Reno Portraits: Tony Walker

As a derivative of Ton Loc, the famous rapper of yesteryear, Tony Walker’s best friend and brother, Devin Devontae Dinkins, gave him the nickname, “The Locus,” while they were “messin’ around with rappin’ or b-ballin.” He eventually shortened it up to just “Locus,” which is a scientific term that actually means the distance traveled from point A and point B. Tony loves to sing, freestyle rap, and paint, but above all he loves to hang out with his son who is his “light and inspires many things.” He is also a well-known man around Reno and has a lot to do with much of the city’s nightlife and art scene.

Tony Walker in front of Reno, Nevada's most famous sign

Tony Walker in front of Reno, Nevada’s most famous sign

I met Tony thru one of my former students who told me that he’d be interested in hanging up some of my photography prints at a popular bar in downtown Reno. I noticed right away that he is a hip and friendly guy who is very “coo.” If you check out his Instagram account @THELOCUS, you can see a lot about how much that he does around Reno and why he is so respected by those involved in The Biggest Little City in the World’s vibrant art and entertainment scene.

Artown with Friends of Nevada Wilderness

Stitched iPhone panoramic of my aluminum prints at the Friends of Nevada Wilderness office in Spark, Nevada

Stitched iPhone panoramic of my aluminum prints at the Friends of Nevada Wilderness office in Spark, Nevada

When my friend, Shevawn Von Tobel, sent out her notice about Friends of Nevada Wilderness looking for art to hang in their office during Artown, my first thought was to submit some images from my  Nighttime in Nevada project. During my spring break, I had been down in Southern Nevada shooting star trails, and I had plans to photograph a lot more nighttime scenes this summer. Thankfully, Kurt Kuznicki, my other friend over at Friends of Nevada Wilderness, told me not to submit any images with manmade stuff, so when I went out for my June nighttime photography outing, I only photographed natural locations. I setup a Dropbox folder for Shevawn and uploaded images from McDonalds WiFi while on the road in order to show her my submissions. It was a lot of work and a bit of a gamble, but it was a lot of fun and totally worked out. I ended up hanging six metal prints, five from my June nighttime outing and one from my March star trails outing in Southern Nevada.

Nevada's Blue Lakes are really hard to reach and in a very remote location. It is a white knuckle drive that I probably won't make again until I hear about the roads being improved.

Nevada’s Blue Lakes are really hard to reach and in a very remote location. It is a white knuckle drive that I probably won’t make again until I hear about the roads being improved.

Interestingly, Reno’s Artown began in 1996 as a festival in downtown Reno with the purpose of promoting art, and it has grown into one of the biggest art festivals in the country with over 100 businesses and non-profit groups like Friends of Nevada Wilderness participating. The intention, in my opinion, is to help promote Reno as a great town that is not only a gambling destination. Personally, I love Reno and think that it is a fantastic place to live and enjoy life, so I am more than honored to be involved with the Artown event.

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Nevada’s Black Rock Desert is where I originally fell in love with nighttime in Nevada photography, so it was my first stop during my June run of collecting new images.

So if you are lucky enough to be a Renoite, or you just happen to be passing through “The Biggest Little City in the World,” my six metal prints and great art from other artists will be hanging on the wall for the rest of July at the Friends of Nevada Wilderness office at 1360 Greg St, #111 in Sparks, Nevada. The old maintenance man at my apartment building once jokingly  told me that “Reno is so close to hell that you can see Sparks,” but I totally disagree. Reno is so close to getting away from light pollution that you can see the heavens. Or, if you don’t want to drive an hour outside of town in the middle of the night when the moon isn’t out, you can see it on my metal prints for the rest of the month in Sparks.

Great Basin National Park really means a lot to me for many reasons. First of all, it's just flat out gorgeous, and it doesn't receive many visitors. Second, Wheeler Peak, the mountain featured in this photo, is the tallest mountain that I have ever climbed. Finally, it has terrific dark skies at night with very little light pollution.

Great Basin National Park really means a lot to me for many reasons. First of all, it’s just flat out gorgeous, and it doesn’t receive many visitors. Second, Wheeler Peak, the mountain featured in this photo, is the tallest mountain that I have ever climbed. Finally, it has terrific dark skies at night with very little light pollution.

Click Here to order prints: http://beaurogers.smugmug.com/Nighttime-in-Nevada/

 

Do Go Chasing Waterfalls: California’s Webber Falls

My life of landscape photography began with chasing waterfalls in Arkansas. I would wait until it rained and then rush out to one of the lovely waterfalls in the Ozarks with a handful of Fuji Velvia slide film. I’ve always loved waterfalls and think that just being around them makes one feel more positive and optimistic, so because of all the rain we’ve been getting in Northern Nevada and Northern California, I decided to try to focus myself on getting back to my roots a little bit. This waterfall is called Webber Falls, and it’s off the radar of most waterfall photographers. There are no signs, and the route is kind of sketchy, but I knew it’s location, and the early morning light was flat out amazing.

California's Webber Falls in the Northern Sierra Nevada

California’s Webber Falls in the Northern Sierra Nevada

Prints are available here: http://beaurogers.smugmug.com/buy/50512313_bQpz5r/4193850720_NSPFxFc/

Nighttime in Nevada: Cathedral Gorge State Park

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.

Milky Way over Nevada's Cathedral Gorge State Park

Milky Way over Nevada’s Cathedral Gorge State Park

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.

Nighttime in Nevada: Angel Lake of East Humboldt Range

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.

Milky Way over Angel Lake in Nevada's East Humboldt Range

Milky Way over Angel Lake in Nevada’s East Humboldt Range

Nighttime in Nevada: Blue Lakes of Pine Forest Range

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.

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Nighttime in Nevada: Black Rock Desert

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.

Milky Way over Nevada's Black Rock Desert

Milky Way over Nevada’s Black Rock Desert

Reno Views

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 beaurogers74@gmail.com, and I will try to check it out the next time I get a chance.

This view is from the pullout overlook along Gieger Grade  Road between South Reno and Virginia City.

This view is from the pullout overlook along Gieger Grade Road between South Reno and Virginia City.

This view can be seen after making the steep hike to the top of a hill at Southeast Reno's Huffaker Hills Trail.

This view can be seen after making the steep hike to the top of a hill at Southeast Reno’s Huffaker Hills Trail.

This view can be seen from the overflow parking lot at Reno's Truckee Meadows Community College

This view can be seen from the overflow parking lot at Reno’s Truckee Meadows Community College

 

 

Reno, Nevada: Such an Awesome Town

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.

There's an awesome new mural near the famous sign on Virginia Street.

There’s an awesome new mural near the famous sign on Virginia Street.

A young girl gets her face painted during Reno's Earth Day Celebration at Idlewild Park

A young girl gets her face painted during Reno’s Earth Day Celebration at Idlewild Park

During Sculpturefest, the Believe sign from last year's Burning Man was brought to Reno's Virginia Street

During Sculpturefest, the Believe sign from last year’s Burning Man was brought to Reno’s Virginia Street

 

The Cal-Neva on Virginia Street

The Cal-Neva on Virginia Street

 

"We are stardust. We are golden." -- Joni Mitchell

“We are stardust. We are golden.” — Joni Mitchell

 

 

Nighttime in Nevada: Wee Thump Star Trails

 

Star Trails at Nevada's Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness

Star Trails at Nevada’s Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness

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.

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