Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cactus Blooms in my Southern Utah Garden

Cactus blooms in my southern Utah garden. 
I think that many desert cactus blooms are as beautiful and exotic looking as those found in tropical climates.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Gold Butte Road, Nevada

Gold Butte Road, Nevada

Riding our RZR (atv) as fast as we dare to get back to our truck before dark. But when we rounded a bend I had to stop when I saw this scene.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Gold Butte

Gold Butte, Nevada

This photo was taken in the late afternoon on the same day as my last post of Lake Mead.  We put about 50 miles on our RZR (atv), during this day trip.

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!