The Pacific coastlines of the United states is very beautiful and full of beautiful gems, some lesser known and some very popular destinations. The Natural Bridge Beach park in Santa Cruz is one one the more popular gems. It features a small beach area where people can come camp, play, surf etc. But it also features a Natural bridge which adds to the beauty of the area. Some of you wondering what a Natural Bridge is can find more information here ..
These are some of the shots I got on one of the evenings i was there few months back. I have only been there once, but I know I will be going back because this location promises some great light and gorgeous shots, and I don’t want to miss that🙂
“San Francisco has only one drawback. ”Tis hard to leave” ~ Rudyard Kipling
Bay Bridge (above and below) as seen from the Yerba Buena Island
“San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth.” ~ William Saroyan
Lombard Street Looking up
Lombard Street, Looking down the Crookedest Street. You can See Coit Tower and Bay Bridge at a distance.
Cable Car (above and below). Crossing of Market ans Powell where the Cable Car Originates from and Stops at. They spin the Cable car for it to start over. The platform below rotates
“You are fortunate to live here. If I were your President, I would levy a tax on you for living in San Francisco!” ~ Mikhail Gorbachev
San Francisco as seen from the Marin Headlands
The Other side of Marin Headlands.
The ultimate travel destination for me would be one perfect day in San Francisco. There’s no city like it anywhere.” Larry King
So, the question is that how many photographs of the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge are enough?
For me its not enough yet. I have yet see it drench in dense clouds, and that’s my dream shot . The images above are in reverse chronological order shot with Nikon D7000, D90, D60 and a Canon point and shoot.
After a fun time photographing in the Flume Gorge, we went to The Basin. There is no actual trail but a paved path to this natural fall. Thousands of years of rushing water has eroded the rock into a smooth, circular cave-like formation. We spent a good 1 hour over here.
Right after this fall you walk across a small wooden bridge to the main spot.
Things don’t always go as per plan. Mine didn’t go well either. A friend and I planned for some night photography, mainly for the milky-way and the star trails in the White Mountains Area. We planned it 3 weeks in advance and when the day came to head out we had intense overcast and chance of rain. That was the situation for the entire weekend. Our plan was to be out all night shooting and sleep all day, but we ended up shooting all day and sleeping all night.
However, fortunately for us the White Mountains State Park is a very beautiful state park, with 100s of trails and plenty of waterfalls and lakes. If you want to shoot waterfalls during the day then overcast is a good thing. With an overcast the light is soft, there is less contrast, and you can afford to keep a long exposure and the light is even. So that’s a good tip for you if you are out shooting during the day. If you use a higher stop ND Filter then that helps a lot as well. If you can manage to keep the exposure long enough using these tips then depending on what you are shooting ( lake, waterfalls etc) you can convert it into an interesting B&W image as well via post processing. I did not shoot for B&W though because I really liked the lush green colors.
So on day 1 we decided to explore the Franconia Notch SP. First off we went to the Flume Gorge, Its a 2 mile loop from the visitor center. The trail is not that tough, most of it boarded with planks and then along the falls they have built a boardwalk for you to enjoy the natural gorge and be safe at the same time. You start from the bottom of the trail and walk your way up and then you are back.
Okay so I made one B&W, but wasn’t intended. I was processing the images and decided to convert it and see what it looks like, and eventually decided to stick with it. So this covered bridge is where the trail starts. On the right you can see the wooden railing which pretty much runs along the waterfall.
A quarter mile up you reach the Avalanche Falls, This was a little difficult to shoot because i was directly in front of the fall, and the mist was coming right at my lens, i used my hat and the lens cap to protect it and after i balanced my tripod and guessed the settings that would be right I removed the cap and took a shot immediately. Tried it 2-3 times to get it right.
The image above is of the Avalanche falls again but from the top. There was a small viewing area from where you could extend your camera out. Eventually the inevitable happened and it started to rain. lucky for us, we came across another covered bridge as you can see in the image below.
