Category Archives: Geotagging

California Highlights 2019

It’s Easter 2020 and we’re currently living in harrowing times with much of the world engaged in attempts to manage the spread of Covid-19. Like many countries, the UK is in a state of semi lockdown with large sections of the population confined to their homes or at best a short distance from same. So, like many others I’m currently filling my days with various chores around the house and garden. I’ve even managed to spend some time editing photos from my trip to California in November 2019. These are now on-line and can be viewed here.

California Highlights Diary

It was originally my intention to post a small selection of images during the trip so that friends and family could keep up with progress. Alas, long days and nights of photography meant that my plans never came to fruition. Nevertheless, I did manage to write down a few notes each day as a reminder of the locations we’d been too.

Day 1

We arrived in the city of South San Francisco mid afternoon, and having left our baggage at the motel we headed to a location called the Wind Harp. This 92-foot tall sculpture is located on the side of a hill known as Point San Bruno Knoll that overlooks the San Francisco Bay.

Wind Harp, South San Francisco

Day 2 was a travel day as we made our way to Yosemite National Park. We made numerous stops along the way. A highlight was the visit to the St Joseph’s Catholic church in Mariposa. We even managed a guided tour of Mariposa County Courthouse.

Mariposa County Courthouse

Days 3 to 5

We spent 3 days in Yosemite with early starts each morning as we wanted to visit as many locations within the park as possible. On my previous trip in 2013 we were blessed with snow on one of the days. Unfortunately, whilst snow provided lots of photographic opportunities around the valley floor it prevented us getting to some of the more iconic locations high above the valley. This time weather was more suited to driving to the higher viewpoints, and we even managed to photograph Half Dome at sunset from Glacier Point.

Half Dome at Sunset, Glacier Point

Days 5 – 7

We spent the morning of day 5 in Yosemite before making our way to Mono Lake. Our route took us over the Tioga Pass with short stops at Olmsted Point and Tenya Lake.

Mono Lake is a saline soda lake formed around 760,000 years ago. The lack of an outlet causes high levels of salts to accumulate in the lake. Our first evening at went well with  beautiful sunset followed by a long period of afterglow.

Sunset Afterglow, Mono Lake

On the second evening  a few of use drove to Lake Mary near Mammoth Lakes. It was a clear night with the Milky Way plain to see with the naked eye.

Milky Way, Lake Mary, Mammoth Lakes

Days 7-9

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.

The Alabama Hills, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada just west of Lone Pine, is one of Hollywood’s favourite filming locations. The beautiful rock formations and natural arches of the hills bordered by a vast open plain rising majestically to the mountains beyond has been a prime filming location since the early 1900s.

Lathe Arch and Mount Whitney, Alabama Hills

After sunrise on day 9 we began the drive to Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley.

Days 9-12

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, Zabriskie Point and many others in between.

Fan Clouds at Sunset, Zabriskie Point

We left Death Valley and headed westward to the town of Ridgecrest for an overnight stop before travelling to Morro Bay. We had chosen Ridgecrest because it gave us good access to the Trona Pinnacles National Natural Landmark. The Trona Pinnacles are an unusual geological feature in the California Desert National Conservation Area. The landscape consists of more than 500 tufa spires, some as high as 140 feet, rising from the bed of the Searles Lake basin.

Unfortunately, we mistimed our arrival with the result that the sun had already set. Nevertheless, we did manage to capture some afterglow photos 😉

Sunset at Trona Pinnacles

Day 13

We left Ridgecrest on our way to Morro Bay where we spent the late evening photographing sunset over the bay. It’s known for Morro Rock, an ancient volcanic mound at the end of Morro Rock Beach.

Morro Rock at Sunset, Morro Bay

Day 14

On day 14 we travelled northward stopping along the way to capture as many photo opportunities as we could.

Bixby Bridge, Big Sur

Day 15

Day 15 began with a visit to the Carmel Mission Basilica Museum. The Carmel Mission as it’s more commonly named was first built in 1797, and is one of the most authentically restored Roman Catholic mission churches in California. The Basilica Church, a registered National Historic Landmark, is the centerpiece of the Mission.

