Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak on a Summer Morning

Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Eastern Sierra

Behind the scenes of this photo

Taken in the meadows above Ediza Lake overlooking Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak in the Ansel Adams Wilderness on July 26th, 2008

Surrounded by the Minarets, Mt. Ritter, and Banner Peak, Ediza Lake and its environs are surely among the brightest jewels in the high Sierra crown. Above the lake there is an endless series of terraced meadows that are so perfect and manicured they almost look landscaped. Numerous creeks, flush with snowmelt, cascade through the meadows, creating dozens of gurgling waterfalls. And in late July wildflowers of all varieties and colors spring up from the grass, covering the hills with reds, yellows, purples, and whites.

I had scouted this area the afternoon before and knew that come sunrise a view looking up at Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak would be ideal. I picked out a number of spots where the flowers and streams combined in a pleasing aesthetic. Then in the morning it was only a matter of analyzing the alpenglow on the peaks and choosing the spot that looked best to my eye in the moment. And voila, this photo was created.

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Thank God It’s Friday

Lunada Bay sunset, Palos Verdes Peninsula, Los Angeles seascape

Taken at Lunada Bay, Palos Verdes Peninsula, Los Angeles, California on May 23rd, 2008

On the afternoon of Friday the 23rd, I observed that the sky above Los Angeles was unusually full of layer upon layer of differently-textured clouds. Knowing the sunset could be spectacular, I drove to the Palos Verdes peninsula and hugged the roads along the western coast. I managed to find a vacant lot with a steep path down the cliffs to the beach, which was covered with a series of rocky spits reaching out into the ocean. As the sun set, it lit up the layers of clouds in a light show that was nothing short of unforgettable.


Mojave Poppies at Sunrise

Mojave Poppies near Cottonwood Springs, Joshua Tree National Park

Behind the scenes of this photo

Taken in Joshua Tree National Park, California on February 24th, 2008

The winter of 2008 started off as a wet one, which proved fortuitous for the desert wildflowers. On this weekend in February I arrived in Joshua Tree to find carpets of flowers of all colors covering the desert floor. Wanting to be near the action come morning, I hiked about a ways into the park, pitched my tent, and slept surrounded by wildflowers. Early the next morning I woke before the sun and raced up to a slightly higher elevation where the poppies were blooming in full force. Then, once the sun rose above the horizon, illuminating the poppy fields and turning the clouds into bright nuggets of color in the sky, I snapped this photo.

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Rock and Leaf Textures

Taken in the Sierra Tuolumne River Canyon near Tuolumne, California on February 10th, 2008

Wanting to shoot some river scenes, I drove out to the scenic Tuolumne River in Northern California. After a fair bit of hiking around, I was feeling a little befuddled by the utter lack of the grand river vistas I was searching for. I then decided to turn my attention to a smaller scale which is when I noticed the contrasting and vibrant textures of this oak leaf and the lichen-covered granite boulder on which it was resting.

Weathered Tree at Sunset

Valley Oak at sunset near Knight's Ferry, California

Taken in the Sierra Nevada Foothills near Knight’s Ferry, California on February 9th, 2008

On my way to visit family in Northern California, I was brought to a halt by a two-mile-long backed-up line of cars. Not knowing when traffic would clear and seeing potential for a nice sunset that evening, I decided to go shoot to pass the time. Noting how the oak trees had not regained their leaves yet, I drove along some back roads, searching for an interesting composition. As I rounded a corner, I saw this solitary, weathered tree standing in a field with the deep reds and oranges of a sunset-almost-over radiating behind it and knew I had found the shot I was looking for.


Kearsarge Pinnacles, Kings Canyon

Kearsarge Pinnacles, Kings Canyon National Park, High Sierras

Taken at the Kearsarge Pinnacles, Kings Canyon National Park, California, on September 16th, 2007

I had hoped for some Alpenglow or lovely sunrise colors when I woke up to shoot photos in the Kearsarge basin. But rather than finding either of those, I saw a placidly-still lake reflecting the Pinnacles and creating wonderful geometries of light and shadow.


Marsh Lake, Little Lakes Valley

Marsh Lake, Little Lakes Valley, Eastern Sierra

Behind the scenes of this photo

Taken at Marsh Lake in the Little Lakes Valley, Eastern Sierra Nevada, California on August 25th, 2007

One of my favorite places in the Sierra is the Little Lakes Valley. I’m not sure there’s another place you can go that gives you such a high reward-to-effort ratio. The trailhead is at 10,500 feet, and by the time you’ve reached the head of the valley you’ve only climbed a scant 700 feet. Most of the hiking is up and down over rolling hills. A mere 10 minutes after leaving the trailhead you will come to the first great view of this staggering place: Bear Creek spire and its attendant mountains spread out along the southern end of the valley. I’m not sure a more perfectly picturesque scene exists in all of the Sierra, and to reach this view after only a few minutes of hiking is mind-boggling.

But even though the good views begin almost immediately it’s worth hiking deeper into the Little Lakes Valley. About every half mile you’ll pass a little lake (gee, I wonder where the name of this place comes from): Box Lake, Heart Lake, Long Lake, the wonderfully-name Chickenfoot Lake. They’re spread out along the valley floor like a string of jewels. One of my favorite lakes in the whole chain is Marsh Lake, about a mile and a half in from the trail head. Ringed on all sides by a thick layer of reeds, Marsh Lake provides a stunning view of the mountains beyond. And thanks to its shallowness and clarity, the lake demonstrates a wonderful high country phenomenon: it focuses the rays of the sun into distinct lines that dance and shimmer on the lake’s bed.

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