Category

Infrared

Eureka Valley Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park

California, Death Valley, Desert, Infrared, National Parks

Stock photos of the Eureka Valley Sand Dunes and the Eureka Valley in Death Valley National Park.

One of the goals of our recent Death Valley trip was to reach the wonderful Eureka Valley Sand Dunes. At almost 700′ tall, these dunes are some of the tallest in the United States (and are the tallest in California). The Eureka Valley lies in the northern reaches of Death Valley National Park, and became an official part of the Death Valley National Park in 1994 with the passage of the Desert Protection Act. The Eureka dune field is approximately 3 miles long and one mile wide, with the tallest dunes being at the north end. The Eureka Valley is geologically impressive, with the Last Chance Mountain Range rising 5500′ above the valley floor on the north and east and the Saline Mountains rising in the west. We reached the Eureka Valley via the Big Pine Road from Highway 395, spent a night at the primitive campground, and left via the Big Pine Road for the Racetrack. Conditions were ideal when we were there, with cool and calm weather and absolutely clear skies with a new moon that made a great night to photograph the Milky Way. We were also treated to a fly-by of the International Space Station in the northern sky just after sunset. I managed to shoot an interesting time lapse movie of the Milky Way rising above the southern horizon. Walking about the dunes, we came across the endangered Eureka Valley Dune Grass, and witnessed the strange phenomenon of “singing sands”. When a sand slope of just the right size and inclination was disturbed, the moving sand produced a deep thrumming that sounded just like a distant airplane. In the morning we found blooming wildflowers in the dessicated mud fields at the foot of the dunes, including the endangered Eureka Valley Evening Primrose and a little wildflower I have yet to identify. Our quick visit was nearly perfect — my one regret is not hiking all the way to the summit of the tallest dune. I am eager to return, and in the future I may skip the southern end of the park entirely and split my time between the Eureka Valley and the White Mountains (bristlecones!). If I do, the first order of business will be to ascend straight to the top of the tallest dune and hoist a cold one.

Eureka Dunes.  The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are California's tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States.  Rising 680' above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as "singing sand" that makes strange sounds when it shifts.  Located in the remote northern portion of Death Valley National Park, the Eureka Dunes see very few visitors

Eureka Dunes. The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are California’s tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States. Rising 680′ above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as “singing sand” that makes strange sounds when it shifts. Located in the remote northern portion of Death Valley National Park, the Eureka Dunes see very few visitors.
Image ID: 25250
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Eureka Dunes.  The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are California's tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States.  Rising 680' above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as "singing sand" that makes strange sounds when it shifts.  Located in the remote northern portion of Death Valley National Park, the Eureka Dunes see very few visitors

Eureka Dunes. The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are California’s tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States. Rising 680′ above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as “singing sand” that makes strange sounds when it shifts. Located in the remote northern portion of Death Valley National Park, the Eureka Dunes see very few visitors.
Image ID: 25249
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Sunset on the Last Chance Mountain Range, seen from Eureka Valley Sand Dunes, Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California

Sunset on the Last Chance Mountain Range, seen from Eureka Valley Sand Dunes.
Image ID: 25238
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Eureka Dunes.  The Eureka Dunes are California's tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States.  Rising 680' above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as "singing sand" that makes strange sounds when it shifts, Death Valley National Park

Eureka Dunes. The Eureka Dunes are California’s tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States. Rising 680′ above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as “singing sand” that makes strange sounds when it shifts.
Image ID: 25251
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Eureka Sand Dunes, infrared black and white.  The Eureka Dunes are California's tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States.  Rising 680' above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as "singing sand" that makes strange sounds when it shifts, Death Valley National Park

Eureka Sand Dunes, infrared black and white. The Eureka Dunes are California’s tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States. Rising 680′ above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as “singing sand” that makes strange sounds when it shifts.
Image ID: 25376
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are home to a few notable and imperiled plant species, which I blogged about recently: the Eureka Valley Evening Primrose (Oenothera californica eurekensis) and Eureka Valley Dune Grass (Swallenia alexandrae)

Natural History Photography with Infrared Light

California, Infrared, Joshua Tree, Sierra Nevada

I have recently taken to shooting infrared photos while I am out on photo excursions. The motivation for me is that, if I can easily and inexpensively produce a different type of photo from what I normally shoot, all the while not affecting my ability to shoot traditional color photos, then why not give it a try. The upside is that I might produce a few more quality, interesting images. The downside is that if the effort may be an abject failure, but if it does not cost me much in time or money then the risk is acceptable.

