Heather Carroll: Blog https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog en-us (C) Heather Carroll [email protected] (Heather Carroll) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:22:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:22:00 GMT https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/img/s/v-12/u583995486-o259972778-50.jpg Heather Carroll: Blog https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog 86 120 Chase Days https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2017/10/chase-day September was a good month for photography. We went out 3 of 4 weekends, and the only reason we missed the 4th weekend was the storm in the mountains. The first 2 trips were all about fall colors, which is one of the reasons I wanted to move here. I absolutely love the fall season. We have been getting really early starts to hit the morning hours for photography and its been working out great. You can see some of these photos here:

Fall Colors - Trip 1

Fall Colors - Trip 2 

However, Saturday that was just not happening. We could not pull ourselves out of bed early enough to make it work, so we fell back to our alternate plans. Sunset photos! This left us with two options, there was a chance for some storms out on the plains, or try a new spot and head back to the mountains for more fall colors. Since we have done fall colors twice this month, the storms won this time. 

It started off pretty slow, but it was a low risk day anyway so this was not surprising. There was a very cool looking storm to the south of us, but it was too far away to reach quickly. We decided on a storm closer to us near Cheyenne Wells just south of Burlington. 

Burlington Sunset-16Burlington Sunset Storms

This wasn't bad, but not super photogenic. Soon after I took this shot it started raining, so we bailed north again trying to figure out what to do next. We then noticed the sun was getting very close to setting already! This one snuck up on us since we got used to the late sunrises from the summer months. It's not unheard of for the sun to set as late as 8:30pm! It was only 6:30pm so it just felt way too early. This is my least favorite part about living here.. it gets dark so early in the winter which makes the days feel extremely short. 

We found a lovely field of wheat and got out of the car to setup. As I was getting out of the car I glanced to the east and was astounded to see an amazing full rainbow just sitting there. Burlington Sunset-17Burlington Sunset Rainbow

This was the view when we looked to the west. We were surrounded by beauty on both sides.   Burlington Sunset-7Burlington Sunset on wheat

What a wonderful dilemma, I had a blast going back and forth getting photos as the sun was setting. The first shot of the rainbow was the best by far. I also got a ton of photos of the sunset, I have had a hard time picking out my favorites. 

Burlington Sunset-9Burlington Sunset-9 Burlington Sunset-13Burlington Sunset-13 Burlington Sunset-14Burlington Sunset-14

It was the perfect way to end to the day, but not the end of the chase weekend. Where Saturday was a pretty low risk day, Bill told me that Sunday was a much higher risk day. We decided we would head out again, but this trip would send us into Nebraska! This time we needed an earlier start. For details on the actual chase, please check out Bill's blog. He is much better with the details about the weather and why we made the decisions we did. This is just about my love of photography and some of the stories behind the photos. 

We started out with this cool little storm by some plants I have no name for.. Please help me out, it looked interesting but I have no idea what type of crop they were! 

FlemmingFlemming After this cool field we went on to a nice little niche in the storms. We stayed here for a while watching it grow, but we could see the rain and hail coming up the road at us. Really eerie to look down a road and realize you can only see about half what you saw just a few minutes ago. There was just a mist hanging over it that was slowing moving towards us. We took off, and only got hit by some soft squishy hail that didn't do any damage. Yay!

YumaPanoYumaPano

After we left this storm it went severe warned and showed some good signs of producing a tornado! We didn't have a lot of options so we took a gamble and tried to beat it to Imperial, Nebraska. Again.. definitely check out Bill's blog for the details, I am not the weather person of this duo. I just love the beauty of the storms themselves. 

While racing to Imperial, we passed this tiny little storm outside Benkelman, Nebraska that was growing like mad. It literally looked like the "little storm that could". So we decided to stick with it and it really paid off! This was a gorgeous storm! And all by itself so it really could show off a bit. It also setup so nicely right next to this hayfield. How accommodating of it!

BenkelmanHayBenkelmanHay

This thing grew so quickly! Here is it from the other side of the road only half an hour later. The lighting changed due to the side of the storm we were on. 

Benkelman Storm Growing PanoBenkelman Storm Growing Pano

We decided to chase it just a bit further since it has known grown so big it was now the storm everyone was following. We chased it all the way to Hayes Center, Nebraska where we watched it until the sun set. 

HayesCenterPanoHayesCenterPano HayesCenterSunsetHayesCenterSunset

I even managed to get some time-lapse of the storms, something I have been trying to do more of. 

HayesCenter time-lapse 1   HayesCenter time-lapse 2 We had to give up the chase at this point since we were far from home and work was coming very early the next day. But this was a very enjoyable trip and we got to see some beautiful storms. We both had a great time and would do it again in a heartbeat. Yes, it is definitely a lot of driving. But somethings are worth some legwork to experience. 

View all photos/videos from the weekend here: http://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/p1023021637

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) clouds colorado nebraska plains rainbow storm storms sunset supercell https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2017/10/chase-day Sun, 15 Oct 2017 23:29:03 GMT
Peace https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2016/7/peace Life can be crazy. Finding serenity in the craziness can definitely be difficult. We have been going through a lot of changes lately. We are looking for a place to rent and finally settled on a house in Castle Rock. It will be almost double our current space and will allow our cats some well needed romping time as Shae and Grue are both looking a bit chubby after living in an apartment for a year! However in the midst of this we got some very sad news from back home. Nelson, a sweet and generous man, passed away on Sunday. The loss itself hurts. But to be so far away while those we love are grieving has hurt our hearts and we are scrambling to get back to help in any way we can. 

