Archive for the ‘sunrise’ Tag

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Winter Solstice!   8 comments


Single-image Sunday: Surf Fishing   4 comments

I know it’s a bit lame, but I can’t help but apologize for my recently inconsistent Friday Foto Talk posts.  Blame it on that good old sense of guilt that everyone raised Catholic seems to suffer from.  Believe me I haven’t forgotten about it.  I’m also going to be collecting all of them into one or more e-books.  It surprises me to look back and see how many I’ve amassed over these past several years.  It’s a nice summary of my photography knowledge (which hopefully still has a long way to go)

In the meantime, enjoy this image from the other morning.  I’ve been rising in the pre-dawn every morning for work, but it mostly happens that the people I’m working with abhor starting before the sun is up.  The happy result is that I get to enjoy a peaceful sunrise somewhere.  On this morning I walked over the dunes just as the sun was breaking through and in time to see this fisherman casting into the breakers for snook.  In talking to him I detected an accent that made me think South African but with a small twist.  Turns out he was from east Africa.  Retired now, he walks up to the beach almost every morning for some surf fishing at sunrise.

Thanks for looking and have a great week.

Surf-fishing at sunrise, Atlantic Coast of Florida.  50 mm. Zeiss lens, 1/100 sec. @ f/13, ISO 200.

Surf-fishing at sunrise, Atlantic Coast of Florida. 50 mm. Zeiss lens, 1/100 sec. @ f/13, ISO 200.

Single-image Sunday: Morning at Colorado National Monument   14 comments

The early morning sun streams into Ute Canyon in Colorado National Monument.

This is an image from earlier in the summer that I reprocessed.  I wanted to bring out some of the drama of that June morning in Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction.  It was the proverbial ‘dark and stormy night’ when I camped near the monument boundary, high up to escape the heat of the valley floor.  It’s been a very hot summer in the American West.  I woke up a bit too late, assuming it would be a grey, cloudy sunrise.  But after examining the slowly brightening sky, I realized there was promise of clearing.  I didn’t waste any more time.

The monument occupies a spectacular place at the northern edge of the Colorado Plateau, where canyons cut deeply into the colorful sandstone, creating fascinating erosional forms.  I’d camped only 10 minutes or so from the canyon rim, so despite the late start I arrived before sunup.  I searched, somewhat frantically, for a good spot to shoot from.  This is the problem with sunrise.  If you don’t already have something scoped out from the day before, it’s difficult to find a spot in time for the good light.

Ever since my first trip here, I’d been wanting an image of Ute Canyon.  It’s sort of off the radar, mostly because it lacks the soaring rock pinnacles that the monument is known for.  But the canyon has a sort of magnetic draw for me, and it’s aligned toward the rising sun in summertime.  By the way you can hike up the canyon from below.  It makes a great overnight backpack.

I parked and worked my way along the canyon rim.  The sun rose and light was good, but I just got images that included the road.  I didn’t stop there because I know the presence of dramatic clouds like this can mean good shooting even well after sunrise.  I kept looking for a good spot, being careful around the cliff edge.   Just in time for the last of the warm light I found this natural viewpoint, a flat rock perched high above the canyon.


As the sun peeked through and light streamed into the canyon, I got a couple shots.  For this image, I used my 21 mm. lens. I wanted to get very close to the foreground rock to show the interesting lichen and impart a feeling of standing there.  So in order to get as much depth of field as possible, I had to focus stack.  So I shot one frame for the foreground and a couple more for the background and sky.

There was a lot of contrast in the scene, shooting toward a sun that had already risen.  So in addition to the focus stack I did a basic exposure stack as well.  In other words the shot for the sky was a shorter exposure so as not to blow it out.  Using Photoshop I merged the separate exposures for a final image that represents a single moment, despite the shots being some seconds apart.

I hope your weekend was a fun one.  Happy shooting!

Visiting Zion National Park – Part VII: Photography   6 comments

The Kolob Terrace part of Zion National Park wakes up to a cloudy sunrise.

Kolob Terrace in Zion National Park wakes up to a cloudy dawn.

I’m finally concluding this series with tips on photography at Zion National Park.  Believe it or not I will get back to regular Friday Foto Talk posts next week, promise!

