Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Yellowstone National Park

Sunset at Lower Geyser Basin

Although I had been to Yellowstone several times previously, I had never spent the night inside the park before, so my access to early morning and late evening light had been limited by the logistics and size of the park.  Therefore, I resolved to camp inside the park during a recent visit.  While I normally consider early October to be the prime time for photography there, during my recent visit I planned to sleep in the back of my pickup in an unheated camper shell in the Madison Campground, and I was concerned about my tolerance for cold October nights. Therefore, I decided to make my trip during the last week of August. 

Before my trip, I had admired some images by others of steam from geysers and thermal features backlit by the sun.  I decided to try to include similar subjects in my photos during this trip.

Clepsydra Geyser near Sunset

Clepsydra Geyser is a predictable subject for sunset images because it erupts almost continuously.  All images on this trip were made with a Canon 5D2, typically using a 24-105 L lens.

Grotto Geyser- Upper Geyser Basin

My first full morning in the park, I decided to head to Upper Geyser Basin.  The hike to Morning Glory Pool is a little over a mile, via one's choice of either boardwalk or paved walkway.

Morning Glory Pool- Upper Geyser Basin

Lower Yellowstone Falls from North Rim

Another morning, I drove to the Canyon area of the park to photograph the falls.  Copious volumes of mist were coming from the base of the lower falls in the cool morning air.

Lower Yellowstone Falls from Artist Point

I hurried over to the South Rim Drive to Artist Point, hoping to catch some good early light.  Unfortunately, a thin cloud covered the sun as I took this image, and an even heavier bank of clouds covered the sun after that.  Still, I like this spot, in any light.

 Bison Grazing

On the way back from Yellowstone Falls, I came across this bison grazing at the edge of a clearing.  I kept my distance from him- this image was taken with a 400 mm lens and was still heavily cropped.

Bison and Steaming Geyser

Since I had no cooking provisions at my campground on this trip,  I drove to the cafeteria at the Old Faithful Inn in order to eat meals.  On one such trip, I saw this young bison with the lower geyser basin in the distant background. 

Emerald Pool

Riverside Geyser

Riverside Geyser erupts on a frequent, regular schedule, shooting hot water high into the air, and landing in the Firehole River.  During the middle of the night after taking this photo, I was awakened in in my campground by the sound of an Elk bugling in the distance.  Then, before I fell back to sleep, a pack of wolves began howling.  A memory I will not soon forget!

Steaming Pool at Morning Light

Old Faithful

I guess one of the first things most people think of when they think of Yellowstone is Old Faithful geyser.  For some reason, I never did get around to photographing Old Faithful on this trip.  Perhaps it was because I knew that I already had the above image of it, which was taken during an earlier trip in 2010.  Yellowstone is an immense park, filled with many natural wonders, and I believe that one could spend decades there and still not see it all. Still, I'm grateful to be able to see some small part of it, and to be able to share these images. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

More Grand Canyon National Park

Evening Light and Shadows from Mather Point

On this trip, I only had a chance to photograph one sunset, and I chose Mather Point, located near the visitor center, as my spot.  I can't honestly say that there was anything especially dramatic about the light or the atmospheric conditions on that evening.  However, any evening at the South Rim is probably not a bad one for photography.  It reminds me a little of that old saying about a bad day fishing being better than a good day working.  

Clouds at Sunset

I would wager my usual limit of a nickel that there was some spot on the South Rim that had a better view of these clouds that evening than the spot where I was.  But, luck plays a role in a lot of things, landscape photography included.  And only being present on one evening does not provide the best of odds at getting a memorable shot.  Guess I will have to return another time!

View from Hermit's Rest

Tech Info-  All images shown were taken with a Canon 5D2 and 24-105 L lens with polarizer.

Yucca Plant at Hermit's Rest

If you would like to compare these images, taken in the July heat, to a previous post of the South Rim in a spring snowstorm, you can click on the April, 2012 post on the right hand side of your screen.
Colorado River from South Rim

Most overlooks on the South Rim do not show much of the Colorado River.  However, this view shows the river winding its way into the canyon from one of the points on the East side of the South Rim, perhaps either Navajo Point or Desert View Point.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

More of Moab

OK, I know that I have posted photos from Moab, Utah before.  But honestly, it is just one of those places that I can't seem to stay away from.  This trip, I intentionally avoided going to spots that I have previously obtained photos that I was satisfied with.  To view those earlier photos, check out my blog posts dated  April, 2012, which can be found on the menu on the right hand side of the page.

Fisher Towers and Colorado River

Fisher Towers is a group of sandstone pillars located near the Colorado River as it winds its way toward Moab.  Near sundown, the red rock can glow, and if the water is sufficiently calm, a reflection can be seen in the river.

Park Avenue

Park Avenue is one of the first sandstone formations that visitors come upon after entering Arches National Park.  This photo was taken in late afternoon light, as shadows from a nearby formation begin to overtake the valley.

Sunset- Balanced Rock

Another iconic location for sunset is Balanced Rock in Arches NP.  Just before sundown, as the last warm light of the day strikes the red rock, it can appear to glow a bright red.  I was hoping for a few nice clouds to further improve the composition on this afternoon, but I don't want to be too greedy.

Double Arch

If one arch is good, then two arches must be even better, right?  Double Arch is located in the windows section of Arches NP, and is a popular stop for tour busses in the park.  It also is front lit by morning light, in the case of this photo, mid-morning light.

