Jan 172010

Faux Falls at sunset

Steve returned to Calgary on Saturday and I met my workshop group at Grand Junction airport.

Unfortunately, we had very flat light for the rest of the day but as this was Niru, Dave and Shirl’s first visit to this area, the poor light did not dampen their enthusiasm for the spectacular scenery.

Sunday morning didn’t start much better as there were lots of cloud on the horizon for sunrise.

There were some grey clouds in the car as well. The tail gate was left open and I unknowingly backed out of the garage. There was a crunch as it hit the door. Oops!

In the late morning we set off for a leisurely drive in the Sand Flats area and ended up having lunch on the La Sal loop road with an amazing view of the area.

For sunset we headed to Faux Falls, where there was an interesting mix of water, ice and red rock.

Following supper we discussed ways to improve compositions and tomorrow we’ll have our first critique…..

Jan 152010

Trying (unsuccessfully) to get to Tower Arch

Paul Simons’ “Kodachrome” has got to be my favourite photography song but in the last two days Steve and I have decided that Simons’ “Slip sliding away” is also very appropriate.

In our quest to find new locations I have driven the Mazda CX9 until it could no further (sorry Hertz). We’ve had fun, done a lot of backing up and applied a wet sand graduated filter to the sides of the vehicle (sorry the last comment was for all you Photoshop lovers).

In fact we were having so much fun that Steve stayed an extra day. So what have we been up to?

Turret Arch from the North Window

On Wednesday morning we headed in to Arches National Park and photographed Turret Arch through the North Window. A diffused sunrise gave a warm glow without creating harsh shadows, very pretty!

Panorama from Green River overlook at sunset

Wednesday evening found us at Green River Overlook, one of my favourite places in Canyonlands National Park. I know a quiet spot that has an amazing view of Grand View, Candlestick Tower and the Green River. The clouds were on our side and I made a panorama using the Nikon 45mm PC-E lens on a D3X. The snow made the panorama a lot more interesting compared to a similar panorama that I’ve done here in the Spring.

Taking a break from the interesting driving

The BASE jumpers gave us a thirst for adventure and Thursday saw us driving in places where a rental Mazda should really not be. Confidence, a sat phone and a dash of craziness took us up a steep trail in search of new winter sunset locations. The one thing we didn’t have were decent winter tires!

Between the exciting driving moments we did find a great location and returned to the highway unscathed.

As you can see the weather has warmed up considerably and hopefully there will be plenty of snow left for next week.

This morning we went to Landscape Arch for sunrise. It was spectacular and we had the place to ourselves. Landscape Arch at sunrise is probably one of the most amazing places in the area but also one of the quietest, so don’t tell anyone!

That’s it for today. We have early start tomorrow…..

Landscape Arch at sunrise

Jan 122010

Steve and I have just finished two long but enjoyable days of photography and exploring.

The light and weather have not been too favourable but we’ve worked with what we had, in the words of Erin’s ‘Pinkalicious’ book; “You get what you get and you don’t get upset”!

Steve being very stylish; his hat matches his jacket and the sunset.

Monday was a great day for hiking. The skies were crystal clear and a bit too sterile for landscape photography so after a lacklustre landscape shoot we headed to Delicate Arch. We decided to try a new view point and found an excellent place to photograph the arch at sunrise. Of course I forgot to take my compact camera on the hike so I can’t share the fabulous view. At least it shows I’m human!

In the afternoon we went to Grand View in Canyonlands and hiked to the end of promontory. There was a beautiful orange sunset but no clouds in the sky to help make a dramatic sunset.

The forecast was for clear skies so we decided to get up early on Tuesday and try Mesa Arch at sunrise. I’ve never been very lucky at Mesa Arch; there’s usually too many people or the weather has been bad, today was to be no different….

The circus at Mesa Arch parking lot

As we left Moab it was very clear, -17c and looking good for a quiet winter morning at Mesa Arch. After a quick drive, we pulled in to the parking lot to find one car, two motor homes, generators and lots of people already there.

Being experienced Mesa Arch photographers, we grabbed our gear and raced up the trail to the arch.

