Fotomoto Gadget

Friday, April 16, 2021

Mount Lassen and our tent by moonlight

 We did an overnight ski camping trip in Lassen Volcanic National Park in March 2021 during Rick's spring break.  After skiing in about 8 miles along the Lassen Park Road, we skied off the road's course and set up our camp at this spot overlooking the frozen-over Lake Helen and Mount Lassen.  During the night we got up and realized that the moon was up and illuminating the scene around us.  We didn't bring tripods with us, so Bob had to take this photo by propping up his camera with some of our camp gear.  Because this was a 30 second exposure, he couldn't take it by hand holding the camera.

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

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

MacArthur-Burney Falls State Park, Bob contemplating the flame


Bob decided to have a campfire on our spring break trip. We normally don't bother getting a fire going because we're usually out hiking or working on night photography and don't want to be tied to the responsibility. We were camped at the Rim Campground in MacArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, in California.

Taken with a Motorola z4, 1/10sec, f1.7, 4.7mm, ISO 2480, Camera app using Night Vision feature. March 29, 2021, 9:35 pm

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

Friday, April 9, 2021

McArthur Burney Falls and double rainbow

The centrerpiece of McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park in Northern California is Burney Falls.  The two main streams you see in the center of the photo is from Burney Creek, while the rest of the waterfalls you see here are from springs emerging from the cliff face.  Some 100 million gallons of water flow from this waterfall every day.  It creates quite a spectacle.

Since this cliff face is pretty much north-facing, it almost never gets direct sunlight, but the mist from the waterfall can catch the rays and produce rainbows during special times of the day.  Here Bob was able to capture a double rainbow in the mist.

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

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Chapel of the Transfiguration and Grand Teton, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

 The Chapel of the Transfiguration is in Moose Village at the southern entrance to Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.  For this photo, Bob lined up the cross on the top of the church with the peak of Grand Teton.  The Chapel was built as a log cabin structure in 1925 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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

Monday, March 22, 2021

Teton panorama - Cathedral Group to Mount Moran

 During a visit to Grand Teton National Park in 2016, we stopped along the Teton Park Road to enjoy this view of the Teton Range.  This is a panorama of six images stitched together to show the range from the Cathedral Group on the left (Grand Teton, Mount Owen, and Teewinot) to Mount Moran on the right.

Click on the image to see the whole panorama.

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

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Rick Robinson, Indian Rock Arch, and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park


Yosemite isn't known for its natural rock spans, but it does have a few.  This is Indian Rock, a granite flake of an arch, reached by a side trail from the trail that goes to North Dome starting from the Tioga Pass Road.  The iconic Half Dome is visible from beneath the arch from this position.  Rick's presence in the photo gives you an idea of the size of the arch.

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

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Bob, Photographer at Work Doing Night Photography Under the Big Dipper

 Here's Bob working to get night-time photography shots in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada. Rick noticed the Big Dipper over his head and asked him to pose for this shot. It was accomplished by making a long exposure to get the stars and briefly flashing a flashlight on Bob's position. We were camped at the Arch Rock Campground.

Focal length 25.0 mm, ISO 1600, shutter speed 1 second, f8

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

Thursday, January 28, 2021

The real Zabriskie Point, a pet peeve

It's a pet peeve of ours that we often see photos of the Zabriskie Badlands and Manly Beacon labeled as Zabriskie Point, which is the viewpoint that the photographer is standing on, not what the viewer is seeing in the photo.  In a way, we can understand why it happens.  You look out across the maze of ridges and gullies of these badlands with no apparent named peak and it can be hard to name what you're seeing.  Also, the general store in Furnace Creek sells souvenirs with images of Manly Beacon on them and they're labeled "Zabriskie Point," so, again, it's understandable.

But consider this.  As a photographer, would you go to Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park, take a photo of Half Dome and label that photo "Glacier Point."  You would likely name it Half Dome after the distinctive feature in the picture.  The Zabriskie Badlands have a distinctive feature, though admittedly not as distinctive as Half Dome, and it's Manly Beacon.  But if your photo from Zabriskie Point doesn't include Manly Beacon, then it's probably of Gower Gulch and the Zabriskie Badlands and should say so.

The above two photos show the actual Zabriskie Point.  Zabriskie Point is in the upper left atop a steeply sloped hill.  And then Gower Gulch and part of the Zabriskie Badlands make up the rest of the photos.

The panorama below is of the Zabriskie Badlands taken from Zabriskie Point.

