Sunset Bloom

•December 22, 2010 • 2 Comments

Boy what a year it has been!  I have been so busy with so many things (SGI Rock the Era festival, graduate school applications, environmental consulting) it has been hard to find the time to keep up this blog.  I’m back though and have had some time to process some recent images and some old ones.

I would like to share this image from Joshua Tree National Park, taken April of 2010.  It is titled “Sunset Bloom” and showcases a fantastic cactus bloom against a desert sunset.  Crazy story: as I was driving into the park, the Park Ranger who let me know was my friend from high school Billy, who I’ve also seen (as a Park Ranger) in Sequoia National Park and in Grand Teton National Park.  What are the odds to see him at 3 different National Parks within 2 years? 

Processing: Nikon D300, Tokina 12-24mm, 3 image manual blend (I didn’t want to use a grad ND since that would have obstructed the mountains and made them black), ISO 200, probably f/14.

Aaron Burdick - Sunset Bloom

Spring Wildflowers in the Santa Monica Mountains

•April 9, 2010 • 2 Comments

I have been hiking a lot and enjoying the wonderful wildflowers blooming in the Santa Monica mountains. Malibu and Griffith Park are beautiful right now so get out there and enjoy them! I’ll be heading up to the Poppy Reserve soon and will be checking out wildflower blooms in Joshua Tree next weekend. For now here are some photographs I’ve shot over the past two weeks:

LA Wildflower Sunset

LA Wildflower Sunset

Flowers Galore

Flowers Galore

Purple and Yellow Bokeh

Purple and Yellow Bokeh

Purple Wildflowers

Purple Wildflowers

Griffith Park Sunset

Griffith Park Sunset

Rambo meets Ansel Adams!

•March 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

So my friend just went to Las Vegas and saw Peter Lik’s gallery in the Venetian.  She knows I’m a nature photographer so we went and checked out his website.  First off, his photography is quite excellent and I encourage you to check it out.  Secondly, this guy is hilarious!  You’ve got to check out the video for his “100 Miles from Nowhere” show.  He can’t decide if he’s Rambo or Ansel Adams!  Best part: “What am I gonna do?  Sit in the car park and shoot it with a long lens?  F*%K THAT I’M GONNA GET THE SHOT!”  LOL.

Not all nature photographers are as crazy as this guy.  Some of us just enjoy the peaceful feeling of a nice sunset… =)  But, hey, he has no less than FOUR galleries in Las Vegas so I guess he’s doing something right.


•March 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I would like to present the following photo, entitled “Ichinen-sanzen”.  Ichinen-sanzen is a Buddhist concept meaning “3,000 realms in a single moment of life”.  This concept relates to the interconnectivity of all phenomena.  The Buddha’s teachings, as expounded in the Lotus Sutra, illuminate the “true aspect of all phenomena”.  This true aspect is somewhere between existence and non-existence, encompassing the idea of dependent origination, which means:

“A Buddhist doctrine expressing the interdependence of all things. It teaches that no beings or phenomena exist on their own; they exist or occur because of their relationship with other beings and phenomena. Everything in the world comes into existence in response to causes and conditions. That is, nothing can exist independent of other things or arise in isolation.”  Source: SGI Dictionary.

With clarity of mind we can see that each moment of our life arises in relation to all other phenomena.  The phenomena of which I speak could mean past and present joys, sufferings, relationships, environments, etc.  Additionally the phenomena in the material world (trees, wind, societies, war, Spongebob) all exist in an interdependent web of energy based on the laws of cause and effect.  To me this photograph illustrates the dynamic nature of existence, characterized by beauty, life, and constant change.  I feel so fortunate to be able to take photographs in such beautiful places as the California Coast.  This shot was taken near Malibu in Southern California.

Well, enough philosophy for today.  Enjoy the photo:


"Ichinen-sanzen", Malibu, CA

 Tech Details:

Nikon D300, Tokina 12-24mm lens

Luminosity blend from 3 images (using iHDR technique) – one for the sky, one for the ocean, and one to get more detail in the foreground rocks.  A Grad ND could have been used here but I still would have needed to bracket to get the full detail in the rocks so that there would be detail in the mussels.  Using this technique creates a very natural looking scene, similar to what I saw (except for the blurred water, which is due to using  a slow shutter speed).  There are no artificial halos or excessive contrast/saturation unlike other techniques (i.e. Photomatix).  This technique can be learned from my friends Jay and Varina Patel in one of their workshops or webinars.

Point Mugu Sunset

•March 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I was out at Point Mugu State Park (north of Malibu, CA) a few weeks ago and caught a very nice sunset.  This shot was quite difficult to get due to the constant barrage of waves hitting me and my tripod.  Every time a wave came it would move my tripod slightly, forcing me to recompose.  Nevertheless, perseverance paid off and provided me with the wonderful blurred waves in the foreground of this image:

Point Mugu Sunset

“Point Mugu Sunset”

Nikon D300
Tokina 12-24mm lens (at 12mm)
Two exposure blend: 0.6 and 1/20 sec at f/13
ISO 200

Macro Gallery: Nikon’s 24-70mm as a Macro/Close-Up Lens

•February 25, 2010 • 2 Comments

Hi everybody!  It’s been awhile since I’ve posted to my blog but I plan on posting many more photos and discussions of photography and environmental topics.  I’ve had my Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens since May 2009 and it has proven to be an absolutely killer lens.  My only complaint is the weight it adds to my camera (+ camera bag).  With a flash it cannot be beat for portraits but it’s pushing 4 pounds.   That’s a lot to carry around your neck all day!  Nevertheless, the stellar image quality keeps me coming back to this beauty.

One of the things I have been doing with this lens is shooting macros/close-ups.  While these are not “true” macro shots (as in 1:1 size ratio), I’m referring to the 24-70’s close up abilities.  The wide aperture (f/2.8) and excellent sharpness and contrast have helped me obtain some nice close up shots with this lens.  The bokeh is top notch as well.

Below I’ve presented some recent close ups taken with the Nikkor 24-70mm.  All photos were taken with my D300.

Bee on Purple Flower

"Bee on Purple Flower"

The Universe in a Rain Drop

"The Universe in a Rain Drop"

Dandelion at f/2.8

"Dandelion at f/2.8"

Living in the Danger Zone

"Living in the Danger Zone"



Station Fire burns at night over the San Fernando Valley

•September 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The wildfires in Los Angeles have been quite crazy.  The Station Fire extends from Pasadena to Acton and has burned over  150,000 acres.  This has caused some VERY smoky skies near my ‘hood (Studio City).  This has led to some great sunsets.  The other day I went up to Mulholland Drive, which runs along the ridge of the Santa Monica Mountains in LA.  I took the photo below just after sunset.  There were quite a lot of people up on Mulholland, watching the fires burn.  I found them quite beautiful but the damage they do is not.  Bottom line: humans have suppressed the natural fire regime for decades and have built up lots of fuel for huge fires like this.  Fire is a NATURAL occurrence in California and is necessary for proper ecosystem functioning.  We need to learn to live with wildfire, especially since global warming will increase the frequency and severity of fires throughout the Western United States.

"Station Fire above the Valley"

"Station Fire above the Valley", Nikon D300, Nikkor 70-180 Micro