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Tributary

Tributary - The Salton Sea

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 4.0 l, 22mm, f/22, iso 100, 56 sec, b+w 10-stop // buy print)

Our first stop on the Salton Sea was on the northwest shores. Rick Young took us down some random road that gave us the heebie jeebies. We had no clue if it was truly safe or if we might suddenly stumble upon a murder in progress.

Yes, it’s really that creepy over there.

We got out and took a beautiful stroll down a beach with the crunch of rotting fish under our feet and the smell of those carcasses in our noses. It was a bit like stepping into another world. This place was only 40 miles from Palm Springs and just a turn off I-10? Really?

As I tend to be, I don’t like to sit in one place too long. I started walking south and eventually found this tributary. The second I saw it I knew I had likely found the one shot I’d take away from this first detour along the Salton Sea. I loved the curves it made as it approached the water…and the reflection of the clouds. I knew while I was shooting this would be a B&W shot.

Thanks to Rick for letting me borrow his 10-stop for this one. I believe he made photographer #3 to loan me one on this trip. They’ll all be happy know I finally purchased a 10-stop, so needless to say I wont be so annoying on our next outing!

 

Sunset on the Salton Sea

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/16, 1/4 sec // buy print)

The sunset the night before in Joshua Tree was without a single cloud anywhere. It was like that video Sh*t Photographers say. All we did was whine about no clouds.

Perhaps I whined the loudest, I don’t remember. I’m sure my five compadres would verify it for you.

But it was like the lack of clouds that night was completely justified because of what we saw the very next evening. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. Almost completely still waters on the Salton Sea…a beautiful sky and an amazing reflection of the setting sun.

It was one of those moments when you just kind of stand and look at it in awe. It was so quiet. So peaceful. So beautiful. Which was a strange juxtaposition because this is the Salton Sea. There are dead fish floating in the water. How can something so disturbing be so amazing?

It was though.

 

The Calm

The Calm on Salton Sea

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f4 l, b+w ND 10-stop, 19mm, f/22, iso 100, 124sec // buy print)

I’m dedicating this photo to my buddy Chris DeAngelis, who let me borrow his 10-stop B+W filter and made all of this possible. He loaned it to me a few times at Bombay Beach, while Rick Young loaned me his over on the west side of the Salton Sea. Thank you guys.

Yes, I’m getting my own. Soon.

Normally if you are by water and pull out a 10-stop, you are hoping to pull off a long enough exposure so that the water becomes a misty looking cloud-like substance hugging rocks, sand, piers, whatever.

But when the body of water you are shooting is already about as calm as glass…the filter enhances that stillness and creates a beautiful, almost mirror-like reflection.

This is an abandoned, calcium-laiden old pier extending out from Bombay Beach. The entire beach area makes for one of the spookiest, weirdest places I’ve ever been. If it hadn’t been for the people I was with, the other tourists and even some photographers shooting models with beauty dishes amongst some trashed buildings, I’d have been pretty frightened about being here solo.

I may have said this on Monday’s blog post, but the Salton Sea is a lesson in contradictions. The water was so still, the horizon so smooth, the clouds blended into the water and you felt like you were in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Until you looked down at the fish carcasses or heard the occasional mysterious bubbling from the deep. Or you’d spot these beautiful, white pelicans glancing across the water’s surface as they flew by, which made you think about the dead bird laying between all the rotting fish you saw a bit ago.

I had a few people, like Heath O’Fee or Rick, tell me what the place was like before arriving, but you really have no idea until you are standing there yourself.

 

The Edge of the World

The Edge of the World - Salton Sea

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/16, 0.6 sec // buy print)

This past Friday and Saturday I was part of a whirlwind trip that took me through Joshua Tree National Park and ended at the shores of the mysterious and disturbing Salton Sea. My good friend Heath O’Free was visiting Palm Springs from Canada, and had invited me to meet up with him on Friday. Also along for the journey was some other buddies…Rick Young and Chris Frailey from Phoenix, and Chris DeAngelis and Doug Wise from California.

Together we braved camping out in Joshua Tree despite lows in the mid-20’s (resulting in little to no sleep) and the strangeness that is the Salton Sea. I have an amazing assortment of images from the trip and can’t wait to share them over the coming weeks, but I had to start off with this one.

The Salton Sea is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The minute you see the retreating shoreline and the dead fish…you know you are someplace unique.  And creepy.

