White Mountains (CA), Silver Canyon Road, Power Lines, Monochrome

•December 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

 

ISO100, 100mm, f/9, 1/250 sec

White Mountains, Inyo National Forest, CA

Photography is not just about randomly snapping away without thought.  Slowing down and thinking about composition, light, and elements are essential to achieving workable images that may eventually be processed into art photography.  I was reminded of this fact while shooting at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest with an apparent case of the hangover (really it was altitude sickness).

There were two distinct reminders of the thought involved in creating photography.  On the way to the Patriarch Grove over the 12 miles of graded dirt, Juls had an area of powerlines that seem to come from nowhere and disappear over the hill.  3 sets of parallel powerlines that instantly triggered ideas of shots in my head.  But we were on a mission to reach Patriarch Grove so the plan was to shot these lines on the way back.

While hiking around for what ended up being 2+ hours among the Bristlecones, the high altitude gave the both of us slight altitude sickness.  I ended up exploring and hiking alone for the last hour, intent on shooting the isolated Bristlecones up the hill.  What should have been a boon of quality photos, ended with 2-3 workable images.  The hour of battling low oxygen, high winds, and a low grade headache somehow took me off my game.  It became more about just getting to an interesting tree and hastily making a couple of shots and moving on.

The same gusty winds and headache affected these powerline shots on the way back.  Only 1 workable image out of maybe 5 taken.

If you don’t take the time behind the camera thinking and being creative, there is only some much you can reasonably do in post to complete that original photographic vision.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO100, 100mm, f/9, 1/250 sec

White Mountains (CA), Silver Canyon Road, Power Lines, Monochrome.  near Bishop, CA. November 28, 2014. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Latrobe (CA), Rolling Hills, Oaks, Barbed Wire, Monochrome

•December 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment
ISO800, 75mm, f/4.2, 1/20 sec

El Dorado County, CA

There is this hill in a small “town” on my route home from work that I will occasionally drive to when clouds, smoke, or something atmospheric of interest is in the area.  And town is in quotes because the town proper is virtually non-existent anymore.  Back in the day there was a railroad stop and much more daily activity.  Today, there is still an elementary and middle school, but the area is dotted with small ranches set far apart and one high-end home subdivision behind a gate.

The location of the hill is perfect for an elevated view of the most directions that are not north.

While the skies looked interesting this particular day, it was not as great as I hoped, but it still warranted a few test shots.  What I had forgotten was that the ISO setting was still set at 800 the outing before to shoot a boys’ soccer game.  Aside from a bit of graininess, the ISO neither improved or make the photograph better or worse.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO800, 75mm, f/4.2, 1/20 sec

Latrobe (CA), Rolling Hills, Oaks, Barbed Wire, Monochrome.  El Doradoo County, CA. November 11, 2014. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Inyo County (CA), Ancient Bristlecone Pine, Fallen Pine, Blue Sky, Dolomite

•December 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment
ISO100, 26mm, f/5, 1/320 sec

Patriarch Grove, White Mountains, Inyo County, CA

Suffering for art.  Yes, the statement is a bit over the top, but not entirely false since I did end up having effects from altitude sickness.  It all started well.  We had taken a moderately difficult 1/4 mile trail loop at the Patriarch Grove in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest above Bishop.  At a little over 11,ooo ft, the air was thin, we were occasionally out of breath, but none the worse for wear.  Part one of this trek was about an hour.

I decided to head the direction of some isolated Bristlecones standing silently in white dolomite.  It was probably 1/8 of a mile uphill to the trees.  I had to sit and catch my breath for 5 minutes after arriving at the first target tree.  By the time I had reached this beautiful living specimen, this second trek had taken up almost an hour.  Since I was within sight of the car, the need to bring along my hydration pack seem unnecessary, plus it was just more weight.  Maybe not the best choice.  By the time I arrived back at the car, I was told I looked like crap and walked a little punch drunk.  And this low grade headache formed as well.  Altitude sickness.  Fortunately, it was never worse than a low grade headache and the strange need to sleep…immediately.  I still had my appetite and we made it back down to lower altitude safely, and were able to witness the existence of trees that are thousands of years old.

