California Highlights

photoventures My last post mentioned that I was traveling to California on a photo trip. It had been my intention to post a small selection of images during the trip so that friends and family could keep up with progress. Unfortunately, posting images wasn’t to be, and on my return home a backlog of work prevented me from addressing the absence of images. Thankfully, I’ve managed to clear that backlog and have found time to upload some of the photos I’d hoped to post during the trip. These are now on-line and can be viewed here.

The following is a small selection of the images contained within above gallery along with some background information on their location, etc.

Days 1 and 2

Days 1 and 2 were spent in around the city of San Francisco. Thee we visited the Embarcadero centre. This provide a huge number of architectural photographic opportunities.

Bronze Sphere, Embarcadero Centre, San Francisco

After lunch, we headed off to Fort Point and the Golden Gate Bridge. Construction of the Bridge was completed in 1937.  The bridge spans the Golden Gate strait, a mile-wide, three-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The structure links the U.S. city of San Francisco, on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, to Marin County.

Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point, San Francisco

In the evening we travelled across the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island. From there we could photograph sunset over the city and bay area.

Bay Bridge at Sunset, San Francisco

Days 3 to 6

Day 3 was a travel day as we made our way to Yosemite National Park. We made numerous stops along the way, but the visit to the St Joseph’s Catholic church in Mariposa was the most memorable. The church dates back to 1862 and is located on a little hill overlooking the south end of Bullion Street. Its design and New England steeple makes St Joseph’s one of the most photographed and familiar landmarks in Mariposa.

St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Mariposa

As we walked around the graveyard it was noticeable that many of the graves contained the remains of Irish immigrants.

Graveyard, St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Mariposa

Day 4 was our first full day in Yosemite. It was an early start as we wanted to visit as many locations within the park as possible in the course of the day. The autumn colours and lighting provided lots of opportunities, and even though it was Sunday visitors were not as high as we had expected. Luck was on our side.

Mule Deer, Gates of the Valley

During the day we visited many locations along the valley floor including El Capitan, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, Cathedral Rocks, Merced River and many more. As sunset approached we made our way to Lower Pines meadow to capture the colours of sunset on the Half Dome.

Sunset On The Half Dome, Lower Pines Meadow

As the sun set and we began to pack our cameras one of the group remarked on the opportunities we had been blessed with. Little did we know that the following day would proof even more rewarding.

Day 5 began badly. We awoke to rain and heavy cloud cover. So different to the previous day. Nevertheless, we’re not in the habit of giving up easily. Our first stop was Tunnel View and it was from here that we realised that weather was worsening rather than improving. In fact, it was snowing. As I looked down into the valley through the mist and cloud I recalled the great black and white images from Ansel Adams. Maybe all wasn’t lost after all.

Gathering Storm, Tunnel View

Even down on the valley floor the snow was getting heavier and…

Snow at Valley Floor

Right through to lunchtime it snowed but there were signs that it was easing. Maybe things would be better after lunch.

Clearing Storm, El Capitan

As the clouds began to clear and temperature increased it became obvious that we were being blessed for a second day, but we would need to work fast to make the best of the quickly changing conditions.

Rising Mist, Sentinel Meadow

As the snow melted we decided another quick drive up to Tunnel View was required, and what a view we got.

Clearing Storm, Half Dome

To say that I’m pleased with the photos I captured in Yosemite would be an understatement.

Day 6 should have been another chance to visit Yosemite, especially the locations we’d not managed to get to on the previous two days. Unfortunately, the previous days snow meant that the Tioga Pass (our quickest route to Lee Vining) was closed. Pass after pass over the Sierra Nevada mountains was closed but after close to a 10 hour drive we finally reached our destination at Lee Vining. Given the late hour we literally dumped our baggage in the motel and headed off to Mono Lake in the hope that we could get a few twilight photos.

Twilight, Mono Lake

Days 7 and 8

Days 7 and 8 were spent photographing Mono Lake at sunrise and sunset with a visit to the ghost town of Bodie in between.

Mono Lake is located near to town of Lee Vining. It’s famous for the spectacular “tufa towers,” calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. Photography is best around sunrise and sunset.

Morning Mist, Mono Lake

Evening Light, Mono Lake

Bodie is located down a dusty, bumpy, slow 13 mile long road off of State Highway 395. In 1859 gold was discovered near what is now called Bodie Bluff. A mill was established in 1861 and the town began to grow. Initially there were about 20 miners but this grew to an estimated 10,000 people by 1880! Mining ceased during the 1940’s. What remains today is state protected in the form of a State Park. For the most part, it’s possible to photograph the exterior and interior of building from outside but controlled access is provided to a few.

The Metzger House, Bodie

Lamplight, Wheaton and Hollis Hotel, Bodie

On day 8 we left Mono Lake and began the long journey to the town of Lone Pine. This was to be our base for visits to the Alabama Hills and Bristlecone Pine Forest near Bishop.

Days 9 to 10

An early start on day 9 as we wanted to capture sunrise through the famous natural arches in the Alabama Hills. However, even before the early morning light hit the arches we were rewarded with the beautiful red/pink glow on Mount Whitney and Lone Pine Peak.

Sunrise, Lone Pine Peak and Mount Whitney

Mobius Arch, Alabama Hills, Lone Pine

While Mobious arch is probably the best known and certainly easiest to access of the arches there other less well known arches. Maybe the fact that climbing up to them is the reason for them being less well visited. One such arch is Portal Arch. It’s not very big and some might think not worth the steep climb required to access it.

Portal Arch, Alabama Hills, Lone Pine

As the sun began to drop on late afternoon opportunities for interesting photographs. The light and shadows on rocks and trees attracted a fair amount of our attention.

Sunlit Tree, Alabama Hills, Lone Pine

After sunrise on day 10 we began the drive to Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley. Along the way we stopped at Owen’s Lake to photograph some of the birds to be found there and reflections.

Yellowleg, Owens Lake

Days 11 to 13

Our time in Death Valley followed the usual pattern of rising before dawn to capture sunrise in the Mesquite Sand Dunes then breakfast. After breakfast we’d head off to photograph locations such as the Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater, the Racetrack, Zabriskie Point and many others in between.

Photographer in the Dunes, Mesquite Sand Dunes

The Racetrack

Ubehebe Crater at Sunset, Death Valley National Park

Day 13 began with the usual early visit to the Mesquite Sand Dunes. After breakfast we began our journey to Ridgecrest where we overnighted before travelling on to Morro Bay. At Ridgecrest we visited the Red Rock Canyon State Park and Trona Pinnacles.

Days 14 to 16

On day 14 we left Ridgecrest on our way to Morro Bay where we spent the late evening photographing a sea otter feeding and sunset over the bay.

Sea Otter Feeding, Morro Bay

Sunset, Morro Rock

Next morning (day 15) we were back down to the harbour at Morro Bay for sunrise.

Sunrise, Morro Bay

After breakfast we began our drive along the Pacific Highway. Our overnight would be Monterey.

Elephant Seals, San Simeon

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