For instance, while I was tooling around the Bishop Creek watershed photographing fall colors, I took along my Panasonic Lumix LX3 that has been converted to shoot true infrared. What this means is that I can whip this tiny but high quality camera out of my pocket and blast off some infrared shots spontaneously. Infrared photography using external infrared-pass filters on a conventional digital camera typically requires long exposure times and a tripod, making for cumbersome shooting. However, if the camera is modified internally to allow only infrared light to reach the sensor, then long exposure times are no longer required, and one can shoot infrared photos handheld. This really makes having an infrared camera along sensible and productive. Several companies exist to perform these modifications, and they are reasonably inexpensive. Plus, you can always have them convert the camera back to visible light again (for a fee) if you don’t like the results. Probably the most popular cameras for infrared conversation right now are the Canon G9/G10 (and soon to be G11) line, but I prefer the wider angle of the Lumix LX3 so I bought a second one and had it infrared-converted. This particular image comes from the Table Mountain area, when the late afternoon sun was dropping behind the cliffs, leaving much of the hillside in shadow but the aspens in side light.

Aspen trees in fall, eastern Sierra fall colors, autumn, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Aspen trees in fall, eastern Sierra fall colors, autumn.
Image ID: 23320
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Here is another example I was quite happy with, a single Joshua Tree framed against a deep black, cloud-free, mid-morning sky. In this case, having an infrared camera along allowed me to shoot longer than I would normally have done. The light in Joshua Tree is really only good for about 30-60 minutes after sunrise, beyond that it is too harsh to shoot good images. However, the harsher and stronger the light becomes, the greater the amount of infrared light that is reflected by certain subjects such as plants. For this reason, infrared photography is usually at its best — in midday — when visible light photography is often at its worst. The two compliment one another well.

Joshua tree, sunrise, infrared, Yucca brevifolia, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua tree, sunrise, infrared.
Image ID: 22888
Species: Joshua tree, Yucca brevifolia
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

I’m pretty happy with my little infrared-converted LX3 and its ability to shoot quick and reasonably high-quality infrared images. (Not to mention that we love our regular LX3 for snapshots and family photos.) However, I should mention there are some limitations to shooting infrared this way. The optics of todays digital cameras are designed for visible light, in particular, the wavelengths of light in the visible spectrum and how they pass through lens glass-air and glass-glass interfaces. Infrared light passes through the lens and into the sensor in a somewhat different way than visible spectrum light. I have found that this manifests in images that are softer than one would expect with visible light, and are sometimes prone to a vague “hot-spot” in the center of the image. The hot-spot seems to be in the blue color channel only, in my experience with the LX3, and only presents when the lens is at its widest angle (24mm-equivalent). By zooming in even a little bit, the hot-spot issue is alleviated. From the information I have read on some of the internet infrared photography websites, I think other cameras may exhibit both of these issues (soft focus, hot spots) as well but I am not sure as I have only used the LX3 in infrared. I believe the hot spot is a property of the camera sensor and the angle at which the light reaches the sensor, while the soft focus (most notably corner softness) is a characteristic of the optics and their transmission of light (infrared) in wavelengths quite different from those for which the lens was designed (visible). Usually I pull out either the red or green color channel to produce a black-and-white image, so the hot spot in the blue channel is not a great problem, but in those images in which I think I want the blue channel I just zoom in a little and all seems to be well. Also, the hotspot is not present in all images, it seems to have something to do with the direction of the sun and how intensely the subjects in the center of the image are reflecting infrared. Image softness is a property of infrared photography in general, and seems to me to be ameliorated somewhat by the strong contrast that infrared images typically have. In other words, the strong black-white contrast of an infrared image seems to more than make up for the soft detail, when the image is viewed as a whole.

