Category Archives: Photography

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 

Iceland 2018 – Aurora Borealis Gallery added

I’ve just uploaded a gallery of photos from my trip to Iceland in October/November.

During the trip we were very fortunate to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) on four separate occasions/locations. The aurora is a natural electrical phenomenon characterised by the appearance of streamers of greenish or reddish light across the night sky. It’s an incredible light show caused by collisions between electrically charged particles released from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere and collide with gases such as oxygen and nitrogen. The aurora is seen around the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres.

Aurora Borealis Gallery

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

A gallery containing the 15 photos shown above is located at Iceland 2018 – Aurora Borealis

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 

Off to Iceland

I’ll shortly be departing for a 10 day photo trip to Iceland. The trip will begin with a leisurely 5 day drive taking in the Golden Circle, then along the south and east coast. We hope to visit areas such as Landmannalaugar, Gysir, the Gullfoss waterfall, Jokulsarlon iceberg lagoon and diamond beach, Mount Vestrahorn and many other locations along our route.  We will then travel west to the Snaelfellsnes Peninsula for 3 days where we will spend some time photographing locations such as Kirkjufell and the Budir Black Church. All being well, conditions will be in our favour to see Aurora Borealis. Our last 2 days will be spent around the Vastness Peninsula

This will be my third trip to Iceland, and if anything like the previous trips there will be plenty of photos to be had. I’ve included some from the previous trips below as tasters.

Lutheran Church, Vik

Jokulsarlon Iceberg Lagoon

Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks, Reynisfjara

Spring in Yellowstone National Park 2017

So, another trip to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks is over. As was the case on previous trips, our first few days were spent around Jackson Hole (Wyoming). We visited all of the our favourite locations in and around the Grand Teton National Park. The wildflower meadows at Antelope Flats were a mass of colour with Arrow-root Balsam, Mules Ears, Penstemons, Skyrockets, Lupins, Paintbrush, etc. Unfortunately, the weather and lighting conditions were less than ideal with heavy grey skies being the norm. However, the odd break in the clouds allowed strips of sunlight to make for some moody images.

The Grand Teton, Grand Teton National Park

Some time was also spent around the Gros Ventre river and camp site where we came across Western Tanagers. Adult males have a bright red face and a yellow nape, shoulder, and rump, with black upper back, wings, and tail.

Western Tanager, Grand Teton National Park

After a few days in Grand Teton 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 as would be expected in holiday season. The trick is to be in the park early to avoid the crowds, but also to ensure that the steam clouds rising from the rivers and thermal pools hadn’t been burnt off.

Morning Mist On Madison River

The Upper Geyser basin (location of Old Faithful) is another early morning favourite and the following image of Morning Glory Pool is a particular favourite of mine. The wooden deck around one edge of the pool helps frame one side of the pool. However, it can be a problem due to morning shadows spilling on to the pool itself. On this occasion I was lucky.

Morning Glory Pool, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Some time was also spent exploring the Lower Geyser Basin area, especially the spouters and geysers such as Clepsydra.

Clepsydra Geyser, Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

We’re always on the lookout for bears as we travel around the park, and this year presented us with more sightings than usual.

Black Bear Cub, Blacktail Plateau, Yellowstone National Park

Having spent four days photographing the main park we moved across to Cooke City, which is on the south side of the park. From there we had easy access to the Beartooth Mountains.

Snowcapped Mountain, Beartooth Mountains

We spent the next 5 days high up into the Beartooth mountains.  These gave us plenty of opportunities to photograph the wild Mountain Goats that roam high up in the mountains, and the wild flowers.

As with our previous spring trips to the area we had arranged to meet up with a local wildlife photographer. He had sought out many good nesting sites for birds such as: Red-naped Woodpeckers, American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Mountain Bluebirds and Northern Flickers.

Northern Flicker Leaves Nest, Shoshone National Forest

More photos from this trip can be viewed in this gallery.

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