The move was a normal stress. We have moved before. In fact we are pretty good at it! Finding a place proved difficult, but we had finally found the place and started the process to make it our own. However, the loss of a family member is not something I have a lot of practice at. I don't want to go into it too much, but I wanted to bring all this up to share what lead me to take the following photos. Bill suggested we go out to take some pictures when I didn't want to do anything but sit on the couch and worry. He knows sometimes I have a hard time getting motivated to get out there, but I always enjoy it when I do. We went out to our favorite park here in Colorado. Its right next to where we live currently, and I will miss having it so nearby. 

Colorado Grasses

FenceLine

I needed the peace of just being out there. But I also needed the focus of capturing what we were experiencing on my camera The wonderful part of Colorado is it is so beautiful, I didn't have to look far. The fence shot was taken from the parking area where we got out. We walked down a little ways and found a lovely little pond as our next subject. 

Serenity Escape

Taking the time to just go out and do something I love in a place I love gave me the peace I needed. Having the man I love next to my while doing it was pure icing on the cake. I need to get out and do this more often. 

Life is short. Go out and do what you love with the people you love. You never know whats coming next. Good or bad, there will be change. It always happens. The key is to embrace the now and live your life to the fullest. 

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) Cherry Creek State Park clouds grass grasses park peace reeds serene serenity sunset water https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2016/7/peace Thu, 07 Jul 2016 02:48:34 GMT
Lightning Photography https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2016/6/lightning-photography I have been trying to improve my lightning photography but it's hard since you don't really get a lot of chances to practice! This has changed a bit since moving to Colorado. Lately, we have had some amazing evening storms and the past few have put on some beautiful shows. I had always hoped to have a good chance at photographing lightning, and after some research came across a cool gadget called a lightning trigger. It hooks up to your camera and triggers it to take a photo when it detects lightning. I have wanted one for a while, but never splurged to get it. However, this year Bill got me one for Christmas and I have been so excited to try it out!

Unfortunately, the model I had picked out specifically stated it worked for my camera, but it had the wrong adapter cable. We reached out to the company with not a lot of hope since it has been months since Bill purchased it. However, this company was great to work with. They realized it was their error (their research had my model camera needing the wrong adapter) and sent us a replacement free of charge! Awesome!! Except, when it came it still didn't work. I called them back and they were extremely apologetic and are sending me a completely new trigger. This will arrive on Tuesday, so I am very eagerly waiting for it to come. Hopefully it will help for the daytime lightning since it doesn't get dark here until 8:30/9pm. In the meantime, I have been playing around with what I can do manually.. and some of it came out pretty good!

Here are some of the examples of a storm during the day. I can't tell you how frustrating it was trying to play with settings to get as long of an exposure as possible to maximize my chance to get a lightning photo. There was so much light out so I could only tweak my settings so far. This was one of the best shots I got. I am really looking forward to getting my lightning trigger so I can adjust my settings better and trust it to take the shot at the right moment. 

Cherry Creek Daytime LightningCherry Creek Daytime Lightning

We had another storm later that week that came in after a fantastic sunset. We weren't able to get out there soon enough to capture the color of the sunset, but it was still a good show. My favorite from the night was this one. Its so much easier when I can set my camera to long exposure! But there is still a lot of crossing your fingers and hoping for luck. Two very key things are involved and can't be planned for completely. That you are pointed where the next lightning strike will happen, and that you are taking the photo when the lightning strike happens! I can't tell you how often it was right after your shutter clicks shut that the awesome strike hits. I loved how this one turned out. Bill managed to get a great shot of this one as well!

Lightning - Cherry Creek Park Last night, we noticed a bit late that there was a cool thunderstorm that had been rolling in. We rushed out of the house to chase it, but it had started to fizzle by the time we were setup. I got a decent series of shots that I experimented with stacking into one and thought the result was pretty cool! This is a combination of three shots. Unfortunately the original had a lovely red streak through each of the shots where a plane had flown by while I was taking the photos. I got to experiment with Photoshop to pull that out. I think the end result is pretty cool!

What you don't see is the swarm of mosquitoes surrounding us while we were taking the photos. We didn't notice them at first, we were both so focused on trying to capture the lightning. However, they quickly made us aware of their presence! We sprayed down with bug-spray, but that turned out to either be either old or just not an effective deterrent. It was even worse when we hopped into the car to avoid the incoming rain only to find easily another 2 or 3 dozen mosquitoes had followed us in and were now trapped inside with us!! After a massacre of all those little buggers we tried to come up with an alternate way to get in and out of the car to avoid so many coming in with us. We did better, but easily ended up with a dozen each time we stopped. There has got to be a better way! 

Stacked Lightning Photo

My last shot of the day was my favorite from the night. Right after this one was taken the rain hit us. Luckily I had Bill with me, and he has learned so much from his recent storm chasing that he was able to warn me of incoming rain. We got back in to the car and within 20 seconds the rain started coming down hard! So glad my camera wasn't out in that!

Lightning Strike

There is another storm coming in tonight, so hopefully I will have more to add. But I am happy with what we have captured so far! Can't wait to start playing with my lightning trigger. I will post my results when I have them. 

