Friday, September 28, 2012

Painting the Aspen

One more week till Sierra Art Trails and then I'm over the Sierra mountains to photograph and paint the Fall Aspen trees on the east side. Last year was my first time visiting the area specifically for the Fall trees and I can't wait to go back and do it again.

If you look back at this blog you'll see some of the photos I took from last years three day car camping trip. There are three posts on it.

I hear the color is already starting to happen at the higher elevations and some places are already starting to peak. It may not be as spectacular as last year but I'm sure it will still be worth the trip.

I'll most likely be heading up and over Tuesday. Hoping I can meet up with some of my photographer and painting pals.

This is a 12 x 16 acrylic painting of last years trip. Available at my studio during Art Trails weekend.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cascade Falls Bridge

This is not one of the safest places I've ever explored but definitely one of the better overlooked falls in Yosemite with many different beautiful sections. This is the view below Cascade Bridge.

This is not an area I recommend it is quite dangerous. The trail has decomposed granite that acts like ball bearings under your feet. Add to that it's a steep trail. Then if you get down to where this is painted from you have to be careful about slick wet rocks. Fall in the water in this area and they'll be scraping you up from the base of the falls down by hwy 140.

16 x 20 Acrylic painting.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sierra Art Trails, Oct 5,6 & 7

Yikes Sierra Art Trails is just around the corner and I've totally neglected this blog. Too focused on the creative process and not the marketing. You'd think that someone who has made their living in as an Advertising Graphic Designer and Illustrator would know better.

Sad fact is I am horrible at self promotion. I love the process of creating art but selling my art is difficult. Partly because these creations are my babies and hard to let go of. As long as the art is in my possession I can rework and fine tune it at my leisure.
Now I've got too much of it and not enough wall space. So it's time to move these babies out of here and make room for more.

My home studio will be open to the public for three days, October 5,6, and 7 as part of this great tour of Sierra artists and their studios. Most of what you will see at my studio will be my recent landscape paintings. Of course my photography has been taking off well so you'll see some of that too. This is a great chance to get some art for your walls at discounted prices.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A return to Beasore Meadows in the Sierras

Often when out taking photographs I come across scenes I know would be better at a different time of day or under better conditions. Like most photography enthusiasts I hate sunny days, especially in the afternoon when it glares.

In this case I had come across a beautiful nearby stream where the plein air painting group had our amazing picnic. While our host Doug was grilling away I set about exploring and found this group of sneeze weed flowers blooming next to this meandering creek. I thought I had taken some great photos of the scene but felt I'd rushed myself and could have done better.

A week later I returned in an attempt to give it a better try. Unfortunately the summer sun had returned and totally changed the conditions and feel of the location. Never the less I saw new possibilities. Maybe changing the depth of field so the creek was more blurred but still noticeable as a creek. The sky was blue and that seemed a nice compliment to the yellow flowers.

Unfortunately the wind was not cooperating with my plans. These spindly flowers were moving like crazy with the slightest breeze. I had my aperture as wide as it would go on my little point and shoot and tried speeding up the shutter. I guess it was OK but I was really feeling the need for a more capable camera.  A problem which I'm happy to say will soon be fixed. Of course finally having a decent SLR will cause another problem because I'll have nothing to blame my weak photos on.

On the drive out we passed a small meadow filled with flowers and cattle. Finding a thin area to partially pull off nearby I told my son and his dog you can stay here if you like but I'm going back to photograph that meadow with the cows. Upon approaching the cows I gave a little arm waving whoop and they scattered in a cloud of dust. Didn't think such a small whoop would spook them so much. Was kind of expecting to get a few cow pics with them, but they were soon hidding in the shadowy edge of the meadow.

Once I started getting into the meadow it just kept rewarding me with one amazing picture op after another.

Soon I was chasing butterflies and light. It's a place I could spend a whole day in. The meadow was quickly getting shadowed my the trees when I remembered I had a tired son and dog back at the car waiting to head home. It was a fun day watching his dog run loose and rolling in the meadows. She was in doggy heaven and gave us a scare a few times when she headed into the woods following some irresistible scent. Fortunately she didn't go too far. Definitely a place I will return to again. If you're local and want to see the flower show there you better hurry fast because this has been a very dry year and they're not going to last long.

