Monday, October 29, 2018

First Snow Jackson from Teton Pass

This year we took a trip to the Teton valley of Idaho hopping to catch the autumn colors in that part of the country, the colors were in full swing, but as luck would have it the weather was dark, gray, and the skies were overcast, and it rained off and on, since the weather was bad and the clouds hung low over the mountains that surround the valley we decided to take a trip over the Teton pass, and into Jackson.

 As we traveled up the pass through patches of fog, it had snowed through the night,  and there were a few places where the road was slick, traffic moved slowly up the winding road through the thick patches of fog and snow covered turns.

As we neared the top the fog began to clear, and there was a little sun trying to break through the clouds that hung over the Teton mountains.

As the sun pierced the clouds, and glided across the valley floor you could see the late autumn colors that blanketed Jackson hole, and the lower part of  the city of Jackson.

The pines on top of the pass were flocked with the freshly fallen snow that glistened in the patches of sunlight that streamed through the cloud cover.

The cold of the winter wind caused tears to well up in my eyes as I set up the tripod, and got the camera leveled, necessary to capture the three perfectly aligned photographs to make this panoramic image of the beautiful morning light, and the low hanging clouds that drifted over the valley floor.

In this photograph you can see patches of fog still clinging to the canyons created by the peaks of  the Teton range, the lower Teton range is covered with these beautiful pine trees, it seams the western pine beetle that has decimated the pine forests of Utah, and the lower parts of Colorado have spared the pines of Jackson hole, and the Teton range.

After stopping at the top of the pass we ventured down and into Jackson, then we headed north into the Grand Teton parkway, and into Yellowstone, the clouds backed up against the Tetons creating a sealing of gray, and white blocking the light of the sun, and muting the autumn colors on the changing trees.

Yellowstone and the Tetons are a fantastic place to visit regardless of what the sky looks like, and this year was no exception, I managed to get a few photographs of the rivers that flow through the park, and even got some of the fantastic color in spite of the soft light.

Generally you can find wildlife in abundance in the park, from American bison, to elk, and sometimes even a grizzly bear, one time as we were driving through the park we had a pair of wolves cross right in front of us, the first one hopped the guard rail, crossing the road about 10 feet in front of us, my wife asked it was and I told her it was a wolf, and to wait and see because they don’t travel alone, shortly here came the second one again crossing the road just feet in front of the car, sadly it happened so fast there was no time to get a photograph of them. Anyway on this trip we only seen a few bison, and a small herd of elk that were so far away it was impossible to photograph them.

If you plan on visiting the Tetons you really need to view them from both sides of the border, the Idaho side looks so much different from the Wyoming side, it was the Idaho side that the French fur trappers, having been away from home for far to long witnessed when they named them the Grand Tetons.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Split Mountain Sunset

Recently we had to opportunity to visit the Uinta basin near Vernal Utah, I have been to Vernal several times in my life, but always to visit the dinosaur national monument, and never took the time to look around the area and those places are worth seeing at least once in your lifetime.

On this visit though I was on a photographic mission, we had considered going to canyon lands in southern Utah, but upon finding that every other person had the same idea, we could not get a motel room, so my wife suggested Vernal, we hadn’t been there for quite a few years, don’t know what could have changed, it’s just dinosaur bones, and rocks, right?

On our way out of Vernal the morning after we arrived I noticed a bunch of billboards that said things like “Split Mountain Motel” and such, which got me curious about what is Split Mountain, so I started to search that out, come to find out there are a lot of things in that eastern desert to see, and do.

Actually it is quite varied, and beautiful in it’s own way, pictured here is Split Mountain, but we also visited Red Fleet reservoir, and Donkey Flats, both beautiful, while your there you might want to check out the very large phosphate mine, you can’t miss it, it is huge!! You take highway  191 out of Vernal going north, this highway also takes you to Flaming Gorge, and Red Canyon, on the map the road looks quite, well flat, but as you travel the road one section has nine switch backs, in just a short distance, and not one, not two, and not three, but four runaway truck lanes, and some of the passing lanes going up are just about as long as a semi truck with a trailer, you would have to be quick to make that pass!!

Once up to the plateau there are a few things you can see, one of them is the Red cloud Loop, I just confess I am not really sure what there is to see on this loop, because once we got on it we got sidetracked on another dirt road which took us to spirit lake, once we got to the lake, which was partly frozen over, it looked like any other lake in the Uinta mountains of Utah, but the creek that came out of it, Sheep Creek, has some beautiful parts of it, on my web page you can find Sheep Creek Falls, small but beautiful!!

You can also go from there to Flaming Gorge, and Red Canyon, both beautiful, and the Green river where it comes out of the damn is crystal clear, and teaming with trout.

