Tag Archives: california

Imperial Sand Dunes, Twilight by T.M. Schultze

Morning – Imperial Sand Dunes

Morning – Imperial Sand Dunes

I am was on the way to Phoenix yesterday morning, so I spent a quick Morning at Imperial Sand Dunes.  On Interstate 8, out of El Centro, I was headed East when I found that good light was already hitting the clouds and I started planning for a good place to stop.  I decided to try the Imperial Sand Dunes off Grays Well Road.

I also enjoy this stopping point because Grays Well Road is a portion of Old U.S. Highway 80.  The old Plank Road also existed prior to Highway 80’s christening in 1926, and was a set of wooden planks that were set over the dunes to allow vehicular travel to clear the dunes without getting stuck.

The glow from the high, light, clouds had amazing hues or red, pink, purple, and orange.  The strongest colors existed much more than 15 minutes before sunrise, and I was quite pleased with the results.  As the twilight morning grew closer to sunrise, the colors because much more muted, and eventually washed out.

This isn’t the most ideal time of year to photograph the Imperial Sand Dunes.  This is ATV season, and it is hard to look anywhere without seeing tire tracks everywhere.  In a way, I think that still makes for good images though, because it does show a time and place for these dunes, and people can immediately guess where and when the image was taken, as well as provide some perspective for how these particular dunes are enjoyed by the public.

Santee Storm Clouds

Santee Storm Clouds

Santee Storm Clouds

Santee Storm Clouds

Santee Storm Clouds

This week, the El Nino weather system has really hit Southern California.  While most people were heading for cover, I knew that there would be small openings of really dramatic weather.

Heading home from the office, I knew I had hit the jackpot.  I was armed with my backup camera body due to my recent camera accident, and I was using my Nikon 20mm 1.8 lens on a crop sensor, so it really was about a 30mm equivalent on a full-frame system.

Lightroom’s recent addition of the panoramic export is excellent, and with less than ideal equipment, this was a great opportunity to use it!

The resulting image was a 28 image panorama that Lightroom had no issue stitching together.  As you can see, the last light as the huge, high, clouds towered over Santee Lakes was amazing.  The yellows on the high clouds got deeper and deeper just after sunset, before the light vanished all at once!  Those are the brief moments that build memories.  As always, it is great to own your own backyard, and have a good, quick, place to go when you are at home and the light sets up perfectly.

This view is from the Mast Blvd bridge look North over Santee Lakes 2 and 3.  The clouds to the South of the bridge were dark and gloomy, which could have been a different but interesting image.  I wanted to chase the light though, and the opening to the North was too much to pass up.

It still amazes me how much people miss the connection between so-called bad weather and the resulting images.  Be safe, but get out there and brave the elements!  your portfolio will thank you.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the image!

More From Santee Lakes: Sunset Under The Mast Blvd Bridge

More From Santee Lakes

More From Santee Lakes

More from Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve, the beautiful set of lakes just by my home.  The El Nino weather system has kicked in and  the rain is hitting California hard this week.  In the days leading up to this advancing weather system, the light was beautiful. Continue reading

Joshua Tree Photo Guide Finished

Joshua Tree Photo Guide Finished

Photographers Guide To Joshua Tree National Park

Photographers Guide To Joshua Tree National Park

Purchase the new e-book co-authored with Jeremy Long at www.jtphotoguide.com.  The book includes 83 pages and 23 key photographic locations for you to make greater images in Joshua Tree National Park.

Continue reading

Thoughts On The Hyperloop

Thoughts On The Hyperloop

By T.M. Tracy Schultze

Yesterday, Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk open-sourced the idea of the Hyperloop (PDF of the entire idea is located at This Site).

By now, anybody with an interest in technology has read about it. As an idea, it is thought-provoking (see the excellent Ars Technica breakdown of the Hyperloop idea at This Site).

Elon Musk has done this before, turning the idea of the electric car into a viable company that appears destined to be a force in the vehicle market for the rest of this century. So while the idea seems fanciful, I don’t feel it can be ignored.

There is, however, the question of feasibility exists and there are some significant drawbacks. Here are some of the issues that immediately came to mind:

  • The $6 Billion dollar pricetag is impossible. In saying that, I am referring to the cost of the idea from study, to planning, to engineering, and construction. The out of control costs related to the <a href=”http://www.hsr.ca.gov”>California High Speed Rail</a>
  • Project show that we have limited ability to truly project current and future costs for such large projects.
  • One of the ideas from the project was to use the Interstate 5 right of way to control costs. While this seems reasonable on it’s face, it ignores the significant engineering costs related to property easements, underground cabling and piping, aqueducts, rivers, and a whole assortment of
    other issues. Significant rules for keeping lanes open during construction are required because the freeway is part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Even after using available Interstate 5 easements, significant Eminent Domain would be required, a process that often ends up in litigation.
  • The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) would be a massive regulatory undertaking, something that would take years to complete for the entire line of the Hyperloop. The Diablo Range Crossing for the California High Speed Rail Project is an example of just how difficult it is to build these projects quickly while respecting State and Federal enviromental laws.
  • The fantastic speeds being reported only relate to “flat” areas of the Central Valley. The speed of the Hyperloop through communities and mountain ranges will be much slower.
  • Another item missed in a lot of articles is the fact that this is a one-way, non-stop ticket. Need to stop in between? Not going to happen. You have Los Angeles. You have San Francisco. And you have a number of pneumatic tubes in between.

This is not a crackpot idea. I distinctly remember my parents using pnuematic tubing at the drive-through lane at the bank. It is well thought out, well conceived, and a provocative idea. However, it is just not a realistic or feasible idea.

I suspect this is one reason that Musk open-sourced the project. He is a great entrepreneur, and if this project was feasible, I suspect he would have moved forward with it himself.

I would just give pause, and hope everybody doesn’t get their hopes up, because this project will not be built in our lifetimes.

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T.M. Schultze is a San Diego area-based photographer, writer, and artist. For a list of his articles, Click Here. To send him an e-mail, Click Here.