Fall Is Just Around The Corner

Early morning light at North Lake during fall color of 2008.

With yellowing rabbit brush and cooler morning temps the last few days its a sure sign that fall is just around the corner.  Lasts years fall colors were nothing short of spectacular for the bishop Creek drainage area.  One of the things that makes fall color in the eastern sierra so special is you never know how much color you’ll get or exactly when it will occur; makes it kind of magical.  In this day and age of techno-gadgetry that allows precise prediction of sunrise/sunset times, angles, google earth and who knows what, it’s nice that there’s something left in this world that isn’t so predictable at least not with any certainty and not down to the minute!

With that said the bishop creek drainage area usually has a good showing of color by the end of september and generally moves north, at the higher elevations, as october arrives.  It seems peak color didn’t occur last year until the second week of october for areas like June Lake and the Parker Bench area; if memory serves me.

Only time will tell just what kind of season this year will bring.  As always I’m looking forward to the change.

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Divide Mountain, Denali NP

Divide Mountain Above Toklat, Denali NP

The scale and sheer vastness of Denali NP is beyond words and at first visit is hard to grasp, even when it’s staring you in the face.  After our little hike in the Polychrome Pass area we caught the shuttle to Toklat which was the furthest the shuttles were running at this time; I believe the whole road opened on June 1, the day after we left Denali NP.

As we rode the shuttle towards Toklat I was in awe at the landscape that we had seen thus far a figured it couldn’t get any bigger; I was wrong.  As the shuttle swung around a curve a whole new landscape opened up to us unlike anything we had seen in the past 50 or so miles.  Divide Mountain loomed high over the landscape and the braided river below it.  This braided river was enormous, nothing like we have in the sierra.  One braided river is big, but when you add another one of equal size it just gets ridiculously big.  Divide Mountain, faithful to its name, divides two large braided rivers/valleys that merge into one at Toklat.

There’s a little ranger station (large canvas dome structure) with bookstore and displays along with restrooms.  Our shuttle bus driver indicated he’d be there for about 20 minutes then head out.  Fortunately there were two more shuttles due in to Toklat; it was an easy decision to make we were staying to catch the next shuttle out.  With about an hour to kill we hefted our gear and headed towards the river and Divide Mountain.

We spent the next hour photographing around the river and shooting Divide Mountain.  We were fortunate for the clouds and the solitude.  To give some indication of size, Divide Mountain’s summit is 5195 ft.  The river’s elevation there at Toklat is approximately 3000 ft.

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Denali as seen from PM 11 or so from the Denali NP road

They say only a third of the visitors to Denali NP get to see “the mountain”.  I guess we won some unannounced and unknown lottery because we were fortunate to see it twice!  On our drive from Anchorage to Denali we saw the snow capped peak looming high above the tree-tops that line the highway to Denali.  Looking in the Post Mile we saw there was a South Denali view point not too far ahead.  It was mid day and far away and hot!  We snapped some pics and as we walked away congratulated ourselves of getting to see the mountain.  I wondered if we would get to see it from the park in the next couple days.

Well sure enough on our last day in Denali NP we decided to drive in as far as we could. Along the way we saw some moose and a big white looming of a mountain. The wind was raging that day as I turned around and found a place to park the car off the road.  There had been a wild fire going the whole time we were there so the smoke in the air was killing the contrast, not to mention the distance!

I shot a lot of different compositions and at different focal lengths using the trusty 100-400 to make sure I got something.  I was pretty stoked to have seen it from inside the park as this was much closer and a better view than we had just a few days before.  As a few people stopped their cars to look as well I wrapped things up and headed down the road.

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Sunlit Spruce Trees Alaska

Afternoon light falls on these spruce trees in Alaska.

I was going through some of my Alaska pics and found this one.  We were on are way to Denali NP when I spotted a brown bear along the Nenana River.  It was late afternoon and the sunlight on the trees and the bear was perfect.  I love side light like this, it just makes everything glow.  While my wife and I shot lots of pics of the bear it was just too far away.  With my intentions focused on the bear I did manage to take this one shot of the spruce trees.

These spruce trees are everywhere in Denali and make up the majority of the forest; they are a photogenic tree and much much different than what we have here in the Eastern Sierra.



