Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favorite Pictures from 2013

I noticed a lot of my favorite blogs have put together "Top-10"-like lists. Since I was not able to fit a 60th hike into the year, I instead thought about doing something similar. Without spending an inordinate amount of time going through all the pictures I took in full-size mood, I went with looking at thumbnails on this blog, picking some candidates, then culling down to a moderate number. These photos are in the order uploaded to my blog, which is not necessarily the order I walked them. Not sure if I could actually rank them from 1 to 20.

Clicking on any one picture lets you see it in a larger format, and lets you navigate directly from photo to photo.

Eaton Canyon, March 16, 2013. Got here just as the clouds were burning off. The clouds were still thick enough to leave a hint of mystery in the background, and to let me get some nice saturation on the sunflower yellows.

On the way to Burbank Peak, June 1 2013. Ironically, this was just about a week after I took a similar shot of a dead tree against desert-y mountains. In this case, I'm closer to home. The Verdugo and San Gabriel Mountains are in the background. And, again, I'm using the low sun to add warmth and color to my view.

Same hike, June 1, 2013. Probably five minutes after I took the previous shot, I came across a couple of Mariposa lilies. Again, the sun was nearly horizontal to the subject, so I got some nice backlighting. The flower's pistils and stamen are projected on to the side of the petals. The California buckwheat is also backlit, giving the greenery a little bit of a yellow hue, while the tiny buckwheat flowers also give this shot some additional points of color.

A third shot from my Burbank Peak hike of June 1. This is the actual Burbank Peak, with the "Magic Tree," and a group of 20-somethings enjoying the view (and some beer, it turns out). The coastal fog is rolling in, adding some additional depth to the imiage.

Monrovia Canyon, June 8. Some-times, you know you've got the shot. Sometimes, you *think* you know have the shot, but you don't quite have it. A perfect shot would not have had the aster bud in front of the butterfly. But that's what was there. I love how the backlighting both turned the fringes of butterfly's wings a fiery orange, and made the cliff aster translucent. The sun angle also left my background in shadow, making it nearly black by comparison. I got all that by keeping the aperture wide and exposing for the highlights. So, while it's not the perfect shot, it did everything I could get out of what nature presented me.

Sam Merrill Trail, June 22, 2013. This was on a hike to Sunset Ridge and back. It was an unusual June afternoon, with clouds building and the threat of rain in the air. The setting sun gave the yucca stalks in the foreground a nice warm light. And I liked the contrast between the pair of yucca flowers talks in the foreground right with the two high tension electrical transmission towers in the background left.

Echo Mountain, June 2. Same trail, a few weeks earlier I had to pretty much lay down on my stomach to get the angle I wanted, with the sunlight practically coming from below these flowers. I love shooting as the sun goes down, with the magic light making all sorts of amazing colors possible.

Saturday, July 20, 2013, on Mt. Hollywood Road, returning from "The Bat Cave." Ironically, this was taken on the 44th anniversary of the first humans landing on the moon. Unlike nearly all of my other pictures, this one is a crop. The exposure was for the moon, so I didn't have to do anything with that. But my longest zoom only brings me to 200mm, which leaves you with a pretty tiny moon. So I zoomed in as far as I could, framed the shot for the way I knew I would want to crop it, switched to manual focus to get on the moon, and took several exposures, trying to get the moon just right.

On the trail around Lake Hollywood, Saturday, August 31. Stood around some standing water and fired off probably 20 shots as the dragonflies flitted about. I love how the detail in the wings came out.

Calico Hills Trail, Red Rock Canyon National Conserva-tion Area, September 28, 2013. Jimson weed (datura) are common in dry southern California. I guess they're pretty common in the desert of southern Nevada, too. This was deep in a canyon, with the afternoon sun just striking a portion of my flower. Came out just the way I envisioned it when I tripped the shutter.

Also taken on the Calico Hills Trail in Red Rock Canyon, September 28, 2013. This was probably an hour or so earlier. Monsoon rains of earlier that month gave the wildflowers of the southern Nevada desert a second season. These little yellow flowers carpeted parts of the bajada near the entrance gate to the scenic drive. This photo also came out just the way I wanted it. This one, and the previous photo, were taken with my Kodak "point-and-shoot." My dslr was unavailable on this trip. But I could still use the settings to get the exposure and focus where I wanted it.

Aspen Grove, San Bernardino National Forest, October 5, 2013. Third visit to the Aspen Grove, made more exciting by the possibility that the government shutdown was going leave my car locked inside the forest. Fortunately, that didn't happen. I got to explore the full extent of the "Aspen Grove," which is actually several pockets of aspen along the Santa Ana River's quasi-headwaters.

Oak Glen Preserve, December 1, 2013. Oaks generally don't turn as colorful as, say, maple leaves. They mostly got a rusty brown. But when the sunlight strikes them just right, the rusty brown becomes a golden hue. Once the foliage has thinned somewhat, they golden hue stands out even starker against the white bark and shadowed branches of these oak.

Same hike as above: Oak Glen Preserve, December 1, 2013. The scale of this shot is a little hard to appreciate, despite the numerous homes and farmhouses in the shot. I got the exposure just right, so the homes sort of standout against the background. But you've got to view the photo at a pretty large scale to see those details.

Sycamore are probably the most colorful leaf we get here in southern California. They're also among the larger leaves you'll find, so even a single leaf can be the focus of a shot.

Eaton Canyon waterfall, December 9, 2013. I like to take relatively longer exposures of running water, to get the "veil" effect. Vibration-reduction technology in the lens may be making it easier for me to do this.

Pacific Ocean, December 20, 2013. This is a really simple photo, but I like it. I like the framing. I like the exposure. I like that I chose a fast enough shutter speed (by picking a high ISO) to allow for a non-blurred image of the sun rising on my way out to Santa Catalina Island.

Lone Tree Overlook Trail, Santa Catalina Island, December 20, 2013. If not for the views along the Lone Tree Overlook Trail, I think I would have been somewhat disappointed with the scenery of the island (at least the part I was able to walk). Those steep, rugged cliffs, and the turquoise waters on the outer shore, made those views just incredible.

On the Catalina Express dock, December 20, 2013. I may be biased by this being a recent shot, but I liked these pelican shots. The lighting was coming from behind the bird, so his eyes were only illuminated when he turned far to his left or right. I had the patience and time to wait him out.


  1. Beautiful photos. Each one deserves to be a favorite. Thanks for sharing them!

  2. Thanks, Dan! It was just fun to skim the past year's hikes. Although fewer than in previous years, there were still some adventures, and some pretty sights!

    Hope you're able to keep getting out on the trail, too. It was a long drought you just ended!