Whenever it’s decided to take a trip or vacation, it’s probably a good idea to do a little research into the area to enhance the possibility that it will live up to your expectations and be an enjoyable experience with lasting memories. For a photo trip, those memories are in the form of photographs, and this research can be crucial in coming home with some good images that were in you mind before ever reaching your destination. These preparations can increase the odds of being at the right location at the right time to capture what it is you wanted in going there in the first place.
With all the information available on the internet, it’s amazing how detailed your research can be. With personal devices to use with the Global Positioning Satellites and GPS coordinates readily available on the web, you can almost find the tripod marks of photos you’ve seen if the coordinates are shared by the photographer; and in so many instances, they are!! By combining Google Maps and the satellite views, you can visually see hiking trails and specific details of the surroundings of your intended destination.
As an example, by doing a Google search of “pictures of the Egg Factory, Bisti Badlands, NM”, literally hundreds of photos will appear. By selecting a particular photo, a link is available to go directly to the web site containing the photo where you may get specific information about it’s location (GPS coordinates), how long the hike is to get there, and maybe even whether the photo was taken at sunrise or sunset.
You can even do the same type of search in The Photographer’s Ephemeris web site. Type in “The Egg Factory” and it may actually pinpoint the spot and give you the direction in degrees of the rise and set of the sun and moon for the specific day you intend to be there, even if it’s six months in advance!!
I just spent quite a bit of time doing this kind of photographic detective work for an upcoming trip through California. A big part of this trip is to explore the “Lost Coast”, one of the last remaining wild and remote areas in the continental US coastline. I found quite a few off-road possibilities to get to these off the beaten track locations looking at the satellite views; discovered an abandoned lighthouse a 1-mile hike from the end of one of these roads; and found a location with a beautiful view of Mt. Shasta, the hike to get to the spot, that it may be doable for someone my age, and that there is a small camping area right there at the end of the gravel road to the trailhead. You could probably find pictures of each campsite as well if you cared to.
So, after accumulating 26 pages of notes, information, pictures, maps, Walmart, Motel6 and other locations, and specific direction to many of the sights to visits, along with 10 separate full page maps and armed with AAA maps and two off-road guide books, I’ll leave shortly for a three-week trip through some of the finest landscapes a single state can offer. I hope to see the giant sequoias, tall redwoods and ancient bristlecone pines; the dramatic coastline of rocky coves, tide pools, sea stacks and wind-swept bluffs along with the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. I’m hoping to have time to visit Crater Lake in Oregon before heading back down through the mountain ranges of inland California, before ending up traveling through some desert terrain and sand dunes of Death Valley and the Mojave. The plan for the final evening is to photograph the wild architecture of the Walt Disney Auditorium in downtown LA, another item I found through the internet, before the huge task of repacking all the gear for the flight home.
If you’d like to come along on this adventure, just follow the entries here as the blog morphs into a journal of each days occurrences along with some specific informational notes for future reference. So please forgive me as it may be boring, and to fill up some of the idle time at night waiting for the next dawn, a bit long winded. And if past trips are any indication, the word McDonald’s may appear quite often.