Fotomoto Gadget

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Mount Rainier Enshrouded in Clouds

This is Mount Rainier showing the effect of high mountains creating their own weather. We saw a long line of people heading to the top of the mountain despite the clouds. Without the clouds, though, this would've been a completely sunny day. Mount Rainier is a volcano and the highest mountain in Washington state. It is considered a premier destination for mountaineers all around the world.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Grizzly Creek in Kings Canyon, 3 merged images

On the way to Kings Canyon National Park through the National Forest part of the Kings Canyon, we stopped off Highway 180 to look at Grizzly Creek Falls. You can hear it and see parts of it from the road, but the closer look is clearly better. From the trail I took, I had to cross the creek to get this full top-to-bottom view of the fall. It's on the north side of the Kings River and has a small parking area travelers can use to park their cars clear of the main road. It's only about another mile (1.6 km) to the boundary of Kings Canyon NP approaching the Cedar Grove area.

This image is the result of merging 3 separate images together. I took photos of the upper, middle, and lower part of the fall in order to get more detail and because I couldn't the entire waterfall in one shot since I was so close.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Steamboat Geyser at night, Norris Geyer Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

This is a shot of Steamboat Geyser in the middle of the night.  Steamboat Geyser is the world's tallest active geyser and starting in the spring of 2018, it has entered a very active phase where the interval between eruptions is averaging about a week or so.

We went to Yellowstone at the end of July to early August 2019 to try to see a major eruption of Steamboat.  This photo was taken during the night of July 29th to July 30th while we waited overnight to make sure we didn't miss seeing it erupt.

Steamboat Geyser is in the Norris Geyser Basin in the northwestern central part of Yellowstone National Park.  This basin is considered to be the hottest and most acidic of Yellowstone's thermal basins.

While we waited overnight, Steamboat just steamed away and splashed water out once in a while, but didn't erupt that night.  However, our waiting did pay off after the sun rose, since it finally did erupt at 7:20 AM on July 30th. It continued erupting for much of the day, but we left after two hours and it was still going strong.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Roaring River Fall, in Kings Canyon NP, plus a huge boulder

In Kings Canyon National Park, there aren't as many waterfalls as in Yosemite Valley, but this one is in a special setting. Roaring River Fall gets its name because of how loud the water is as it drops down the canyon. The shape of the canyon at this point actually helps to amplify the sound. Also in this image is a huge erratic boulder that was left behind after the glaciers melted during the last ice age. You can get to this feature by parking along the main road and walking a short distance. During the spring, you'll be able to hear it. This image was taken in September after a very wet winter earlier in the year. So there was still a lot of water in the river. During the spring, though, the water can be as high as the whitish line of the rock face that you can see to the right of the waterfall.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Cave Falls in southwestern Yellowstone, long exposure.

We visited the southwestern corner of Yellowstone for the first time in early August 2019.  The highlight of the visit to this part of the park called the Bechler Region was Cave Falls.  It's also called the Cascade Corner because of the great number of cascades and waterfalls.  The river that forms these falls is the Falls River.  You can guess why.  This is the least developed part of Yellowstone and requires driving on dirt roads to reach.

Even though this waterfall is only thought to be 20 feet high, we've read that it's considered to be the widest of all the waterfalls in Yellowstone at 250 feet.

This photo was from the established overlook for visitors.  The "cave" that gave the falls its name was actually an alcove, the roof of which has collapsed.  The boulder field from that collapse is visible in the right middle of this image.  This boulder field is now marked as off-limits by the park in case additional rocks collapse onto the pile.

We visited the Bechler Region at the end of our trip to see the Steamboat Geyser erupt, so, after visiting Yellowstone for a few decades, we still got to experience things there that we had never experienced before.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Sunset in Yellowstone, lighting up Clepsydra Geyser

We arrived in Yellowstone on our 2019 trip around sunset. After setting up camp at the Madison Campground, we went to the Lower Geyser Basin, a.k.a. the Fountain Paint Pots, to look around before it got dark. We got to see Clepsydra Geyser in its nearly continuous state of eruption as the sun was turning red on the horizon. Clouds floating overhead helped reflect some of the sunlight back down. The way the western clouds were shaped made the fiery colors take on the shape of two prongs or maybe a duck. At least that's what it made me, Rick, think of. At this stop along the park road, this feature is the farthest out on the boardwalk.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Side blotched lizard, along the trail on Santa Cruz Island

We were hiking from the Scorpion Canyon campground to Cavern Point and saw several of the side blotched lizards along the trail. This one was surprisingly cooperative. It allowed me to crouch down for a better look without running away. Males of the side blotched lizards can have orange, yellow, or blue throats, while the females can have orange or yellow. The orange-throated males are very territorial while the blue-throated ones don't maintain a territory and will sneak into the territories of others.

