Posts Tagged Sunrise

Home for the Holidays

I’ve mentioned before that several years ago, after having lost my muse because I stayed away from the desert far too long, I had to take a trip back to this beautiful country. As I dropped into Capitol Reef from the west, I burst into tears and said to no-one in particular, “Mother, I’m home.” To no-one? No, to the desert itself.

The mother desert? Yes, why not? It’s part of Mother Nature (or, as I often refer to her when the weather is bad, Ma Nature), and it’s the best part, I’ll warrant. There’s something about the desert that attracts me and nurtures me.

That’s hard to believe when one gives a cursory look around. There’s really not much there to offer physical sustenance (while I haven’t tried it, I’d guess it’s hard to eat cactus spines or juniper bark). If it’s not physical sustenance the desert offers it must be something else. Sustenance for the soul, perhaps. A deeper look confirms that.

I decided on that trip so long ago that this desert is my soul’s home. And home is where I need to be.

So I went down to the desert this past Thanksgiving. That means a couple things:

  • First, no turkey for thanksgiving dinner. In fact, if I didn’t stash some food in my motel room, no dinner at all. Everything closes for the holiday in the small towns that border the area I love. And that’s a good thing. I hate turkey anyway
  • Second, it reminds me to be truly thankful for this incredible landscape, my family and friends. You know, all the good things

But what is it that is so attractive in this land of harsh, dry rock and clay? Clearly there’s something. Perhaps it’s just the glee one feels when yet another stunning piece of land presents itself. And in that presentation challenges the photographer to record it with sensitivity and love.

Along with the discovery and recording comes the opportunity to share this experience with others. That’s key: the opportunity to share my experiences. When I stumble across natural beauty, I want to share it. And the best way for me to share is through my photography. So here are a couple looks at what I was thankful for last week.

 

As you know, I’m fascinated by Factory Butte. I walked in closer to the landform to see what it looked like up close.

 

Factory Butte

Factory Butte

 

The ‘badlands’ around the Butte are equally worth taking a look at.

 

Clay Hills, Caineville, Utah

Clay Hills, Caineville, Utah

 

And, of course, what’s a photography trip without a sunset?

 

Sunset, Capitol Reef National Park

Sunset, Capitol Reef National Park

 

Or a sunrise, for that matter?

 

Sunset, Capitol Reef National Park

Sunset, Capitol Reef National Park

 

 

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Everything looks better in Black-and-White

Digital photography brings a wide range of advantages over film photography. (It took me a long time to accept that, but now I’m firmly in the digital camp, even with the apparent increase in interest in film that’s flickering in the world today.)

With film photography, depending on the camera system you were using, you could find yourself ‘locked out’ of a good photograph. With a 35mm camera, the film that was loaded was pretty much what you had to use. Sure, there were ways of rewinding film, taking it out and replacing it, then reinserting it and hoping you advanced the film far enough to avoid double exposures on already-photographed spaces on the film. It became more convenient to carry two bodies, each loaded with a different kind of film (usually color and Black-and-White), just to be able to capture the image in the way your vision dictated.

Cameras larger than 35mm usually offered the opportunity for the photographer to change film backs or film holders loaded with the ‘right’ kind of film for the image. That’s why I carried a 5×7 Deardorff view camera into the field: The camera used film holders, and a large assortment of color transparency and B&W negative film could be carried. At a cost. The view camera, a sufficient tripod to mount it on, 20 or so film holders and a wide assortment of lenses and filters made for a heavy backpack. Being a landscape photographer required a lot of labor, but it was a labor of love.

Then came digital. With increasingly capable processing programs, digital imaging has become a photographer’s dream.

We don’t have to send our color film off for processing and wait for its return. We don’t have to carefully mix batches of potentially toxic chemicals to process black-and-white film in order to make negatives we can print. We don’t have to make prints (color or black-and-white), which also require a batches of potentially toxic chemicals to develop.

No, we just upload the digital images to the computer, open the processing program of our choice and process the image to match our visualization. And we have a significant advantage over the film days when we do that. Would an image look better in Black-and-White? (They all do.) No problem we convert them to monochrome using a plug-in or any of a number of different methods and we have a beautiful black-and-white image. Is the color a little drab? No problem, we simply bump the saturation or ‘fiddle’ with the color balance and there you have it: a finished image that represents our vision with no processing delays, no wrinkled fingers from soaking them in developer, no toxic chemicals. Digital photography is a great move forward.

Of course, there’s one thing we really can’t do and that’s take infrared photographs with our standard digital cameras. Manufacturers place filters over camera sensors to block infrared light because allowing IR to come through onto the sensors would make images difficult to process.

The problem is that it was fun to occasionally load a roll of IR film into a 35mm camera and see what we could come up with. Some of us like to do that to this day.

Luckily there are a couple of companies that will take your camera apart, remove the IR blocking filter and add filters that pass certain bandwidths of light in the IR spectrum. I got an old camera converted to IR a couple years back and I really like the results I get from it.

