Water-colored Aspen Great Basin National Park, NV, OCT 2015 .
While at Great Basin National Park, in early October, we were treated to a cold, windy day accompanied by sleet and thunder. The drive up to Wheeler Peak affords spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and mountain ranges. As we drove higher up the mountain, we hit the cloud layer. Aspens, in their gold fall foliage, stood as beacons in the misty fog.
Brightening the Gloom Great Basin National Park, NV, OCT 2015
Our destination was the trailhead where we could hike to the bristlecone pine grove. We arrived at the trailhead, bundled up, and began our trek. The grove was about 1 ¾ miles away with a 1,200 foot elevation gain. The trail was rocky, interspersed with mud, snow and water puddles. We hiked past aspens and conifers. When there was a break in the clouds, we could see distant mountain slopes and sometimes Wheeler Peak itself. We made it to the bristlecone grove; it was absolutely worth the effort. I am in awe when I am in the presence of these trees that are thousands of years old.
Steadfast Bristlecone Pine Great Basin National Park, NV, OCT 2015
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Sierra Foothills—Sunset over the Foothills, Perspective 1 Click to see larger image.
Sierra Foothills—Moonrise over the Foothills, Perspective 2 Click to see larger image.
Sunday January 4, was a special night. It was the night when the moon rose in its northernmost position. Additionally, sunset and moonrise occurred a few minutes apart. So, the sun gave an orange glow to the moon.
A few months ago, I decided I was going to do a series of images to show the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. I would do several images, at different times of day, and different times of the year, to show how the foothills change while retaining their beauty over the course of the year. The oaks and tall grass provide the quintessential look I associate with the foothills – a look that is ingrained in my mind from the westerns I watched as a kid. I can almost see Gene Autrey, Roy Rogers or the Cisco Kid riding down the range.
I visited one of my spots with the intent to shoot the moonrise. I’ve been there for several moonrises but the position of the moon, as it rose, left me wanting a better shot. This evening, the moon was in the position I wanted, it had a beautiful orange glow and, as an added bonus, high thin cirrus clouds to provide a colorful corona. A special night indeed!
As the moon rose, the sunset over my shoulder lit the sky a brilliant orange which cast the trees in silhouette. A lone, old, oak on a hillside stood in grandeur against the orange sky.
I hope you enjoy these images. Please read my blog: How I Shot This Moonrise for tips on how to make similar images.
California’s central valley is a major winter layover spot on the Pacific Flyway; one of the prime routes for migratory birds. Geese, waterfowl and shorebirds alike make their winter home in the flooded rice patties and grain fields which farmers allow to go fallow for the winter. Some years back, farmers considered these birds a pest and set about destroying them. In one of the grand success stories, farmers, conservationists, and the state and federal government set aside several plots as wildlife refuges for the birds. Farmers can use noise canons and other non-destructive means to chase the birds from their property while the refuges provide the birds a safe place to stay. Bird watchers, duck hunters, photographers and others have benefited.
I visited the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge earlier this week. The day was overcast. I knew birds would be present. I wasn’t hopeful that it would be a great day to photograph them. But, on this day, nature provided ephemeral shafts of sunlight through breaks in the otherwise impenetrable layer of dark gray, stratus, clouds. The shafts highlighted the sky and the ponds, while casting the trees and birds in silhouette. It created a mood that captured the essence of a winter afternoon: the sun providing reassurance to the birds and trees resting and waiting for life to start anew. It was a great day after all.