Nature

Vasquez Rocks

If you’ve seen Star Trek or Westworld you’ve seen these rocks.  They have been featured in Star Trek the Original Series (season 1, episode 18 “The Arena”) as well as in the 2009 film (the planet Vulcan).

More recently they were featured as a film location in episode 4 of HBO’s Westworld (“Dissonance Theory). It’s an awesome place to hike and hangout with a lot of short hikes and climbs featuring mountains in the background.

I’ve been at this location twice in the last week or so and may go there again.  There’s so much to see. I have a few more shots from here that I’ll be posting over time.

A Bridge in the Forest

It’s been a while since I’ve posted images as I’ve focused more on reviews and basically posted images on Facebook, Instagram, etc instead of here. I feel like I’ve been neglecting the blog.  Good news, I have a tons of images to post so strap in- a lot of images are on the way.

Our RV (aka battlestar) is currently in Soledad Canyon, California. Coming up are Santa Barbra, Joshua Tree and Las Vegas. So yep, more stuff coming (and that’s just the next couple of months; might even been heading to Yosemite in the fall/early summer)

While I’m in California, this image here is Paris Mountain, SC. I photographed it at the early stages of the trek way back in October. It was’t the image I thought I’d capture that day, but sometimes you just happen on a scene that’s the one.

 

Lightning Man

Lightning Storm Photo

I’m not a hardcore storm chaser, but one of my close friends is, and he invited me out one night to chase this lightning display.   Now I don’t know about you, but I reckon me that’s a lightning strike!

Now, this was a fun night.  Here’s a storm chasing tip for you: if you’re chasing a lightning storm and driving out in the middle of nowhere in the dark, you may not want to be doing so with a sports car.

I showed up at the spot where we were supposed to setup, and promptly got stuck in mud (I could not see well in the dark).  My buddy got a good laugh at me (as I was blaming it all on him), tried digging me out, then we just said “forget it” and called the fine folks at Geico to get the car pulled.   Being photographers, we just decided to leave the car and go get setup to shoot.

The tow truck arrived an our or so later.  The driver took a look at the car and gave me this look that said: 1.  Are you aware, sir, this car is not a Hummer?  2. What are you doing out here at the edge of a lightning storm with a large metal pole? (aka tripod).   I quickly informed him how this was all my friend’s fault (my “friend” who was heartily enjoying taking photos of the whole incident for Facebook) and just took the abuse :).

It’s all good;  in the end, it’s a good shot and it was a night to remember.

I call this shot ‘Lightning Man’, by the way, as it looks like a figure of a man in the sky.  This is a 30sec exposure shot at f/10 ISO 400.

 

Goodnight Prairie

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve Photo

The sun sets over Kissimmee Prairie Preserve.  This sunset had so many different looks as it unfolded ; I wish I had setup to shoot a timelapse, but I wasn’t in that mind set that night.

This is a six image HDR blended together in Photomatix using the merge to 32-bit hdr plugin.  The plugin brings the image back into Lightroom and gives you a range of light from +10 to -10 stops to play with.  One advantage of the plugin is the final image is rendered in Lightroom so you tend to avoid (or are not tempted to create) the CGI HDR look some images can have.

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, by the way, is a 54,000 acre panther release area a couple of hours outside of Orlando.  It’s home to gators, birds, panthers, and deer – not to mention a slew of other species.  It’s also home to one of the darkest night skies in all of Florida.  I have a photo or two of the Milky Way I’ll be posting in the next week or so.

Within the Forest

With the Forest Tree Photo

This tree within Central Florida’s Withlacoochee State Forest pretty much demanded to be photographed.  I loved the root system and the scene.  This was shot at the start of a 14 mile hike through the forest and even though I was eager to get started, there was no way I was not going to stop and spend some time here.

Incidentally, this tree sits at the mouth of a small cave near several other caves within a half mile area.  I have some shots inside the caves I will be working on and posting.  Right now I’m in the middle of writing a few reviews, but I’ll get the cave images on here!

At the edge of a lightning storm

Lightning Photos

Jenni (Mrs. Elhajj that is) and I got to the campsite after a twelve and a half mile hike through the Withlacoochee State Forest and were treated to an amazing lightning storm.  I don’t know about you but this lightning cloud just looks like Godzilla’s mouth to me.  Jenni and I got a kick out of it.

Inverness Lightning Storm

Storm Track (that little blue circle is us)

Back to the story, we hadn’t yet setup camp and the question was do we setup or just stay in the car a bit?  We decided to just setup the tent (as the storm was still in the nascent stages) but quickly hopped into the car to check the weather radar and stay safe for a couple of minutes.

The thunder told us the strikes were very close, but fortunately we were just at southwestern edge of the storm (see the photo on the left from RadarScope) and it was moving northeast (and more importantly: away) from from us.

Seeing as we were just waiting in the car for a storm to pass, I figured the best thing to do was to take a large metal pole (i.e. tripod) with a metal box (i.e. camera) on top out into the storm to work on the easy task (yeah right) of focusing a camera in the dark.

I got the camera and intervalometer setup for 30 second exposures and jumped back into the car with the wireless remote.

This was the first spot I setup and I really liked the trees in the foreground.  I ended up moving the camera later to capture some shots of lightning without the trees, but this is the shot I liked the best.

The storm did quite a bit of damage.  We hiked into the path of the storm the next day and saw many charred and downed trees.  Glad we didn’t get caught up in that!

 

By the way, I had about 60 or so images from the night so  I decided to put together a very quick and dirty timelapse to give you an idea of what were seeing.

Here it is:

Another Time to Reflect

Another Time to Reflect

The sun sets, the sun rises, seasons change and time goes on.  Even in nature, there is time for reflection.

I photographed this sunset back in the fall.  There were two days of very still waters where the sky perfectly reflected on the lake.  I remember seeing the sky turn red and rushing to get to the lake to photograph this.

The Deering Estate at Cutler: Birds at Sunrise

Birds At Sunrise

Situated on 444 acres adjacent to the Atlantic ocean, the Deering Estate at Cutler is one of several American and European estates formerly owned by businessman, art collector, and philanthropist Charles Deering (1852-1927).  You might recognize it from the television shows Miami Vice and The Amazing Race.

The Estate is comprised of the wooden Richmond Cottage and two auxiliary buildings.  One of it main features is the avenue of palms seen here at sunrise.  It’s a beautiful, quaint, place to visit that boasts what is thought to be the largest virgin tropical wood hammock in the continental United States.

The Estate is open to the public and is a popular destination for weddings.  Checkout the Estate’s web page for all the info.

Serenity

Serenity

Sunsets produced by tropical storms and hurricanes are paradoxically serene.  This sunset, photographed in Winter Garden just outside of Orlando, came as Tropical Storm Andrea made her way over to the Carolinas last week.

How it is was Made
This is a six-exposure HDR created with photomatix pro. The blended image was then processed through in photoshop with the original images for tonal adjustment and color correction.

Noise reduction was done with Topaz Denoise and minor touch up and cropping was done with Lightroom.

Canon 5DMKII Canon 17-40 F/4L at f/16 ISO 100.

Witnesses to Sunrise

Four trees stand watch at sunrise in Winter Garden, FL

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