Readers’ wildlife photos

February 23, 2023 • 8:15 am

We haven’t had a contribution from James Blilie for a while, but we do today. Here are some of his travel photos, and he recommends (as do I) clicking on them to make them bigger. Jim’s captions are indented:

Here are a batch of photos from a very recent driving trip we took from our home in Washington (I am again a Washingtonian after a 20-year hiatus!) to southern California, mainly the Palm Springs area.  (My son, Jamie, now 18, is the real wildlife photographer of the family.  I am processing some of his photos now and hope to send along a selection of bird photos soon.)  I am a landscape photographer, so these are landscape shots.

I lean hard to black and white and most of these are B&W.  I learned photography at my father’s knee in the black and white darkrooms he built in every house we lived in while I was growing up.

For all these, I recommend that readers open up (click through to) the image for better viewing.  Most of the photos have a lot of detail.

We drove down through the Oregon and California high desert on US Highway 395.  The first images are from the California high desert:

High desert under unusual cloud and lighting conditions:

Honey Lake (a salt lake):

Next, we traversed the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada on US Highway 395.  The next group of shots were taken between Bishop, California and Lone Pine, California.  These were quick stop and snap photos taken from the shoulder of US 395 [JAC: the stretch of 395 between Bishop and Lone Pine, which runs parallel to the highest part of the Sierra Nevada to the east, is my favorite stretch of road in the U.S.]

Early morning light on the Sierra Nevada from near Bishop, California:

The High Sierra from near Bishop, California:

The next shots are from the 1000 Palms Oasis near Palm Springs, including the ubiquitous California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera).

General view of the second oasis (water in the desert!):

Palm fronds:

Then two shots from Joshua Tree National Park:

Rocks on the Split Rock Trail:

General view from the Queens Road with the San Bernardino Mountains behind:

A photo from the Salton Sea (236 feet below Sea Level):  My son Jamie photographing birds.  We drove right around the Salton Sea, making many birding stops, and right down to within 1 mile of the Mexican border at Calexico:

A photo from the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, California:

A photo of an old colonnade the Mission San Juan Capistrano:


Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III Body, micro-4/3 format, mirrorless (crop factor = 2.0)

Panasonic Lumix G X Vario Lens, 12-35mm, F2.8 ASPH.

Panasonic Lumix G X Vario Lens, 35-100mm, F2.8 ASPH.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F/4.0-5.6 MEGA O.I.S.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14MM, F4.0 ASPH.

(I DO have some Olympus lenses; but the Lumix lenses tend to suit my work better.)

24 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. There’s something magical about black and white photographs. They seem to have more dynamic range than color photographs, giving a striking play of light against dark. Is there more dynamic range (difference between light and dark) or is that just an illusion?

    1. They literally do have more dynamic range: Because of editing in SW. I could post unedited versions of the photos and it would be clear. The raw capture has little contrast. I use the SW package Lightroom and I love it. It is very intuitive for someone who was brought up in a darkroom.

      I follow Ansel Adams’ method for B&W*, but using SW instead of darkroom techniques. In extreme brief: He advises: Use exposure to get your high tones (white end) and contrast to get your low tones. This plus the various other controls in LR let one use all the data in the image (I shoot exclusively in RAW to retain all the data the sensor can capture) to provide a beautiful range of tone in the final image.

      (* I highly recommend his instructional books The Camera, The Lens, The Print, and Examples, The Making of 40 Photographs. Even in these days of digital and SW, the ideas are still fully salient.)

  2. Very nice set. I had never heard of the Sunnylands Estate—that looks like a great place to visit (especially from the perspective of a February day in the midwest).

  3. Great photo’s! I’m lucky enough to have been to all those places.
    My father and grandfather partcipated in an expedition to Honey Lake to see the eclipse of 1930. I have a great photo of them setting up equipment there. (Perhaps will post sometime.) But the weather didn’t cooperate, and the eclipse was obscured by clouds.

  4. Curiosity question. Caption of first picture says, “High desert under unusual cloud and lighting conditions” What are the unusual conditions? I agree, your photos are wonderful.

    1. Towering gray clouds above while brilliant sunshine was streaking in underneath to illuminate the distance mountains. Spectacular. I am no desert rat (I’m a mountain man) but I love to visit the desert for its stark form and often striking light conditions.

  5. Welcome to Washington Blilie family! A few weeks ago I saw one of your comments, and I was going to ask if you were in Washington yet, but it was out of context so I didn’t ask. I bet you’re glad you escaped the latest winter storm hitting your previous locale.

    Anyway, these photos were excellent and a lot of fun. I’ve done that 395 drive as well, but only went as far as L.A. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, back in Washington finally; and very happy about it. We live in Klickitat County; and, though we are quite glad not to be un that dump that St. Paul, Minnesota is getting, we did get 8-9 inches overnight here! 2 hours of snow removal this morning.

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