Thursday, March 31, 2016

Valley of Fire State Park

I wonder if Valley of Fire State Park was named by someone who saw how the beautiful red cliffs actually looked like they were burning from within during colorful sunsets! I took this shot a few minutes after my last post.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Valley of Fire Sunset

Valley of Fire Sunset

So last week when I was in Valley of Fire State Park, it was a beautiful day with lots of blue sky and a few puffy clouds. But by late afternoon the sky had totally clouded over and my hopes for some great sunset photos were gone. I finally decided to leave for home. I was just about out of the Park when I glanced at the western sky and saw just a sliver of blue, and I thought what the heck, why not stay a little longer and see what happens. Within just a short time, just before sunset, the sky cleared, and the sunset was amazing and lasted long enough for me to take my photos. I've taken lots of photos of cactus blooms and lots of photos of sunsets, but I think this is my favorite photo of cactus blooms and a sunset in the same scene!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter Lily

An Easter Lily and a wish for a lovely Easter Sunday

Friday, March 25, 2016

Valley of Fire Spring Blooms

 Beavertail Cactus in various stages of blooming.
Evening Primrose found about a foot away from the road.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Valley of Fire, Nevada

Spring Wildflowers, Red Rock Cliffs, Blue Sky, Perfect Weather......
I'm in my Happy Place!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Monday, March 21, 2016

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

A Rare Selfie

On the way home from a weekend car show in Las Vegas with the family, I took a detour to spend a late afternoon and evening in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.  The weather was perfect and this is just a few miles off the freeway.  Pretty nice place to relax and enjoy the view for a few minutes!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Beautiful Blossoms in Snow Canyon

Snow Canyon Blossoms

I typically take pictures of red cliffs, wildflowers or cactus blooms in Snow Canyon, but when I was there a couple of days ago, I saw this one lone tree next to a parking lot that was just bursting with beautiful blossoms.  Hundreds of bees had found the tree as well, and I risked being stung getting this close for a macro shot.  I soon learned that they were much too busy with their work, (busy as bee!), to bother with me.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Wildflowers in Snow Canyon

Wildflowers in Snow Canyon

Yesterday I shot these tiny wildflowers, measuring about 1/4 inch across, on a sunny day in Snow Canyon, about 10 minutes from our home. I'm always looking for interesting backgrounds for macro shots. I liked the contrast of these bright flowers in front of a large, black volcanic rock spotted with yellow and orange lichen.  I have a photographer friend who knows the name of every flower I have ever asked him about, and he tells me this is called Woolly Daisy, AKA, Wallace's Woolly Daisy.  I'll take his word since he's an expert in naming western wild flowers!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Wildflowers in Death Valley National Park

A Carpet of Yellow in Death Valley National Park

One last image of spring in Death Valley.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Cholla in Snow Canyon, Utah

Cholla Basking in Sunlight
Snow Canyon

Varieties of the cholla cactus are common in the southern Utah desert. While I don't usually consider them spectacular subjects for photography, there is one condition where they shine and take over the spotlight. And that is in late afternoon when the plant is backlit by the sun and highlights the needles or spines. As a bonus, positioning my camera in just the right place will create some beautiful bokeh and sunflare, highlighting the cactus even more. I use these techniques with many varieties of cactus to help turn what would otherwise be a drab and ordinary scene into something more interesting.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Zion National Park

Zion National Park
Caught between Winter and Spring

I took this photo a few days ago.  In many areas of the park the cottonwoods and other trees are just beginning to leaf out.  At this spot on the Virgin River, there is just a slight green tinge visible on the treetops.  Come on Spring!!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Death Valley Wildflower

I think this is called Notch-leaf Phacelia

I have a really demanding ( his own word) blogging friend who wanted to see a close up of the flower in my last post.  Well, Mr. Author R. Mac Wheeler, this is the best I can do.  I didn't have a macro lens with me so this is the best close-up I have.  I liked this composition because of the contrast of the dark/solid and light/textured background dividing the frame diagonally.

Below is a different composition with the same flower:

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Death Valley Spring

Taking Center Stage
Death Valley National Park

Friday, March 4, 2016

Death Valley National Park

Sometimes we need to survive and grow where we are planted, even against all odds!!

Although this has been an epic spring in Death Valley, the flower show takes place in limited parts of the park. If one turns in the opposite direction, close to where my previous photos were taken, this is what you would see.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Death Valley - Yellow Ribbons

Yellow Ribbons in Death Valley

Part of improving nature and landscape photography skills is to take in all the elements of a scene that the eye sees, make sense of it all and then visualize a pleasing and interesting composition.  This means narrowing down and eliminating some of those elements and emphasizing other elements, and deciding on foreground to background elements.  Then comes deciding the f stop, shutter speed, angle, perspective or point of view, etc.  You may do this numerous times with different results.  The critical part of deciding whether you have an interesting and pleasing image that is a 'keeper' comes when you critique your images on the computer.  This is where you have to honestly determine the value of your work.  Here are a few of the many questions you could ask yourself:

Does this image tell a story?
Does this image evoke emotion?
Does this image make a statement?
Does this image show something unique or unusual?
Does this image show something common but seen in a different way? (Different light, different angle, different perspective, additional elements, etc.)

I asked the last question above about this composition.  I took lots of photos of these yellow fields of flowers along with all the other photographers in this location.  But I always try to think of what I can do to make my photos unique or different from the crowd.  I spotted this scene a ways away from where the rest of the people were taking pictures.  I liked the way the flowers looked like yellow ribbons as they reached the base of the mountain, and decided that this met the criteria of photographing something common, while including a unique element.   


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Death Valley National Park - Spring Wildflowers

Death Valley Spring Wildflowers

A different view!  At this location, all the photographers with their cameras, and all the tourists with their cell phones and tablets were facing the same direction in order to capture the vast carpet of yellow nestled up against the mountains. I joined them, but then, I always challenge myself to face in the opposite direction to find a photo that is different from the crowd. This is my shot.