The image was taken with ISO 100, 1/180 sec, f13, and 105 mm focal length with  a Canon 70D.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Island fox on Santa Cruz Island, in the campground, Channel Islands National Park

In the Channel Islands National Park, Santa Cruz Island has the resident island fox that was endangered. We camped in Scorpion Canyon at the eastern end of the island. Since they're protected, they have no fear of people. In fact, the rangers warn you when you get there that the foxes will steal your food if you're not careful. We arrived at campsite #1 on Scorpion Canyon and had a fox practically greeting us before we set our packs down at the table. Right after we turned our backs to look for a level place to put the tent, it leaped up onto the table and started sniffing our packs. Funny that we were hoping to see an island fox during this trip and they came to us. Over the course of the one-day visit, we saw three at one time working as a team.

The island fox in this picture was in a clear space under some bushes and must've felt pretty comfortable. I was standing on the trail taking pictures and recording video and it barely paid any attention to me. It was biting at its fur and scratching itself. The ranger told us that the total number on all the Channel Islands is now around 1600, up from about 60, and that this represents what is believed to be the historic numbers.

The image was taken at ISO 1600, f5.6, 105mm focal length, 1/80 sec. using a Canon 70D.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Half Dome and full moon at sunset, Yosemite National Park, California

A couple of photos of the nearly full moon rising above Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.  These shots are from the Ahwahnee Meadow and were taken in March 2010 with snow still covering the higher elevations.  The setting sun cast a bit of an alpenglow on the face of Half Dome in the second photo.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sun and clouds over the Norris Geyer Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Clouds forming over the Norris Geyser Basin cast sun rays in a very interesting pattern.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Silver Strand Fall in Yosemite Valley's west end, above Tunnel View

One of the famous viewpoints in the world is the Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park. If you're at this view point earlier in the year, spring and early summer, you should also make a point of turning to your right (south) and looking for this waterfall, Silver Strand Fall. It drops about 574 feet (175 m), according to the wikipedia entry, though the topographic map shows it as 400 ft (123m). The creek flows under the road farther downhill and eventually joins the Merced River. Since it's fed by melting snow, it's usually gone by midsummer, but this year, 2019, was an especially wet year in California, so it was still flowing well in mid-June, when this picture was taken.

It's easy for people to get caught up in looking at the Valley, but with a little extra looking around, you can find this gem.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Nevada Falls and rainbow in Yosemite National Park, California

We were on a hike in Yosemite National Park and were between Vernal and Nevada Falls when we saw this view of Nevada Falls from next to the Merced River.

Nevada Falls is 594 feet tall and was gushing with water during our visit after a good snowfall year.  This flow of water kicked up a huge mist in front of the falls and produced this brilliant spectrum.

Vernal and Nevada Falls are both in Little Yosemite Valley, which, like many of Yosemite's features, was carved out by glaciers.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Bewick's Wren in Bob's backyard

Bob went into his backyard and heard this bird buzzing around, so he grabbed his camera and waited for the little guy to perch in an open spot.  Eventually during his flitting around, he perched on this camellia branch where Bob could get a clear shot of him.

Bob suspects that this little guy is nesting somewhere nearby.  Bewick's wrens nest in cavities such as old woodpecker holes or where an old branch has rotted out of a tree trunk.

This photo was shot with a 100-400 zoom lens set at 400 mm and is heavily cropped.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Cascade Creek flowing over granite boulders below the Fall, Yosemite NP

Cascade Creek flows through Yosemite National Park crossing under the road that enters the park from El Portal. Before the bridge, a small parking area provides access to the creek and a view of the Cascade Creek waterfall. The section of the creek in this image is below the fall as the water flows over granite boulders in the creek bed.

Because the creek was in full sun, I was able to use a fast shutter speed (1/1500 sec) even with the ISO at 100. I was perched on a granite boulder almost directly in front of the flow. The pattern in the water streaming over the boulder caught my attention. I could see it even without the benefit of high speed photography, so I wanted to capture it.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A white black phoebe in the American River Parkway in Sacramento, California

A heavily cropped photo of the white black phoebe that Bob had posted a different photo of earlier.  Black phoebes are members of the flycatcher family and tend to sit on a perch and dart out after a passing flying insect to feed on it and then return to the perch.  They usually have white bellies and are black everywhere else. The lack of pigment in the feathers while the eyes still have color means that this isn't albinism, but another condition called leucism, pronounced like "leukism." This condition means the body or feathers aren't producing pigment while the eyes or the bill can have pigment. Pigeons often exhibit this feature. We've seen many examples of white or blotchy white pigeons that are showing this same condition.

