Thursday, March 29, 2012

Zion Park's "Crazy Tree Hoodoo"

One thing I have learned over the years, and especially in the last few weeks shooting in the early morning hours is that the good stuff really does comes during the "golden hour". The golden hour is that certain time early in the morning and evening when the sun is just right, that you get those special colors. Sometimes those colors happen in seconds, sometimes in minutes. Or like the other day when I was shooting a sunrise, the magic moment happened twice. The point I am trying to get at is, I have really learned to have patience, and really think about some of the scenes I am shooting, instead of just pointing and shooting.
Here is a series of the same subject I captured this morning. The light changed in a matter of 2 minutes.
The early shot. In this one, nothing is lit up, and although I think its still a good looking picture, it's pretty flat.
 The late shot. I think this one looks washed out. I could have done a shorter exposure time, but I would still be left with an ugly shadow across the center on the rock that kind of distracts the eye.
In my opinion, this is the winner. My subject was lit up by the sun, without any harsh light, and the bottom of the rock was still a little shaded, but lit enough, that it doesn't feel "empty" or "flat".
All three of these pictures were taken at f22, 0.6 sec, 100 iso. 

A Fascinating Morning in Zion, March 29th

I made another trip to Zion this morning with one goal in mind, you will see what that was in the next post I do. In the mean while, these are some of the other pictures I took throughout the beautiful Zion morning.
 I got up almost too early, this is one of the pictures I got while waiting for the sun to rise to a perfect position.
 A normal seen in East Zion's slickrock country! The sky was so clear, and the sun was high by this time, but there is something about this picture that I like.
 A shot of the Virgin River and the Watchman (mountain close to center). Normally this picture is best in the evening right at sunset, but I couldn't pass up the cloud texture, clear river water, and the mid-morning lighting. 
 Some climbers scaling the vast sandstone wall on the east side of Angel's Landing. The style of rock climbing they are doing here is called "aid climbing".
 This is no doubt, one of the most interesting arches I have ever seen in Zion. It almost doesn't look real. Cant imagine it would last much longer if the general public knew how to access it.
A light mid-morning reflection on a calmer section of the Virgin River. I used a 12 Grad ND filter to equalize the sky and mountain's light with the ground and water.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Zion National Park's White Pass

I already mentioned it in the last post, but today I hiked up to White Pass in Zion. It was insanely beautiful up there, and I wish my pictures could do justice. For a hike that was only about 1.5 miles out and back, you couldn't ask it to be much more pristine! 
 At the peak of White Pass looking west. Sloping to the left is South Ariel Peak, and to the right in Aries Butte. The curved layering in the sandstone show the eye where to go.
 Small potholes still half full leading down the west side of the pass. I can imagine these holes will be dry again within 3 days or so. But for now, it adds a little more character to the bright white sandstone.
 Looking East past an interesting iron formation in the bright white sandstone. As a rule of thumb, the ironite is a stronger sandstone, so the white sandstone will erode first and you will be left with harder pieces of "rusted" sandstone.
Fascinating layers of pink on the east side of the pass. This is a view of the Upper Keyhole Canyon area. This would be an excellent side trip if you are descending the technical section of Keyhole Canyon.

Zion Rock and Sand Textures

Today, I went out on a hike to the Upper Keyhole and White Pass area. Seeing that the wife and no one else were with me, I could hike and stop whenever I liked and didn't have to worry about Scarlet getting bored with the "stops and gos". Here are some pictures of the interesting textures of the rock and sand that I ran into today.
 One of the scenes that make Zion such a popular destination is the surreal looking layers in the sandstone. 
 I thought it was pretty cool how all these layers met at one single point. 
 I layer of moki marbles in the sandstone. If you look closely at the last picture, you can see these on the left side of the picture.
 If there is one thing the white rock in Zion does not have, its contrast! But once you get a few different sands mixed together after a good rainstorm, this is what you get.
I small lonely manzanita leaf sitting in the wet sands from yesterdays rain.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Different Day, Different Sunrise, Same Location

Woke up at 6:00 this morning to see that there was another chance at a good sunrise, So I headed back to Quail Lake (because of its close proximity) and set the camera up again. This morning, working on playing with filter adjustments and composition, and paying attention to how the colors change every second throughout the sunrise. I promise, I will get some pictures of of something else soon, but here is what I caught this morning...
 This picture was taken just before the sun was peeking over the mountain. Actually, the mountains behind me were beautifully illuminated, but I was still just barely out of the suns way. What I like about this picture are the suns rays and the way the rock at the bottom is framed in the reflection.
 This picture was taken a minute after the last one, and you can see how much the clouds changed in that time. The sun is barely peeking over the mountain but with the thicker clouds, it darkens the sky a little bit, but also brightens the rocks in the water.
With the Grad ND filter, the rocks on the water are very bright. This was about 10 minutes after the last picture, but it goes to show how much a scene can change in such a short time. I love how the bottom of the clouds still have a little pink in them too.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

New Grad ND Filters

Though I have always been interested with photography, I have never played with Graduated Neutral Density filters. I decided to order a set last week (ND2, ND4, and ND8). I went out this morning with them for the first time, and experimented with the beautiful sunrise out at Quail Lake. Warning, they are not great, but I did learn a little of what I can do with them. Also, didnt get out early enough to set up my picture, so they are kinda rushed :) Enjoy!
 ND8, f22, 10 Sec. Exposure, 100 ISO
 ND10, f22, 8 Sec. Exposure, 100 ISO
ND10, f22, 4 Sec. Exposure, 100 ISO 