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) colorado lightning night photography storms weather https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2016/6/lightning-photography Sun, 12 Jun 2016 21:53:44 GMT
Storm-Chasing Adventures - Our First Tornado https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2016/5/storm-chasing-adventure---our-first-tornado A little backstory before I start. My boyfriend and I recently moved to Colorado. We have been here since August of 2015, and we both had different priorities in mind when we moved. I love taking photos and growing things, so the thought of being away from the desert and near the beauty that is Colorado and the Rockies really made me happy. Bill loves storms, so his excitement all had to do with being closer to the plains and having a chance to finally chase storms. 

Since I love taking photos, I signed up to help photograph the storms whenever I had a chance to go with him. This weekend everything lined up perfectly so we headed out. We got out to our target area (near Akron, CO) pretty early, so I took some time-lapse photos of these beautiful fluffy clouds while he watched the radar. I don't yet have a good solution for combining my time-lapse, so those will be posted later. In the meantime, stuff started happening further south so we packed up and headed south to see what was going on. 

Route36First stop of the day

We stopped and got some initial photos of the storms. While we were stopped, fellow chasers kept driving by and waving! It was a great way to start the day. We drove down a little further and decided to stop again, but to our surprise we noticed that one of the chase tours that had driven by earlier (Silver Lining) had made the same decision! So we all got out and took some photos, but nothing exciting happened yet. 

Storm Tour-1-CopeStorm Tour-1-Cope We also met another chaser named Greg and got to talk to him a bit and compare notes. It sounded like we were on the same page, which was encouraging since we had not been doing this long. In fact this was my first and Bill's third time out on a real chase. So once the rain hit we all packed up and headed to the northeast. 

CO59Notice the greenish tinge to the clouds in the upper right hand side of the storm We stopped several times as we were chasing the storms and kept seeing some beautiful features. It was also my first time seeing the odd greenish cast to the clouds that I had heard of, but never seen personally. We then moved to Eckley, CO. We stopped in a graveyard of all places and watched the storm move towards us. The view we had of the storm completely took over the horizon it was so large. This panoramic helps somewhat in showing the immensity of the storm. If you look on the right you can see where the sky is starting to turn black. This was the the whole sky to the west of us and it was just constant rolling thunder. 

Panoramic 7-EckleyPanoramic 7-Eckley

This was also our first experience with having the town's tornado siren go off while we were watching the storm! This would happen to us again later in the day. We never did see the tornado they were warning about, but it was still a beautiful view. In fact, a tad too beautiful. We got hit by hail on our way out of town. Guess we should have left a bit earlier! 

We followed this storm for a while, but it never produced anything big so we decided to venture out a bit and head towards Wray. We actually saw the Dominator in town while we were there. That was kinda cool, and a little nerve wracking when they decided to turn left at the stoplight Bill had already said we would be turning right on! After some more radar checking Bill decided to stick with his decision and we headed south out of Wray around 4:40pm.

Wray Tornado FormingThis was in the field were we had decided to take a break and eat a late lunch

At this point we have not eaten anything more than chips and popcorn and decided it was time to grab a late lunch. I setup another round of time-lapse, and by the end of it we were seeing this formation! This was looking very promising so we kept filming and taking photos. That was until Bill saw it was rotating immediately over our heads and we needed to get out of Dodge now. We packed up and got a small distance away, but when we stopped we saw it was not nearly far enough away. We kept moving north small distances, but the storm was right behind us each time we stopped. Bill decided we needed to head east, and that made a huge difference! We setup and got to watch the tornado form!

Wray Tornado FormingLook at the rotation above and the debris down below where it was touching the ground We watched this for a while, and it kept rotating all around us. It was so amazing and powerful. Eventually it solidified and started booking it north so we hopped back into the car to catch up. 

Wray Tornado

Wray Tornado Close Up

I can't believe we actually got to see it form and now we are following it! Unfortunately it was headed directly for Wray, so we were both thrilled and a bit worried for the town at the same time. 

Wray Tornado moving North We found out later that there were a handful of people hurt but no one killed and a few buildings were damaged. After catching some more photos, we tried to head north out of town to keep following this storm. Once we hit Wray however, we found the road was closed due to some downed power lines. We tried a couple times to go around, but this pretty much ended the chase for the day, but what a way to end it! I had a great time, and can't wait to go again. I could not have done it without Bill on the Radar and deciding where we were going next and when it was safe to stop and when we had to move. I also got this panoramic of the tornado I am pretty happy with. 

Wray Tornado Panoramic

Album with all my photos from yesterday's storm: Wray 2016

Bill's Blog about storm chasing: Chasing with Bill

I know he is still typing up his entry for yesterday's storm, but it will be up soon with more information and the videos from our chase. 

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) clouds colorado storm chasing storm-chase tornado weather wray https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2016/5/storm-chasing-adventure---our-first-tornado Mon, 09 May 2016 05:27:12 GMT
San Diego Trip https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2016/5/san-diego-trip My family took a trip to San Diego in March as a combination vacation and to attend the wedding for my cousin Joshua. They were driving in from Phoenix and invited me along. Thanks to some of the craziness of flying standby and a very nice boss I ended up coming into town an hour before they did! What an awesome way to start the trip!