Like this? Here are more infrared photos.

Keywords: infrared, joshua tree, yucca brevifolia, aspen, populus tremuloides.

Infrared Photo of a Giant Sequoia Tree

California, Infrared, National Parks, Sierra Nevada, Trees, Yosemite

One tree in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is my favorite. Its huge, reasonably symmetric, and sits somewhat alone in meadow clearing so that morning light can illuminate almost the entire tree nicely. Plus, its a nice 2 mile run up through the grove from the parking lot. Usually when I arrive at The Tree I am the only person there, having seen noone on the way up the hill. It was the same this time. What a beautiful morning. I took my tiny mikro-pokket-infraredfotokam along with me and shot some photos. Below is my favorite one.

Giant sequoia tree towers over surrounding trees in a Sierra forest.  Infrared image, Sequoiadendron giganteum, Mariposa Grove

Giant sequoia tree towers over surrounding trees in a Sierra forest. Infrared image.
Image ID: 23304
Species: Giant sequoia tree, Sequoiadendron giganteum
Location: Mariposa Grove

Like this? Here are more infrared photos.

Keywords: giant sequoia, infrared, mariposa grove, yosemite national park, Sequoiadendron giganteum.

Infrared Joshua Tree National Park

Infrared, Joshua Tree, National Parks, Photography

I shot these this morning during a quick trip to Joshua Tree National Park. I was totally uninspired for “regular” photography this morning, and the light was not that great anyway due to high winds and dust from the night before. But the little pocket infrared camera made some interesting “alternative” images. Here are two that I kept:

Joshua tree, sunrise, infrared, Yucca brevifolia, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua tree, sunrise, infrared.
Image ID: 22888
Species: Joshua tree, Yucca brevifolia
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

Unidentified yucca or agave, sunrise, infrared, Yucca brevifolia, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Unidentified yucca or agave, sunrise, infrared.
Image ID: 22889
Species: Joshua tree, Yucca brevifolia
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

Infrared Photo of Yosemite Falls and Leidig Meadow

California, Icons, Infrared, Landscape, National Parks, Sierra Nevada, Yosemite

I used the same digital infrared camera to photograph Leidig Meadow with upper Yosemite Falls. The skies were totally socked in, there was light rain and virtually no color, so normal color photographs were unappealing and immediately deleted. But a black and white conversion of one of the color channels from an infrared photograph gave what I felt was an attractive rendition of this picturesque Yosemite meadow. If you like this be sure to see more photos of Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Falls, mist and and storm clouds, Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Falls, mist and and storm clouds.
Image ID: 22767
Location: Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

More infrared photographs.

Infrared Photo of El Capitan, Yosemite

California, Infrared, National Parks, Sierra Nevada, Yosemite

Here is an image of El Capitan, one of Yosemite Valley’s most iconic iconistic icons, made with an digital infrared camera. The camera senses infrared light only, rather than visible spectrum light, resulting in dark skies and foliage that glows. See more Yosemite National Park stock photos.

El Capitan eastern face, sunrise, Yosemite National Park, California

El Capitan eastern face, sunrise.
Image ID: 22770
Location: El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

More infrared photographs.

WTH?

Infrared

Exciting new initiatives in photography? Pushing the envelope? Outside my comfort zone? Bah, just a load of feel-good jargon nonsense …

Once again, I am not sure what I am doing. See the photos below as evidence. This is about as far removed from underwater film photography (which is where I started about 20 years ago) as I have ventured, to date. I got my hands on a infrared-converted camera and have started taking pictures with it trying to figure out what, if anything, it is good for. This may end up being yet another in the long series of photographic mistakes I have made over the years. I’ll know more in a few weeks whether this is worth pursuing.

Eucalyptus trees and sky

Eucalyptus trees and sky.
Image ID: 22740
Location: California, USA

Coastal bluffs, waves, sky and clouds, Carlsbad, California

Coastal bluffs, waves, sky and clouds.
Image ID: 22741
Location: Carlsbad, California, USA

This is where the infrared photos will go as I make more.