Always Have an Open Mind and Look Around

This is another photograph that I made a couple of years ago in Grand Teton National Park taken at the infamous Oxbow Bend.  This was actually on the morning that all of the national parks were closing due to all of the idiots in charge in Washington, but that is a whole other story.  I’m sure many of you will remember.

There were probably approximately 150-200 photographers lined up along the banks of the river with all of their camera lenses pointer towards Mt Moran.  This is the infamous photograph everyone is more familiar with.  It has been photographed millions of time.  As a matter of fact the header for this particular blog post is the more classic image of Oxbow Bend you are familiar with.  I on the other hand looked further to the south and saw the beautiful ballet between light and shadows so I quickly grabbed my camera with the 200-400mm lens already attached in order to frame and compose a tighter image and made the photograph above.  The play of the light and shadows helps to add depth to the image as well as adds more drama to the photograph.

My point is to always have an open mind.  Don’t just think of the iconic shots when visiting national parks.  They have been photographed millions of times and are photographed daily by hundreds of photographers that you have to contend and sometimes put up with.  Be open and always look around you in all directions.  You may be a bit surprised in what you will find.

Beautiful Wyoming

Fall is such a beautiful time of the year to visit Wyoming.  The scenery and colors are just spectacular.  This particular photograph is from a trip to Wyoming a couple of years ago on a ranch near Jackson Hole.  The beauty of the backlit fall colors against the darker background is what first caught my attention.  Once I saw the two horses in the distance framed by the beautiful golden colors the trees I knew that I had to stop and capture this beautiful moment in time.

Natures Way Of Restoring Balance

Here in Texas we have been experience severe drought conditions for the past several years. Nature has been working extremely hard these past couple of weeks to help offset the imbalance and provide some relief and replenish the drought stricken land. The much needed rain has been a very welcome relief even though some of the storms can be notoriously scary in appearance as is normally typical this time of the year in Texas. I photographed this particular storm as it made it’s way along the northeast of Abilene. This particular storm had a history of dropping ping pong ball size hail with 60 plus mph wind gust.

Early Morning Aspens

I made the photo above while exploring amongst a little grove of aspen trees during the early morning hours at Rocky Mountain National Park. Many of the aspen trees were just past peak and had already begun dropping their leaves in large part to the winds. However it was still a beautiful site, in particular with the warm morning light and the play of light and shadows amongst the trees. I closed down the aperture of the camera in order to create the starburst effect of the sun.

White Pocket Moonlight Serenade

While nightfall ascended upon White Pocket, I was still amongst the midst of it’s wild and contorted formations in search of potential photographic opportunities. The full moon was shinning brightly above providing enough light to illuminated the rugged terrain and formations. Parts of the formation appeared like some sort of lunar terrain, giving one the feeling of being on another planet. I can honestly say that I have never witnessed such a place. I made the image above my utilizing a 25 second exposure.

Chasing The Light

It was my first time to travel to the infamous White Pocket located in northern Arizona. Earlier during the day the wind was howling and the loose sand grains from the contorted sandstone formations were being propelled by the wind. At times it must have felt like standing in front of a sandblaster. Needless to say I spent very little time scouting for compositions for later during the day with the lighting would be more conducive for photographing.

As the sun was setting I was running around from formation to formation trying to guess where the beautiful golden rays of sunset would illuminate the red and yellow colors of the sandstone and determine the best possible composition. White Pocket is definitely one of those locations one could benefit by spending several days wondering the nooks and crannies 20 acres of unusual contorted sandstone formations. Unfortunately I was only there for a short visit and was afforded the opportunity to photograph sunset on this evening and sunrise the following morning. Needless to say I was literally chasing the light as many photographers are known to do. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to make it back to White Pocket sometime in the near future.

On Another Planet

I made the photo above from a trip about this time last year to an area in northern Arizona called White Pocket. I can only best describe it like being on another planet. It is off the beaten path and requires a high profile 4-wheel vehicle to reach it. However it is worth the time and effort to reach this unforgettable world of spectacular red, pink, and white contorted sedimentary rock layers. We made the decision the night before because of the time and effort to reach White Pocket we would spend the night in the jeep in order to have the opportunity to photograph both sunrise and sunset. We stopped by the local Walmart in Page, Arizona to buy a jar of peanut butter and loaf of bread.

Once we turned off the main highway the trip was long and slow. The last 10 miles of the journey was through deep sand with intermittent areas of rocky outcrops. It was important to keep a consistent speed in order to avoid getting stuck.

The photo above was made at sunset. It was truly a memorable experience. Even though White Pocket itself only covers approximately 20 acres, there are photo opportunities in just about every direction you turn. I would definitely look forward to making another visit to White Pocket sometime in the future.

Finding The Right Perspective

This is an image from a trip last year to the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. This particular formation is called The Fire Wave, probably the most famous and most photographed formation in the park because of it’s wave-like striations in the sandstone rock formations. I made various photographs from different angles and perspectives. Some of my initial images from this particular angle had the upper knob of the formation above the rock formations in the background. Then I noticed how the striations along the knob matched the striations of the rocks in the background so I purposely lined up the striations of the sandstone in foreground with those in the background providing somewhat of an optical illusion.

Rocky Mountain Meditation

One of the things that I always look forward to during my travels to different parts of the country are some of the beautiful rivers that one encounters.  I remember when traveling south of Jackson Hole, Wyoming seeing numerous fly fisherman amongst the numerous streams and rivers that flow along the highway.  That is a site we’re not accustom to seeing here in Texas.  In fact we consider ourselves lucky just to have any water in our rivers, especially during these recent times of drought conditions.

During my visit to Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park I would often find myself hiking along the rivers and taking the time to sit and listen to the mesmerizing and tranquil sounds of the water steadily making its way downstream.  I don’t know what it is about the sound of the water that brings about the peace and relaxation.  Of course being amongst the beautiful Rocky Mountains adds to the meditative like state that one experiences.

I made the first image (at the top) shortly after sunrise as I had made my way down into the meadows in hopes of finding elk to photograph. Of course being in a place like this all is not loss. I continued my wad down along the river and picked out an area along an meandering s-shaped curve amongst the tall grass of the meadow. The sun had already made it’s way above the horizon illuminating the snow-capped peaks of the mountains. As I setup my tripod and camera I could hear the bugling of a bull elk echoing through the valley. I paused for a moment just to take it all in.

The last two images were made further downstream as the river makes it’s way amongst the thicker vegetation and larger boulders that have eroded over time from the nearby mountain.