The first thing we did after arriving was head out to the beach. This was the first time that my niece Lily would get to see it, and I was so happy that I was able to be there for it. Of course the ocean being what it is.. the first thing that happened was she was bowled over by a wave, and suddenly scared of it. Papa (my dad) came to the rescue and helped her see how much fun it was, and there was no stopping her after that! This was a common site, Paul chasing her as she was chasing a wave!

FearlessChasing the waves - hasn't quite figured out they always come back!

After playing in ocean for a while, we decided to cross under the bridge and see what the bay side looked like. It was a completely different experience. The ocean side was all waves and cold water. The bay side was warm and still. Lily enjoyed playing here, but absolutely refused to pose for a photo with her mom and dad. This would become a recurring theme this weekend!

Bay Side     Squirming LilyI don't wanna!

The next day was Sea World! We wanted to visit so Lily could experience a Shamu show while they were still going on. It was a very fun day and we enjoyed exploring. Lily loved petting the animals and most of all, playing with bubbles! 

Shamu Show     Bubbles!

The next day we visited Sea Port Village and Dad convinced us to do a Seal Tour! This was so cool, its a bus/boat that goes straight from driving on the roads to taking us out to sea. None of us had ever done one before, so it was awesome getting to do it together.

Family on Seal Tour

It was a fun trip and I am so happy I was able to join them. We did more, Old Town San Diego, Josh & Ruth's Wedding, and I even heard they made it to the beach with the rest of the family after I hopped a flight back home. The photos below are a compilation of what Mom, Paul, and I took.

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2016/5/san-diego-trip Sun, 01 May 2016 19:47:17 GMT
Colorado Driving Trip https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2015/1/colorado-driving-trip Day 1 - New Year's Eve

Bill and I set off on a driving trip to Colorado. The timing was interesting as there was a winter storm heading into Arizona that was looking to be quite a storm. We decided to set off in the wee hours of the morning to try to stay in front of it and get an early start on the drive. So at 2am On Wednesday we went North through Usery Pass to the Beeline highway and all the way up to Payson. As we hit Payson, the very first snow flurries we starting to come down. Keeping an eye on the weather forecast as we went along, but our plan seemed to pan out well as we stayed in front of the storm the entire day. We cut further north at Heber then started heading east towards New Mexico. We arrived at Gallup around 6 in the morning. We had a quick breakfast, and then we were off again. Snow was definitely on the ground here and it was 14 degrees outside! This will pretty much set the temperature for the rest of the trip. 

Day 1 - First Light in Gallup NMDay 1 - First Light in Gallup NM

We went through Albuquerque and then headed North past Sante Fe. The land around here was very beautiful, but I think I must have been a bit tired around then because for some crazy reason I took almost no photographs the first couple days of our trip. I am going to include a couple I took with my phone, cause at least its something! It was definitely cold outside! Around noon we stopped at a little rest stop North of Las Vegas, NM. I did get a couple photos here.. everything was covered in snow! Very pretty, but definitely made me break out the winter boots (Thanks Beth!) and warm hat, gloves, and scarf. These were pretty much a staple for most of my time from here on out!

Day 1 - NM Rest Stop near Las Vegas-2Day 1 - NM Rest Stop near Las Vegas-2

We kept heading North and made it into Colorado a couple hours later, and the difference was striking. Colorado really is a beautiful state, even when covered in snow! We kept going on our way and around 4pm we made it into Colorado Springs. I forgot to write down the temperature at that time.. But pretty much the rest of our time in Colorado it was in the teens to mid-twenties. I purchased some long-johns to put on under my jeans, and Bill bought a couple long sleeve shirts. These would be our friends for the rest of our time in Colorado. Oh! Side note.. this was right around the time we discovered my washer fluid had frozen solid. We purchased the -20 stuff that would melt ice.. but it was not until most of the way through the next day that the original fluid thawed and merged with the new stuff and we could clean my windshield. Definitely something to remember for next time!!

View from the end of the hall in our hotel

Day 2 - New Years Day

Waking up in Colorado Springs was interesting because it was snowing when we went outside! A small storm had settled in, however we could see that it would clear up if we headed North towards Ft. Collins, which was our plan anyway. We decided we could explore Colorado Springs when we headed back, since it was snowing here and clear further North. As mentioned earlier, we had no working windshield wiper fluid.. and the wipes I keep in the car for this purpose had frozen solid in the car overnight!! A couple hours later we were in Ft. Collins. It is a beautiful city and was a lot of fun to explore for that day. We even went out of town a bit, and a short 30 minute drive brought us to a small KOA that Bill had stayed when he was here earlier that year. It was closed due to the snow now, but it was cool to know that you could go so close to town and still be completely in the wilderness for camping. 

Day 2 - Drive to KOA outside Ft Collins-3Day 2 - Drive to KOA outside Ft Collins-3

Day 3 - January 2nd

We started our day by heading out of Ft. Collins towards Boulder. The drive was not on the highway this time, but a smaller road that still moved along well closer to the mountains. It was very beautiful, and we passed a nice park just as we were leaving Ft. Collins. It was another spot Bill had stopped when he was here earlier, so I wanted to see it too. 

This was our view:

Day 3 - View from pathDay 3 - View from pathView we had on our trip - still beautiful!

To compare, this was from Bills Trip:

Day 3 - View from path (Compare from Bills Trip)Day 3 - View from path (Compare from Bills Trip)View earlier that same year

We continued out of town and then made it up to Boulder. This was a nice town as well, but had a much smaller feel and the winding roads in the snow were not to my taste. We decided to keep going and headed to Golden as we were told the road from Boulder to Golden was very pretty. It definitely was! 

