Saturday, December 29, 2012

Vegas and Valley of Fire

Since Vegas is about 2 hours from Death Valley we decided to stop there before heading home to eat, shop, see O by Cirque De Soleil, and check out Valley of Fire state park. My bro and his family were also up there that weekend so we met them at the outlets. After shopping we had some time to kill before dinner so we headed to the park so the kiddies could run around and play for a bit.

Funny thing was that the sunset that night was probably the best the entire trip but we weren't out shooting. We headed to Bachi Burger for dinner, since we have been wanting to try it since we saw it on the food channel.

Oxtail chili cheese fries

Pork belly steamed bun

Banh mi burger

The oxtail fries were good, but the rest were average. We would probably go back to try a different burger, since they have a pretty good selection.

The showing of O was at 10, and we had seats in the front row. Since the first 3 rows are splash zones I thought we were going to get wet, but it wasn't that bad. Between acts, when the clowns come out I got pulled up on stage to dance with one of them haha. There are no photos allowed otherwise Jaime would have taken a picture of it.

The next day we headed out to Valley of Fire state park about an hour NE of Vegas.
Since sunset was at 4:30pm we only had a few hours to explore the park. The first location I wanted to check out was a place dubbed "Crazy Hill" which is west of parking lot #3. Since there are no trails, and I didn't have a GPS, we kind of relied on way points to guide us. Surprisingly it was easier to find than expected. Crazy hill valley of fire On top of crazy hill valley of fire
Jaime on top of crazy hill

Crazy hill valley of fire state park rainbow vista
Jaime taking pics with her new S100

Since you can't pull out on the side of the roads, we had to hike down to the next location dubbed "pink canyon" which is a nice little slot canyon. Part of it still had water so we had to walk around it.

Pink canyon valley of fire slot canyon Pink canyon valley of fire
Jaime getting a reflection of the canyon in the water

Exiting the canyon brings you to another landmark called "striped rock" which looks like the Nike swoosh. Striped rock valley of fire

Since it was getting late, Jaime headed back to the car and I headed back through the canyon to the "Fire Wave", a location I wanted to shoot for sunset. I got there around 4:15 and there were already about 3 people setup.

Pics from when we scouted out the location beforehand:

Sunset shots:

Sunset fire wave valley of fire Fire wave sunset valley of fire Unfortunately the sky was full of thick clouds that didn't really let much light through. There was an open patch to the west, so I had to shoot the wave straight on.

The park has some amazing views and some unique rock formations and colors. We definitely want to go back when we have more time to do some exploring. Some road shots overlooking Rainbow

Valley of fire rainbow vista overlook Valley of fire windy road rainbow vista

Some close-up shots of the rock colors: Rock abstract rainbow vista valley of fire Abstract rock colors valley of fire Rock abstract valley of fire Valley of fire rainbow vista rock abstract

Panorama of Rainbow Vista:
Valley of fire panorama rainbow vista

That night we had reservations at CUT - Wolfgang Puck's steakhouse in the Palazzo. We wanted to try the 100% Wagyu beef from Japan.

They bring the Wagyu out on a tray to show you the cuts. The bottom two in the black wraps are the true Japanese Wagyu cuts (ribeye and new york) which had a crazy amount of marbling.

Maple Glazed Pork Belly, Asian Spices, Watercress, Sesame–Orange Dressing, Fuji Apple Compote

U.S.D.A. PRIME, Illinois Corn Fed, Aged 21 Days Bone In Rib Eye Steak

True Japanese 100% Wagyu Beef From Saga Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan Rib Eye Steak

The Wagyu was like butter and melted in your mouth. It was however, very rich, and hard to eat a lot of. We shared 8oz which was enough. The USDA bone in ribeye was good as well, which we wanted to get to compare to the other steakhouses we have been to. I still like Mastro's and Del Friscos over the USDA cut. With a few sides, and the bread selection they bring in the beginning, we were stuffed. It was a nice last meal to cap off another great trip.

Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography
Landscape and Wildlife photography

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Death Valley - Artist's Palette

Last stop in Death Valley was Artist's drive, a small detour off badwater drive. Took the windy road to Artist's Palette to snap a few pictures of the different color rock formations. This area is best viewed late afternoon as the direct sun is lower and enhances the colors of the rock.

Death valley artist's palette Artist's Palette Artist's palette death valley
Close-up of the colors Mountain range on artist's drive death valley Panorama of the mountain range

Next stop was Vegas to shop (for Jaime) see O and do a whole lot of eating.

Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography
Landscape and Wildlife photography

Death Valley - Badwater Basin

One spot I really wanted to check out was Badwater Basin, which is the lowest point in North America with an elevation of 282ft below sea level. It was once filled by Lake Manly, but is now comprised of salt flats. Every now and again with enough rain, there is enough water to make for some really nice reflection images.

Walking out past the viewing area is a 1/2 mile walkway out to the wide open area of the flats. It almost feels like you are walking on snow, as the salt crunches underneath each step. Looking up this location beforehand, I noticed that some areas of the flats had very interesting pattens made by the salt.


Jaime and I came here in the day to scope out the place. We walked out about 1/4 of a mile past the end of the walkway but did not see any patterns so we headed back in. I returned before sunset and was able to find some of the hexagonal salt patterns to the right of the walkway. I set up here for sunset.

Sunburst with the sun dropping below the Panamint's

closeup of the salt patterns

panorama view of the flats and the Panamint's

moonrise over the flats

last color as the sun set

This area kind of reminded me of Mono lake, which is another location I want to return to for sunset or sunrise. Artist's drive is a small detour on the way back to Furnace Creek and we drove through. I will post the photos on a later update.

Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography
Landscape and Wildlife photography

Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography
Landscape and Wildlife photography