Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Lake Mead

Lake Mead

One of our favorite ATV riding places is just across the Utah/Nevada border past Bunkerville. Here is a shot of Lake Mead, and at this northern viewpoint, is accessible by 40 miles of dirt roads and ATV trails. A few days ago, the closely controlled and measured lake shrunk to its lowest point since Hoover Dam was completed in 1936.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cactus Boom

Cactus bloom in my southern Utah Garden

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Snowballs After a Spring Shower

Snowballs After a Spring Shower

Sun rays breaking through the clouds create beautiful 'bokeh' balls of light on foliage raindrops when viewed through the lens of my camera.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Watchman & the Virgin River, Zion National Park, Utah

The Watchman & the Virgin River
Zion National Park, Utah

This is the most photographed scene in Zion and one that every southwestern landscape photographer has probably taken.  Around sunset when the western sun hits the face of Watchman and makes it glow, the photographers gather and line up their tripods along the main bridge located on the main road.  And yesterday was no exception.  But I've been there and done that, so I walked a little bit down river to a foot/bike bridge and had the whole place to myself, and still got a great view of this iconic scene.  The sky was not cooperating while the sun was up, but waiting paid off because around 8 pm, in between sunset and twilight, there was enough light to show off the red cliffs plus a little color in the sky as a bonus.  Another bonus was the bright blue sky was reflected in the river, which was more muddy brown than usual because of spring rains.  Often patience is the best skill for a landscape photographer to develop!

Here is some technical information for those who are interested:  Because the sun was down and there was great contrast between the dark foreground land, and the bright sky, I knew my camera couldn't 'see' the land details that I could see, without blowing out the sky, so this was a perfect situation for an HDR shot.  (I could have stacked a bunch of split level density filters as an alternative.)  I didn't have a tripod, but luckily the bridge railing was the perfect height to use as one.  I set my camera to take three consecutive shots at different exposures, and also used the camera timer so as not to jiggle the camera while pushing the shutter button.  My settings were:  1 sec, f/18, 200 iso, 27mm lens.  For post processing, I combined the three exposures using Aurora, then desaturated the colors until the overall 'look' was close to what I saw and was pleasing to me.  Yes, I said desaturated, not saturated.  My Fuji xt-1 has settings to simulate common film 'looks' and has a velvia setting which makes colors vibrant in-camera.  But still, combining exposures definitely gives the image a more painterly look.  Speaking of this camera, I continue to be impressed.  There was no noise, even though I was shooting in low light.  I did not crop or add sharpening or contrast.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Lilacs by the Fence!

Lilacs by the Fence

I love to watch blooms awaken in my own backyard, and there is nothing that smells so heavenly during spring in northern Utah as the fragrance of lilacs! 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Mesa Arch
Canyonlands National Park, Utah

This is a very famous arch to visit for both tourists and photographers.  You can see why, as the direction of the arch sits so that the sunrise lights up the background scenery beautifully and bounces off the foreground rocks to create a brilliant glow on the underside of the arch.

Even though we go to Moab often, I have never taken the hour drive to Canyonlands to photograph this arch, but I was determined to do so this time.  Not knowing exactly how long it would take to get there and hike to the arch, I drug Jeff out of bed at 4 am.

It was pitch black when we arrived at the parking lot, and we stumbled along the path with only the aid of our cell phone flashlights and the stars.  Luckily, it is an easy and short hike.  When we arrived, there were already several photographers who had staked out their spots and had set up their tripods in the dark.  This is a rather small arch, and there is only a very small amount of prime 'real estate' area available where one can view the sunrise from under the arch.

Since I was traveling light as far as photography equipment, I carried only my small Fuji mirrorless camera, one lens and no tripod.  I 'staked' out my spot in between the row of tripods.  During the next hour or so waiting for sunrise, Jeff counted at least 75 other tourists and photographers who showed up, all trying to edge their way to a good vantage point. 

