Friday, February 8, 2013

Cecret Lake, Albion Basin

One day, I will be able to get the picture I really want in this place, but for now, I will need to settle for this one. This is a place that is just thronged with visitors when the wildflowers are in bloom. It's close enough to home that you can literally stop off here on your way home from work to check and see if the sky is right or the evening light is perfect. So far, I have never been here when the conditions are just right, but I still come away invigorated. The trail to this spot leads through meadows of wildflowers that usually catch my eye and prevent me from making it to the this point. I have seen some amazing wildlife in these meadows. I have never been here when I did not see at least one moose. That perfect scene with a moose in the wildflower filled meadow with the Devil's Castle in the background under the setting sun has so far eluded me, but there is always another day, another opportunity to enjoy the beauty this place hold in store.

Monday, January 28, 2013

El Capitan - Yosemite National Park

Honey! Stop the car! I just saw the most incredible view. We were on a one way road in Yosemite and I happened to look behind us. We had to drive halfway around the valley floor and come back to this spot to get this picture. As I set up the tripod and got everything ready, I could hear cars pulling up, doors slamming and whispered comments. After I got this picture, a bunch of other photographers scrambled to take my place. It was only after I got back to the hotel and got a chance to really look at what I had taken that I realized this was the iconic Ansel Adams photo spot. He took several photos here with snow on the rocks and mist in the valley. I feel a little sheepish now including this view. I feel a little like I stole it from the Master and portrayed it as my own. I can't help but wonder what it must have been like the first time someone with a camera came upon this spot. I find myself wishing I could return evening after evening in all kinds of weather and season just to see the varying stages of beauty. Can't do that and hold down a job. Maybe I need to consider quitting my job? Hmmm....

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Umpqua National Forest, Oregon

Our recent trip to Oregon allowed us to take a walk in the woods with another photographer. She knew all the prime places to go for photographing waterfalls. She told us that this would be a perfect time to go because Oregon had just had lots of rain - and lots of rain makes for huge waterfalls. It turned out that she was right. The waterfalls were indeed huge. The only real problem was the rain. It was raining so hard that I was unable to break out the camera without fear of damage. On the way up the canyon, there was a small break in the weather and I was able to snap a few shots. The forest looked like something from the Jurassic period. For this old Utah boy it was quite a shock to see so many vibrant shades of green. No matter. It was a gorgeous walk and I learned a lot about filming in low light situations. The time was well spent.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lake Moraine - Banff National Park

We have looked forward to a trip to Glacier National Park for the last six months. I had dreams of hikes to pristine mountain lakes with stunning sunrise and sunset pictures. Alas! It was not to be. The day before we arrived it snowed 10" and then continued to rain and snow the entire time we were there. We heard on the local weather that the only place that was not totally socked in was 250 miles north - in Canada. We packed our gear into our car and headed north. We were really excited to watch as the moon began to rise behind Mount Rundle in Banff, only to have our hopes dashed when the sky filled with clouds and blocked the view. We got up early in the morning and headed to what I believe is one of the most beautiful places on earth, Moraine Lake. As we got there, the entire mountain was shrouded in clouds. We got out the cameras just as the clouds lifted and were treated to this view of the valley after a fresh coat of early fall snow. This has to be one of the most photographed spots in the world, but I think we caught it on one of the best days. A few minutes later, busloads of Japanese tourists descended on the lake and the cloud level dropped and shrouded the valley from view.
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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fruita Sunset

We were happily preparing dinner after a day in the canyons, when someone shouted "Look, a rainbow!" I ran to the tent to grab my camera and frantically began taking pictures. We were nestled in the campground, close to the cliff face, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not get a good shot of the rainbows. By now there were two of them, but I could only catch portions of the arc, we were so close it. I hopped into a streambed and followed it up stream, hoping to get far enough away that I could fit the whole picture in. By then, though, the light had faded, the rainbows were just a fading memory. As the sun sunk lower in the sky, the cliff faces began to glow with the light of the setting sun. My mom describes being with her father, chasing the sun as it set in the sky to get the perfect scene. I found myself in the middle of that perfect scene, hoping and praying that I would remember everything I needed to record that moment before the last glimmer of light was gone. What a rush!
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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Winter Sunset in the Wasatch

There are those times when you are just lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time. I sometimes wonder if being a good photographer is just 90% showing up at the right time and place. I have a friend who can take a picture of the side of her house and have it be a masterpiece. I love looking at her pictures and seeing for the first time what she sees all the time. For me though, I have been privileged to be in a few places at the right time. This was one of those times. We were outside and I happened to notice that the bark of the aspen trees had turned a luminous amber color. I knew that behind me something had to be producing that kind of light. I hiked to the top of this snow covered ridge and was greeted by this sunset over Mount Timpanogos. I wish I had known how to capture that moment better, but the light was fleeting. A few seconds later and it was gone, the marvelous light replaced by a dreary gray winter's eve.
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Monday, August 31, 2009

Eklund Lake - Bridger Wilderness

The Jim Bridger Wilderness is one of several wilderness areas in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. This heavily glaciated range includes Gannett Peak, the highest in Wyoming. The tendency is to think of the Grand Teton as the highest, but this range to the southeast of the Tetons contains several higher peaks. This is rugged country, with huge changes in altitude and glaciers in the cirques of the highest mountains. Most of this area is above timberline, which is at about 10,400 feet above sea level at this latitude. This makes for stunning scenery, especially so near any of the glacial lakes left behind when the ice retreated during the last Ice Age. A Wyoming non-resident fishing permit runs about $14.00 a day here, but the fishing is well worth the price. Most of the area is accessible only on foot or by horseback. During our recent visit there, we met people on the trail from all over the world. All of them felt fortunate to be there and were glad the area had been set aside for wilderness use. We were able to get out just ahead of a heavy August snowstorm, but I am already planning and looking forward to our next trip back.
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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rabbit Ears Pass, Colorado

