Saturday, February 7, 2009

Exploring Northern Arizona

Well, the Arizona Cardinals made their first ever Super Bowl appearance this year so I decided a trip to the Grand Canyon state was in order to experience the game within their borders. Ok...that wasn't the real reason for this trip, but it sounds good! This trip actually came about when I received a phone call from fellow photographer, Jim Talaric. Jim had a spare permit for the Wave in North Coyote Buttes and was wondering if I wanted to join him along with fellow photogs Bret Edge and Rod Hanna. Not too look a gift horse in the mouth, I jumped at the opportunity.

Rod Venturing Through The Wave, North Coyote Buttes

We all met up in Page a couple days before our permit date for North Coyote Buttes in order to shoot other subjects in the vicinity. I have been to the Page area a few times now and never tire of the photographic diversity present there. From world class slot canyons, fantastic hoodoo formations, enormous canyons formed by the Colorado River, to the controversial Lake Powell...this area has photographic features which can keep you shooting all day. I was especially pleased when we all came to the agreement to do an overnight stay at the White Pocket in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. I've wanted to see this area for a while now and just hadn't found the time to make it out there. While this remote sandstone fantasyland is one of the most popular must-see locations for photographers in the Desert Southwest, it requires good navigational skills and a 4x4 vehicle to reach.

Sandstone Formations at the White Pocket

Having Jim as our "tour guide", so to speak, made reaching this area a no-brainer. Not only had he been there several times, his wealth of maps and techo-gadgets made finding our way a breeze. I was a bit concerned about the sandy aspect of the route - I'm not too experienced with driving in deep sand - but those fears were unfounded as we got there without a problem. After that it was time to enjoy (and photograph) the scenery! The overnight camp out got a bit chilly (as the temp bottomed out at 20 degrees F), but it was definitely worth it to be immersed in such a beautiful setting for both sunset and sunrise.

After shooting sunrise at White Pocket, we made our way back to the trailhead for the Wave hike in North Coyote Buttes. I had visited the Wave area on one other occasion, but only had time to spend the morning and early afternoon. This time I wanted to stay until late in the day to photograph the area in a different light. It would also give me the opportunity to photograph a formation often called the Second Wave, which is best shot late in the day.

The Second Wave - North Coyote Buttes

All in all, it was a fantastic day until what I'll dub as a “misunderstanding” occurred between myself and the ballhead clamp on my tripod. The end result of this “misunderstanding” was a four foot fall of my camera (Canon 5D) and lens (Canon 24-70 f/2.8) to the hard slickrock, after which the combination refused to focus (even manually). The duo are on their way to Canon for emergency surgery. Fortunately, this happened at the end of the day and I had my 50D along as a backup for the last day of the trip which was primarily spent at Lower Antelope Canyon just outside of Page.

More Northern Arizona Images