The Stud Horse

Located just north of the Arizona-Utah state line, Stud Horse Point is one of the more bizarre landscapes I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Multi-colored sandstone and towering hoodoos decorate a steep hillside overlooking miles of open desert leading to the towering walls of Glen Canyon. I recently spent one night of an extended weekend there. Standing approximately thirty to forty feet tall, I have to assume that the main focal point of my composition is the areas namesake. In the distant right hand side of the photo, the southern tip of Lake Powell lies beneath the cliffs.

Click on the photo for a more detailed view, and thanks for looking!IMG_4886

Pima Glow

A final shot from my February trip to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. This was captured at Pima Point, 24 minutes prior to the photo in my previous post (Get Up!). The sun is still below the horizon, but the soft glow of the sky was enough to delicately illuminate the canyon. Enjoy.

Please click on the photo for a more detailed view.  IMG_3713

Get Up!

“Mostly cloudy with strong winds.” The weather forecast for sunrise did not look good, but I was only an hour away from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, so I knew I had to take a chance and be there when the sun rose. Driving an hour in the pre-dawn darkness can be a nerve-wracking experience up here. Less than twelve hours ago I’d seen herds of elk and deer along these same roads. I arrived at Pima Point without incident, and before the sun rose. When I shot this, the wind was blowing so hard that I had to hold down my camera/tripod and block them from the wind with my body.IMG_3770

Pining Pinion

My eyes scanned the jagged cliffs below the Mojave Point viewing area on the Grand Canyon’s south rim, looking for an interesting spot to photograph the sunset. 50 feet below the steel safety wall, a small island of Kaibab sandstone rose above the abyss. A lone pinion pine grew there, not more than two feet tall.

Tourists started gathering along the rail as the sun inched towards the horizon. Some watched with curiosity as I made my way around the wall and very carefully down the steep cliff to the sandstone island. The lone pine made an interesting subject as the light changed from warm and bright to the soft glow seen here. This shot was captured probably ten to fifteen minutes after the sun set.

Click on the photo for a better view…

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Slow Burn

A lingering sunset over Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ. Ten years ago, this was known as the “most dangerous National Park in the United States”. The parks southern boundary is the U.S.-Mexico border, and back then drug smugglers were able to drive their trucks right through the barbed wire border fence and into the United States. In 2002, 28 year old park ranger Kris Eggle was shot and killed in a gun battle with drug smugglers in a remote area of the park. Since then, a “vehicle barrier” has replaced the barbed wire fence and U.S. Border Patrol presence has increased dramatically. I was constantly seeing their trucks on route 85, the highway that cuts through the park, and on the park roads. I saw their ATV tracks out in the desert, and their plane flying low over the park at sunrise. In a conversation with one of the park rangers, I learned that the increased Border Patrol activity has pushed most of the smuggling traffic to less scrutinized locations. None the less, I was constantly scanning my surroundings for any suspicious activity.

This shot was captured at sunset after hiking across the desert to get a vantage point from the base of the Ajo Mountains. Please click on the image to enjoy a larger view.  IMG_2535

Wishing You the Merriest…

I want to take a moment to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and to thank you for your continued support and encouragement. Your excited and enthusiastic responses to my photography make getting out of a warm sleeping bag before sunrise worthwhile, and take the sting out of the countless cactus thistles I’ve collected in my legs!

This shot is from a cold October morning in Zion National Park back in 2011. After a couple of days of heavy rain and chilly temperatures, I woke to a few inches of fresh snow and clearing skies.

Click on the pic for a better view…IMG_4570

Living for The Light II

I recently spent some time exploring Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona. I’d wanted to visit this park for years, but it’s location (the parks southern boundary is the U.S./Mexico border) concerned me. I’d read that parts of the area were closed because of drug smuggling and undocumented immigrant activity. But after finally speaking to a park ranger while on a recent trip to Mexico, I learned that I actually had little reason for concern.

Conditions looked very promising on my first day there, but as the afternoon wore on, the cumulus clouds that had filled the sky all day gradually rolled away. As I hiked deep into the desert, I knew that I was not going to be able to use a dramatic sky to help create an interesting photo. I crossed a wide expanse of flat, lush desert, densely populated with mature saguaro cacti. Finally, I reached a slope at the foot of the Ajo Mountains. Climbing a few feet to gain an impressive view of the desert I’d just crossed, I looked back and noticed the glow of all the plant life behind me. Capturing that beauty would not be easy, however, for pointing a camera directly into the sun usually doesn’t produce favorable results. I found that if I positioned the camera precisely in the shade of a giant saguaro (tall thin objects like giant saguaro don’t produce very large areas of shade to work within!) I could avoid the sun hitting my lens and creating all kinds of glare. I was able to put together this composition just as the sun was about to sink behind the distant mountains. I hope you like it.

Click on the photo for a better view.

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