Sunday, January 27, 2013

Autumn in Zion

Undressed
I find it fascinating that hordes of people from all over the world will come to Zion National Park during the first week of November.  This is a special time. Autumn leaves are changing and beginning to fall and it also marks the first week that the shuttle system becomes optional instead of mandatory. Those are 2 good reasons to visit the park during this week. Joking aside, the autumn leaves are the main attraction and put on a wonderful show every year. In 2011 I had the timing perfectly right.

In 2012 commitments prevented me from going the first week of November. Instead I went the 2nd week.The leaves had mostly fallen to the ground but were still highly colorful. I found this tree after wandering around on the west side of the Virgin River. It was quiet, beautiful and peaceful. Seeing the tree standing with all of its usually adornments dropped at its' feet reminded me of the process of undressing, hence the title. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lewis and Clark Caverns, Montana

Purple Stalagmite Fantasy
My family and I visited the Lewis and Clark Caverns in Montana.  This state park has and adventurous tour through the cold caves that is truly fun for everyone. I highly recommend visiting.

Stalagmite Tower
From a photography standpoint, the darkness adds some complexity to the task of shooting.  In addition, I discovered before arrival that they did not permit tripods inside the cave.  I would have to hold my camera very still.  The more light a lens could allow, the better the image would be.  So, I chose one really sharp and fast and sort-of wide lens to take:  the Canon 35 f/1.4 L.  It's extremely sharp and very fast in low-light situations.  This shot is hand-held with ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/40 second.

The minerals seem to melt all over one another here, creating tiers of stalactites and stalagmite joining in the middle of the cave.  Stalactites come from the ceiling and the stalagmites grow from the ground.  All lighting is artificial here but I think the purple works well. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Critters

Raccoon encounter in Zion National Park
Tarantula spider in Valley of Fire
Being out in nature is one of the great joys of landscape photography. I simply love spending time in the desert amongst the bushes, rocks, buttes, streams and trees. Sometimes I forget that this is also the home of many other creatures. It is very common to come across birds and lizards. Occasionally I come across animals larger or more interesting. This includes antelope, deer, coyote, snakes. In the last 2 months I've come across these 3 creatures: a raccoon, tarantula spider and a desert big horn sheep.

The raccoon was going up and down the Virgin River as I was taking photographs in November. It was snowing and he was carefully going downstream when I spotted him. I quickly detached my camera from the tripod and tried to sneak around to get a better look at him. I could not stay hidden for very long. He discovered what I was doing and cautiously walked into the bushes. I waited. After short time he came out and walked right in front of me before going back to the river and disappearing.

The Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada they came across not one tarantula but two!  They were not together. But I saw them both on White Domes hike in the northern section of the park. Each of them was simply creeping along the trail, trying to mind his own business.

I also saw a beautiful desert big horn sheep in the same park. He was running along the side of the canyon, amongst the loose rocks and debris. Occasionally he would stop and look directly at me. I took several photographs of him before he disappeared.
Desert Bighorn Sheep in Valley of Fire

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Buried by Photography

A Senior Portrait
It is natural to assume that a photographer of loves to take pictures. It is natural to assume that a food critic loves to eat. But sometimes there can be too much of a good thing.

A family portrait
With the end of the year 2012, there were a lot of opportunities for family photos as well as landscape photography. Winter came early to my part of the Southwest and I had some wonderful photography days in the desert. Several families wanted Christmas photos or senior portraits at the same time.  If you add up family photos and landscape photography you get a lot of work.  this work is self generated. When I'm taking photographs, it is very fun and easy to shoot 300 or 600 photographs in a day. But when I get home, trying to narrow down so many choices to about 10 to 20 "winners" and then processes those is the difficult step.

The other stressful thing about the end of the year is a deadline. People photography is something that people want to share as soon as possible after it is done. In this case, family Christmas photos required quick processing and then publication.
A new addition (happy one, I might add)

For someone who is laid-back and not often on a deadline, this can be very busy. Normally landscape photography is really done on my own terms. I go when I can, I process my photos when I have time and then share them.

It is now January 22 and I am caught up for the moment. This feeling never lasts very long. In the next 2 weeks I will be traveling to the British Virgin Islands where I will probably take in excess of 2000 photographs over a nine-day period. I will then be buried again!  Guess it's just my own fault.