Monthly Archives: March 2010

Full Moon Rising at Joshua Tree National Park

As I wrote earlier I am now touring the American South West. I escaped Los Angeles and headed for the desert, first stop Palm Springs of Douglas Coupland’s Generation X fame in search for Andy, Dag and Claire. I did not find them, perhaps because they are fictional, perhaps because they have escaped this present day Palm Springs that has become a holiday resort. But a daily 40 miles drive offered some great landscapes at Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua is an otherworldly desert with the peculiar Joshua Trees and many big rocks placed all over the landscapes like someone was throwing large dices.

I spent 3 days in this park and really enjoyed it, my kinda place. It should really be called Joshua Trees National Park though as there are quite a lot of them so it took me a long time and a lot of walking to find a tree that I can isolate in a nice simple composition. I shot a lot of images and as I will be on the road for the next many weeks it will be a while before I get through the RAW files, get the panoramas stitched etc. So here is just a quickie, I was fortunate enough to be at Joshua during a full moon and found this composition:

joshua tree full moon duotone - blog

This is a work in progress, I might re-process this. Duotone I find works so well with these images from Joshua, lending them an even more surreal otherworldly quality. The moon you ask. It is of course a double exposure, no other way to capture it. 17mm wide angle for the landscape, 400mm zoom for the moon, Photoshop for the blending. Moon might be a tad too large here actually, but I am only using this technique to replicate what I saw. The moon was exactly there at sunset and roughly this size using the roughly 50mm lens built into our eyes. I could drop this moon into any shot from Joshua and no one would know – but I would know. I would find it cheating a bit.

If you wish to see the color version, here it is:

Joshua Tree full moon - blog

I am presently in Yuma, Arizona and heading for the Organ Pipe Cactus National Park. After that, New Mexico and then back into Northern Arizona later this month. I cannot stand cold weather (and by now that basically means anything non-tropical), heck even down here near Mexico it isn’t very warm compared to Malaysia, so I am staying South in the desert so far until the North heats up!

Wyadup Rocks at dusk

This afternoon was magical and probably the highlight of our whole trip. The problem is the experience was so great and the light so awesome that not one of my images come close to capturing the real thing. Actually my friend Signe shot the best sunset shot of the day on her compact camera, just a perfect composition with brilliant timing. And here’s me with equipment worth 50 times as much getting my ass kicked. It’s never the camera, it’s the photographer! I still have a few sunsets shot that I am working on and will post sometime soon if I ever get those raw files the way I want them (I wish you could change composition in Lightroom, how cool would that be! A slider to move left and right!).  For now here is one of my very last shots at dusk. Not entirely happy with the composition but it will have to do because I can’t very well re-shoot this now. It is a single 17mm shot cropped, let me know if you think this works:

wyadup rocks at dusk - blog

Los Angeles Spaceport

“Los Angeles spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.”

No prizes for guessing this is slightly rewritten but from Star Wars. Alec Guiness as Ben Obi-wan Kenobi is actually talking about Mos Eisley spaceport of course, but every image of LA at night shot from Griffith Observatory always reminds me of Mos Eisley spaceport. A few days ago I had the opportunity to experience and photograph Los Angeles Spaceport myself and this is the result, a 11 image stitched panorama:

Blog - LA spaceport

Los Angeles is not known for the air quality and as you can see it is extremely hazy and smoggy, the haze picking up all the orange light and last remaining bit of sunlight. Unfortunately it also really blurs the city, evident in the original image.

It is somewhat fun to experience Los Angeles for a few days. Almost every street name, every location reminds you of a movie or TV show, especially at night where I felt like I was walking around in a Michael Mann movie (Heat being one of my favourite movies). I am no fan of LA, not surprisingly as I really don’t like any big cities. Hollywood Boulevard is, not surprising at all, touristy around the Kodak Theatre area but it is surprisingly trashy. Not glamourous at all. The view of LA from Griffith IS impressive, like a planet of light. The amount of energy that goes into lighting up this place is hard to ignore though as I stand at Griffith looking out at this planet of a city. Well, if only a few spaceships would land then the energy would be well spent. I am on the road now and happy to have left LA. Oh while we are on the subject of Star Wars, driving out of LA on the walled 6 lane mega highways reminded me of flying in the trenches of the Death Star.

In Simpsons Country

I am now in my 5th month of travelling and suddenly find myself in Los Angeles! I was in Kuala Lumpur and really needed a new plan and continent. Since Malaysia Airlines fly direct KL to LA it seemed like the thing to do! After 17 hours of flying (with a short stopover in Taiwan) and crossing the dateline I took off Monday afternoon in Kuala Lumpur and landed here Monday evening. Longest Monday ever! There is in reality a 15 hour time difference, something which my body is not agreeing with resulting in a jetlag like no other. I sleep all day and am awake all night.

