Bottoms up for Kings Canyon ducks

A trio of ducks feeding in the South Fork of the Kings River in California's Kings Canyon National Park.

Three ducks feeding in the South Fork Kings River in Kings Canyon National Park. I saw them paddling around and waited a few minutes until they went bottoms up at the same time. 

Here's my SmugMug site, where everything I shoot is for sale. And for cheap! Me on Twitter.

--S.H.

This photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 

Grant Grove of Giant Sequoia Trees

The Grant Grove of Giant Sequoia trees in California's Kings Canyon National Park.

Because no one has ever thought to point a camera with a wide-angle lens straight up in a grove of giant sequoia trees!!

Photo was taken in Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park in California. May I just editorialize for a moment about the visitor experience in Grant Grove?

It sucks! There's a short paved path around the grove and late on Memorial Day here's what I saw/heard:

•One d-bag walking around with his phone blaring some kind of terrible music. I guess his soundtrack has to be everyone's soundtrack.

•Another total d-bag climbing on a tree, just beyond a sign saying "don't climb on the trees." 

•Numerous small kids running around and screaming their lungs out. I know the breeder crowd out there will be putting the hate on me for saying this, but national parks are not playgrounds. Sorry!

•Four outhouses -- I kid you not -- that the National Park Service had placed directly under four sequoia trees near the massive parking lot.



The sad fact is this: three of the grandest groves of the largest trees on Earth have been turned into Industrial Tourism experiences; I'm referring to the Mariposa Grove at Yosemite, the Giant Forest at Sequoia N.P. and Grant Grove at Kings Canyon. If you're going to visit any of these three and enjoy a little effin' peace-and-quiet in nature, my advice is go very early in the morning or wait until winter and visit on cross-country skis or snowshoes, preferably on a weekday.

Even better, visit one of the other lesser-known groves of giant sequoias scattered around the western Sierra.

Here's my SmugMug site. Me on Twitter.

--S.H.

This photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 

Black bear at Kings Canyon



After some 19 years in California, I finally got a half-decent photo of a black bear; my earlier attempts were always blurred. 

This ain't a masterpiece. There are many technical flaws--too much noise, too shallow depth-of-field, muted colors. But other than a few small adjustments and a generous crop, I left as is. Yes, I could spend all day photoshopping and maybe get something marginally better, but you get the main point: I saw a bear in the woods. Memory preserved. Bada-bing!  

The bear was in Zumwalt Meadow in Kings Canyon National Park, btw. I've been to the area twice and both times saw a bear. This leads me to the conclusion that if you hang out at Zumwalt Meadow in the last couple of hours of the day, or perhaps early morning, you'll probably see a bear. 

I got this photo by slamming my telephoto lens on my camera, putting it on automatic and then spraying and praying while following the mighty bruin for a few minutes before he ditched me. 

Here's my SmugMug site. Me on Twitter.

--S.H.

This photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 

Weird yellow cactus flower



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Looking straight down on a flower growing on top of a cactus at the Huntington Gardens in San Marino. Looks like something you would see underwater, eh? 

BTW, I got me a little photo love today from the Huntington, which made this nice/lucky capture their visitor photo of the week. Booyah! 

Here's my SmugMug site. Me on Twitter.

--S.H. 

This photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved.

Orange roses



Another one from the Huntington -- this is an orange rose. Handheld camera with my 10-24 lens. Not bad. All that junk, pun intended, inside flowers is kinda cool.

With flowers like this, photos are all about color. That's why I gave it a hefty crop to emphasize the orange.

I need to walk away from the computer before I shell out a few hundred bucks for a macro lens so I can get these type of shots up close and without having to crop so much. 

Here's my SmugMug site. Me on Twitter.

--S.H.

This photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 

Cactus flowers and shadows



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Another one from my trip to the Huntington Gardens on Sunday. The desert section of the botanical gardens has nice light from the west late in the day, creating some nice contrast between the blooming flowers and the shadows. 

I took the photo with the Nikon 10-24 wide angle lens on my Nikon D5100 at 1/100th shutter speed, f/20, ISO 200 and with the lens at 18mm while shooting in RAW. I could have easily eliminated a lot of the shadows in Lightroom but kept them and even embellished them a little.

