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Sequoia trees are special life forms. They live for millennia, can grow as wide as a small house and they’re majestically beautiful beyond words. For me, I have a deeply personal connection with these trees because I used to live in one of their cousins, the coastal Redwoods.
In my younger days, I was an environmental activist, and part of our protest was to keep the very last of the Redwoods from being logged out of existence. Part of that protest required us to live hundreds of feet up in the trees at all times. The logic was that a logger could not cut these extremely precious trees down without cutting us down with them. The tactic was highly effective.
So, you can understand why I would have a deeply spiritual and personal connection with Redwoods and Sequoias. I can tell you what it is like to sit in the canopy of a tree like this, and I can tell you what it is like to actually call a tree "friend".
Because of this, I am still working to capture the perfect photo of these beautiful giants. This photo represents being one step closer in that journey. I got up before dawn and entered into the Mariposa Grove in Southern Yosemite National park well before dawn. I was searching for the perfect composition, but wasn't having much luck.
Suddenly, I walked past a sunbeam that shot into my eyes and realized I’d stumbled upon the perfect first light location! I set up my tripod as fast as I could, positioned my camera, set my ISO as low as it could go, stopped down my lens f22 and snapped a single shot.
When I saw the resulting photo I literally shouted out in joy! (This got me a couple of funny looks from people around me). I had captured the scene perfectly exposed in one shot; it was a good feeling!
(Note: To capture the sunburst, there are two things you have to keep in mind. First, the sunburst will be the most pronounced when the sun is is either peaking past something. It could be a thick cloud, the horizon or as in this case, a tree. This helps to project the light and accentuate the sunburst effect. Secondly, stop down your lens to f16, f18 or f22. Imagine squinting your eyes towards a street lamp and seeing a burst pattern in the light, this essentially works the same way when a camera lens is set to a low aperture. It creates a smaller hole for the camera to see through, similar to squinting)
Image Code: A028
Red Rock Crossing
Patient photographers will be rewarded with incredible shots at Red Rock Crossing. After finding the perfect composition (in an area with almost countless possibilities) it is all a matter of waiting for the right lighting.
In this case, the suns illumination of Cathedral Rock was the perfect time to snap the shutter and capture this beautiful image.
Image Code: A022
I have recently learned that I LOVE to travel spontaneously, without plans. In the past, I have been a thorough trip planner, almost to an excessive point. Last fall, I planned a road trip through the European Alps down to almost the second! It seemed like a good idea because; hey… planning is good, right? The problem came when I realized that I hadn’t planned for what I would do if I didn’t end up liking what I’d planned!
Case in point, I’d planned a day to drive up to Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. I had heard that it was a beautiful, rustic old village (one of the oldest in Europe) so I figured I’d give it a shot. The landscape was pretty, but when I rolled into town from the southwest corner, I accidently drove through a very creepy looking gypsy camp. I’ve had problems with Romanian Gypsies in the past, so it automatically left a bad taste in my mouth. When I got into the city center, the whole town gave off a weird vibe and I just wasn’t “feeling it”. So I decided to turn back into Austria, where I’d come.
Now, I had abandoned my plans (including my lodging for the night in a Czech hostel) so I had no idea where I would stay that night. I was throwing caution to the wind. So, I just started burning down the highway, jamming my way towards Salzburg.
On the way, I was struck by a beautiful sunset and pulled over. By the time I climbed to higher ground for a better view, I missed the best part of the sunset, but I noticed the sun setting above a beautiful little town along the lake, at the base of a mountain. I decided to explore this town and discovered a nice little bed and breakfast for an affordable cost. I felt so proud of myself in being able to accomplish such a thing alone.
After I settled into my room, I decided to go out and explore the lake for some interesting shots. I found this dock and began snapping off long exposure shots until I grabbed the image I wanted. So, for me, this image represents that experience of adapting to ones surroundings and being rewarded for it
Image Code: A095