Last night at the Temple of Sinawava, Zion National Park, Utah.
Last night at the Temple of Sinawava, Zion National Park, Utah.
A couple of hikers making their way up the Zion Narrows.
I have written this before – but hiking up a river while surrounded by 1,500 foot high cliffs is just an amazing, fun experience!
We have done this hike on a few different trips – hard to come here and not do it. But in the past it has always been in October – I was surprised at how many more people were up there in May as compared to October. I can’t begin to imagine what July must be like.
Yesterday afternoon we arrived at one of my favorite National Parks – Zion!
I usually don’t photograph from such common vantage points, but with out much time to scout, I thought what the heck, jumped on my bike and we road up to the “bridge” An older fall image from this same location has sold really well, so it doesn’t hurt to have a Spring version.
Here are more Zion National Park photos.
Throwing in a photo of the Escalante region of Utah doesn’t seem to fit with my recent Antarctica theme, but I can explain.
I first passed through the Escalante area more than 12 years ago and loved the region. I expected to be blown away by the Moab area, Zion and Bryce, places you hear so much about, but Escalante came as a surprise. It was immediately evident that the photo opportunities were endless. My intentions were to return for an extended visit to really explore the area. Lack of cell and internet access has kept us from making an extended visit – the disadvantage to being self employed, although I did spend a brief bit of time photographing the area in 2005, and more recently passed by to visit photographer friend Guy Tal, which reminded me again how I loved the area.
Fast forward to Antarctica. I found all the fellow staff members to be extremely knowledgeable, fascinating, and insightful. One of the staff members was Thomas Lowe Fleischner (Tom), who is a professor of natural history at Prescott College in Arizona. On the first day of our trip, Tom and I were paired together as part of a group hike into Tierra del Fuego National Park. On that hike I really enjoyed Tom’s insight, and his ability to explain things in such an interesting way. From then on I made a point of staying within earshot of Tom when I could, so that I might learn as much as possible.
Tom is also an author and it turns out that one of Tom’s books, Singing Stone, was about the natural history of the Escalante Canyon region (Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Glen Canyon NRA). I love natural history books, and have many shelves of them. But, most are guide book in style, with page after page of animal tracks, wildflowers or birds. Tom was kind enough to share his book with me which I recently finished.
What I loved about Tom’s book is the story telling nature that covers all those things you wonder about when visiting the area. I felt like I was hiking around the area with Tom as he explained things I asked about! Not just birds and geology, but the history, the plant life, effects of management decisions and more. It was fascinating – I wish there were similar books on other regions!
So what causes the dark streaks you see on the canyon walls? Which adult hummingbird builds the nest and raises the young? You will just have to read the book!
Sticking with the Winter in the Southwest theme – this was another one from the same trip as the Grand Canyon Post from yesterday.
We arrived at Bryce just ahead of a winter storm that brought almost a foot of fresh snow to the region. The snow closed the roads behind us, leaving us “trapped” in this wonderful park. We were the only ones in the campground when the roads were closed behind us. Fortunately we had a 4 wheel drive and could still get around on the un-plowed roads giving us the entire National Park completely to ourselves – what a treat!
I just realized I have never shared any photos of Bryce National Park – as my visits there predated my blog. That is a shame – walking up to the rim and looking down into Bryce for the first time is an amazing experience not unlike the first visit to the Grand Canyon.
This was back in 2004 and we were actually in Southern California when news reports predicted a large winter storm would soon hit the West. We got up early and drove straight to Bryce barely beating the storm and successfully getting snowed in for two days. It was beautiful having such a National Park virtually entirely to ourselves with a fresh foot of snow! But, it was cold for camping with temps in the single digits – still, totally worth it!
This winter I hope to do the same thing with Yosemite.
Over the next two weeks I don’t think I will do much posting here on the blog since since this is such a busy time of year for everyone. I’ll pick up the pace again after the start of the New Year.
Well, the plan for today was to pick up our RV trailer in Southern California and to begin driving toward Nevada / Utah for a few weeks of photography. But, on Monday we cancelled our airline reservations so that we could spend more time getting caught up in the office.
Before I go any further – don’t feel sorry for us, we do still plan on flying to Hawaii for a few weeks later this month. We have had numerous photo request for Hawaii images over the years, and have never photographed that beautiful state, so it will be fun filling this void in our coverage!
But, it is still weird not heading somewhere in the Western U.S. I think for at least 12 years or more, we have always gone somewhere out West during September / October, whether is was Yellowstone, Moab or Zion. Frankly, this is such a wonderful time of year down there – and the perfect weather is a nice escape from the rain we tend to receive here in Alaska this time of year.
But, our business continues to evolve as we diversify. Part of the diversification is into video – 3D and straight HD. In fact, a major motion agency, Corbis has agreed to market my HD clips, and two other video agencies have agreed to market my 3D clips. Getting up to speed on video has been some learning process and taken a bit longer then I expected. I must admit, I have really enjoyed the new challenge, and the creative options offered with video have been enlightening to say the least. So getting my new footage off to these agencies has now become a priority, along with getting our new stills from this summer off to market – this seemed more important then capturing more images right now.