Since we arrived very early, I had chosen a prime place to stand, but I found others pressing in and trying to edge me away from my spot.  I received some irritated looks when I wouldn't budge or let aggressive photographers try to set up their tripods in front of me.  I'm sure they thought an old lady with what they perceived as a little 'point and shoot' camera, had no business taking up that space.

I found I wanted to justify myself by saying,  "You know, I have a big fancy camera, a ton of expensive lenses, a tripod and a backpack full of camera gadgets, too, but I'm traveling light this trip and left all my heavy gear at home because I'm testing out a new, lightweight compact mirrorless camera."  Of course, I did not say any of that, but I wanted to!!

Quickly my thoughts turned to enjoying this beautiful spring morning.  We all watched with anticipation as the sky gently lightened toward the east, followed by the first sun rays appearing on the horizon, and then finally, the full sun bursting into view and rewarding us with a spectacular sunrise!  What a joy it was to witness this beautiful scene.......along with 75 strangers, all crammed together like sardines!!

We may have been strangers but we all had something in common at that moment, a love and reverence for nature and this beautiful world we live in.  Why else would we all get up in the middle of the night, travel in the dark and gather in this remote area just to witness this scene!

All around me I heard shutters from expensive slr cameras, cheap point & shoot cameras, cell phones and tablets clicking, clicking, clicking, like an invasion of crickets.  I remember a 'story' told in photography circles where someone asked a photographer his opinion about which camera would take the best pictures, and the photographer replied, "the one you have in your hands"!  Well, this is my favorite image I took with the camera I had in my hands!           

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Turret Arch & South Window

Turret Arch & South Window
Arches National Park, Utah


Another rare Selfie! Yes, I am tall, and yes, I do have long legs, but not like this. Actually, to get a good idea of the size of this arch, my shadow is about 2 times taller than I really am. This is Turret Arch framing South Window, in Arches National Park. The most famous view of Turret Arch is facing the other way, that is, looking at Turret Arch through North Window.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

Bubble Bath

Hey all you Moms, Mothers, Mamas and Mommys, let your loved ones pamper you today, and pamper yourself, too. How about a nice Bubble Bath!!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Moonrise Through North Window, Arches National Park

Moonrise Through North Window
Arches National Park, Utah

Moonrise Through North Window. I was standing in the 'window' with all the other photographers waiting for the moon to peek over the horizon for a great shot, but it turned out to be a pretty boring moonrise. Finally it got too dark to see well so I decided to call it a day. When I was only a few yards away from the car I came upon an elderly man waiting patiently by his tripod. My first thought was that he was not able to hike up to the 'window' because of age or health. Just as I stopped to say hello, he told me to turn around, and this was the scene I saw. This wise photographer knew where to be for the best shot that evening. It was the one time on this trip that I regretted not using a tripod. Handheld, my photo is not as sharp as it should be, but it will remind me that sometimes it pays to do the opposite of what all the other photographers are doing, and the best shot may be behind me!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Balanced Rock at Sunrise

Good Morning Balanced Rock!

It was a glorious sunrise in Arches National Park. I was so lucky this trip to have a couple of beautiful sunrises and sunsets to photograph!!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Arches National Park & LaSal Mountains

Soft Shades of Twilight

This was taken in the same area as the last post, after the sun had slipped below the horizon.  I felt blessed to be in this beautiful place on a beautiful spring day!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Arches National Park & La Sal Mountains

Sunset Golden Hour with Moon in Arches National Park
(Caught Between Day and Night!)