Actually, there is one extra topic for Zion that I’ve been avoiding, at least until I get back there for more shots that match the theme.   That’s life and biodiversity at Zion.  With the great variation in elevation and available water in the park, there is an amazing diversity of plants and animals.

For example it’s relatively easy to see desert bighorn sheep but much tougher to find the Zion snail, or to notice other interesting plant and animal species.  But it’s certainly a worthwhile topic to learn about, especially if you’re a nature photographer.  Here’s a good website for that.

A family of bighorn sheep survey their realm in East Zion.

A family of bighorn sheep survey their realm in East Zion.

I feel the same way about telling you what and where to shoot as I do recommending specific places to go.  I don’t want to be like that tour guide who leads you to some viewpoint where he looks expectantly at you and your camera.  Then he’s slightly annoyed if instead of taking a picture where everybody else does you stop and shoot in odd places, throwing a wrench in his agenda.  But I do want to provide some guidance.  It’s a fine line, so please consider the following as suggestions only.

The road in Zion Canyon is lined with beautiful cottonwoods.


East Zion is my favorite area to shoot at sunrise.  Hiking up the slickrock where it’s not too steep will get you the necessary elevation above the road.  Tip: you can walk very steep sandstone slickrock without slipping because it offers amazing friction, belying its name.  You’ll see most people shooting from near the road, but that follows a canyon, often putting you just a little too low.

A full waterpocket reflects the light of sunset at Zion National Park.

Waterpockets are pools of water that hang around on the sandstone bedrock well after rains.  Do some exploring during the day and try to find some of these at Zion.  You’ll have much more luck in East Zion than elsewhere, but anywhere high up, like Kolob Terrace or up on one of the rims of Zion Canyon, offers good waterpocket hunting.  Of course if you’re there off-season, by next morning you could find your pool frozen.  But so much the better!

Canyon Hiking in the early morning can offer very nice image possibilities.  Most canyons face generally west, but in the right light, shooting in canyon bottoms at Zion is perfect (and uncrowded!) at sunrise.

A walk in any wet canyon bottom can reward with simple pleasures like this swirling eddy.


Zion Canyon faces southwest, so late afternoon light tends to flood up the canyon in fall when the sun is to the south.  When the sun sets more directly west in spring and summer the sun sets behind mountains.  But you’ll still have good shooting if some clouds are around reflecting and sweetening the light.

The Virgin River at sunset is a nice low-energy thing to try.  Walk anywhere along its length from the entrance on up to the Narrows.  Even with the sun itself obscured you may get that special glow seeping down into the canyon bottom.

Hike high up on Zion Canyon’s sides, as high as energy and terrain allow.  Then you can either shoot up-canyon in front-light or down-canyon in back-light.  I have several spots like this that I’m fond of.  I gave away one in the last post (whinny!), so I’ll keep the rest to myself and let you find your own.

I found this view of the Patriarchs while stumbling around up on the sides of Zion Canyon

I found this view of the Patriarchs while stumbling around up on the sides of Zion Canyon

Kolob Terrace is great at sunset, or sunrise if clouds are kicking around.  Drive up the road from Virgin early so you can do some exploring to find unique perspectives.

The Kolob Canyons area also faces west, so going up there for sunset, then heading back down to camp at Red Cliffs Campground is a good plan.  It’s at the mouth of a lovely wet canyon that faces east for sunrise photos.

Ranch Land on the western approach to the park offers nice front-light in late afternoon.  Fall colors here linger a bit longer than higher in the canyons.  You can find peaceful pastures to shoot with Eagle Crags in the background (Eagle Crags is a good off-beat place to hike to as well).

Horses and Eagle Crags near Rockdale, not far outside Zion National Park.


Anywhere:  If you’re lucky enough to have stormy weather at Zion, or the daytime light is otherwise spectacular, try any of the above ideas, or just wander around with your eyes open.

The Canyon Overlook Trail near the east tunnel entrance, while it’s best at sunrise, offers a spectacular view of Pine Creek Canyon at any time.

I got lucky with stormy weather one early morning from Canyon Overlook.

Riparian Zones are plant-filled riverside canyon bottoms.  They’re a challenge to shoot because of all the “stuff”.  But they are nonetheless worthwhile places to look for intimate landscapes.  Try walking Pine Creek either up or downstream from the bridge.

