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2015 Alaska Engagement Calender

2015 Alaska Engagement Calender

As I mentioned yesterday - super excited to have two of Greatland Graphics calender covers this year!  This is the second one.  This photo is from Mount Marathon above Seward, Alaska last Summer.

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Greatland Graphics Alaska Wilderness and Wildlife Callender for 2015.

Greatland Graphics Alaska Wilderness and Wildlife Calender for 2015.

We made it home safely yesterday – it is great to be back in Alaska!

Found some nice surprises in the mail beginning with this cover of the 2015 Greatland Graphics Wilderness and Wildlife calender!  I am excited and honored to have the cover of two of their calenders this year, which the publisher tells me is very rare – very cool!  I’ll share the other one later this week.

I have worked with Greatland Graphics for many years now, they provide a wide range of wonderful products, all with top quality images and printing.  They typically only work with fellow Alaskan photographers which I think is great.  You can see more of their products here:  Greatland Graphics.

This is an image from one of my Alaska Bear photo tours at Lake Clark National Park.

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Heading Home

Sunset, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Sunset, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Looking forward to heading back to Alaska today!  Since mid-November I have only been home for three weeks.  It has been a crazy, but fun stretch that started with a month in Maui, then about 5 weeks for Argentina / Antarctica, then home 3 weeks before heading out for two months to the Southwest.

I also really enjoying the RV lifestyle – the last two months we have been in our RV.  It is like having a miniature house that can go almost anywhere with you.  I don’t know if I could do it full-time, but I do enjoy it for months at a time once I fall until a comfortable rhythm.

I love to travel as you might guess, but I also love being at home. It will be good to be in Alaska – for starters, I have a ton of office work to do!  Plans can always change unexpectedly, but for right now I should be in Alaska traveling around and working in the office until October.  Can’t wait for the Alaskan Summer!

 

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Valley of Fire Color

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

Some more color from Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

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Salt River

Salt River, Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

Salt River, Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

With clouds, and even some rain coming through Arizona last week, I really thought I was set up for a great sunset.  Well the sunset didn’t materialize, but this is still a pretty spot.

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King Penguin Close-up

King Penguin.

King Penguin.

A close-up of a King Penguin – one of the most colorful and beautiful animals in the world.

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Where was this?

RiverWhere was this? I shot this late last week. I was either A: Still in Las Vegas. B: Southern Utah near Zion. or C: Arizona or D: In California along the Colorado River. Any guesses?

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Shapes

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

There are an endless variety of shapes and patterns everywhere you look in Valley of Fire.

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Valley of Fire Road

Road through Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

Road through Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

It is easy to see why this stretch of road is used in many TV commercials – one of the more dramatic stretches of road anywhere.

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Techatticup Mine

Inside one of the many buildings at the Techatticup Mine, South of Boulder, Nevada.

Inside one of the many buildings at the Techatticup Mine, South of Boulder, Nevada.

Yesterday we visited historic Techatticup Mine, near Boulder  Nevada.  I have visited this area in the past, but must say, Dean and has family have done a wonderful job restoring this historic place.  There is so much old stuff to see, you could spend hours.  This site has hosted countless music video shoots for the bands like The Killer’s, Beyonce and Luke Bryan, not to mention numerous movies.    This time, for the first time, we did mine tour – definitely well worth the $12!   Next time you are in Laughlin or Las Vegas looking for something to do, I would put a visit here high on the list!

 

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Nevada Wildflower Report

Wildflowers, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

Wildflowers, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

In general, I would say Southern Nevada is much greener and has more wildflowers then what we found in California.  There aren’t the huge fields like us photographers like, but some very nice pockets here and there.

Valley of Fire State Park had the best, especially in some of the cooler, shady pockets – I found one particularly nice area in the back-country.  In general, the brittlebush was the best, and blooming along the highway in spots. There was beaver-tail blooming a many places as well.   In addition, I also found some desert gold, phacelia, rabbitbush and even two weakstem mariposa.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area also had a few blooms here and there.  There were some nice bunches of desert sunflowers near the North end of the park.  The best area was just passed Mile 38 where there was an abundance of blooming beavertail cactus on both sides of the road.