If you decide to not take that route, you can head east to the Dinosaur monument, if you don’t go to the visitors center and the excavation site you can travel to the Green river, and the Split mountain overlook,  it is interesting to see the river cutting through the mountains, which is why it is called Split mountain, at this location if you get there at the right time of day, and season the sun is just low enough to backlight the cottonwoods that grow along the river, giving them that translucent look, just stunning.

Another route you can take is going south on highway 45, then onto Glenn Bench RD. and lastly turn onto  Coyote Washington RD, best to ask for direction at the Dinosaur museum in Vernal, anyway this take you to a place called Fantasy Canyon, we got there in the middle of the day, and the light was not good, so I never got any photographs of this canyon, but it is interesting, not a lot of different colors there, but cool rock formations.

And of course there is also Josie’s Cabin, which is part of the Dinosaur national monument, the cabin is ok, but there are a couple of box canyons there that are beautiful, if you look for my photograph “The Light in the Forest” that was taken in “BOX Canyon” just a stones throw from the cabin, Josie used to graze her cattle in this canyon because it was easy to block off, considering it truly is a box canyon, one way in, and one way out, unless of course you’re a lizard, or a bird.

The Uinta basin truly is a beautiful place to visit, and explore, and so much more to see than just dinosaur bones, when your there take the time to look around.

Thank you for reading, I hope your day is fantastic, now go out and make your day a picture perfect day!!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Beauty of Nature

The Beauty of Nature.

Here is another example of a file that could have easily been deleted, we are just now getting to the end of autumn in my area, but this is not an image from a month ago, this image sat on my computer hard drive for 11 years, each time I looked at it I wondered what I was thinking, then decided that I must have been thinking something, but what?

As we learn new techniques it opens up new possibilities, but new techniques is not enough, perhaps our vision changes, we see new possibilities for old subjects. I think this is one of those old subjects, we have not had a real vibrant autumn for a few years, some years when it is good the colors only last for a few days, maybe a couple of weeks, other times it lasts for a month or longer, and who knows why.

Back when I did a ton of portraits autumn was always the hot time of year, everyone wanted their portraits done in the fall colors, I would spend hours scouting locations that would work for different sized groups, then start chasing color, as it would end in one location it would just be getting beautiful in another. I would make appointments days in advance, and some years I had to cancel those appointments because the color would just be gone, maybe a freak snow storm, maybe rain or hail would knock the leaves off, but I digress.

On this particular autumn I had taken my truck and ventured into the mountains of the Wasatch looking for color, I got a few photographs that I was happy with, but more that I was not, and in this case, right now I cannot for the life of me remember why I was not happy with it, it could have been because while it had possibilities, those possibilities that I recognized those years ago, I couldn’t see them because of my lack of knowledge on processing images.

When digital first came out, and it was obvious that  film was going to be a thing of the past several of us jumped on the digital bandwagon. It opened new possibilities, I could now retouch my portraits saving my customers several dollars just to get rid of a couple of pimples, or a scraped cheek, but color was another story, and it was difficult to get good, accurate colors with the software that was available to us at the time. I found myself disappointed with the color more than once, and I did everything right, I shot in RAW, I used a white card to get my white balance because “if you start with a good white balance everything else will fall into place” not true for the time, and if you weren’t a “Photoshop” guru you were lost. Now you can get good color right out of the camera…or can you, perhaps that comes with learning new techniques, that somehow seam second nature now after 14 years of working with digital files.

On this image, as I looked at it for the umpteenth time I seen some possibilities for it, and having a whole new arsenal of technique I could make that vision that I had those many years ago come to life.

I guess the point is, if you have the vision never stop learning new technique to help that vision see the light of day.

As always I hope you have a great day, I hope you enjoy my images, and I hope  your day is a picture perfect day!!!

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Timp over Sandy Baker Pass
It was cold when we left the house, even colder once we arrived at the parking lot high up in the Wasatch mountains of Utah.

My sons and I had planned on doing a morning elk hunt,  we packed what we needed, and only what we needed, because of that I decided to leave my tripod at home, never a good idea, but one it seams that is always made when you know you’re going to be hiking where the air is thin, and the hills are steep.

We made our way in the dark up and around  a short section of the Great western trail, suitable only for foot traffic, and mountain bikes, not even elk use the trail as it turns out.

I will admit I had to stop several times along the hike to rest and catch my breath. Yes it’s steep, and I am not as young, or in shape as I used to be, oh the ravages of time, once near the top, and almost on what is known as “The Ant Knolls” we stopped to take a break, I guess the hike was wearing on all of us by that time.

As we sat there in the cold waiting for the sun to come up and give us a little warmth, we tried to be quiet, hoping to see or hear something that would tell us our hike was not in vain.  Not a twig breaking, or even a distant shot telling us of other hunter’s success, nothing.