When I finished taking the photo in my last post, and was walking back to the car, I looked east and saw this beautiful scene. The orange rocks and the La Sal Mountains in the background were brilliantly illuminated by the setting sun while the moon was announcing that nighttime was close at hand.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Skyline Arch - Arches National Park

Skyline Arch (I think)

Just before sunset is the perfect time to capture the intense color of the red and orange rocks and cliffs in southern Utah.  We spent a few fun days with our ATV group riding in Moab, and then a couple extra days to relax and take photos.  Moab, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park are all within a short distance from each other, and we enjoyed spending some time in each area.  (Can you see the person who posed so nicely for my photo?)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Poppy on Temple Square

Poppy on Temple Square

I always look for interesting backgrounds for floral photos. I liked this bright yellow poppy isolated in front of the large fountain on Temple Square.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sunbeams and Blossoms

Sunbeams and Blossoms on Temple Square

Sunbeams and Blossoms! Temple Square is now filled with hundreds of varieties of spring blossoms and flowering trees. It is unbelievably beautiful. There is color everywhere. I really believe it is not possible to take a bad picture at this time in this place! (Well, maybe there is an exception or two!) The mixture of the scent of hyacinths and the other flowers is heavenly. There is nothing more peaceful, inspiring, or rejuvenating than strolling slowing among this beauty early in the morning and drinking it all in. It is natural to focus one's attention downward at the flowerbeds, but looking heavenward reveals new scenes of beauty as well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Double Vision

Double Vision

Tack sharp exposure? Double vision? Blurred? Out of focus? In flower photography, anything is acceptable. One can purposely choose to create a 'soft focus' presentation..... or create an 'artistic' look to make the most out of of a bad exposure....or be pleasantly surprised when a shot just turns out weird!! All in the eye of the photographer.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Spring on Temple Square

Spring on Temple Square

Every spring I spend at least one morning in this beautiful, sacred place, and today was a perfect day!  The temperature was perfect, the flowers were perfect, the sky was perfect!  What a perfect way to start a Saturday!!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Bleeding Hearts

Beautiful Bleeding Hearts in my Garden

These dainty and lovely early spring blooms are only around for a short time, and not as showy as some of the other spring flowers, but they are high up on my favorite flower list.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dreamy Daffodils

 Dreamy Daffys

I was surprised to see these cream colored daffys in my garden......I don't remember planting any cream colored ones.  I thought they were all a standard yellow variety.  Can daffodils change color from year to year??  I photographed these daffodils in front of a neutral background to create a mono color look.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Magnolia in my Yard

Spring Magnolia Blossoms

Spring blooms have come to northern Utah.  It is always striking to see the lovely rebirth of delicate flowers against still winter-like backgrounds of somber browns and grays. This magnolia bush is in my front yard and is just bursting with blooms. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Valley of Fire State Park

I wonder if Valley of Fire State Park was named by someone who saw how the beautiful red cliffs actually looked like they were burning from within during colorful sunsets! I took this shot a few minutes after my last post.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Valley of Fire Sunset

Valley of Fire Sunset

So last week when I was in Valley of Fire State Park, it was a beautiful day with lots of blue sky and a few puffy clouds. But by late afternoon the sky had totally clouded over and my hopes for some great sunset photos were gone. I finally decided to leave for home. I was just about out of the Park when I glanced at the western sky and saw just a sliver of blue, and I thought what the heck, why not stay a little longer and see what happens. Within just a short time, just before sunset, the sky cleared, and the sunset was amazing and lasted long enough for me to take my photos. I've taken lots of photos of cactus blooms and lots of photos of sunsets, but I think this is my favorite photo of cactus blooms and a sunset in the same scene!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter Lily

An Easter Lily and a wish for a lovely Easter Sunday

Friday, March 25, 2016

Valley of Fire Spring Blooms

 Beavertail Cactus in various stages of blooming.
 
