Archive | June, 2010

In the Field for the Next Week

19 Jun

I just wanted to give you all in cyber world a quick update to let you know I’ll be out-of-town for the next week in the field. We are taking a relatively quick trip to Great Basin National Park and then another short stop over in Zion to spend sometime in the Narrows. I should be back in about a week or so with even more new images to share with you. Have a wonderful week, God Bless, and we will talk to you soon!

Michael

Top 10 Parks for Summer Travel #8

18 Jun

8. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Pros: Breathtaking Views,  Abundant Wildlife, Centralized Location,  State of the Art Visitor Center, Easy Access, Family Friendly

Cons: Small in Size, Sometimes Overcrowded, Very little natural water

Dates of Visit: August ’06, August/September ’09,  May ’10

Bryce Canyon is probably the hottest park on this list right now as I continue to enjoy myself more and more every time I visit. In fact, this park has gone from a middle of the road contender to one of my favorites in the country. Although it is smallest in size on this list, it packs quite a punch. If you have never visited, the scenery here is second to none. Jaw dropping at first sight and continually beckoning the interpid sole.

Unbelievable scenery awaits you at Bryce Canyon

The base elevation of this park is over 8,000 ft. making it the coolest national park in Utah during the summer. There are two rather large campgrounds inside the park and several more just on its outskirts.

Furthermore, summer also means monsoon season and  Bryce Canyon is certainly known for its spectacular skies. Sunset and sunrise views here are both fantastic, arguably some of the best views in the world. I give a slight edge to sunrise for photography as most of the park’s vistas are facing East and the color is slightly better.

There are about 40 miles of hiking trails in the park, which is substantial considering its size. Hiking is relatively difficult here because of three reasons:  1) all the trails descend into the canyon 2) the air is thinner 3) there is no water in the canyon. There are backpacking opportunities as well and getting a backcountry permit is relatively easy because this park is more geared for tourists rather than hardcore hikers.

There are two items of interest that have specifically captured my attention that I want to talk about. First off, the trees in this park are absolutely beautiful. I could spend days here wandering around looking at the distinguishing character of the trees. The way they are set apart and scattered amongst the red rock makes it seem like a natural chess board. In my opinion, this is a very underrated aspect of the park.

The trees are fascinating at Bryce Canyon

The second suprising tidbit about this park is the abundance of wildlife. Now, I haven’t seen a lot of diversity, but cruise the main road in the park at sunset and you’re sure to see some deer and or antelope grazing in the meadows. There are quite a few birds in the parks as well…..

Because of its location, there are plenty of opportunities for other forms of recreation in and around the park. Whether it be ATV’s (certainly not my thing), fishing, swimming, rodeos, horseback riding, rock climbing, bicycling, etc., it is all here. For a first time visit, I’d suggest spending a solid week in the general area devoting about 1/3 of your time specifically to Bryce Canyon. At any point in time, two to three nights seems like the perfect stay there. It’s just simply not that big of a park to spend a week or longer there.

A visit to Bryce Canyon wouldn’t be complete without the mandatory stop at Ruby’s. The folks at Ruby’s basically discovered Bryce Canyon and put it on the map so they are the only game in town. Ruby’s is like the grand central station of Bryce Canyon. It has everything you need, want, or forgot from high-end souvenirs to groceries and sporting goods. Of course, don’t forget to try the buffet. I’ve personally sampled it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Your dining options are pretty limited in these parts and for that fact alone – I do endorse this buffet.

At $11.99, lunch is a dollar more than breakfast I believe and much better quality. It’s not the greatest selection in the world, but it is hearty, decent quality, standard american fare:  salad bar, soup, chicken, pork, corn, carrots, beans,and a pretty killer desert bar that features some scrumptious brownies and soft serve ice cream. (The desert bar is not available for breakfast) It also runs until 5pm before it switches to dinner and the prices goes way up. If you get there at 4:30 you’ll pay for lunch and get to eat dinner, which basically involves adding some fish and maybe beef. Between shopping and eating plan on spending at least a couple of hours there. It is actually a pretty cool place and most of the employees are helpful and friendly.

So there you have it, Bryce Canyon in a nutshell:  indescribable views, amazing colors, special wildlife, the best buffet around, and literally bus loads of Europeans everywhere. This park is awesome. Please don’t make the mistake of just driving through. Get our your vehicle and explore! That is a fantastic place and highly recommend a summertime visit.

