Tag Archives: UT

Wild Moments in the Wilderness Close Call #5: Quicksand

9 Jan

During my wilderness travels, there haven’t been too many things more startling than stepping into an area you think is solid, only to instantly sink up to your knees in sand or mud. It’s stepping in quicksand and it has happened to me on several occasions in Zion National Park. The first time I encountered quicksand was during a through hike in the Narrows with a buddy of mine about four and a half years ago. I was aware of the potential hazard, but it is very difficult to perceive where the danger is, meaning you basically have to experience it. When you step in quicksand you are generally taken off-balance because your momentum is stopped cold. So while you think you should be walking, you’re not, resulting in a mild whiplash type of effect. In this instance, I stepped almost up to my thighs and lost one of my boots in the process. Luckily, I was able to retrieve it, regain my composure, and move on.  Make no mistake about it, stepping into quicksand requires quick thinking.

While in Zion this past fall, I had another near miss with quicksand, only this time it was in swift moving water that was almost waist deep. As I was moving slowly into the water to try to set up for a picture,  I could feel the sand give out much too quickly underneath my feet as I lightly stepped into the deeper section to test the current. Immediately I knew it was trouble and backed off. This wasn’t something you could see, as it was actually beneath the water in some fairly deep rapids.  A serious situation in which in an unsuspecting person could have conceivably been seriously injured or drowned.

Dangerous Times - This was the area that had the quicksand. I wanted to get into those rapids, but what lurked beneath made it much too dangerous.

In another instance during the same trip, I was walking through a canyon in Zion’s eastern section near the Checkerboard Mesa, where I carelessly stepped into a shallow patch of quicksand. This instance was quite surreal because I was in a side canyon and was intently searching my surroundings for photo opportunities.  As I walking, the ground looked solid and I was looking up and boom, right up my knees in quicksand!

This time I really banged up my shin and almost ruined my camera which I was carrying on my tripod.  The quicksand caught me so off guard I actually put my camera down in it for a split second, getting dirt and sand in its controls. It took more than a week for my shin to heal, another half hour to clean my camera, and my shoes to this day still stink from that episode.

Bottom line is,  make sure you are educated on the areas where quicksand is a potential hazard. Be aware and mentally prepared for any encounter.  I keep a very level head in the wilderness, but I’ve been caught off guard several  times. If you get stuck, don’t struggle or wiggle to get out. Try to free up one leg at a time or if you are up to your waist, lift yourself out and roll onto the mud.  Remember it’s the first 30 seconds after it happens where you can really get yourself into trouble, especially if you are carrying expensive camera equipment. Be sure to use a hiking stick to probe areas that lock suspicious. Be alert and prepared and have fun! I hope you enjoyed this post, if so, please let me know. I’ll post later this week with number four.

5 Photography Tips & Bryce Sunrise 24 x 36 Print

1 Dec

Before we get into the photography tips,  here’s a quick personal update on the latest happenings in my photography world. The first big festival of the winter is upon us and we are making final preparations for a successful show. Our inventory is fully stocked, show pricing is in place, and we have several options of styles including framed and matted prints, notecards as well as canvas giclees.  For this show, we also made a couple of large prints including my bryce canyon sunrise shot entitled, “Celestial Alignment” at 24 x 36. That’s my largest print to date, we just got it home this afternoon and here’s a quick snap shot with me in it to give you a sense of size. Including the matting and frame – the image is 49 inches wide.

One of my showstoppers for Tempe this year. This is a 24 x 36 Lightjet print on FujiFlex paper with distressed gold trim, suede matting, museum glass, and a Southwestern wood frame. For more information on purchasing this piece...please contact me.

Now onto my photo tips. Ron, my contact at Induro Gear,  asked me to submit my top five photography tips and he published that article on the Induro blog earlier this week. You can read it here.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I apologize for not updating my blog for frequently. This has been an incredibly busy time. You can expect me to update the blog at least once per week from now until the new year.

Michael

Day Four – Tips, Techniques, and Insight into Making Stunning Photos

20 Sep

Today we will talk about one my more recent images, taken at Bryce Canyon this past May called, “Bad Moon Rising”.

Ambient sunset light glows on the hoodoos, spires, and pinnacles in Bryce Canyon UT while an incredibly orangish-yellow full moon rises in the opposite direction.

 

 Location: Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

Technical Info: Canon 5D MK2, 70 – 200 F/2.8, F/10, ISO 100, 1 second exposure

Filters: .6 Lee GND (Hard)

Processing: Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS4

 Creative Process: This image is really about being at the right place at the right time. When visiting Bryce Canyon make sure you take a full arsenal of lenses because you never know what is going to inspire you next. I was shooting in the other direction when my fiancée informed me the moon was coming up.

I quickly scrambled to this view-point, composed the image, added a grad to reduce the light in the sky, and began taking pictures. During that time, one thing I kept in mind was the amount of exposure time. I knew I needed to have a relatively short exposure because the moon was rising over the horizon very quickly. I didn’t want it to be blurred during capture.

Most of the time, I have a default aperture I use when taking pictures. This varies from lens to lens and according to the focal length of the scene. For standard shots such as this with my 70-200 F/2.8 lens, I like to use an F/10 aperture. I believe this gives me the clearest image at any aperture setting on the lens. Using the higher aperture allows me to take quicker photos with less exposure times. I kept the ISO at 100 and was still able to have just a one second exposure. I was also bracketing my shots.

 I used two exposures to blend this image. For my base image, I used the image correctly exposed for the moon and sky. I then blended in the brighter exposure – accurately depicting the colors of the hoodoos, rocks, and trees. Initially, I began processing in the opposite direction, trying to use the base image as the one for the rocks and blend back in the moon. However, the moon was moving during capture and from frame to frame, so I was unable to successfully blend that way  – leaving me with a halo around the moon from where it had moved.

