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Donner Summit, the Sierras, Mother Nature and History

Donner Lake is less than 100 miles from Sacramento. I have now travelled up to Donner Lake four times this year: twice in winter, twice in summer.

The Sierra Nevada Mountains has played an historic obstacle in settling California. One famous example is the tragic story of the Donner Party. Following bad advice about a short cut, and an early October snow  in 1846,  strand an unprepared group of pioneers. This tragedy ends with cannibalism for survival. Only half of the original emigrants made it to California. The top of the rock base represents the amount of snowfall that the Donner Party encountered. The pass through the Sierras was renamed for the Donner Party.

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Donner Memorial State Park

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Plaque lists members of the Donner Party that perished and those that survived. Plaque attached to the north face of the fireplace from the Murphy cabin.

Visiting during the snowy winter and imagining the area without the modern highway system the area looks daunting.

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Snow covered cabin provides an idea of how much snow can fall in the Sierras.

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Beautiful view, but slippery road.

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Winter driving can be treacherous. The snow shed used to cover the railroad track are visible from the road.

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The Sierra Nevada Mountains created the most challenge to connected the continent.

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I see a profile of a person’s face.

The hardest part of connecting the transcontinental railroad lay in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is the first time I visited the  Summit Tunnel, Tunnel #6. Walking through the tunnels built by the Central Pacific Railroad to connect east with west, it is hard to believe that the Chinese laborers hand drilled through 1,659 feet the Sierras in 15 months between 1866- 1867. It was dangerous work placing first black powder, and running out in time. The debris then had to be removed. Later nitroglycerin was used: more unstable, but more powerful. Many workers did not survive. The hard work of tunneling through granite, the blasting, and the risk of avalanches in the deep snow, and freezing temperatures  contributed to much loss of life. Work was finally completed in August 1867.

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Light at the end of the tunnel.

Walking into the tunnel I felt drops of water hitting my head. Dressed with a jacket, armed with a flashlight, prepared with my tripod I start walking.  Pretty flat terrain, so a flashlight is just a security measure.

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Textures and colors grab my attention.

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Love the textures

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Shapes and shadows 

Compare this image with the next one processed with HDR. Do you have a preference?

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Many families hike through the Summit Tunnels in the Spring.

 

This is a good location to utilize HDR (high dynamic range) technique. I already had my tripod, and the lighting ranged from dark to light. After shooting 5 images with different f-stops I brought my images into Photomatrix Pro 5. This takes the best from each image and merges them together for this affect.

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With a tripod this is a good place to use HDR

I always look for puddles and reflections.

 

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Captured a puddle reflections in the snow shed.

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Another reflection from a different angle.

The tracks not covered by the mountains had snow sheds built to keep the deep snow off the tracks.This was sometime successful, other times mother nature wins.

 

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I like the light coming from the snow shed door.

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Snow sheds erected to keep snow off the tracks. These tunnels are often not accessible in the winter.

In the spring and summer  the area attracts families, hikers, and photographers. This is a good place to visit to get out of the Sacramento heat.

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View of Donner Lake from the Tunnel Door during the summer.

Graffiti has found a home.  Some are artistic, some just making a statement that they were there.

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One abstract photo of the snow shed ceiling.

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Donner Lake in the summer. 

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Plenty of summer water activities on Donner Lake 

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A last look at Donner Lake in the summer months.

This area is amazing, and I will be back to take in more of the beauty, and history of this area that is only an hour and a half from my home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Good To Be a Local Tourist!

Announcing the name of my photography group, Camera Totin’ Tuesdays. Spent much of the day with my favorite people laughing over the many names, and acronyms possible. Settled on this one. Going out every Tuesday with this group opens up my horizons. For the past 35 years I lived in Sacramento.  Exploring the surrounding areas demonstrates the richness of the area photographically. My friend Karen shares local history, and always prefaces her remarks with, “You must have been here already.” Surprisingly, no. I must have been very busy with work and kids, or just not curious enough to get in the car for a ride around Northern California by myself. Remedy, get a camera and surround yourself with good friends.

