Sunrise over the Bay Area
Silicon Valley, CA
As I explore more and more of the beautiful hikes in the Bay Area I keep coming across a number of beautiful rolling hills with oak trees peppered all over them. Most of the time there’s other trees, shrubs, houses, more hills, or other distracting things next to them. But every once in a while you stroll across a lone pine that’s just asking to be photographed.
Willie and I met up at the parking lot and hiked up to this area. You can see the trail crossing through the photo. We had actually planned on photographing a different tree, which we thought had more character and faced more easterly, the direction of sunrise. The tree we were planning on photographing had some clouds behind it, but for whatever reason not all of the clouds caught the beautiful sunrise color.
At one point I happened to turn around and look behind us. The entire sky was glowing orange and virga in the sky was catching the sunrise colors. I suggested to Willie: “dude, I think we should photograph the other tree.” We hesitated a little: it wasn’t as interesting but we knew we had to follow the sky. I’m glad we did turn around because this amazing color in the sky didn’t last long but boy is it awesome. I turned out loving this scene much more than the one we had originally intended to photograph!
Nikon D800 w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8:
24mm, f/13, 0.5 sec, ISO 100
Last light on trees in the Painted Dunes
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Many months earlier Willie had asked me if I wanted to check out Lassen National Park. It was one of the California parks that I had never been to and we had seen photos of the Painted Dunes from some amazing photographers like Brian Rueb, so I immediately said "YES"! It didn't seem worth getting a hotel for just a few hours so we made the (crazy) decision to drive 12 hours round-trip, all in one day.
The hike up the Cinder Cone is *grueling*. It's basically straight up an 800 foot ancient volcano and since the ground is volcanic sand called "loose scoria", it's basically 1 step back for every 2 steps forward. I'd count 100 steps then call for a break, and then we'd repeat until we were at the top. Once there, the views of the "Painted Dunes" were spectacular! Created from layers of oxidized ash falling on top of still hot lava flows, the colors in this area are just stunning.
Just as the sun was dipping below the mountains, the scene became even more gorgeous. The tips of the trees turned golden yellow and the colors of the dunes started to glow pink and purple and orange. We ran around like crazy people trying to photograph all the different spots of the dunes with the different trees and shapes and patterns. After the hike down we made it back to home without falling asleep on the 6 hour car ride!
Nikon D850 w/Sigma 150-600mm:
210mm, f/11, 1/20 sec, ISO 640
Sunrise over Oak Trees
Silicon Valley, California
If I’m going to get up for sunrise while at home, it usually means I’m heading up to San Francisco to photograph the city. After several years of waking up super early and driving an hour to San Francisco, it was time to start exploring for photographs a little closer to home.
Luckily Willie had done all the work and had found a number of trees in Silicon Valley that would be prime for sunrise photography. After rolling out of bed and meeting Willie at the parking lot, we hiked up the hill to this spot where several stunning Oak Trees greeted us. The pre-sunrise glow was *strong* and Willie walked (ran) at a pace that my short little legs could barely keep up with. There were times I had to run just to catch up. He was excited!
Sure enough, once the sun did come up, the sky lit up with beautiful pink and orange colors. I love what winter does to these trees - without the leaves you see the amazing (and gnarly) shapes of the Oak Trees. They sweep through the scene and draw your eye in various patterns around this photo. A little bit of rolling hills helps frame the scene and add slight movement. Behind us a rainbow stretched across the entire sky. And of course I was so busy taking photos that I missed my chance to book Yosemite campgrounds, which went on sale just as the sunrise was exploding!
Nikon D800 w/Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8:
14mm, f/11, 1/8 sec, ISO 200