In the rush I left my tripod in the car but at least we were ahead of the large group. At the arch we met two other photographers who informed us that the large group were going to be doing a photo shoot at sunrise!

Candlestick tower

The group arrived and there was talk of popping the model under the arch for a few minutes at a time and not getting in our way.

It all sounded too stressful and I never produce nice photographs in such conditions so we left.

Sometimes it’s better to give up quickly and try something else instead of beating your head on a sandstone arch.

I knew of a nearby location where we could photograph Candlestick Tower, so that’s where we headed and had a quiet, relaxing time watching and photographing the sunrise.

The day was starting to look like Monday with crystal clear skies – boring!!! So what to do????

Both Steve and I fancied doing some abstract photography and the frozen Colorado River was the best bet, so after lunch that’s where we headed.

Ice and water - Colorado River

Many photographers will tell you not to photograph in the middle of the day, especially if it’s a bright, sunny day. If you know where to look, you can find great opportunities at midday.

The Colorado river East of Moab is in a gorge. In many places the river is in the shade but the cliffs on the South side are lit by the bright sun.

Those bright red cliffs are reflected in the water and can give some beautiful light. All we had to do was find the nice light and some interesting shapes. We found some remarkable places which we planned on returning to in the late afternoon.

In the meantime, I needed a nap. We drove to the Fisher Towers. I would nap while Steve hiked. We arrived to find a two vehicles in the parking lot. One was flying a flag with a BASE jumper logo on it and out flew my chance of having a nap.

Shortly after Steve left, a lady arrived and told me about the BASE jump. Fortunately I did have time for a nap and the two guys did their BASE jump shortly after Steve returned.

BASE jumping at Fisher towers

Storm clouds blanketed the area by late afternoon so the sunset wasn’t too exciting but the BASE jumpers made up for it…

Jody started full time as well today, if you have any queries about workshops etc then give her a call!

More from Moab soon….

Jan 102010

Steve and I have enjoyed a great day around Moab. We started off with a sunrise shoot in Arches National Park. We tried another new location, this one overlooks The Three Gossips, Courthouse Towers and Courthouse Wash. We were blessed with pink clouds and went back for breakfast with some great photos.

Two rocks in Arches N.P with the Courthouse Towers area behind.

After breakfast we headed out to explore the Sand Flats Recreation Area. This is the area where the Slickrock Trail, Porcupine Rim and other mountain bike and 4WD trails are found. In this beautiful area we found snow covered sandstone fins with the beautiful La Sal mountains in the background.

I expected the trail to end but it kept going until we reached the La Sal loop road. At this point we headed West, stopped for lunch and enjoyed the magnificent view back toward Arches National Park and Castle Valley.

Creek above Faux Falls

Unfortunately, the road was closed at this point so we turned around and headed back toward Moab. We decided to head to Ken’s Lake and to try and find Faux Falls. Our reconnaissance paid off and we found the falls but the light wasn’t too good. I’ll hopefully return next week at sunset.

We decided to continue driving along the 4WD trail in to the mountains and soon found ourselves driving along ‘Metal Bender’ a tricky trail that crossed a creek twice before we encountered deep snow. The rental Mazda CX9 coped admirably but I was happy when we returned to the easier trail.

In the evening we headed off along the Colorado River and took some photos of the pinnacles and cliffs around Castle Rock before heading back for supper and a beer.

Sunset on Sunday

Sunday afternoon test drive


Jan 092010

Snow, snow, snow, wow, wow, wow!!!

Steve Morys and I flew to Grand Junction via Denver this morning, picked up a rental SUV and drove to Moab along the Colorado River.

All I can say is WOW, there is a lot of snow!

The scenery alongside the river looked amazing and the snow brought out beautiful textures and shapes in the rock. This is the perfect start to my two week trip to Moab.

After a long day I wanted to go a nearby location and chose Balanced Rock. I decided to try something new and found a great  location that had a beautiful vista of Balanced Rock and the Manti La Sal mountains.

We’re hoping that there will be fog in Arches National Park in the morning….

Balanced Rock and the La Sal mountains at sunset

Steve Morys in Arches National Park