This particular Tuesday we headed to Auburn. My friends wanted to try their hand at smoothing out rapids as the river flows over rocks. They brought along ND filters to achieve this affect. Destination: Lake Clementine. The lake did not impress, but in all honesty we got there late and didn’t complete the hike. I used a circular polarizer (since I didn’t have a ND filter) for some of the shots and slowed down my shutter speed to try and achieve smooth, flowing water.

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North Fork of the American River

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Smooth water rocky shoreline

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Graffiti along the river

 

Actually for this goal we should have started earlier to avoid the bright sunshine. The Foresthill Bridge, the tallest bridge in California, is amazing. It is the 5th highest bridge in the United States.

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Foresthill Bridge

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Foresthill Bridge

In 1898 the classic design of the  Auburn Court House  replaced the prior building destroyed by fire. I usually have trouble finding the right angle to photograph buildings.

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Auburn County Courthouse

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Replica of the Auburn Courthouse reflected

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Exhibit at the Placer County Museum

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Placer County Museum

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Auburn Hook and Ladder No. 2 since 1852

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Advertisement found on a brick wall in Auburn

I processed this photograph using Topaz Texture Effects. It fits historic Auburn, don’t you think?

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Advertisement on a brick wall in Auburn.

 

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Interesting door

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Love all the textures

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Just passing through Auburn

Couldn’t resist taking a picture of this unusual find. In my neighborhood I saw a similar vehicle just before “Burning Man”. Wonder what this one is used for.

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Strange vehicle spotted while looking for a sunset.

We went searching for a place to watch and photograph the sunset. Passed this private ranch. My friend Anne told Karen and me to ring the bell and ask permission to park in the driveway. Sure thing. The owner and his two Portuguese Water Dogs greeted us and allowed us to park just in time.

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Sunset with lens flare

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Found this beautiful site to catch a sunset

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Auburn Sunset

Another great day out with my friends and my Nikon D7100.

 

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Exploring the Island of Maui

North of Ka’anapali the road narrows, and ends up as one lane. There are rules to take care of the situation when two vehicles meet: the car heading uphill has the right of passage, and the other car or SUV needs to back up. This gets pretty tricky on these curvy roads along the cliffs. Faith in the driver is a must, and the views are worth it.

Tiny Baby Pineapple. So Cute!

Tiny Baby Pineapple. So Cute!

Kapalua Coast

Kapalua Coast

Powerful waves along the Kapalua Coast

Powerful waves along the Kapalua Coast

Kapalua Coast provides good snorkling opportunities

Kapalua Coast provides good snorkling opportunities

I see a face. Do you?

I see a face. Do you?

Lone Pine Tree

Lone Pine Tree

Stopping along the way I could see tourists snorkeling, and traveling on mopeds. Julia’s, a vendor located along the northern coast is mentioned in my tourbook as a “must see” experience. The best banana bread in the world, coconut candy that is very addictive. I hope I didn’t lose her card because the tourbook is right. I am not fond of coconut, but this dried and sweetened candy is hard to pass up.

Tourists on mopeds. May be a better way to manuever on narrow road.

Tourists on mopeds. May be a better way to manuever on narrow road.

Worth the trip! Coconut candy. Yum!

Worth the trip! Coconut candy. Yum!

Julia has been serving travelers for many years!

Julia has served travelers for many years!

Throughout my travel on the Island I want to include people in my photos. In Lahaina there is a Banyan tree that takes up the entire plaza. Here is a great place to people watch, and I did just that.

Banyan Tree in Lahaina takes up the entire plaza.

Banyan Tree in Lahaina takes up the entire plaza.

Some left their mark on the roots of the Banyan Tree.

Some left their mark on the roots of the Banyan Tree.

Walking along the touristy street I want to see art work created here. I didn’t want any souvenirs made overseas. I saw a turtule made locally, but I passed up the opportunity, and later could not find it. So tee shirts it would be.

Trinket shops for tourists.

Trinket shops for tourists.

Local street artist at work

Local street artist at work

Lahaina

Lahaina

Iao Valley is beautiful and peaceful now, but it is the scene of a violent past.

Approaching the Iao Needle

Approaching the Iao Needle

Going up to get a closer look at the Iao Needle

Going up to get a closer look at the Iao Needle

Higher and higher

Higher and higher

Iao Needle

Iao Needle

Cooling off in Iao Valley

Cooling off in Iao Valley

Luau entertainment provides a look into Hawaiian history and some good images as well.