But at sunset on the eastern shore of Bombay Beach, the place had an almost epic beauty. The calm waters, the beautiful colors, the way the sky blended in with the lake out on the horizon. It was majestic and amazing, while at the same time you walk along a beach of fish and fowl carcasses and constantly have an odor of decay lingering in your nose.

This particular spot immediately called out to me when I saw it from the car. The closer I got to this old pier, the more it reminded me of something out of the Lord of the Rings. An ancient dock at Minas Tirith as my buddy DeAngelis said. My wife thinks it looks like the scenes at the end of the movie Titanic.

Either way, I knew I wanted to shoot the sunset from here. We were blessed with gorgeous clouds and such calm, reflective waters.

More to come!

 

Lower Grand Falls

Below the Grand Falls

(Click to view larger with a nice, dark background)

This will likely be the last image from this past April’s annual trip to Grand Falls, Arizona. I’ve held onto it long enough, figured it was time to just post the thing. I’m sure some of you photogs who post daily photos can relate to hoarding some of your favorites for a rainy day.

If you follow my work at all, then you know about Grand Falls in the northern portions of this state located on Navajo land. It only flows from snow melt or flash floods due to massive monsoon storms. It’s one of those places that most people in Arizona have never heard of, including myself up until a few years ago. It’s not advertised, there are no signs, no parking lot, no gift shop. It’s just there.

And I like it that way.

Seeing a place like this in Arizona is something special. We don’t have many waterfalls, but this is our Niagara. In fact, from top to bottom, it’s taller than Niagara.

We last visited on April 2nd, my buddies Rick, Ken, Chris and then a bunch of other people showed up late in the day, like my wife, daughter and some other friends. This was taken at the bottom of the falls as the sun was beginning to the disappear behind me. I wanted to get a shot with the light shining off the falls before I hiked back up in time for the sunset (a shot you can see here).

There is not much else I can say about this place. You really have to see it in person.

(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/22, iso 100)

Point Break

After the wedding we shot a week and a half ago in Malibu, my buddy Rick and I took the Pacific Coast Highway back to Los Angeles. We were both exhausted from an early morning flight, a lot of shooting outdoors and just a long day in general. We had just enough energy to make one stop off the highway and walk down some worn-down stairs to the beach far below.

It’s another edition of Movie Title Wednesday and this week the film is Point Break for obvious reasons I think. I’ve seen the movie and I remember liking it, but I honestly don’t remember much more than Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, a bank robbery and masks.  I know a lot of people who dig this film, curious how many of you out there liked it? I’ve always been a Reeves fan even though most people don’t think he can act. I think he’s a fine actor, the problem is, he has one style that works and that’s about it. Speed is one of my all-time favorite action films and of course you have The Matrix.

I rarely get to the ocean despite living fairly close to California, so I was excited to at least shoot a few images during our day-trip. The ocean is awe-inspiring and frightening for me at the same time. I hope someday to do more of this and have a nice, fat 10-stop ND filter on me so I can really make the images I want to, but in the meantime, I liked how this turned out. I don’t always put a lot of time into processing my images these days, but I spent plenty on this . Phototools was especially useful to help create a nice color contrast between the water and the rocks.

I hope Rick posts his sometime soon because he had a 10-stop and I loved the way his looked right out of the camera.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 20mm, f/25, iso 100

Seraphim Falls

(image can be viewed larger with a sweet black border if you click on it. you know you want to…)

Coming up with a title for this image for Movie Title Wednesday was kind of difficult. Most of the movies that came to mind I either didn’t remember much about, or really didn’t think fit too well. My wife liked Legends of the Fall, but I think I’ll save that for when the leaves change down the road. There was The Grand, or The Majestic…or even one that seems to fit perfectly…A River Runs Through It. But again, I don’t remember much about it other than Brad Pitt was in it and that I was a senior in high school! Ack! There was also The River Wild with Meryl Streep…but I didn’t like that either.

In the endSeraphim Falls was the title. I highly doubt most of you have seen it, but it’s definitely worth renting. Pierce Brosnan is hiding in the Rocky Mountains just after the Civil War has ended and Liam Neeson is a Confederate Colonel who wants the man killed to avenge a wrong. It all goes back to something that happened at Seraphim Falls…which you eventually discover.

I loved the title of the movie when I first heard it. I wanted to make it fit here but wasn’t quite sure EXACTLY what Seraphim meant, so I looked it up and was pumped when it has a rough translation of “burning ones.” Sure, it’s kind of a stretch, but when you think of a sunset and the fiery red skies you tend to get…it works.

