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About Michael Kunitani

My Photos

Michael Kunitani's Albums

Pillsbury cabin after the Ranch fire July/Aug 2018
The destruction from the largest fire in California history. While all of the cabins on the NE side of Rice Fork Road were lost, none of the cabins on the NW side (ie near the dam) were burned.
My Favorites
Some of my favorite images in no special order.
South West 2014
A variety of landscapes in CA, NV, AZ and UT
Southwest 2013
Owens Valley Photo Workshops
Visit these unique, out of the way locations in the Owens Valley on a guided Photography workshop. There are 5 sub-albums below covering distinctly different areas of the Owens Valley gallery and each sub-album has a brief introduction.
Napa Valley
San Francisco
Images from the Full Annular Solar Eclipse, May 20, 2012. These images were taken from a desert area North of Sparks NV, very close to the centerline of the eclipse. The moon is just a bit too far away to fully block the sun's disc, resiting in a annular "ring of fire". Clouds obscured much of the second half of the eclipse, but also provided some texture to the waning eclipse.
Golden Gate 75th Anniversary
Golden Gate Bridge
Over the few years I have been commuting over the Golden Gate bridge I have really come appreciate how scenic and inspiring it is. Thus I have started this album as an ongoing study of the character of this iconic landmark.
South West 2011
A solo trip in the Spring of 2011 visiting: Trona, several sites in Death Valley, Little Finland, unnamed petroglyph site, the Wave, Lower Antelope Canyon, the Monk, Nautilus, Coyote Buttes South and White Pocket. As some of these locations were revisits for me, I tried different angles, lenses, and compositions of familiar rocks.
Mendocino Coast
Feburary 2011, There was a period of North East winds, which limited the omnipresent North Coast fog during the timing of low tides at sunset.
New England Fall 2010
A short trip to Southern New England during late October, 2010.
Owens Valley 2010
South West 2010
South Western US, April 2010. In roughly chronological order: Red Canyon Slot, White Pocket, Lower Antelope Canyon, The Monk, Monument Valley, Blue Canyon, Ha Ho No Geh, Coal Mine Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Snow Valley, Little Finland, Valley of Fire, Death Valley. Not shown are Pink Coral Sand Dunes, Stud Horse Point, and Alabama Hills.
N CA & Oregon Coast 2012
Oregon Waterfalls
The week we were in Oregon it was overcast and rained on nearly every day. This discouraged us from spending time at the beaches, but was ideal for the forests and waterfalls.
Death Valley '06
Death Valley, is the lowest altitude and hottest place in North America. Its striking in its stark beauty and grace. I visited here with numerous other photographers in January '06 to capture its moods during the low winter sun.
Bodie & Benton
BODIE and BENTON HOT SPRINGS: RELICS of the INDUSTRAIL REVOLUTION.... Bodie is a preserved ghost town, now part of the California State park system. It was named after one of the men (Bodey) who first struck gold/silver in the late 1800's. The spelling of the town was changed to prevent mispronounciation. Near the turn of the century this desert town had 10,000 inhabitants, and was well known for its violent and lawless ways. Wrote one schoolgirl in her journal, "Goodbye God, I am going to Bodie". The 8400 foot altitude made for extremely harsh winters and left many miners unprepared. The relatively handsome pay of $4/12 hour work day was hard, very dangerous work in the mines and Stamp Mill, where the ore was finely crushed for gold & silver extraction. I found the Stamp Mill tour interesting in that it dramatically showed how the industrial revolution was making a brute force impact in mining. Power originally came from boilers stoked by lots of wood, which had to be hauled in quite a distance, as this is out in the desert. Bodie was the first town to power its mill from a water powered turbine generator 13 miles away in the Sierras (Bridgeport). They ran the wires to Bodie in a straight line as they weren't sure if electricity could go around corners! Two fires several decades apart now leave only about 5% of the original town standing. Benton Hot Springs is a very small farming (alfalfa) community North of Bishop. It was populated about the same time a Bodie, and the wood and iron artifacts of industrialization were very similar. so they are grouped together.
Mono Lake
Mono Lake is a unique environmenal habitat East of Yosemite. Without an outlet it has become salty; only brine shrimp, zillions of flies and birds living off of the shrimp and flies live in it.
