Image of a sand storm in Death Valley National Park

Revisiting the Desert/ Death Valley Camping Trip

Death Valley National Park Camping Adventure

We were very lucky this year with both trips to the Death Valley National Park as both times we were accompanied by a storm.

Not only we got an exciting “real adventure” experience during each Death Valley camping trips, I also got tons of clouds in my shots. Could not ask for more.


Image of Death Valley Campground

Death Valley Camping trip

There are some nights that one never want to forget. For us, this was one of them:  Death Valley camping trip. Although the Furnace Creek Campground does not exactly qualify as ‘wilderness’, this night qualified in my book. Unlike any other night we’ve spent at the campground, on this particular night,  site 119 could have been miles away from civilization and we would not know the difference. We had no neighbors – they all probably cancelled due to the storm. We got to the campground in pitch black during a sandstorm ( we were late because I was capturing the storm for awhile). This is a walk-in site, furthest from the lot :). Did I mention we’re somewhat new to camping? Well, we are. This was a perfect combination for an awesome adventure; we managed to set up our new tent and even have a glass of wine before the first raindrop. I also got to capture memories. So glad I did.

Winter is a Great Time to Visit Death Valley National Park


death valley national park, California. Image of the desert valley floor

Death Valley National Park, California.

A trip is a perfect way to start the new year so we packed up and set off to visit Death Valley National Park.

It’s 2017 and I still do not have enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I would like to. I’ve hear myself say “I don’t have time for anything” over the course of last year and I finally took the time to do something about it. Ha-ha-ha. I guess taking the time was the key.  With a busy  schedule it is not always easy to set aside the time to do all the things I enjoy.  When forced, it becomes counterproductive and overwhelming. At times, this even goes beyond physical limitations (not getting enough sleep?) to the point where ‘the moment’ itself no longer exists. When the a day becomes a list of check marks, rushed and unfulfilling, it is time for a change.
This year I’m making room for lovely moments again. It is amazing how the opportunities reveal themselves once you’re ready.  This year our crazy winter storm in California provided an incredible opportunity to experience Death Valley National Park in a unique way and we decided to take advantage.

Winter is high season in Death Valley due to cooler temperatures, but keep in mind that those degrees can still climb well into the 90s.

This year, however, things are quite different and, I’ll be planning another trip soon before this storm is over.
This is the first image I processed from our trip to Death Valley National Park in February. This stretch of beautiful landscape is just off the Furnace Creek Campground. It is probably the first image I chose because the experience of waking up and crawling out of the tent in the morning to this view felt completely surreal. We simply got dressed, grabbed a cup of coffee and, without even talking, we just strolled into the desert behind our tent for a few hours. It was a great morning.

Location: Death Valley National Park, California

Exposure: 1/125 sec at f/ 8.0

ISO: 100

Camera: Canon EOS 5 D Mark II

Lens: EF 17-40  f/4L USM

Haleakala Summit

Haleakala Volcano Summit, Maui

This is a forgotten image from our trip to Maui and Haleakala Summit back in 2011.

The visit to Haleakala National Park was a highlight of our trip to the island, and, as with all amazing places I visit, I’ve wanted to see it again ever since.  This was not our first Maui visit, but we never made it to Haleakala the first time, we were too busy watching the turtles and basking in the sun.  Second time around we finally got more adventurous and made our way through the clouds and to the top of Haleakala summit; the view was breathtaking!

Image of Haleakala Summit, Maui, Hawaii

I strongly recommend for anyone visiting Maui to make the trip to the top of the volcano their top priority.  The drive is unlike any other we have ever experienced: you start off on a regular road but soon end up driving through a thick layer of clouds on a winding serpentine up, up and up.  Then, just as suddenly, the clouds fall back and you’re suddenly above them, viewing the island as if you’re in an airplane.  It gets even better, because what waits at the Haleakala Summit is view unlike any other I have ever seen.  Hundreds of craters and a landscape that simply takes your breath away (the elevation helps with that too).

We all have one regret about the trip still; because it was our last day and we did not know what to expect, we were not prepared for hiking.  Bring a backpack with you if planning to go up, there are miles and miles of hiking trails at the top.  All we could do that day was watch and envy hikers in all directions.  The great thing, is that I’ll be ready for next time, and finding this image in my working files, all lonely and forgotten, just reminded me why we should go back to Haleakala summit sooner, rather than later.

