Posts Tagged desert

Valley of Fire

I’ve heard about Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada for decades. I’ve always wanted to go there, but never seemed to find the time to head that way.

A couple weeks ago, I had to go to two conferences in Las Vegas (yes, had to go is the right term. I really don’t like Vegas for more than about two hours). I decided to go out a day early and visit Valley of Fire. I made the right choice.

I was only able to spend a few hours there, but what I saw confirms for me that I’ll be going back and spending some time there. It’s a beautiful place with so much to see that one day simply isn’t enough. I’ve got some images I’ll share with you over two posts, so check back next Wednesday for more.

There’s an area in Valley of Fire called The Wave. It’s photographed often and for good reason. I hiked into The Wave to check it out and came back with some images I rather like.

 

Here they are:

 

The first is a sort of establishing view. A desert garden with some very interesting geology. (Don’t forget to click on the images to see them full size and with proper color.)

It’s a beautiful area, I think you’ll agree.

The Wave #1

The Wave #1

 

But if you’ve known me for any length of time, you’ll know that I love Black-and-White photos, probably more than I like color, so I converted the above scene:

The Wave Monochrome

The Wave Monochrome

 

I really like this view. For some reason, the lack of color accents the scene far better; to my eye, at least. As long as I was doing B&W, I decided to move up a little and capture the heart of the scene with a little desert garden:

 

The Hear to the Wave

The Heart of the Wave

 

Check back Wednesday to see what else I found at Valley of Fire!

 

More to follow,

Bob

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More from the Desert

Our recent expedition into the desert was only a week long, but, man did we take pictures. The total for the five of us was a little over 8,000 images and I actually did more than 1,000. Back in the day, I would have likely done twenty or thirty, but digital photography offers a lot of options that require a lot of exposures. You might remember a couple weeks back I posted a panorama from the Totem Pole. That was made of about seven separate images. I’ve posted some High Dynamic Range images that take somewhere between four and seven exposures to blend into the final product. So it’s not all promiscuous shooting, sometimes the multiples are there for a reason.

Sometimes it’s necessary to do a lot of images just to get the one right shot. That’s the situation at Horseshoe Bend. The light is constantly changing, the framing always seems to be a challenge, so the photographer has the choice of either figuring out the exact right shot and being in the exact right position at the time the light is exactly right or finding a good frame and waiting, taking several images until the right one is there. (click on the images to see them full size and in the right color space.)

 

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend

 

Or one might be driving up the road to Monument Valley and see a stunning sky outlining El Capitan. If you’ve watched the John Ford/John Wayne movies filmed in Monument Valley, you’ve seen El Capitan off in the distance. If you’ve driven by it, you’ve undoubtedly been impressed. I had to stop in two different places to make images. Again, if it had been in the old view camera days, I’d have carefully composed, metered the scene and waited for the clouds to be perfect and the light on El Capitan to be just right. With digital, we have the option of shifting our composition, our exposure and our zoom to capture the right image. It’s tempting to just blast away, but I hope that I’m thoughtful enough only to capture good scenes and only blast away when the light is constantly changing as it was in this situation.

 

El Capitan Navajo Nation

El Capitan Navajo Nation

 

I kind of like what I found in both circumstances.

More to follow,

Bob

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The Frameup

It’s been a busy week. Lots of time in the field making photographs, not much time to process and post before doing a nose plant into the pillow to be ready for the next day’s adventure. On a very auspicious day we hooked up with a guide. He asked us what we wanted to see and we told him.

That started a long day of traveling the back roads of Monument Valley Tribal Park. Harry, our guide, often made suggestions about where to find good photos and he was seldom wrong. Harry suggested the framing below and it turns out it was a good idea. We all stood in line to get the right position and framing for the West Mitten.

Here’s what I found:

West mitten framed

West mitten framed

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Sunrise Silhouette

It’s easy to get up before sunrise as the year wears on. I was up and fiddling around yesterday so decided I should take advantage of our great room at the View and set up the camera on the balcony.

Here’s what I saw:

Monument Valley Sunrise Silhouette

Monument Valley Sunrise Silhouette

 

More to follow,

Bob

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That’s a lot of slot

Those of you who know me know that I love slot canyons. We found this one and spent several hours oohing, aaahing and making photographs. The canyon ranged from a couple feet wide to a wide open canyon and the colors were spectacular.

Of course, if you know me at all, you know I prefer black-and-white as an image. Henri Cartier-Breson once said that our first 10,000 photographs are our worst. In pursuit of a black-and-white I can be happy with, I may have to go to 15,000. But, luckily, the canyon provided some excellent opportunities and I’ll share them with you today.

First, the color image. After all, this is color country (click for full size and color).

Slot canyon Overhead

Slot canyon Overhead

 

But then I just had to make some monochrome images. Remember that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel sang words that I will always agree with in their Central Park concert. They correctly updated the words to Kodachrome to say, “Everything looks better in black-and-white.” No truer words have been spoken.

 

Slot canyon 1

Slot canyon 1

 

Still life in a slot canyon

Still life in a slot canyon

More to follow,

Bob

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Back in Paradise

I arrived back in my soul’s home the other day. The red rock country is my true home and it is so good to be back. A group of photographers from a workshop I took recently has been planning this trip for months and we’re all converging on the desert to share some good times and fellowship.