Day 3 - HorsesDay 3 - Horses

Once we hit Golden we started tossing around the idea of heading back via a different path. If we took the path West it would take us through the Rockies and into Utah. I was all for it, but Bill wanted to make sure the path was clear of storms and would not add too much time to our drive. It was slated to only add around an hour and no storms were forecasted. We were on our way! And this is what we saw as we entered the Rockies. I did not get tired of this view the entire time.. it was simply gorgeous. Unfortunately it was also a bit treacherous thanks to the snow the last couple days and the fact that parts of the road are in the shadow of the mountains for most of the day. So we had to cut our speed quite a bit and added at least an additional hour, possibly two. I still consider it worth it!

Day 3 - Driving through RockiesDay 3 - Driving through Rockies

We arrived in Moab Utah around 7:30 that evening and decided the next town was too small to risk whether or not they would have a hotel. Note: The next town was Monticello.. and I am glad we didn't try to push through as there was not much there and hardly any hotels. So we stayed the night knowing tomorrow we would be back in Arizona. 

Day 4 - January 3rd

We woke up and headed out of town, and had this view to greet us as we were leaving Moab. 

Day 4 - Leaving Moab UtahDay 4 - Leaving Moab Utah

Seriously love the mountains! And I totally forgot that Moab has its own unique taste to add to the trip. As we are driving along and the lovely red cliffs are on either side we pass this. 

Day 4 - Leaving Moab Utah-6Day 4 - Leaving Moab Utah-6

Totally want to come back some day for some night photography!! I think it would be a lot of fun here. We were making good time on the way home when suddenly ahead and just below us we see some odd clouds.. or is that fog?

Day 4 - Seeing Fog from a distanceDay 4 - Seeing Fog from a distance

As we get closer we realize we are about to drive down into it.. Visibility definitely was effected by it, but it coated everything around it with ice crystals. Very surreal and beautiful.

Crazy fog or very low clouds

After this we continued on and soon passed into Northern Arizona. This part was fairly uneventful until the GPS glitched and sent us along a unplowed 2 lane road on the reservation. We went along for around 4 miles and decided it was not going to end soon and turned around.. it was a crazy little road, and definitely the most nerve-wracking ice/snow driving for me the entire trip!

Day 4 - GrandParents Cabin-5Day 4 - GrandParents Cabin-5

We went back in through Heber and the same path we had initially taken on our road to Colorado. The only detour was that we stopped and visiting my Grandparent's Cabin in Star Valley, which was beautifully covered in snow. We arrived back home around 4pm very tired, but happy. All in all, it was a good trip, and a fun way to bring in the new year. 

 

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) Ft. Collins colorado mountains road trip rockies snow https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2015/1/colorado-driving-trip Mon, 12 Jan 2015 07:43:34 GMT
Family Trip - Knotts Berry Farm and Strawberry Festival https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/8/family-trip This is was a trip I took with my parents and younger brother earlier this year to my mom's home town of Garden Grove, California. We were on a berry adventure, starting with Knotts Berry Farm, then the Strawberry Festival, and finally the Strawberry Festival Parade with a small detour to the beach since its a requirement if you go to California to visit the beach while you are there.

We started out with Knott's Berry Farm. I have been wanting to visit this place for a while because I hardly remember it from when I went as a kid. 

Mom and HeatherMom and Heather

 

It was a great day to be there, and we even had the pleasure of getting to hang out with my cousin Timothy the whole day!

Timothy on rideTimothy on ride

The next day we made a slight detour on the way to the beach. We stopped at my mom's alma mater - Garden Grove High School where she and dad met some very nice students who helped her find the bookstore and some souvenirs from the school. Daniel and I weren't so keen on wandering around the school bookstore, so we explored the park across the street and had a blast watching the animals. There were ducks, geese, turtles, bunnies, and some people feeding the ducks right next tot he sign saying not to! Here is a video of a crazy bully duck who kept quacking at the other ducks to keep them away from the food. 

bully duck gets bullied

After this we headed out to the Corona del Mar Beach. This was really cool as it had a lot of rocks along the shore, and was very scenic! Would love to come back here again when it was slightly warmer so we could swim!

Rock reflection in sandRock reflection in sand

I especially loved this rock as the water would lap up and around it completely and left behind enough water to reflect the image of the rock. Dad and Daniel were brave enough to time the waves and walk on the other side of the rock! They did get a tad wet, but the tide had moved in too much for mom and I to try it on our way back.

Afterwards We found this great little place for lunch and we loved it! If you are in the area I highly recommend it.

great place to eatgreat place to eatawesome burgers!

That evening we explored the Strawberry Festival, and enjoyed some awesome strawberry shortcake, strawberry cake, strawberries.. umm need I say more?

strawberry festival-6strawberry festival-6

The next morning was the Strawberry Parade, where mom got to cheer on her high school! Dad found some not-quite jeeps.. but I don't recall what they were called. 

cool not-quite jeepscool not-quite jeeps

And there were a couple very interesting schools. One was in some cultural costumes with masks, almost felt like a New Orleans style with a single trumpet and 2 other brass playing accompaniment. Another was a school called McGarvin with beautiful uniforms and violins in their marching band! Here is a video, it was really a cool combination.