Another pretty good pic from the Huntington--bee versus artichoke plant. Here's my SmugMug site. Me on Twitter.


--S.H.

This photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 

Artichoke plant



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That bee is a total pollen junkie. Taken Sunday at the Huntington Gardens in San Marino. 

Settings on my Nikon D5100: f/8, 1/500 shutter speed, ISO 200, 300mm on my telephoto lens. I had to stand way back from the artichoke plant. 

I then cropped the hell out of the photo in Lightroom. 

Yes, it would have been nice if I had gotten a beer to face me instead of shooting his ass -- but you take what you can get. 

My SmugMug site. Me on Twitter.

--S.H.

This photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 

Cattle dog puppy



Badly exposed, too shallow of a depth-of-field, lots of digital noise crooked...and I'm digging it anyway. The big mistake was using a f/2.8 aperture, meaning the puppy isn't entirely in focus. 

Technical issues aside, it manages to be a good photo because the puppy is insanely cute and there are a lot of good lines in the photo -- the chair, my partner's legs and shoes, the skewed lines of the wood floor. 

Here's the color version; Not bad, but I like the black-and-white better. And there's some bad digital noise in the color version I couldn't easily get rid of. 




My SmugMug page/portfolio. Follow me on Twitter

--S.H.

This photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 



National Wildlife Federation photo contest



A sea gull on a cliff above the sea at La Jolla Cove in San Diego.



I never enter photo contests -- thinking there's not a chance in hell I'll win anything. That said, I just spent an hour uploading photos to the National Wildlife Federation's annual contest.

And you can, too! It costs $20 to enter 15 photos before May 15; then the price goes up. The entry fee also gets you a NWF membership for a year, which means you'll be supporting a good cause even if/when you lose: ensuring native wildlife survives in the US of A.

Three of my entries are above. Feel free to register to vote in the contest and then vote for my entries each and every day: it will give you something to do at work! All my photos can be found here to make it easier for you to stuff the ballot box. 

Thanks, blog readers! And enter your own photos? What do you have to lose besides 20 bucks? The top prize is a trip north to photograph polar bears. As long as none of the bears eats you or your camera, that has got to be a great trip. 

--S.H.

The above photos are ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without advanced written permission. All rights reserved.

Red, white, blue and green at Zion National Park

Red, white, blue and green in Zion National Park.

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And yet another one from my recent trip to Zion National Park. I was trying to capture a lot of different colors in the morning light here, although it was tricky - the red rock was still mostly in shadow. 

I was also trying to tell a bit of a story (always try to tell a story in your pics!): something crazy must have happened here geologically. Why is one mountain white and the other one red? Beats the shit out of me! But it's intriguing if you're outdoors minded. 

Check out the rest of my Zion gallery: you can't seriously be working on a Friday afternoon. And follow me on Twitter; someone has to. 

--S.H.

This photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 

Dog meets iPhone5 camera



I continue to be impressed by the camera on my new iPhone5 (earlier post about that). Took this one of my dog yesterday and I could easily get a good 15-inch wide print of this. Click here to see super-size.

--S.H.

This photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 

The iPhone5 camera: great pics if you can stomach dealing with Apple's GreedMonsters









Like many people, I'm getting increasingly weary of the Apple computer Greed Machine.

In the past couple of years, I've had them outright lie to my girlfriend about needing to replace her iPad after a drop (there was a dent that a private shop fixed for $10 in five minutes), the relatively new iMac I have can be very slow when doing basic tasks such as shutting down programs and Apple is increasingly refusing to update older products such as the first edition of the iPad.

My favorite: Apple wouldn't let me buy an iPhone5 for my girlfriend's birthday in their store without immediately shutting off her current phone and turning on the new one. I literally had to leave the store and go home and order the thing online. Which is just stupid beyond belief.

In other words, Apple is rich and cool and no longer has Steve Jobs screaming about quality. They only get away with it because: A) so many of their competitors' products are utter shit, and; B) so many of Apple's products are cool and work relatively well, although iTunes and the whole synching the iPhone business appears to have been designed by a blind duck.

All these are the reasons I held my nose this past weekend and upgraded my barely-working iPhone 3GS for an iPhone5: I wanted the iPhone camera and I already owned a slew of the great photography apps.