Last weekend I got up at 3am to meet three other photogs to go up north and shoot all day. Despite all the fun I had and the pictures I took…this one shot above of Grand Falls was my entire reason for going. I’m not saying this about the photograph itself, but more about the scene.  Ever since I visited for the first time last year and had boring blue skies, I’ve been dreaming of getting back there and capturing a gorgeous sunset. It was like the entire day boiled down to this span of five minutes when the sky changed color.

The fact that we even got color was amazing. The sun was stuck behind some very thick clouds and as it got darker and darker…I thought that was it. Nothing was coming through that. And then suddenly in the northeast the clouds turned red. My heart jumped. I started waving at the other guys to point it out. People started moving around excitedly. Slowly the color moved westward until…for what was probably less than a minute…the sky looked as it did in the photo above.

Then it was gone.

I loved the day, loved the time spent with friends and especially loved that my wife and daughter were up there to share this with me.  Last year’s trip was exciting, but this one will be the one I remember always.

(of course, until I go back next year…have some fun ideas for 2012)

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/10, iso 200)

 

Rusted air

Short little entry for Monday. I’m off to Las Vegas for the week as my day-job has lots to do over the next month or two. I am posting another shot from the abandoned water facility I found on my last trip to Vegas, this was on the way to Lake Mead.

I assume this is an air conditioner and I’m fairly certain it’s completely useless now. At least, if it does work, I doubt it’s still blowing cold air.

I loved finding this little spot just randomly driving by, so I hope to do a bit more of that in the late afternoon/evenings this week. Although I’m going to force myself out to the Red Canyon area at least once this week, hopefully to capture a sunset or something cool I haven’t seen before.

Busy week of client meetings/workshops, so I think I’ll be fairly absent from the online world during business hours…but then again, I usually say that and still find a way to tweet at least 20 times a day. As they said in Jurassic Park…”Life….finds a way.

ALSO: Be sure to check out a little interview I did on Essential Photogear by clicking here.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/2.8, iso 100)

 

Humming by the creek

Early last Sunday morning I met my buddy Ken Peterson up near Table Mesa Road north of Phoenix. We’d had a crazy bit of cold weather move through and the snow level was supposed to be as low as it’s been in a few years.

I think we probably should have gone east of Phoenix into the Superstitions where the snow was a lot closer, but sometimes when you wake up before dark, you just can’t really be too sure!

Besides, I would have missed hanging out with Ken and this beast of a vehicle. I’d never been in a Hummer before so it was a rare treat to go barreling down dirt roads, splashing muddy water all over the windshield and making mincemeat of whatever terrain the desert could throw at us.

We hit this creek that eventually flows into Lake Pleasant. There were two half-submerged trucks in the water (see Ken’s photo here) which was mainly why we made some pretty awesome maneuvers to get down to this spot.

I’ll end up posting some shots of the trucks at some point, but I had so much fun in the Hummer that I wanted to process this for Ken. I can’t imagine ever going off-road without one of these bad boys (or some of the sick vehicles two of my buddies Jesse and John have).

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/22, iso 100)

Who holds the key?

My first thought when I saw this lock through the broken glass wasn’t what it should have been. There are at least two other aspects of this scene that are way more interesting than the question that went through my head at the time:

I wonder who has the key to the lock…or does anyone even know where it is anymore?

So now you may wonder, what are the other two things?

Both of them only occurred to me AFTER I embedded this photo tonight. Which means to me that I need to take my time more. But it kind of makes sense…because I found this abandoned water/power structure while on the way to Lake Mead while the sun was going down and I honestly was a little nervous being all alone. I was rushing to get shots quickly, composing fast, without really noticing what was around me.

Yet even during post-processing I didn’t see it. Not until now.

Okay, the first may not be a big deal, but the fact that the chain is going through the broken windows is kind of amusing to me. Obviously someone decided they needed to keep people out after they’ve tried to get in a few times.

The bigger thing is that the friggin’ door is OPEN. I mean, I don’t know how far I could have pulled it ajar…but maybe enough to get a camera slid inside to take a couple of brackets? Maybe it would still be too tight.

But the strange thing is that I just didn’t even notice.

Regardless of all that, I just loved this old door and I still can’t sing enough praises about using the 50mm on stuff like this. It’s just brilliant.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/2.0, iso 100)