Like many landscape images, this was a spontaneous one. There wasn’t any real location scouting or planning. It is important to be flexible and keep an open mind for opportunities and be ready to take advantage of them when they do arise. Also, I am in the initial stages of offering a 3 day workshop to Bryce Canyon in the summer of 2011. Check back on my website  later this week for more details. I hope you found this article informative.  helps. Please contact me  if you have any other questions.

Day Two – Tips, Techniques, and Insight into Making Stunning Photos

18 Sep

Today we are going to examine the details behind possibly my best shot of last year called, Celestial Alignment. The title comes from the fact the Lord literally hooked it up that morning and elements all fell into place perfectly for a stunning image.

Location: Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

Technical Info: Canon 5D mark 2, 16 – 35 L/2.8, F/22, .8 exposure, ISO 160

Filters:  .9 Singh-Ray GND (Soft), .6 Lee GND (Hard)

Processing: Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS4

Creative Process:  I captured this image during the one night I spent at Bryce Canyon NP last year. Talk about a blessing! We arrived at the park the day before as storms were moving through the area. The shooting was good during the afternoon as well as for sunset. The following morning we arrived at Sunset Point (better for sunrises IMO) and I began walking and composing images. Because there were no clouds obscuring the horizon, the pre-dawn light was pretty intense, so I stacked a couple of grads on my camera. I knew from my test shots that a single graduated neutral density filter would not be enough to capture the full dynamic range of light, even while bracketing. (For the most, using graduated neutral density filters at Bryce Canyon is straight forward because of the even horizon).  As the light began to change, we continued to move along the rim of the canyon. I generally knew where I wanted to shoot because I had scouted the location the day before. I also had a pretty good idea of where the sun was going to come up at because of the light in the sky. As the sun appeared, I found myself in the right place at the right time well prepared to capture the fleeting scene. All in all, the light lasted maybe 5 minutes and I was able to create plenty of images in that time.

I used an aperture of F/22 to create the sunburst effect as the sun moved over the horizon. I also bracketed my exposures by 1 1/3 stops allowing me plenty of “wiggle room” so when editing I had the full dynamic range of light to properly replicate what I saw in the sky. The hardest part about editing images of Bryce is balancing out the contrast in the red rocks with the contrast in the trees.  Also, not clipping the red channels in the rocks can be problematic. Overall, this image came out extremely and I am fortunate to share this story with you.  I hope you found it useful. If so, please let me know!

Zion Narrows Workshop and How $6 Feeds Two While Camping

1 Jul

We just returned from an exciting trip to Great Basin National Park as well as another Narrows adventure in Zion National Park. We had a wonderful time, learned lots of new things, met new people, made some improvements, and are looking to build on the momentum into next year’s 2nd Annual Zion Narrows Small Group Workshop. I’ve posted the information on my website – you can find it here.   Briefly, I’d like to discuss the advantages of this workshop with you. 

If you have ever wanted to hike and photograph the narrows this is your chance! Literally, I’ve been up and down that river so many times, and combined with my vast canyoneering experience, you’ll have the best guide possible for slick, water travel while carrying expensive photography equipment. I’ll show you where and how to cross difficult sections of rapids, check the depth of the water in questionable places, and assist you in your photography in every way possible. You’ll learn what lenses to bring, what to wear and expect, and how to get the best images possible.

I truly believe this is the best way to maximize your experience. This is an incredible opportunity and group size is limited to seven participants. There is a discount for signing up early and if the workshop sells out I will offer more workshops later in the summer and possibly for the fall as well.

What’s even more, we met with just about every hotel general manager in Springdale to secure the best lodging opportunities,  and feel confident we are offering the best of both worlds when it comes to accommodations and instruction. This is an awesome opportunity. Please contact me for more information or see my website on the link above.

Now, I’d like to briefly revisit my trip to Great Basin National Park. This is an incredible National Park, one of my absolute favorites. I hope to be offering small group workshops there in the future. I will write specifically about the features of this park in the future, but  for now I want to share a campfire recipe I created and used for the first time when visiting this park.  The beauty of this recipe is in its cost. Most of the ingredients can be purchased at your local 99 cents store, making it a low-cost, yet healthy and tasty alternative to packaged meals.

Michael Greene’s Campfire Chili for Two

1 large can or two small cans of crushed or diced tomatoes

2 small cans total of either: pinto, black, or kidney beans (you can mix them)

chili powder, various seasonings 

These simple ingredients are enough to make the chili for two. It will cost approximately $3-4 and that’s using organic products well! Here are some additional ingredients we came up with:

8 – 12 oz ground beef – you can freeze it at home, and make chili the first day of your trip or just pick some up at a store nearest your campsite

3 – 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

4 packets of Wendy’s Chili Sauce (optional)

Dried or fresh white onions (optional)

Make sure you are at a campground that has a grill. Build your fire and after about 10 – 15 minutes you should have a sufficient enough ember bed to begin cooking. During the entire time of cooking, it is best to keep your fire going if possible. If you are cooking with meat – cook that first on its own so you can drain the fat. Cook the meat on its own for 5 – 7 minutes. When 75% cooked, add the tomatoes. Let the tomatoes and meat cook for a f ew minutes until they being to boil. Add the beans and the spices. Depending on the heat intensity of your fire,and your patience, the beans should cook anywhere between 7-10 minutes or longer if you prefer. The cheese and/or fresh onions should come at the end. This makes a large meal for two adults or can even be split up into 3 portions for those with smaller appetites.

Next Monday, we’ll start again with another episode of the top National Parks to visit in the summertime. Have a fantastic July 4th weekend!

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

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!!

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