A beautiful wind sculpted arch with a landscape view of the Valley of Fire. I’ll call this a new arch since it’s not in any of the guide books. Scooted across a precarious ledge with a pair sticky shoes to get underneath the arch for a better view. I’ve got a few more shots of other arches not in any of the guide books that I’ll share in the future…
Posts Tagged ‘off the beaten path’
A small arch in Red Rock Canyon State Park, California. This small overlooks the Mojave Desert from the cliffs above the desert floor. A clearing storm brings soft light to the El Paso Mountain Range in the background. This was only a little over an hour drive from the Northern Los Angeles area. There are plenty of arches that haven’t been photographed yet, so for the curious keep exploring.. .
Triple Arch at Valley of Fire
I’ve been sharing a few arch photographs on the internet from the Valley of Fire, well here are a few more to add to the series, “The Land of Little Arches”. Years ago my parents used to live out in Colorado Springs, CO so I’d have a great time looking at a map and trying to figure out how long I could make the trip getting there, the average amount of time getting there was 3 to 4 days and same thing with the way back so I’d visit some fantastic places of the Southwest & Rocky Mountains in good light and scout out a few others in the harsher hours of the day. Unless I could find some kind of canyon full of shade or canyon light then I’d just be there for hours with out a time limit.
Some of you may wonder how decisions are made on what to photograph. Some photographers use a book or a guide, sometimes GPS coordinates. This gives them a little bit of certainty and eliminates some of the risks of taking a possibly bad photograph and not coming home with anything. Of course no one can control the light and weather but some photographers are good at adapting to it so this increases their certainty of pulling off a great photograph such as the one they want to duplicate or hopefully improve upon and later submit to a contest for some kind of validation or just share it with friends. Is this true or not true?
I love to drive down a road and just look for interesting backdrops such as desert mountains or large rock formations. Especially something I haven’t seen shot over and over again. I might have to spend a little more time being out there exploring but the payoff to me is well worth it. It really helps one’s creativity when you are working with something you can’t duplicate. I guess you could compare it to visiting restaurants when traveling, do you judge the place by it’s exterior or look up the reviews online at home or smart phone, personally I don’t care, if I see a BBQ house that looks like shit I immediately think “I’m going in to find out what it’s like”. I’ve had good and bad experiences this way, an eatery known for it’s margaritas called the Loop in the town of Manitou Springs, CO. The margaritas were great but I like spicy food so I ordered “The Plate from Hell”. Let’s just leave it at the plate defeated me, but the experiences from the road are part of what motivate me to keep going.
Photographers often fly to Vegas to visit the Crown Jewels of the Southwest, places such as Bryce Canyon, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. Collect a few images and be gone. They may see Valley of Fire on the map and think I’ll visit sometime and some stop by shoot the Fire Wave, Fire Cave (Windstone Arch), Elephant Rock, and Atlai Rock then check it off the list and say been there done that. Valley of Fire and Lake Mead are so full of photographic opportunities I often found it hard to leave. Even during fun trips to Las Vegas with my friends during the summer I’d find some time sneak off and explore a few canyons here and there. The heat alone was enough to kill me and my water had to be frozen solid before any hikes began. There were many finds in bad light that require more trips into the desert to wait for the good light! As landscape photographers it helps to live in a place where we can be close to beautiful locations we can photograph only minutes away and Las Vegas has no shortage for the icon hunter or the explorer.
Occasionally from time to time I spend a few hours looking for new arches in different places likely to have them. Here in the Alabama Hills I found 2 of them and not sure if anyone has seen them yet or at least the average photographer. The first photo in this series is one of them. The other one is pretty hard to get to and you have to climb a little but it might have some good potential if the roads don’t ruin the view. I’ll have to see next time I’m out there. On a separate trip while zooming into a snapshot of one arch I took from the road I found another on top of the boulder piles, even with it’s location in sight, it is still hard to find because you loose your depth perception as the walls get bigger and your surroundings enclose on you. It’s no doubt it takes time to find these unknown arches.
I’m really curious if anyone ever really spends the time trying to find them or is it just common practice to wait for someone else to direct them to these arches. I’ve driven the roads and spotted some of them from the roadside but now there was about 4 well known arches Mobius, Lathe, Heart and Whitney Portal arch. In recent years Cyclops and Lady Boot arch have become very well known. Cyclops is shown below with the rainbow. Does anyone feel that any of new found arches should be kept hidden or revealed?
I asked David Muench where his famous Kissing Meercats arch in the Alabama Hills was and he politely said it is so fragile that he cares enough not to reveal where it is, before asking him, I kind of thought he better not tell me. I didn’t beg and say, “C’mon, I won’t tell anybody!” I really respect that he didn’t tell me because it just encouraged me even more to do my own explorations. When a place is mysterious and full of unkowns the build up to exploring it is a giant lure for me as a creative photographer. Does anyone have any feelings on what they think the future of the Alabama Hills and it’s many unknown arches? David, wants it to become a protected monument, it’s one of his favorite places. It’s likely in the future there may be a handout with about 25 arches sometime in the near future. Some are fragile and some are not, do you feel this would hurt the environment or not?
Here is an arch off the beaten path at Joshua Tree National Park. I don’t think it’s location will be popularized because of the difficulties getting to it, from certain directions at least.
It seems that the further you travel on the coast in California the more likely you are to get bogged in by the fog. If you’ve ever driven the California Coast you may have noticed when the road climbs a large hill you may rise above the fog and descend back into it as it drops in elevation. At the time the second photograph was taken I had remembered the view a few thousand feet above the fog earlier that day, there were large gaps in the marine layer and if you looked closely you could barely make out the watery ocean surface in some of the gaps.
While we stood on that ocean cliff in the King Mountain Range I knew it was not likely to open up completely but maybe the light from above could seep down through the gaps in the marine layer. I was with Christina and knew she was waiting patiently for me to finish up so we could cook dinner so I almost left before the light changed. You never know!
Have you ever experienced a close call when you almost left a scene that looked grim but lead to dramatic light?
Joshua Tree is famous for it’s otherworldly trees scattered amongst some very unique boulder formations. These piles and piles of rocks are almost endless it’s not a wonder why people often get lost in the maze of monzogranite. Curiosity makes you wonder what you can find in the sea of rocks. This arch probably doesn’t have an official name but some climber friends call it Lobster Claw Arch and the name is well suited to it’s shape. I spent a little bit of time scrambling through the boulders to find it so it was well worth enjoying in the warm light. Sometimes it’s the little things you can find off the beaten path that keep you searching for more to photograph. We all love the icons but it’s the lure of new things that pushes me to keep searching for something I haven’t seen yet.