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Eastern Sierra Art Show June 26-July 10 Mammoth Lakes

ESLT's Art For Land Conservation June 26-July 10 Mammoth Lakes

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Back From Alaska

It’s been a week since we got back from Alaska and we’re still excited about the trip we took!  Between my wife and I we shot more than 7000 images!!  Don’t know how many videos but quite a bit!  We had the best weather for all but the last couple days while we were in Seward.  Fortunately on the day of our Captain’s Choice Tour of Reserrection Bay it was sunny and calm water.  We did get to see Denali twice, once from the South View Point along the highway and on the last day in the park near mile 11.  All in al an awesome trip.  If you’ve never been to Alaska I would highly recommend seeing it in person!!  The sound of cracking ice at the tidal glaciers was spectacular as was the splash into the fjord.  Very cool.  Here’s some select images from week 1 (I also snuck in a shot while taken in denali which was week 2 🙂 )
which was the cruise portion from Vancouver to Whittier by way of Ketchican, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay NP, and finally College Fjord.

Week 1 Pics

Hopefully I can start going through the remainder which covers our Denali Np and Seward portion of the trip.

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Upcoming Art Exhibit

I wanted to put the word out that I’ll be a participating artist in the Third Annual Art For Conservation Show & Sale next month between June 26- July 10 ( 2 weeks).  I’ll be one of many mixed artist showing work.  The art show will be located at the Minaret Mall, next to Vons, in Mammoth Lakes.  There will be paintings, photography, and sculptures on display and for sale.   This is a fund raising event for the Eastern Sierra Land Trust with half the proceeds going to the artist and half to the land trust.  Art on display represents images and sculptures of the Eastern Sierra.   To find out more about what ESLT does click on the link above.

I haven’t picked the images yet for the show, but plan on having 3-5 framed prints on display; a mix of color and black and white.  I plan on being at the public opening on June 26.  If you happen to be in Mammoth during that time please stop by and say hi and take a look at all the great art on display.

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Going To Alaska!

Next Friday my wife and I leave the warmth of Bishop and head for the colder and wetter climate of Alaska.  We’re super stoked and can’t wait to see this jaw dropping landscape.  For the first week we’ll crusing the inside passage aboard Princess Cruise lines with my wife’s family.  The second week we’ll say our good byes as they go back to southern california and we head for Denali NP and Seward on the Kenai Peninsula.

During week one we’ll depart from Vancouver, BC and visit the coastal towns of Katchikan, Juneau, skagway, and finish up with Glacier Bay NP before ending in Whittier.

Inside Passage Cruise With Princess Cruise Lines

While in Ketchikan we’ll be taking a float plan flight over Misty Fjords and land on a back country lake.  Our next stop in Skagway we’ll be taking a train to White Pass & the Yukon.  I think we’re planning on seeing the Mendenhall glacier while in Juneau.

Misty Fjords Float Plane Flight Seeing Tour with Taquan Air

Once we get to Anchorage at the end of our cruise, we’ll be renting a car and driving to Denali NP for 3 days.  From there we’ll head to Seward for another few days to check out Resurection Bay with a 9 hour Captain’s Tour with Kenai Fjord Tours.  This will be really cool as it’s limited to 22 people and taylored to photographers and wildlife viewing.  It’s also aboard a smaller boat so we’ll be close to the water.

Denali NP courtesy NPS

Captain’s Choice Tour with Kenai Fjords Tours

With 17 hours of daylight during our time there we don’t plan on sleeping much!!  As this will be a bit early in the season we’ll only be able to go 53 miles into Denali with the shuttle bus, which is the Toklat area.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed for good weather and a glimpse of Denali!

We’re all geared up photography wise and bringing ALL our winter and spring outdoor gear as we expect rain and cold weather, with a few mild days thrown in just to mix it up!  Hoping to bring back some respectable images, but not quite sure what to expect as the place is so huge!

If you’ve done this or trip or similar Alaska Trip would love to hear about it or any recommendations you might have!

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Mother’s Day Iris

The wild iris that grow in the fields behind our house have really taken off in the last week.  So yesterday I went out around mid morning to see if I could come up with a decent shot.

Thankfully it wasn’t windy yet and just a intermentant breeze wafted by.  With the sun high in the sky it was hot and humid.  I found myself wishing for a breeze, although that would’ve been a bit counter productive!

I brought along a white nylon skrim to shade the iris and reduce the harsh late morning light.

Mother's Day Iris

We’re supposed to get some high winds today, which is typical for spring.  Unfortunately the iris are pretty delicate and will likely take a beating.  Hopefully there will be more blooming in the coming week.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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More Orioles

Here’s a couple more shots of the Orioles that have been coming around lately.  The black headed one is a Bullocks Oriole, we believe.  He’s not nearly as shy as the Hooded Oriole I had shot in the previous post.  I also was able to get a clean shot of the female as well.  She’s pretty shy too.

To get the shot I setup and prefocus on the branch and just waited for the orioles.  They didn’t always land on the branch on their way to the feeder!!  It took awhile to to get these shots!

Female Bullocks Oriole

Male Bullocks Oriole

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