Monday, October 31, 2011

The Point

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
On our way out of town we stopped off at Dead Horse Point. We always get up before sunset, just to get a jump of the day (yeah, right).
I have no idea who that fellow on the rock is, but I’d like to thank him for spending about 10 motionless minutes on that rock, looking out over the cracked, faulted, destroyed mess that is the topology of the southern Utah.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
I mean really, look at that. It’s amazing there are any roads there at all, or that anybody can live there now, much less before the invention of air conditioning and Camelbaks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cowboy Pants Arch (again)

I did manage to talk the mountain biking duo into taking a trip to Cowboy Pants Arch. (I still like that name better than the more-popular “Delicate Arch.” It seems so bland, and really, what’s delicate about 300 tons of sandstone? ) So I got another crack at it, this time with snow on the mountains.
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

That place is such a mess at sunset. It’s like a beach party. Once again there were 30+ photographers there, all silently cursing the never-ending stream of people who just have to stand in the middle of the arch.
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
After a few minutes of that, some wag yelled out “That’s perfect! We’re glad you could make it, because we all came here to take a photo of you in the arch! And we’re glad there’s a line because we wouldn’t want the arch to be empty before the sun goes down!” (or words to that effect). He got a pretty good laugh – and then the arch pretty much cleared out.

Despite the irony-lashing there were still some people hanging around on the left side of this frame, so I did some Photoshop work there. Very little though - Content-Aware Fill makes it incredibly easy to rub people out. Where'd they go? I don't know. Maybe they're sleeping with the pixels.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pocket Desert

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
While I was waiting for the right light at Navajo Arch, I passed the time shooting this macro.

I think I confused a lot of people while I was shooting this. They'd walk up to this beautiful arch and see my standing right there - looking at some damn tree branch. Sometimes photographers just make no sense at all, you know?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Navajo Arch

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

This was the one shot I really, really wanted to get out of this trip. I had read about the cool light at Navajo Arch. I went there in July, hoping to get this shot. Unfortunately the light doesn’t hit until mid-morning, and I wasn’t able to wait around for it. So this time I was determined to get it.

I hung around for almost 90 minutes, tried out just about every possible position, and then went and shot some macro for a while waiting for this shot. Finally I got it. I think it was worthwhile.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Another Moab Trip

A couple weeks ago I took another trip to Moab with Walker and Kelly. (By the way, thanks Walker!)


Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Those two were out for biking. I’m not much for biking, and I couldn’t talk them off those bikes for anything. Well, except for food, hot tubs and to unload footage from their video cameras. But that left me with some more time to poke around Moab.


Larry with his bagass backpack.

This time I took a guided canyon tour. There was a little scrambling up rocks and a little bit of wading through smelly, cold water. The truly fun part was the three rappels in there. It was my first time doing that. It is definitely a charge. In my opinion dropping yourself off a cliff is even more, hmmm, interesting than jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. I was so hyped up on the first one that I barely noticed that the rappel device had burned a dime sized hole in my hand. So I’ll probably be doing it again sometime.


Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

I also did some more photos in Arches National Park, and visited Dead Horse Point. So I’ll have more photos up over the next few days. Though if you’re really interested, and don’t mind digging through lots of vacation photos, they’re all up on SmugMug already.

Monday, October 10, 2011


After our early morning photo session we decided we should do a sunset shoot too. We headed out into the wilderness, trekking for hours to a vantage point for sunset. We pushed through high temperatures and blazing sun, then waited for hours for the perfect light. I think it turned out OK.

Colorado River

Oh, and all that trekking stuff was just bullshit. We actually went to the Red Cliffs Lodge, got a table on the veranda, and waited. To get this shot I put down the gin & tonic, rested the camera on the railing and shot a few shots. Then put down the camera and ate some steak. It’s really the only way to photograph. I think I might do a project consisting entirely of photos shot without leaving the dinner table. 