So, for the next month expect more Alaska images here on the blog – and maybe I’ll have time to get back to writing some more in-depth posts. Then, start watching for some Hawaii coverage – that should be some contrast!
When we were looking to do the White Rim Trail last Fall, I had trouble finding good information on the different campgrounds along the trail, or other useful information. So when we were doing the trail, I tried to take photos of the different campsites along the way, and Janine took that information and prepared what I think it an informative article that could be helpful to other photographers and visitors. You can find that article here: White Rim Trail
We haven’t had any cool covers to share lately, but this one is! This was produced by the Zion Natural History Association.
You might recognize Janine out front trying to look relaxed (it was a long ways down) on the amazing Hidden Canyon Trail. Parts of this trail are literally carved into the side of the cliffs with just a chain bolted to the wall for support – notice the four people in the background. It is pretty cool the Park Service even allows a trail like this.
But Zion has lots of awesome trails like this. The Angel’s Landing Trail climbs way above the valley floor and then traverses along a narrow, very exposed ridge, with again, just a chain for protection. Or the Zion Narrows hike which leads up a narrow canyon with 1,500 foot high walls and just enough room in the bottom for a river. The Subway is another amazing hike – after flipping through this book I’m thinking we might just have to add Zion into our Fall travels!
This looks like a great book – lots of photos, maps and charts to go along with the wealth of information. I don’t see it on Amazon have a feeling this book is only available in the Zion National Park Visitor Center, but it is definitely worth picking up.
Well I must admit I am a reference material junkie! I have shelves and shelves of books – guide books to National Parks, birds and animals, plants and wildflowers, animal tracks, geology… The list goes on and on. Not only do I have a bunch of book here, but I also keep many more in our trailer, and we usually send a box back and forth depending where we are traveling. Unfortunately, they take up a ton of space and weight.
I also have to admit that I’m hooked on apps for my iTouch / iPhone – I have an iTouch. Maps, weather, depth of field calculators, even Northern Light predictions all on this tiny device, it is amazing!
So, when I heard that a couple of friends, Dan Baumbach and Bret Edge had created an Arches National Park Photography Guide iPhone application, well I thought that was ingenious! What a great idea – I could easily travel with all this information right in my shirt pocket! A perfect marriage of information and technology.
Dan recently provided me a copy to review, and I gotta admit I love the product! This application actually has a lot of advantages over a hard copy book because it is able to link to current information in real time such as weather forecasts, along with providing links to websites for local restaurants, hotels and campground – what a great resource!
The app is also packed with all kinds of useful information on Arches National Park, information useful to photographers such sunrise and sunset times along with an interactive map and information on backpacking, wildlife and wildflowers. But the real meat to the application is the information on the different photo locations within Arches. This information includes photos, maps, descriptions on how to get to the location, even the GPS coordinates.
It just so happens that I have spent a fair amount of time in Arches over the last two years, and have been to all the locations described in the app, and found the information accurate and concise.
The application cost $4.95 – much cheaper then most printed guides, and more valuable. They have many more iFotoGuides planned for the future.
As I was working on my favorite images from last year, Janine mentioned this was one of her favorites – she really liked the mood and feel of the photo, so I though I would make it today’s blog.
Take a look at more of our Canyonlands National Park photos.
When photographing directly into the sun, especially with zoom lenses, it seems like lens flare is almost impossible to avoid. I thought I would share a little trick that I have used for the last few years for eliminating flare.
I capture two images, one that includes the sun and flare, and one where I block the sun and eliminate the flare as you can see above. I then combine the two images using photomerge in Photoshop keeping most of the image on the right except for the portion of the image where you see my fingers. Here is the end result:
It is important that both images are of the same exposure – I make sure I’m working in manual mode because your camera’s meter is going to come up with two very different exposures for these two scenes. And of course a tripod so that the two images contain identical compositions is imperative.
I used to stand in front of my camera and block the sun with a lens cap. The lens cap made a perfectly round shadow that I could then position just barely over the front of the lens. When it comes to your eyes, I’m sure this is the safest way of doing it, but it does take more work in Photoshop. Lately, I have been looking through the camera with my hand out in front until it is positioned to block the sun – I wonder what passerby’s must be thinking as they see me doing this – is he really photographing his fingers in front of that pretty arch?
Over the last week or so we have been very busy converting and adjusting photos from our Fall trip, we hope to be done with this job sometime this week. I will likely share more photos from this trip over the next few days or weeks.
It has been a really nice winter in Alaska, and I have been very content to be working at home, cross-country skiing, and enjoying the winter pace. But, as I start the pour over photos from our recent travels, it re-ignites the urge to explore and photograph new regions, and revisit old favorites.
Check out more of our Arches National Park photos.