McGarvin Violin Marching Band

 

We also had the chance to experience Farrell's for my mom's birthday party. My Uncle Norm, Aunt Sharon, and all 4 of their sons were able to join us! It was so much fun, and the food was good and the ice cream was amazing!!

dinner with norm and sharon and the boysdinner with norm and sharon and the boys

On the way home we stopped by the Salton Sea (more on that place here) and the Sand Dunes. 

long walk uplong walk up

All in all it was a great trip and we had a wonderful time! All photos can be seen here:

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) Knotts berry farm berry california salton sea sand dunes strawberry strawberry festival https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/8/family-trip Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:11:36 GMT
Ladies Camping Trip https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/8/ladies-camping-trip Playing catch up! Here are some of the photos from our ladies camping trip a couple months ago. Most of these family albums will be a combo of my nice DSLR and my little point and shoot for convenience. :) In fact, a lot of the stuff with my family I get copies of what my mom has taken as well to get another perspective! You will see this with my niece's birthday party photos I will be posting later.. still need to go through those!

Good FriendsGood FriendsFrom left to right, Me, My sister Jenny, Best friend Lissa, her sisters Kathy and Beka

Had a great time camping at Blue Ridge Reservoir in northern Arizona. Lissa was the queen of camping trailers who set this up like a champ and had us setup with awesome beds. Huge improvement from our freezing in a tent last time we tried this! :)

Had to try my hand at some night photography, and got this cool picture of everyone in the field that was a short walk from where we camped. 

Friends in the FieldFriends in the Field

Whats hard to believe is that it was pitch black out in this field! It was so much fun to play with this and have some willing participants to be in the shots! I got another awesome one of Lissa in the hammock that is one of my all time favorites. 

Had a great time exploring and spending time with good friends!

You can view the whole album here: 

 

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) blue ridge reservoir camping friends northern arizona https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/8/ladies-camping-trip Mon, 04 Aug 2014 00:38:22 GMT
Rose Moon https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/6/rose-moon We went exploring again, and found a nice view of Four Peaks to use as the backdrop for the rising Rose Moon this past Friday the 13th. 

Rose Moon RisingRose Moon Rising

Pretty happy with how it turned out, even if it does look more like a sunrise than a moonrise! The moon had a lovely orange-red glow to it that added this awesome effect. 

Tried a couple close-ups, but the timing had to be perfect and and I did not quite make it as I would like to see a sharper focus. I may have to try renting a really good telephoto to see if that will help get this process a bit quicker for the moonrise shots. Also would allow a better size and definition of the moon. Definitely worth another experiment! 

Rising Rose MoonRising Rose Moon

Thoughts on this photo-shoot: The spot we found was right off a dirt road made for a lot of dust in front of my later photos, try to find a more isolated area next time. It did however lead to some interesting options for long exposures! The picture below was taken as a car drove by in front of us. The lights you see are the headlights. :)

Light at Four PeaksLight at Four Peaks

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) four peaks moonrise rose moon https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/6/rose-moon Tue, 17 Jun 2014 17:35:43 GMT
Discovering the Salton Sea https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/5/discovering-the-salton-sea Returning from California my dad asked if we would like to take an alternate route back to Arizona. Considering how often we have all done this drive, we decided to take a chance to see something new and go a different way. And of course my dad had a suggestion for what else we might want to stop and take a look at! He is great for knowing obscure places and things to see around Arizona. This was how I found out about the Tonto Natural Bridge, but those pictures are for another day!

This time we decided to stop by the Salton Sea. This is a large salt-water lake that was made by an engineering mistake (more information can be found here: http://saltonseamuseum.org/salton_sea_history.html). I would love to go back when I have more time to see if I can get some better pictures. We were there in the middle of the day with almost no clouds which is not very conducive environment for good photography. However you may notice my updated profile picture is from here. So you can always get lucky with a good shot! This is the largest lake in California, and you feel it when you are there. The water just seems to go to the horizon whether looking up or down the coastline. I can see why they named it the Salton 'Sea'. 

Salton SeaSalton Sea

This is what you see while walking to the shore.  When you get out of the car the first thing you notice is the heat. It was 100 degrees here (Phoenix was only listed at 99 degrees at the time we visited). The second thing you notice is the smell. Salt water and dead fish. What's interesting is that in a very short amount of time you stop noticing the smell, however you never forget about the heat!

Beach of Dead FishBeach of Dead Fish

As we got closer to the shore you notice what looks like small flat rocks along the water. Except as you get closer you see that they are actually dead fish. Tilapia to be specific. They are the only fish that can live in the salt water, and they estimate about 4.5 million live in the lake at this time. I have no idea why so many were dead on the shore, but it was very surreal. 

PelicansPelicans As you are looking around you begin to notice the large number of birds. Pelicans, seagulls, cranes, and I am sure many more I can't name on sight. This is a huge stop in the migratory path of many species and at certain times houses large (I think they said 40,000+) flocks of birds. Definitely something worth seeing and I am hoping to make it back sometime to catch that in action!

Salt Formations-2Salt Formations-2

Check out these odd salt formations along the coastline. A very unique place to visit, and they do have campgrounds if you decide you want to stay overnight. Might be worth it since this place is also in the middle of nowhere!! I am hoping it also might be a good place to visit for some night photography since the city lights would be pretty far away. If you are ever in the area, I would swing by. It's a very unique place and worth a visit.

