Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Pictures

I should be getting out this week and adding some new images to my sites.  I also hope to have another small story up soon!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Story Behind the Logo

The blue line of the logo is an actual outline of the mountains just north of where I grew up.  It is a vista I have seen nearly every day for most of my life.




These mountains are the eastern edge of the San Gabriel Mountains straddling both the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests in Southern California.








The easternmost prominent peak is called
Cucamonga Peak and towers above the city
of Rancho Cucamonga, roughly in line
with Hermosa Ave.






Below is the common view from the city and the inspiration for my logo.


If you look closely on the left hand side you can see the ridge from Cucamonga Peak slides down while a new mountain, Ontario Peak, continues along the sky line.  I decided not to use Ontario Peak for my logo so that it would be more symmetrical.  I basically went for the form between Cucamonga and Day Canyons.

You can see below that it isn't necessarily exact, but close.


For the name, I went with the easiest thing I could do.  It says who I am and what I do.  No more, no less.  The colors I chose are blue and yellow for no other reason than I thought it would look good.

Until next time...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer

Over the next couple of months I should be able to get out and explore some new areas.  As I do, I will add stories and pictures to this blog.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Death Valley Sand Dunes

            Hazy skies once again dominated as far as the eye could see.  As I was driving out to my destination I kept scanning the horizon hoping to see some kind of blue breaking through.  A few days before I was in Joshua Tree National Park experiencing similar conditions.  That evening the sun set the clouds on fire as it dipped out of view.  Hopefully that would happen again.
When I entered the valley in the late afternoon things were getting better.  The barren mountains closing off the eastern side proudly displayed the deep yellows, oranges, and reds rippling in and out of the endless, rugged canyons that welcome visitors to the other world that is Death Valley National Park.  Because of time constraints I had to press on, unable to capture the beauty passing before me.  I had a goal: photograph sand dunes for the first time.
It wasn’t my first time to the sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells, or the first time I had taken a picture of them.  But, I had never gone beyond the foot of any dunes in the Mojave, and have only taken quick snapshots.  I guess I always thought I would get too much sand in my shoes, and in my equipment, and I have to say in the back of my mind is always the thought that a sidewinder is going to pop out of nowhere and put me in a world of hurt!
Well, I pulled off the side of the road about a mile from the nearest dunes because I spotted a nice expanse of salt flats I could easily cross.  I also wanted to come in at an angle that wouldn’t have been used all day long so I could present the illusion of absolute solitude.  It was a fairly easy walk crunching along the salt.  I also felt partially immune to the rattlesnake, figuring he wouldn’t want to get all scratched up on the crusty salt.  The route wasn’t too bad.  Salt is crunchy to walk on and I felt a little bad that I was leaving slight footprints until I saw tire tracks.  Who knows how long ago someone felt the need to tear up this land.  In the desert, tire tracks can last decades.  It’s a shame such scars have a way of leaving a disproportionate impact on the mood and feel of our few remaining pristine places.
I had stopped too many times on the drive to Death Valley, so I didn’t have enough time to make it into the full dunes.  I had to settle on the outskirts littered with mesquite.  No problem though.  The lighting wasn’t going my way and the mesquite provided a chance to work on various compositions.  I’ll certainly make many trips in the future to get the dunes in the warm glow of morning or afternoon light.  Of course at the time though I was still hoping for a colorful sunset on the horizon.
Keeping me company as I waited was a fly who interestingly seemed to understand the concept of personal space.  I only had to swat it away a couple of times in the 45 minutes we hung out.  Other than his near constant drone and the occasional loud car a couple thousand yards away, it was completely silent.  Silence in California is something you really only find in the desert or high, high up in the mountains. 
I am only beginning to develop enough patience to compose the frame and wait for the light to get right.  I always end up trying ten different angles as the sun drops and rush to get it right when the light turns.  This evening was typical in that respect.  That’s partly because I increasingly lost faith that the clouds were going to come through.  You’ve got to work with what you’ve got.
I waited well after the sun had set, and after I knew it was just going to be one of those days, to pack up and head back.  As I moved across the salt flats, the light by which I walked shifted from twilight to moonlight.  Occasionally I used the flashlight just to check for “legless” creatures bold enough to cross the salt.  All in all, it was an easy walk and by the time I got back to the car the valley was completely lit by the moon.
Heading out in the car, I decided to roll the dice and drive out of the southern end of the valley.  I figured the main road is pretty desolate as well so how could it be much worse if I chose a slightly more isolated road?  Cruising along the main saltpan covering the bottom of Death Valley turned out to be the right choice.  It shone an eerie purple in the moonlight with the snowcapped Panamints to the west nicely completing the vista.  I had expected little in the way of traffic on this road but I didn’t expect I would go some 65 miles and spend 90 minutes without spotting another car! Cool.  (I did however see a large meteor and the planet Mars.)  It was a great end to another way too short trip to Death Valley.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Joshua Tree Photo Trip

I set out for Joshua Tree National Park under one of the ugliest skies you could image- a nasty, pale yellow haze that doesn’t do anything for anyone.  “Just my luck,” I thought.  I pushed on, however, determined to make the most out of the time I had.  I like Joshua trees.  Especially when you come across a good one.  No other plant is as beautiful in its grotesqueness.  (Taking care of color fringing on them is a beast though!) 
A little after 5pm, I made it through the West Entrance trying to set up in time for a sunset shortly after 7pm.  The northwestern part of the park has most of the Joshua trees and boulders for which the park is so famous.  I wanted some shots showing various relationships between the two.  Luckily the sky started to open up overhead and to the east as a blanket of clouds formed in the west.  If there was any break in that on the horizon at sunset I knew things could get good.
I decided to take a well-known trail in about a mile towards an area full of jumbled rock formations.  I passed a few groups coming in for the day and only had a handful of people in one group head in behind me.  After they passed me up, I didn’t see another person that evening.  I have gotten used to being in the middle of nowhere by myself, but it’s still an eerie feeling knowing you’re completely on your own.  Usually right when I’m coming to this realization I’ll hear a rustle in nearby bushes, reminding me that rattlesnakes are harder to see than people think.  I’ve yet to come across one on foot in the desert (several times in the mountains), but I pass enough of them on the road to know they really are out there.
            As the sun began to set, the clouds broke up into long, waving trails.  To the north they began to develop some color and all my worries about the earlier haze completely faded away.  As the pink and orange streaks began to dull, I noticed the clouds to the west over by San Gorgonio begin to light up.  It was as if the clouds had been set ablaze as the sun passed through on its journey over the horizon.  Long brush strokes of pink and purple soon appeared above this bright orange cloudbank.  I quickly set up my camera behind a Joshua tree I had settled upon earlier.  I took as many shots as I could before the sky quickly succumbed to night.
            Twilight persisted through much of my walk back to the car.  I held out on flashlight use almost the entire way.  Even though I couldn’t see much, the trip back was much more enjoyable.  I couldn’t believe that such a drab sky in the afternoon could turn out such a show at sunset.  It certainly gave me the confidence to continue to strike out on photo trips as much as possible because you just never know what you’re going to get.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Website Opening

It is now here! My website is up and running as of Friday, April 2, 2010.  Head to www.nickheathphoto.com to see what it's all about.

New Stories Soon

I will have stories about recent trips to Joshua Tree and Death Valley up within the next few days.  Stop by shortly.