Tag Archives: tree

Canyon and Stream

Canyon and Stream
Canyon and Stream

Canyon and Stream. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 24, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A small rock-filled stream wanders along the bottom of a deep Utah red rock canyon

Yet another bend in yet another Utah canyon! We had hiked a good distance down into the depths of this canyon, finally stopping (most of us, anyway) at a scenic bend with lots of interesting photographic subjects. We held up there to make photographs, to sit and talk, and to eat. A few of us went a bit farther and some went a good distance more, but soon we had all checked our watches and realized it was time to start back..

This spot is just below a narrow section of the canyon where the water flows through a narrow cleft and around a big curve. Here, below that section, it seems like the flow must slow a bit, since a few more trees manage to grow here and the bed of the creek held a lot of river rocks and silt. In the distance the canyon curves more toward the west, and this allows a bit more light down into the canyon, producing a bit of a glow ahead.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Bend in the Canyon

Bend in the Canyon
Bend in the Canyon

Bend in the Canyon. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 24, 2014. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A sharp curving bend in the bottom of a Utah canyon

In many ways this is a bend in the canyon much like probably many thousands or other bends in this and other canyons. In places the courses of these canyons seem to wobble back and forth, turning right and then left and then right again as they trace their way down into the deeper sections of such canyons. In this spot the canyon narrowed and steepened just a little bit, and the creeks almost filled the bottom of the rocky section of the canyon around the bend. The nearly vertical canyon walls towered hundreds of feet above and no direct sunlight made it down here while I walked through.

These spots form their own little worlds, cut off from the flat country surrounding the canyons high above, and far from entry and exit points above and below. They are quiet places — at least during the good weather times when I tend to visit — and they are sonically isolated from the rest of the world, too. It is possible to walk slowly down such a canyon, picking your way along and through the creek, stopping frequently to look and perhaps photograph… and completely forget that outside world.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Tree and Morning Frost

Tree and Morning Frost
Tree and Morning Frost

Tree and Morning Frost. Yosemite Valley, California. March 1, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A frost-covered Yosemite tree in morning light

It was great fun to be in Yosemite Valley this past weekend for the opening of the 30th annual Yosemite Renaissance exhibition. This is the third time that I’ve had photographs in the show. (If you are in the Valley, drop by. It is in the Visitor Center Museum through May 10, after which it moves on to a couple of Central Valley locations.) The show features a wide variety of two and three-dimensional art by artists who focus on the Sierra and the park. The entry of mine that was selected this year was atypical for me — it includes people and it is humorous! I share it again here at some point, but for now I’ll just note that it features backcountry photographers engaged in an unusual activity. The show brings lots of other fun things: a chance to photograph in the Valley, opportunities to hang out with lots of photographer and artist friends.

I made this photograph on our final morning in the park. We headed out around sunrise, thinking we might find some shallow fog in meadows. There was a bit of the fog but it was dissipating quickly and we eventually ended up in this sunny meadow. I was immediately attracted to this large elm tree, covered in frost and backlit in the morning light. I made several photographs of it — and at least one other may appear here before long — and before long the air warmed and the frost melted.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Red-Winged Blackbirds, Wetland Tree

Red-Winged Blackbirds, Wetland Tree
Red-Winged Blackbirds, Wetland Tree

Red-Winged Blackbirds, Wetland Tree. San Joaquin Valley, California. January 25, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A tree full of red-winged blackbird, in a San Joaquin Valley wetland marsh

This tree and I have become good friends over the past few winters. I have driven past it many times while out in the San Joaquin Valley photographing migratory birds and the flat, agricultural landscape of the place. It is a landmark of sorts on this looping drive — after passing by flat areas with no trees at all, it is the first tree before the route arrives at a grove near the furthest point on the loop.

