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Posts tagged ‘Nature’

ONE AFTERNOON: Two Drives

I started the day in the early afternoon, heading first to June Lake, but I figured there would also be time to head out to Convict Lake as well.  It was a good afternoon!

I love the June Lake Loop Drive (Highway 158).  The best color depends on finding the best week to go exploring.  My first drive on this scenic byway, the leaves were long gone, but even barren aspen trees are pretty.  Last year was a pretty good year.  This year, I visited in the second week of October.  Some pretty fall colors were out there, waiting to be appreciated!

I do love aspens!

Views of Grant Lake

Heading back to the hotel, I took a short drive out to Convict Lake. I had not driven this road before. Since it was just a short jaunt to the lake, I wandered on down the lane. It’s an area that is worthy of more time and attention.

This inquisitive little guy stopped to say hello.

I’ve never really enjoyed fishing, but this does look like a great way to spend an afternoon.

GREAT RESOURCE:  As I planned this year’s trip, I stumbled onto California’s Eastern Sierra Fall Color Map (Inyo & Mono Counties).  It highlights 22 scenic spots where fall color is likely to be found.  I visited some new spots this year, but have more places to see in future years.

Big Pine Country

This year, in the second week in October, I started my trip to the Bishop area to appreciate the lovely show of fall colors evident in Nature.   When to visit is always a bit of a crap shoot, but others had been posting wonderful photos, so I headed out a bit earlier than past years.  I also planned to visit some other canyon drives rather than just checking out the June Lake Loop Drive.

My first stop this year was a short one wandering a bit into Big Pine Canyon.  It was already late afternoon when I started.  I was tired and still needed to secure a hotel, so this was a quick trip. I basically stayed on Glacier Lodge Road and did not even go all the way to the Lodge.  Short, but pretty drive!

GREAT RESOURCE:  As I planned this year’s trip, I stumbled onto California’s Eastern Sierra Fall Color Map (Inyo & Mono Counties).  It highlights 22 scenic spots where fall color is likely to be found.  I visited some new spots this year, but have more places to see in future years.

Signs of Fall Along Highway 395

This year, while visiting the Bishop area looking for fall colors, I drove Highway 395 several times from Lone Pine to Lee Vining. Of course, the canyons that intersect the highway offer a great chance to see wonderful autumn color.  But the highway itself offers its own beauty.

This tree south of Bishop always catches my eye—it is my favorite!

These red leaves were on a little tree in a parking lot in Bishop, calling out for everyone to notice it in all its glory.

Some views along the highway.

These trees and views pop up at the intersection of Highway 395 and Highway 120 heading into Yosemite National Park.

Of course, Mono Lake is always a wonder!

No wonder this Highway 395 is called a SCENIC DRIVE!

GRAY LODGE WILDLIFE AREA IN OCTOBER

The first time I visited Gray Lodge Wildlife Area north of Sacramento was in February 2019.  It was a great day with lots of birds:  geese, ducks, herons, egrets and even sandhill cranes and swans.  Since the area is a wetlands that supports birds all year long, I figured the best way to really know the area is to visit it several times throughout the year.

This time, I visited in early October.  The area showed the beginnings of fall colors across the landscape.  There were some birds, but nothing like the numbers from my earlier visit.

Still, it was a great leisurely afternoon! I saw a few others out at the site, but mainly I was on my own on the dirt road scenic drive.

Birds were around, but most were either overhead or out on the water.

Sometimes, my closeup lens would let me get some birds in focus, even though the colors often stayed muted.

Northern Pintail

Common Egret

Great Blue Heron

I did not notice the spider until later

Snow Geese Dark Phase (I think)

Black Necked Stilt

This green algae was all over one of the waterways

This Great Blue Heron was hard to spot even with a closeup.

American Coots

A Common Egret playing hide and seek.

Lesser Yellowlegs

I don’t know what there are, but they sure are pretty!

I dropped by Sutter National Wildlife Refuge thinking I might see some more birds, but the road at this access point was roped off.  The area did have pretty golden fields.

It was a great afternoon.  I’ll have to visit again, maybe in winter–or early spring.

PHOTOS THAT FILL THE FRAME

Upper Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park

“If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.”   Jim Richardson

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”  Elliott Erwitt

Taking photographs can be seen as an easy task. Just point the camera (or phone these days) and click.  But some photographs are better than others.  They somehow capture our attention, pull us in, make us pause for a moment, help us appreciate what we see.  These reactions are what I like about photography.  Plus the captured memories.

Pretty Buds, Yosemite National Park

But how do photographers capture those photos.  In great part, it is trial and error.  Some good advice is to fill the frame.  Get close to the subject.  Look for different perspectives. See what can be eliminated from the photo as well as added.  Experiment by taking lots of photos.

Here are some more of my photos where I was able to fill the frame.

