Photographing Golden Colorado

The first day of my trip to Colorado was spent in the city Golden. I flew into Denver, rented a car, and drove to the Colorado Railroad Museum.

Colorado Railroad Museum Entrance

Colorado Railroad Museum Entrance


The museum sits on a 15-acre rail yard full of old and restored trains. There were some puffy clouds in the sky that helped make some of the photos more interesting. Click on the link to see more in my SmugMug portfolio

My next stop was the Coors Brewery tour also located in Golden. They have tours throughout the day until 4:00. My strategy was to get there around 3:00 as I felt that was a good time to sample some beer 🙂

What's on Tap?  I tried the Killian Red

What’s on Tap?
I tried the Killian Red


I enjoyed the tour and learning about how to they make, package and ship beer. Photographically it was a little challenging. Being indoors, I just put my camera into auto mode and let the camera figure out the ISO (as high as 6400) needed to not get blurry photos. The packaging line was behind glass and the reflections make the photos look a little blurry. To see some of the results, check out the link to the SmugMug gallery

The final photo stop of the day was Lookout Mountain. As the name would imply, it’s a scenic drive up a mountain that looks out onto Golden and Denver. The mountaintop also contains the Buffalo Bill Museum and grave site. I got there too late to tour the museum but I was really only there for the view. I wish I had a wind gauge as the wind was so gusty at times I could hardly stand up straight 🙂 The wind was blowing clouds and haze that blocked the sun at times. Seeing the Coors Brewery from that vantage point, really shows how big the complex is.

View of Coors Brewery from Lookout Mountain

View of Coors Brewery from Lookout Mountain


I was wishing for a longer lens as I couldn’t zoom in as much as I would have liked for this view of the Downtown Denver
Downtown Denver from Lookout Mountain

Downtown Denver from Lookout Mountain

Next stop Sego Canyon, Utah

Los Angeles Art District

I was invited to a Los Angeles Street Photography meetup in the Los Angeles Art District. I had never been there before and we had fun exploring the neighborhood. I found it interesting that a lot of the buildings had no signage that would tell you how the building was currently being used. The photo at the top of this post, is actually the door to a bar, a fact we only found out when we passed it again later.

Click on an image, to view them all in a slideshow with captions

Tree of Life

Solstice Canyon, Malibu

Solstice Canyon, Malibu

When I saw this tree during a hike in Solstice Canyon with the So Cal Explorers meetup group, the branches are what caught my attention. The branches were not straight, but crooked and kinky and reminded me of of blood veins. When I was composing the shot, the sun was in my face, so I needed to decide whether or not to include it. My choice was to include part of the sun. By moving so that the sun and tree intersect and changing my aperture to f/16, the sun appears as a sunburst.

In Lightroom, I processed the photo to bring out the texture of the tree and darken the branches. I converted the photo to black and white in Photoshop by adding a Gradient Map, a technique I learned during Photoshop Week on CreativeLive. I like the Black and White version better because it emphasizes the subject of the photo better than the original color version.

Wasn’t Supposed to Happen

wpid1922-2014-02-17-Yosemite-1271.jpg

My favorite photo from a President’s Day weekend spent with the So Cal Explorers in Yosemite was taken somewhere west of Kingsburg. This location was not planned.

We were on our way home on the 99 when we ran into a total freeway closure as a result of a double CHP fatal accident. When the detour signs said to turn left after exiting the freeway, we turned right and found the 43 south. There were several almond orchards in full bloom and we stopped and turned the detour into a photo opportunity.

While I really like how the photo turned out it also reminds me of two lives lost which… wasn’t supposed to happen.

To see my photos from Yosemite, click here

Salton Sea Area

The meetup trip to the Salton Sea included Salvation Mountain, East Jesus, Mud pots and sunset at Bombay Beach.

