In the past month, I have visited more National Parks than in any other time of my life. I have seen some of the most beautiful places in the world under incredible conditions, and I managed to take photos of landscapes that I had heard of since I was a young child. That’s why I am happy to say that today, August 25th, marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in the United States.
We were in the Marina of Santa Barbara and I was looking for a cheap restaurant. Then I spotted On The Alley and rushed to the place. The song California Dreaming (a hit of The Mamas & The Papas) was playing and the attendants were dancing animatedly. When they saw me, they blushed. I just laughed and they immediately started serving me (and the service was excellent). I and my wife, Nina, enjoyed the food and left the place very happily after having a delicious raspberry pie with ice cream for dessert.
It is April 21, a special occasion for all the lovers of nature and wilderness. Today is John Muir’s 178th birthday! His legacy is well and truly alive not only through National Parks, Sierra Club and National Audubon Society but also through all those who love being outdoors and relish Nature at its finest. His ideas regarding conserving ‘Cathedrals of Nature’ and importance of wilderness in modern life are not only inspiring but increasingly relevant and important today. For me, as a landscape and nature photographer, John Muir’s contribution is even more impacting as the National Parks, the State Parks, the Wildernesses, the Wildlife Refuges and many more conserved lands are the areas I find myself, often with a camera, trying to showcase the beauty that motivates me; the same splendor had inspired Muir, and numerous others before and after him.
At this time when many of us are excited by the new camera announcements, I thought it will be intriguing to do a write up describing my first time shooting 35 mm black and white film. Last summer, I found some time to swing by the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in White Mountains near Bishop, California. I knew that the timing of my trip will not coincide with the best lighting for photography, especially in color. So, I decided to photograph these ancient trees in B/W. Why B/W film? Well, I have always wanted to enjoy the aesthetics of it as well as I thought it will force me to think in terms of highlights, shadows and texture. All in all, a good learning experience.
Here in California, we do not have the autumn hues to rival New Hampshire or Colorado. Nevertheless, the Sierra Nevada mountain range attracts a good number of photographers and seekers of fall colors every autumn. Yosemite Valley, situated on the western slopes of the Sierras has its own display, thanks to the Black Oaks, Maple, Cottonwoods and Dogwoods, which flourish here. Apart from these, there is the famous Elm tree in Cook’s meadow, which in peak color offers a memorable light show at sunrise and I believe it to be the most photographed Elm in the world.
I know that the chances of recovering a lost or stolen memory card are close to zero, but I still want to try it. As I have pointed out in my post earlier this week, I lost a 16GB Compact Flash card in Yosemite National Park. The bad news for me, is that I had the best pictures from the trip on that card. Since I did not backup the contents of the card on a daily basis (rookie mistake #1), I do not have a copy of the photographs. The card contained the full first week of the trip, along with some images from the second week. Why do I have the best images on that card? Because I periodically deleted some blurry/out of focus wildlife images from the first card on my D3s to empty some space (rookie mistake #2) and most next day sunrise images went on that card instead of the second one. In addition, the 16GB CF card I was using was brand new and I forgot to put my name and my contact information on the back of it (rookie mistake #3). When both CF cards on my camera got full, I inserted a new 16GB card into my camera and because I was busy shooting a waterfall in Yosemite, I temporarily put the CF card into my pocket instead of putting it away into my camera bag (rookie mistake #4). The card somehow fell out of my pocket the same day somewhere in Yosemite.