Many of my previous photo trips to Utah concentrated on red rock desert locations with bizarre geological formations, sand dunes, and cacti. For this newsletter (132 - Autumn in Utah's Wasatch Range), I traveled to northern Utah’s Wasatch Range on the western edge of the Colorado Plateau, the boundary between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin Desert. Late September usually brings the peak of fall color to these mountains east of Salt Lake City where canyon roads climb into evergreen forests and through groves of aspen painted in shades of orange and yellow, from late September into early October. I stayed until the first snow fell.
Back in the 1960s I was photographing California landscapes in the foothills of the coastal range above Palo Alto. This newsletter issue #044 - A California Portfolio highlights fourteen of my favorite Hasselblad images that I scanned from thirty-year-old color negatives for this portfolio. Details include exposure information, the lenses, films, and filters I used. All the locations are described with trail information and suggestions about the best seasons for California landscape photography. Included are images of low, rolling hills covered with spreading oaks casting long shadows and old fences covered with ferns and wild blackberry vines above Stanford University and the Point Reyes National Seashore.
If you are planning to take an African safari to photograph wildlife in Kenya, Tanzania, or Botswana, start by getting in a few days of practice at your local zoo. A trip to your zoo for wildlife photography will give you the opportunity to learn how to operate your camera properly so that you can capture the best possible photos of the creatures you will find in the wild.
Even if you have no plans for international travel, a photo trip to a nearby zoo can be interesting and enjoyable. You will find creatures like this Sumatran Orangutan, critically endangered and considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. This issue has tips that will greatly improve your zoo portraits. Issue #143 - Photographing Wildlife at the Zoo covers the LA Zoo, the San Francisco Zoo and the Sacramento Zoo with tips on 13 other zoos across the country.
Sequoia National Park, the second oldest National Park in America, is south of Kings Canyon National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada Range. Visiting photographers will find spectacular images of sequoias, the world’s largest living trees, a glacier-carved valley resembling Yosemite, and high alpine landscapes.
Many dramatic waterfalls, bears, and spring wildflowers make these parks a must-visit summer destination. Newsletter issue #115 - Sequoia Ntl Park / Kings Canyon Ntl Park California describes the easier trails to the best tripod holes, provides lodging and campground information, and offers tips to improve your sunny-day photography in a deep forest.
Drive twenty-miles east of Brawley, California, on Highway 78 to photograph the Algodones Dunes, a very large field of dramatically sculpted sand dunes stretching from the south shore of the Salton Sea to the Mexican border, near Yuma, Arizona. A paved road, crossing the dune field, climbs to a summit where a sign marks a side road that climbs even higher-to the Osbourne Overlook. On a clear day you can see images of classic dune patterns stretching south for miles. This dune field is much larger than those in Death Valley. A 200-300 mm telephoto will tightly frame countless patterns of windblown sand. Morning light illuminates sweeping rims of dunes stacked one upon another. Park your RV at the overlook, stay overnight, and be ready for some great sunrise images. Afternoon light is too direct, too flat on dunes running north and south.
June Lake Loop can be found a few miles south of the small town of Lee Vining, Some of the Sierra’s best autumn color can be found along the gravel road that follows Bishop creek. Many access points along the stream lead to colorful compositions with solid aspen groves. Quiet ponds provide yellow reflections. Every autumn is different because of changing weather conditions. A dry summer or an early cold snap will speed up the color change or push it off to the middle of October. A few days of strong winds can remove all the leaves, and a few days of snow can turn all the yellow leaves to brown or black. When all the aspens have dropped their leaves, cottonwoods start to turn color in the Owens Valley, to the south. Most of the tallest trees along U.S. Route 395 are cottonwoods. The peak of cottonwood autumn color typically arrives from mid-to-late October.
It’s time to start planning an Autumn Color trip down Highway 395 on the east side of the Sierra Mountains.
For shooting at zoos, I use a 70-300 mm telephoto on my DSLR with an APS-C sensor. For the smaller birds and reptiles, I pack a 105 mm macro lens. Keep it simple. It’s hard to change lenses when all your gear is hanging around your neck. My choice of a camera bag for this kind of photography is a sling-type bag with one strap that lets you swing a backpack around in front of you. I’ve used a LowePro Sling for several years. This sling bag hangs on your back, out of the way when you’re on the trail, but offers quick access to your camera when you’re ready to shoot. Unlike a shoulder bag, a sling bag is more secure when you’re working in a crowd.
Take a short drive to your local zoo and get some fresh air. It’s time to travel.
The Surprise Valley is in the extreme northeast corner of California on the east side of the Warner Range. Nine miles east of Cedarville, I spotted an old windmill in the distance. I pulled off the paved road and headed cross-country on the dry lakebed. A cold wind was blowing. The blades on the old Aermotor windmill were stationary. I waited for some good light on this scene, maybe a spotlight through the clouds, but the sky did not cooperate. After a thirty-minute wait, I walked around the windmill and photographed it from the other side to add some color to the clouds.
Take a photo trip to the most remote corner of California. The Warner Range has lots to photograph. My Photograph America Newsletter issue #128 - California's Warner Range in Autumn has the details you’ll need.
The Glossy Ibis is about 20 inches tall with a wingspan of about three feet. It has a long, dark gray bill that is curved downward. It is thought to have originated in Africa and spread to the Caribbean in the 19th century. It uses its long bill to find insects and crayfish deep in the mud. I found this ibis on a hike along the shoreline of Pine Key, near Key West, Florida.
South Florida is a perfect location for wildlife photography. Watch out for the alligators and the crocodiles. Five issues of Photograph America cover almost all of the Florida Coastline.
Most large cities and many medium-sized cities in the United States have a zoo. There are over twenty-five in the state of California, and over 2,500 zoos spread across the country. Do an Internet search to find the best zoos in your area. I have visited several zoos recently to expand my wildlife photo collection and to take note of some tips that may help you with your photography at the zoo.
There has been a dramatic change in the way wildlife at zoos are housed, displayed and cared for. Some zoos are focusing on and doing outstanding work at restoring endangered species with breeding programs and returning virtually extinct wildlife to environments that are being cleaned up and preserved. Zoos used to have long rows of cages keeping their animals “behind bars.” New zoos have been totally redesigned to resemble their animal’s natural habitats.