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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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.


Lambing Season

Sheep in the Rees / Dart Valley near Glenorchy, New Zealand

Taken in the Rees river valley outside of Glenorchy, New Zealand, on October 22nd, 2007

Driving through New Zealand during their spring, my girlfriend and I saw no shortage of newborn baby lambs frolicking in the sunshine. When we stopped alongside the road so my girlfriend could snap photos of a couple of sheep, I just felt like stretching my legs and didn’t bother to take my camera with me. As I was walking, I saw this ewe and her lamb poised perfectly on the ridge of a small grassy hill. I sprinted back to the car to get my camera, wishing all the while that the young sheep was very hungry. Camera retrieved, I sprinted back down the road and was able to compose and fire off this shot seconds before the lamb finished feeding and both sheep trotted down behind the hill.


Aoraki over Lake Pukaki, New Zealand

Aoraki over Lake Pukaki, Mt. Cook National Park, New Zealand
Taken from a viewpoint near Aoraki National Park, New Zealand on October 12th, 2007

Every photographer searches for special light, and driving away from Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, I turned around to see a scene that had it in spades. Here I saw something very special as the afternoon light created wondrous textures on the massive and beautiful Aoraki, lit up a potpourri of colors in the trees in the foreground, and tinged the glacial Lake Pukaki a hundred shades of turquoise. All the work was done for me; I just had to click the shutter.

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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