Historic Plumas Eureka State Park

What does one do when your motorhome is in the shop for repairs and the outdoors is calling your name? You take the tent and head for the mountains.

This is the situation Linda and I found ourselves in. We had recently “re-discovered” tent camping and were somewhat prepared for a trip with the tent. We decided to go to the Graeagle area, a beautiful forested region with a gold mining history, about 50 miles north of Truckee along Hwy 89.

Plumas-Eureka-SP-8We selected the Jamieson Creek campground in the Plumas Eureka State park. We like the State Parks as they have flushing toilets and showers. The State Parks are also locations where we cannot take our motorhome to, so has great appeal as a destination. The campground turned out to be beautiful, with spacious sites and not a lot of people. Firepits and picnic tables are provided for each site.

Plumas Eureka State Park has a lot of history that goes back to the Gold Rush days. There were towns there with colorful names like “Whiskey-Diggins”,  “Poker Flat” and “Port Wine”. Names that can really set the mind racing with visions of Wild West saloons and trigger-happy outlaws. Today, the area is a somewhat sleepy region with small towns full of craft stores, restaurants, the odd golf course and lots of beautiful countryside for hikes, fishing, kayaking and, of course, camping.

There is a small museum at the entrance of the Plumas Eureka State Park. It shows how life was in the 1840s and 1850s, the height of the gold rush. There is blacksmith where volunteers make various nicnacks which are sold in the store, while demonstrating the art of a blacksmith to visitors to the park. Mining gold is what put this place on the map and old stamp mills, ore buckets and rusted machinery can still be found scattered around, reminding us of the frenzied activity here some 150 years ago.

We had wanted to do some kayaking in the nearby lakes, but it was too windy. We did not feel like battling the elements so decided to stick to our photography.

A highly recommended place to visit. The bakery in Blairsden serves superb coffee and pastries and a casual stroll through Graeagle is a delight.

Read more about this state park -> Plumas Eureka State Park



Posted in Sierra Nevada

Harris Beach Driftwood

Linda and I travelled up the California and Oregon coast last weekend driving along Hwy 1. We started at Bodega Bay and ended up at Coos Bay, about 450 miles (about 750 kms). Hwy 1 is considered one of the most beautiful coastal highways and we were not disappointed.

Bodega Bay has always been a favorite of ours, but we had not ventured so far north as on this trip. We stayed at Bodega Dunes, Humbolt Redwoods and Harris Beach, which are all state parks. Driving along roads that wind through the most beautiful scenery, alternating between breathtaking views of the coast and the famous redwood groves along the coast made for a fantastic trip.

Lots of photography opportunities and sunsets, but also lots of places to enjoy some clam chowder and fish ‘n chips!

This photo was shot at Harris Beach in Oregon. Linda and I went for a stroll along the beach after scrambling down a little trail through the rocks. The tide was out and we came upon this pool of water with some driftwood which made for a perfect foreground subject. You can see from the surface of the water that there was no wind on what was a perfectly peaceful evening.

Harris Beach Driftwood


Posted in California, HDR, Travel

After the Storm

California was recently hit by one of the fiercest storms in years so Linda and I packed our bags and headed for the coast in the hope of catching some “after-the-storm” conditions.

It rained non-stop in the couple of hours it took us to get to Carmel By The Sea, which is just below Monterey on the California Coast and had a close call on the road when traffic came to a halt, but got there safe and in one piece.

After a wonderful coffee at a favorite coffee shop in Aptos we got to the Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz where we found what we came for. Awesome waves and an amazingly “angry sky”.  Waves crashing into the rocks completed the scene. Despite the color in the sky and it being somewhat “dark”, this shot was taken around 2pm, a time where one would expect it to be clear and sunny.

After the Stor,


Posted in California, Carmel

Valley View in B&W

Having done some B&W recently, I am falling in love with B&W!

There is something amazing about B&W. Hard to put into writing what it is, but there is drama, strength and something “classic” about black and white images. One of the undisputed masters of this medium is of course Ansel Adams, who also immortalized the view you see here. Called Valley View, it is now a popular spot to stop and take a photo. In Ansel’s time, it meant a multi day hike with a mule and a bunch of glass plates and a huge camera and tripod. If the weather did not cooperate, too bad. These days, you can drive the entire Yosemite valley in less than an hour and you can sit in the car if it is too cold or too hot or wet. Oh how times have changed.