Location: Haleakala Summit, Maui, Hawaii

Exposure: 1/160 sec  f/7.1

ISO: 100

Camera: Cannon 50D

Lens: EF 24-105


Yellowstone Colors

I find myself coming back to Yellowstone National Park images again, and I don’t think I’ll stop for quite some time. The scenery offered so much more than interesting subject matter: the colors of the landscape are simply irresistible.

colors of the Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Even looking at this image after I’m done, I had to flip a few times to before and after to make sure that I did not deviate too far from the original. I’m both surprised and delighted that I did not. The colors in Yellowstone are just unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, and the images are so much fun to play with over and over again.

As with all my landscapes, I try to recreate my perception of the place at the time I experienced it and this particular scene was all about color. Nothing here is forcefully added, colored by hand or tweaked in post-processing to beyond recognition. The colors are presented just as they are; the reds are just as rusty, the blues are just as acidic and the greens do have the glowing neon quality. Yet, such a place exists in nature and I am profoundly grateful that it does and also that I had the opportunity to see it in this lifetime.
Photographers often talk about challenges they had to overcome while taking a particular image; the one thing I recall from the past is that I would get so overwhelmed with such a majestic sight, that I would literally freeze and forget the most basic functions of my camera. I guess it was the pressure, especially if it was a place not so close to home and I knew that it was probably the only opportunity I’ll ever get to take the shot.
So, after many, many failed attempts, I learned to just take a deep breath, check my settings beforehand, and then just shoot without thinking. The eyes become a pretty good guide, and the hands tend to follow naturally, adjusting the controls. I’ve been a lot happier with my images since.
Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Exposure: 1/640 sec at f/13
Focal Length: 32 mm
Camera: Canon 5D MarkII
Lens: EF 24-105 mm

Seascape Parallels

Pismo Beach Seascape

This is probably my favorite seascape of Pismo Beach, California.  It’s an amazing place to visit any season and it has an incredible micro climate, offering a cool place to escape during the summer and a warm place to look forward to during the winter. Of course, no matter when you go, there are endless photo opportunities here.
seascape image. parallel lines consisting of sand, wood, ocean waves and the sky

I have taken and processes so many different images of the ocean from Pismo Beach over the years, but this particular seascape caught my eye this morning because of its peaceful nature. These usually do not contain perfectly straight lines, as the beauty of the seascape is quite the opposite. I guess I saw a different side to my favorite beach, and the playful display of parallels appealed to me greatly even though it has been two years since this image was taken. I guess time to go back and get some more (as if I ever need an excuse).
As to the technical specifications, this was pretty simple and straightforward: minor Lightoom adjustments for contrast, followed by a final finishing touch in Photoshop using one of my favorite plugins: Exposure 7 by Alienskin. This was done using the Kodachrome 35mm – Brighter filer from their Vintage selection (I use this one a lot), I love the consistent blues and pure whites.

The exposure is as follows:
Exposure: 1/200 sec at f/ 8.0
Focal Length: 105 mm
ISO: 100
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 24-105mm  (LOVE this lens)

Panorama Trick : Yellowstone Pools

Yellowstone Pools and a Little Panorama Trick

Yellowstone Pools are one of the major contributions to the surreal appearance of the Yellowstone National Park.  The bubbling water, the amazing colors, and the smells all contribute to the other-woldldly experience and make for a hell of a photo opportunity.

Some opportunities, however, come with a challenge, and this shot was no exception.  Because of the proximity to the scene and a fence which obstructed the view (but protected the well-being of the observer), my 24-105 mm lens was simply not going to cut it: at the maximum 24 mm zoom I was still missing the sky!  This became a chance to experiment and think fast, so I flipped to a portrait orientation  and clicked away… I’m sure glad I did.

Yellowstone Pools

The lesson learned is that you can even get your shot in tight places, with abstractions and equipment limitations; the trick is to stitch it all up in post processing and knowing what you want to capture.  Yellowstone pools can be depicted in limitless number of ways, but for me it was important to portray their presence against a beautiful sky and a forest line on the horizon.

I highly recommend to try this technique sometime, and here is a very helpful tutorial from Phlearn on how to process your panorama in Photoshop in case you’ve never tried it before : .

Personal panorama trick:

  1. A panorama does not need to look like one. Focus on what you wanted to capture and cut out the rest.
  2. Use your manual focus. This is VERY important; otherwise you might not get the desired result.
  3. If you fail, then try again. This is MOST important as the technology at this point handles most of the problems, just don’t give up.

