Monthly Archives: February 2007

Yosemite Storm

A winter storm blanketed Yosemite Valley. The snow was driving hard, wet, and falling heavily. Even dressed for winter, we got cold walking a few hundred feet. Photography in these conditions was not ideal.

I decided to get us in the car, where it was warm, and to take a chance that there might be something to see (and photograph) from Tunnel View. At the turn-off near Bridal Veil Falls, a Ranger stopped us to verify we were in 4-wheel drive and had snow chains.

We chugged slowly up the icy grade. Tunnel View for once was without the usual crowd of photographers and fellow travelers. The clouds were down low, Tunnel View parking lot was covered with snow, and the view a wall of whiteness.

Julian and I waited for a while in the car, heater on, stereo blasting the Dies irae from Mozart’s Requiem over and over again. This haunting and sad music, Julian’s current musical obsession, went well with the bleak surroundings.

Then the clouds lifted for a minute or two, I hurried outside and snapped this image of the transcendal landscape of Yosemite. All too soon the cloud cover was back in place again, and snow was falling hard on the windshield in time with Mozart’s music of death and redemption.

Bridalveil Falls from near Tunnel View

A couple of hundred feet walk down from the photographic fracas at Tunnel View, along the icy fringe of Route 140, Bridelveil Falls glowed in a brief interval of sunshine, framed by snow-covered pine trees.

Nature’s Paparazzi

Even in the snow (or maybe particularly in the snow) nature’s paparazzi wait at Tunnel View in Yosemite. There’s a second row of photographers in front and below the line of tripods and photographers that you can’t see in this photo.

The air temperature may be chilly, but everyone is warm and friendly, sharing shop talk about Canon versus Nikon and the like. Still, a few pesky trees constrain the compositional possibilities. As much as the photographers would like these trees to be gone, no one thinks the Park Service will oblige by chopping them down any time soon. So getting a decent composition by dodging between the photographers who staked a claim to their prime real estate early is a real trick. At least most tour buses don’t show up on cold winter days.

Morning

Morning comes late to Yosemite Valley. Suddenly the sun starts to light up the peaks and walls of the valley, in stark contrast to the trees and cliffs still in shadow. Soon the sun will melt the snow, but for now the valley retains its beautiful white coat of winter.

Sunrise from the Yosemite Valley floor is a spectacular show indeed, perhaps more beautiful than sunset. (For sunset, you are best off finding a location where you can see down into the valley, rather than be looking up from the valley.)

I owe my many photos of Yosemite at dawn in part to my nine-year-old son Julian because on our recent trip he woke me each of our days in Yosemite early enough to photograph the sunrise. He also put up with my long photographic sessions on these days before we ever got to breakfast!

Mars Attacks

Back in the fragrant California spring of Berkeley from the winter snows of Yosemite and the Sierra, it is great to see my garden coming to life. This photo is a close-up of a peony bud on our tree peony unfurling. Of course, the peony is a beautiful flower when it opens. At this stage, I think it looks a little firghtening, almost like an alien life form.

Here are some stories showing the flowers from this peony bush last year: Peony Glowing, Fairly Abstract Peony, Peony Revealed, Peony Parade, and here’s my Peony set on Flickr. Strange what beauty this gangleous thing grows into!

Drops in a Row

The odd thing about the water drops in my garden on Saturday morning was the way the drops seemed to line up in a row. Drops in a row? Ducks in a row? The drops shown above are on a purple cyclamen flower, those below on the leaf of a brand-new tulip.

Related links: Water Drops on Photoblog2; my Water Drops set on Flickr.

Drops in a Row

View this image larger.

Golden Gate Fog

Nicky and I went to Indian Rock to photograph the sunset. It was a beautiful day here in East Bay, but oddly enough as we looked out the Golden Gate the fog bank was swiftly marching in. Photographed at 200mm with the camera on tripod.

I suppose the sail boat, in the front left of the photo, must have been sailing in full sunshine, unaware of the Gold Gate fog bank.

Peace and Serenity

This is another image of Cataract Falls on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais.

Cherry Watercolor

This is my photograph of a cherry blossom converted to LAB color, with the L (luminosity) channel inverted in Photoshop. A few other tweaks, but that is most of what I did.

Cherry

The cherry trees are blooming brightly here, too much to resist. Yesterday Rachel came to babysit (a funny word, since our kids are really no longer babies, except sometimes when they decide to be cranky, but then aren’t we all sometimes babies in that sense, and how is this for a run-on parenthetical?).

Anyhow, with the kids taken care of, our first stop was a couple of lovely Japanese flowering cherry trees about 1/4 of a mile above our home. Phyllis meditated, and I photographed the wet cherry blossoms in bright sunshine and intermittent wind with my 200mm f/4 macro lens tripod mounted and a 36mm extension tube.

Related story: Cherry Blossom Special.

Fetid Adder’s Tongue

In February and early March, the Fetid Adder’s Tongue (the botanical name is Scoliopus bigelovii) appears in shady areas in coastal California. This unlikely member of the lily family is small, perhaps and inch across. So the flower petal that dominates this picture is perhaps 3/8 of an inch all together.

Thoroughly improbable and full of grace, this surprising, tiny, and ganglious flower must smell bad (hence the “fetid” in the name). But I didn’t notice any odor at all when I photographed this Fetid Adder’s Tongue on the Cataract Trail just above Cataract Falls.

Cataract Falls

This is Cataract Falls on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais. Cataract Creek runs heavily following winter rains, but it is most notable for a kind of Japanese beauty than for pure volume of water. No Niagara, or even Vernal, it is an equisite, mossy series of dells.

I’ve made several recent pilgrimages to this spot with my friend Mark. The first time in a world of wetness, this benign waterfall was indeed a tumbling waterfall. The second time, I was rained out. Third time pays for all, and the weather on the day I took this photo was perfect, with the creek still running fairly strong.

South Beach

It’s about a half mile walk from the parking lot to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, on the most western spit of land in the continental United States.

As Julian and I reached the parking lot, golden light of the sunset lit the magnificent expanse of South Beach.

Some related stories that also show South Beach and glorious Point Reyes: Pacific Sunset, Winter Sea, Waves on the Shore, White Fence, White Waves.

Black Freighter

Looking out from the Point Reyes light, there’s a constant parade of ships. Home to wind, fog, and rocks this place has been the death of many boats. I was able to use a fast shutter speed when I snapped this photo because of all the light from the late afternoon sun. The scene looked pretty tranquil, with an occassional whale coming into view.

Valentine’s Day Rose

Phyllis gave me a bouquet of these roses for Valentine’s Day, and of course I had to photograph one. Isn’t my sweetie great? And, happy Valentine’s Day to you as well…