Here are a couple of examples: We were at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for sunrise. The colors didn’t seem to be what I expect for sunrise images, so I took out my IR camera and fired away. IR gives a nice, strong contrast to an image and catches sunlight reflecting off rocks and things very nicely.

Here are a few views of a sunrise with IR. See what you think.

 

Wotans Throne is the most commanding geologic formation at Cape Royal, so it becomes the most-photographed scene:

 

 

Sunris, Wotans Throne, Caper Royal, Grand Canyon NP

Sunris, Wotans Throne, Caper Royal, Grand Canyon NP

 

Sunrise #2, Wotans Throne, Caper Royal, Grand Canyon NP

Sunrise #2, Wotans Throne, Caper Royal, Grand Canyon NP

 

But we’re always told to look around and sure enough we find other images that work, too.

 

Sunrise Shadows, Caper Royal, Grand Canyon NP

Sunrise Shadows, Caper Royal, Grand Canyon NP

 

Sunrise, Cape Royal #1

Sunrise, Cape Royal #1

 

 

Yes, indeed, sunrise in Black-and-White certainly works.

 

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Work, work, work(shop)

I’ve attended two workshops in the last month. Both were wonderful, but for different reasons.

The first was called “Lens and Pens” conducted by Colleen Miniuk-Sperry and Guy Tal. The idea behind the workshop was to help photographers who want to hone their writing skills. There was photography involved, too, so we got to chase both of our muses during the five days.

The second was the 30th Annual Grand Canyon Workshop led by my dear old friend Rodger Newbold and a newer friend, Matt Rich. We stayed at Jacob Lake Inn and traveled from there to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the Paria Plateau and the Kaibab National Forest. This was all photography all the time, so my writing muse got to rest for awhile.

Both workshops were great. Lens and Pens because I got to meet a lot of fine writers and learn from experts at publishing their words. The Grand Canyon gig rocked because I got to spend time with old friends and to see a lot of the desert (and forest) that I love.

I even got a chance to be contemplative once or twice during these busy, busy events. Guy assigned a couple of contemplation experiments that helped me to see, really see, what was around me. At the Grand, there were chances to step off a few meters and feel totally alone and just think about what was out there.

The Grand Canyon is hard to photograph. It’s a big hole in the ground. A hole with rugged edges and distances that boggle the mind. The light is challenging, with highlighted high ground and black shadows in the depths. Add to that the constant haze that comes from Los Angeles or a nearby power plant (one that the developers promised would not put out visible pollutants) and you have some major challenges with photography.

I discovered that my infrared camera would cut through that haze, however, and went nuts capturing images without the hard-to-breathe fog of civilization evident. Add to that that I process my IR images in black-and-white, my favorite medium, and I got some photographs that I was happy with.

Both workshops fed my need for the social aspect of photography. It’s always fun and rewarding to go out into the field with other photographers. The meretricious persiflage, banter and joshing, along with the philosophical discussions of photography are helpful. Just being with others of like mind, whether talking or not, makes the event worthwhile.

Generally, I’m a loner when it comes to pursuing photographs, and too many people can be annoying, at least too many non-photographers can be: I found a nice isolated spot at the Grand Canyon to sit and think. It was soon invaded by a family that couldn’t stop talking. It was as if they were afraid to be quiet, lest Sasquatch would stumble upon them. The parents were teaching their kids to scream in the cathedral where I was recharging my spirit, and it was most distracting. Apparently my not-so-welcoming glare convinced them that they could find another place to desecrate nature with noise and they took their nattering elsewhere fairly quickly, allowing me to get back to contemplating the beauty and making some notes.

I managed to slip away a few other times and enjoy getting intimate with a grove of aspens, doing macro photography, my favorite, and then return to the group for more fun and fellowship.

Yes, the workshops were fine experiences and I recommend either of them to you. Heck, I might even go back next year.

Oh, here are some images from the Grand Canyon. Click to see them full size and in the proper color rendition. All were taken at sunrise at Point Imperial on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Mount Hayden figures prominently in all of them.

 

Mount Hayden, Sunrise, Grand Canyon NP #2 Infrared Image

Mount Hayden, Sunrise, Grand Canyon NP #2 Infrared Image

 

 

Mount Hayden, Sunrise, Grand Canyon NP #4

Mount Hayden, Sunrise, Grand Canyon NP #4

 

 

Mount Hayden, Sunrise, Grand Canyon NP #3

Mount Hayden, Sunrise, Grand Canyon NP #3

 

 

Point Imperial Sunrise, Grand Canyon NP Infrared Image

Point Imperial Sunrise, Grand Canyon NP Infrared Image

 

 

More to follow

Bob

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Ma Nature Comes Through

I’m the kind of guy who thinks that if I get up in the morning, especially early, the whole world owes me something. I just hate getting up. Add that to the fact that I sleep a lot lighter as I ripen and you’ll understand that I have a lot of mornings where I’m kind of growly.