This photo was taken in January 2018, and Bob has not seen it so far in 2019.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Yosemite firefall with avalanche, El Capitan and Horsetail Falls

Yosemite has become famous for what's called the firefall effect.  In mid to late February the setting sun's last rays of light turn red and shine on the eastern flank of El Capitan right on a spot where an ephemeral waterfall is flowing, provided there's enough runoff from its small 40-acre watershed.  Of course, the effect also requires a clear horizon in the West.

This image, taken on February 16, 2019, shows the spot on El Capitan where the setting sun's reddening light shines during this time of year.  Although the Horsetail Falls' watershed had lots of snow in it, the weather had been cold enough that not a lot of it was melting off and flowing into the waterfall.  Some water was flowing in the fall, but there were also some spots where snow and ice was stuck on this cliff and would occasionally break off and avalanche.  In the vertical stripe of red above, the separate dash of red on the right near the bottom is actually an avalanche catching the setting sun's burning light.

We didn't catch this image with our still cameras.  This is actually a still frame from the video we shot of the firefall.  We didn't see this avalanche when it happened, but we saw it on our video clips after we left.  From our spot on the south side of the Merced River, we could hear an occasional avalanche, but by the time we heard them, they were done with, since the sound took so long to reach us.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Bear grass in bloom at Mount Rainier National Park

During a June 2006 trip to Washington state to visit family, Rick went to Mount Rainier National Park and got this picture of a bear grass in bloom. Interestingly enough, bear grass is neither a grass nor eaten by bears, so the name doesn't really mean what it sounds like. It's actually a member of the corn lily family of plants. It's other common name is Indian basket grass, which is a reference to how native people used it, but it's still not a grass. It's common throughout the Cascades, northern Sierra Nevada, and the Rockies.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Titus Canyon Road in Death Valley, panorama leading to the pass

This is Rick's old Kia Sportage, during a December 2007 trip to Death Valley. The road is the one-way road that leads to Titus Canyon. It was taken as a panorama to show the road that leads up to the pass. On the other side, the road drops steeply down to the abandoned mining town of Leadville, then on to Titus Canyon. Passenger cars can make the trip when the road is in good condition, but other times make 4-wheel drive and high ground clearance much more desirable. We have seen people back out of this drive and go against the one-way designation of the road in order to get out.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Half Dome by half moonlight on a snowy February night

We visited Yosemite Valley to try to capture the "firefall" effect of Horsetail Falls at sunset in mid-February 2019 (pictures of that will be forthcoming).  Afterwards, Bob cross-country skied a lap around Ahwahnee Meadow and noticed that the half moon was lighting up Half Dome in a way that brought it out, while not washing out the stars above it.  He got his tripod and camera and shot these long exposure shots from a corner of the meadow.

While Bob was taking the first photo, the Valley Shuttle bus approached while the shutter was open.  The second photo was without a vehicle approaching.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Great egret, American River Parkway, Sacramento, California

Bob was out for a ride along the American River in Sacramento, California when he saw this great egret out on the hunt for food.  He happened to have his camera with him, so he got these portraits of this bird while it was out stalking.  This long-legged bird was near the 12-mile mark on the bike path. Many of the animals along the river are so used to people, they'll behave normally, so it's a good place to view wildlife up close.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Desert bighorn sheep on red sandstone, Valley of Fire, Nevada

During a camping trip to Valley of Fire State Park, in Nevada, a desert bighorn sheep strolled by the campground where we staying. After we followed it for a while, it joined a herd of about 20 consisting of a mix of females and yearlings. At one point, the male scrambled effortlessly up a red sandstone outcrop to get a better view of the terrain and might have checked for predators in the area, before continuing.

Canon EOS 70D, 250 mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/350 sec., f/11. This image has been cropped a little tighter to improve composition.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Lake Solitude, Grand Teton NP, panorama

Here is a panoramic image of Lake Solitude in the Grand Teton National Park wilderness. We stopped here to resupply our water bottles during our backpack trip up Cascade Canyon on our way to Paintbrush Canyon's lower camping zone. The Grand Teton peak appears at the left in this image, just to the left of the darker ridge with snow patches on it. The sun was getting lower on the horizon, so we realized we wouldn't be making it to camp during daylight.

The two vertical streaks on either side of the sun appear to be part of the panorama making process and wasn't something I, Rick, observed while capturing the image.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Starting a Backpacking Trip Along Jenny Lake in Grand Teton

Bob is stopped along the trail to get a photo of Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. This image was taken with Rick's smartphone camera app's panorama feature. You can see the trail we came from to the left in the image and the direction we're going to the right. Also to the right is Grand Teton, Teewinot, and Mount Owen in the Teton Range. For this backpacking trip, we were heading up Cascade Canyon and coming down Paintbrush Canyon, where we spent the night in the lower camping zone. We parked at String Lake and hiked south toward Cascade Canyon, which made the first day a long day of hiking and second day, much shorter. The first day took even longer for us because we kept stopping to take pictures and to enjoy the thimbleberries and huckleberries.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A Setting Moon Over the Tetons

After waiting in line to get into the Jenny Lake Campground early one morning, we got to witness the setting moon over the Tetons the following morning. Grand Teton itself isn't in the picture, however, the moon is over Mount Owen. The taller mountain to the left is Mount Teewinot. It turns out that these two mountains block your view of Grand Teton, so anyone driving into and hiking around the Jenny Lake area can't see Grand Teton. Rick was just walking around the campground area and happened to look toward the highest mountains and noticed the moon there. So he rushed back to the car to get the camera and get some photos before the moon set.