Sunday, October 09, 2011

A Photo Geeky Tangent

If you’re like most computer users, you probably assume that any given photo looks the same on all monitors. It’s the same photo, right? Yeah, not so much. Computer monitors almost all look different due to different settings, different manufacturing, the backlight changing colors as it ages, and probably other factors. If you’ve got a computer with two monitors you can probably check it yourself by moving a windows from one monitor to the other and watching the color shift.

Similarly, not all pieces of software handle colors properly. So just like monitors different programs can show different colors. I spent a few minutes this afternoon trying to figure out why my photos on the web look different than the same photos in Photoshop. It turns out that the Google Chrome browser does a lousy job of color management.


Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug


That’s a screenshot of my laptop. On the left is Chrome, on the right is Photoshop Lightroom, both on the same machine. Oh, and unless your monitor is calibrated, neither of them looks like mine. Ah, the joys of computer monitors.


PS: For the record, Firefox seems to handle color management properly. It probably won’t matter in most cases, but you might see differences in some cases.

A Little Moar Moab

Since it’s now just over 3 months since the Moab trip, I figured I should put up a few more photos. Wouldn’t want to go too fast with this stuff, you know.

One of the important lessons from our first day in Moab is that the desert is hot. Startling, I know. Thankfully, Arches is open 24 hours a day, so we decided to head out early in the morning to avoid the heat. Also because our incredible dedication as photographers made us willing to forgo sleep in order to get good light. Yeah, that’s it, dedication.

So that’s how we ended up in the park at 5:30 AM. Which was actually worth, both from photographic and thermal perspectives.

We even got some clouds, which is good for the photos. Otherwise those skies get to be pretty dull looking.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

And the cool temperatures led to a moderately happy Wendy, which is conducive to a good trip. Note that the misfocus here is entirely my fault. It turns out that autofocus works remarkably poorly when the idjit behind the camera has turned it off. I know, almost as startling an insight as “The desert is hot.” I’m full of them.

After we were done with sunrise we had scheduled a tour through The Fiery Furnace, one of the more remote parts of the park. It’s a confusing maze of rock passageways. The park rangers are very tired of people getting lost in there, so they strongly encourage you to take a tour group in there.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

It’s probably my favorite area of the park overall. It’s a bit like the slot canyons I hiked last summer, but shorter and less intimidating. If you’re in the area I’d recommend it.

The main path is pretty tame, but there are some fun little scrambles off to the sides. I thought they looked fun; the guide commented that I could do what I wanted, but he wasn’t obligated to carry me out. So of course I climbed them. That’s my leg at the bottom of the photo there, looking 30 or 40 feet down. Some teenager kept following after me – I think he didn’t want to be shown up. I’m such a bad influence.

Amazingly enough we even got Wendy to do some climbing. Usually she doesn’t like dropoffs, but something got into her. I think it was the threat of leaving her behind, lost in the maze. But it might also have been the promise of a cooler full of ice water waiting back in the van.


More photos…

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug My trusty adventurin' hat trying to blend in. We can still see you, orange hat!She's looming!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wait, You Forgot What?!

The drive from Denver to Moab is about 6 hours. I checked the odometer on the way back – 355 miles door-to-door. It was about 4 hours into that, maybe 250 miles from home, when I remembered something. Something I had forgotten. My hiking boots. Yeah, I’m just that smart.
Thankfully, Moab is enough of an outdoor sports mecca that we had no problem finding a shoe store. I ended up with a nice pair of Five Ten hiking shoes that have got the stickiest soles I’ve ever experienced. I could actually feel them peeling off of the slickrock.
Wendy posing in Park Avenue
New shoes acquired, we headed straight over to Arches. We stopped at Park Avenue, one of the first trails in the park. It’s a walk down a corridor of impressively large rock fins, reminiscent of the concrete canyons of New York City. Thankfully it had some shade too, because it was 4:30 PM and about 95 degrees in the shade.

It must’ve rained fairly recently, because there were a few little pools in the rocks. I can’t imagine they would last long in that heat and dry air. We certainly didn’t – just a quick jaunt down the canyon and then we headed back to the car.
It was getting towards sunset, so we headed off the Delicate Arch. That’s the park’s marquee attraction, the best known of the arches. It’s on the billboards for Moab and the Utah license plate. It’s an easy-to-moderate hike in my book, though the heat and lack of any shade made it much worse.

