After five days without a shower, the 25 cent hot showers at Nevada’s Cathedral Gorge State Park was what I was most anxious to see upon my arrival. It was the furthest south that I made it during this portion of my nighttime in Nevada photography trip, and I have to say that those showers are the nicest of any state park that I have visited. Most national parks and state parks don’t have showers at all, and it is really nice when they are available in the desert, where it is typically over 1oo degrees. Okay, that’s enough about the showers. I just wanted to let my fellow travelers know that they are available at Cathedral Gorge State Park, which is also a very beautiful and unique place to visit.
I wouldn’t say that I’ve officially quit drinking alcohol, but I haven’t had a drop since the Superbowl, so after the shower I went to a bar in Caliente to watch the NBA Finals and drink iced tea. I’ve always been a California boy at heart, so I was happy to see them win. Once the game ended, I headed back to the park because it was dark enough to start my photography. I walked around for an hour while looking for a place to setup and even came across a couple rattlesnakes. I’m so glad that they have those rattles! Don’t hike in the desert while wearing headphones. Once I found a spot to shoot from, I shot some tests for a while and began my time-lapse. My camera was fairly well-hidden, and the park was relatively empty, so I set my alarm for 3:30 AM and went to sleep while the camera continuously shot 30-second exposures all night long.
When I returned to my camera at 3:45 AM, I was really upset because a spider had built a web on the hood of my Rokinon 14mm f2.8 lens, my favorite lens for night photography. I hurried back to my laptop to process the images through Lightroom to see how bad was the photographic damage. Thankfully, the spider waited until after the heart of the Milky Way was in the best spot. If you watch the video below, you can see when it shows up. Once I use this for my real time-lapse video project, I will have to edit out the last 20% or so from this segment. You can double click on the video to view it in full-screen.
I only have a couple days left for my June Nighttime in Nevada outing, and other than getting stumped at the Jarbidge Mountains because I took a wrong turn, the trip has been great. When I was driving through Wells, Nevada, I noticed how pretty that the mountains looked, so I decided to venture up to Angel Lake to take a look. It was super windy and hardly anyone was there, but the weather forecast said it would clear out around midnight, so I thought I’d give it a shot. It looked like the Milky Way would not be in the frame when it was dark enough to start at around 10 PM, but there would be clouds going over the mountains while the Milky Way slowly moved to the right. I ended up shooting several hundred 30 second exposures, and I quickly picked this one to use for the blog. Ultimately, I am planning to use the stuff from these shoots as a time-lapse video, and I believe that this section is my best so far. It will be a while until that is ready, so for now here’s one of the frames.
The first book that I bought after moving to Reno was a hiking trail guidebook to Nevada’s 50 greatest hikes. The first hike listed is the Blue Lakes in the Pine Forest Range of Northwest Nevada. I went there the following spring and remember being terrified along the drive to the lakes. It was in late May of 2009, and the road was impassible after a steep climb, and I had to turn around in a somewhat dangerous spot because I could go no further. The next summer I went again and waited for all the snow to melt and made it to the top. A couple years ago, I took a friend up there during the peak of fall color and once again made it to the top and enjoyed the free campground that is about a mile from the lakes. One thing that I have noticed during each journey to those rare, glacier-carved Great Basin lakes is that the road, which is already dangerous, just gets worse and worse. This recent trip that I made to photograph the area at night will be my last unless I hear that there has been a decent effort made to repair the road. Nevada is a first class state for hikers who seek adventure, but I don’t think anyone wants to trash their vehicle in the pursuit of a free campground that is very difficult to reach. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer. This blog is meant to be positive, but the condition of that road is just flat out awful. If the location is going to be promoted as one of Nevada’s best, which it is, than why can’t there be a little effort made at making the road a little more accessible. I don’t want it to be accessible to regular cars, but it shouldn’t be bad enough to trash a high-clearance, 4×4 truck. That said, it’s a lovely area. I’m glad that I have made it to the top three times. That’s good enough for me. If you also plan to go, be ready for one heck of a white-knuckle experience.
The Black Rock Desert is where my love affair with nighttime photography in Nevada began, so I decided to make it my first stop during my June run of Nighttime in Nevada photography. My plan is to spend a week in June, July, and August working on the project, and this is the first entry. I planned to also spend some time in May, but the weather wasn’t good for night sky photography. The Black Rock Desert is one of my favorite places in Nevada, and I haven’t ever been to Burning Man. In a few months, the location will temporarily be the third largest city in Nevada while hosting the largest and wildest party in the country. I’m sure it’s fun, and maybe one day I’ll go, but I already really like it a lot when it’s just me and my truck.