Carmel Basilica, Carmel

Day 16

Our final full day in California was spent in San Francisco with a short trip across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sea Fret, Golden Gate Bridge

Images were GPS tagged and edited in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC

Note: I don’t allow comments on Blog pages, but am happy to receive your thoughts on the photos and/or the tutorials etc. Just send an email to ilyons@msn.com 

Winter in the Canyons

Don Robertson, Gold King Mine Ghost Town, JeromeBetween 22 November and 5 December I was lucky enough to travel to USA for second time in 2015. The trip focused primarily on the national and state parks found in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. I’d travelled to the same area in the spring of 2011 and enjoyed it a lot. As with many of my previous trips to the US this one was arranged by Roger Reynolds at PhotoVentures. In total, the group was made up of 8 photographers from various parts of the UK, although we had all travelled together on previous occasions.

On the morning of our first day we spent a few hours near Sedona in Red Rock Park by the Oak River, the area may remind you of scenes from the film ‘How the West was won’ and the many other westerns that were filmed close by. It was a beautiful morning with glorious light mixing with the trees and late fall colours along the river.

Cathedral Rock, Oak Creek, Sedona

Cathedral Rock, Oak Creek, Sedona

From Sedona we made our way via Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon National Park where we would close out the day photographing the canyon from one of the viewpoints near Grand Canyon Village.

Hopi Point Overlook, Grand Canyon National Park

Hopi Point Overlook, Grand Canyon National Park

The second day began with an early start photographing the sunrise and morning light along the Grand Canyon rim.

Vishnu Temple and Wotans Throne from Yaki Point, Grand Canyon National Park

Vishnu Temple and Wotans Throne from Yaki Point, Grand Canyon National Park

Later that morning we visited Desert View before heading off on our journey to Page. Along the way we stopped at Cameron for few shots of the Little Colorado River Gorge. We passed through the outskirts of The Painted Desert, the towns of The Gap, Cedar Ridge and Bitter Springs before climbing onto the Colorado Plateau with its magnificent views of Page and Lake Powell in the distance. After checking into our hotel we travelled to an overlook above Waheap bay, which has spectacular views of Lake Powell. The sunset and afterglow was well worth the trip.

Navajo Power Station at Sunset, Page

Navajo Power Station at Sunset, Page

Our third day was spent photographing Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon near Page. Originally, we had planned to split this over two days, but on arrival at the upper canyon we realised that this wouldn’t be possible due to the large number of visitors taking advantage of the excellent weather and Thanksgiving holiday.

Upper Antelope Canon, Lake Powel Navajo Tribal Park

Upper Antelope Canyon, Lake Powel Navajo Tribal Park

Our fourth day was spent photographing around the Glen Canyon Dam at Page and Horseshoe Bend then on to photograph  the Toadstools of the Grand Staircase-Escalente National Monument.

Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

The Toadstools, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The Toadstools, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Having spent 3 day at Page it was now time to on to our next destination – Zion National Park. We travelled through spectacular areas such as Vermilion Cliff Wilderness and the Paria Canyon Wilderness. We also managed a short detour to the Johnson Canyon Movie set before travelling on to the town of Springdale near Zion National Park

Old Movie Set, Johnson Canyon

Old Movie Set, Johnson Canyon

We spent the next 3 days photographing in Zion National Park. As with the previous days the weather and lighting was kind to us.

Lone Tree, Zion National Park

Lone Tree, Zion National Park

Watchman and Virgin River at Sunset, Zion National Park

Watchman and Virgin River at Sunset, Zion National Park

On our last day at Zion we went into the park very early hoping for a few good sunrise photos.

Sunrise at Towers of the Virgin, Zion National Park

Sunrise at Towers of the Virgin, Zion National Park

Having had a good breakfast we  began out journey Bryce. This took us past Checkerboard Mesa to Carmel Junction giving us a final opportunity to capture images of the amazing rock formations and landscapes of Zion.

By this stage the weather was getting much colder, and we’d been told that there was heavy snow at Bryce.  We arrived at Bryce as the light was fading having stopped along the way to photograph the hoodoos and snow at Red Rock Canyon.

Next morning we were made our way to Sunset Point to photograph the Sunrise (crazy, but true).

Sunrise, Bryce Canyon National Park

Sunrise, Bryce Canyon National Park

Ampitheatre in Morning Light, Bryce Canyon National Park

Ampitheatre in Morning Light, Bryce Canyon National Park

Having spent two full days at Bryce we made an early start on the third. We began our journey to Hanksville taking Route 12 through Tropic to Cannonville. We continued on to Escalante. Our journey was through the heart of Garfield County and its many photographic opportunities. Along the way we passed along the Escalante River and into the heart of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This National Monument was only designated just a few years ago. On leaving the town of Escalante we travelled the 6 miles to ‘Hole in the Rock Road’ where we divert south to visit Devils Garden where we photographed the hoodoos.