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Valley of Fire

A place I call the Sherbert Hills, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

A place I call the Sherbert Hills, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

We spent the last few days camping and exploring around Valley of Fire.  I remember first stumbling on this amazing geological feature many years ago while exploring Valley of Fire – I was so excited.  I searched high and low on the internet, and at the time couldn’t find another image of this place, so I kinda feel like I discovered it even though I’m sure I didn’t.

So discoveries like this were part of my motivation for returning to VOF to look for more.  We did a few long hikes into the back-country and found lots of cool things like animal bones, tracks and just cool remote land, but nothing that compares to this discovery at least photographically.  Guess I’ll need to go back!

I say we camped in Valley of Fire, but it was actually full thanks to Spring Break, so we camped nearby in Echo Bay, part of Lake Mead Recreation Area – a place time has forgotten as it is almost a bit of a modern day ghost town.  But, I have much faster internet on my phone out here 30 miles from the nearest business then I did right in Las Vegas!  Go figure.

Here are lots more Valley of Fire Photos.

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High Roller Wheel

The High Roller in Las Vegas.  At 550 feet high, is the largest observation wheel in the world.

The High Roller in Las Vegas. At 550 feet high (55 stories), is the largest observation wheel in the world.

Cue the Jimmy Fallon thank you note music:  Thank you giant Ferris wheel in the sky for single-highhandedly now making most of my Las Vegas Strip skyline photos completely obsolete.

Actually I can’t complain – since the opening of City Center and the Cosmopolitan a number of years ago, the Strip skyline really hasn’t changed until now – that is a long time by Las Vegas standards!

This is part of a new development known as the LINQ District- pronounced link, that does a nice job of linking this wheel to the Strip with a number of restaurants and shops.

This wheel, at 550 feet high is the tallest in the world, taller then the one in London.  It isn’t open yet, scheduled to begin operations at the end of March.  To give you an idea as to the scale, each of the 28 cars will hold 40 people, and the ride will last about a half hour.  I believe they said the ride will cost $25 per person during the day, and $35 at night.

When we were in Las Vegas for some assignment work at Red Rock last June, they were building a giant Ferris wheel down by the Luxor.  Much too my surprise, that one was never finished, this is actually further North across from Caesars Palace.

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LED Lights for Photography

Slot Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Slot Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

I have had a number of people ask how I was lighting my night images like this statue, or this slot.

First, as a general technique, much like using camera flash – multiple light sources, off camera work best since you get shadows and depth.  Second, in order to see the stars, you really need very little light on your foreground.  If the foreground is too bright, then the shutter speed it too fast to really show most of the stars, so it really takes very little light.

So in my search for a LED panel, I had a few goals.  Battery powered was a must, preferably rechargeable.  I really wanted one that was dim-able so that I could control the intensity.   I was hoping it would have gels, since most lights need to be warmed, and barn doors to help direct the light would be a big plus.  Finally, I didn’t want to pay a fortune.  Since I live in Alaska, I wouldn’t need them in the Summer – these will sit in our RV and only used for Winter travels.

What I ended up with was  Yongnuo Professional LED Video Lightflash YN300      At $70, it was definitely inexpensive.  At 2,200 lumen, it is very bright!  In fact, I end up using it a the dimmest possible setting.  It takes readily available Sony video camera rechargeable batteries – you can find third party batteries and chargers also at Amazon.  A 5,800 mah battery lasts over 2 hours at the max power, and forever on the min power.  It has attachable gels, barn-doors, and handle and even a remote control.

I’m sure the much more expensive lights are built more rugged, but this light has worked fine even after the tripod it was attached to blew over in the wind.  So far, I would say for the price, it is a great value.

Now for additional lighting, after reading some positive reviews, I opted for this Coleman LED Lamp:   It has 4 separate removable panels giving me up to 4 more separate lights. I like using it in the lantern mode for setup, then pull of individual panels for supplemental lighting.  I do tape some warm gel material since they tend to be a bit cool for my taste.

