Posts Tagged Capitol Reef National Park

Back where I belong

Got some bad news Friday. I hadn’t been selected for a job I really felt would be a good one for me. I was kind of bummed out. Saturday, as I turned off I-70 and headed for Capitol Reef, Factory Butte came into view. I started smiling uncontrollably. Seems that chunk of clay has a hold on me. And it’s a good one.

We went to Hanksville to get a family portrait at the Wolverton Mill, then to Factory Butte (where else?) to hike one of the many small slot canyons in the area. It was a real recharge to see the family and spend time with them, and, of course, to be in the shadow of the Butte.

A long hike today has tired me out, so this will be short, but here’s what I’ve seen so far:

I love slot canyons as long as they don’t require ropes and parachutes, These around the Butte are particularly interesting because of the tortured rocks that we find.

 

Coal Road Slot

Coal Road Slot

There’s another network of slots near the visitor center in Capitol Reef. This one is unnamed officially, but Nick calls ‘Little canyon.’ I call int ‘Nick’s Canyon.’ Either way, it gives us a nice frame for the Castle. I’ve shown you shots of this before, but this one is actually three images combined, intended to open up the shadows and control the highlights. Called High-Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, it’s a sometimes-controversial technique. But when I get results like this, I don’t mind if some don’t believe the process belongs in photography.

The Castle from Little Canyon

The Castle from Little Canyon

More to follow,

Bob

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Ain’t it Grand!

Spent most of the day exploring in the Grand Staircase National Monument. Really, one road, 15 miles, 4hours. Yes,  a few fotos and a conversation with a very nice BLM Ranger. Jeff stopped as we were goofing around with my GPS (no, we weren’t lost, the mesa we were trying to find was) and chatted for a few minutes. When he was sure we weren’t up to any skullduggery, he gave us a couple ideas of what to look for down the road, reminded us not to “collect” anything and wished us a nice day (actually he said, “Check six,” but it’s the same thing. I’ll explain it to you if necessary).

It was nice in there. First, the only other human we saw was Jeff, and second we ran into dozens of spectacular junipers (my favorite tree), and managed to catch a fair sunset again. Best of all, the closest we came to turkey was a flock of about 20 wild ones. I tried a few fotos, but the ones that had the best poses were a little blurry and the ones that were in focus were mostly turkey backsides. Oh, well.

The Juniper:

The Sunset:

More to follow,

Bob

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What I’m thankful for

I’m thankful to be here in my favorite place on Earth. There’s every kind of desert image available within a few miles of ‘camp,’ and I take full advantage of it.

This morning we went to Hanksville to check out some new roads we found a nice lady who knew the familly that built the Wolverton Mill. Then we headed for the bentonite country to see what we could see. It was spectacular and I have a lot of images from the area. This may not be the best, but it shows some nice formations and gives a hint to the Spring Break crowd what they can expect. Assuming it doesn’t rain within the week before we get there. This stuff is murder when it’s wet.

Bentonite hills

Bentonite hills

Then there was sunset. This tree grabbed my attention from the start and most of the images I did of the sunset included it. It’s a pine tree, but I don’t discriminate. While I love junipers, I have equal feelings for pines. Especially the ones that look so interesting as this one.

Sunset Tree

Sunset Tree

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Oh, and another thing I’m thankful for: I don’t have to eat turkey or watch football today! Life is good!

More to follow,

Bob

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Oh, deer!

I don’t shoot much wildlife, with either a camera or a gun, but when I saw the desert bighorns today, I had to give it a try. I had heard that they hang out around Capitol Reef, but had never seen one here. That changed this morning, when I slammed on the brakes and pulled over, making Nick wonder just what I was up to. Grabbed the camera and strolled toward the sheep, who strolled away from me, but I got a few shots. Here’s one that isn’t awful.

We’ve been driving through the campground area in the evenings trying to find a good place for sunset photography. Each night there would be a nice buck mule deer and a dozen or so does and fawns. I figured that if today was wildlife day, I’d photograph the deer. Drove down the campground road and not one deer was to be found. We drove through the eerily empty campground and saw nothing. On the final loop, we saw some deer. Here’s one that posed for me. I think it’s a yearling, but won’t bet on it.

There were some wild turkeys on the road yesterday, but I guess they’re hiding out in fear of tomorrow. Oh, well.

More to follow,

Bob

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No, I really can’t help it!

OK, so here we are, looking at all sorts of cool stuff and I just had to go back to Factory Butte. As you’ll see, the sky was spectacular in the Park, so I figured it would be equally good out at the Butte. Besides, we had a couple hours to sunset, so what the heck. Nick knows I’m a pretty whiney goof if I don’t get my way, so off we went. I’m glad we did. Another couple hundred images and something I think I might like.

How did I know we should go to the Butte? Just look at the sky in this image of the west side of the Reef and figure if it will be good to the East.

Capitol Reef Skyline

Capitol Reef Skyline

Then see what the sky had in store for us at the Butte.

Factory Butte #3

Factory Butte #3

Oh, and I also love juniper trees. This one had a nice little desert garden waiting to be discovered, so I had to photograph it. The pale green-leaved plant on the right side of the garden is the Roundleaf Buffalo Berry. According to an interpretive sign at another national park, the Buffaloberry is the only plant that Native Americans couldn’t figure out a use for. It’s kinda nice in this garden, though.

Desert Garden

Desert Garden

More to follow,

Bob

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Think Small

Well, today was an interesting day. We started by heading down into a slot canyon I call Nick’s Canyon to see if we could get a decent image of The Castle from down there. It had snowed here a couple weeks ago and there was still a lot of mud in the canyon bottom. The kind of mud that makes you an inch taller with each step. We weren’t sure if we’d be able to avoid hitting the power lines with our heads after a few steps in the canyon.

