Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Duddo Stone Circle

Duddo stone circle in a field
Walking to Duddo Stone circle through a vast wind-swept field!
Imagine a stone circle in England that stands on a mound with fields in every direction:  nothing to block the view from this ancient stone circle.  The Duddo Stones form a 5-stone circle that can be walked to over a flat farmer's field.  Near Duddo, UK, this circle is a bit off the beaten path in Northumberland.  A few small signs will point you in the right direction.  A right-of-way path goes through some fields.  After about 1/2 a mile of walking, you'll see this view of the stones with a direct path to them.

The stones are rough with deep creases and irregular shapes.  Some distant fields are yellow with rapeseed.
5 stone circle in Northumberland
All 5 Duddo stones
Duddo stone circle irregular stones
Duddo Stones with deep gouges and lines.
duddo stone circle landscape photography artistic
Duddo Stones in a big universe
And to get the spooky and eerie feeling, I processed this shot in black and white.
duddo stone circle is spooky and cool
Black and White:  Duddo Stone Circle

Skyfall: the place, not the movie

Skyfall panorama with mountains and valley
Skyfall, the place
Skyfall is a catchy name for a James Bond movie.  The actual location Skyfall is near Glencoe, Scotland.  When exploring around I couldn't resist the urge to see this place, so say I'd been to Skyfall myself.

What's there?  Air, mountains, valleys, green growth, big skies.
What's not there?  People, James Bond's home, civilization.

This panorama is at the end of the road (it's a dead end) looking back over the terrain from Kings House to Skyfall.  Deer jump across the roads, clouds pass surprisingly quickly across the sky and times doesn't seem to matter.  I'd recommend a visit.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Kanab Point for Sunrise over the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon at Kanab Point
Kanab Point at the exact moment of Sunrise
Kanab point has everything I'd want in a Grand Canyon viewpoint.  It's remote.  My family had it all to ourselves.  It's got great views at sunrise and sunset.  It's got towering rock pillars and distant twisted dark canyons.  It overlooks the confluence of two huge canyons:  the Grand Canyon and Kanab Canyon.  You can see all the way down to the water far below.  It's pretty undiscovered as far as photography goes.

After camping there overnight, I got up before sunrise and went to the point looking east.  The sun will rise over Kanab Creek to the east and the main Grand Canyon with the Colorado is slightly to the southeast.  You can include views in any direction except northwest.  It drops off in sheer cliffs in all those directions.

I shot with a variety of lenses to bring some specific things into focus, such as the Golden Rocky Towers with a 70-200 mm lens.  I used the 17 mm tilt-shift lens to make the Kanab Creek panorama.  I also used multiple exposures and HDR processing for the first photo which includes the sun.  I hoped to capture the glorious glow on the towers below Kanab Point and also see the darker depths of Kanab creek and see the sun simultaneously.  I did some manual local adjustments to get things exactly right.
Kanab Point landscape photography
Golden Rocky Towers over the Grand Canyon

Kanab Point view over Kanab Creek
Kanab Creek drainage:  a panoramic photo
Driving to Kanab Point takes patience.  Before you even get on the dirt, you've driven quite a ways from some small towns.  Once you are on the dirt road, you're only halfway.  Although the path is not particularly difficult, the road quality is lacking.  This path goes around every small shrub and tree, sometimes twice around the same bush, or so it seems.  You won't drive straight for more than 2 feet before another turn.  So, it's slow.  Got it?
morning photo of kanab point
Kanab Point:  the view to the west


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Little Finland: Land of Many Names and Shapes

Little Finland arch window through sandstone
Eye:  Hobgoblin Playground (Little Finland) landscape photography
This is a timely post because this location was recently designated Gold Butte National Monument.  It is also known as Hobgoblin Playground.  The name that most people recognize is Little Finland.  That name is the most mysterious and curious.  I assume it is referring to the sandstone "fins" which are present on many of these delicate creatures.  The name hobgoblin seems to make more sense because it is similar to Goblin Valley in Utah.  Nevertheless by any name it is an interesting place to visit and I must say it is a long road to visit.  The scenery is pretty, lonely.  I have no idea if President Obama has ever visited this area before turning it into a national monument.  This designation will surely bring more visitors to the area.  The beauty is undisputed.
bizarre sandstone structure hobgoblins playground
Pincer:  the lobster or crab reaches out in this bizarre sandstone shape.
As far as photography goes, I visited in the middle of winter.  The low angle of the sun and some lovely clouds allowed me to create lots of beautiful compositions.  I primarily shot pictures with the 16-35mm f/2.8 L lens.  I also used the 90mm tilt-shift for some of these images.  With the hobgoblins it makes a better more dramatic picture to shoot from a low angle and have stone structure surrounded by the sky.  This works well with these particularly lovely skies.  This was my 2nd visit to the area.  I made a previous visit 5 years ago.  That visit was to try out a new tilt-shift lens, the 17mm.:  My prior visit to Little Finland.
landscape photography at little Finland
Hovering Hobgoblin
hobgoblin playground landscape photography
Little Finland taken at sunset/dusk
hobgoblin playground mushroom rock
Mushroom rock at Little Finland