The biggest drawback to the Coleman – even though the individual panels have a built in rechargeable batteries for when they are removed from the base – the base is powered through a bunch of D batteries.  I do wish it had a rechargeable that could be plugged in.  It isn’t dim-able either, so I vary the intensity my adjusting the distance.  But, other then that, it has worked great, it gives me lots of flexibility giving me 5 total lights.

 

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Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

This is a Black-crowned Night Heron at a golf course water feature in Borrego springs, California last Saturday night.  These guys hold so still while looking for fish that is was able to use 1/6 th of a second to blur the water, and yet the heron is crispy sharp.

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Sharp Memorial Hospital San Diego

This LED backlit image of San Diego is one of 20 in a newly remodeled section of Sharp Memorial Hospital, San Diego, California.

This LED backlit image of San Diego is one of 19 in a newly remodeled section of Sharp Memorial Hospital, San Diego, California.

Last week we got a call from the folks at Sharp Hospital letting us know that our 19 large images were hanging up and looked great!  They were really hoping we could see them and sign a plaque.  We have images in other hospitals, including Veterans Hospitals in Alaska and Las Vegas, but have never seen the final result – so decided it was worth making the round trip to San Diego this past Friday to see the results – I am sure glad I did!

It was great to meet the contractor, and the key people involved in the project, including our main contact who had been so helpful during the whole process.  But what was really rewarding was seeing the actual images on the walls.  Not only seeing them, but hearing how hospital personnel who use this hallway  to transfer patients to  surgery will challenge the patients to try and identify the different San Diego attractions represented in the photos, giving the patient a much needed distraction to what is a stressful situation.

So much of my photography is a solitary endeavor, where I spend countless hours waiting for the perfect light, sometimes coming away with nothing.  When capturing these San Diego images, little did I know how they would one day be used.  To hear stories of my images having an impact on another persons life is incredibly satisfying.

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St Andrews

St Andrews, South Georgia.

St Andrews, South Georgia.

This was New Year’s Day on St Andrews – possibly the most amazing place on earth!

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King Penguins

King Penguins all in a row, Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.

King Penguins, South Georgia.

 

King Penguins all in a row, Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.  Never grew tired of watching these entertaining guys!
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Salisbury Plain

King Penguin, Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.

King Penguin, Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.

I have been home for such little time after my Antarctica trip, that I really haven’t had time to share many photos from this amazing end of the world.  So I thought I would share one today.  :)

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Bear and Puffin Trip Opening

Sow and 3 cubs from 2012 Bear and Puffin Photo Tour.

Sow and 3 cubs from 2012 Bear and Puffin Photo Tour.

Another unexpected medical issue has forced one of our guests to delay his June Alaska Bear and Puffin Tour back one year – so now we have one unexpected opening for both June and August trips.  Both these trips filled many months ago – so this is a unique chance to spend time with these amazing animals without having to book a year in advance!  Here is lots more information on the Bear and Puffin Photo Tour.

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Borrego Springs Rainbow

Rainbow over Borrego Springs, California.

Rainbow over Borrego Springs, California.

A rainbow over Borrego Springs, California last Friday.

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Cactus Bloom

Barrel cactus, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Barrel cactus, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

The recent rains have definitely helped the cactus as I’m seeing more and more come into bloom.

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Slot Canyon at Night

Slot Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Slot Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

This was from last night under the stars in a cool slot canyon.

Canon 5D III, 24mm f/1.4 Canon lens at f/1.4, 8 seconds, ISO 1600.

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Anza Borrego Rocks

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Here is another one from Sunday evening.  Hard to beat stormy weather in the desert!

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Anza-Borrego Weekend

Beavertail Cactus, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Beavertail Cactus, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Had a fun workshop last weekend!  Great group of people, and interesting weather including rain, cool clouds and nice sunrises and sunsets.

Couldn’t wait to get out myself – This is from last night as Janine, and our friend Andy chased hummingbirds and sunsets!

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