I'm going to close this post with a shot that was near the sneeze weed flowers by the creek. I'm realizing I need to get a polarizing filter to pull shots like this one off. I will have to return and try and do this shot again. Loved the reflection of the culvert in the water. Now and then I could see a fair sized trout in it. Hmmm, that made me hungry, think it't time for dinner.

Beasore meadows Sierra Mountains

From a hill near my home.
It's difficult to spend the effort to post here when so few read this blog but I still think the media holds merit. So here is another photography post mainly because most of my creative efforts have been with photography.

A week ago I joined a local plein air painting group on a trip to Beasore meadows in the Sierra Mountains. Being summer here in California we rarely get many clouds but this particular day started off with a great cloudy sunrise. Being summer we didn't expect it to rain but wouldn't you know the one day we plan to paint outside it does?

The group consisted of 7 women and me. I thought for sure they would call it off but we all kept thinking the drizzle would let up and make for perfect conditions. So we made the long trek up into the high country.

This is an area I'm not that familiar with and was looking forward to seeing it. Our guide knew the area quite well and took us to a beautiful secluded meadow hidden behind tall trees. The trail had been blocked by a few fallen trees but it was a short hike that led us to a gate then to an wooden observation deck. I have to say I was quite surprised to see this nice of a deck in such a secluded spot. There were lots of purple asters, and various other wild flowers like the almost done lupine you see here. Since it was still drizzling we decided to venture on to another spot she had picked out and hope the rain would stop.

 The new location had beautiful granite rock formations in the middle of the meadow but the flowers were mostly done. Still it was quite beautiful with the various shades of drying grasses and plants. We walked around for a bit and decided to head over to the Jones store hoping for some cover from the rain. Realizing I had left my new tripod back at the other location our guide drove me back while the others set to paint the classic old buildings around the Jones store.

 I tried doing a water color of the scene with the old gas pump while sitting under a tree but tiny drops kept hitting the paper making in difficult to have any sort of control. Most of us gave up sketching and brought out our cameras. The place was next to a beautiful meadow so I set about mostly photographing flowers. There was quite a variety even for the extremely dry year we've been having.

One of the YWA members has a small cabin up here and invited us all over for hamburgers. Each of us had also brought a side dish. It was a whole lot of food, but the rained stopped just in time for us to eat outside under the trees near a trout filled creek.

I promised myself I'd come back soon so I could explore the area on my own. A week later that is exactly what I did. I'll share some of that trip in my next post.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Outside Yosemite

Snow Plant at Nelder Grove
I'm way behind on this little journal so before I post about some recent past adventures I'm going to post one on recent visits to the Nelder Grove area or the Sierra National Forest.

For those who not familiar with this area it's about 12 miles outside the south entrance to Yosemite. Off these dirt roads are some beautiful forest campgrounds and trails. One of my favorites is the "Shadow of the Giants". A one mile loop that takes through a mixed forest of beautiful dogwoods, cedars, pines, and ancient giant sequoia trees. Some of these trees are way over a thousand years old.

Nearby Nelder Grove also has giant sequoias and was once an area where they sadly logged this incredible trees for fence posts and toothpicks. How sad is that?

At Nelder you'll see many giant stumps that sit scattered like huge tombstone reminders of how thoughtless man can be. Fortunately these rare trees are now protected.
It's impossible to do justice to these amazing giants in pictures. You really need to see them up close to realize just how huge they are. On my last visit Friday 5/25 it started to snow on us. Fortunately it was the kind of fake Hollywood looking snow that was real light and resembled tiny balls of Styrofoam. You can see it in the above pics of the snow plant and the giant stump. To give you and idea of how big that stump is, my head would come up to the bottom third of it. We're talking huge! Not my head the stump. Well I do have a fairly big noggin.