Eastern Sierra '05
West of Lone Pine, CA lies the Alabama Hills at the foot of Mount Whitney. The Confederates named these hills during the Civil War and these hills have been the backdrop to countless Hollywood movies (mostly Westerns). These unusual rock formations include hundreds of arches, three of which are featured here in sunrise shots of Mount Whitney/Lone Pine Peak.
It seems every angle of Yosemite's spectacular scenery has been captured by photographers. Some of the pictures here are the usual postcards, but many I have tried for a more unusual image. The odd B&W toned images are taken with an infrared modified camera.
"The Wave" AZ-UT 2005
March '05 we visited "The Wave" and several Southern Utah sites. Access to "The Wave" is highly limited by a BLM reservation system and is a moderate hike to reach it. The rock formations below were bizzare, dramatic and often colorful. Other images simply were strange and/or very amusing. This is really a wonderous and unusual part of the country and makes for lots of fun photography. On this March trip the weather was often very cool and cloudy, which sometimes made for very flat lighting.
N. AZ-S. Utah 2004
We had great photographic fun for several days in and around Page, Arizona, some of them with a guide, who took us to some unsual places. The first batch of images was from "The Place" a name designed to hide the identity of this location. The second batch was a pre sunrise hike to Wahweap canyon where the weather has created some bizzare spires. We next visited Antelope slot canyons and my pictures are in another album, "Antelope Canyon 2004". Devils Garden and Peekaboo slot canyon are outside the town of Escalante, UT. We happened to visit these locations on the Saturday of the local school's Easter break, so there were several dozen families exploring these bizzare formations with us. We intended to vist several other places, but rain & snow kept out of some of the other areas. More for the next trip to this colorful and unusual landscape. To view the image detail MUCH more clearly, click on the "Original" view on left hand margin. However, the images will load more slowly.
Antelope Canyon 2004
Antelope canyon is two small slot canyons adjacent to Page Arizona. Administered by the Navaho, it is frequented by phototographers and numerous tourists from all over the world. These vertical canyons are created by erosion of the sandstone bluffs resulting in convoluted "slots" 70 feet deep and, in places, only a few feet wide. Only at mid-day can the light enter these canyons to reveal bizzare rock formations and unusual colors. The last two images were from Waterholes slot Canyon, a much shallower canyon only a few miles down the road from Antelope. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- These photos were taken with a Canon D60 digital camera. Very long shutter speeds and a tripod were used to capture the unique rock strata and shading. In many of the images an underexposed shot was digitally combined with an over exposed shot of the same scene in order to capture detail and color in the extremely wide range of light intensities. It is interesting to me to see how similar or different these images are in both composition and improved quality compared to my first trip 4 years earlier (see the album Antelope Canyon 2000). To see other images from other parts of the same trip see my album: N. Arizona-S. Utah. Michael
Antelope Canyon 2000
Antelope canyon is two small slot canyons adjacent to Page Arizona. Administered by the Navaho, it is frequented by phototographers and numerous tourists from all over the world. These vertical canyons are created by erosion of the sandstone bluffs resulting in convoluted "slots" 70 feet deep and, in places, only a few feet wide. Only at mid-day can the light enter these canyons to reveal bizzare rock formations and unusual colors. The panoramas have people in them to give you a sense of perspective of what the largest spaces in the slot canyon looks like. Computer software included with the camera "stitches" together about 7 JPEG photos to give a view of the floor in front of me to the canyon walls behind my head. Athough the sky portion directly overhead is severely overexposed, the panorama allows you an understanding of how some of the other photos could have been placed. All of these photos were taken with a Canon G1 digital camera with a 1 gb microdrive memory drive. Very long shutter speeds, exposure bracketing and a tripod were used to capture the unique rock strata and shading. The pictures were downladed each evening to my laptop computer where they were later edited. I later discovered numerous of hot pixels (a type of digital noise seen in long exposures), the worst of which were removed with software editing. These large 27 mb 11x15" print files were resized to 6x4.5" and compressed to the 100 kb JPEG images seen here to facilitate reasonable downloads. Please enjoy! Michael
Monterey and costal scenes
The first 21 images come from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They are taken in very dim light and are a huge challenge to use a fast enough shutter speed minimize blur, something was always moving! The next 11 images are from Pebble Beach, a small beach just North of Pigeon Point. Colorful pea sized "pebbles" and very "holy" rocks characterize this area. the last set are from Point Reyes, Jenner, Davenport, and Bodega Bay.
