In a World... by Brenda Hartshorn

The Eastern Sierra's are used as Hollywood's backdrop for films set in the Old West, Middle East, Asia, a land far-far away, and one where you may boldly go.  If you've traveled along HWY 395, it is easy to understand why.  Driving North, the landscape changes drastically over the time span of a few hours as the elevation raises from the tumbleweed traveling desert to the snow capped peaks which are the highest in the contiguous US.  I have a lot of exploring ahead of me and many more posts to come.

Tuffa mia!

The tufa towers and sand tufa at Mono Lake is something... something I'm having a hard time putting into words.  What's important is that it's different- go see it.

I first learned about Mono Lake after watching a KVIE special called California Gold on the location.  We periodically watched these in school to learn about California's history and everything it still had to offer.  All the kids would laugh, mock the opening credits, and kept each other's unspoken secret that we actually loved the episodes.  We grew up in Stockton, images of anywhere not Stockton was a treat.  The show was hosted by Huell Howser who was from Tennessee and was amazed by everything.  He would often derail his own interviews by being distracted by something.  It was hilarious.


All of photos in this post were taken with my near infrared camera and processed using alternative methods.  I plan to start changing things up in July- but for now I'm having fun.

San Simeon: Wrath and Wealth by Brenda Hartshorn

San Simeon

The different terrain and wildlife along California's coast has a lot to offer for exploration.  I stayed at San Simeon Creek Campground which has reasonable prices and clean faculties.  The campground itself has a variety of habitats of its own, ranging from being able to listen to the roaring ocean, croaking frogs, or the calls of many different types of fowl in the fields.  If you're a light sleeper, I would recommend the east end of the grounds as the frogs are quite loud and the waves crash all night.

Elephant Seals

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These beasts are completely outrageous and I can't believe I had waited so long to see them.  This month the juvenile males are sparring by throwing their faces into each other's bodies and going in for the occasional bite.  They are getting ready for the big winter fight to become Beach Master or Alphas.  The sounds on the beach are completely ridiculous as they practice their battle roar.  All the while, the females and their pups are close by attempting to sleep.  They need to conserve as much energy as possible since they fast for months while molting their winter coat.  However, prime beach spots are hard to come by with all the commotion the sparring causes, so the females also get rather aggressive.  Not only towards each other but also any pups they see as getting in their way.  Taking children to see the ruckus during this season is a great for having a good laugh.

Architecture and Scientific Photography

When using photography for non destructive analytics of architecture, UV or thermal infrared are the methods that are normally used. UV can be utilized to show what parts of the building have been remodeled by showing different reflected amounts of the same material which changes over time from sun exposure.  Thermal infrared can be used to show many different problems, including water damage behind walls in civil engineering, finding buried structures in archaeology, verify temperature sensitive materials used for conservation of artifacts and artwork, and even in medicine to find abnormalities in circulation that can be caused by different health conditions or cancers.

After visiting Hearst Castle with my near infrared camera, I stumbled upon some interesting technical observations.

You can see in the image above of the front of the Castle with the detail of flowers on the stone barrel that reflect back a vibrant yellow.  I was perplexed as to what non-living things would reflect that high amount of near IR radiation.  In Optics, aluminum, silver, and gold are used to increase the transmission of a different wave lengths.  Gold reflects 96% of radiation from 750nm - 1500nm, which is perfect illustrated in the photo since near IR ranges from 750nm to 1400nm.

I had also finally pinned down the cause for the increased annoyance of flare while shooting in IR opposed to the visual spectrum. Scatter is the answer, and I only figured that out when reading more in depth about optics and gold.  In addition to vignetting, the center of the frame for some images has an even higher transmission of IR.  For scenes that had large amounts of foliage or natural uneven terrain, there does not appear to be an increased transmission of IR for the center of the lens.  However, in the landscapes with water or around buildings with large flat surfaces were acting like a reflector and bouncing larger amounts of IR back into the lens like lens flare even though the lens was shaded.

The estate of William Randolph Hearst is mind boggling.  His collection of artifacts and art make the "cottages" of the estate mini-museums.  What Hearst described as a cottage, is larger than most single family homes.  Hearst never finished building Casa Grande.  He was constantly buying, remodeling, and expanding on his estate for no apart reason other than he wanted it and had the means to get it (for a while.)  Eventually, Hearst hit some financial trouble and had to give up his polar bear and other zoo animals to get out of debt.  The estate is something worth witnessing as proof that it is important not to look for happiness in the wrong places (as it can lead to more dissatisfaction and possibly even trouble in the future.)

 

Lead into the Desert by Brenda Hartshorn

Hello (again) World

I am happy to once again have my computer set up with internet access so that I may be able to share my adventures in photos.  I have moved to the Upper Mojave Desert for a job and am very much enjoying my new home.  It is within a reasonable driving distance to many points of interest, including Death Valley, Alabama Hills, the Eastern Sierra's, White MountainsJoshua Tree, and many ghost towns.  Due to the lack of humidity and pollution out here, you are able to see for very long distances during the day and at night the skies light up with stars instead of city lights.  It has been very refreshing to look up at night and see the awesomeness that surrounds us.  I knew I had missed seeing stars after living in larger cities for so long, but I had forgotten how much it meant to me.

Red Rock Canyon State Park

Probably the first thing you will notice about my photos of Red Rock Canyon is that the rocks are not red.  This is due to the fact that these photos were taking with my Infrared modified DSLR and have been processed using alternative methods.

I've modified the way I have been alternative processing my infrared images after upgrading to Photoshop CC for my home computer.  Before I was simply changing the allotted values from 0 to 100, but CC now allows you to go from -200 to +200 for each of the RGB channels.  This really allows you to stretch the channels in your raw file to be able to pull out even more visual separation captured.  The images for Red Rock Canyon with the bright blue skies were processed using the channel mixer and set to:

  • Red: R 0, G 0, B +162
  • Green: R 0, G +95, B 0
  • Blue: R +112, G 0, B -112 

The deeper yellow in the foliage in the canyon is evidence that the water run off is benefiting these shrubs much more than the plants on the ridge which are a lighter yellow.

Barstow & Jawbone

On just about every highway out here you will come across a ghost town from once booming industries that fell into collapse.

Many of the homes from that not too distant past have been picked over by people looking for copper pipes and wire in the walls.

Some homes even have evidence of been set on fire.  I can only speculate if it was the same kind of thing that happened with the housing market crash in 2007.  There were a lot foreclosed properties on the market which were just completely trashed by their previous owners who took out their anger on their lost home.  It also very well could have been the work of random vandalism or drug activity.