A new year. New images.

I have been blessed to spend time in some beautiful locations with my camera and my ideas. Recently, my wanderings have taken me to Yosemite, Eastern Washington, and California’s North Coast. I also found inspiration right here in my hometown of Lafayette, California.

For my photographer readers, you’ll notice in the notes below that I’m using two camera bodies these days — a Sony a7RII and Canon 5DsR. They are both wonderful cameras and I use each for different purposes and situations. I tend to use the Sony for high contrast images and night-scapes because its superior dynamic range and noise control. I prefer the Canon for situations where I rely on autofocus, such as wildlife or street photography. I am also quite fond of the Canon’s optical viewfinder.

I’ve provided technical details about the images below, including camera models and settings for readers who might find the information useful for their own photographic journey. If you are not interested in technical information, that’s ok. I’ve provided some background stories too.

As always, I appreciate your questions and comments.

“Ahwahnee Meadow Cottonwoods”, Yosemite National Park — I have been photographing this grove of Cottonwoods for years now, always at different times of day, different seasons, different conditions. I haven’t been happy with any of those other attempts until this one. It was a partly cloudy day. The sun broke through the clouds just for a moment, illuminating the section of meadow with the grove. Sony a7RII camera body with Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L lens. ISO 100, 105 mm, f/16, 1/6 sec.

“Black Oaks and Blue Shadows”, Yosemite National Park — I am repeatedly drawn to photographing trees. To me, it is similar to making portraits of people. Trees can take on remarkably varied moods, depending on lighting, seasonal, and weather conditions. The same grove, photographed in the Spring, will look completely different in the Winter. Or in the fog. Or a snowstorm. I have made several such “portraits” of these particular Oaks. Sony a7RII camera body with my trusty Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L lens. ISO 100, 115 mm, f/16, .8 sec.
“Cascade Creek”, Yosemite National Park — This notorious cascade in Yosemite has been famously photographed by many others before me. In fact, I’ve made compositions of this spot many times over the years. The trademark little tree is gone now, washed away by last year’s record precipitation. The tiny tree had been precariously perched in the crook between the two largest boulders, lending scale and drama to the scene. Now all that you can see is the small stump still wedged there as testimony to its existence. Canon 5DsR camera body with Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. 100 ISO, 59mm, f/16, 1/6 sec.
“Super Blue Blood Moon over the Lafayette Reservoir”, Lafayette, CA — On the last day of January, we were treated to an astronomical rarity — a Super-Blue-Blood Moon. I had given some thought as to where and how I would like to to make a photograph of the lunar eclipse. I chose to make this simple image in my own community of Lafayette, CA. We have a wonderful reservoir here — a haven for migrating birds, river otters, Osprey, deer and many, many other critters. It’s circumference is ringed by a three-mile path that draws people, dogs and kids from all around the Bay Area. I can be found there several times a week walking or watching birds. However, I’d never been there after dark. So, as I crept up the road in the pre-dawn hours weighing the best place to photograph the lunar eclipse, I was a little bit spooked. You see, while the day belongs to humans at the reservoir, the night belongs to the critters. The night was alive with the sound of shuffling, snorting, and chirping animals and birds. I was just grateful to have my husband with me! Sony a7RII camera body with Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. ISA 1250, 53mm, f/4, 5 sec.
“Winthrop Under A Winter’s Midnight Sky”, Winthrop, WA — I spent last weekend in Winthrop, Washington with friends. The purpose of the trip was to go skate skiing on some of Winthrop’s 200km of groomed trails, but I did bring along my small camera travel kit just in case there was a photographic opportunity. That night was windy and desperately cold, but the stars in the night sky were so brilliant, even with the light pollution from town, I couldn’t resist just taking one photo. If you want to truly appreciate every single star, click on the image to enlarge it. Sony a7RII camera body with a Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 lens. ISO 6400, 24mm, f/4, 20 sec.
“Nature’s Twinkle Lights”, Winthrop, WA — I was skiing along the groomed path in Winthrop when I noticed these backlit Aspens. While the trunks were in shade, the backlit droplets of melting ice lit up like twinkling lights. I wasn’t sure if the camera would pick it up and was delighted when reviewing the images they were there, just as I witnessed. Sony a7RII camera body with a Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 lens. ISO 100, 62mm, f/16, 1/80 sec.
“Cold Water Blues”, Northern California Coast — The title of the piece may give you a clue as to what happened in the making of this image. A wave surged a little higher than I expected. No, the camera didn’t get wet. I did. But not much. I could have easily stepped back away from wave coming at the camera and me, but I didn’t want to let go of the tripod. As it turns out, the tripod was more stable and water resistant than me. Oh well. At least I got the shot. Canon 5DsR camera body, Canon 24-70mm 2.8L lens. ISO 100, 70mm, f/16, 2 sec.