For our last night on Hawaii’s Big Island we stayed on the Kona coast, and just like so many other nights in Hawaii it offered up a fantastic sunset. Despite the signs warning people away I spent a while exploring the rocks outside the Sheraton hotel looking for some interesting foreground to shoot.
The boat you can see out to the right is not there for the sunset, but to serve as a base for people snorkelling and scuba diving to see the Manta Rays that are very common in this part of the world. Unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to experience it this time around.
The Manta Rays have been ‘trained’ to associate light with plankton, so after dark they are attracted to the torches that tour guides shine under the water. I just need to become a certified diver so that I can get down there and take some photos!
During the day you can only see a plume of gas rising from the most active volcano in the world. But as the sun starts to set a faint glow begins to emerge from the Halema’uma’u crater of Mount Kilauea. The lava lake is bubbling away about 50m below the rim.
We arrived at the Jagger Museum viewing point in Volcanoes National Park to find many photographers already lined up ready for the sunset. I had to get pretty creative with my tripod to get this angle!
I overheard one person say how they’d been there all afternoon to get their spot. That’s not how I want to spend my vacation! Hopefully this proves you don’t need to get there so early to take a good photo, we arrived about 30 minutes before sunset.
Taken at the Grand Canyon a little over four years ago, there was something about this old mining structure which captured my imagination. It provided a window into the past, a brief glimpse into humanity’s impact on this great wonder of the world.
It was also a fantastic subject for a slightly different composition of the canyon, which I was quite excited about. I did a bit of post processing in Lightroom, opting for the preset “Aged Photo” before making a few minor adjustments.
Looking back it’s probably the most interesting image I captured on our day trip from Las Vegas. It was definitely worth the long bus ride, although next time I might opt for the view from a helicopter instead!
Our journey to Death Valley began with a slight disaster. Having spent two days relaxing in Las Vegas we returned to our hire car ready to continue on into the desert. We were keen to get going as we had a packed schedule that would see us reach Lone Pine on the other side of Death Valley just before sun down. Having risen fairly early we were ready to hit the road. Unfortunately we were going nowhere fast. We were stuck in a Las Vegas car park with two large suitcases and one hire car with a dead battery.
Eventually, one repair truck and two hours later we made it to Las Vegas airport to pick up a second car. Our journey to the desert could finally begin! This shot was taken at the first rest stop we came upon after entering the national park. It was also our first opportunity to pay the park entrance fee, which was more luck than judgement.
There is obviously an implicit trust that people will pay the fee as the station was unmanned. I’m not sure there was anything stopping us driving onward to our first stop at Dante’s View without paying up. But we didn’t want to find out, so we persevered with the misbehaving ticket machine. After a few attempts it accepted one of our cards and we went on our merry way, the dead battery episode already a distant memory.
Have you ever had a mishap whilst travelling? Did it affect your plans? How did you deal with it? I’d love to hear from you!
You would be forgiven for thinking that driving nearly 200 miles on one fairly straight road might be quite boring. Route 395 could be described as anything but. Occupying a valley carved through the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, there are stunning landscapes in every direction. It feels like you are always driving towards something spectacular.
Setting off from Lone Pine at 8am, we spent the next 11 hours taking in the highlights of Route 395 on our journey to South Lake Tahoe. Given our tight schedule we didn’t venture too far from the road laid out before us. I’m sure we could have easily spent a few more days exploring the mountains either side of the valley. Considering the wealth of natural beauty around us, we barely scratched the surface!
One thing that’s impossible to ignore whilst driving through this region of the US is the incredible diversity of the landscape. It’s hard to believe that this shot was taken less than 100 miles from the desolate plains of Death Valley. I’d love to know of any other locations where you can encounter the harsh reality of the desert, followed by the staggering beauty of snowy mountains no more than 2 hours apart. For anyone who enjoys landscape photography it really is a dream to explore.
Have you driven Route 395? Do you know of any other roads that give you that feeling of moving towards something incredible? Or maybe you know of a long, straight road that’s so boring I should try my best to avoid it in the future?! Please get in touch!
Driving through the desert in Death Valley is one of my top travel experiences to date. The lonely, vast and desolate landscape serves only to teach us how insignificant our place in the world is. I know many people love beach destinations as a place to go and be still, to think and reflect. But I think the desert provides a more than viable alternative.
I really like this shot, to me it shows the epic scale of the desert alongside humanity’s attempt to explore and conquer its barren land. This winding road that leads to Dante’s View is dwarfed by the landscape, and rightly so. That is exactly how we felt driving through Death Valley, dwarfed.
You may also notice that it’s actually quite a good quality road, which was a pleasant surprise. We were expecting some trouble on this leg of our journey but we need not have worried, the roads through Death Valley were some of the smoothest we experienced during our two weeks in California!
Do you prefer to visit the desert or the beach for your sandy needs? What’s the best road you’ve ever driven? Please get in touch!
One of many “wow” moments from our trip to the West Coast, this vista from the California 89 mountain pass really made us stop dead in our tracks. After a long but rewarding drive up the 395 from Death Valley, it was a great way to end the day’s travelling before reaching Lake Tahoe to watch the sunset. Fortunately there was a spot where we could pull over to appreciate the view.
I just couldn’t stop staring at the clouds. They looked like they had been lifted straight from a beautiful watercolour painting. I had to capture it! To this day I still don’t think I’ve seen clouds quite like them. As the evening sun cast a long shadow across the mountain we were climbing, the green valley below was bathed in sunlight. It was one of those moments where it felt like the elements had collaborated to present the landscape perfectly.
Have you ever seen some unusual clouds? Where were you at the time? Have you driven the California 89? Please get in touch!