Years ago, when I was about 12 years old, my parents took our family on a drive to Denver to see my cousins. From that entire trip, I remember only a few things; the Denver Zoo, the Moffat Tunnel, and Rabbit Ears Pass.Having just visited the area around Rabbit Ears Peak, I now know why I remembered this area. Late July and early August must be the perfect time to see wildflowers in full bloom. We found this meadow just off the old US Highway 40 and were taken aback by the profusion of color. This scene was not an isolated patch of flowers, but was instead a small piece of a large meadow fully in bloom. This could have been part of any botanical center across the west, but was totally wild area with no attempt at cultivation. As we hiked around the area, every meadow had it's own set of flowers playing a starring role, but every one had a show going on. We were glad we chose this time of year to visit, and look forward to returning again.
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Teton Range at Sunrise

When I first started my own business, I was fortunate to be able to perform much of my work in the Jackson, Wyoming area. My customers included several in the Yellowstone and Grand Teton area. One night after working through the night at Flagg Ranch in between the two parks, I headed back towards home. Over the course of my time working in this area, I had seen some pretty amazing scenery. I had witnessed the sun coming out after an afternoon rain complete with rainbow and streaming rays of light against the backdrop of the Gros Ventre Range. I had watched magnificent eagles in their flight over the Snake River. I was able to see the sunlight glistening on freshly fallen snow with the temperature at -40' F at Half Moon Lake. But I didn't really own a very good camera then, and finances were such that even if I did, I couldn't afford the cost of developing the film. This night was different. I had bought my first 35mm camera about six months before and this time I had it with me. As the first rays of light began to lighten the sky, I noticed that the very tip of the Grand Teton was catching the light. I pulled my work van over to the side of the road and set up my camera, not on a tripod, but on a Park Service sign and set the camera for a long exposure. When I developed the film, I was surprised to find the whole range illuminated by the early morning light. The camera had captured the whole scene, not just the highlights I had seen with my eyes in the early dawn. I felt that I had somehow cheated in the taking of this picture. Now I realize that just as my grandmother had tinted my grandfather's early pictures, I was allowing the dawn light to fill in the palette of the view I knew was there from my experience.
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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Maidenhair Fern - Zion National Park, Utah

It was a rainy day with bad light and all the pictures I took that day were kind of blah! Most of the pictures had little contrast, and while the canyon was beautiful in the rain, nothing seemed to work out. We were walking in the warm rain and came across a small waterfall where a small spring came out of the cliff. This tiny sprig of a maidenhair fern was bouncing in the wind and would ever so often dip into the cascade, and then rebound out with a few droplets of water clinging to it's surface. The motion caught my eye and I was drawn to the sight. It's funny how even in a drab day, you can pick out small bursts of light and energy. I wonder sometimes if that is how my life is. I trudge through the weary day burdened by my thoughts of this or that thing that I need to get done, and forget the reason the I am here on this earth - to experience joy. In any event, this little fern brightened up an otherwise dull day for me.
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Betatakin Ruin - Navajo National Monument

The first time I ever saw Betatakin, I was a teenager visiting with my parents. I was overcome by the enormity of the alcove in this hidden canyon. We viewed the ruin from the opposite canyon rim and the ruins themselves were difficult to distinguish from the rest of the sandstone cliff. The next day, we headed into the canyon, climbing down a rickety wooden staircase fastened to the sheer canyon face. In my youth, I feared that every step would be my last, yet I was drawn seemingly headlong to my certain death at the canyon floor. Once firmly on the bottomland of the canyon, I found myself in a verdant valley filled with the sounds of crystal clear spring water rushing over the sandstone puctuated by the voices of birds and the wind in the aspen leaves. It was as if a small piece had been plucked from heaven and placed in this desert wilderness. I trod the path where countless Anasazi children had walked leading to the village on the edge of the alcove. Hundreds had lived here centuries ago, and then mysteriously, one day walked away from this paradise home. The trail I followed no longer exists. It was considered unsafe with age and was not rebuilt in a time where we have come to understand how we impact these fragile sites. The trail leading to this site now follows another route three miles longer, but barely visible from the rim and today's visit can only be made with a park ranger. Some day, I would like to make the 17 mile journey to Betatakin's sister city, Keet Seel. My parents brought me here and taught me to honor those whose country this was before we came. I have now brought one of my children here and hope to return again. I wonder if those who left thought they too would come back to their home on the cliff.
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Friday, September 19, 2008

Upper Antelope Canyon - Arizona

Almost within the city limits of Page, Arizona you will find that a photographer's paradise awaits you. There are two parts to this canyon - Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. Both are part of the same intermittent stream bed and about a mile or two apart. Since they are on the Navajo Reservation, you must go with a guide and pay a fee, but don't worry - it is worth every penny. This stream cut through the sandstone of the Kayenta formation on it's way to Glen Canyon of the mighty Colorado River (now Lake Powell). You enter the canyons near the Navajo Power Plant, a coal fired plant with three belching smokestacks visible from parts of each slot canyon. This is one place that you would not want to get caught in a flash flood. I don't think very many people could climb out of this canyon with it's narrowing upper walls. The Navajo women who took us in to see this were friendly and talkative, and they took great pleasure in showing us their version of sunscreen. They mix the finely ground sandstone dust, almost a flour consistency with motor oil and then smear this all over their faces and exposed skin. They swear that it works and keeps their skin soft and supple. Trust it to a Native American to use every part of the things they have available to them and waste nothing. I can't wait to go back again.
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