Evening Primrose found about a foot away from the road.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Valley of Fire, Nevada

Spring Wildflowers, Red Rock Cliffs, Blue Sky, Perfect Weather......
I'm in my Happy Place!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Monday, March 21, 2016

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada


A Rare Selfie

On the way home from a weekend car show in Las Vegas with the family, I took a detour to spend a late afternoon and evening in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.  The weather was perfect and this is just a few miles off the freeway.  Pretty nice place to relax and enjoy the view for a few minutes!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Beautiful Blossoms in Snow Canyon

Snow Canyon Blossoms

I typically take pictures of red cliffs, wildflowers or cactus blooms in Snow Canyon, but when I was there a couple of days ago, I saw this one lone tree next to a parking lot that was just bursting with beautiful blossoms.  Hundreds of bees had found the tree as well, and I risked being stung getting this close for a macro shot.  I soon learned that they were much too busy with their work, (busy as bee!), to bother with me.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Wildflowers in Snow Canyon

Wildflowers in Snow Canyon

Yesterday I shot these tiny wildflowers, measuring about 1/4 inch across, on a sunny day in Snow Canyon, about 10 minutes from our home. I'm always looking for interesting backgrounds for macro shots. I liked the contrast of these bright flowers in front of a large, black volcanic rock spotted with yellow and orange lichen.  I have a photographer friend who knows the name of every flower I have ever asked him about, and he tells me this is called Woolly Daisy, AKA, Wallace's Woolly Daisy.  I'll take his word since he's an expert in naming western wild flowers!


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Wildflowers in Death Valley National Park

A Carpet of Yellow in Death Valley National Park

One last image of spring in Death Valley.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Cholla in Snow Canyon, Utah


Cholla Basking in Sunlight
Snow Canyon

Varieties of the cholla cactus are common in the southern Utah desert. While I don't usually consider them spectacular subjects for photography, there is one condition where they shine and take over the spotlight. And that is in late afternoon when the plant is backlit by the sun and highlights the needles or spines. As a bonus, positioning my camera in just the right place will create some beautiful bokeh and sunflare, highlighting the cactus even more. I use these techniques with many varieties of cactus to help turn what would otherwise be a drab and ordinary scene into something more interesting.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Zion National Park

Zion National Park
Caught between Winter and Spring

I took this photo a few days ago.  In many areas of the park the cottonwoods and other trees are just beginning to leaf out.  At this spot on the Virgin River, there is just a slight green tinge visible on the treetops.  Come on Spring!!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Death Valley Wildflower

I think this is called Notch-leaf Phacelia

I have a really demanding ( his own word) blogging friend who wanted to see a close up of the flower in my last post.  Well, Mr. Author R. Mac Wheeler, this is the best I can do.  I didn't have a macro lens with me so this is the best close-up I have.  I liked this composition because of the contrast of the dark/solid and light/textured background dividing the frame diagonally.

Below is a different composition with the same flower:
 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Death Valley Spring

Taking Center Stage
Death Valley National Park

Friday, March 4, 2016

Death Valley National Park

Sometimes we need to survive and grow where we are planted, even against all odds!!

Although this has been an epic spring in Death Valley, the flower show takes place in limited parts of the park. If one turns in the opposite direction, close to where my previous photos were taken, this is what you would see.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Death Valley - Yellow Ribbons

Yellow Ribbons in Death Valley

Part of improving nature and landscape photography skills is to take in all the elements of a scene that the eye sees, make sense of it all and then visualize a pleasing and interesting composition.  This means narrowing down and eliminating some of those elements and emphasizing other elements, and deciding on foreground to background elements.  Then comes deciding the f stop, shutter speed, angle, perspective or point of view, etc.  You may do this numerous times with different results.  The critical part of deciding whether you have an interesting and pleasing image that is a 'keeper' comes when you critique your images on the computer.  This is where you have to honestly determine the value of your work.  Here are a few of the many questions you could ask yourself:

Does this image tell a story?
Does this image evoke emotion?
Does this image make a statement?
Does this image show something unique or unusual?
Does this image show something common but seen in a different way? (Different light, different angle, different perspective, additional elements, etc.)