Roots (aka Hang On)

14 Jun

Without further ado….here is the first release from my latest trip to the four corners region and this one comes from Garfield County, Utah – the home of Bryce Canyon.
 

A solitaire tree somehow grows on the pink cliffs of Bryce Canyon's backcountry walls.

Bryce Canyon National Park is fast becoming one of my favorite parks in the country. Although it is relatively small in size; the rocks, trees, and views in the park are world-class. Certainly one of the most colorful parks in the country, I’ve always been particularly fascinated with its trees. 

One of my photographic goals on this trip was to capture the essence of trees and how they related to the multi-colored rocks in the park. This image represents one vision of that relationship. The character of the tree is what is especially intriguing to me. Its roots are almost completely exposed, yet its branches seem to sway with the cliff. Without sounding too fruity or new agey, the trees seems to have a harmonious place within its environment. 

The colors of the area are particularly intriguing, and this image was taken before sunset when most of the canyon was in shadow. I used my 70-200mm lens at almost 200mm to capture this shot.  Editing was straight forward and the only small issue I had - was a slightly blueish tint to the tree’s bark in the original image (for some reason). I desaturated the blues in the bark to render it a more natural looking brownish-grey. The clarity in this image is second to none. It is certainly one of the sharper images I have ever produced.   

Not only is this image available as a fine art print I am also adding it to my note card collection, which should be available within 3 months. Please contact me  for more information. I have gone back and forth between names for this image either “Roots” or “Hang On”. I’d love to hear your opinion, please let me know….The full gallery of images will be released this Wednesday June 16th on my website – so look for it then. I don’t know that this represents my favorite image on the trip, but it certainly is a meaningful one. Thanks for stopping by and we’ll continue my top 10 summer parks on the next post later this week. See you then!!

New Gallery Up Soon!

11 Jun

Thanks for stopping by and I have some exciting news for you. The images from my latest trip will be ready soon and I am excited for y’all to see them. There is quite a variety from unbelievable sunrises, to waterfall abstracts, and also some amazing sandstone colors and formations  – these new images are sure to turn heads and they all have a story to go with them.  I’ll be adding a new release gallery to my website so viewing will be very easy.

Also, I decided to premiere the first of these images right here on my blog. Why not? I have vacillated as to where I should post first and this blog seems like the perfect venue. For hardcore fans only! Right? This Monday, I’ll post my first image here on the blog and talk a little bit about how it was created and my vision behind it.  That image is called “Roots” and it is really a special scene – another God-given rarity in nature.  In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend, God Bless, and Go Celtics!

A New Trip Report

8 Jun

It was an incredible experience once again returning  to the fascinating and bizarre region of Southwestern Utah and Northern Arizona. There is so much to see and do in the area that it takes diligent research and plenty of time and effort to explore it. Because of the weather and crowds, we modified the second leg of our original itinerary and swapped out iconic locations for one another.  Specifically, the last week of the trip the weather report in the entire region was calling for clear, blue skies and escalating temperatures. Considering this, we opted to explore the slot canyons near Page instead of focusing on wide-angle landscapes at the Grand Canyon.

We started out  just before Memorial Day Weekend at Bryce Canyon NP where it was cold and windy resulting in smaller than average crowds and above average skies. It was fantastic! Next, we drove east to Grand Escalante Staircase National Monument, followed that up with a short trip to Zion NP and afterwards back to the Grand Staircase and the Coyote Buttes/Vermillion Cliffs. In fact, about 90% of the places we visited were for the first time, so we have some awesome new images & experiences to share with you. By the end of our trip, the weather had turned unbearably hot with near record highs in Page,  Arizona and Kanab, Utah.

We spent most of our time backpacking or car camping and for this trip, I believe,  yielded some exceptionally diverse results - photographically speaking. This was the first trip where I did not rely on my wide-angle lens, but instead focused on intimate compositions and abstracts with a longer focal length lens  (my new 70-200 F/2.8). I am looking forward to sharing those images & experiences with you soon.

I will also continue my series on the Top 10 parks to visit in the summertime. Please look for another update before this weekend and I expect to have the new images ready for viewing within the next week or so. Thanks so much for stopping by and I look forward to sharing with you soon.

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