For those that might experience altitude sickness, the first rule is to descend quickly to lower elevation.  Symptoms such as a headache, nausea, and sleepiness are common.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO100, 26mm, f/5, 1/320 sec

Inyo County (CA), Ancient Bristlecone Pine, Fallen Pine, Blue Sky, Dolomite.  near Bishop, CA. November 28, 2014. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Amador County (CA), Storm Clouds, White Clouds

•December 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment
ISO100, 26mm, f/4, 1/40 sec

Amador County, CA

The clouds were putting on a show in the late afternoon in the midst of a log-awaited week-long storm in California.  When I spied this strange strange cloud exiting the car, I just had to grab the camera out of the trunk and snap a few shots sans tripod.  Not the most spectacular photograph, but I wanted to capture the beauty of forms in the sky.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO100, 26mm, f/4, 1/40 sec

Amador County (CA), Storm Clouds, White Clouds.  Amador County, CA. December 03, 2014. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Inyo County (CA), Bristlecone Pine Remnants, Dolomite, Blue Sky

•December 4, 2014 • Leave a Comment
ISO100, 18mm, f/4.5, 1/160 sec

Patriarch Grove, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, White Mountains, Inyo County, CA

We just made it. California finally has a series of storms lasting at least week. This had not happened for at least a year. This means the graded dirt road leading to the Patriarch Grove seen here is now likely closed. With an elevation of just over 11,000 feet, the Grove (located in the White Mountains) are now likely living up to its name covered in fresh snow.

As for the Grove itself, if you are in the right frame of mind (or maybe just loopy from the altitude), it is humbling and awe inspiring to know that our entire lifetime is just a blip in the lives of these ancient Bristlecone Pines, some of which are over 5,000 years ago, the oldest living trees in the world.

The dead trees set against a background of white dolomite conjure up a lunar feel to the area. The goal of this photograph was to properly position the tree trunk so the three “young” waist-high trees nearby are not seen.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO100, 18mm, f/4.5, 1/160 sec

Inyo County (CA), Bristlecone Pine Remnants, Dolomite, Blue Sky.  near Bishop, CA. November 28, 2014. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Bishop (CA), Stick Figure Petroglyph, White Mountains, Sunset

•November 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment
ISO100, 19mm, f/16, 1 sec

Volcanic Tablelands, Bishop, CA

Driving into the high-altitude city of Bishop on more than one occasion, I had always wondered if there was anything of interest between Hwy 395 (the main north-south Eastern Sierra highway) and the White Mountains to the east.   Bishop is the town most photographers stop at or pass through on their way to the Bishop Creek area lakes for Fall Color photography.  After some quick research, I soon realized the plateau is called the Volcanic Tablelands, teeming with hundreds of ancient petroglyphs at dozens of sites.  While we were able to see a few dozen petroglyphs at one well-known site, there are still some “holy grail” locations we just did not have time to explore and find.

With the sun setting on the White Mountains, we viewed a stash of petroglyphs highlighted by this lone stick figure on a rock and a set of 3, possibly, bear claw glyphs the next rock over.  With the sun fading and our stomachs seeking actual food, we reluctantly headed back to the car and city of Bishop, vowing to come back the next day or the following.  Unfortunately, with the approaching storm and the possibility of mountain pass closures blocking our direct route home, we will have to explore this area during our next trip.  Then we can see firsthand Sky Rock and 13 Moons petroglyphs.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO100, 19mm, f/16, 1 sec

Bishop (CA), Stick Figure Petroglyph, White Mountains, Sunset.  Volcanic Tablelands, Bishop, CA. November 27, 2014. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Logtown Ridge (CA), Metal Gate Leaves, Water Drop

•November 27, 2014 • Leave a Comment
ISO100, 125mm, f/5.6, 1/60 sec

Logtown Ridge, El Dorado, CA

The idea of this photograph was better than the execution, but even with a nice cup of coffee in my hand I preferred to go back indoors where I was informed a ham sandwich was waiting for me.  Priorities, right?

During post processing, the photo almost went the direction of a black and white conversion, but I wanted to retain the blue in the background versus a lighter grey in a conversion.  I am still not sure if leaving this in color was the right choice.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO100, 125mm, f/5.6, 1/60 sec

Logtown Ridge (CA), Metal Fence Leaves, Water Drop.  El Dorado, CA. November 22, 2014. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

 
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