The stay-at-home order for the Covid-19 epidemic really has me missing the road. So I brought home all my hard drives and started going through road trip photos from the past decade-plus, starting from the time I became a professional photographer in 2009 and began dragging my large image DSLR cameras with me on my trips. It was a good balm for missing the open road, National Parks and coastline that many of us take for granted. With a day trip from my home base in the Bay Area I can see almost any kind of geography or landmark I want.

I looked through the photos at a more deliberate pace than I had in the past. Some deadline was always rushing me before. I noticed a lot of photos that I had not thought remarkable previously, looked really great in black and white. I saw the patterns and shadow that my brain had responded to when I originally snapped the photo. These traits are enhanced in black and white without the distraction of the color. Some photos can look good in either black and white or color, but I found most really look best in one or the other. So I started looking through all my trips for photos I could convert.

One of my favorite trips for these images was Death Valley. I had been there in 2010. But didn’t spend a lot of time there. Most of my time was spent in the dunes right in the middle of the park. The best photos were in the late part of the day with the shadows spreading across the shapes. Also, there weren’t as many people out then, so I had large vistas without humans in them. The mountains in the background gave a nice contrast to the smooth, shifting sand in the foreground.

In 2018 I decided to return again but stay a lot longer. I rented a tent cabin at Panamint Springs on the West side of the park as you enter on Highway 190. I loved waking up in the early morning to coyotes howling. There is also a serviceable restaurant there to get you started in the morning and tuck you in with a full stomach at night.

One shot from this trip that really jumped out in black and white was taken on the highway leaving Panamint and heading over a pass into Death Valley. Once I converted it to back and white I played with the exposure and contrast in each part of the photo. This brought out the texture in the sky and the mountains. A couple of vehicles on the highway give the photo scale.

One day I decided to make the trip to the “Racetrack” — a dry lakebed that can only be accessed with a thirty mile drive starting at the North end of the park and proceeding on a very bumpy dirt road. I had heard horror stories about this trip — broken axels, flat-tires and more. But my trip was pretty comfortable in my two-wheel drive pickup due to recent road grading. The pay-off was impressive. The reason the lake is called the Racetrack is because large rocks have scooted across the perfectly cracked lakebed over the years — leaving mysterious tracks. I was able to get some dramatic photos of the rocks and their trails. The photo here worked best in black and white.

Another day I made it to Zabriskie Point. It’s hard to take a bad picture here. The biggest challenge is finding a view without people in it. Ridge after ridge falls away from view. Each has different textures and color. In black and white, the texture of the earth really pops.

During the stay-at-home, I have made black and white photos of this trip and more. I posted a few on my instagram and got an immediate positive reaction. Some people even said they would like to buy prints for their home.

So I decided to create a site of my many trips featuring this type of photography available for purchase. I named it SRK Road Trips. The photos feature Salton Sea in the South to Crescent City in the North. The coastline and Yosemite are also featured. There are even a few bridge photos. I hope you enjoy. If you want to purchase, use code INMENLO for 20% off.

Photos of various Death Valley scenes by Scott R. Kline (c) 2020; Scott has been an InMenlo contributing photographer since 2011.


Celebrating 60 with 40 — or is it 400? — shades of green in Ireland

Editor’s note: With summer winding down, we’re highlighting some adventures enjoyed by local residents over the past few months, starting with this post by Atherton resident — and InMenlo contributing photographer — Laura Pitchford. This is a big year for my husband, Pitch, and me. Being born in 1959, we both turn 60 at some […]

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The Girl + The Fig’s Sondra Bernstein + her famous fig and arugula salad

Chef and restaurateur Sondra Bernstein, founder of Sonoma’s wildly popular wine country farm-to-table eatery the girl & the fig, is this month’s featured Changemaker. Bernstein, whose mantra is “doing one thing is boring,” is someone I have long admired. A one-women show, Bernstein is credited with “putting Sonoma County on the big-league culinary map 20 […]

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Scott Loftesness proves there’s more than just street photography in Japan

We recently showcased photographs that InMenlo co-founder — and experienced street photographer — Scott Loftesness took in both Tokyo and Kyoto, mostly using his iPhone Xs Max. Emailed Scott: “When I wrote that post, I was focused on my street photography (my current love!) but, as it turns out, I included a mix of both street […]

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M-A student gets a taste of Russian life during a visit to Saint Petersburg

A week in Saint Petersburg, Russia, is spent by most visitors on a tour or cruise, seeing the numerous historical attractions the city has to offer. From Mikhailovsky Palace to the Hermitage, tourists are ushered from their hotel or ship to each destination, an experience ultimately granting little contact with locals and limited exposure to […]

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Take a virtual tour of Turkey on May 14 at the Menlo Park Library

Take a virtual tour of Turkey with the photography and music of David Couzens, visiting Ottoman palaces and historic mosques, exploring the villages of Cappadocia, chatting with rural Kurds, and venturing off to isolated, mountainous northeastern Anatolia and toward the Iranian border. Photographer, writer, composer, and musician David Couzens has traveled to more than 35 […]

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Elephant seals strutting their stuff at Piedras Blancas captured by photographer Robb Most

What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than to head to Piedras Blancas to see elephant seals, particularly since that day just happens to be the peak of the mating season, according to the Friends of the Elephant Seals website. If that wasn’t InMenlo contributing photographer Robb Most’s exact thought, it’s close enough. Accompanied by […]

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Italy travel expert Madeline Jhawar speaking at The Applebee Preschool on Nov. 7

Italy travel expert Madeline Jhawar, who we profiled on InMenlo last January, will be speaking at The Applebee Preschool on Tuesday, Nov. 7 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. The community is welcome; wine will be served. The preschool is located at 107 Clover Lane, although the entrance is right behind the Willows Market off of […]

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This spring Yosemite Valley is a watery wonderland reports Menlo Park residents Timi and Robb Most

For the past 40 years, Menlo Park residents Timi and Robb Most have been visiting Yosemite in the spring. But this year, they report, is unlike any other due to the amount of water, not just in the form of raging waterfalls but the flooded valley floor. (And no, the top photo is not upside […]

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Madeline Jhawar helps clients discover “Italy beyond the obvious”

For Canadian-born Madeline Jhawar, it seems all roads lead to Italy. She spent a year there in high school as an AFS student, later lived there for five years, and worked for Butterfield & Robinson as a hiking and biking guide. For awhile she abandoned Italy for the semiconductor industry, doing the job but not loving it. […]

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Menlo Park resident John Donald’s tips on visiting Disneyland – take two

Editor’s note: John Donald provided his top five tips when visiting Disneyland but said the past year — when he and his family made numerous trips to the park and Disney California Adventure — yielded even more. Here they are, just in time for holiday visits: Assuming you are going multiple days to both Disneyland and […]

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