Goblins Beneath the Milky Way

Remotely situated in the middle of nowhere, Goblin Valley State Park is miles away from any light pollution. I was in the area during a recent trip through Utah, and thought it would be a great place to capture a shot of the Milky Way on a moonless night.

I had finished shooting sunset, so I hiked back to my truck (2006 Nissan Pathfinder LE with failing air conditioning and worn tie rods) and had dinner as night fell. By the time I re-assembled my gear and donned my headlamp, the Milky Way was in full view above me.

I hiked back down into the valley and back to a group of hoodoos that I had scouted earlier to use as my foreground. I took my time positioning my camera and tripod, trying to compose a shot with the Milky Way between two prominent hoodoos. Then, I took several exposures of the stars at different settings, trying to find the best possible combination of brightness and sharpness. Next, I changed my camera settings to focus on shooting the hoodoos directly before me. I spent about an hour taking photos of the hoodoos while painting them with light from my headlamp. During one exposure, a car drove through the parking lot above the valley, painting the hoodoos with (what I thought was) just the right amount of light. Thank you, passing motorist!
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Daybreak on The Needles

Sunrise in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. I had scouted out the general area for this shot the day before, so I knew that all I’d have to do is get there with enough time to find my way through and over some massive sandstone hoodoos. Thanks for looking.

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Daybreak on the Goosenecks

Sunrise above the goosenecks of the San Juan river in southern Utah. This shot is from the very edge of the Colorado Plateau, and one of my absolute favorites for camping. There is a 270 degree view for miles and miles, and straight ahead, on the horizon, is Monument Valley. The view is so expansive that I have watched 3 separate lightning storms, all happening at the same time, from this location!  IMG_1108

Audience of One

This was captured at the same remote location as my last post, high above the Colorado river on Navajo land. The sun had just dipped below the horizon, giving me a break from the smokey haze that had obscured the distant cliffs.

As always, thanks for looking. Click on the photo for a better view.IMG_8362

Standing in the Shadows

I’d visited this isolated location overlooking the Colorado River for the first time last spring. I had little trouble finding it at the time, paying close attention to written directions and resetting my trip meter at each waypoint. So last month—when I decided it was time for another visit—I was confident I’d have no trouble finding it again. Wrong. After an hour of trying to find my way out of the maze of seldom-traveled jeep roads that crisscrossed this desolate Navajo back country, I finally managed to back track to a familiar point along the route. I turned off the radio, reset the trip meter, re-read the directions, and concentrated on the route before me.

30 minutes later I was standing on the edge of the towering cliffs above the canyon. The haze from distant wildfires was a disappointing sight. I didn’t think I would be able to clearly capture the features of the distant landscape, so I concentrated on putting together a shot that focused on features closer to me. The row of spot-lit buttes reminded me of dimly lit faces of people standing in shadows.

Enjoy, and thanks for visiting!

Please click on the photo for a better view.

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Watson Lake

I left Phoenix at 3:30 AM in order to photograph the sun rising of Watson Lake. This man-made lake is just outside of Prescott, AZ in an area known as The Granite Dells. It’s unique environment is spectacular any time of the day, but to stand upon the rocks overlooking the lake as the rising sun colors the sky is really an incredible experience. I was fortunate on this morning as a rainstorm that passed through the area the night before had left the sky full of clouds. Enjoy!

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Hope

I’d woke at 3:30AM (ouch) to meet friend and fellow landscape photographer Doug Koepsel for a sunrise shoot at Yaki Point, on the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park. After a 30 minute hike through the pre-dawn darkness, we were a bit disappointed to find a heavy wall of clouds blocking the eastern sky where the sun would rise. 5:19AM came and went, with no brilliant, colorful clouds to reward us for our efforts. We folded up our tripods and hiked eastward along the edge, scouting for possible spots to use on future visits. Eventually, the clouds began to dissipate, allowing these beautiful beams of light to shine down, and igniting hopes that we might still see the canyon lit up in the early morning sun.IMG_6946

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