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Bridal Photo Shoot: Mark+Missy

Southern Utah Bride portrait
Bridal Shoot in southern Utah
Here's is Part Two of my fun and fast photo-fest with Mark and Missy.  We shot their bridal portraits the afternoon after their engagement shots.  We chose an empty world outside of the city for these shots.  The true nothing-ness surrounding them gives an exotic feel.  











Engagement Session with Mark+Missy

Groom and Bride at their engagement session
I had a great time shooting an engagement session with two wonderful people:  Mark and Missy.  We shot here in downtown St. George.  Although Mark had a broken foot at the time, he was a great sport and happily tried anything asked of him.  Aren't they beautiful?





Dungeon Canyon, Lake Powell

Sunset at Lake Powell's Dungeon Canyon
Alien Planet:  Dramatic skies with orange and purple reflected light shone
over Lake Powell's Dungeon Canyon
I've done some posts on Lake Powell before and this year I'll add to this growing category.  Each year Lake Powell gives me a surprise.  The changing water level reveals or conceals different things year to year.  A great beach one year is gone the next.  A picturesque promontory can disappear in a season.

Dungeon Canyon is near Rainbow Bridge.  It's pretty small and cannot give anchorage to more than a handful of boaters.  This year I found a good beach to anchor a boat and enjoyed some family time.  Storms threatened but did not truly strike until the final day.  With these storms came some dramatic skies.  One evening the sky shone bright orange long before the last light of sunset.  I grabbed my camera with its' 16-35mm wide angle lens and began searching for a good photography subject to match the dramatic skies.  Half-submerged rocky islands seemed most interesting and so I shot multiple compositions until I felt I'd found something I liked, which ended up being balanced from left to right.

Salton Sea Ruins at Sunset

Salton Sea tower ruins with rocket on top
Rocket Tower:  ruins of some unknown structure now left standing along the train tracks
on the east side of the Salton Sea.
The Mojave Desert is my kind-of place:  hot, vast, unpopulated.  I explored the area around the Salton Sea for a few days.  The attractions here are the kinds of things that would be condemned in a city:  broken and rotten shacks, buildings in ruin and being overtaken by the sand.

The biggest drawback is the stench of rotting fish which grows quite strong as you near the water.  I can only describe the smell this way:  imagine dumping 1,000 cans of tuna fish into 100 porta-potties and then sticking your nose into the worst-smelling part.  That's the Salton Sea smell!

But if you can bear the smell, there is much to discover.  Bombay Beach community has lots of ruined buildings and some that are inhabited (by those with no sense of smell).  I found it pretty busy with people, kids, photographers and other gawkers.  Further on down the line I liked my roadside rocket and Niland Marina beach park.  These were totally deserted, abandoned and more photogenic.  I lingered at the Roadside Rocket for a sunset which didn't disappoint.  This was my favorite discovery at the Salton Sea.
Desert ruin near Salton Sea
Another view of Rocket Tower ruins.  The desert is perfect for this crazy stuff.
Niland Marina Salton Sea
Niland Marina ruins along the Salton Sea

Black Canyon + Arizona Hot Spring

Morning view over Black Canyon of Colorado River
Black Canyon of the Colorado River:  Adventure Report:
Cactus and the Colorado River:  The morning photography here was awesome with so much contrast in light, dark, texture and time.
The Colorado River must be one of the most amazing natural creations.  I saw a new face of this complicated river when I visited Black Canyon of the Colorado, the section of the river immediately downstream from the Hoover Dam.  The requirements for such a journey are:
1.  Permit from US Government
2.  Canoe or kayak
3.  Transportation to the launching and pickup points
4.  Camping gear and food
5.  Waterproof bags for hydrophobic gear (camera)

Transportation to the launch site is limited to a few outfitters who have clearance from the US Government to visit the river just below the Hoover Dam.  Keeping the dam safe is the major concern of the government here.  Photo ID is required at check in with the outfitter.  If you have all that, then you can move forward with the fun part.
Kayak or canoe put in below Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam as seen from the launching point.
This begins your adventure down Black Canyon.
The drive down to the river from the top of the dam involves many hairpin turns and steep grades.  Then you must hurry to load and launch your vessel because the Hoover Dam officials only allow a few minutes.  No loitering.  Once you are on the water everything changes to lazy, easy, smooth and relaxed!
a hot spring in Arizona's Black Canyon
Palm Spring Waterfall:  the water is
hot like a shower!
A steady current made our canoe glide across the water and before we knew it were reached the first notable natural wonder:  Palm Spring Waterfall.  This wonder is a flowing hot spring that starts somewhere above the river level.  It forms a hot-water waterfall into the river on the Arizona side.  I stood in 6-inch deep cold river water while 100-degree hot spring water fell over my head.  It's just like a shower . . . only better.