The image was taken at ISO 100, f/16, 1/60 sec, with a zoom of about 4.5 power.

Remember, it's not just a story, it's a story!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Wrentit at Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Another photo of a bird from Point Reyes National Seashore in California.  This wrentit was flitting about our campsite at Coast Camp on a cold December morning daring us to take his portrait.  So, we did.

Wrentits hang out in the coastal chaparral at Point Reyes singing from the top of shrubs and dropping out of sight into the tangled branches.  These are tiny birds about 6 to 6-1/2 inches long with a long tail and short stubby bill with mostly brown feathers around the body and grayish around the head.  They're described as being elusive, but this little guy was just the opposite.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story.

Monday, November 26, 2018

White crowned sparrow at Point Reyes National Seashore, California

This is a close look at a white crowned sparrow.  This little guy was flitting around the reconstructed Coast Miwok village called Kule Loklo near the headquarters of Point Reyes National Seashore.  This National Park unit is some forty miles north of San Francisco on the California coast.

We always look forward to hearing the sing-song call of these little birds, especially when we're staying in the Point Reyes backcountry, and their call kind of tells us that we're "home."  Notice that this little guy has a bird band on its leg.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Fly Geyser, geothermal feature in Nevada

We went on a tour of the Fly Ranch on October 20, 2018. The tour includes the world-famous Fly Geyser. It was the result of an attempt to drill into the geothermal area in 1964 to generate electricity but it didn't work out. The feature has been building up minerals ever since. That's 54 years! At the rate of 6-8 inches (15 - 20 cm) per year. It isn't a true geyser, though, because there is never a quiet period, since it's spouts water continuously. We've looked it up and learned that the proper name for this feature is a "perpetual spouter." We counted 5 spouts at the top.

Unfortunately the right side of this formation was shot at, leaving it looking crumbled.

Settings were ISO 100, f16, 1/45 sec, with a 35 mm focal length with a polarizer.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Fly Geyser, Gerlach, Nevada

After knowing of the existence of this geothermal feature in northern Nevada for a number of years, from photos in photo magazines, we finally got to go on a tour of this private ranch to see the Fly Geyser up close and personal.  This feature resulted from a geothermal test well drilled in 1964 that was either never capped or was capped improperly and has been spouting hot water into the air ever since.

The cone has formed from deposition from the mineral-rich water cooling as it emerged and is growing at a rate of 6 to 8 inches per year.  This is a phenomenal rate for a geyser.  But, then again, this is not a true geyser.  A true geyser has a quiet phase and an eruption phase.  We've checked the terms for geothermal features and it looks like perpetual spouter would be the most accurate term for it.  In any case, this mound of mineral deposits and brightly-colored algae growing on this cone is a spectacular sight.

These photos were taken with an eclipse filter on the lens to force a long shutter speed of 30 seconds and f16 and it produces a silky look for the five spouts of water emerging from the top of the cone.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Eye of the Needle, Death Valley National Park, California

This is a nighttime shot of a natural window in Death Valley National Park, California, called Eye of the Needle.  Seems self-explanatory how it got its name.  This arch is about one and a half miles up Echo Canyon on a dirt road.  The road appears to head straight toward this arch, but then wraps around the rock formation, so that you can see this arch from both sides while driving.

We camped near this feature and were taking starlight shots of it when someone drove by lighting up the rock formation with their headlights. This photo was taken with a zoom lens set at 28 mm and the exposure was 30 seconds at f/3.5 with the ISO set at 800.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Half Dome with a cloudy scarf

Got this image on a winter trip last February to Yosemite Valley. The clouds formed small puffs of cotton around Half Dome and slowly drifted around it. This cloud moved into just the right spot as the sun was getting lower in the sky, that its shadow went all the way across the face of Half Dome. Another nice feature was the snow on top of Half Dome and on the ridge west of Half Dome, too.

The ISO was set for 100, shutter speed at 1/250 sec, and the f/stop was 5.6. This was taken right about 5 PM so it was getting close to sunset for the third week in February. Taken from the Sentinel Bridge in Yosemite Valley.

Remember, it's not just a picture, it's a story!