Tall Trees

My first foray into Day 2!!  We started the second day with a trip to Muir Woods National Monument.

We tried going the afternoon before, but it was Sunday and the place was packed.

We figured Monday morning would be much more hospitable, score one for the good guys!

So we had a couple hours to wonder among some really tall giants for trees.

Muir Woods is one of the remaining groves of Coastal Redwoods that is located real close to San Francisco.

The oldest tree within the park  is estimated to be over 600 years old and over 252 feet tall.  The tallest living Redwood is over 379 feet tall!!

It’s an amazing experience to walk amongst these giants.  The problem is, its really hard to capture the grandness of them in a picture.

Its near impossible to take a picture that can fully convey the majestic nature of these trees.

My hats off to those who have achieved it.

This photograph is my shot at trying to capture the feeling of standing among these tall trees.

I hope you enjoy.

Canon 5d Mk II, ISO 640, Canon 16-35L MkII @ 16 mm, f3.2, 1/1000 sec

Float like a Butterfly, Sting like an Elk

One more photo from day one of the left coast trip, then we’ll move onto day two.

As I mentioned previously, we had ended up out near the Tule Elk Reserve in Point Reyes National Park. A little bit of google searching shows that this breed of Elk is one of the smallest when compared to the Roosevelt Elk that you can run into up in the Northwest.

I’d say having them come within 50 yards or so, they still look to be a fair bit bigger than most of the deer you see throughout the USA.  Its all relative.

At  first we ran into the heard as they were moving up a hill behind us with the sun coming from the right as it was starting to dip down.  Not the best angles for getting natural light on the subject.

They were probably 100 yards or so up the hill just over the crest so they were being sillouetted to boot.  I was shooting with the Canon 100-400L lens, one of my favorites, so it was bringing them in, but still needed a little more.  I remembered that the road actually curved up around the hill as we came down.

So I was hoping to get a little closer but still keep a safe/healthy distance.  We drove around back over the hill and sure enough, the herd was moving towards the road.

We pulled off and parked and set up as they were moving towards us but off to the right a little bit.  More importantly the late afternoon sun was hitting them in the face, making for much better light. Part of the golden hour(s).

Beyond just getting good angles and photographs, the elk really participated as well.  A couple of the “younger appearing” bucks were sparring and locking their horns.  Its a pretty cool sound to listen listen too when your standing out in the middle of nowhere.

Anyways, here is one of my favorite Elk photographs from the trip.  Hope you enjoy it.

Canon 5d Mk II, ISO 800, Canon 100-400L @ 400 mm, f7.1, 1/4000 sec

McClures Beach at Sunset

More day one stuff since it’s late and I don’t have time for a long post.  Most of the first day was spent at Point Reyes National Seashore after a morning drive by the Golden Gate bridge to see if the fog had lifted.  Not great light.

So with a stop by REI to pick up some camp fuel (only so many days we can eat cold cereal for all the meals), we headed back out to Point Reyes to see what we could find.

Unfortunately some of the park was closed off because it was whale watching season and they limited the number of folks that could head out by the lighthouse.

So we decided to see if we could find some Tule Elk and try and catch a sunset somewhere.  We headed up Pierce Point Road towards the Tule Elk Reserve.  We did run into some Elk, but more on that in another post.

While out at the Reserve in the afternoon we ended up walking down to McClures beach.  Looking at some relief maps, there looked to be some cool rocks along the beach to add some foreground to what we hoped would be a decent sunset.  Combine that with how we were quickly running out of light.

It was a moderately steep 0.4 mile walk, and as usual going down was much easier then coming back up later in the twilight.

We were rewarded with this shot as we arrived just in time as the sun was dipping down over the horizon. Almost didn’t have enough time to set up the tripod. So here was the closing shot of daylight.

Canon 5d Mk II, ISO 320, Canon 16-35L MkII @ 16 mm, f8, 1/80 sec

Standing in the footprints of Ansel Adams

Just a quick post tonight.  It’s tough getting back form a trip and getting back in that writing groove, so I figure a quick one to get over the hump.  It’s all down hill from here right?

Anyways, spent last week wandering over the left coast.  Had some airline vouchers that had to be used up by the end of January on Southwest (Southwest rocks btw!!).  Combine that with a huge sale and San Francisco area here we come.

We spent a couple nights camping along the coast just south of Point Reyes National Seashore in Mt. Tamalpais State Park.  The campsite we were at was called Steep Ravine.  All I can say is wow, it is something to wake up everyday with that view.  Awesome.

We spent a couple days foraying into Point Reyes to check out the wildlife as well as time in Muir Woods hobnobbing with the giant Coastal Redwood Trees.

