Monday, January 31, 2011

Above The Rim

Ok...the title doesn't mean that I'm playing basketball again!! :-) It actually refers to the Mogollon Rim, an extended escarpment that forms the southern boundary of the Colorado Plateau. This escarpment runs across a large section of Arizona beginning southwest of Flagstaff and extending through the White Mountains near the New Mexico border. Thanks to a fellow Sedona area photographer, Fred Parsons, I recently had a wonderful opportunity to fly over both the Mogollon Rim and the Sedona area with a glider pilot Ted Grussing.

Aerial View of Coffee Pot Rock, Wilson Mountain and the distant San Francisco Peaks

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Photography Tip: Shoot For The Moon

With the current full moon cycle now at its peak, I thought it would be a good time to discuss my various strategies and thoughts about incorporating the moon into landscape photography. Surprisingly, it's something I only do very occasionally because, to really do it right, it usually takes a good deal of planning (more on this in a bit) and I often have other things going on that interfere with that. Sure, sometimes you simply luck into something decent, but that doesn't happen very often. To up your odds of success you really need to research when and where the moon will be rising (or setting) and then determine what type of subject can be included with it in your composition. Let's face it, nearly everyone has gotten their longest telephoto lens and shot only the moon, but really making an interesting photograph requires other subjects in your composition. The moon, when incorporated into a landscape image, is most effective when used as an accent to an already interesting scene.

Below is an image I took a number of years back (in my formative days as a photographer) when I first visited the Sedona area. I was photographing Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing at a time when the moon happened to be passing over the monolith. I did not know it was going to be there as I didn't do any research on it. All I knew is that I had to try to incorporate it into a composition.

Moon Over Cathedral Rock - Sedona, Arizona

This attempt failed, in my mind, for a number of reasons. First all, the composition seems very forced. The moon is way too high above the formation which results in too much negative space (in the form of the clear blue sky) to make for an effective composition. Also, the moon is too small to really make much of an impact anyway.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Recap of 2010

Well another year has passed us by so it's time for my annual list of top 25 favorite images for 2010 (in no particular order). It's been an absolute blast getting out and shooting the areas represented in this collection. I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to embrace such beautiful scenery on a regular basis.

Given the economy, 2010 has proven to be another difficult year for many of us, myself included. Fortunately, despite these woes, I continue to grow my photography business. Nature photography is a tough, competitive business as it is (even in good economic times), so I'm thankful for my increasing revenue and I'd like to thank each and everyone out there who's supported and helped me over the past few years. I also look forward to an exciting and prosperous 2011!

Without further ado, here's my top 25...

Top 25 Images Of 2010

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Arizona Experiences Its First Major Winter Storm

We've just gotten a little way into winter and already there's been some pretty crazy weather all over the country. Blizzards, bitter cold, flooding rains, name it, it's been happening so far. Here in Arizona, we've just experienced the first major winter storm of the season and it really wreaked havoc in the northern half of the state. Heavy snow closed many of the major arteries to northern Arizona for almost a couple of days. One to two feet of snow were common in the high country and that was followed by bitter cold. There was even a dusting of snow in the mountains surrounding Phoenix!

Winter In Sedona

Here in Sedona we received only a few inches of snow, but it sure was purdy sitting on the red rock formations around town. I spent the day immediately after the storm photographing those and then made my way up Oak Creek Canyon to the West Fork area. By the time I got up there, I was astounded by the amount of snow I saw. One report I heard stated that the upper reaches of the canyon received 16 inches. I surely couldn't refute that and was ecstatic to see all the wet, heavy snow draped on all the cottonwoods and sycamores. I took a short, but exhausting hike into West Fork Canyon to check that out. Talk about incredible! And to my surprise, I was the first to make it over the rather treacherous first creek crossing. My reward for that was beautiful untracked snow that I could include in my compositions.

Wintry West Fork Canyon

Once I heard that the roads heading north had opened up, I gathered up the wife and dog and headed to the Grand Canyon. I had always wanted to photograph the canyon after a snowstorm and now I'd finally get the chance. It also seemed like a cool location to ring in the new year. What caught us by surprise though, was the bitter cold that we encountered. By the time I finished shooting the last sunset of 2010, the temperature was already below 0. By the time the first sunrise of 2011 came to being, it was -24 degrees!! Not quite what I signed on for! At least the bitter temps kept the crowds to a minimum.

The Last Sunset of 2010! From Yavapai Point.

Despite the cold temperatures, the wintry canyon was absolutely beautiful. Sure, I didn't get the epic conditions that can happen right as a storm is breaking, but I couldn't complain about the conditions I did get to witness over my three day stay either. For those epic conditions, I figured that I'll have to get to the canyon before a storm hits and wait it out. Next time!

Morning Light On The Canyon - From The Rim Trail Near Yaki Point.

My best words of advice for any photographer visiting the canyon in the winter months is this...get away from the major overlook areas! In the winter months, the access to roads and trails can be rather limited. When I visited, the road to Hermits Rest was closed indefinitely. Thus all the sight seeing tourists congregated to the those overlooks that were still accessible. Even a short walk along the Rim Trail (which connects most of the overlooks in the western end of the park) will afford you some measure of solitude. Plus all the snow covered cactus, gnarly trees and shrubbery make for great foreground material.

Wintry Canyon - From The Rim Trail Near Mather Point.

To see more shots from my latest winter outings around Arizona, check out this link...

Winter In Arizona