2013-2014 CALIFORNIA DESERT

 

 

Living in Southern California really does give you the best of all worlds for landscape photography. It has miles of ocean shoreline from sandy beaches to hundred foot cliffs, an abundance of different desert climates and topography, a day’s drive to mountains, snow, the largest trees and the oldest living trees in the world and everything in between.  All you really need is time to go out and explore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"EMERGE"

 

I was heading out to the Southern California desert to shoot star trails at this spot a few people told me about. I checked the weather on a new moon night and saw that it was supposed to be clear skies the whole night. So I took my time driving out since I never imagined that there would be a sunset. As I pulled up and parked I was completely overtaken by these cloud formations that had rolled in an hour before sunset. So I quickly loaded my camera on my tripod and headed out to find my composition. As the sun set below the horizon, the clouds overhead started to turn these brilliant, various colors of red... with pockets in between some of the formations to reveal the blue sky.

 

It's one of the most surprising images I have ever taken and one of my favorites. It goes to show you that unless you venture out and take chances you will probably never get a great photograph. You really have to put yourself out there to come up with an image you can call a masterpiece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"SOLACE"

 

Old piers and landscape photography just go together. It's hard to pass up any pier and not shoot it because of the contrasting elements of the weather, distressed wood on a backdrop of beautiful water. Most images you see are taken with a dramatic sunset or sunrise but when I came across this pier in the middle of the day I just loved the Zen-like quality of the composition with the empty water reflecting a cloudless, empty sky. The architecture really showcases the uniqueness and meandering of the construction and lends itself to a characteristic all its own.

 

When you come across such a pier like this you never know how much longer it will last. You always want to go back over and over again during different seasons to capture the many personalities it takes on throughout each year. Time will only tell what’s in store for the future of this particular configuration but the sereneness of this image, and the first time I discovered it, will always be special to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"UNDULATION"

 

The shapes, curvatures and nuances of sand dunes have always casted their spell on me. The different textures and patterns you get from contrasting lighting angles can change the contour, configuration and shadows of your composition drastically. Part of the fun for me when shooting sand dunes is you never know what the shifting light will create in front of you, so you need to be prepared with your choice of location, angle of the setting or rising sun or moon, and time of year.

 

I was late getting to the dunes this day because I was shooting my image "Solace" earlier and lost track of time. I figured I would go ahead and try to make it to the dunes before sunset. Once I parked my truck I had a mile or so to walk in the dunes, which is not easy, and find a great location as I was losing light fast. As I was looking for the perfect spot I saw the shadows slowly bring to life the dunes so I set up my camera in this area and framed this ridge for a perfect composition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"ABANDONED"

 

How great is this old boat? I'm not sure how old it is or how long it's been in this location but there's one thing I do know, the inside was all burnt out like there was a cabin fire. The whole interior was charred and the fiberglass had melted in most spots. You're probably wondering how I got the colors I did... it's called "cross-processing." Since the film days you needed different chemicals to process slide film while needing different chemicals to process negative film. I would shoot slide film and have it processed with the chemicals used for negative film... hence "cross-process." This technique would cause the chemicals to react differently to the colors on the film... creating completely unique hues and give you a surprise every time you received your film back. Now it can be recreated digitally with the same results... giving an image a distinctive look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"DEVOTIONAL"

 

It seems to only snow in Joshua Tree National Park once a year so when the forecast is a "go" you have to be ready.

 

I woke up a couple of hours before dawn for my two hour drive from North County San Diego to the park. Little did I know that an hour into my drive through Temecula that they would be getting the most snow they've seen in 20 years. Visibility was so low that the traffic on the I-15 freeway was down to all the vehicles following each other in one lane... the ice-free one. After I made it through I had another stoppage in the city of Joshua Tree. A vehicle had hit some ice on the road and flipped into the ditch.

 

After all the delays I finally made it to the park. The snow was a beautiful addition to the surreal landscape that is Joshua Tree National Park. To my surprise there were a ton of visitors to see the snow and consequently get in my view every time I stopped to shoot. Needless to say I had to practice my patience till they would move on and I got my shot. It really was a magical scene and an adventure I will never forget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"PLATOON"

 

The Salton Sea is such an interesting place… and most of the images I see are of dilapidated ruins of the region. I wanted to capture the beauty and openness of the area so whenever I’m in the vicinity I look for unique opportunities to capture something special.

 

These old piers have seen a lot of history upon the Salton Sea. Just Google and you’ll find many articles on the subject. Still standing but decaying, I wanted to capture them before they’re gone... and on this day, they really added beautiful contrast against the blue water and sky. The mountains in the distant gives you a good perspective on how large the Salton Sea really is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"PREDESTINE"

 

I was heading out to the Southern California desert to shoot star trails at this spot a few people told me about. I checked the weather on a new moon night and saw that it was supposed to be clear skies the whole night. So I took my time driving out since I never imagined that there would be a sunset. As I pulled up and parked I was completely overtaken by these cloud formations that had rolled in an hour before sunset. So I quickly loaded my camera on my tripod and headed out to find my composition. As the sun set below the horizon, the clouds overhead started to turn these brilliant, various colors of red... with pockets in between some of the formations to reveal the blue sky. Shooting off a few shoots before the color disappeared and unexpectedly “Emerge” was born.

 

So as night fell I set up my camera to photograph star trails in the composition I felt was the strongest, which was due east. I figured that I would get some ambient light from the nearby town which would add a nice color element to the image. I started by taken 30 minute exposures but wanted the star trails to have longer legs so I adjusted my settings and took one exposure for an hour. As luck would have it, just as my hour was up I could see a dust storm approaching from the west so I quickly grabbed my gear and ran to the truck, loaded everything and jump in just in the nick of time before I was engulfed.

 

 

The Fine Art Landscape Photography of Jaysun McMillin