White CraneWhite Crane

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) :salt-water birds lake" pelicans salt water lake salton sea https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/5/discovering-the-salton-sea Sat, 31 May 2014 00:31:04 GMT
Mogollon Rim and Woods Canyon Lake https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/5/mogollon-rim-and-woods-canyon-lake Good news! I have my camera back, and it was a relatively inexpensive repair ($125 for a clean and a new LCD screen). Very happy to have my camera back! I also have a new astro-lens to play with - Rokinon 24mm F1.4 Wide Angle Lens. This is a huge aperture that brings in a ton of light for the night photography. 

In part to play with my new lens and partly as an excuse to get out of the 100 degree weather in Phoenix this weekend we headed up north to the Mogollon Rim and Woods Canyon Lake. You will notice it was slightly cloudy along the horizon. But I loved the view and the clarity of the stars. 

Cloudy at the RimCloudy at the Rim

We moved over to the Woods Canyon Lake area to see if I could get anything with the reflection of the stars in the lake. We were so surprised when halfway through one of my shots of the lake, there goes a shooting star! It was even in the right area to be part of my photo! If you look in the upper left you can see it. What a rush! This really made my night since the last time we were out here for the Lyrid meteor shower I didn't even catch a thing!

Shooting Star over LakeShooting Star over Lake

Already a great night, but here is one more shot that I was very pleased with. Again, a lot of clouds so you can't see a lot of the stars. But the overall effect of the shot was something I really liked. 

Cloudy Sky at LakeCloudy Sky at Lake

Happy to be out taking photos again, and looking forward to my California trip with my parents and little brother next week. Hopefully I can get some cool shots while I am there!

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) canyon lake forest lake mogollon rim night https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/5/mogollon-rim-and-woods-canyon-lake Sun, 18 May 2014 19:37:41 GMT
Good Night, Bad Night https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/4/good-night-bad-night Last night my boyfriend and I decided to make a last minute trip up north to see what can be seen of the Lyrid meteor shower that was reaching its peak that evening. We arrived there at full dark and explored the Woods Canyon Lake area to see if we could find a good view of the night sky.

We found a meadow that allowed a decent view and setup to start taking some pictures. We also explored light painting and learned so much this evening! First, I found out that I love light painting. It opens up so many more options with night photography. 

Here is one of the shots we took after playing around with it for a while.

Forest RoadForest Road

Here it what it would look like without lightpainting:

Forest Road - Without Light PaintingThis is the same photo without light painting

See how I was able to bring color and definition to the trees and road instead of just leaving them as silhouettes.

While this was very successful, the whole point to the evening was the Lyrids and they were almost a complete no-show. My boyfriend saw a bright one that lit up the sky, however I did not get to capture it on the camera (I wasn't even looking in that direction so I didn't see it at all). Other than than we saw maybe half a dozen shooting stars.

We moved from this location back to Woods Canyon Lake to see if we could capture the moon rising over the lake before we left to head home. Since it was so late and almost no one was out here with us, we saw a large number of wildlife as we drove. We saw a lot of elk, 2 porcupines, and a very scared looking rabbit. We also saw a small pond on the side of the road that I wanted to stop and see how it would turn out. Again this is with light painting, otherwise you would only see the outline of the trees. 

Stars over PondStars over Pond

Again this is how it would look without light painting:

Stars over Pond - No Light PaintingThis is the same picture done without light painting

This was by far my favorite shot of the night, and definitely the highlight for me. However, after snapping this shot, we turned around and saw a herd of elk in front of the car on the road. This made us decide last minute to try and snap a shot of it.. not our best idea. So between getting my camera ready, switching settings, and the fact that I still had my remote timer plugged in I managed to knock my camera over and it unfortunately hit just wrong and smashed my small LCD screen on top that displays all my settings on the camera. This... really sucks. I tried taking pictures when we made it to the lake, however something is definitely not working right. I will have to do some more testing, but it looks like I will have a visit to the camera repair store in my very near future. So while I had a great time, definitely a night of highs and lows. 

OopsBad day - this is what happened to my lcd screen

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) forest forest pond night sky pond https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/4/good-night-bad-night Tue, 22 Apr 2014 21:33:29 GMT
Blood Moon https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/4/blood-moon Last night we experienced a full lunar eclipse that produced a 'Blood Moon'. Basically as the moon was eclipsed by the earth's shadow it slowly turns red and then stays that way for a couple hours. 

After some investigation about what was involved, my boyfriend and I packed up the car and headed out to see what I could capture from the event. After driving about 45 minutes out of town we reached a good spot and started to setup. Unfortunately I realized quickly that I had completely forgotten one of the most important items that you really need for any type of night photography. My Tripod!!! We booked it back to the house, picked up my tripod and headed back out to a closer location (we are lucky enough to live on the outskirts of the Valley) and managed to setup again with only 15 minutes to spare before the eclipse was set to begin! Very happy it worked out as I had a lot of fun and got some great shots from the evening as well. Here are a couple of my favorites.

This is the moon right before the eclipse started. I had only taken my first good shots of the moon couple nights before on our test run, so this was a very good beginning for the evening! This one was taken with my trusty Canon 18-200mm f/5.6 lens.