The week earlier I was up there painting with some plein air painters. I'll post that pic in a painting blog.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Dirt Road to Yosemite

Sometimes a blog is the best way to share a day of picture taking. Yesterday I decided to see how the dirt road was that connects my house to Yosemite. It's only 11 miles away but it's a rough dirt road with lots of big rocks and ditches. At times you have to straddle the ruts left by large trucks back when the road was muddy.

My first stop was about 3 miles up the road from home at a little stream that the road crosses, Here you can see my trusty Subaru Outback behind a close-up of some California Indian Pink flowers. A beautiful shade lover that is more Cadmium Red than pink.

This little stream had a Dogwood blooming quite close to the road.  Fortunately there wasn't any poison oak just friendly green plants. This is the time of year when poison oak starts blooming and leafing out along all the creeks. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover this little stream sans those nasty plants.

Being shaded made it nice for extended exposure settings to soften the water.  With so little snow this year I'm sure it won't be long before this stream is dry along with all the others.

The Dogwood blooms were a little past their prime so I was glad to get them before they were all gone. One more week and I expect that will be it for this elevation of about 4000'.

I was really hoping for a better shot of the Dogwood bloom next to the creek but most where up higher. However there was this one bloom left that was on a branch leaning down the creek. Unfortunately the only way to get the shot was to stand on a log bridge about 4 feet above the stream. Using my tripod for balance I inch along the log. After carefully placing the tripod and camera on the log I snapped as many compositions as I dared. Fortunately the fallen Ponderosa was just wide enough to accomplish this.
I would have stayed a little longer and explored further up the creek but I was hoping to meet photographer friend Nancy and her Wawona neighbor Patty on the other side of the mountain. My jacket and hat were still in her car from a previous photo expedition.

Further along this extremely bumpy and dusty road I saw more Indian Pink along with some golden California Wallflowers. I usually only take this dirt road into Yosemite once a year. It takes me that long to forget just how bad it is. You really have to take it slow to keep your car from rattling apart, as well as your bones.

Eventually I got to the old Summit campground which was recently closed for good. :o( No more signs, picnic tables or out houses, just the remnants of what once was a rarely used campground. There are some nice big Dogwoods there but all the lower blooms were past their prime.

From there I continued on down to the Big Creek bridge about 2 miles from the Wawona golf course, which I hear they may be closing.  There's a good size Dogwood at the creek bridge that unfortunately had very few blooms. The only thing of interest was the Indian Rhubarb blooms and a few young ferns. I'd never seen such good blooming rhubarb specimens. Each individual flower has a really unique center that looks like a meat beak inside a crown. (click to see large versions of all these) Kind of creepy.

On the way to the golf course the road was finally getting smoother. It was hard to miss these bright little red stalks of Snow Plants along the side of the road. Took a lot of variations on this composition trying to get it just right. Now I have my new favorite Snow Plant shot.

Spotted Nancy's car by the golf course and called to find out where they were on the meadow loop trail. Aren't portable phones great? I was getting 3 bars in Wawona! They were almost done so I parked down by the trail head just past the golf course on 4.

Just when they spotted me on the trail I had spotted some young Corn Lilies on the meadows edge. Nancy made me feel much better about my point and shoot camera when she saw me stick in right down the top of the leaves for this abstract macro shot and said, "that camera lets you do that?" Showed the shot and she was ready to go get one. :o) High praise coming from a pro.

Nancy and Patty had great eyes for spotting obscure flowers. While I was traipsing back out of the meadow Nancy spotted some wild Iris which I nearly stepped on earlier. We walked back to my car where I gave them a ride back to theirs and got my coat and hat. I was not looking forward to the bumpy ride back. We all debated the wisdom of taking it or the long way around on smooth roads and through Oakhurst.  Thinking I'd save on gas by cutting out 20 miles I crawled back over the dirt road.  I never claimed to be wise.  Hopefully they'll smooth it out before the wagon train rolls through in June.
I'm going to close this with a comment on the "New improved Blogger". Why is it when they try to improve something it's usually not an improvement? I had to constantly use their Picassa web tool to rotate some of my pics. A tool that doesn't always do what you ask. It has a fix pic tool? Why? Because it messes up your pic uploads. Never had that problem in the old blogger. This is progress? Oh well at least its free.