The Aeries of Angel’s Landing and Observation Point are sublime spots for overview shots of the canyon.

There are plenty of other places to shoot at Zion if you do some wandering around.  And I haven’t even spoken of all the places outside the park.  So use your imagination and don’t follow the crowd.

That’s it, we’re done!  I hope you’ve enjoyed the series, and the pictures as well.  I was surprised I had so many that were worthy of posting.  But would you think me greedy if I said I wanted more?  Have a great time at Zion National Park!

Hiking up on the steep slickrock of East Zion at sunset I found this unique sunset shot with the crescent moon.

Hiking up on the steep slickrock of East Zion at sunset I found this image with the crescent moon.  Worth a dark hike back down.

Wordless Wednesday: Foggy Morn   Leave a comment

Single-image Sunday: First Light   17 comments

This is the first sunrise with my new camera.  I finally ended the drought by recently buying a barely used Canon 6D.  I also bought a lens to go with it, a wide-angle zoom that Canon just came out with.  It’s the 16-35mm. f/4L.  I really haven’t used it much yet.  But I’m hoping it is a good landscape lens.  This image was shot with a different lens.

Often sunrise is so beautiful over the prairie near where I am right now.  The sky can be truly spectacular, even though the terrain is flat.  The light fog hanging in the low places was surprising.  The nights are so warm here at this time of year that fog rarely forms.  I imagine that will change later in the year.  But for now the early morning is wonderful.  It’s the only time of the day when the temperature is comfortable.

I had to scramble to shoot this right after waking up.  I like how it turned out, I’m pretty happy with the camera.  It does not focus as well as my 5D III did, but that camera has pro-level autofocus and this one doesn’t.  Usually not a problem with the kind of images I generally shoot, but with wildlife or candid shots of people I could see it being an issue.  Other than autofocus, plus the fact it is obviously not as well sealed against the weather, I can’t see many differences between the 6D and 5D III.  They both have full-frame sensors.

I hope you all are enjoying your summers.  I am taking a break from doing Friday Foto Talks in August.  I’ll get back to it, promise.  Now I’m off to explore this area.  I have a few days off, yippee!.  Thanks for looking.

First Light on the Prairie (and for me & my new camera)

First Light on the Prairie (and for me & my new camera)



Happy Summer Solstice!   10 comments

Sunrise over Klamath Marsh, south-central Oregon.

Sunrise over Klamath Marsh, south-central Oregon.  Click on image for purchase options.

It is that special day today, Summer Solstice!  It’s the longest day of the year and the first day of summer for the Northern Hemisphere.  For all you Southerners it’s Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and start of winter.  For today I’m posting one sunrise, from Klamath Marsh in southern Oregon, and one sunset, from the Pacific Coast just south of the Oregon-California border.

Please let me know if you’re interested in fine-art prints of the images here, or want to buy rights to the high-resolution files.  They’re not available for free download except with my permission.  Please contact me, thanks!

You may already know this but the Earth is tilted on its axis about 23.5 degrees.  This tilt gives us our seasons, and means as we go around the Sun there are four moments (not whole days) when things line up.  In March and again in September there’s a moment when the North Pole is tilted precisely along our path of travel, our orbit, at a perfect right angle to the Sun’s direction.  These are the equinoxes, when day and night are equal the world over.


In December there’s a moment when the North Pole points directly away from the Sun.  In June, usually on the 21st but sometimes on the 20th, a moment comes when the North Pole points directly toward the Sun.  This puts the Sun as far north in our skies as it can get.  In the Southern Hemisphere it’s low in the sky, leading to short days.  In the Northern Hemisphere it’s high in the sky, leading to long days.

In the far north above the Arctic Circle, where I spent a couple summers a long time ago in Alaska, the Sun never sets at this time of year.  It skims along nicely above the northern horizon throughout the wee hours.  I went on several long hikes in the Brooks Range when I was up there working.  I’m a person who needs darkness to sleep, and I was having trouble staying asleep.  So I used the time to see the midnight sun trace its path across the sky above the Arctic Plain.

Our encampment was down in a valley with a fairly high ridge to the north, so you couldn’t see the midnight sun for about 8 full hours.  It took about an hour and a half to climb the ridge, and I”m sure it would take twice that long for me now!  In good weather there was a clear view out to the Chukchi Sea to the west, the Noatak River Valley to the north.  The glowing sun glided not far above the horizon.

