The Eastern Sierras of California have their own kind of magic. I’ve always known that. And of course, there’s a reason why Galen Rowell chose to call the town of Bishop in the Owens Valley home.
This past week, I ventured down that way as a sort of mini-retreat to clear my mind, heart and soul. After being nose-to-the-grindstone preparing and giving presentations, writing articles, birthing my newest work (which continues), getting ready for teaching travels to the Smoky mountains, Florida and France – AND masterminding new projects… I was ready to start singing the Inspiration Blues!
“Enough!” I cried. “It’s time for a pilgrimage!” (that’s what I call road trips.)
It just arrived. My brand new Fujinon XF50-140mm f/2.8 lens and 1.4x teleconverter. Giddiness has ensued. I’m like that.
A brand spankin’ new lens is always exciting. It usually makes my heart go all a’flutter, I even get a little nervous. It’s kinda like a blind date:
“What if I don’t like you?”
“What if you don’t like me?”
“What if you’re too big and heavy?”
“Will we see eye to eye?”
“If I like you now, will I still like you a month from now?”
“What if we break up?”
I thought I’d keep it simple today. Simplicity is goooood. Simple for me today is posting one of my new pieces, taken a couple of weeks ago as the waves of thunderstorms we’ve been having lately first began streaming through. They’re the ones that make for BOOMING sunsets… and they only happen in just this way once a year. It’s been a particularly awesome season so far (it’s been RAINING! Yay!)… some say it’s because of El Niño and that we’re in for a record-breaking winter. True or not true? I dunno. But it makes me want to start battening down the hatches NOW!
This moment happened at Donner Summit in Truckee, California. It sums up how much I love it here… the expansive, soaring, so-glorious-it-makes-your-heart-FULL feeling I get whenever I’m home in the mountains. A single frame just wasn’t going to scoop it all up… so I created a pano image with right around 8 frames of super boomin’ sunsetty goodness. Even at that, there alot was left over. Hey, I’m not that greedy! Hope you enjoy…
16-55 f/2.8 lens.
Yes! You can buy this print… just click on it to learn more.
Earlier this autumn, the hubs and I took a week and bombed down to the Eastern Sierras. Mind you, we didn’t just randomly decide to pack up and go blasting off all willy-nilly, when it was convenient for us. My goodness no! Nature has the upper hand in this scenario. YOU wait for HER! You have to watch from afar… kind of like when you stalk something you REALLY want on eBay, then sign up for the “Watch list” so you know when it’s getting to be time to leap. But hey.. no bidding until the last second! God forbid you start a bidding war!
But I digress… how unusual. heh.
Your life is not your own during this time. You refresh websites like California Fall Color over ‘n over for news that the colors are ready to peak in the places you want to go. You research, snoop, wait, compare… and when conditions are juuuuuuust right.. BAM! You throw your gear in the car and bomb down U.S. Route 395 t’git summa that!
Moments like this one in McGee Canyon (and about a million other brilliantly colored ones) are the reward. It’s awwwwwesome.
Got anything you wait, plan, scheme and get super excited about? Tell me, tell me!
Not so long ago, the hubs and I stood here on the shore of Silver Lake in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.
We took a week, got away from the hum of computers, emails and the madding crowd.
Went into nature.
Got up at 5am and beat the sun to the day. More than once.
Hoped for golds, pinks, purples and brilliance, but got mist. Magic, flirtatious mist though… so all was well.
Had breakfast at the oldest trout fishing retreat in the Eastern Sierras. Last seats, end of the counter. People watched.
Came home. (Reluctantly)
The first rain of the fall is always so exciting. No, it’s not like watching paint dry! It smells amazing, invigorating the very air with… I dunno… stuff that make you feel all alive and spiffy.
The hubs and I are on a photo trip (I call it ‘photo tripping’) down the Eastern Sierras of California this week. We took off yesterday, as our first rains of autumn were pouring down. They came JUST in time to save us from one nasty wildfire that’s burned out of control for 3 weeks, working its way uncomfortably close to home. They turned the tide on that (thank God!) and have freshened up the scenery, washed away the dust which was dulling everything, and it’s made the colors pop, the air feel crisp and fresh… and the clouds do their mysterious, misty, moody show all day today. I’m in heavenly swirl of gratitude and appreciation of absolutely everything right now!
It was a loooooong summer. I promised myself that when I got my overly heaped plate of commitments large and small properly wrangled.. my reward was going on a photo trip.