The image above was shot from the bridge while we were waiting for the rain to stop. The view was gorgeous and ahead of the bridge (right side in the image) there was a viewing are area from where I took the image of the Bridge itself.
And then you come back to the starting point which is also the visiting center. We were almost about to leave when my friend pointed out the incoming fog and the hills. Tired as we were decided to go have a look anyways, and i’m glad we did. The 2 images above got created.
The final part of our trip was a Cruise. We drove down from Denali to a town called Cooper Landing in the Kenai Peninsula. We did not realize that Whittier, which is where we had to take our cruise from was equi-distant from Copper Landing and Anchorage. We really did not have to come all the way down. But I’m glad we did. The drive was beautiful, infact almost every inch of Alaska is breath taking .. so i’ll recommend this drive towards Seward
Image above is the view on the drive back towards Anchorage, So the next day in the morning we drove to Whittier where our cruise was waiting for us. Its a good 3 hours on the cruise ship if not more. It takes you to Prince William Sound, and they show you over a dozen Glaciers. However though, you are really not that close to these glaciers, they point them out from a distance. Needless to say the scenery is breath taking. The most exciting is the “Surprise Glacier”. They take you very very close to this one Glacier, and they fetch some ice from it floating on the water for you to consume. Yes consume !🙂 .. lets say you order Rum and Coke or may be even just coke, they put the Glacier Ice in it rather than just regular ice. but you have to be quick to order one of those🙂. Essentially you are having a 150 yr old ice..
(Surprise Glacier )
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After the sightseeing in and around Anchorage on day 1, we drove to Denali National Park and preserve the next morning. The drive was very pretty and scenic. There were low lying clouds , mist and rain on the hills along the road. It was a little gloomy if you were alone, but we were about 5 of us so it was a lot of fun. The problem with Alaska is that you don’t get cellphone signals and even GPS doesn’t work once you are out of the main city area, so if you are planning a trip make sure you do your homework on the route before you leave.
Denali NP is centered around mt. McKinley which is the highest mountain in North America. Its originally called Denali , which means “The High One”. As a tourist you need special permit to drive your personal vehicle inside the park. You can only go up to the first 15 miles after which for the next 91 you have to use the Park’s services.
The image above is of the Savage River Trail head. You can park your vehicles here and do this trail or hop on to the Park’s bus service and go further into the park. The reason why the park bus is used is because the wildlife there has gotten used to these buses. The animals treat them like any other rock, tree or object and are not intimidated by it. This is because these buses have always been there, ever since that particular animal was born, so they have sorta become part of their environment. These animals recognize these buses but not the humans sitting inside it, so be careful, don’t jump out and be quiet.
The bus allows you to get off at certain scenic locations to get the view of the Park and the Tundra. The above image was shot from one of those viewing areas. You can see the hills with low clouds entirely covering the Alaska Range and the Tundra.
if you are lucky and the weather is clear you can also see Mt. McKinley from the moving bus. We weren’t so lucky because the clouds were too low, but we did see a glimpse of the North Tip. The first image was shot on our way in and the other on our way back.
When in the bus you also get to see a lot of wildlife if you are lucky. The bus driver stops for you and you can take as many photos as you like as long as your are quiet and stay inside the vehicle. We say plenty of Caribou, Moose and Doll Sheeps in the way. infact we even say a grey Wolf at the beginning at Savage river entry point.
The image below shows how low and dense the clouds were. This image was shot at another of the scenic/break areas on the way.
Finally we reached mile 66 which is the Eielson Visitor Center. There is a small ranger led hike , where the Ranger basically explains the climate, the soil, the permafrost, wildlife etc etc. I would recommend this trail because then you will really appreciate what the Denali NP is all about. And the best part is that its free. Its also a beautiful viewing area as you can see from the images below. These images are of the Tundra, and the Alaska Range.
We stayed about 3 nights in Denali. There were a lot of activities we did like cycling in the park, rafting, hiking etc. After that we were on a our final leg to Kenai peninsula to catch a cruise to see the Glaciers.