 The final photo is a 30 second nighttime exposure showing Manly Beacon, the only widely-known named feature in the Zabriskie Badlands.  Many photos labeled Zabriskie Point feature Manly Beacon, named after William Manly, an early Death Valley guide.  This feature is the high point just left of center.

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

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Red-eared slider, turtle basking on a log in the American River


In the Sacramento area, we love visiting the American River that flows right through the city and joins the Sacramento River just north of the historic Old Sacramento. It's amazing how much wildlife we see inside the city limits. Here we saw turtles that are not native to California, the red-eared slider. A group of the turtles were basking on a log as we were canoeing nearby. The turtles noticed us and were acting a little more alert as we got the cameras out.

Canon PowerShot 530HS, ISO 400, 215mm focal length, 1/250 sec, f8

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

Monday, January 18, 2021

El Capitan just after sunset, Yosemite National Park, California

El Capitan reflected in the Merced River in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park. This picture was taken just after sunset with calm winds. We spent the afternoon cross-country skiing out of Badger Pass and went through part of the valley on our way out of the park. Right now, everyone has to leave the park by 5PM.

Settings were f1.7, 1/33 sec, ISO 244, 4.74mm, in a Motorola z4 smartphone.

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


Sunday, January 10, 2021

Desert Bighorn Sheep on the "throne" at Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada


During our December 2020 visit to Valley of Fire State Park, in Nevada, we got nice long looks at desert bighorn sheep. This ram was resting on this red sandstone slope by itself. The other three rams were resting below the slope on the ground. The ram sometimes chewed a little bit and seemed content with his position. After we were there for over 10 minutes, the other rams and the main one got together and ambled off to the west in the direction of the local herd of females.

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Mobius Arch, Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, California

This is Mobius Arch from the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, California.  Bob took this photo after sunset and Lone Pine Peak is the highest peak visible through the opening of the arch.  Bob hiked along the Arch Loop Trail to visit the arch, but didn't get to finish the loop since the sun was setting.  This was during a trip during the week of Thanksgiving 2020.  He'll just have to go back.

We've known about and seen photos of this arch for a long time, but for Bob to see it in the lithos, so to speak, was quite stunning.  We haven't found any specific details about its dimensions, but a couple of web sites indicated that the opening is about 6 and a half feet tall and spans 7 feet.  We'll have to double check that next time we're there.

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

Monday, January 4, 2021

Desert bighorn ram at Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

 During our recent visit to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, we saw a small group of desert bighorn rams hanging out in the Beehives Area of the park.  This ram was lounging on top of one of the rock formations chewing his cud.  This photo caught him in mid-chew.  Three other rams were lying low near the base of this rock formation.  Eventually after their cud had been sufficiently masticated, they got up and headed out into the brush to graze on what grasses they could find.

After this ram went back out to graze, Bob examined this formation for arches and found a very unusual sliver of an arch, which you can see in the second photo.  The opening is barely a few inches high.

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

Friday, January 1, 2021

Is this arch a "Thing?"


On our last day of visiting Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, we hiked the Natural Arch Trail looking for a fallen arch and for an arch that a map that we bought in the park's visitor center called Thing Arch.  The park staff told us that they only name two of the park's arches, Arch Rock in the campground area and Natural Arch, which gave this trail its name, but which collapsed in 2010.  In any case, the map that we referred to showed a Thing Arch across the wash from where the collapsed arch was and we looked for it during our hike.  We think this is the Thing.  It's a fragile looking rock span in Aztec Sandstone.

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Hinkey Summit Arch, Nevada, looking down through the arch


This is a natural arch in Nevada that you're looking down through to the road below. This is Hinkey Summit. We were able to follow a short side road off of the main dirt road in order to get above the opening. Rick drove from the main road up the side road while Bob hiked up to the arch from the main road and met Rick after scrambling through the opening.

Here's Bob standing at the base of the arch looking up through it. Later on, he scrambled up through the opening and met Rick on the upper side.

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

Saturday, December 12, 2020

A female Great tailed Grackle at Boulder Beach Campground, Lake Mead National Recreation Area


Bob was on a trip through the southwestern desert when he stayed at the Boulder Beach Campground of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada.  Every morning and evening the great tailed grackles would fly through the campground foraging or looking for a place to roost or whatever.  They are very noisy, boisterous birds with a variety of calls.  He eventually managed to photograph this female as it perched on a creosote bush branch.

This was shot with a 400mm zoom lens and then heavily cropped to bring out the details of this bird.