Other hot springs are located on the Nevada side of the river but I didn't visit them.  Instead my next stop was the premier attraction of this canyon:  Arizona Hot Spring.  Arizona Hot Spring is so awesome it's hard to believe in its' existence:  three hot soaking pools . . . in a slot canyon . . . a short hike up from the Colorado River . . . where you can camp . . . and visit the pools day or night . . . in the middle of the desert . . . and you just might have it all to yourself!  Do you see what I mean?  It's too good to be true yet it is true.

Arizona Hot Spring located in a slot canyon
Arizona Hot Spring:  This panorama shot takes in about 160-degree angle.  The hot spring and hottest water comes from
the left pool, straight out of the rock.  Sandbags in 4 narrow points create 4 different soaking pools with different
depths and temperatures.  In this photo, I had the whole 4 pools to myself.  In mid-day it can be more crowded.

I camped here with my group.  There is a bathroom/outhouse here.  Otherwise there are no camping services.  Two groups were camping here on the gravel and small river rocks away from the Colorado River.  Bring a pad for comfort.  We visited the springs that afternoon and shared them with some hikers who came down from the road (a long hike).  Later that night and the next morning the springs were completely empty and serene.  The hike up to the springs includes one very fun metal ladder that is bolted into the sandstone.
hiking up the slot canyon to Arizona Hot spring
The warm water in the trail gets your feet wet and
warm before you reach the ladder.
Arizona Hot Spring in Black Canyon ladder
Ladder in the slot canyon leading up to
the first soaking pool.
ladder up to Arizona hot spring
The ladder will wobble and shake a little when you
climb it.  The hot springs are on top.
Tent camping at Arizona hot spring black canyon
Camping at Arizona Hot Springs in the Black Canyon is on gravel.
Camping overnight afforded me a chance to shoot sunset and sunrise.  The black soil is volcanic, brutal and sharp.  The placid green river and vegetation make great contrasting colors and textures.  I hiked high above the river and then down to the water for different compositions.  In my weird travels I've never seen any place like this.

Black Canyon morning
Black Canyon high view over the Colorado River
Colorado River below Hoover Dam
Morning Views over the River
The next day I also explored the canyon above Arizona Hot Spring.  This canyon continues to show volcanic rock, sandstone, river rocks and desert plants in a mixed up presentation.  This hike is well worth the small effort to explore and see.
Canyon above Arizona Hot Springs
I hiked up above Arizona Hot Springs.  The sandstone colors and curves
somehow blend with sharp lava rock and creates a desert weird
wonderland.
Back in our canoes, my group continued downstream.  The current flows slower here and paddling is needed to move along if you're doing this trip in 2 days.  If you choose 3 days, you can take your time.  The whole canyon is spectacular.
Colorado River Canoe Trip
Back on the River in our canoe:  Floating Black Canyon of Colorado River.

Green Emerald Cave of Colorado River
Emerald Pool, also known as Emerald Cave, is a photography dream to
visit but also is very challenging to shoot.  The glowing green color is REAL!
The next major natural formation is the Emerald Pool.  Sediment in the Colorado River generally makes it brown or red in color.  The Hoover Dam catches all that sediment, making the water crystal clear and green.  I was amazing at the water visibility and the gorgeous green color.  A water cave is on the Arizona side.  We paddled inside marveled at the green light in the water!  This is one beautiful and special place!  To get my picture I was dropped off on a slippery ledge, had my canoe leave me in the cave all alone and then snapped this picture.  See why it's called the Emerald Pool?
Colorado River Black Canyon Storm
Storm Clouds gathering at the exit of Black Canyon
While I lingered in the cave, a desert rainstorm happened to fall.  This gave me some ominous clouds in my pictures at the end of the trip.  And the end is near.  From the Emerald Pool to the takeout site at Willow Beach is only a couple of miles and paddling got us there within about 90 minutes.  Good thing because it then rained some more.

My adventure took place in the month of April and the weather was pretty ideal.  I've heard the summer trips can be too hot to really enjoy the hot springs.