I recall seeing a few grizzlies on their rounds down below.  I never ran into one close, but being alone I was cautious.  I avoided obvious passes and other places a bear might use to cross from one valley to another.

So enjoy our long days all you fellow Northerners.  If you live relatively close to the equator, I’m sorry but all this talk of seasons and change is a bit lost on you.  But heck, go ahead and celebrate with the rest of us!

The rugged Pacific Coast of far northern California witnesses many a fine sunset.

The rugged Pacific Coast of far northern California witnesses many a fine sunset.  Click on image for purchase options.

Single-image Sunday: Hidden Gem   9 comments

I’ve been going back through all the photos from this last trip, searching for pictures I may have missed.  I’ve found a few, but it’s always the case that most of those I don’t catch on the first pass are just good not great shots.  I like this image but I want you be the judge of that.  Please give your honest comment below.

 I recall being a bit late getting up for sunrise on this particular morning.  It was a hike up to the top of a ridge in an area I had mountain-biked the day before.  The beautiful light arrived before I made it, so I turned around and set up right down on the slickrock, shooting back towards where I was camped.

The dawn light was very pretty, but there was also a lot of contrast.  So I wasn’t sure about the quality of the image.  Also there was the fact I was on the way to somewhere else.  I try not to let that influence my opinion of a shot, but sometimes it does.

After I spent some time editing this to subdue the contrast, trying to make it look like what I saw that morning, I saw it was a  nice shot.  I’m happy with the image mainly because it captures the feel of this place:  long curving striations of the Entrada Sandstone sweeping away and merging together in the broken and juniper-dotted background.

It’s an area that, while known by serious mountain-bikers, is off the radar for landscape photographers.  And the area around Moab, Utah certainly draws its share of photogs.!  I worked pretty hard there to find a half-dozen or so relatively unknown areas, at the same time taking the opportunity to do more mountain biking than I had ever done before at Moab.  Have a great week everyone!

Dawn breaks over sandstone slickrock in southern Utah.  Protected by copyright.  Click image for purchase options

Dawn breaks over sandstone slickrock in southern Utah. Protected by copyright. Click image for purchase options

Single-image Sunday: Smith Rock State Park   12 comments

This is Oregon’s favorite place for rock climbing.  The routes are rated up to 5.14, which is extremely difficult and for experts only.  But there are plenty of climbs suitable for novices as well.  A series of trails wind through the park, allowing hikers to watch these spider-men and women practice their sport.  The Crooked River zig-zags its way around the hard formations of volcanic tuff, a dense flow of ash dumped here by an ancient volcano.  Sometimes tuff can be fairly soft and friable, but this one is very strongly cemented.

I woke very early, and worried that the cloudy weather would prevent a good sunrise.  Rain moved in after sunrise, but at dawn the skies cleared enough for very pretty light to make its way into the canyon.  The cascading song of a canyon wren echoed its way up to me from the canyon as I captured this shot.  It was very quiet and beautiful, and the recent rains gave the sage and other desert vegetation a lovely scent.  Thanks for looking.  I hope your weekend is going well!

Dawn breaks at Smith Rock State Park in central Oregon.

Dawn breaks at Smith Rock State Park in central Oregon.

Single-Image Sunday: Sunrise over Puget Sound   14 comments

This is an image I captured recently at sunrise from Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, Washington.  The last two Friday Foto Talk posts focused on using reflection and this picture is a further example.  I think it shows that reflection of light and color can really add interest to an image whether you use water or something else.  In this case, a low layer of clouds and fog covers the cool waters of Puget Sound and my high viewpoint was the key.  The rising sun reflected from the cloud-tops in a very pleasing and somewhat unusual manner.  Hurricane Ridge is a great place to wake up.  You can see the northern Washington Cascades & Puget Sound (as in this image), the Olympic Mountains, the Pacific Coast, and up over Canada’s Vancouver Island.  I hope everyone is enjoying their summer!


Light from the rising sun fills valleys of the North Cascades and reflects off low clouds covering the waters of Puget Sound in Washington.

Light from the rising sun fills valleys of the North Cascades and reflects off low clouds covering the waters of Puget Sound in Washington.

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