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.


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, 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.

Wild Horses: One of Nevada’s Greatest Features

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.

Wild Horses at Nevada's Black Rock Desert

Wild Horses at 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.

WIld Horse along Nevada's USA Parkway

WIld Horse along Nevada’s USA Parkway

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

Injured  baby wild horse found along Nevada's USA Parkway

Injured baby wild horse found along Nevada’s USA Parkway

Lake Tahoe Time-lapse: music by Brent Stroud

Brent Stroud (left) and me at an overlook along Wyoming's Wind River Range

Brent Stroud (left) and me at an overlook along Wyoming’s Wind River Range

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

Reno Portraits: Korrin Skaggs

Portrait of Korrin Skaggs with her horse, Tracy

Portrait of Korrin Skaggs with her horse, Tracy

Korrin Skaggs has always loved horses and has been riding them near her home on the edge of the greater Reno area since she was a little girl, but Tracy was the first horse that she has ever owned. Korrin raised her hand on a whim while working at an auction at The Double Dollar Ranch in Utah, and she claims, “it’s the best decision that I’ve ever made.” Being on her horse and away from everything is where she feels “the greatest peace of mind. ” Her family has lived within Reno’s city limits, but she prefers her more rural location where she can more easily participate with her other hobbies of hunting, fishing, archery, painting, running, and photography.

Korrin Skaggs with her horse, Tracy, at her aunt's property in Washoe County

Korrin Skaggs with her horse, Tracy, at her aunt’s property in Washoe County

Korrin is close to finishing her associates degree at Truckee Meadows Community College, and she will soon begin taking classes at The University of Nevada, Reno, where she will be a psychology major. She says,  “I would just like to focus on children. I’m really looking into getting into equine therapy programs. Working with kids who have disabilities or behavioral issues.” She believes that people can learn and improve a lot through spending time with a horse, and she also wants to “work with veterans through an equine therapy program to help get soldiers reintroduced into civilian life.”

Her photography can be seen at


Nighttime in Nevada: Full Moonlight at Pyramid Lake

30 Second Selfie at Pyramid Lake's Boat Launching Ramp

30 Second Selfie at Pyramid Lake’s Boat Launching Ramp

Most of the planning for my Nighttime in Nevada project has revolved around when the moon is not out at night because I like to be able to see all the detail in the stars that I can, but for this outing, I decided to use full moonlight at Pyramid Lake to give a close to daytime feel to nighttime scenes. I paid the $9 for a camping permit and stayed up all night around the boat launching ramp to shoot some long-exposure selfies and a little time-lapse video. It was quite a bit of fun, and I have decided to try it again in other places during the next full moons of summer. For the most part, I shot a variety of 30-second-exposures because I wanted the water to look silky smooth. The lake was nice and calm, but it did get a little choppy at times.

Not Quite Full Moon at Lake Tahoe

Moonset at Lake Tahoe on Night Before Full Moon

Moonset at Lake Tahoe on Night Before Full Moon

Yes, there will be a Strawberry Moon in the sky between the evening of  June 2 and morning of June 3. The moon might look a little pinkish red, but the name actually comes from  the peak of strawberry harvesting season in North America being at the same time. I’m going to head out for some photography, but I honestly prefer the previous night over the full moon night because sunlight intermingles with the landscape while the moon is on the horizon. I shot this at around 5:35 AM, and sunrise was ten minutes later. During the night of the actual full moon, it will rise enough after sunset that no extra ambient light will be available to help with landscape photography. I am planning to go to the desert to use the moon as my light source instead of aiming my camera at it. I’ll try to post something on the blog tomorrow to show you how it looks, but for photographs of the moon in a landscape, I have always thought that the not quite full moon from the previous night makes better photographs, especially if one wants to emphasize the rich, blue color of Lake Tahoe.

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