Stars Over South Window

Lately, I have become interested in photographing the night sky with interesting objects in the foreground.  During my visit to Moab this trip, I was lucky enough to have a few days in which moonrise did not occur until a couple of hours after sundown, along with a relatively clear night sky.  My initial idea was to photograph the night sky above turret arch, but I found that the sky became sufficiently dark over South Window first.

Turret Arch After Dark

Milky Way Over Turret Arch

For photographers interested in how one goes about photographing stars at night like this, here are a few technical details:  Canon 5D2, 24 mm f2.8 lens wide open, manual focus, ISO 6400, 25 second exposure with noise reduction on.  And, most importantly, a sturdy tripod that will not blow over in the wind. 

False Kiva

This was my second visit to False Kiva in Canyonlands NP.  My primary motivation for returning again was, I now have a lens which provides a wider angle of view than i had during my first visit.  False Kiva is not a site which is marked on the park maps, and it requires a bit of research to be able to locate.  The hike to False Kiva is not exceptionally long, but the last portion involves hiking down over the edge of the canyon below the site, traversing below the site to the opposite side of the canyon, then climbing back up to reach the site.  My sixty year old knees were a bit sore for several days after this hike/rock climb.  Was it worth the hike?  I guess my viewers can decide.

Sunset in Canyonlands

I once read a comment by a good landscape photographer which noted that photographing landscapes is really all about the weather, and we just happen to do it in locations with interesting or picturesque foregrounds.  On my last evening in Moab, after going to False Kiva earlier in the afternoon, I decided to shoot sunset from Green River Overlook in Canyonlands NP.  That spot looks westward, and if one is very lucky, at sundown a nice bunch of clouds will hang low over the setting sun, and provide a nice sunset with the canyons formed by the Green River in the foreground.  Well, the night I chose to go there was probably the most under-whelming sunset that I have ever seen.  To my even greater chagrin, I noticed that there were a nice group of clouds in the East, 180 degrees away from the composition that I had chosen to photograph.  Since I had no time to get to a spot which showed any canyons in the East below this sunset, I hurridly grabbed a couple of shots with only the landscape beside the parking lot under the blazing sky.  I suppose the lesson to be learned was to pay less attention to my preconceived notions, and more attention to where the clouds are at sunset.

Capitol Reef National Park- Fall, 2014

Before this trip, I had never spent as much time in Capitol Reef as any of the other National Parks in Utah.   Vickie and I made a trip there nearly twenty years ago, in the late spring,  and she got too many insect bites, so we had to leave early and take her to a doctor.  Also, I was well aware that one of the better sections of the park, Cathedral Valley, requires a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle to access.  So, now that I have my trusty Nissan Frontier 4x4, I thought this would be a good time to re-visit Capitol Reef.  

I had seen photos by others in which the cottonwood trees in the park had turned a bright gold color, making a nice contrast against the red rocks.  Unfortunately, most of the trees were only beginning to turn during my visit there, as the photo above shows.  Still, I am glad that I went.

Temple of the Moon

The drive to Cathedral Valley, in the northern section of the park, is about twenty miles of unpaved dirt and rocky road via the shortest route, but much longer if one chooses to drive the entire loop. Rather than making the entire loop, I chose to enter via the east Cathedral Road, then exit via the same route.  The visitor center has handouts with instructions on how to locate either entrance to the Cathedral Valley loop.  Some sections of the road were so heavily washboarded during my trip that it reminded me of what it must be like to drive down railroad tracks (on the ties).  Still, I was able to make it there and back with no ill effects other than a little dust on the bedding inside my camper shell.

The Temple of the Moon is actually the smaller of two giant monoliths in Cathedral Valley, although it is hundreds of feet tall.

Temple of the Sun

The nearby Temple of the Sun is much the larger of the two monoliths in Cathedral Valley.  I was lucky to have some blue skies with scattered clouds during my visit there.  All of my photos in Cathedral Valley were taken in mid- to late- morning light.

On my way back out of Cathedral Valley, there were a number of these large boulders, which I decided might be useful for anchoring the foreground in my compositions.

I found the above scene near the end of my journey back out of Cathedral Valley.  By this time, I was getting hungry, tired, and ready to reach smoother road again.

Back to the main section of the park, with paved roads, I found these views from the numerous viewpoints and pull-offs.

My next stop on my trip was Moab, so check back to this blog for more soon.

San Juan Mountains- Fall, 2014

Dallas Divide, afternoon light

Not all fall color spots in the San Juan mountains require long hikes on foot or a four wheel drive vehicle in order to access.  Dallas Divide has a large parking lot immediately adjacent to a state highway just a few miles from Ridgway, Colorado, from which the view above was taken one mid-afternoon.  The close-up of several aspens immediately below was taken from the same spot, on the same day.  I think it was the early photographer Edward Weston who was once quoted as saying that all good landscape photos were taken within a few feet of his car.  Dallas Divide certainly provides ease of access to photographers.

Sneffels Range from CO Road 7

For those fortunate enough to be in the area with a four wheel drive or high clearance vehicle, there are several gravel county roads which wind their way closer to the mountains.  One of my personal favorites is CO Road 7, which also provides access to the Blue Lakes Trailhead.

Another view from CO Road 7

Same road.  I would have preferred just a little less cloud cover above the mountains, but one takes what one can get.

Yet another view of the Sneffels Range.  I am not certain whether this was from Road 5 or 7.

Check back soon for photos from the next location on my fall trip west, which was Capitol Reef National Park.