This was one of those days when I set the alarm for 4:30 in order to be awake, coherent and pleasant (at least as pleasant as I can get) by the time the group left for a sunrise photo shoot.

Well, the group was small: five of us. We set our for the Lonely Dell Ranch by Lee’s Ferry to see what the sunrise would bring.

There was a lot of promise. Photographers love to see some clouds in the sky at sunrise, as long as those clouds aren’t low on the East horizon. A few clouds promise a little warm color to offset the otherwise bald blue of a clear sky. Another plus: the color in the sky will often match the color of the earthly features as they get lit by the early sun’s warm light as the rays get refracted by the atmosphere.

But early in the day on this trip the clouds were not only overhead but also along the Eastern horizon, so we were kind of skunked. Not to worry, Brian serenaded us with his ukulele while we watched the sunrise do not too much.

I made the first image during the concert. Not much color but some interesting light on the mesa to the North and a spectacular sky.

We packed up and headed out only to find that a few miles up the road, conditions were more conducive to sunrise color. To our right, the cliffs were lighting up like crazy with early morning light. We stopped, grabbed our gear and started photographing. The scene was just too wide for one image, so I captured about a nine-image panorama. Then, when I stitched the frames together and did a little cropping, I ended up with this rather nice sunrise view.

 

Here’s a look at sunrise when the colors just aren’t there (You know, click on the images):

 

Sunrise #1, Lonely Dell

Sunrise #1, Lonely Dell

 

And here’s that panorama:

 

Sunrise Pano, Lonely Dell

Sunrise Pano, Lonely Dell

 

Yes, the world owes me something if I get up in the morning, and Ma Nature certainly came through on this day. Thanks, Ma!

More to follow

Bob

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A Hell of a Place to Lose a Cow

I’ve hinted that I love the mystery and lack of mystery of the desert. Perhaps no place in Southern Utah looks quite as mysterious as Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce is a visual treat, a photographer’s dream. A high erosion rate has left hoodoos standing watch, dressed in colors ranging from deep red to near white. It’s these spires that have resisted erosion that capture the eye of the viewer. It is reputed that one of the early settlers in the area said the canyon is a hell of a place to lose a cow (I’ve heard that about other places in Southern Utah, too). I’ll go along with that, but I’ll also say it’s a hell of a place to find a photograph.

You’ll see many images of the grand landscape at Bryce. To try to include the whole vista is a true challenge, but the myriad hoodoos and wide range of color seem to demand that we share the whole place. And, of course, with stunning colors in the canyon, the ‘serious’ photographer will be sure to get there at sunrise to catch the amazing light show.

But as with so much in the desert, it’s the details that count for me: the Intimate Landscape, it’s been called. It’s these details that add up to a strange and wonderful desert landscape that draws me back time and again. At Bryce, the temptation to capture the grand landscape is nearly overwhelming. But then, as I look and marvel, I realize it’s the details that make the scene and I start homing in on less and less, and in that way show you more and more.

Yes, the grand landscape is spectacular, but it’s the details that make the grand grand. It’s pretty much as simple as that.

Here are a couple grand shots of Bryce Canyon: The first one is the obligatory sunrise shot, the second taken shortly thereafter with the lighting a little bit better controlled. (I probably don’t have to remind you to click on the images, but I will anyway: Click on the images for a full view.)

 

Sunrise, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Sunrise, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

 

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

 

But it’s the details that add up to the spectacular. Here are a couple images that show it’s the component parts that make Bryce (and pretty much every other desert scene) so spectacular in the aggregate:

 

Bryce Canyon Detail #1, Utah

Bryce Canyon Detail #1, Utah

 

Bryce Canyon Detail #2 Utah

Bryce Canyon Detail #2 Utah

 

More to follow

Bob

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More from Capitol Reef

If you follow my blog, you know that Capitol Reef and Factory Butte are my favorite places on the planet. We were there a couple weeks ago and I’m slowly poring through the several hundred exposures I made.

A few of them are worth sharing, so I’ll drop them in as time moves on.

Factory Butte is a real attraction for me. I’ve tried and tried to get a good image of it, and while I’ve got some that I’m glad to share, the perfect image is still out there. I’ll get it someday, but while I wait, here’s one that’s not too bad. A nice dramatic sky after a very disappointing sunrise (click to see the image full size):

Factory Butte, Sunrise April, 2015

Factory Butte, Sunrise April, 2015

 

And the skies were dramatic all around. This one was taken in Capitol Grand Gorge Wash (I can never remember if it’s Capitol Gorge or Grand Wash). Ma Nature really put on a show that weekend. As an added attraction, the moon appears in the only open piece of sky. See if you can spot it.

Canyon, Clouds and Moon

Canyon, Clouds and Moon

 

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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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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