Tuolumne Meadow, Tioga Road, Yosemite National Park

Yucca Bud, Red Rock Canyon, California

Mount Whitney Behind Alabama Hills, California

Great Fritillary Butterfly, Whitney Portal Road, California

Of course, there are also times when I literally frame a photo in my side view mirror.  Let me explain.  I am a roadside naturalist.  My mobility limitations mean that I experience nature along scenic drives, staying in my car to capture whatever wonders I can.  A long time ago, I accidentally caught an interesting photo in my side view mirror. Since then, I look for what I might otherwise miss in those side view mirrors.

Back Roads around Bishop, California

Flowers in Carrizo Plain, California

Afternoon Light, Leaving Carrizo Plain, California

Autumn Leaves along the Merced River, Yosemite National Park

Aspen Grove Near Bishop, California

Hills along Highway 58 Heading to Carrizo Plain, California

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Some Quotes to Remind Photographers to Just Take Photos

“There are no rules for good photographers, there are only good photographs.”  Ansel Adams

“I walk, I look, I see, I stop, I photograph.”  Leon Levinstein

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”   Ansel Adams

“To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.”  Edward Weston

“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”   Ansel Adams

“Best wide-angle lens?  Two steps backward. Look for the ‘ah-ha.’”   Ernst Haas

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”  Ansel Adams

This post is my response to the Lens Artist Photo Challenge 66: Filling the Frame.

Driving Tioga Road in September

Yosemite’s Tioga Pass Road is an incredible drive.  In fact, it is my favorite scenic drive.  It offers the usual twists, turns and inclines of most mountain roads.  But it also passes through a range of gorgeous landscapes.

Tunnel View

El Capitan

This year, after an unusually heavy winter, the road was not open for unrestricted driving until July (vs. its usual May opening).  In mid-September, I wandered into Yosemite National Park, entering via Wawona and Tunnel View. Eventually, I headed east on Highway 120, officially starting onto Tioga Road near Yosemite’s Big Oak Flat entrance.

From this juncture outside of Yosemite Valley, the drive rises gradually from about 6,000 feet through pine trees, heading along Highway 120 toward Tioga Pass, which is roughly 50 miles away at almost 10,000 feet.  The road itself winds through sheer granite cliffs, showcasing impressive craggy rock walls, trees erupting from the rocks and fantastic views.

There Was Even a Mushroom Growing on a Tree Trunk

There were even some wildflowers still lingering along the road.

I Love Lupine, But This Was the Only Little Bud In Sight

An impressive stop is Olmsted Point, sitting at 7,500 feet.  The trees, by this time, have diminished, and the impressive views of the granite rocks and mountains stretch in all directions.  In the distance, you can even see Half Dome. The boulders are strewn everywhere.

That’s Half Dome in the Distance

At one parking area, there were some butterflies and bees who actually posed a bit for photographs.  This delightful little butterfly is called a Great Spangled Fritillary.

Tenaya Lake is the next gem that surfaces along the road.  Its sparkling blue waters are eye-catching.

My favorite stretch along this drive wanders along Toulumne Meadows.  This wide expanse is a gentle dome-shaped, sub-alpine meadow, sitting at 8,619 feet.  Its 39 inches of rain annually comes mainly in the form of snowfall.  The spring is probably the most beautiful time of year to visit the meadows when there are marshes and wildflowers scattered across the area. I last drove this route in August 2017. But any time of year, the wide expanse is impressive.

Not far past Toulumne Meadows, the drive ascends to Tioga Pass, sitting at 9,945 feet.  From there the road descends fairly quickly on a steep drop to the park entrance not far from U.S. Highway 395.  Tioga Lake sits along this stretch of the route.

As Highway 120 nears Highway 395, the rocks take on a reddish hue indicating some iron must be in the rocks.

At the end of the drive, I settled in at a hotel in Bishop. I stopped at Erick Schat’s Bakkery in the morning before heading home.

It was a great drive!

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE DRIVE YOU’VE DISCOVERED IN YOUR TRAVELS?

 

It’s Fall!

Today is the Autumnal Equinox.

“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.”   Joe L. Wheeler

I love this time of year.

Even though I live in California, where many feel there are not really four seasons, I see the change of colors about town in small doses every year.  In about a month, I will take a drive looking for greater swatches of autumn colors strewn along the highways and back roads.

Until then, here are some photos from last year that offer a promise of what autumnal glories are to come in 2019.

“Leaves grow old gracefully, bring such joy in their last lingering days. How vibrant and bright is their final flurry of life.”   Karen Gibbs

“There is a subtle magic of the falling of old leaves.”  Avijeet Das

“No King has a throne more beautiful than a bench covered with the autumn leaves!”  Mehmet Murat ildan

“Rebellious leaves going out in a blaze of glory, setting trees aflame in riotous color. Reluctant surrender of rumors of coming winter.”  John Mark Green

“Autumn! The greatest show of all the times!”   Mehmet Murat ildan

“How beautiful the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.”   John Burroughs

 “The leaf of every tree brings a message from the unseen world. Look, every falling leaf is a blessing.”   Rumi

“The fall leaf that tells of autumn’s death is, in a subtler sense, a prophecy of spring.”   Robert Green Ingersoll

“Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it.”   George Eliot

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