Short trek along the Sunrise Highway and Through Cleveland National Forest

(Click on an image to see it enlarged.)

Another good friend took pity on my near terminal cabin fever and we went shooting in the Cuyamacas and Cleveland National Forest.  The lighting (early afternoon) was far from perfect and we saw a number of places that dawn or dusk light might really bring to light, nonetheless, it was great to get out and do some more photography.

We drove around Julian and then headed south to the Sunrise Highway.  This road offers some great overviews of the desert out to the Salton Sea but the lighting was just flat so no shots there.  However very close to the junction of State highway 79 and the Sunrise Highway is the now decomposing body of what was once a giant oak tree.  The shot below was taken in 2003 not long before major fires swept through the area and killed it.

A shot from 2003 of the magnificent old tree at the entrance to the Sunrise Highway. Shot with as Nikon E5700 EVF 5 megapixel camera.

Over the years it has fallen then started to come apart.  Here is a shot from our trip using a full frame fisheye 15mm to give a sense of the tangle of branches which, except of a small portion of the trunk, is all that is left now.

Taklen with 1Ds Mk II and 8-15mm fisheye set at 15mm for full-frame fisheye

The tree is on the north side of the road but looking south is a giant meadow.  Once it was an arm of Lake Cuyamaca.  The fence line ringing through the center of the shot was once along the shoreline.  This shot is also with the 15mm full-frame fisheye but by putting the horizon in the middle of the shot a lot of the distortion is removed except along the edges.

View south from entrance to Sunrise Highway. 1Ds Mk II with 8-15mm fisheye set to 15mm. The fence line in the middle ground indicates the location of the old shore line of Lake Cuyamaca.

All along the road at this spot, the edges of the meadow are lined with flowers providing a nice foreground for wide-angle shots.

Shot with 1Ds Mk II and 24mm lens

The local gathering of bees and like critters was devoted to gathering the pollen from these flowers.  There are three different types of insects in this shot gathering goodies on the flowers.

Bees working over a flower along wth road side. Shot with 1Ds Mk II with 180mm Macro lens

After shooting here, we drove south on the Sunrise Highway then turned off on an old road that cuts across the hills and ends up in Pine Valley.  The road is an old, one-lane paved road.  Nearly any vehicle could drive it if you were careful and went slow but you’d be better served with a high clearance rig.  Along the way are very nice groves and pull offs for camping.  Here is one such area across from a pull out where people had camped in the past.

This are too had it share of flowers still in bloom although the riot of colors that must be here in spring had long since faded away.  You can see a lot of white flowers in the shot above.  Here too the bees were busily working the plants for all they were worth so here is a shot on one on these flowers.

Bee on flower in Cleveland National Forest. 1Ds MkII with 180mm macro lens.

I tried also to take some extreme close ups but the constant wind and my lack of a tripod (it is still more than my shoulder can stand to lug around a tripod) made the 2X and 3X shots I tried impossible due to movement.  The 1X to 5X lens works differently than normal lenses; with this you set the magnification you want and then “focus” by varying the focal distance.  THat works fine with truly stationary objects but wind on light flower stalks really adds more “sport” to it than I could master.   I’ll be back when I can carry a tripod and have the stuff to tie them down for a shot.

There are campsite spurs all over the place as well as side roads to various parts of the forest.  Here are a few shots taken from one of them.

Spur road off of the Deer Park Road through the Cleveland National Forest. 1Ds Mk II.

Old path/trail off of spur road through Cleveland National Forest. 1Ds Mk II with 70-200mm lens set to 70mm.

It was great to get out and shoot but I confess I pushed a little too hard and my shoulders were both aching and putting up a fuss by the time we got back to town.  But… I’m still better than I was after the concert shoot and that was much easier.



About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College
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