We then made the journey up to Mono Lake to check out the Tufa formations.  I can say it was the warmest 9 degrees I ever had the pleasure of standing out in, I guess it was a dry cold.  We made a pit stop at lake Tahoe for sunset and this will be a story all in itself, as it was another of those times where I had to question my sanity.

Anyway, from there we rolled down to Yosemite, hence the BLOG title today.  Yosemite in the winter I think is now on my top 5 places of favorite places.  Simply amazing doesn’t even describe it well enough. Visiting the Ansel Adams’ gallery inside of Yosemite was very inspiring to say the least.

My goal over the next few weeks will be to fuel the BLOG with at least one picture from each day of the trip, (minus day 1 and day 8 since those were the flight travel days) although likely there will be more featuring all the various environments we visited in such a short time.

So lets roll out day 1 with one of my favorite shots.  This one a long exposure of an old beached fishing boat aptly named “Point Reyes.”  The boat, which made a great subject, is located near the town of Inverness, California.

After watching the sunset off of the coast near the Tule Elk Preserve we stopped by here after dark to grab some star trail shots.  You can see two commercial airliners flying by as well, but I still like it.  I hope you enjoy, and I hope to be more regular with the postings.  I’ve got 2200 photos to sort through!!

Canon 5d Mk II, ISO 400, Canon 16-35L MkII @ 16 mm, f8, 1347 sec

Great Balls of Ice

OK, went a little off the tracks with the title, but oh well.  Trying to start a new thread to help move on to the next thing.  Don’t have a lot of stuff to write about tonight as I’m trying to get stuff ready for the trip this weekend.

We had a voucher to use on Southwest before the end of January or they’d expire so we are having a little spur of the moment travel to the left coast.  Low and behold San Francisco was one of th ebest bargain fairs and the car rental was kind of dirt cheap.  I guess January must be a slow time for traveling so good deals to be had.

The plan is to camp out (yes tent camping) near Point Reyes National Seashore for a few days, check out some redwoods, then heading up to Yosemite for a few days too.  Hopefully we’ll be able to get there with the snow they’ve had.  Then spend the last couple nights in San Francisco taking in the city.

I’ve been before, but Amy has not so she is excited.   I’m excited too so didn’t mean to sound like it was ho-hum.  Last time I didn’t do any of the exploring so this should be fun. Anyways, I hope to have lots of cool photos to post about when we get back.  Gotta put the 5d Mk II through its paces!!

Anyways, in preparation of the hopefully winter weather we’ll see in the mountains, I figured I’d share a piece of Missouri winter wonderland.  This is another shot from Johnson Shut-Ins.  This was a little ice formation next to a small waterfall.

The water was splashing up and the drops would freeze I guess to form this pretty cool pattern in the ice.  The blue color is a function of the white balance but this is the way it came out of the camera….I could have “fixed it” by adjusting the WB out, but I kind of liked it.  I hope you enjoy.

Canon 5d Mk II, ISO 400, Canon 100-400L @ 400 mm, f5.6, 1/250 sec

R.I.P. Buster “Bubba”

I promise not to get sidetracked too much, but this was too much for me to ignore today so I wanted to post this.  Today I got to hold my best friend of 14+years as he took his final breaths.  He was my only constant over that time period and like most pets, gave unconditional love through the good times and the bad times.

I know many folks will say, its just a cat, but to me he was more.  He had a very unique personality that was only his (more so than some people I’ve known.)  He was a Hemingway cat or Poly-dactyl meaning he had extra digits on his paws.  He was a six fingered cat.  Him and his brother, 6-toed Jimmy, I know creative, both had the extra toes while the two other litter mates didn’t.

Even though he was 14 years old, he was as playful as a kitten.  About a year and a half ago, he came down with what seemed like a cold he couldn’t shake.  After many trials of antibiotics and other meds, he was diagnosed with a tumor in his nasal cavity.  That was about 16 months ago.  He was pretty energetic through most of it still.

We treated him with a monthly dose of steroids to keep the swelling of the tumor down, and tried to make sure he ate and kept going.  The tumor would effect his ability to smell and when cats can’t smell they tend to stop eating.  We had to prevent that from happening.

My biggest fear was knowing when it was time to let him go.  I didn’t want to do it because it would be “convenient” for us or it would make our life easier. As long as his quality of life was ok, we would continue to treat the symptoms. About a month ago, we could tell it was getting closer.

Well that time came this morning.  He had stopped eating sometime yesterday and today when we got up he couldn’t even stand up.  We believe he was likely having some kind of organ failure.  Thankfully our wonderful vet at the City Cat Clinic in St Louis interrupted their New Years Day dinner to come in and help us ease our little buddy’s pain.

He passed on this afternoon around 2:20 pm with me and Amy holding and petting him.  He will be missed greatly.  We love you Buster.