While my last blog was a little bit about street photography in Reno, I want this one to be about places where Reno cityscape photography can be created. While there are numerous different spots to photograph the Reno skyline, these are my three favorites. If you have some other Reno views that you recommend, send an email to email@example.com, and I will try to check it out the next time I get a chance.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about my summer photography projects, but I forgot to mention one that has been going on ever since I moved to “The Biggest Little City in the World” back in 2008. As a former photojournalist and admirer of street photography, I love to walk around Reno, Nevada to try to capture the spirit of the city. It does get a bad rap at times, and I’ve heard people say bad things about it, but I truly love it a lot and think it is special. Reno does seem to be trying to reinvent itself as something more than just an old casino town. There are lots of cool events like Hot August Nights, Artown, and Sculpturefest. I also really like seeing the new murals going up. Here are a few of my street scenes that I’ve recently photographed in the past couple months. I will be posting more Reno street scenes in the future.
For my spring break this year, I went down to Southern Nevada to work on my Nighttime in Nevada project. During most of the nights, I went into what I like to call vampire mode and stayed up late while working on time-lapse nighttime photography. In the early spring, the Milky Way isn’t out in as full of effect as it is in the summer. One thing that I didn’t think about before the shoot was that there would be a lot of airplanes going in and out of Las Vegas and through the skies I intended to photograph. For this image taken at Nevada’s Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness, I used 150 exposures and blended them together with software called Star Stax. One thing that is really cool about using this software is that it will fill the gaps between the stars created during the camera’s brief one second pause. I looked through each image in Lightroom before starting the process and took out all the images which contained airplanes flying through the scene. In a couple days, I’ll be leaving for another bout of nighttime photography in Nevada, but I’ll be concentrating less on star trails and more on getting the heart of the Milky Way over beautiful natural landmarks.
I’ve been a Nevadan for almost seven years, and one of my favorite things about it is seeing wild horses during my travels. Horses are beautiful in general, but there is something about seeing them in the wild with there unkempt manes and lack of domestication. Some of my favorite photographs that I have made since becoming a Nevadan involve these majestic creatures, and when I travel in areas that they frequent, I like to keep my telephoto lens next to me on the passenger seat of my truck. That is how I got this photo while driving through Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
On a darker note, last week I purchased an old Nikkor 300mm f4.5 lens to use on my Sony camera, and I decided to take it to the USA Parkway on the far east side of the greater Reno area to test it on some wild horses. The area holds much of the industrial factories of Washoe Valley and is growing very fast. A few years ago, there weren’t near as many factories as now, and the pavement turned abruptly to dirt road less than a few miles from the I-80 intersection. During every visit that I have made, I have been able to see wild horses out there. It is kind of an interesting mix between modern industry and the wild. I believe that the much talked about new Tesla plant will also be out in this location.
During my last visit, things were relatively normal other than the horses are now farther into the hills than they used to be. More eighteen wheelers are traveling on the road than I am used to seeing, and the pavement goes much farther to the south than it did a few years ago. Not too far from the gas station, I noticed a mother horse and a little baby horse that was limping badly. A friend of mine, who is a horse expert, saw the photo and said that the little one’s leg has been badly injured. I am very soft-hearted when it comes to animals, so I decided to contact a few different organizations, and thankfully I received a reply from The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. They said that they were going to try to locate the injured baby horse to help it. It might be too late, but I think that the organization deserves a salute for their efforts. I know that the issue of wild horses in Nevada is controversial, and there are people on the other side of the coin who don’t see their value in the same way that I do, but I have decided that I am going to donate to The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign because I think that these beautiful creatures are very important to the aesthetic value of Nevada. If you happen to feel the same, their website is http://wildhorsepreservation.org/.
For the past couple years, I have been really interested in making time-lapse videos. It’s been relatively difficult for me to get them up to my standards because there are a lot of things that can go wrong. There are some obvious mistakes in this one, but I decided to go ahead and post it, so improvement will be able to be seen throughout the summer. I’ll probably be making a lot of these. Before I end this paragraph, I really want to thank my longtime friend, Brent Stroud, for sending me the music to use for this Lake Tahoe time-lapse. We’ve been friends since we both ended up in a freshmen level french class in 1994 with Grateful Dead t-shirts. I have a lot of great memories since then that have involved Mr. Stroud, one of the nicest guys in the world. In a few weeks, he’s going backpacking with his wife, Liz, in Peru, and I can’t wait to hear about their experience. It’s time to buy a camera, Brent!
If you would like to see the Lake Tahoe prints that I have available, please click this link http://beaurogers.smugmug.com/Lake-Tahoe/