While we were waiting for the sun to hit The Castle (it did eventually, shortly before we became hypothermic), I started to look around and saw this leaf in a mud puddle. It’s sitting on a slurry that’s about the thickness of melted ice cream. I had to suspend the camera by the tripod over this glurp and avoid getting into it while composing and shooting. The only damage was to my tripod mast and a strap that holds the tripod in one piece when I carry it. They should dry out in a week or so, then I can scrape the sand off with some luck.

Leaf and mud

Leaf and mud

After that we moved on down the road toward the Boneyard. Nick wanted to photograph a rock that looked kind of like an angry Pacman dot muncher, so we found it and started shooting. Turns out I did a self-portrait while there. Here it is. My friend Sara did some portraits of me in Alaska, and they’re better, but I’m not ready to post them here. You don’t need to see how old I’ve become.

Self-portrait

Self-portrait

After the self-portrait, I turned around and saw this cotton hanging on one of the desert plants. (I can name two plants. One is Sagebrush, the other isn’t. I have no idea what this one is.) I thought the stark white cotton looked cool, so shot it.

Weed

Weed

More to follow,

Bob

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My, how time flies!

Seems like it’s been a little while since I posted. And it has. Wow! things just conspire to eat your time. That’s especially true when you get stuck in a cigar tube and fly across country. I had to go to Tampa, FL for a series of meetings earlier this month, run to Denver a couple times and attend a memorial service for a dear friend, and, well, to quote Willie Nelson, “Ain’t it funny how time slips away?”

These photos are from a workshop we did in, you guessed it, Capitol Reef National Park. It was another one of those workshops where we goofed off with old friends, told stories on each other, sipped a few beers and made a lot of photographs. I started working on them just after I returned home, then got distracted with other stuff. So here they are.

So much of what I was seeing on that trip was in black-and-white, a medium that I love and try to get right. See what you think:

 

We avoided too much adventure on this trip. To get to the Bentonite Hills, we had to ford the Fremont River. The nice thing about rivers in the West is that they are often what Easterners would call ‘creeks.’ But we do have photographic evidence that there are times when driving across the river isn’t a great idea. This time the flooding was over, so it went well.

Bentonite

Bentonite

In the early spring, there’s little greenery in the desert. This dead weed will undoubtedly be replaced by a lush, green one (at least for a few weeks) and the contrast will be lost. There’s an old photographic adage that you should never walk past a potential image thinking that you’ll get it later. Later never happens. The light is never the same, the scene is subtly different and (this is especially true of me) you’ll forget where the dern thing was anyway.

Boulder and Weed

Boulder and Weed

And then there’s always the large wall detail. This one has so much going for it that I just gawked a while, took out the camera and saw a black-and-white image. It’s not quite a grand landscape, but it’s not intimate landscape, either. Just call it wall detail with juniper trees.

Alcove and Wall Detail

Alcove and Wall Detail

Yes, of course there’s color. Tune in Wednesday for proof of that.

 

Mor to follow.

Bob

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What to do while waiting

My nephew from Florida was coming to the desert. We were going to meet at the historic Wolverton Mill (do a search, you’ll probably find it) at high noon. But, of course, there’s a whole morning to use up waiting to go to the Mill. So what does one do in Capitol Reef and the surrounding area? Take the camera for a drive.

Of course, you won’t be surprised to see two of the fotos. The sky was great, I wanted to try a little different angle and framing, so wandered up a wash. The buckwheat photo is for Nick. He’s got a fetish for desert buckwheat and I don’t really blame him. It’s a fascinating plant. Use that for the foreground to my fetish, Factory Butte, and you’ll get an interesting image.

Here’s how to wait without getting bored:

Buckwheat Factory

Buckwheat Factory

I kind of like this framing of the Butte:

Framed Butte

Framed Butte

 

And, of course, water in the desert is fascinating. It’s water, doing its thing, that makes much of what we see so stunning. Here’s a little erosion in process.

Waterfall, Fremont River

Waterfall, Fremont River

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I love Capitol Reef #2

I really do love Capitol Reef National Park. It feels like home. Spent this morning wandering through another of the dozens of slot canyons in the park. This time I decided that I should carry one lens, and a lens that I don’t use every day. It’s a fun challenge and gets a photographer thinking in a different way from the usual. Out of the rut, in a manner of speaking.

Here are some shots I found. The sun was harsh, so I photographed mostly in the shadows, but that’s fine, it gives a good, smooth contrast range.

More evidence that Capitol Reef is lovable:

Juniper Bark

Juniper Bark

 

Tumbleweed, Alcove, Capitol Reef

Tumbleweed, Alcove, Capitol Reef

 

Picture Stone

Picture Stone

 

Order and Chaos

Order and Chaos

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I can’t help myself!

Well, we were in Bluff and wondering what we’d do when we heard that a storm was moving into Capitol Reef. Capitol Reef in the snow is stunning. Well, it’s stunning any time, of course, but with snow: wow!

Unfortunately all we got was cold wind. But even that’s OK, because the storm clouds were moving in and out and that means I had to go back to the place I’m trying to make a good photograph of: Factory Butte. While Nick and I stood out in the wind and shivered, the clouds moved in and out. 150 exposures gave me a lot to work with.

I previsualized black-and-white images on the way and I think they might have worked out to some extent. Here they are:

Factory Butte and clouds

Factory Butte and clouds

Factory Butte and Clouds 2

Factory Butte and Clouds 2

More to follow.

Bob

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