Heading back down the narrow walkway from Delicate Arch
Unbeknownst to us the last 50 feet of the trail has a sharp dropoff right on the side. Wendy is not a fan of edges. Even when I can at least reassure her that an apparent drop is really just a 5 foot tall ledge, she still doesn’t like them. This one actually is a hundred foot drop, so I didn’t really think she’d make it. Much to my surprise, she actually did get around it and up to the top.

At Delicate Arch
It was a mob scene at the top, with at least 30 people already there and more arriving as sunset neared. Everyone apparently needs their picture taken standing under the arch, usually while making some stupid face. There was actually a line for that at one point. It was exactly the kind of thing that drives me nuts about “touristy” destinations. We stuck it out for a while, but eventually decided to get back down that walkway before sunset caused the mass of people to rush down the cliff face like a swarm of lemmings.

At Delicate Arch
I’m glad we went to Delicate Arch. It’s one of those things you just have to do at Arches, and we got that box checked right off the bat. But I think my favorite part of it was when we learned that it used to be called “Cowboy Pants Arch”. I think that’s a way better name for it. Maybe someday a Vegas casino will buy it and put a giant neon cowboy torso on top of it, but until then you’ll just have to use your imagination.

A few more photos from that day (click for larger)

At Delicate Arch  

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Moab Adventure Complete

Despite the three month lull in posting, I have not actually fallen off the face of the Earth. Not for lack of trying though; we're just back from a trip to Arches National Park which has plenty of places to fall off of if you're not paying attention.


It was a short trip, but long enough. Two days of staying up late to catch summer sunsets, two more days of getting up in the dark to catch those early summer sunrises, and plenty of 100 degree desert days in between will take it out of a guy. I wouldn't be up now except that the neighborhood kids apparently decided to celebrate the birth of our fine country by blowing up a small part of it. Well, many small parts of it, over the course of several hours. They apparently have a lot more money to spend on fireworks than I did in high school. Damn kids (mutter mutter mutter)…

Anyway, it really was a great trip. The getting up early was justified by temperatures that approached tolerable, and a few shots like this.


We spent a little time in the unique, slot canyon-esque Fiery Furnace section of the park, which I loved. (note, that little speck at the bottom of the wall is yours truly).


And finished up with minor luxury of a nice dinner and the major luxury of high-powered air conditioning at a little resort on the Colorado River.


We did pretty damn well for a four day weekend! Most of the credit for that goes to Wendy, who managed to plan most of the trip in one evening.

Naturally we took lots of photos, but that was the easy part. The hard part is making the time to do something with them. But I'll try, really. Oh yeah, and I need to get through photos from San Francisco, New Mexico and a couple other things. Yeah, I've been a little busy with some other things lately.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Traveler Arrives… finally

A few of you may recall that way back around this time last year, I wrote that National Geographic Traveler had called me about one of my photos. Well, it turns out that was a bit optimistic. They had space constraints, so the article with my photo got pushed back. And then pushed back again. But it’ll be published some day! Really!

I had pretty much written it off. Plans change, that’s life. I’ll get ‘em another time. But lo and behold, they finally got around to publishing the article! It’s “Beyond Mesa Verde,” in the April issue. This time I’m pretty sure it’s for real, because they mailed me two copies, and the photo on page 90 looks real familiar. It’s not a giant print, just a few square inches in the middle of the page, but I’m still happy about it. Go buy an issue and take a look! OK fine, I know some of you are a little cheap, if you just take a look and put it back on the rack I won’t tell anyone.


On the way out of the Ute reservation we happened across this little guy sunning himself on a rock. He was a fearless little reptile too – I got within a foot of him before he sprinted off to find a more secluded spot.  This photo may be appearing in the July/August 2010 issue of National Geographic Traveler. Keep an eye out for it!

Just in case you forgot, here’s that photo again.