Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer — and of the supreme disappointment.
– Ansel Adams
The central coast of California, particularly the Big Sur and Carmel areas, get all the press, but the northcoast of California, from Medocino to the Crescent City, contains more variety, more rugged beauty, more spectacular land and seascapes then can be found anywhere in the world. From the Mendocino headlands to the Lost Coast and Cape Mendocino; through Humboldt Bay on up to Patrick’s Point; continuing by three magnificent lagoons to the Fern Canyon, tucked in like a jewel amongst the imposing Gold Bluffs; and then, perhaps the most magnificent stretch of all, starting from Klamath overlook to the immense coastal cliffs that separate Klamath from Crescent City, where giant redwoods stand like sentinels keeping watch over the roaring sea hundreds of feet below: no place on earth quite matches the coastal splendor of the northcoast.
Although generally regarded as separate mountain ranges, some believe that the Klamath Mountains of Northern California constitute a portion of the great Sierra Nevada range that broke off and drifted westward, to settle between the southern Cascades and the coastal ranges flanking the California’s northcoast. Whether true or not, the similarity between the ranges is striking to anyone familiar with both. The Klamath are not as high as the Sierra Nevada (with it’s two highest peaks barely over 9,000 feet, but one finds, nonetheless, much of the same granite splendor in the former as one does in the latter. Where else can you find as many lakes nestled in jaw-dropping granite cirques as in the Klamath Mountain Range?
California’s Sierras end their northward trek north of Lake Tahoe; but the mountains don’t stop there. In northeastern California, the job of keeping the state rugged and mountainous falls to the Cascades, which, after taking a westward jog at the northern edge of the state, swing up into Oregon and Washington. But although Oregon can boast Crater Lake and Mount Hood, and Washington Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier, California need not feel ashamed of its portion of the Cascades, which includes the stunning Mount Shasta and the vastly underrated Lassen National Park.
The Western United States is known for its mountain ranges: the Sierra Nevada, the Cascades, and the Rockies. Of these, the Rockies is the longest, stretching right along the continental divide from the southern U.S. way into Canada. A range of such immense length is bound to have its share of tremendous mountain scenery: and among its most outstanding vistas are the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and, perhaps the most spectacular of all, Glacier National Park.
East of the might Sierra Nevada languishes a forlorn desert bifurcated by miscellaneous chains of lofty, narrow-ridged mountains of surprising lushness and beauty. This is a desert out of which no water ever escapes to the ocean, but must be claimed by the fierce sun or the parched soil. Mono Lake, a glimmering inland sea reflecting in its waters the eastern crags of Sierra Nevada, is a place of rare and often haunting beauty. Nor should we forget the sun drenched granite of Lamoille Canyon, Angel Lake, and mighty Wheeler Peak. Further east arises the Colorado Plateau, land of colorfol hoodoos, massive arches, and thrilling sandstone canyons, bursting in red, white, orange, and pink.
A church, a lighthouse, a bridge, even a statue can provide a human touch to a landscape. A church under menacing clouds, a bridge across a scenic river or gorge, a statue against a firmament set ablaze by the setting sun, if artfully done, can enhance, rather than detract, from the overall scene. Whether it’s Crystal Mill or the Golden Gate, Carson Mansion or Fernbridge, these iconic landmarks are as worthy of the landscape photographers attentions as are waterfalls and sunsets.
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with longer wavelengths than those of visible light. By make use of what is called “near-infrared” light, images can be created with the dreamlike appearence known as the “Wood Effect,” which is caused in large part by foliage reflecting infrared light in the same way that visible light is reflected from snow. This allows for black and white images with intense contrast and color images which make use of only a few colors, rather than the whole spectrum. The result is a new take on the world that is both fresh and piquant.