Ansel Adams said “I hope that my work will encourage self expression in others and stimulate the search for beauty and creative excitement in the great world around us” and it is in that spirit that I am posting this picture. When I took that shot, I distinctly remember thinking ” Ansel once stood here, seeing that same beauty as I am seeing now”.

Thank you Ansel for your contribution to photography and for the inspiration you bring to us all.

Valley View

Posted in HDR, National Park, Yosemite

Windmills of Holland

Still in the Netherlands, this is a view of a place called “Kinderdijk” where 19 windmills still stand, all dating back to 1740.

Again, this is an HDR shot converted to B&W.

Posted in The Netherlands, Travel

Cathedral Rock in B&W

Here is my second submission to the 5-in-5 challenge on Facebook.

This Yosemite’s Cathedral Rock. It had been raining heavily, but “sort of” cleared up just enough to take this shot. Another HDR shot converted to BW.

I love how the B&W treatment emphasizes the “drama” of  of the scene.

Cathedral Rock

Posted in Uncategorized

Golden Gate Bridge in Black and White

There is a 5 day challenge going on on Facebook where people are nominated to post a BW photo, 5 days in a row.

I was recently nominated by Mike Schumacher, the president of the Auburn Photography club. He did me a great favor as I am not someone who naturally “sees” in BW. Mike did me a huge favor because, by accepting the challenge, I had to browse my photos with the very specific intent of determining which shots would “work” in BW, something I simply never do.

I’m delighted to say that I found quite a number that seem to “work”, although that is obviously a very subjective point of view.

As many of my shots are HDRs and I am converting the HDR versions into BW – I’m finding that the punchier colors of the HDR process often translate well into BW. I very quickly found myself drawn to images with strong cloud formations as they really became very pronounced in BW.

So I will be posting at least 5 images over the next 5 days. I thought I’d start with this one of the Golden Gate.

Let me know what you think!

Golden Gate Bridge

Posted in Uncategorized

Fall Color in Vermont

Driving through Vermont, always in search for color, these reds, golds and yellows really stood out against the green pine trees. The rustic fence adds a nice “rural” touch to the whole image.
This picture is taken in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Fall Color in Vermont

Posted in Vermont

Two Domes in Rome

When walking around Rome you cannot miss the huge Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II and the Trajan’s Column. The monument is huge and has these massive steps leading up to it. Across the road is a park with some trees. The shade is perfect to take break from the sun and have a refreshing gelato, purchased from one of the local vendors.

Looking around there I spotted these two domed buildings.

Both are churches. The one on the left is the Santa Maria di Loreto and the one on the right has the wonderful name of “Santissimo Nome di Maria al Foro Traiano” (which basically means “The Church of the Most Holy Name of Mary at the Trajan Forum”).

Standing here, if you turn 180 degrees and look down the road, you will see the Colosseum in the distance. Not too far a walk that is certainly worth doing as it passes all sorts of interesting buildings and historic sights. Trouble is or course, if you stop and shoot everything you see, it will take a long time before you get to the Colosseum.

These two domes were shot with my Canon 5D Mark II, 3 exposures, then merged in Photomatix.

Two Domes in Rome

Posted in Italy

The London Eye

If you’ve been to London you will know about thew London Eye. It a huge ferriswheel that takes you on a 30 minute spectacular ride. The rotation is very slow so you never feel like you stepped onto a rollercoaster or anything. It’s a very graceful and smooth ride. Needless to say the views are amazing.

In this shot you can see the Houses of Parliament in the bottom right. The water is the River Thames of course.

The “pods” take up to about 15 people each and there is just ONE red colored one, we happened to ride in the pod next to it so this provided some cool contract again the sky.

You are not allowed to take tripods up so hand-held shooting only. As you are completely enclosed in glass reflections can be somewhat of a challenge, but with some care you can awesome pictures.

I don’t do heights very well, my lovely wife Linda, made me go! I was glad she did though as the smooth ride (and the enclosed capsule) made it very enjoyable and I ended up loving every minute! I’d take the ride again . . .

A true HDR shot would not work here as you are moving all the time, so this is a single shot, but still processed in Photomatix. The high dynamic range of the 5D mark 3 is awesome and I am finding that I can easily pull 2 or 3 stops variation out of a single raw file.

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Posted in Travel, UK, Where to Photograph