Welcome to KHutt Rewards Week. Let the fun begin… 😀
This was a little bunch of rabbit brush overlooking Grant Lake yesterday morning. If you’re allergic to this stuff… it’s misery on a stem. If you’re not… it’s the perfect start to a colorful, awesome season!
I found a new vantage point! Lake Tahoe is a HUGE lake (72 miles around)… but only offers a few spots where you can get a great shot. The east side is one of them. I love going back under different lighting and weather conditions – because it’s just never the same from visit to visit.
Sometimes I think that in an effort to always have that NEW experience, a lot of photographers run all over the world trying to one-up each other with even MORE danger, even MORE extreme conditions, MORE exotic locations and… well, you know the drill. But I don’t always see them exploring one area deeply. And I think that’s a shame. Not to say traveling the world isn’t awesome… but a sense of deepening is often underrated, IMHO. I’m trying not to make that same mistake – especially given that I live a mere 30 minutes from one of the most wondrous jewels of the world!
Whenever I post a photo of Lake Tahoe on one my social streams, there’s this one fella who always pipes up, “You sure like to photograph that lake!”
Now I ask you… wouldn’t you, if this were 30 minutes from your home? I mean, seriously!
I consider myself blessed. When I’m home, I actually DO go lots of other places around Tahoe area to shoot… but there’s just something so otherworldly and awesome about catching Lady Tahoe herself bejeweled in her aquamarine finest.
Early morning at Milford Sound is really something. When the tide goes out, you can walk pretty far out there to photograph areas you’d have to swim to otherwise. Or maybe waist-wade. To that I say: “No thanks!” Slipping and sliding over the fantastically slimy rocks was exciting enough for me. hehheh.
I suspect there was a relatively low tide the day we were there; although I didn’t have a Tides app like I do now to verify my suspicion.
In any case, Milford is a pretty surreal place. I don’t think a person could ever get tired of it – especially on misty/mysterious days like this! You should Google Trey Ratcliff and Milford Sound… just to see how un-tiring repeat visits are!
I have a photographer friend (thank you for letting me name names, Michael Bonocore!) who’s apartment hunting in a REALLY tight housing area and market. He has a specific idea of what he wants, is super busy with limited time to hunt and is finding the whole search really stressful. Just today, he missed the perfect place by mere moments. “GAH!” I said… “But breathe. The perfect place will appear right when you let go and least expect it.”
That’s what this image reminds me of… that moment where you take release on the inside and suddenly everything shifts.
Today I’m in the mood to share a couple of things: first, a brand new photo. It’s from my trip to New Zealand earlier this year for Trey Racliff’s New Zealand Adventure in which I co-taught. We visited Milford Sound, of course… got rained out one night, but woke up to a properly mystical morning!
The Chat with Annette Biggers: Sneak Peak!
Then… this coming Monday is an all new episode of The Chat! They just keep getting better and better… and more and more fun. This one was no exception… but add “inspiring as all get-out” to the mix. heh. My guest is photographer Annette Biggers… who is also an artist, humanitarian and Deep Thinker About Life.
In this clip, she talks about her belief that “artists are the creators or life in culture”… and explains what she means by that. You might find yourself agreeing with her! It was certainly true in the Renaissance… and I think its as true now as it ever was then! As artists, I personally think we need to consider carefully what we’re putting out there.
I’ve been a fan of fine art and extreme sports photographer Keoki Flagg’s work for years. You’ll see the photo that did it for me right at the beginning of this video… I giggled when I first saw it, and still do when I see it today! It’s emotional, original and timeless. Those are the 3 qualities Keoki always says are what brings a photograph from “a picture” to “art”… a topic we talk a lot about in this episode.
We have a fantastic time chatting about photography, art, living life as an artist, some ways of approaching one’s photo work to set it apart from others’, what it’s been like to transition from the “old school” to “new digital age” of photography… what’s possible now that never was before and how he’s trying to push it to the limit.
Sitting in his fabulous Gallery Keoki, it was hard NOT to feel more artistic! It’s a beautiful space, created to hold a vision “bigger than a lifetime” (to coin my friend Daria Musk’s term!).
It was the perfect place to bring you this episode of THE CHAT with my friend Keoki Flagg.
I love post-processing photos. Since my approach to photography means creating my own vision or “take” on what I see, I have no problem processing a photo in dramatic directions and find it all incredibly satisfying. I was raised in an artistic family, so I guess that just got baked into me. By the same token, I was trained classically in photography, revere Nature and have learned that sometimes Nature does all the work for you. When that happens, you really shouldn’t mess with perfection.
