that we helped launch in February….we have an online image review planned for later this month, so if you’re looking for some feedback and a taste of what we do in the L&L Member’s Area, definitely contact us for more information!)

The camera settings:  f/11, 1/8 sec, 10 mm, iso 100

Always Growing

23 Feb
Cracked :: CA

Cracked :: CA

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.” – C. Joybell C.

As many of you know, besides just taking photos and authoring books (shameless promotion) I write for Light and Landscape Magazine (#1 landscape photography magazine through itunes), and teach local to my area.  A few months ago, the magazine approached David and I about a brand new venture involving a large-scale teaching format for their readership.  Basically, they asked if we would be interested in teaching photography to people all over the word via the interwebs.

Pfffttt.  No way“, I said.  “Why would I want to do that??

Oh.  Wait.  That’s not what I said.  I believe my exact quote was, “Hells. F’n. Yes.”  I adore teaching, and encouraging others to grow their passion and I am very excited to be able to help more people reach their photo goals!  So, for those of you interested in growing your photography skills, in a nutshell, the magazine is offering a monthly subscription to grant you access to the Member’s Area.  That access gets you lesson plans, feedback, how-to videos, live hangouts to answer questions, etc etc.  Basically, a whole bunch of awesome.

If you’re interested in learning more, Matt (the brains behind the magazine) is doing a 40% off sale until Thursday ONLY.  You can (should!) watch a video all about the new awesome learning program that all of the cool kids (you are a cool kid, right??) are doing here: http://www.lightandlandscape.co/learn-with-light-and-landscape

 

As for the image above, for those of you interested, it was taken in Death Valley in December after some historic flooding (yes, I said flooding) in October.  These mudtile areas were just drying out, and the patterns were so fresh and full of texture.  Unfortunately, in some places, they were also full of people writing “I love DV” and “Sally wuz here” because, I suppose, some people just can’t help themselves. *sigh*

I know I just posted something about it recently, so I won’t preach, but please….as a good human being, make an effort to preserve the spaces we have and enjoy collectively.  Just recently, a historic icon in California suffered some severe fire damage because people were thoughtless with their actions. They didn’t think about the consequences of spinning steel wool near the old, dried wood of a beached boat in Point Reyes and because of that, a local and tourist favorite spot is now partially destroyed.  Leave no trace, friends, or future generations won’t have anything left to photograph.

Cracked: f/9, 1/40 sec, 22mm, ISO 100

The Badlands

29 Dec
Of Fire and Waves :: CA

Of Fire and Waves :: CA

Earlier this month I went out west to explore Death Valley National Park in California.  During the month of October, they had a flood (yes, I said flood!  In the desert!) that changed a lot of the landscape.  Roads were washed out, some areas were completely inaccessible still, and the salt patterns in Badwater Basin got a bit of a reset.  Zabriskie Point though?  It was lookin’ mighty fine.  Especially draped in such dramatic light.

To say we lucked out with the skies during our trip is an understatement.  Like….the traveler/photographer/nature lover in me was literally freaking out.  A lot.  Because holy crap, that light. *swoon*

According to the Wik (always a reliable source of information), these badlands were the result of a little bit of water erosion (there used to be a lake here, with fish and stuff)…and then a little bit of lava action (so…also some volcano-y stuff).  The rock formations left behind were otherworldly and breath-taking, from both above at the overlook and below along the Badlands Loop trail. (To read more about our hike that day, check out my stuff on The Outbound Collective. They just released a brand new app for the iPhone and have a pretty rad new #protectthewild series of articles in their journal that are definitely worth a read!)

I had an awful lot of fun exploring Death Valley, and have put it on my “to re-visit” list, because a few days was just not enough time to see all of the awesome!  For now though, looking at these photos will have to suffice. 😉

Special thanks to David Thompson and David Pasillas for their help with this beast of an edit!

For those of you who like the details: f/9, 10 mm, iso 100, 1 sec

I <3 Joshua Tree

11 Mar
Key's View Sunrise

Key’s View Sunrise

 

Welp, almost exactly one year ago, I was dragging my butt out of a comfy-ish bed to yawn my way out to Key’s View in Joshua Tree National Park.  It was one of my better decisions in life. 🙂

I’ve finally gotten around to editing this pano and I’m not gonna lie…pretty darn proud of this. It turned out very close to what I envisioned when I was setting up for the series (aka, trying very hard not to slide down the scree with my tripod and camera!).

Hopefully, you guys enjoy the view!