Royal Lahaina Luau Master of Ceremonies

Royal Lahaina Luau Master of Ceremonies

Royal Lahaina Luau capture on cell.

Royal Lahaina Luau

Luau Entertainers

Luau Entertainers

Entertainers

Entertainers

Entertainer

Entertainer

Don’t know if you can call it street photography if the locale is the beach, but I do.

Enjoying the warm water

Enjoying the warm water

Beautiful Ka'anapali Beach goes on and on

Beautiful Ka’anapali Beach goes on and on

My footprints in the sand!

My footprints in the sand!

Water Shadow. Proof I was in the water!

Water Shadow. Proof I was in the water!

Enjoying the beach. Love the color. Love the clouds.

Enjoying the beach. Love the color. Love the clouds.

A Look at the Beach

A Look at the Beach

A sunset cruise complete with whale sighting ends our vacation.

Sunset Cruise on cattamoran.

Sunset Cruise on catamaran.

 I captured a whale in this photograph. You need to look closely. It's there swimming with some buddies.

I captured a whale in this photograph. You need to look closely. It’s there swimming with some buddies.

Sunset Cruise complete with sunset!

Sunset Cruise complete with sunset!

 

Many ways to get around Maui

Many ways to get around Maui

Always remember to appreciate what you have in life!

Always remember to appreciate what you have in life!

Vacation over, homeward bound!

Vacation over, homeward bound!

Arrive home, and Sacramento happy with my dog Libby!

 

 

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UC Davis Arboretum Spring Exploration

Rain is needed here in Northern California, but I’ll take the great Spring weather opportunities and photograph all the beautiful scenery.  I joined Anne and Laura last weekend as we made our way to the UC Davis Arboretum. I tried out a new Black Rapid Kick sling camera strap and my neck was happy with the change. Waiting to add an Op/Tech  safety tether and Kirk clamp so that I can use my Really Right Stuff  L Bracket  and tripod easily. Then I will feel secure with my equipment. Switched between two lenses; my Nikon 24-120 lens for my landscape shots, and my Nikon 70-300 to capture wildlife. After watching a documentary about Vivian Maier, a street photographer, I keep my eyes open to capture interactive stories. I’m looking for ways to expand my skill of observation. Spring has sprung here in Northern California. Trees in bloom, turtles sunning themselves, and ducks following nature’s call. People out enjoying this perfect weather, picnicking, catching some rays, biking and jogging,  couples sharing meaningful looks, and dogs and their people spending time together. I hope you enjoy some of the images I captured. What says “Spring” for you? For those not enjoying Springtime, Winter will give way to this time of color soon.

Red Bud tree blossoms.

Red Bud tree blossoms.

Enjoying the green of Spring.

Enjoying the green of Spring.

Strolling along

Strolling along

Great Egret hanging out

Great Egret hanging out

I agree, it's a beautiful day!

I agree, it’s a beautiful day!

"I'm concentrating on dinner."

“I’m concentrating on dinner.”

"I gotcha!"

“I gotcha!”

Magnificent plumage on this Great Egret.

Magnificent plumage on this Great Egret.

These large waterbirds are Double-crested Comorants. They have pretty green eyes.

These large waterbirds are Double-crested Comorants. They have pretty green eyes.

Caught this family observing ducks. Mom grabbing a cell phone snap.

Caught this family observing ducks. Mom grabbing a cell phone snap.

Western Scrub Jay consuming a tasty treat. Just not my first, second, or tenth choice.

Western Scrub Jay consuming a tasty treat. Just not my first, second, or tenth choice.

"Make room for me! I'm coming aboard."

“Make room for me! I’m coming aboard.”

A family of turtles out enjoying the sun!

A family of turtles out enjoying the sun!

Posing squirrel watching something.

Posing squirrel watching something.

Love the shape of this tree.

Love the shape of this tree.

Looks like green carpet.

Looks like green carpet.

My street photography tells a story!.

My street photography tells a story!.

Grafitti looks like petroglyths

Grafitti looks like petroglyths

Artistic Restroom on UC Davis campus

Artistic Restroom on UC Davis campus

My kind of "Selfie" with friends.

My kind of “Selfie” with friends.

Impressionistic style photograph

Impressionistic style photograph