I fell a bit behind on my editing / captioning / key-wording on our last trip, so now I’m sitting here in Alaska, looking out the window at fresh falling snow, and looking at my monitor and seeing images of warm red rock – it is kind of fun really!
This was from our three day trip along the White Rim Trail from just over a month ago.
This is a quick and dirty blend of two jpeg images, one for the sunset sky, and one for the rest. Once I’m home, I’ll re-work this, probably using most, if not all five raw files, but this gets me at least 90% of the way to the final image.
I gotta say, this was one of the tougher hikes home in the dark. A half an inch of rain had obliterated most the footprints on this lightly traveled trail, and it seemed like the cairns were just out of headlight range – the lack of a moon didn’t help. But, being able to spend a wonderful evening at this beautiful arch, with out another person within miles made it completely worth it for us!
Check out more of our Arches National Park photos.
A self portrait of me in Partition Arch. This is the smaller of two openings at the location of Partition Arch, so maybe this one has a different name. It is a great location – from the opening you can look down on the trail and viewing area for Landscape Arch.
See more Arches National Park pictures.
Since we rode the awesome Slickrock Bike Trail yesterday, I thought this would be a good time to post this photo. It was sure a blast – and we were much faster then last year, that always feels good.
I didn’t bring my camera on the ride, as it is too heavy. This photo was from two Fridays ago, we did this the night before the 24 Hours of Moab Bike Race. You see I don’t do much shooting with multiple, off camera flashes and wanted to practice a bit before the actual race.
Most of my flash use is for a minor bit of fill light. For this, mounting the flash on the camera works fine, as the light is usually just there for a bit of catch-lit in the eyes of an animal, and to brighten the subject a bit – the light really isn’t noticeable to the viewer. When the flash provides a larger amount of the light source, I think it is important to get the flash off the camera and off to the side, and even behind the subject.
So I practiced multiple setups right up until near total darkness – I wanted some night shots. I felt like I had everything dialed in, and wouldn’t you know it, on the day of the race my wireless transmitter worked for 3 tests shots and then died. Nothing seemed to fix it, not even new batteries.
Well clouds saved the day for my daytime shooting as they helped defuse the light and soften the shadows, I didn’t really need flash. For my night shots, I ended up setting up the camera on a tripod and opening the shutter for about 10 seconds, and manually popping the flash from off to one side to light the bikers. After a couple adjustments to my distance and the flash power, this totally manual technique actually worked pretty well. So much for being prepared.
This fascinating location is found along the White Rim Trail.
How is this for an amazing campsite? ! There are two camp sites in this area, unfortunately, we had the site next to it which wasn’t as close to the river, but still very nice. So, as these people slept in, I quietly used their tents for my photo.
This was definitely one of the nicest campsites on the trail. On-line, I had trouble finding much information on the different campsites – so we checked them out on this trip and will do a write up on the best camp sites along the White Rim Trail when I have more time, probably once I get back to Alaska.
Here is more information about the White Rim Trail.
We just got in from 3 really fun, and productive days along the White Rim Trail, so I thought I would do a quick post. The star tails are the result of a 25 minute long exposure – I lit our tent with my flash light, and then stumbled out of the scene in nearly total darkness.
I really enjoyed sitting there and watching the stars and seeing shooting stars. It has been awhile since I have spent a night under the stars – I do most of my camping and backpacking during the Alaska summer, a time stars don’t show well, if at all.
Here is a lot more information about camping on the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands.
I realized I have posted a number of photos from Arches National Park, but none of them included an actual arch. So here is two for one photo. Visiting Double O arch requires about a 5 mile round trip hike through some wonderful country known as Devils Garden. With must see detours to Navajo and Partition Arches, the hike ends up being about 6 miles.
Yesterday we picked up a rental jeep and are heading out for three days on the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park. We found out last year that the limited number of camping sites along this amazing road fill way in advance, so we made back-country campsite reservations last Spring. We have been looking forward to this trip for a long time – everyone raves about this area, I should have an update here Monday night or Tuesday morning.
See more Arches National Park photos.
Hey, there are even a few fall colors in Arches! This was at sunrise yesterday morning.
See more Arches National Park photos.
Last year when we pulled into Moab I saw these tracks along this beautiful hillside and thought that would be a perfect setting for a train photo. But, I only saw one or two trains during the couple weeks we were here, and was never in a position to get a photo. This year I noticed a train leaves Moab about the same time everyday, making this photo much easier to obtain. Evidently, the train is hauling uranium tailings from along the Colorado River to a more permanent site. It is a Department of Energy project – not sure why our government is taking on this job and not the original mining companies – they probably took the money and ran.
We had a great sunset last night, but I just couldn’t seem to find the right position or composition, so I came away with nothing. I feel like a let one get away – great sunsets don’t happen that often around here.
This looks fun! While growing up in Alaska, I did a ton of rafting – I miss that. We just found out that you can rent kayaks and rafts in Moab for not much money, at least compared to what rentals cost in Alaska. I don’t know if we will have time, but it is tempting!