None of these pictures were changed in Photoshop or any other program, they are exactly the same way my camera took them. Guess I will have to go back out tomorrow morning (earlier) and experiment a little more.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Random Pictures From This Last Week

This last week, my Dad was visiting from Alaska. We did alot, but I didn't spend too much time going out just to play with the camera. We spent some time in Red Rock, Las Vegas and Sand Hollow near St. George. Here are some scenery pictures I ended up with. 
 This was at the "First Pullout" on the Red Rock Canyon loop just outside Vegas. I love the variety of color out there. And the clouds were very cool this day as well.
 A hoodoo out at the Sand Hollow sand dunes. Hard to believe that behind this picture, Cedar City was being dumped on with snow. 
 After the heavy rains and winds out at the sand dunes, there were some amazing textures! 
 The balanced rock out at "Moderate Mecca" at Red Rock Canyon. There are climbing routes up the face of this rock but it seems like the rock will detach from the cliff side some time soon.
 Driving though the Virgin River Gorge, take the Cedar Pocket exit and head west onto the dirt road and continue for a couple miles. There are some great rock structures and a beautiful Joshua Tree "forest". In this picture, I like how the 12 foot trees were towering high into the sky. But seriously, they are amazing.
I have always thought the desert looked bland with the gray rock color and neutral colored brush. But the Joshua Trees and blue sky really brighten this scene up. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

White Pass and the Buttes

Scarlet and I headed up to East Zion this morning with intentions of hiking over White Pass between Aries Butte and South Ariel Peak. Never quite made that far as we were intrigued by Jug Handle Arch. Those pictures are another day.  
 We got up there a little late so the lighting was not spectacular, though the views were beyond spectacular. This picture is looking south toward South Ariel Peak.
 Looking southwest past some "midget" hoodoos toward White Pass. 
A mineral stained seam pointing toward the northeast side of Aries Butte and beyond. All morning I played "dodge the airplane trail" so you might see some in the pictures, but the clouds were pretty awesome. If you get the urge to head up to this area, its on the approach to Jughandle Arch found here:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Zion Night Photography

I have been aiming to get out to Zion the last few nights to get some night pictures, but with other projects, I never made it out til last night. The weather was perfect and it made me really miss living on the East Side of Zion. The moon was so bright that I didn't need a flashlight most of the time and getting up there at 9:30 pm, I was finally tired at 1:30 and decided to head home. Anyways, I am happy with what I ended up with!
 I hiked the Canyon Overlook Trail for a good shot of East Temple. Found it about 100 yards shy of the end of the trail.
 These next four shots were all taken at the same location, near Checkerboard Mesa. The view was awesome, and I have been wanting to come photograph these hoodoos for a while. This was the first position I shot at.
 This is the same hoodoo (on the left) but I walked back a little to get the one on the right as well. On this picture, I also hit the hoodoos with a little light to brighten them up. Don't worry though, I also have a few shots without the artificial light. I just like this one :)
 Another shot of the hoodoos, from looking down low, about 18 inches of the ground. 
This picture was taken from the hoodoos, looking away. I liked the way the mountains looked leading into the valley below.
This was a great opportunity for me to get out and really see what my camera was capable of. Learned alot about focusing the lens as well (a few trial and error pics). Hope you enjoyed!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Grafton Ghost Town

It has been a while since I have been out to Grafton, so with nice weather and beautiful skies, I decided to stop by. They have done a great job restoring the old brick and woodwork. They even had the gates and doors unlocked to the un-restored buildings, so I was able to go in and check the structures out!
 An old barn, in which I shot the picture below. Its amazing that these structures are still standing and look this good after so many years in the desert sun.
 The well kept wagon was stored in the barn in the above picture.
 The construction of the old barns built out of cottonwood logs. I liked this picture because of the texture and contrast.
They have done a really good job restoring both of these buildings. They have come a long way since I first went to Grafton in 2003. Both buildings are locked but you can get a good view through the windows.

Zion After a March Storm

Checking the weather early this morning, it said the clouds from last night's storm were supposed to clear up today. Just so happened, they cleared up during sunrise! 
 This was one of my first shots and was taken about 5 minutes after the snow stopped falling. From left to right, the mountains are The Sentinel, Abraham, and Isaac. 
 Here is a shot with Angels Landing in the backgrounds. 
This is at the bridge that crosses the Virgin River on the trail to Emerald Pools.
And last, a reflection of cottonwoods and The Sentinel on the rippled Virgin River.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Early Spring in Zion National Park

We spent some time up in Zion National Park last Friday. We did a little driving around and hiked the Emerald Pools Trail. Couldn't pass up the beautiful weather. 
 East Temple casts its shadow on The Sentinel during early morning.
 4 years ago, there were a projected 500 bighorn sheep in the Zion area. Efforts to count the current population in the last two years have brought a number greater than 5000!
 A maple leaf resting on the amazingly red sandstone of Zion.
 Green moss is brightly lit as the sun breaks through the leafless trees above.
 Seeps and colors on the Emerald Pools Trail in Zion National Park.
A reflection of White Pass during early morning in a perfectly still pool of water.