I asked the last question above about this composition.  I took lots of photos of these yellow fields of flowers along with all the other photographers in this location.  But I always try to think of what I can do to make my photos unique or different from the crowd.  I spotted this scene a ways away from where the rest of the people were taking pictures.  I liked the way the flowers looked like yellow ribbons as they reached the base of the mountain, and decided that this met the criteria of photographing something common, while including a unique element.   

 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Death Valley National Park - Spring Wildflowers

Death Valley Spring Wildflowers

A different view!  At this location, all the photographers with their cameras, and all the tourists with their cell phones and tablets were facing the same direction in order to capture the vast carpet of yellow nestled up against the mountains. I joined them, but then, I always challenge myself to face in the opposite direction to find a photo that is different from the crowd. This is my shot.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Spring in Death Valley National Park



Death Valley National Park

After a grueling but glorious week at Disneyland with the grandchildren, I convinced Jeff to take a detour on the way home to Death Valley.  Spring has come to this barren landscape, bringing a rare profusion of wildflowers basking in the warm late afternoon light just before sunset.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Manti Temple View from Cemetery

View of Manti Temple from the Cemetery

Bench with a view! Even though I said no more snow pictures, I took this photo the same day as my last post, and I really liked this composition taken from the nearby cemetery. I thought about this memorial bench with a perfect view of the temple. Sitting here in better weather, and looking up at this sacred building, (Manti Temple), must be a great comfort to the friends and relatives of the loved one who is honored by this bench. I would like to come back and take a picture from this place when spring comes.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Manti Temple with Sun Burst

Manti Temple with Sun Burst

OK, just one more photo with snow in it, although the snow is not the focus, the sun is. I have a new camera and lens and I'm trying to make friends with it!! I'm a landscape photographer who believes one can take interesting photos at all times of the day, and not just at the magic hours of sunrise and sunset. One of my favorite things in bright day light photos is sun flare which can happen in all sizes, shapes and patterns, depending on many variables, (and is something that many photographers avoid like the plague). So I was interested in seeing what my new lens would create on yet another winter photo of the beautiful Manti Temple, as the sun was shinning brightly this time I was passing through. (I didn't stay outside very long, however, as the temperature was 15 degrees F.) Anyway, I love the unique pattern this lens created.  I did not use any filters or fancy editing to create this effect.  The only thing I did was to increase the saturation and darken the sky a bit so that the sun burst pattern would stand out better.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Manti Temple in Snow

Manti Temple
Manti, Utah

I think I'm officially done with winter, even though the calendar doesn't agree with me! And to commemorate this decision, I think this will be the last snowy image I will post until next winter.  It is the beautiful Manti Temple taken several weeks ago. This majestic temple sits high on a hill in rural Utah and acts as a beacon and sentinel to be seen for miles around.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Buffalo on Antelope Island

Buffalo on Antelope Island

My last post reminded me of the last time I was on Antelope Island. I was really glad I was standing by my car with the door open when I took this shot!

Antelope Island

I must be a 'glutton for punishment!' I hate winter, I hate cold, I hate gray days, & I usually hate snow. So being ill with 'cabin fever', I drove to the barren, mostly desolate Antelope Island, accessed by a causeway into the Great Salt Lake. Water/ice, sky, land, everything was foggy/whitish/grayish. Most people go there to spot wildlife, and I'm a horrible wildlife photographer. I'm never patient enough to wait until I spy something to shoot, and if I do see some wild thing, I usually have the wrong lens, the wrong camera setting, or I fumble around too long and miss the shot....the bird flies away, the animal runs away, etc. So what was I thinking!!! For me, just to capture something at all is a success! So here's what I got.....

They must be antelope since I was on Antelope Island!!!

Is that a wolf???

Well, these must fall under the category of birds!


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Red Rose for Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

I recently ran across this photo that was taken several years ago, but thought it appropriate to post again today.  I hope your day is spent with the people your cherish!  Today my family will gather for our annual Valentine's dinner where, of course, everything we eat must be red, which makes for some very unusual looking corn!!!  (We sometimes cheat with red food coloring!)