Happy shooting to All.

Lone Pine Sunrise

Lone Pine Sunrise or How to Visit Death Valley in Just One Day.

Lone Pine, California, nestled along the Highway 395 is a little town with a population of just over 2,000 but it can offer an amazing Lone Pine Sunrise to anyone wanting to reach or visit Death Valley in just one day.

Admittedly, it’s one of many that people look past on their way to the big, exciting Mammoth Lakes as they drive up, reducing their speed because they have to,  and looking straight ahead, thinking the entire time “I can NEVER live here”.  A few actually pause and think.  They think why people live in this desolate place.  They also think about the fact that if they had to, would they be able to? Also, if they did not have to, why would they choose to? Mostly, we chose not to think about those reasons.  But I wonder, why do we naturally presume that those reasons are bad?

This post is about one of the magical things Lone Pine has offer to the unsuspecting passerby: an opportunity to visit the amazing Death Valley in just one day.  Admittedly, a day is NOT enough, but for the lack of alternatives this life has to offer, if one day is all you get, the sleepy town of Lone Pine is the way to get it.


Image of a sunrise in Lone Pine


Our first time to see the Death Valley was all the way back in 2012, I actually had to look up the date, and, astonishingly, underestimated the time elapsed by 2 years!  Lately, this does happen a lot.  Fortunately, I happen to appreciate time and try and make the most of it.

Visiting Death Valley in just one day is pretty simple: since all of the places inside the valley itself are booked at least six month ahead of time, try booking a night in Lone Pine instead.  Wake up early, catch an amazing Lone Pine Sunrise,  (the thing most people miss looking straight ahead) just  look across the road and then reach your destination in less than two hours.

The Lone Pine sunrise was a powerful experience and, finally, I had a chance to correct my wrongs and… redo a photoshoot I really messed up almost four years ago.

Hooray and hello beautiful Lone Pine Sunrise!

Burned Forest

Eerie Burned Forest, Yellowstone National Park

Burned forest became a familiar sight throughout our trip to Yellowstone National Park, adding to the already eerie atmosphere due to an unearthly landscape and completely unpredictable weather. The elegant silhouettes of the burned trees stood out sharply in contrast with the lush fire regrowth, gracefully becoming the predominant feature of the landscape and outshining their flourishing counterparts.  The big fire left its mark.


Image of burned forest in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

There is absolutely nothing predictable, subtle or ordinary about Yellowstone National Park.  I’ve mentioned this in a few of my posts already, but, believe me when I say, that the entire trip felt more like visiting a different planet or dimension rather than visiting a national park.

No subtleties here: severely harsh and breathtakingly beautiful at the same time, Yellowstone is most definitely a place to tickle every one of your senses.


Fire Regrowth

Yellowstone National Park Fire Regrowth

Image of the burned trees and fire regrowth in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The trip to Yellowstone National Park this year left us dumbfounded and completely overwhelmed; we started planning a return trip before ever leaving this amazing place.   There was a surprise waiting for us on every turn of the road; we’ve researched the park thoroughly, looked at countless photographs and still the experience of being there by far surpassed our every expectation.

It all started within minutes of crossing beyond the “Welcome to Yellowstone National Park” at the south entrance;   we pulled over next to the sign for Lewis Falls, but it was the riverbank on the opposite side of the road that caught our immediate attention instead.  It was the vast spread of burned trees standing perfectly straight and, amidst the silent giants, the thick, strong and lively fire regrowth of new life – the contrast of these two was pretty powerful.

Having read a little about the big Yellowstone Fire over 20 years ago, it was still unexpected to see such a well preserved evidence of the event.  The fire regrowth was everywhere as were the fallen and many still standing giants, adding to the already surreal feeling of the place which truly is beyond words.

Lewis Falls

Yellowstone Waterfall – Lewis Falls

Image of the Lewis Falls in Yellowstone National Park


One of the most accessible waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park is Lewis Falls; you don’t even need to get out of your car to get a glimpse of it while entering the park from the south entrance.

I do, however, recommend that one take the time and pull over: there is plenty of parking space and a few minutes by Lewis Falls provided us a wonderful welcome and introduction to the park.

Also, we found an interesting place to take in the sights on the other side of the highway, right along the river. Burned trees and lush fire regrowth along the bank gave us much to look forward to.

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