Every time I make a trip to the Eastern Sierra or Death Valley, I drive past this place, and every time I think to myself how incredibly bizarre the rocks are… well, I finally made a trip out to Planet Vulcan to go exploring. To us Earthlings it’s known as the Vasquez Rocks County Park, and it’s a favorite locale for Hollywood movie directors to shoot their alien scenes. I knew the large rock formations would have a lot of potential, but was pleasantly surprised by the depth and diversity of possibilities I found when a friend and I started looking further. Things are getting busy, and there wasn’t a whole lot of adventure involved here (just great times exploring!), so beyond a few announcements I’ll leave the pictures to speak for themselves. Thanks all for your kind words on my previous trip!

First, I want to thank those of you who managed to come out and see my show this past weekend, great meeting you! Unfortunately due to some rather poor planning, the show had to get canceled before the second weekend could happen (something about the building being demolished… which sort of made it hard to have an art show inside it, from a liability stand point).

Next, I’d like to announce a potential workshop I may lead this winter/spring. As many of you know, I love photographing in the twilight hour (see image below). The digital age has made things possible that one could never do with film (at least, not without a lot of tedious tricks). Since it’s a rather involved process that many people have expressed interest in, I am considering offering a workshop with fellow photographer Steve Sieren, who also has a passion for night photography and light painting. The details are still in the works, but the focus will be on teaching the art of night photography, including topics such as star trails, static stars, and light painting. We will cover everything from visualization through to field techniques, and on to processing. In addition to the technical aspects of night photography, we will discuss the more creative side of photography in general, to stimulate learning, experimentation, maximizing potential under any conditions, and the development of a personal style. The workshop will take place in Joshua Tree National Park, which has no shortage of otherworldly subjects, which combined with the dark skies and relative accessibility make this the perfect place for a weekend workshop on night photography. Tentative dates are in Jan/Feb. If you are interested in such a workshop, please let me know! Details to follow in the coming weeks.

“Vulcan Light” ~ Vasquez Rocks County Park, CA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 16-335mm mkII, tripod
Exposure 1 – foreground: iso 400 f/16, 30 sec (exposure reduced in ACR significantly)
Exposure 2 – sky no stars, 10 min later: iso 400, f/16, 30 sec
Exposure 3 – stars, another 40 min later: iso 1600, f/2.8, 30 sec
Notes: This is best viewed large, in a dark room, otherwise your monitor may not be able to compete with the ambient light in the darker portions of the image.
Processing: See my star trails tutorial. Or contact me about the workshop mentioned above!

“Petrified Pollock” ~ Vasquez Rocks County Park, CA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 24-105mm, tripod
Exposure (same for all panels): iso 100, f/16, 0.4 sec

“Engulfed in Flames” ~ Vasquez Rocks County Park, CA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 70-200mm, tripod
Exposure: iso 100, f/16, 1/50th

“Peach Pillows” ~ Vasquez Rocks County Park, CA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 24-105mm, tripod
Exposure: iso 100, f/16, 1/4th sec
Processing: I used a fair bit of saturation here, and a modified method of the orton effect to soften the highlights and enhance the soft cozy look of these forms.

3 Comments to “Vulcan Light”

  1. Derrald says:

    This looks like a cool place that I hope to visit someday. You captured a great array of different types of images here that really stand out. I always recognize those rocks in shows and movies for sure!

  2. Hi from Spain,

    If you really like to shot vulcanic scapes, geysers and so on; you must go to Iceland. It’s an awesome country with a big photographic potential.
    I strongly recommend it to you. Simply an astonishing place.


  3. Alberto says:

    Wonderful images and very good blog. Best regards! Alberto