As I sat there in the early twilight thinking to myself, the question drifted into my thoughts “What were you thinking?” and just as quickly the answer would come, and it is always the same for me “That’s the problem, you weren’t thinking!”.

As the twilight began to give way to the dawns early light, and the trees began to take form, rather than just shapes in the dimness, I decided to try and get some photos of the aspen trees that grow in the area, as I was looking for the perfect composition my boys took a short walk to the top of a rocky outcrop, they turned and motioned for me to come up, since I was getting nothing where I was I loaded the gear back into my backpack, grabbed my rifle and headed up the rocky slope.

Once at the top I was greeted with this amazing view, I had never been to this location, even though I live just a few miles away, it was amazing, to see the misty low hanging clouds drift through the high mountain valleys, and between the peaks of the more prominent mountains, from this location you can see Mill canyon peak, and the bear holes, Box elder peaks, both of them, with Mount Timpanogos in the distance, if you go to my website, and visit the gallery called “Mountains” you can see all of them.

Now it became abundantly clear to me that I should have left my rifle home, and taken my travel tripod instead. I took my camera, selected the settings that I thought would give me the best compromise between noise from the sensor, and camera shake from me hand holding the camera, I tried to balance the camera on the barrel of my rifle kind of like a monopod, but that did not prove to be a wise move, first the rifle is much to short to get the camera at the level I wanted it to be, and second it is much to wobble, you don’t know how wobble these things can be until you try to use them as a monopod!!!

I love the look and smell of autumn, the aspens were in full color up here, and the colors were bright from the bath they had received the night before. As you look out to the south west you can see Sandy Baker pass, and over that is Mount Timpanogos, in all her splendor. From this location you can see all of her peaks, and high mountain valleys, if you concentrate on the southern peaks you can just make out the face of Ogos as she lays in eternal sleep, waiting for her lover Timp to come rescue her from the icy clutches of the Mountain king.

Mount Timpanogos is the most prominat mountain in the Wasatch range, and can be seen from the Heber valley, and also from the Provo valley, and most all of Utah county, it’s name is an Indian word that means either water on rock, or river of rock, I have herd both, personally I like River of rock, mostly because when you look at it, and the other mountains that make up this range it looks like a vast river of rock, then of course as in all mountain lore, the stories abound, and we have the legend of Timp and Ogos, two Indian lovers that met their fate on this great mountain!!
Thank you for looking!!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Old Bull
A few years ago my son Jason, and I took a road trip to Yellowstone National Park, we loaded up my old 1974 Chevrolet Corvette, which as it turns out isn’t the most comfortable car to travel in.

Our plan was to take a tent, and sleeping bags, and stay at KOA campgrounds as we went, after all we had done this in the past riding on motorcycles.

The first night we stayed in Victor ID. We got there, found the campground, and set up our tent, went into town to find something to eat, and returned to the campground, expecting to get at least some what of a good nights rest. It was terrible! The only thing we could figure is you get beat up a lot more traveling in a 1974 corvette, with those hip hugging seats than you do riding on a motorcycle, we never slept well, and everything hurt. The next morning my son called his wife, and had her book a cabin at the next stop which was in Cody Wy. Our plan was to travel through Yellowstone from the south entrance, go out the north east entrance, through the Chief Joseph highway, which is beautiful, if you have never been on that little stretch of road I would recommend going!!!  Peaks and valleys, winding roads, and breath taking scenery.

We got to the campground, checked in, found our cabin, what a treat we would be sleeping in a cabin, on a bed, woo hoo, it even had air conditioning, so we turned on the AC so it would be nice and cold when we got back, Cody isn’t nearly as cool in the evening as Victor. We went into town, found us something to eat, then headed back into the Chief Joseph highway, there was a lookout that I wanted to stop at and get some photos.

After the sunset we headed back to Cody, and to our nice cool cabin, well turns out they never exhausted the AC unit when they put it in, it pumped cold air out the front, and hot air out the back, I think the cabin was hotter than it was when we turned on the AC, all I could think was another miserable night at twice the price. If necessity is the mother of invention,  then exasperation is the mother of innovation, so I took the AC unit put it on a chair, and as I recall a couple of other thing to make it tall enough and shoved the exhaust out the window, problem solved!!

The next morning we headed west, and back into the park, the drive up and into the main park from the east entrance was a nice drive for the corvette, but the evidence of the great fire was still present, and so not photos on that side.

We decided to take a drive into the Lamar, pronounced “La Mare”  (I know, before the Scots changed the spelling our name used to be de la Mare, LaMar is an alternate spelling of that name!!!) valley, as we came out of the canyon where the LaMar river runs, and into the plains area there were tons of Bison, this one old bull kept herding the cows away from the other bulls, as they would move on, he would follow them, this is the old bull, I thought it was interesting how the black birds stayed with him where ever he moved, they would land on him from time to time, then fly away.