R.I.P. Buster "bubba" - June 26, 1996 to January 1, 2011

118 Members of Wedding Party Eaten By Wolves

Back to the blogosphere.  The wife and I had gone camping for the Christmas so we’ve been away from the computer for a few days.  Yes, camping in winter, I know crazy, but it ‘s nice to get back to nature once in a while.  Ok, we camped in our cool retro 1955 Silver Streak Jet camper (think airstream but more off-brand), so not completely back to nature, but we were the only crazies out camping. I’ll break my own self-imposed limit of only one picture per post, I’ll throw up a little sneak preview of the silver streak under a starry winter sky (dig the shooting star!!).

Canon 5d Mk II, ISO 400, Canon 16-35L MkII @ 16 mm, f9, 28.5 minutes

Speaking of crazies, i figured I’d pass along this great story that a friend passed along to me and is the inspiration for the blog title.  This article was published on February 28, 1911 in what I believe is the Princeton-Clarion News.  You just don’t get to read these heart felt stories of true love anymore.

Like Story of the Dark Ages

118 Members of Wedding Party Eaten By Wolves

Woman and Children Thrown Out to Appease Brutes

With the party reduced to four in the Bride and Groom’s Sledge, the newly-weds are thrown to the ravenous animals and but two live to tell the awful story.

Vienna, Feb. 28.-One hundred and eighteen members of a wedding party of 120 including the bride and groom were devoured by wolves while driving by sledge from Obstik off to Tashkend in Asiatic Russia, a distance of twenty miles.

Today’s Zeit declares two survivors reached Tashkend in the half-crazed condition after having thrown the bride and groom to the hundreds of wolves.

The four occupied the same sledge, and when the groom refused to abandon the bride to lighten the load, both were thrown out.

The men of the party shot many of the animals, without checking their pursuit.  The women and children were then the first to be thrown to the wolves.

And beyond the true love that the groom was willing to be thrown out of the sledge too with his bride, who says chivalry is dead?

So on to the real picture.  All in all we were hoping for some snow, but to no avail, it wasn’t a white Christmas.  Mostly dark and gray until the last two days.  So we made a trip to Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park in Missouri. There wasn’t much going on, sort of late in the day and the water level seemed kind of low.  What we did have was some great color reflecting off the water from the late afternoon sunlight lighting the evergreen trees along the opposite bank.

Work with what you have I guess.  It’s good though to go out and challenge yourself to try and create some keeper images when conditions aren’t exactly perfect.  Anyways, here is one of the keepers that I took.  Just playing with some light.  I hope you enjoy.

Canon 5d Mk II, ISO 250, Canon 100-400L @ 100 mm, f7.1, 1/125 sec

Lower Antelope Slot Canyon

As promised a photograph from Lower Antelope Slot Canyon.  For more information on the Slot Canyons check out my post the bear.  The previous two posts and photos had to do with Upper Antelope Slot Canyon, which is arguably the more well photographed one.

The Lower antelope , while almost across the road from Upper, seems to be far less traveled.  Maybe because it’s more of a walk about than Upper and a little bit more vertical changes making it a little bit more to get around as opposed to walking in to the end and turning around and walking out (that’s what happens in Upper).  The photography tour in Lower is unguided, and this is kind of a good thing.  They essentially bring you down there and then let you wander on your own for a good 2.5 hours or so.

Being uncrowded, you can have parts of the canyon all to yourself for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, at least in the offseason.  We were there in October.  The only issue with being there late in the year like that however, is that the sun is much lower on the horizon then so you don’t get the streaks of sunlight randomly penetrating down to the canyon floor like you do during the summer.

Like I mentioned about Upper Canyon, you’ll have to have a tripod at least 6 inches in height in order to “qualify” for the photography tour, but you’ll want one anyway, to be able to explore the limits of playing with light.

One of the fringe benefits when we were in the canyon was that one of the Navajo guides that ran the regular tour would walk through playing the guitar and he seemed to have quite the preference for Red Hot Chili Peppers.  So I got to hear a fair chunk of the Chili Peppers catalog at some point over the 2.5 hours.

It was cool though,  he did a good job and there was something ethereal about having some of the songs echo through the canyon seemingly from out of the wind.  Surprisingly the sound was really good in the canyon.  I wouldn’t have expected that.

Anyway, I took about 500 pictures in the canyon and this is just one of my favorites.  Not sure why really.  In fact this was one of those photographs that when I first went through them , it didn’t really jump out at me.  But after not checking them out for 8 months or so I revisited the folder and it really caught my eye.  I just liked the pop of the color, the various textures of the sandstone, and the depth that is projected by the shadow and lights.  Oh and that cool piece of driftwood stuck up in the top of the canyon.

Man would I have loved to get a piece of that to take home and throw on the lathe.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Canon 40d, ISO 100, Canon 17-55 IS f2.8 @ 28 mm, f9, 2 sec.