Full MoonFull Moon

I also have some photos of the eclipse and the beginning of the blood-moon that I will be turning into a time-lapse, but those aren't ready yet and I wanted to get these up as soon as possible! This next one is the blood moon with a bit of moonshine still showing on the right hand side. This was incredibly hard to capture right, so I am proud of this one. :) 

Blood Moon partial eclipseBlood Moon partial eclipse

I wanted to see what I could get with my Rokinon 14mm f2.8 wide-angle. This one shows a little more of what we were seeing, but over-exposed the moon unfortunately. I still like the end result.  

Blood Moon over CactusBlood Moon over Cactus

This last one was taken more as an experiment. I heard that macro lenses take decent moon pictures because of the way they focus. So I pulled out my new Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens and this is what I got. The reason this is zoomed out so far is that bright star in the upper-right is actually Mars! I was very happy with the way this lens was able to focus. 

Blood Moon and MarsBlood Moon and Mars

All in all a very fun evening and an awesome sight. Also a lesson to always double check your gear before heading out! This was almost very bad, and we really got lucky. If you ever get the chance to see a lunar eclipse you should do it! The difference between the brightness of the full moon and the eerie darkness during the eclipse was very cool. Definitely check it out sometime.

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) blood moon bloodmoon desert eclipse lunar eclipse night https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/4/blood-moon Tue, 15 Apr 2014 23:17:39 GMT
New Lens - Back into Macro Photography https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/4/new-lens---macro I decided to splurge this week and purchase a macro lens I have been looking at for the past couple years. I found I really loved macro photography when I had my Canon A650, so this was a great way to explore back into this world with my DSLR camera.

One of the first pictures I took with the new lens was this one: 

ColumbineColumbine

I then went to a good friend's house who has a talent for roses and got these 2 shots:

Multi Colored RoseMulti Colored Rose

Rose Bud OpeningRose Bud Opening

So far I would say the new lens is a success! I will be reading up on it more as I found myself relying on auto a bit more than I like, but I am really looking forward to some more great shots. 

Oh, and for the curious new lens is a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM. 

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) columbine flowers macro roses https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/4/new-lens---macro Sat, 12 Apr 2014 06:34:55 GMT
Trip to Chickasaw Park https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/4/trip-to-chickasaw-park Last year I had some time to go visit some family in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. My aunt was kind enough to show us a cool place called the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Its a nice little piece of forest that was a lot of fun to visit and well worth the drive. While we were there I was able to snap a couple good shots to remember it by. These are some of my favorites.
 

The first place we stopped was a lovely little park where we had our lunch. To get there, you have to wonder over the Lincoln Bridge. It just seems almost out of place in the wilderness of the park. Its a beautiful bridge that reminds you of a different age. Lincoln Bridge - Chickasaw ParkLincoln Bridge - Chickasaw Park

 

As I was snapping photos of this, I turned around and noticed the scene behind me. I had completely overlooked it while admiring the bridge. It looked like a scene from a fairy tale. Just a peaceful little pond fed by a small waterfall. I would have loved to stay there longer. 

Peaceful RetreatPeaceful Retreat

There is so much more to explore in this park, but I will leave you with the last surprise we found as we were leaving. Hiding in a deserted parking lot we found this little guy. We did not see his mother, but she must have been close by. It was a wonderful way to end our visit.

Watchful eyeWatchful eye

That's it for now, but I will be back when I have more new photos to share. 

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) bridge chickasaw chickasaw recreation area deer fawn lincoln bridge pond https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/4/trip-to-chickasaw-park Wed, 02 Apr 2014 21:29:15 GMT
New Start https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/3/new-start Thank you so much for stopping by! I will be updating this blog with the projects I am working on. Right now my biggest project has been this new website. I am still working on getting the content in and updated, so please bear with me as I tweak it to the final product. 

 

One of the first changes that I am really happy with is that if you go to the pictures (ie click here: http://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/p698877043/h34f8b315#h2afe34a7) you can hover over the upper right hand corner where you see the little floating 'i' and you can see the information regarding that specific photo. That took a bit of experimenting to figure out! Another new change is the additional of Photo 'Collections'. This is how you can group photos with similar subjects all in the same place. I will be using this a lot more in the future, and I think it should make navigating the site a lot easier!

 

The second project I am working on is is playing with Lightroom to improve photos (without making them look overly manipulated). I am still very new, and watching tons of videos to help improve. Please, any feedback is welcome! I enabled comments for all my photos so feel free to leave me a message and let me know. 

 

One of the first photos I retouched was this one:

Road HomeRoad Home

I used to rely on Picasa (http://picasa.google.com/) for my photo editing when needed and I thought some of the photos came out pretty good. Some of them did not turn out as well, but I was unable to improve upon it with the tools I had. For instance, this one in particular came out too dark in the mountains while washing out the nice cloudy sky. I went back in to the original file and tried it again with Lightroom and this was the result:

Road HomeRoad Home

I thought this was a better crop and edit for the photo. I loved the shadows you can see in the mountains without losing the details. This was taken with my current camera (Canon 60D) but in jpg, not raw. It still gave me some great options for bringing out the colors. What do you think of the orginial vs the new edit? 

 

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to have more up in the near future!

~Heather

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[email protected] (Heather Carroll) edit lightroom mountains picasa road road home https://www.heathercarrollphotos.com/blog/2014/3/new-start Tue, 25 Mar 2014 21:56:36 GMT