As many definitions as there are for the word “GRAND”… none of them adequately sum up Zion National Park. We got squeezed out of our visit to Zion this year on account of the government shutdown. Idiots. But we drove through it on our way home.
This was simply taken at a pull off, shortly after exiting the tunnel entrance to the park. Storm was coming in, so the sky and light were doing fun things. I was feeling bummed that we hadn’t been able to stay… but then this happened. It was like a smile from above and a gift for the asking. And I did ask! It was one of those moments that reminded me that to ask, relax and quit trying so hard is a gift unto itself. Sometimes the results are even better than I imagined!
The hubs and my recent trip to the Southwest started with the national parks closing a few days before we left. GAH! We came up with an alternate plan… then a couple days before returning home, the parks opened again! YAY! We were within a few hours of Bryce Canyon, so we hightailed it over there in our little rental RV. I’d never been to Bryce before and Joe wasn’t into photography on past visits, so it was kind of like a first visit in different ways for us both.
The View from Below
We’d been driving alot – one of the side effects of avoiding national parks – so we were REALLY in the mood to do some hiking. The views of the hoodoos (that’s what they call these conical formations that Bryce Canyon is known for) were iconic and epic from above… but once you drop down into them on The Navajo Trail or any other that takes you down into the canyon, it’s like Alice in Wonderland on crack!
It was such a blast getting to do an episode of The Chat with Nicole S. Young! We actually recorded that one awhile back. She was one of my first intrepid friends to step up as I was still working out my format, flow and style for the show. Nicole is fearless – and she proved that by helping me my Chat project off the ground!
Later on in the summer, she and hubby Brian Matiash came up for a weekend with Kodak the Wonder Dog and joined me and my hubs Joe Dolister for some hangin’ and shootin’ fun. One of the places we went was the abandoned train tunnels above Truckee, in the Sierra Nevada mountains. They’re fun and spooky – and are full of the work of graffiti artists who change the wallscape up there on a regular basis. Here, Nicole paused for a pose!
Have you ever been on vacation or a road trip and come across a really beautiful spot that you’d LOVE to photograph – but under less than optimal conditions? Maybe the light isn’t right, there are no cool clouds to offer some punch – but the place itself is lovely, you’d love to capture it and you don’t have the option to lie about until everything is perfect? I know it’s happened to me! So as part of my ‘short video tutorial’ series, I made this one to offer some composition tips and post-processing ideas that can help you make the most of “meh” shooting conditions.
Imagine that this is called “Mirror Lake”. Go ahead, imagine it! ‘Cause it would be true. On the way to Milford Sound, you can get out to stretch your legs, take a little 5 minute walk and enjoy this view of the Earl Mountains. This photo is a sneak peek into the story of my recent New Zealand Adventure, which I’m working on now and can’t wait to share!
Early morning. Milford Sound, New Zealand. Tide’s out. We’re standing way out on the rocks. We have to move fast, because the tide is about to start coming in and it doesn’t mess around. It’s not violent or anything, but if you’re like me, you’d just rather not swim back into shore with your gear.
It’s tricky being in a stunningly gorgeous AND iconic place for the first time. You want to hold your breath in wonder, soak it all in for awhile. But you have to maximize the minutes you have out there, try to snag photos that’ll give you chills when you get home and not shriek “Do over!!” when you’re 6000 miles away. Continue reading “The Mists of Lady Bowen”→
I love silky water, but as a rule I don’t use filters. I do own a Lee Big Stopper (10-stop neutral density)… but I only break it out once in awhile for variety.
I don’t have anything against filters. Alot of my friends create astounding images with them. But it boils down to personal preference. I just don’t like fussing about with gear. It makes me feel impatient and anxious, then just plain irritated. I DO like to set up quickly, go into falling leaf mode, take photographs, move about and be one with nature.
I get asked about my photo processing alot. It’s a challenging question. For me, processing a photo starts before I even press the shutter. I take a picture when it tells a story, moves me in some specific way, sings to me (really!) – all of which ends up as this fluttery feeling in my stomach that tells me “that’s the shot”. I see it as all part of my personal point of view in life, or “signature”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked through the viewfinder and thought… that’s a lovely picture, but it’s not talking to me. Meh. And I skip it. Because I know that when I see it later on my computer screen, my soul will heave a big sigh and say “Really? REALLY? That’s the best you could do?” And I’ll feel bad that I disappointed it. I hate disappointing my soul and do my best to avoid that at all times.
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Kelley Morgan, Portland OR
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Joe Hudspeth, Prineville OR
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