Death Valley
In the rain shadow of the southern Sierra Nevada and Panamint Mts. lies the desolate, but dramatic Death Valley National Park. At the beginning of May, 2002 it was snowing in the Sierra, but in Death Valley it was a windy but comfortable 80 F. During the summer it is frequently 120-130 F! Most of these images were captured at the sand dunes near the center of the Park and in the area around Zabriskie Point. The remote Eureka Sand Dunes are in the North end of the park.
Eastern Sierra
These images are from the Owens Valley, many of them taken in the ancient Bristlecone Pine forests of the White Mountians. The unusual colors of some of them were shot with an infrared filter which turns the sky a rather dark shade, and makes green leaves appear white.
Tropical Flowers
Shots taken from the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers, Hawaii and San Francisco Arboretum
America's Cup
America's Cup Final, San Francisco, September 2013 Challenger New Zealand (Fly Emirates) Vs Devender USA (Oracle)
Nancy's Garden
Idaho 05
June '05 we drove around some of the rivers of Idaho. The rivers dominate the landscape and the roads follow the river canyons. It had been a wet Spring and there was plenty of water...
Kauai Nov 03
The Garden isand of Kauia is lush and wet, with the Wai'ale'ale crater recieving 430" of rain per year. Kauai, along with the other Hawiian isands, have very little native vegitation left, most of it has been displaced by plants brought by the polynesians and by ornamentals imported during the last century. When we were there it was too rough to get into the water, so we took several hikes in the bright red mud characteristic of this island. Unfortunately on this trip my main camera locked up on the second day, so many of these images were taken with my older, low resolution digicam.
Misc. Images
Hang Gliding
These pictures are taken from a wing mounted Canon G1 digital camera. It is one of the few digital cameras that has the features (defeatable auto power down and a supplied IR remote) to allow wing mounted hang gliding photography. Launch is on Hull Mountian and the landing is by the edge of Lake Pillsbury, in the Northern coastal range of California. Note that some of these images are of tandem flights. The last two are from Mt. Tamalpias, just north of San Francisco.
Owens Valley HG
July 2001, take off at Walts Point, 9100 ft above Lone Pine, CA. We take off mid to late morning and fly Northward along the Southern Sierra crest from Mt. Whitney to Big Pine. On a good day we can cross the valley and fly up the White Mountian range and into central Nevada. I have had two flights of 169 miles here , which took 6-8 hours. That is an oxygen tank on my back, as we often fly at very high altitudes (although not on these pictures). This type of long distance hang gliding is quite an adventure, a challenge and a thrill!
Owens HG 2003
Snapshots from an Owens Valley during the first two weeks in July, 2003. The fourth of July weekend yielded fun flights down the Sierras with several beyond the 100 mile mark, but all longer flights ending with West or East quartering headwinds. The following week gave short flights to Lake Diaz or mixed results from launches from the Inyos. A test flight at Pillsbury showed me that my wing mounted camera made straight flight difficult on this new glider; so no in-flight shots this trip. Stuart took the images at Mazourka.
Owens 04 & 05
Shots from the Eastern Sierra and the Owens Valley, July 2004 Images from the Owens Valley July 05, Also see Eastern Sierra '05 album.
Owens HG 2010
Images from June 29 and July 1, 2010 These were two days I drove from Walts
tests only
Demonstration of photographic tests only, not for artistic value
1239 Tilia
Donna's Flight
Labor Day, Sept 3, 06 at Hull Mt. CA. We hadn't planned on flying tandem this weekend, and the weather the previous 2 days hadn't been safe for a tandem launch. But I had been trying to give Donna a tandem flight all summer. So it was worth the trip up the mountian with the tandem gear just to check it out. Thanks to Charlie for driving.
Elena's Tandem
This was one of my most enjoyable tandem flights; plenty of altitude with one enthusiastic and happy passenger!
deck repair
Fleet Week 05
Oct 7, '05. All of these shots are taken from Fort Baker in Marin county. The fast auto focus of the Canon 1DmkII with AI servo was used to track moving subjects and allowed the use of a 1.4X teleconverter with a slow 400mm 5.6 lens. Very fast shutter speeds (1/2500 sec.) were used with high ISO setiings (1600) to freeze motion.
Misc. Hang Gliding '06
Sonoma Wings
St Helena Spring fly-in April 28 '06
Lauren's Tandem
September 12, 2009, Launch at 6800 ft at Hull Mt. CA landing at Lake Pillsbury, 1800 ft.