The Rim of the World Vista Point is located along Highway 120 in the Stanislaus National Forest. On a cold, winter morning, I stopped by on the way to Yosemite National Park. Barren tree trunks still scarred the land six years after the devastating 2013 Rim Fire, which consumed over 250,00 acres of land. The morning fog clinging to the ground gave this vista point an apocalyptic ambience.
During an early morning trip to the Leo J. Ryan Memorial Park, I was rewarded with a brilliant sunrise. The still lake in the quiet hours of the morning created a perfect reflection of the houses and morning skies.
Leo J. Ryan Memorial Park was dedicated in 1979 to honor U.S. Representative Leo J. Ryan, who served as a U.S. Representative for the 11th Congressional District of California from 1973 to 1978, when he was murdered in Guyana by members of the Peoples Temple. At the time, the 11th Congressional District covered parts of San Mateo County.
Happy New Year. I revisited Mount Umunhum this morning in anticipation of the first sunrise for the new year. I committed a total rookie mistake by showing up at exactly sunrise, so I missed an opportunity to capture the skies as it glowed in pink and purple hues.
The first clicks were some experiments in color tones. In the direction of the sun, the skies radiated a warm, orange hue while the foreground hills shared a monochromatic dark blue palette.
The cluster of tall buildings made Downtown San Jose an easy landmark to locate. Mission Peak and its large antennas are the first range of mountains in the background. Further back is Mount Diablo.
Another easy landmark to locate is Mount Hamilton with the domed Lick Observatory close to the summit. While the winter rains have turned parts of the foothills green again, we haven’t seen the storms and cold front from last year that dusted Lick Observatory with a layer of snow.
This is the southern end of Silicon Valley. There are no dense residential developments or office parks in this part of town. Instead, this reminded me of the photos that I’ve seen of Val d’Orcia in Tuscany, where picturesque residences dot the hills in an idyllic sun-drenched rural paradise. La Bella Vita.
Tunnel View is a vista point located off Wawona Road in Yosemite National Park. From this vantage point, El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall are visible.
I stopped at Tunnel View three times over three days during the winter and the view was different each time. The best capture was during my initial visit when the morning fog was still dancing along the valley floor. While El Capitan was partially obscured by the clouds, I thought it added to the atmosphere of the photo. Half Dome was covered in snow while Cathedral Rocks had a light dusting of snow.
I used a 10-stop Neutral Density filter to smooth out the flow of water cascading down Bridalveil Fall.
I visited Mount Umunhum for the first time this morning and it definitely exceeded my expectations. It was only 35 miles away, but took about an hour to get there because the last leg of the trip was up a winding mountain road.
From the top, the city of San Jose was spread out right in front of our eyes. As I peered further north, I could see buildings in San Francisco through the mid-morning haze. I could also see the Pacific Ocean from some vantage points.
I love this time of the year when the leaves change color. That last gasp of warm reds and calming yellows signal the imminent arrival of winter. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, yet we haven’t experienced our first major rain of the season. Soon, the weather reports promise. Soon.
For the past week, the mornings had been foggy and overcast. If the weather pattern did not change, I would have to wait until 2049 because the 2032 and 2039 transits of Mercury will not be visible from North America.
When I saw blue skies this morning, I hurried outside to set-up my observation station. First, I used an Orion StarSeeker III 127mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope with an AstroSolar filter. Believe it or not, it is difficult to locate the sun because the sight is not usable. You cannot safely look at the sun through the sight. And, if I wore solar safety glasses, then the sight itself is not visible.
For the image below, I used a 300mm lens and a 2x teleconverter. With a wider field of view, it was easier to find the sun. The camera, lens and tripod were also a lot more stable so I had an easier time focusing on Planet Mercury. With the telescope, focusing was more challenging because of the vibration.
The 4% crescent moon rose over San Francisco Bay two hours ahead of sunrise. The low tide exposed the mud flats during the early morning hours. If you look closely, you can see three faint dots in the morning sky.
In this closer view, Auva and Porrima from the Virgo constellation flank the moon while the planet Mars is at the lower right. The sunrise lit up the vibrant morning sky due to all the smoke from the Kincade fire that traveled down from Sonoma County to the peninsula.
Details: D700, 70-200mm f/2.8, ISO 2000, 70mm, f/5.0, 2.0sec