I was waiting for Phil to arrive at Moab international airport, so took a little drive. I spotted some white blossoms and knew I had to record one of my favorite flowers, the sacred datura, or, as it’s known in other regions, jimson weed.

If you’ve read the Carlos Castañeda series of books, you know datura is the plant they used to induce visions. It’s a pretty significant hallucinogen, but must be handled carefully or it can kill the person who ingests it. Being a coward, I tread pretty lightly around the jimson weed, but because it has the most spectacular flowers, it’s always an attractive target for my camera. Here are a couple images I made from a respectful distance (as always, click on the images to see the full size and correct color):

 

Sacred Datura 1

Sacred Datura 1

 

Sacred Datura 2

Sacred Datura 2

 

The adventure is beginning and I’ll share some images of the most beautiful country in the world and the week progresses. Check back often.

More to follow,

Bob

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More from the Past

A while back I started to browse through all my foto files. I was looking for images I passed up because I couldn’t figure out how to process them. My aim was to see if I could do something with them now.

I found some from a January trip to Comb Ridge. Nick and I stopped at a spot where there was a variety of ice crystals formed in a little depression. I shot quite a few, but let the scene and my camera outsmart me by underexposing a whole bunch. I kind of gave up on those images because I couldn’t get them right.

Now a few years later and with an improved version of Photoshop and a lot more experience, I decided to try my luck. Both of these images were fiddled with quite a bit through the process, from opening up the exposure to converting to Black-and-white. As a bonus, they match the season.

See what you think.

Ice crystals #1

Ice Crystals 1

Ice Crystals 1

Ice crystals #2

Ice Crystals 2

Ice Crystals 2

 

Oh, by the way. I signed up with a company that will clean out the malware that was infesting my RSS feed. By today you shouldn’t have to see any more viagra ads in the teaser. Finally!

 

More to follow,

Bob

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You’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to…

This was one of those days: up at 4 p.m. then driving nearly two-and-a-half hours to get to the spot we decided would be our sunrise location. Worked out pretty well.

I’ve never been a real fan of Goblin Valley State Park. Oh, it’s interesting and cool. The first time. It’s just that I never really had much interest in going back. It’s hard to photograph in any unique way and kind of all the same stuff. But our gang wanted to go there for sunrise, so go there we did. And I’m glad. I have a new respect for Goblin Valley after the morning shoot. It was still hard to get a unique photo, but not as bad as I’ve seen it.

And, of course, if you’re a photographer, Sunrise is a good thing.

(click on the images to see the real size and decent color)

 

We had a very old moon that morning. It would be new the next day. But as it was there at sunrise, the moon and Earthglow added some interest to a dark blue sky.

Sunrise, Goblin Valley East

Sunrise, Goblin Valley East

 

Of course, if we looked north, we could see some clouds and the morning sun gave them a nice color boost.

 

Sunrise, Goblin Valley North

Sunrise, Goblin Valley North

 

More to follow.

Bob

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More from the past

As I said the other day, I’ve been doing a little time travel. Here are a couple images from long ago that I kind of like.

 

I went to False Kiva with a new friend last October, but couldn’t get a decent image (it looks like someone sneezed on my camera’s sensor, so the sky had all sorts of awful marks in it). This old file worked out pretty well. It came from my first visit to the Kiva. (Click on the images to see them at the right size and with the right colors.)

 

False Kiva

False Kiva

 

Mesa Arch at sunrise has become almost a cliché foto. So many people have done this image. I have been there a couple times, but wasn’t really happy with my results. Then I got to looking in the file where this foto was stored and realized I had for some indefinable reason decided to make a two-image High Dynamic Range (HDR) image of the arch. Beyond that, I had, for some unfathomable reason, never processed the HDR. Maybe it was because HDR was the subject of a lot of bitter arguments when it first started to gain prominence. Some thought it was the best thing ever, some thought it was some sort of sin against nature to use that method. I just never got a good HDR image until a little while ago. I always had some concerns about the ‘HDR look,’ a sort of over-saturated, over-contrasty look that was pretty noticeable at the beginning.

 

I think this is pretty much under control.

 

Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch

 

More to follow.

Bob

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Looking at the past

Well, a couple things have changes. First, I’ve tried to get rid of the hacks that trash my RSS feed, but can’t seem to find a way to do that. So I changed my theme, hoping that might make a difference. We’ll see. I don’t like the new theme that much, but I’ve tried to modify it and it doesn’t seem to want to work either. Grrrrrr.

Anyway, I’ve been going through some old fotos after receiving a request for prints of a couple that I really couldn’t find. I’ve still got a bunch of new ones to go through, but this request got me started.

These aren’t the ones and I may have shown them to you before, but I was just reminded how much I like Factory Butte, so I’m going to show them again. So there.

In addition, I’m experimenting with a different kind of image file, so we’ll see what happens.

 

Two sunrise images (Click on the images for a better view):

 

Factory Butte Sunrise #1

Factory Butte Sunrise #1

Factory Butte Sunrise #1

 

Factory Butte Sunrise #2

Factory Butte Sunrise #2

Factory Butte Sunrise #2

 

More to follow.

Bob

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