Photography

White Pocket

Typical White Pocket view...

A typically exceptional White Pocket vista…


Mid-March 2015. After a day of hiking around the North Coyote Buttes and the Wave, I decided to break my camp at Stateline Campground on the Arizona / Utah border and strike out for the White Pocket – another stunning and far-flung location in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument…

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Antelope Canyon and Waterholes Canyon: Amazing Southwest Slots

_DSC5537_rw, Waterholes Canyon image

Close quarters in Waterholes Canyon…

On an Antelope Canyon photography tour you are guided around in a tight pack, told exactly where to stand (or where to crouch, as is often the case), and told exactly what to photograph before moving onto the next composition. All of this occurs while crowds of non-photo tourists are held out of frame for the time it takes to release the shutter before they are released to continue pulsing through the narrow canyon. It is a strictly managed, totally “on rails” ride-experience swarming with people. And it is totally worth it…

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24 hours in Buckskin Gulch

How Deep?, Buckskin Gulch image

Probing one of the deeper sections in Buckskin Gulch…


Sometime in the early afternoon of June 5th 2015 I found myself in the backcountry of southwest Utah, wedged in the nook of a slickrock outcropping to avoid the hail falling and lightning striking around me. From my precarious position I had a reluctant front-row seat at the center of an early monsoonal thunderstorm on the Colorado Plateau. Torrents of water and pea-sized hail smacked against my rain gear, managing to sneak in and soak me as I squatted on a foam pad to insulate myself from contact with the ground in case of any unlucky lightning strikes. Curiously I crouched here with a sense of relief, because my situation at that particular moment represented an escape from a much more immediate threat – I had just climbed out of the narrow slot of Buckskin Gulch and sat watching torrents of water flood into it from above.

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North Coyote Buttes and The Wave

Inside the Temple

Inside the Grotto (or The Temple) on Top Rock in the North Coyote Buttes, AZ…


At the end of the day my GPS read 16.7 miles – the grand total of my hike to, from, in and around The Wave in the North Coyote Buttes, AZ. That I even made the hike to begin with was entirely due to chance. The previous day I had been one of the lucky winners of the North Coyote Buttes walk-in permit lottery in Kanab, UT, and I’m still in disbelief.

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Toroweap / Tuweep, AZ

Above Cove Canyon

The Colorado River flows west towards Toroweap Overlook…


On my way back to camp after witnessing a sublime sunset from the north rim of the Grand Canyon I heard the distinct slice and crack of a golf ball being hit ahead of me followed by giggling and the murmur of voices. I reached the top of the outcrop I was walking along and in the twilight I could see the shapes of three people, not yet aware of my presence, looking relatively at ease as they hit golf balls into the abyss. They thought this was pretty funny stuff.

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Death Valley November 2013

The Panamints

Overlooking Panamint Valley…


“Don’t think I won’t knock you out right here, skinny boy!”

These angry words broke the predawn stillness as I walked through the Mesquite Dunes near Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley.

“Wait for me and I’ll come over there and knock you out with my tripod!”

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Sony a7rII Customization and Setup

I recently traded out my Sony a7r for the newly minted Sony a7rII. With the arrival of this camera I have finally left Canon behind – selling off my Canon system to fully adopt the Sony platform. That is a topic for another post, but in doing so I have really been diving into the new features and and menu system of the a7rII and have been setting it up for regular use. Having had experience over the last few years with the RX100 and the a7r, I already had an idea of how I would be using this unit and what customizations had worked for me. With a few new features in the mix, things changed slightly and I figured that I would briefly go ahead and post on my Sony a7rii customization and setup. Keep in mind that all of this is specific to my shooting subjects and shooting style – which is mainly landscape. I’m not even going to go into the video features of this camera, which in my opinion is another topic entirely.

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Hungry Packer Lake Overnight

Picture Peak

A storm looms over Picture Peak in the High Sierras…


Stressed and restless, I needed a night in the mountains. The usual overnight to the San Gabriels north of LA wouldn’t do. I needed some time in the Eastern Sierras, even just a night or two. I had seen some trip reports from Hungry Packer Lake up near Bishop and I began planning. What drew me to the place were photographs of a mountain nicknamed ‘Picture Peak’ – a commanding 13,000 ft mountain peak with a perfect shape dominating the vista from the lake shore. That was where I wanted to spend the weekend. I packed quickly and was on the road the following morning.

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Big Pine Lakes

First Lake, Temple Craig, big pine lakes, ca

The moon rises above Temple Craig and Mount Alice near camp…


If Disney made a “SierraLand” it might look a lot like the Big Pine Lakes Basin, which lies tucked away in the John Muir Wilderness. The Big Pine Lakes present the very best of classic high-sierra scenery: photogenic mountain peaks, mineral-tinged emerald lakes, sweeping pine-studded vistas, glacial access, and alpine meadows – all compressed into a manageable area with straightforward access that can be toured in a lollipop loop. It is perfect for a first-time backpacking trip, or a one-hundredth, and indeed it was one of my first in the high sierra. The opportunities for photography are among the best around and after reaching the first Lake, almost every turn of the trail offers a stunning vista…

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Into the Tsegi: Keet Seel

Keet Seel

The main throughfare in the Keet Seel alcove…


Time in Arizona can be a tricky thing to someone from out of state. I was reminded of this in early September of 2013 as I embarked on a quick backpacking / photo trip to visit Keet Seel – a historic site near the Navajo National Monument in AZ. Accessed from the National Monument via a ~19 mile round-trip hike, Keet Seel is home to some of the best preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff-dwellings in the United States.

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