This tree stands alone on a small peninsula along a levee separating shallow ponds during the winter and adjacent fields the rest of the year. Because of the open landscape, by moving my camera position I have many options for what appears behind the tree, though often the sky itself may be the main show. (Not so much here, since the variations in this foggy sky are quite subtle.) The isolated position of the tree also opens it to light from all directions, so it is interesting in different ways throughout the day — on clear days the sunrise light hits it from the right and the evening light comes in from the left side. The tree is frequently a meeting place for raucous groups of active red-winged blackbirds, and a group of them are perched in its branches in this photograph.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Wetlands Tree, Evening

Wetlands Tree, Evening
Wetlands Tree, Evening

Wetlands Tree, Evening. San Joaquin Valley, California. December 22, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A last beam of evening light illuminates a lone tree in San Joaquin Valley wetlands

My recollection of this early winter, late December day in the San Joaquin Valley is that it was mostly a foggy and gray day, with direct light being quite rare. I’m usually fine with that, since the fog is certainly a strong element in the character of the place at this time of the year and because I like photographing in cloudy, foggy, and misty conditions. (Gray is another story… ;-) On a day like this, while I’m happy to see some glow through the clouds and fog, I’m also often just fine with conditions that some might regard as boring.

Sometimes, even on a gray day, there are surprises. We had photographed all morning, taken a brief break away from here to grab some lunch, and then returned to photograph in the middle afternoon and on into the evening. For the most part, the combination of some fog and high clouds kept things fairly “atmospheric” for the rest of the day. But not long before sunset there was one of these “surprises.” To be honest, when I am watching the conditions carefully and predicting where they might lead, there are less likely to be literal surprises. Perhaps they are better described as positive evolutions of potential conditions. In this case, even though it was cloudy and gray, I had my eyes on the possibility that the sun might briefly shine through a gap along the horizon just before sunset. And that is exactly what happened! For a brief span of a few minutes the light gradually warmed and intensified, starting almost imperceptibly but soon becoming quite obvious. As this happened I move quickly to this nearby spot where I had photographed this tree many times before and therefore knew that it could be my central subject, standing out in the warm light against the flat valley marshes and flatland extending into the distance.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Juniper, Boulder, Cliff

Juniper, Boulder, Cliff
Juniper, Boulder, Cliff

Juniper, Boulder, Cliff. Capitol Reef National Park. October 21, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A small juniper tree grows next to a sandstone boulder at the bottom of a cliff, Capitol Reef National Park

I’m digging back into the October Utah photographs yet again for this one. It comes from Capitol Reef National Park, where I spent about three days out of a longer visit to Utah. I started in far southwest Utah, wandered a bit in the Vermillion Cliffs area, followed a back road north to highway 12, then headed over Boulder Mountain to the Park, where I met a friend and got a campsite for a few days.

I’m gradually pushing out the boundaries of my knowledge of this park, and part of that growth on this trip involved shooting in some tricky light. On this late afternoon, between some other subjects, we ended up in a well-traveled canyon as the tall canyon walls and some cloudiness softened the light. After reaching our furthest point in the canyon we turned around and started back, and as we passed back through one twisting section we saw several interesting photographic possibilities, stopped, and spent a bit of time looking and photographing. This small juniper tree stood in front of an old red rock boulder, and the green of the tree and red of the rock complemented one another. I was also fascinated by the complex, angled, and sometimes-curving patterns on the vertical cliff wall in the background.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Geese, Tree, Dusk

Geese, Tree, Dusk
Geese, Tree, Dusk

Geese, Tree, Dusk. San Joaquin Valley, California. January 1, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Ross’s geese fly low past a tree at dusk, San Joaquin Valley

A small group of photographer friends spent (for the third year in a row) New Year’s Day in California’s San Joaquin Valley, greeting the dawn of 2015 by photographing it! Dawn wasn’t the only attraction — we are also drawn here by the landscape, the incredible wildlife (geese, cranes, egrets, herons, ibises, pelicans, and much more), and the beautiful winter light in this part of California. We began our day in the pre-dawn soft and foggy light and ended it in post-dust light when it finally became to dark to photograph.

For me this simple photograph of a field, a tree, and some geese evokes many of the things that draw me back to this landscape every winter. Even on a day when the tule fog thins, the atmosphere rarely seems to fully clear, and the dusk light is soft and mysterious and full of colors. And at this hour the geese seem to be settling in for the evening, often collecting in large groups in fields of ponds. As they do, they often seem to fly low between groups, flowing across the still landscape and between trees like the wind itself or like the flow of water.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.