Happy Earth Day! No entrance fees this week in the National Parks!
So as the amazing light is moving rapidly across the land. It reaches across the canyon and into the sky. And that’s when I capture a Rainbow forming. One of the most awesome displays I’ve ever seen. The wind is gusting so hard it knocks my tripod over. I make a diving catch worthy of the NFL. I can’t lose my camera, not now I think. Shooting and moving trying to get to the location I spotted on the drive in a clear view of the valley and up the Canyon. Here are the rest of the images from that day.
$24 for 24. I’ll be shooting for 24 hours straight…On May 1st I’ll be part of LONG SHOT a 24 photographic event. The Photo Center NW has a great community outreach program and was the first place I had a Gallery hanging, part of Art Wolfe’s conservation international group show. Pledge a $1 an hour and I will provide a signed 8×10 of your choice from the shoot!
I’ve entered National Geographic Traveler’s yearly photo contest. If you have a second please vote for my image in the people’s choice catagory. Your vote would mean so much….and stay to check out some of the amazing photography while you are there! Thanks!!
So we’re in this spring storm and even though we’re down in the canyon and not on top of the mesa we’re in for a rough ride. A couple of hours of being buffeted around and very glad we’re got the truck. Reading and playing games only go so far. Wilderness travel means passing the time waiting for the weather to pass. No matter how well you think you know someone being stuck in a tent and weathering a storm will be a learning experience.
Always have your gear ready because you never know.
The light changes like that subtle as a truck. With the wind blowing like it is. I’m guessing I only have moments to capture it. I grab my camera and start to run toward a location I had scouted on that mid-day hike.
On the White Rim Road
Before we get back to the Storm story let me back up a bit and give some background on the White Rim Trail road. I’ve been fielding some email about the road and hopefully this will speak to those questions. The White Rim Road is a 100 mile 4×4 dirt road that loops in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. You can either travel the road by either Mountain Bike or 4×4. It’s not technically difficult as far as mountain biking goes but you do have to be in good condition. The Park service calls the four wheel drive moderate. An experience driver is a must this isn’t the place to cut your four by teeth on. That said it’s quite an adventure. While other friends go on a vacation you’ll go on an experience and annoy them for month’s afterword with stories. The peace and solitude of this wilderness is offset by white knuckle driving. With every flat stretch my companion and I knew there would be something technical to navigate very soon. I would recommend a narrow truck with good visibility over the hood. You’ll be climbing with no view of the road in front of you. Bring an extra cooler!
This trip is wilderness travel. There is a scene in The Hurt Locker where the main character comes back from deployment and is overwhelmed by the supermarket. Too much color too much sound and too many people, sensory overload. I measure my wilderness experiences by this. My companion had never felt this before and she bailed within thirty seconds of being in the Ranger station, which was a calm place with only a few people. As I filled out the wildlife report the Ranger, an obvious student of Edward Abbey from his one foot long beard, on duty gave me a knowing look.
I walked outside and said to my friend “you think that was crazy wait till we get to the supermarket in Moab.”
Start planning your trip now! Go!
I’m re-watching the Ken Burns documentary on The National Parks. I’m to the point when car touring takes hold. I’m sure many of us can remember being introduced to the parks as kids in the backseat of our parent’s vehicle. For me in as a GMC K5 Jimmy, it was my home for a summer. We sold the house and set out for places unknown. The great American road trip. I made a sign Oregon or bust. We made it and would build a log cabin in the old growth of the coastal mountains.
To this day I love the road trip because with wilderness travel getting there, or in this case, back is half the story. Rural highways once the main passages through America have been bypassed by the overpasses of the superhighway. The Rural highway has more to tell, take the time to travel them.
So as I’m back at the trailhead parking lot and the sun is setting I take this shot of highway 880. Travel it and you’ll swear you are in the middle of the plains states. Sugar cane fields for as far as the eye can see. I take a moment to compose this shot. I must work quickly because the park gates will close automatically at dusk. But I’m thinking I’m still okay because they’re still open and well dusk is after dark right. I make the shot stow my gear in the truck and the gates close. HA! Good joke.
I hastily inspect the gates looking for an exit. No button, all the boxes have padlocks. Now the Mosquitoes have launched a full out assault. Florida is nothing if not Mosquito-y. Frustrated I call the number on the sign, I am not eager to explain my plight. HA! Good joke again. The automated voice says for fun friends press one….great. The federal government has posted a number for a chat line. I guess they want to give you something to do till the gates open at dawn.
Not thrilled with having to say the night. If necessity is the mother then desperation is the father of invention. It dawns on me that the automatic gate has a swing arm and that swing arm has a pivot point, which is held in place by a nut and bolt. Bingo. I undo the arm open the gate and get to spend the night at home.
I’ve been familiar with Lewis Kemper’s work for years so attending recent lecture and his gallery opening was a no brainer. Anybody that gets his start in Nature Photography by hopping in a VW Van, drives to Yosemite and lands a job at Ansel Adams gallery is someone I have to meet. Kemper works the digital darkroom like Adams did the wet. During his lecture he demoed a panoramic photograph of Downtown Seattle. This image was not only a stitched composite but HDR also. What this means is the one image was 24 photographs. A large image with better color and detail than any single frame can produce. Truly his digital labors bear fruit. I’ve seen many pictures of the Sodo district as Seattle is my hometown but few rival this.
At Kemper’s gallery opening you got the idea that he was just as excited about this one as his first. He carried his camera with him, and rather than guard it he was eager to hand it over and start a teaching session right there. I chatted with him about a shot in Denali, the scope of the scene illustrated by two pin point size caribou. The side of the mountain was a blaze in reds and yellows of fall.
I ask if emerging technology changed how he quantified “good light?” He said no but it did mean he could work longer as cameras become more light sensitive. Great I thought. Fellow campers are going to love me that much more when I leave even earlier before sunrise and come back well into the night. I’m going to have to get a hybrid.
A very fine start to the day, deceptive, for the afternoon would bring heavy winds, rain and battleship gray skies…in other words fantastic light. A Nature photographer has to wear many hats, and more are being piled on all the time. One that is well worn and servers the Wilderness Traveler and Photographer equally well is Meteorologist. Being able to read the weather means that for the photographer you are ready for the great light that comes just before and after a storm. For the Traveler, it means you get to set up a dry camp.
Keep an eye to the sky. In the Canyonlands this can be difficult if you are down in the Canyon, which was the case on this day. Having spotted a sand bar, let’s call it a beach, my companion and I decided to make the two mile hike to it. An afternoon at the beach sounded like a perfect antidote to the stress produced by days of four wheel driving the white rim road. Traveling the white rim road is a journey that you will talk about for all your days. So after navigating the green belt a thick jungle like band of vegetation that exists next to the river my companion and I reach our reward. A glorious little oasis of sand that held true to all the promise it made when viewed from afar. After a bit of nap I awoke to gray skies overhead and a bit of a blow. Down in the Canyon you can’t see the weather coming.
I said we’ve got about 15 minutes to get back to the truck. We left our little beach with haste. Back, we went, through the Indiana Jones movie set that is the green belt. Seriously some unique sounds coming out of the densest brush I’ve ever traveled. I was being generous when I said 15 minutes it was more like 10 and sure enough with the truck in sight the storm opened up, hard rain blowing sand, the works. This was the kind of storm you are glad to have a truck available for shelter.
The story continues with more images from the series.