Hoodoos, Devils Garden, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Hoodoos, Devils Garden, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

From the Grand Staircase-Escalante we travelled on to Hanksville where we spent the night. Next morning we travelled the few miles from Hanksville to Frutia and into Capitol Reef National Park. We spent a good few hours in the park visiting amazing rock formations in various canyons and gorges.

Desert Varnish and Tree, Capitol Gorge, Capitol Reef National Pa

Desert Varnish and Tree, Capitol Gorge, Capitol Reef National Park

Having spent just over a week in Southern Utah it was now time to head back into Arizona where we spent the next few days photographing in Monument Valley and then Canyon de Chelly.

Our first stop was Monument Valley. We arrived in good time for sunset, although the best shots were captured after the sun had dropped below the horizon. The red rocks glowed in the dying light.

Twilight, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Twilight, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

It was an early rise next morning to photograph the sunrise. Fortunately, I only needed to walk a few steps across the bedroom to capture them.

Sunrise, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Sunrise, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

We spent the remainder of the morning in the park with a Navajo guide before travelling on to Chinle where we spend the next day photographing in Canyon de Chelly.

As with Monument Valley we had to arrange for a Navajo guide to take us into the canyon. As we travelled along the Chinle Wash the guide pointed out many of the Anasazi Cliff dwellings, Petroglyphs and Pictographs. The principal ruins are the White House, Antelope House, Standing Cow and Mummy Cave.

Ancient Cliff Dwelling, Canyon De Chelly National Monument

Ancient Cliff Dwelling, Canyon De Chelly National Monument

Frozen Creek, Canyon De Chelly National Monument

Frozen Creek, Canyon De Chelly National Monument

Having spent 13 days travelling through Southern Utah and Northern Arizona it was now time to make our way back to Phoenix via Flagstaff. We headed south along Route 89a for through Sedona to the town of Jerome. This amazing mining town appears to have remained unchanged since it was built in the previous century. From Jerome we took the short drive to the Gold King Mine & Ghost Town. This is an abandoned mining village. Here we were able to capture some the many classic american cars that are stored there.

Classic Racing Car, Gold King Mine Ghost Town

Classic Racing Car, Gold King Mine Ghost Town, Jerome

Of course, we also managed to get a few photographs of the owner – Don Robertson.

Don Robertson, Gold King Mine Ghost Town, Jerome

Don Robertson, Gold King Mine Ghost Town, Jerome

The gallery can be found at Winter in the Canyons

All photographs were processed using Adobe Lightroom 6.3 on my Apple MacBook Pro. Obviously, being a laptop the display is far from ideal for serious photos editing.

Spring in Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks

Red-knaped Woodpecker in Flight, Beartooth Mountains The first leg of my trip to USA has now finished and we have moved on to Alaska. While I managed to take many and varied photographs in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks my Internet connection wasn’t sufficiently strong or stable to allow for anything other than the odd e-mail.  Instead, I’ve put together a selection of photographs, which I hope to upload shortly. In the meantime, I’ve uploaded some representative images from Grand Teton and Yellowstone.

Update: a gallery of photos from trip can be viewed here

Our first few days were spent around Jackson (Wyoming). We visited all of the usual favourite locations in Grand Teton National Park along with some of the more photogenic areas just outside of there park proper. The wildflower meadows at Antelope Flats were a mass of colour with Arrow-root Balsam, Mules Ears, Penstemons, Skyrockets, Lupins, Paintbrush, etc. The scene really looked quite spectacular with the Teton mountain range as a backdrop.

Wild Flower Meadow, & Grand Tetons, Grand Teton National Park

Wild Flower Meadow, Grand Tetons, Grand Teton National Park

Our day tends to start quite early, and on two occassions we were up and out by 4.30am. This allowed us to capture sunrise although the lack of clouds meant that the spectacular colours we had hoped for didn’t materialise. Nevertheless, some very nice images were captured. The following shot of the Teton mountains reflecting on the still water of the Snake River at Schwabacher’s Landing is a particulr favourite.

