The wonders around Page, Arizona

November 20, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

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     Earlier this month, I attended the Page Photo Summit in the town of Page, which is in far northern Arizona. There are many geological wonders in this area of southern Utah and northern Arizona, and it is among some of the most remote areas in the lower 48. 

     First, I did a couple of hikes in the southern part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Here, I started a hike in the dark up a desert wash so that I could reach the Wahweap Hoodoos at first light. 

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     On the way back to my car, I would come up to a hoodoo that lined up with a setting moon in the morning sky. 

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     I would also come across some interesting mud cracks and formations along the dry wash.  

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     Next, it was on to Lee's Ferry, Arizona. This is where a lot of the rafters begin their trip to enter The Grand Canyon. However, I came here to hike...and hike UPHILL I did. I climbed the trail from the Colorado River about 1500 vertical feet in less than 2 miles.  It was a slow climb through all the switchbacks and then a short segment of off-trail navigation.  The reward was to see a view of a bend in the Colorado River that view people get to see. This view is almost as good as the now world famous Horseshoe Bend near Page. It is not quite a horseshoe, but it is a nice bend in the river with a lot of solitude.  I do love that feeling of photographing some subjects that rarely get photographed, unlike Horseshoe Bend that is photographed hundreds of times in a day. This image was taken by a drone to safely photograph from the edge of the cliff.  

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      Another great to fly a drone is the colorful Paria badlands in southern Utah. 

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     A trip to Page, Arizona would not be complete with a visit to a couple of slot canyons. I visited the world famous Upper Antelope Canyon... 

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...and the lesser known Waterhole Canyon, both are just outside of the town of Page, Arizona. 

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     Not only can you see some great light bouncing off the walls, but you can also see some some neat tumbleweeds that wind up next to the sand and rock walls in these slot canyons. 

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     The Southwest is also a great place to see the brilliant sunrises and sunsets. 

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Here you can see the pre-sunrise color looking toward Navajo Mountain and Tower Butte. 


A different perspective of The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

October 17, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

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     Last week, I spent a few days in New Mexico.  While I mostly went there for the annual eclipse that occurred from Oregon to Texas on Saturday October 14th, I also photographed some fall color in the Santa Fe National Forest and Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  

     Instead of the usual close up shots looking up at the sky, I opted for a different eye level view of the balloons from afar.  These images were taken from a hiking trail in the Sandia foothills above the city of Albuquerque. 

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     Hopefully, I will have some images from the annual eclipse to share in a future blog post. It was certainly good practice to prepare for the upcoming total eclipse that will occur in April. 


The landscapes of Utah's Capitol Reef National Park

September 29, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

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     Back in May, I joined up once again with Utah resident James Kay for a tour of Capitol Reef National Park. Capitol Reef is one of five national parks in Utah. It doesn't have iconic scenes like Delicate Arch in Arches National Park or The Narrows and Angels Landing that have become heavily visited in Zion National Park. However, it does feature good red rock scenery without the crowds.  

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     It is also a place for some interesting geology...

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     Capitol Reef only sees about a 1/4 of the visitors of Zion National Park and most of those visitors stay on or close to the main highway that runs through the park. The dirt road that goes north to Cathedral Valley...

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...or the dirt road going south to Strike Valley can provide an even quieter backcountry experience. 

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     The desert of southern Utah is often a stark place where it is hard to find signs of life.  However, I did find isolated spring flowers close to Factory Butte, just outside of Capitol Reef. 

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     It is in this area where the Mars Desert Research Station is located and this barren landscape was used to test the Mars Rover. You can read more about the testing of the Mars Rover that continues in the Utah desert here.

     One great place is the Bentonite Hills, where the red landscape resembles something like you would see on Mars. 

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     While most of the landscape is barren, a couple of my favorite pictures is where water was able to cut a course in the red sandstone.  

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From the photo archives: Oregon Coast

August 31, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

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     This summer, I have been going through the archives and looking back on photos from years past.  This group of pictures was from a trip to the Oregon Coast.  I traveled the entire length of the coast of Oregon, from north to south. I will share you some of my favorite pictures that starts in the north part of Oregon while ending with some pictures in the southern part of the state. 

     The journey began at the town of Astoria, where the Columbia River empties into Pacific Ocean. On this foggy morning, you can (barely) see this bridge spanning over the Columbia River. 

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     Just outside of the town of Astoria is Fort Stevens State Park, where another minimalist scene was captured using old wooden piers. 

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     Next, it was down to the seastacks at Cannon Beach...

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...and the views and sea caves at Cape Kiwanda. 

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     One great place to see the crashing waves is at Seal Rock, south of Newport.  

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     Another place to witness the changing tides and the interaction between waves and rocks is at Thor's Well along the central Oregon coast. 

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     Here, there is a unique formation in the rocks where you can see the waves pour into a hole. The Oregon Coast is also a great place for lighthouses.  My favorite lighthouse to photograph was the Coquille River Lighthouse near Bandon.  

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     With its numerous seastacks, Bandon is probably the most famous location to photograph along the Oregon Coast.  Changing skies and tides can make for almost endless compositions to capture. 

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     The trip ended in Southern Oregon, with another photogenic location known as "Secret Beach" north of the town of Brookings. 

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Fireworks at Lake Leatherwood

July 03, 2023  •  1 Comment

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     Happy 4th of July!  

     On Sunday night, I drove out to Lake Leatherwood.  This lake is located just outside of Eureka Springs in Northwest Arkansas.  I had hiked around the over a decade ago but never seen the fireworks show there.  Last week, I wanted to seek out a firework show in a natural setting with few structures, preferably with a lake where I can also capture colorful reflections in the water. Lake Leatherwood seemed like the best option to me that was within an hour of my hometown. I wanted to find a way to incorporate the landscape with the firework display, not just point a camera up to the sky.  One way to do that is to back off from where the fireworks are fired and use a mid-range zoom lens instead of a wide angle lens that is more typically used in firework photography. If you are close to the show, you then a restricted to using a wide angle lens that often is pointed mostly up into the sky.  The image above was at a focal length of 90mm to capture the fireworks that were about a mile and half away from where I was standing and is a composite of eight firework images stitched together into one image.

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