Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Antelope Canyon

WOW... Antelope Canyon is... in a word... SPECTACULAR!!!!! Definitely some of the most fascinating light I have ever seen. I spent 4.5 hours in the canyon. My mind is officially blown :-)

Above: The entrance to the canyon. Only about two feet wide at its beginning, the canyon is a bit of a squeeze to climb down into it!

Once you are down in the canyon, it does open up and travel through it is a bit easier than at the beginning. There are several areas, though, where it is only wide enough for one person to walk through at a time.

Above: A shot of Lionel, one of the Navajo guides that brings tour groups through the canyon.

Every place you look in the canyon is a treat for the eyes. The shapes and lines in the canyon walls provide for unlimited photo opportunities. The reflected light coming from above makes for some of the most amazing light that a photographer will ever see.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lake Powell - Alstrom Point

Now in Page, Arizona after a VERY WINDY drive from Moab. I stopped at the entrance to Antelope Canyon to inquire about shooting there tomorrow. It's 80 degrees and the Navajo people that were at the canyon entrance were wearing sweaters. Sheesh. I'm wearing a t-shirt and I'm too warm!

After checking in at Antelope Canyon and stopping for a bite to eat in Page, I drove out to Alstrom Point (and back) on Lake Powell. The road was nice and dry, a few deep hard ruts in some places but otherwise not bad. Sunset was spectacular, but the wind was a pain. Watched the moon come up over Lake Powell. Tomorrow I head into Antelope Canyon!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Arches National Park

Great morning in Arches... headed out well before sunrise so I could be at a vantage point that allows you to see Turret Arch THROUGH North Window... it's an awesome view. Once the sun came up and the first light started to hit the arch, the rocks just GLOWED. It was awesome. I shared the spot with a medium-format film photographer from Montana.

I spent a couple of days at Arches, which is a park that I do not like during the day... there are just too many people. Early in the morning and late in the evening, however, it is sublime. Last night in the park was incredible. It was so quiet you could actually hear yourself think. The intense quiet of this evening is quite a stark contrast compared to a couple of days ago in the photography blind in Nebraska, with the sound of several hundred thousand Sandhill Cranes filling the air. Tomorrow I'm off to Page, Arizona to photograph Antelope Canyon!

Above: Sunset hiker at Turret Arch

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nebraska - Sandhill Crane migration!

As many of you know, each year for the past few years I've made a pilgrimage to Nebraska in March to photograph the large gathering of Sandhill Cranes that takes place on the Platte River. This year my friend Roger ( accompanied me on my trip to Nebraska. We had a great time photographing the birds over a period of several days. The highlight of this year's trip was staying in an overnight photography blind at the Rowe Sanctuary. The overnight blind offered up some incredible views of the birds. One thing we learned from our night in the overnight blind is that the birds make noise ALL NIGHT LONG! They did quiet down a bit between about 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. but they definitely make quite a racket throughout the entire night. I say this every year so I'm going to say it again this year... if you've never been to Nebraska in March to see this migration, you NEED to go! It is one of the most amazing wildlife spectacles a person can see! I can't wait until next year so I can experience the Cranes again :-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring has arrived!

Just over a week later and WOW how things have changed along the shoreline! A week ago I was photographing ice all along the shore, this week all of that ice is gone. Its been very warm the past week, much warmer than March usually is. As a result, all of the ice that covered the Lake Superior shore is now gone. Which means, I suppose, that I can get back to photographing the rocks along the shoreline :-) I love shooting ice, but the rocks are fun as well. I am always very "foreground conscious" when it comes to my images... that is to say, I'm always looking for something interesting to put in the foreground of my landscape images. While exploring the shoreline yesterday I found this seasonal stream that only runs in the spring, emptying into Lake Superior. I knew it would be a good location to shoot a sunrise, so I went back there this morning to do just that.

All that talk about strong foreground elements being said, sometimes I just can't resist a more "simplistic image", such as the one above.

After shooting the sunrise over Lake Superior, I headed up to Grand Portage State Park to see how High Falls was looking after all the recent warm temperatures. I wasn't sure if I would find the falls still frozen, or running freely. As it turns out (much to my delight), I found the latter. The falls certainly wasn't the fullest I have seen it, but it was running at a very nice level for photography. When you get too much water coming over the falls it certainly is fun to watch, but shooting becomes a hassle. Too much water means too much mist, which in turn means its hard to keep the water off the camera.