As for the above three photos, the top and bottom ones were taken with the 6x6 app and the middle one with Instagram, which no longer worked on the 3GS. Thanks for that Apple; have your users update to software that will prohibit them from using popular apps! Assholes! 

The problem with Instagram, of course, is that it's also social media. But the filters are ridiculously good  at making digital look like film; the 6x6 app comes closest quality-wise, IMO. And the bottom line is that whether Instagram or other great apps such as Snapseed or Camera Awesome, it's pretty easy to get a good quality print from the iPhone5, especially if you use a good lab and good paper. 

I can't think of one good reason anyone should spend money on both a point-and-shoot and an iPhone5. If you're into photography, it seems to me the smart move dollar-wise is get a big boy/girl DSLR for your more serious photographic excursions and then use either a cell phone camera or point-and-shoot for the everyday fun stuff. 

Check out my SmugMug site and follow me on Twitter, which I mostly despise but still use, making me an enabler. Tsk tsk. 

 --S.H.

The above photos are ©Steve Hymon and may not be used without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 

A bend in the Virgin River, Zion Canyon


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I took this shot while on a mid-day lunch break from the photo workshop I just took at Zion National Park. Light is crappy at mid-day, so we were let loose for 2.5 hours.

I found this spot near Zion Lodge and took a a few photos; as far as bends-in-a-river goes, this is a good one. The noon light was harsh and puffy white clouds would have been preferable to contrails. But it works. 

I did have one issue: a big smudge on my UV filter smack in the middle of the photo where sky meets rock. Here's how I fixed it: 

•After making all my adjustments in Lightroom, I exported (i.e. saved) the photo as a jpeg. 

•I then opened it in my Photoshop Elements editor and created a duplicate layer. 

•In the new layer, I used the clone stamp tool to lighten up the smudge. 

•I then flattened the two layers at 100 percent opacity, which looked best, and then saved the photo.  

Yes, creating the new layer probably wasn't necessary but I didn't want to mess with the main layer -- by merging the main layer and a new one, I figured I could make the smudge passable. 

It still doesn't look awesome, but I'm not sure folks would notice what's left of the smudge unless they're looking for it. I'm, of coure, completely obsessed with it and can't help but noticing it instead of just saying "fuck it, there will be other photos." 

Check out my SmugMug site! And follow me on Twitter before I forget I have a Twitter account. 

--S.H.

This photo ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 

Guava tree flowers



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Smackdown in my backyard this morning between me, my camera and the guava tree. 

I like this shot for a couple reasons. First, it tells a mini-story with a basic before-and-after; here's what a flower looks like after opening and here's what it looks like about to open (like an alien baby sort of!).

Second, here's a tip for making flower shots better -- go hog-shit-wild on the vignette function and darken those corners and the outer frame, thereby emphasizing whatever is in the middle. I also tossed on a cooling preset from onOne and cropped the image like I was Freddy Krueger. 

Oh yes, there are the usual crimes against photography. I should have bumped up to f/22 or so for more depth of field. I shot it at f/8 for some reason (assuming there was a reason). So the branch is a little fuzzy. Oh well. Good thing my camera and the guava tree aren't going anywhere. 

Nothing else to do on the Internet? Check out my SmugMug site! And follow me on Twitter before Twitter shuts down my account for lack of interest. 

--S.H.

This photo ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 

Zion National Park at sunset



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Larger view 

 Couple more from my Utah trip. Same scene of the park's southern mountains at sunset but the top one was taken with a wide-angle lens while the bottom one with a 35mm lens. The bottom one was taken about 14 minutes earlier than the top one. 

I'm still trying to decide which I like better. The wide angle is nice but there's an awful lot of shade in the foreground. The top one features the nice interplay of shadow and late day light. 

Preference, blog viewers? Criticism always welcome. 

No, I'm not going to tell you where these were taken, other than it was at a location outside the park on public lands and it requires a very bumpy drive. If you're clever with a map, you'll figure it out :) 

Check out the entire Utah gallery here -- these are pics I took on a three-day photo workshop with the Zion Canyon Field Institute -- which I liked quite a bit. 

--S.H.

Related posts: 

Turkey vultures in Zion Canyon

Old Mormon church in ghost town of Grafton

Home sweet home (Zion Canyon) 

Both photos above are ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advance written permission. All rights reserved.