A US roadtrip has been a dream of mine for a long time, and it begins Thursday as I leave Los Angeles behind and take off for the Mojave desert and Joshua Tree National Park. From there I shall explore California, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. At least. Or perhaps I should say hopefully. Australia was insanely expensive but this is looking worse! I may need to rob a few banks along the way, Dillinger style. Hey it is for a good cause!

Much more to come as I get this USA show on the road. I also have in mind a bit of an update on the life of a ‘nomadic’ photographer. Stay tuned.

Waves of Wyadup

No words today. Not at all in the mood. But an image of a fantastic afternoon at Wyadup Rocks, Western Australia.

Me and my friend Signe arrived here late afternoon and was immediately almost spellbound by the magical conditions. Strong wind and huge waves beating the turquoise water against the Wyadup rocks. And we were the only ones there Magic. Later we walked down to the beach and was rewarded with a spectacular sunset, more images to follow. This is a 3 horizontal image stitch, does not even come close to the real thing but I still think it is a nice image in itself:

Blog - Wyadup Rocks Pano copy

Primary Colours at James Price Point

Last week in Broome, Western Australia, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Nigel Gaunt of Red Dirt Photography. In his 4WD we drove one hour North of Broome on a great orange outback dirt road taking us to the beautiful James Price Point, home of untouched beautiful coastline with deep ochre red rocks. And not a soul anywhere, well actually it was quite busy today as 3 other people was in a boat fishing!

I was lucky to visit this beautiful place last year as well, and get some great shots at high tide.  This time we caught James Price Point at low tide resulting in some brilliant reflections and the red rocks glowing alive at sunset. Nigel loves this place and I think he really considers it his spiritual home, it is a special and peaceful place that can offer a slice of magic and I agree with Nigel that James Price Point is truly special.

My best James Price Point image is from last year, but I am quite happy with this Primary Colours image (title thanks to my friend Signe):

James Price point shine - blog 

This is just a single image cropped, looking at it now I sort of wished I shot this stitched to get more pixels. I was in a hurry though, as the good light on the rocks fades so quickly and it is a race against time to capture a few images let alone stitched panos! I think I prefer James Price Point at high tide. Although the reflections at low tide are fantastic, high tides offers action with large waves beating against the coast; a terrific contrast to the peaceful rocks.

The pristine beautiful James Price Point will be one of the places affected by the LNG gas hub if it goes ahead. Needless to say Nigel is deeply involved in the fight to save it. I really hope this beautiful place is saved, I somehow fear that if the mining companies get their foot in the door here, Kimberley as we know it will be gone. I will end with a few links, and let you make up your own mind about the matter:

Save The Kimberley

Wilderness Society – Kimberley campaign

Hands off Country blog

Rottnest Island with True North Mark

A few weeks ago me and my friend Signe had the pleasure of being invited aboard True North Mark’s big and beautiful private boat for a brilliant weekend at Rottnest Island with Mark and friends. A huge thanks to Mark for having us along and Brett, Greg and Jordan for outstanding company and great fun. We toured the whole island, we shot some photos and had a wicked and unreal time (using a bit of the surfer slang we learned). We also went snorkling twice, for hours, and this was a huge thing for me, only the second time ever I have been snorkling. Swam a long way and saw beautiful reefs and absolutely loved it. Wetsuit experience was nice, those things work really well at keeping you warm and it is a somewhat funky feeling against the skin too. First day I did not have one and I think my lips were blue for hours after becoming seriously cold!

Mark and I shot quite a few photos and we had some good luck and bad luck. Beautiful clouds on the first day but not enough sunshine. Second day Mark is kicking me awake (takes a bit of work) at 5am asking me if I want to come for the sunrise shoot. Having slept about 5 hours I mumble a long “ehhhhhhh” followed by a “ehhh…….yes”. I jump in the True North tender boat and Mark steers us towards the lighthouse for a sunrise shoot. I am barely awake and have not brought shoes. Good decision for rock walking when one’s feet is not exactly leather yet! Happy I got up though, we capture images from dawn to after sunrise and these are my two favourite Rottnest images:

Rottnest lighthouse dawn - blog

It looked nice as well when the sun peaked up over the horizon but this is more dramatic. Quiet calm dawn with gorgeous big clouds.

And after sunrise this enormous cloud covered 180 degrees of the sky. After a bit of Lightroom work, mostly warming the cloud a lot, it yielded a very dramatic image which I like a lot:

Rottnest lighthouse cloud - blog

You can see a few more of my Rottnest images by going to my News gallery, click here:

Cheers Mark for a brilliant weekend, thanks for showing us “your” island!