What a great reminder of the early days, when these magnificent animals roamed over vast tracts of land.

Some how, traveling in the same car as I, my son became ill, we believe it was from the son, because of course we had to top off of the car for most of the trip,  so on our return trip, which took us through Idaho Falls, where we stayed for the last night of our trip, we had to put the top on, and use the AC in the car, which by the way worked much better than the one in the cabin in Cody.

Thanks for looking, the copy write notice does not appear on ordered prints.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wall Street Subway Station

Last year my son and I took a trip to New York, hoping to see the fall colors.

We waited until the end of October since that is when we read the fall colors came on, turns out last year was a late year for fall colors, plus we got there right in the middle of a hurricane.

We never had to stay indoors, but we got rained on every day, and the sun never shined, cloudy, and overcast when it wasn't raining. and the light was way to flat for good photography.

We took the subway everywhere we went, then walked to the various locations we wanted to see. The subway system is very efficient in New York, almost as good as the system in Washington DC. The only complaint I had about the subway is in Queens, where we stayed someone had made the elevator to one of the stops their private restroom.

Even though the weather was bad, the light was bad, and the elevator restroom experience was bad, I loved New York, it was a trip I wouldn't want to have not taken, the people were friendly, the sidewalks weren't crowded like you see on TV.

I did learn from a police officer that Manhattan does not have good pizza, if you want good pizza you need to go to Brooklyn, he did admit to being from Brooklyn, and did direct us to a place that did have decent pizza for Manhattan!!

One evening we went to Times Square, I had been advised to not go to Times Square before we lift for New York, I am glad we did not head that advise, I loved Times Square, you could feel the electricity the minute you got there, the people were interesting, the giant TV billboards were cool to see in real life, all of the sights and sounds, the painted ladies, no really painted ladies,  mostly painted as super heroes, waiting for people to pay to have their photos taken with them, we declined that experience, and the vendors were many.

While at Times Square we decided to have dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, if you have never eaten there, I would advise you to go, the food was fantastic, a highlight meal for this trip!

I would say the highlight of the trip was the 911 museum at ground zero, the grounds were nice, with the fountains that drain into the earth, but inside the museum was fantastic, you could feel the depth of what happened that day, the burned fire trucks, police cars, and taxi cabs, what a sad day, but in the true American spirit New York overcame the destruction, and like a Phoenix rose from those ashes, even stronger.

For me the strongest testament to the people who lived and died that day was the Never Forget wall, behind which bodies that were never able to be recovered still reside, in the words of Virgil which are inscribed on that wall "No day shall erase you from the memory of time"!!!

I was only able to get a couple of photographs there that I was happy with, I tried taking a night photograph of the Queens Borough bridge, but the wind was blowing so hard I couldn't stabilize my little travel tripod.

One of the photographs I was happy with was this photograph of the Wall Street Subway Station, it has nice tile walls, and these columns, once the people got off of the subway they all left the platform in a hurry to be where ever they had to go, and left it quite deserted, I quickly turned around, composed the photograph, and got this.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Calm Waters
On the last day of our Washington trip, my wife and I stayed at a hotel in Seattle so we could be near the airport for our flight home, we decided to take a drive along the Alki  Avenue to Alki beach, the avenue, runs along the south side of Elliott bay, from this highway you can get a decent view of the Seattle skyline.

Once we got to the beach, and found a place to park the car, we got out and started to walk, and check out the beach, and surrounding territory. It is a nice beach, with cement steps that lead to the bay, I would imagine so people can go wading, or perhaps swimming, there was neither of those things going on because it was a little cold, we had gotten to Washington in the middle of a drought, but with the exception of a couple of days it rained the entire week that we were there.

The wind was blowing, and the water was a little choppy, I set up the camera, and waited for the light to start changing, as I was waiting a local came by and talked with me for just a moment, he told me this was the calmest he had ever seen the bay. That surprised me a little considering I had my camera on a tripod, and a bag of rocks hanging from the center post to help stabilize it in the wind!!

As the sun began to set in the west, and the storm clouds of the day dissipated this one sailboat, with it's American flag on the stern came sailing by, the waters calmed down, and the beautiful gold of the sunset lit the sails on the boat making it one beautiful sight on the waters of Elliott bay. It silently drifted by on it's way back to port. I wonder where it was headed, it could have been going to the Smith cove waterway, or perhaps Harbor Island, maybe even the Seattle pier, wherever it was headed it was a beautiful, and calming sight to see.

I loved our trip to Washington, it was beautiful from the San Juan island in the north, to Seattle, and everywhere in between, beautiful green forests, and mountains on the peninsula that reached into the clouds, from the stormy seas that we viewed because of the winds, and the storms, to these Calm Waters.

If you get the chance you owe it to yourself to visit the Pacific Northwest.

Thank you for looking.