Teton Sunrise, Schwabacher's Landing, Grand Teton National Park

Teton Sunrise, Schwabacher’s Landing, Grand Teton National Park

After a few days we moved on to Yellowstone National Park. As is usual when we visit Yellowstone we based ourselves in West Yellowstone. The town and park were both very busy with much larger numbers of visitors than we expected, and it was extremely hot. Early morning was best as the park was quiet and lighting much better for photography. Also, during late spring and summer the steam and mists coming off the rivers and hot springs burns off quite quickly. The photograph shown directly below was captured just after sunrise.

Morning Mist, Madison River, Yellowstone National Park

Morning Mist, Madison River, Yellowstone National Park

The Upper Geyser basin (location of Old Faithful) is another early morning favourite and the following image of Geyser Hill is a particular favourite from our visit to the area.

Early Morning, Geyser Hill, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Early Morning, Geyser Hill, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

One of the most disappointing aspects of this trip was that the herds of Bison and Elk normally found along the Madison River were missing. Fortunately, we eventually located a huge herd of Bison in the Lamar Valley. Elk were much more difficult to find, but we did manage to find a few. Other sought after wildlife in Yellowstone are the bears, namely the Grizzly Bear. Again, fortune was on our side and we came a across a cub playing in amongst the wild flowers high up in the Dunraven Pass.

Playful Grizzly Cub, Dunraven Pass, Yellowstone National Park

Playful Grizzly Cub, Dunraven Pass, Yellowstone National Park

Mammoth Hot Springs is another popular location, but on previous recent visits we had noticed that the thermal pools and springs were becoming less acessible as they moved further from the boardwalks. This next image is virtually all that remains accessible at the upper section of Canary Spring.

Upper Camary Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

Upper Canary Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

After best part of a week based in West Yellowstone we moved across to the south side of the park to Cooke City. From there we had easy access to the Beartooth Mountains.

We had two visits up high up into the mountains via the Beartooth Pass. These gave us plenty of opportunities to photograph the wild Mountain Goats that roam high up in the mountains, and the wild flowers.

Mountain Goat, Twin Lakes Overlook, Beartooth Mountains

Mountain Goats, Twin Lakes Overlook, Beartooth Mountains

Gardner Lake Overlook, Beartooth Mountains

Wild Flowers, Gardner Lake Overlook, Beartooth Mountains

As with our previous spring trip to the Beartooth Mountains we had arranged to meet up with a local wildlife photographer. He had sought out many good nesting sites for birds such as: Wrens, Red-naped Woodpeckers, American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Great Gray Owls, Great Horned Owls, Mountain Bluebirds and few others I can’t recall the names of.

Wren in Flight, Beartooth Mountains

Wren in Flight, Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming

Red-knaped Woodpecker in Flight, Beartooth Mountains

Red-knaped Woodpecker in Flight, Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming

American Three-toed Woodpecker, Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming

American Three-toed Woodpecker, Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming

Great Gray Owl, Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming

Great Gray Owl, Beartooth Mountains, Wyoming

Images are GPS tagged and edited in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC 2015

** Disclaimer** Above images are quick previews specifically for this blog so that family and friends can see how things are going.

New Mexico & Arizona Highlights 2014

photoventuresEarly December saw me travelling to the USA for the second time in 2014. The primary purpose of the visit was photograph White Sands National Monument and Bosque del Apache. However, as has been the case on past visits we spent the first  three days travelling along Route 66 between Albuquerque (New Mexico) and Holbrook (Arizona). The trip was organised by Roger Reynolds at Photoventures.net who has travelled to these locations on many previous occasions and knows the area very well. The route map as recorded on my trusty Garmin eTrex Vista GPS device is shown below.

The weather conditions varied quite a bit, which made some of the locations a lot more photogenic than was the case when I made a similar trip in late December 2010. This was especially the case when we visited the Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook. It had been raining heavily just prior to our arrival.

Kachina Point, Painted Desert

Kachina Point, Painted Desert

After the Rain, The Tepees, Petrified Forest National Park

From Holbrook we travelled across to Bosque del Apache. Along the way we stopped to photograph the Very Large Array near Socorro. Again, it had been raining just prior to our arrival.

Truck in the Rain, Plains of San Augustin

Radio Telescope, Very Large Array, Plains of San Augustin

We spent four very productive days at Bosque del Apache. As always there were plenty of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese, but two my favourite photographs from this part of the trip are shown below.

Red-tailed Hawk, Bosque del Apache

Sandhill Cranes and Moon, Bosque del Apache

More photographs from the trip can be seen the gallery.

All photos were taken on Canon EOS 5D MkIII or Canon EOS 7D MkII. Post processing was carried out in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC 2014.