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

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

A small waterfall and natural bridge in the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California

 This is the Tuolumne River near the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge and is along the John Muir Trail.  This feature is called the Green Pool.  The river flows over this small waterfall and into a pool that is some 8 to 10 feet deep at its deepest.  The granite arm along the right edge of the photo actually forms a natural bridge.  Notice the rocky streambed and the opening in this granite arm in the lower left of center in the second photo.  This is the third natural rock span that we know of in Yosemite National Park.  We've posted photos of those other rock spans earlier in our photo gallery.

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

Aspen trees changing to their Fall wardrobe in Hope Valley, California


A bit of fall color in Hope Valley, California.  These are the changing leaves of aspen trees near the junction of Highways 88 and 89 south of Lake Tahoe.

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

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, chunks of calcium carbonate sticking out

 Mammoth Hot Springs is sometimes called a mountain turning itself inside out. Hot water deep underground dissolves calcium where it combines with carbon dioxide to make calcium carbonate. Once that solution comes to the surface, the water evaporates and the remaining water cools, resulting in the mineral being deposited into flowing shapes. Calcium carbonate is also the mineral that cave features like stalagmites and stalactites are made of and the white powdery substance you can see in your kitchen sink.

In this photo, you can see some of the flowing shapes have broken off and are lying across the terraces at odd angles. One of the chunks at the upper left appears to be almost completely upside down, with "fingers" of calcium carbonate sticking up. The colors in the white calcium carbonate come from bacteria and algae growing in the warm water. A reddish tinge can also be a sign that iron is mixed in. We were on a boardwalk that leads down from the top of a hill to get in position for this shot. f/8, 1/800 sec, 55 mm, Canon Powershot SX530 HS.

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

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Illilouette Fall as seen from Sierra Point in Yosemite National Park


This is a view of Illilouette Fall from the Sierra Point viewpoint in Yosemite National Park.  See our YouTube video about Sierra Point and how to get there.  You can also get a similar view of this waterfall from the Mist Trail hiking from the Happy Isles Nature Center to Vernal Falls.

The canyon that this waterfall falls into runs roughly south to north and is a relatively short boulder-strewn gorge before Illilouette Creek flows into the Merced River after that river flows over Nevada and Vernal Falls.  This photo was taken in June 2016 when snowmelt had swollen the creek's flow.

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

Sunday, October 4, 2020

"Corridor of Color" Fall Colors in Hope Valley, Alpine County, California

Fall colors are starting in Hope Valley in Alpine County, California, south of Lake Tahoe.  This "corridor of color" is along Highway 88 near the Wylder (Sorenson's) Resort.

The fall colors in Hope Valley are from aspen trees and cottonwoods losing chlorophyll and allowing xanthophylls and other pigments to show through as the temperature drops and the sun's intensity and day length diminish as the Autumn season progresses.

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

Friday, September 11, 2020

Water ouzel (dipper) in Silver Creek, Alpine County, California


Over the Labor Day weekend, we went to Alpine County, California, an area where Rick worked in the Toiyabe National Forest on the trail crew. There was a fire south of us in Slinkard Valley, so we couldn't stay overnight, but we did get a chance to look at the east fork Carson River where Silver Creek joins it. We found this water ouzel (dipper) bird that lives along river rapids and eats insects that live in the rapids. I happened to catch this image of the bird with an insect in its mouth. This species of bird walks around in the rapids with no apparent concern for its safety. It can even dip underwater when looking for its food and walk on the river bottom. We've even seen these birds dipping into the Merced River in Yosemite, during the winter. It doesn't get cold because it has so much oil in its feathers, it doesn't get wet. 

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

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Upper end of Yosemite Valley from the Four Mile Trail, July 22, 2020


Here's a photo taken in Yosemite National Park showing Tenaya Canyon to the left and the Merced River Canyon to the right with Half Dome in the center. On the right, you can see Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall. Rick took this photo from the Four Mile Trail during what he calls his "Overnight Day Trip." He was able to get to Yosemite from Fresno by taking the YARTS bus. He didn't have the chance to get a day-use permit or an overnight permit, but you can still get into Yosemite if you arrive on the YARTS bus. The Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point is actually about 4 and a half miles long. The view opens up to the east after 3 to 4 miles up what is a relentlessly uphill climb. This was Rick's first time on this trail despite all the times he's been to Yosemite over the years (more than 180 visits). He expects to hike this trail again soon. He accidentally got his shadow in the picture at the lower right. It was after 6 pm and the sun was getting low enough in the sky to make that happen.

