Just back from a Thanksgiving weekend packed with sites, sounds and smells from Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s been twenty years ago since my last visit and a lot has changed â€“ particularly the town’s size, which seems to have mushroomed half way to Albuquerque. Downtown is still as charming as I remember it and the restaurant scene alone makes this a great destination for foodies. Santa Fe must now have the world record for most galleries per capita. Really enjoyed the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and was pleasantly surprised by the excellent skiing up at Ski Santa Fe (base at 10,350 ft).
So to not jinx the trip before it begins, I can only divulge that I’m heading for an assignment at an undisclosed desert location (my fourth in four weeks) over the Thanksgiving weekend. I’m going to be pretty close to a ski resort at the bottom end of the Rocky Mountains and so, on Saturday, I will do something I’ve never done before. Namely, ski in North America. Meanwhile, here in sunny southern California, we now have a clear view of the snow capped mountains surrounding the Los Angeles basin â€“ as seen here from Venice Pier, yesterday evening.
Shot this yesterday while passing through Venice Beach and Santa Monica Beach. Eventually the individual snippets will be available for download at www.santamonicaimages.com where I’m archiving my growing collection of scenes from around the coast.
Shot this at Venice Canals this afternoon using a vertical panoramic sweep. Each of the 15 shots were taken at f7.1 and through 24 mm glass. The light couldn’t have been better nor the air more still. Stitched the pano together using the ubiquitous Adobe Photoshop CS6. Today’s visit reminded me that the Canals are definitely worth a visit â€“ if nothing else, then for all the great architecture lining the waterways and amazing gardens.
Between deadlines, I actually managed to squeeze in some editing time today â€“ so that I could share more of what has become a tidy collection of imagery from the mesmerizing Salton Sea. With any luck, I’ll be back sometime in the spring and then see even more of the lake’s unique bird life. And hopefully a few more of those burned out, yet richly decorated campers and RVs.
From one of Saturday’s many stops along the Salton Sea â€“ a relatively large body of water about an hour’s drive from Palm Springs. I’ve wanted to return to this decrepit, yet strangely enticing area for a few years. If nothing else, than to explore and be inspired by the aesthetic of an old resort completely gone to shit. The crane appeared just as it was time to leave Bombay Beach â€“ which, incidentally has seen some improvements since my last visit. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of encrusted campers, houses and a wide range of derelict objects â€“ in various phases of decay â€“ just waiting to be photographed.
After yet a another weekend shoot in the desert and quite literally around the derelict villages that dot the coast of the Salton Sea, it was really great to be back in the Pacific’s waves.Â The water temperature this afternoon and evening was a mostly comfortable 60 F/15 C and as long as the waves kept me busy on my board, I was warm. Hopefully the swell will get bigger before it’s time to leave for the year’s final desert trip…
I’ve been using a new neutral density filter while shooting at a few of my favorite vantage points along Pacific Coast Highway here in Santa Monica. The objective is to see how using it can help me convey the immense contrast between the beach, the bluffs below Palisades Park and the hefty traffic that passes through the landscape. In this case, the filter allows for much longer exposures at slower shutter speeds â€“ and with greater depth of field. This in turn lets me simultaneously capture both sharp static objects as well as the motion blur created by animated objects â€“ without overexposing even with a bright afternoon sun lighting the scene.
A huge chunk of my favorite landmark, the Santa Monica Pier is currently undergoing considerable renovations â€“ most of which should be completed by spring of next year. It’s obviously a huge undertaking, but what impresses me the most with the project, is how formidably exemplary they communicate the renewal process verbally and visually in “What’s up with that crane?”.
Shot this through the car window somewhere north west of Joshua Tree. I’ve seen several deserts and hills around California (from west of Modesto to east of San Diego) saturated with these towering mega-propellers. Makes me wonder if they are actually making a difference in the grand scheme of things. Does wind generated electricity make a substantial contribution to reducing our need for fossil fuels? Or, are these wind farms just a politically correct, subsidized eye-sore? Sometimes I get the feeling that we’re just building taller chimneys (turbine poles) instead of looking the real issues in the eye.
Third desert research trip (of five) completed after the weekend’s visit to the always enchanting Joshua Tree National Park here in California. By no means due to smart planning on my part, the moon was out in full shining glory. Turns out that my nightscapes of the park look far more compelling than those I shot earlier during the day. Love the moonlighting. Shot with the 5D Mk III at ISO100/20 sec/f2.8 with the always dependable Canon L 24-70 mm, f2.8 on Gitzo legs below the sturdy Arca Swiss Monoball p0 panning head.
Can’t get much further away from my usual organic, locally grown, grass fed, free range, fair trade grub. Bu if you, like me last weekend, ever find yourself in Lone Pine, California, be sure to look up Mt Whitney Cafe and order their lip-smacking, home fried, giant onion rings (above). And if you side-car them crunchy rings with the cafe’s Saturday Special â€“ a generous pile of sliced prime rib steak on toasted rye with a thick layer of mayo and a two silver dollar sized pickles â€“ I guarantee you’ll have enough calories to last you all the way up to the summit of Mount Whitney (14,505 ft/4,421 m).
Photos and articles and deadlines, oh my! After an unusually effective Wednesday morning and early afternoon, I dropped out of work mode around three this afternoon, slipped on my wetsuit â€“ which in today’s heatwave was somewhat superfluous â€“ and headed down to tower 10 and surfed until the sun set.
From Saturday and my second visit to the ominously named Death Valley. This was shot somewhere near Badwater Basin â€“ which at 282 ft (86 m) is the lowest point below sea level in North America. Which might not seem so low when compared with the shores of the Dead Sea which are 1,388 ft (423 m). But having been to both now, I can report with some certainty that both are definitely worth visiting.
Spent Veteran’s weekend crisscrossing the California and Nevada state lines all the while photographing landscapes in the Mojave Desert, Death Valley and the jaw-dropping beautiful countryside below the eastern slope of Mount Whitney in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Took this selfie early Monday morning at the Alabama Hills â€“ just outside the picturesque village Lone Pine in Owens Valley.
Nothing beats starting off a long day in front of the computer than an hour in the waves. What a privilege it is to greet each day so close to nature. This morning’s waves were few and short which gave me plenty of time trying to capture the amazing light in the comfortably warm water. Hard to believe it’s November.
From Saturday’s sunset shoot above the grandest of canyons. My first visit was back in 1994 during a remarkable visit to Arizona and New Mexico. That time, I had descended about half way to the Colorado River before a Forest Ranger on horseback kindly but briskly advised me to turn back before an expected snow storm hit the area. Photographing from the cockpit of a Eurocopter AS350 Ã‰cureuil (Squirrel) â€“ a erratically vibrating, single engine helicopter â€“ had its challenges. But flying in to the Grand Canyon was admittedly a whole lot easier and provided me with some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen.
Here’s my view from last night. I’m home again after an intense weekend in Las Vegas and a short but nonetheless amazing visit to the Grand Canyon â€“ sponsored by the friendly folks over at Sundance Helicopter Tours and Viator. Compared to my first visit about 17 years ago, today’s Vegas feels less edgy and more polished. A considerably more welcoming destination for families. And a forthcoming story about my experiences will try and shine some light on the ambivalent feelings I have for this extremely popular destination. Stay tuned.
Tonight we witnessed the very first annual Zombie Crawl at the Santa Monica Pier. The zombie festivities continued throughout Downtown and the city seemed to be full of locals dressed up in really amazing costumes. My personal favorite was the Cheese Head Zombie. Wonder if it was an Emmental?