Salvation Mountain is a creation of hay and paint used to spread the message “God is Love”.
wpid1872-mountain_HDR2.jpg
East Jesus is a little less reverent creation of found objects used to make “art”
wpid1874-house_HDR2.jpg
Mud pots or geothermal mud volcanos are a bubbling mess. Fun to look at, but hard to photograph.
wpid1876-2014-01-25-SaltonSea-1977.jpg
Bombay Beach is what is left of a resort area on the shore of the Salton Sea. Despite the decay of buildings and fish, it makes a beautiful location for sunset.

wpid1850-2014-01-25-SaltonSea-2268.jpg

More photos can be found in my SmugMug gallery.

Route 66-Victorville to Barstow

This meetup trip took us along Route 66 from Victorville to just past Barstow with stops at an old steel truss bridge, the Antique Station, Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch, and ending in an abandoned waterpark called Rock-A-Hoola.

The stop at the old steel truss bridge gave us access to graffiti and train tracks.
wpid1880-route664_HDR2.jpg
The Antique Station is like a trip back in time. The scary part was seeing “old” things for sale that I still own 🙂 This isn’t one of them
wpid1882-2014-01-11-Route66-1022.jpg
Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is proof that recycling can be a creative pursuit.
wpid1884-2014-01-11-Route66-1243.jpg
My favorite stop was the abandoned waterpark just past Barstow that you can see from the 15 freeway. The water is long gone, but the buildings and support structures are still standing.

wpid1852-route66_yermo-01.jpg

The rest of my photos from this trip can be found by clicking on the link to my SmugMug gallery

Tower of the Virgin at Sunrise

Before I went to Zion National Park last November, I read a book called Photographing the Southwest by Laurent Martres to get ideas for the best sunrise and sunset locations. The recommendation for sunrise was Tower of the Virgin.

The best place to photograph it is from the patio area behind the Zion musuem. The book said there would be a lot of photographers lined up, but on this day there were only a couple of other people there when I arrived and who left shortly after I arrived.

I got there about 45 minutes before sunrise, helped by the fact that sunrise was around 7:30. At this hour there was plenty of light to see and photograph by. I knew I needed to wait for the actual sunrise, but I really didn’t know what to expect when the sun came up.
wpid1888-131130_Zion_9633.jpg
Just before sunrise, a photographer came up and asked me “Is this it? What is it supposed to look like?” She took some photographs before apparently deciding not to hang around it find out. Then the sun starting coming up and spreading this golden glow across the top of the mountain. At the same time I hear someone running. The photographer had seen from the parking lot what effect the sun was having and came running back to catch it. She almost missed something pretty spectacular.

Tower of the Virgin at sunrise

Tower of the Virgin at sunrise

You can checkout the rest of my photos from Zion in my SmugMug gallery

Macro at the Mission

While on a meetup detour to the Old Mission Santa Barbara, I decided to only use the 100mm macro lens I’ve rented. Since it is a fixed 100mm that means I need to zoom with my feet. The lens also has a maximum aperture of f2.8 which when used can make for some very shallow depth of field. Even though it’s a macro lens that doesn’t mean all my shots have to be close-ups. Join me on my journey through the mission.

This sign is at the front entrance

Mission Santa Barbara sign

Mission Santa Barbara sign

I was trying to capture the architectural detail of the hallway and decided to keep the legs in the shot.

Legs in the way

Legs in the way

Spent some time focusing on the flowers in the courtyard area and playing with the aperture settings

Focus on the Flower

Focus on the Flower

Christmas Colors

Christmas Colors

Black and White

Black and White

I practiced my portrait photography on these statues

His Face

His Face


Light on His Face

Shining Light

Capturing mission details

Wooden Cross

Wooden Cross

Mission Cross on the rooftop

Mission Cross on the rooftop

Courtyard Fountain

Courtyard Fountain

There is a fountain in front of the mission that I was photographing when I noticed the circles in the design looked like eyes and the water like tears. I recomposed my shot to get this final shot.

Crying Eyes

Crying Eyes