This image is the result of two images being merged together. Each image was taken with a Motorola z4 smartphone, merged, and then processed for brightness and contrast in Digikam on a Linux computer. 

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

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Comet NEOWISE over Old Sacramento, California

It might be hard to make out in the first photo, but Comet NEOWISE is in the right upper center of this image between the building and the flag pole on the bow of the riverboat. This image is from Old Sacramento State Historic Park in Sacramento, California. The riverboat in the foreground is the Delta King, which acts as a floating hotel and is permanently moored at its dock. The building in this image is on the other side of the Sacramento River in West Sacramento.

Bob took these photos on the evening of July 17, 2020.  In the first photo the lights on the riverboat were so bright that it produced a sharp contrast with the night sky where the comet was.  To reduce the contrast he used a graduated neutral density filter to tone down the riverboat lights.

The second photo is a zoom-in showing the comet and its position relative to the building in the first photo.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Comet NeEOWISE and the Big Dipper over Yosemite Valley

Here's a photo showing a slowly fading Comet NEOWISE C/2020 f3 below the Big Dipper. I was in Yosemite on the south rim next to Sentinel Creek with a clear view of the sky. I was hoping to get a view of the comet floating above El Capitan, but the moon was just past new and was setting so there was no light for the landscape. So I turned my attention to getting pictures of the comet with the Big Dipper so it would have recognizable stars around it. It's above two stars in the constellation Leo Minor. It's closest to the earth on this night, but farther from the sun so it's not as brighter as before.

ISO 6400, 30-second exposure, f4, focal length 20mm. This image was cropped to high light the constellation and comet below. 

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

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Comet NEOWISE over Sacramento, California

These photos are of Comet NEOWISE, aka C/2020 F3, taken at about 4:39 AM Sacramento time on July 12, 2020. I, Bob, had driven to the west end of the Yolo Bypass, which is between the cities of West Sacramento and Davis, California. I was looking northeasterly when I took this shot.  Other photographers were out in these predawn hours to get photos of it, like I was. The horizon is the Sierra foothills.

At this point Comet NEOWISE is on the outbound part of its orbit after already whipping past the sun. The tails of comets are created by and directed by solar radiation, which means they always point away from the sun. The sun is below the horizon in this view and the tail is pointing away from it.

While I was getting shots of the comet, a freight train passed by me on the nearby tracks.

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

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Great Fountain Geyser and forest fire smoke, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

This is a photo of the Great Fountain Geyser along the Firehole Lake Drive in Yellowstone National Park. This was taken on August 15, 2016 while a forest fire was raging on the horizon.  The smoke extends from the setting sun to the upper right corner.

Great Fountain Geyser is one of the geysers that the rangers can predict when it will erupt, but the window of time that it might erupt is plus or minus two hours. When it's building toward an eruption, the vent and surrounding terraces will fill with water to overflowing and the column of water will shoot up out of the pooling water, as opposed to geysers like Old Faithful Geyser that erupt out of a cone.

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Female common mergansers resting on a log, American River Parkway, Sacramento, California

We were out paddling around the American River Parkway in Sacramento, California when we encountered these female common mergansers resting on this log that had fallen across this channel.  This is just downstream from the Watt Avenue Bridge.

The merganser in the middle had its mouth open, while the merganser on the right was giving us the eye while trying to get some sleep.  Mergansers are also known as fish ducks, since they feed on small fish by diving underwater and swimming after their prey.

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

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Grotto Geyser erupting, Yellowstone National Park

Grotto Geyser always makes me think of a sea turtle.  If you imagine the rounded feature in the middle as the turtle's head, then the other two rounded features on either side look like flippers. Grotto Geyser is in the Upper Geyser Basin, which includes Old Faithful Geyser, in Yellowstone National Park.

Grotto may actually be a unique example of natural arch formation.  Scientists believe that the two "flippers" may have been formed by geyser mineral deposits over tree trunks which created two arches, since each flipper is an arc of rock over openings.

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

Friday, June 19, 2020

Half Dome at sunset with a bright moon in front of its face

Here's a full moon rising next to Half Dome, Yosemite National Park. I, Rick, was actually leaving Yosemite after a day visit and decided to stop at the Tunnel View for one last look at the valley. Some people off to the left were pointing somewhat excitedly, but I couldn't figure out why, at first. Then I saw the moon rising, so I rushed to a spot where I could get the best angle. The red light of the setting sun contrasted well with the bright moon.

I did some adjusting of brightness and contrast and worked specifically on the area within the moon to bring out the details, but nothing was repositioned or added to the image.

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