The water level on this morning was just about perfect for making images. There was some light mist which necessitated the occasional wipe-down of the camera, but it wasn't bad at all. Also, when the water level is like it was today, the falls is much prettier (in my opinion) than when it is really raging. When its really running strong you don't get as many little channels of water coming over the edge. Photographing High Falls is something I never tire of... and that's probably because it never looks the same. The lighting is always just a little bit different and the flow is always different. On this particular morning I was blessed with some very nice light and clouds to complement the seemingly "perfect" amount of water :-)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lake Superior Ice - Last Call

Above: "Winter sunset on Pancake Bay"

As much as I hate to admit it, the ice season on Lake Superior is already over. These were the last ice images I was able to capture along the Lake Superior shoreline this year. Only a few days after these images were made, virtually all of the ice along Lake Superior's Minnesota north shore was gone. It just got too warm too early for the ice to hang around. March is usually the best month for ice on Lake Superior, but this year that just isn't going to be the case. At any rate, this weekend was a great weekend for photographing ice. My friend Roger and I had great fun photographing the ice over the weekend. And, thanks to the above average temperatures, we were actually quite comfortable (re: NOT freezing!) when we were shooting this weekend.

Above: "Crystal Blue", arguably my favorite ice image of this past winter. The center column on my Gitzo tripod actually came in quite handy for creating this image, since I had to get the camera very low to the ground to get the perspective I wanted for the shot. It was also quite tricky to set up, as I was on the slope of a rock that was covered in ice! Below: My tripod setup for capturing the "Crystal Blue" image. (Tripod image captured using my Canon G11 camera).

The above images were made at sunset, the two images below were made at sunrise the same day. We were exploring Red Rock Beach looking for some cool ice formations to photograph at sunrise and were about to give up when I found this small hole in the ice along the shoreline. This little "ice window" was only about a foot to a foot and a half tall, and I spotted it with just enough time to scramble down to it and get a shot of the sun just as it was beginning to poke up over the horizon.

Above Left: Icy Dawn

After the best of the morning light was gone, we walked out to the end of Red Rock Point and just did some exploring. Almost all of the ice was gone from the point; only a few small patches remained. At one point while walking around on the point I looked up and saw Roger sitting on the rocks, enjoying the view of the lake. I couldn't resist making this image of him enjoying the view.

Below: "A Superior View"

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Singing Ice

This morning was the type of morning that will live on forever in my memory. I only made a handful of images today but more so than the images, it is the sounds of the morning that I will never forget. My friends Roger, Jon and Don were up for a visit and I brought them all down to the Spirit Tree for a morning of photography. It just so happens that this would also turn out to be probably the most magical morning on Lake Superior that any of us had ever witnessed. The morning started out very peaceful. Before the sun rose everything was calm and quiet. The sounds of the snow crunching beneath our boots seemed to echo across the bay. As the sun came closer to breaking the horizon, the sky took on an incredible pink glow.

Below: This piece of ice was only a couple of inches tall. I laid down on my stomach and shot with my Canon G11 in macro mode to make this image.

Sometimes when the sun rises, you have only a few minutes of nice warm light before things become too bright. On this particular morning, however, there was a thin layer of clouds hovering just off the horizon which meant that we had at least an hour of soft, warm and diffused light. Only moments after the sun came up, the ice on the bay started to talk. It started off with just a few barely audible creaks and groans, with the occasional popping noise thrown in for good measure. As the sun got higher in the sky, the wind out on the lake increased. We were sheltered from the wind, but we could tell the wind out on the lake was increasing because before too long the ice was singing. As the wind out on the lake increased, so did the pressure being put on the ice in the bay. Ice can only take so much pressure before it cracks, and when it cracks under such conditions it makes a sound that is almost indescribable. The closest sound I can compare it to is the sound made by high tension wires when they are being buffeted by strong winds. Quite simply, once you've heard it, its not a sound that you will soon forget! Here are a couple of video clips that captured the sounds of the ice... be sure to turn your speakers up to their full volume to get the full effect of these awesome sounds!