Monday, November 26, 2007

Arches National Park

Ok, ok. So I have been absent for a while. Sorry about that. Things have been rather busy around here what with children coming home from fall classes, my sisters wedding tomorrow, a rather whirlwind couple of weeks at work... Well, you get the idea.

Now, back to Arches. It's a lovely place, it really is. We only spent a day in the park, which was a full half-day more than we had originally intended, but we did get a nice bit of weather while we there.

The morning started out with a hike through the Devil's Garden area under mostly overcast skies, mild temperatures, and a near gale-force wind. Not to mention several hundred other tourists.

The first image is Landscape Arch. It's one of those hard images. It was the only one I was remotely happy with, so I worked an HDR from 9 images out of a single RAW. Which is not a method I can recommend. That eerie HDRish thing is going on and I can't say that I'm overly pleased with it, but it will have to do.

The arches in Devils Garden (and the entire area for that matter) have eroded from a mixed set of what they "fins" and "slots", which are basically long slender rock formations cut by cleft valleys that parallel one another as they run through the park. Water and wind have undercut the fins in many places, leaving the magnificent arches behind.

The next image is from Double Arch. If you look closely you can just make out the smaller arch beneath the large one.

After Devils Garden we stopped to check out Sand Dune Arch, which was hidden deep between two fins and surrounded by so much sand that it was difficult to walk.

I've got a few more Arches shots to go before our day in the park was over. Hopefully these will do for now :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Change In Plans

Our original plans for Utah included several days at a remote campsite in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. To be more specific, we were going to stay at back country site called "Horsehoof" (of all things). The problem was that the site is situated deep within the back country and requires that you either hike in (we weren't prepared for that) or traverse a rather serious 4wd trail known as "Elephant Hill" to get there. Our intentions were good, but one look at the weather report (forecast was for rain) and a good, long look at the first section of the trail sent us looking for, well, shall we say, less cumbersome adventures.

I had planned to spend my time there in relative seclusion (few tourists visit due to the difficult access) photographing in an area of the back country known as "Chesler Park." The place has been described as a photographers paradise, and getting into it will be at the top of my list next time I visit, even if I should have to hike in. But as we surveyed our situation at the gates to Elephant Hill (arriving in the park with only a few hours before sunset didn't help) we all decided that it was best to head back to Moab and Negro Bill, where we couldn't get rained-in if the weather turned foul.

So a new plan was hatched. One that would keep us safe regardless of the weather and allow to spend more time in Arches National Park than we had originally planned. On the way out of the Needles section we stopped at a site known as "Newspaper Rock." Hundreds of years of signs and symbols have been pecked into the patina of the cliff walls here, and no one has any good idea of what the symbols mean, when they were created, or even exactly who left them.

The first of today's pics was literally taken roadside as we were leaving the Park. The second shot is from NR, and it's one you wont see in the guidebooks. It was taken to the left of the main panel as I was trying to show the whole environment rather that just the rock art.

Next stop, Arches NP.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dealing with Flare

The Zenitar 16mm is not the kindest lens with regards to flare. In fact, as you can see in today's photo, it's pretty bad. As a rule I try to accept flare and work with it when I can. After all, it's a natural part of the photographic process, so why fight it? Besides, all those funky little spots intrigue me. And sometimes I think they can look pretty cool.

This image shows another arroyo, this time looking down towards the Colorado river. Its another HDR that has had more cosmetic work done on it than Phyllis Diller, including the addition of grain and lots of selective sharpening. (and a little blurring in the background)

This is the last shot I'll be sharing from the White Rim Road. It was taken the morning we drove out and the next stop will be an image from the Needles section of Canyonlands.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Big Dipper

One of the neatest thing about being in the desert was the relative lack of light pollution. It really made for some starry skies. Had it not been for the waxing moon, which rose well before sundown, I'm sure things would have looked even better. We all talked a couple of nights about setting an alarm to get up early after the moon had set, but it never happened.

This shot was taken at the Airport camp along the White Rim Road, and I believe the tower on the left is the one they refer to as "Airport Tower", but I couldn't swear to it.

In this image the rising moon puts just enough glow on the tower and the surrounding cliffs to make it interesting. This was a 30 second exposure at f4, using iso800 with a 16mm Zenitar lens. The Zenitar is kinda fishy, so I did defish it a little so that it didn't look so twisted. But frankly, now I'm not sure I like the image as well. The defishing led to some cropping and it looks quite different from the original frame.

Also, I did run neat-image through the shot to clean it up. So some of the smaller stars were no doubt gobbled up in the noise reduction.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


This is an image of one of the many arroyos that wind down to the Green River. I initially chose the sepia treatment because the color version seemed so tame, but then once I had them both it was really a tough decision. I like different aspects of each.

Then I got to thinking... there is nothing to keep me from posting two images. So there ya go.