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 ‘state park’
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.
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?
Just thought I would share an experience I just had this morning, I was invited by a few friends from a California photography forum to go winter backpacking, something I have never tried. I was pretty excited to hear this but I didn’t have all the gear. I’ve been slowing collecting the gear for a while now, it can be a huge chunck of change to pick it all up at once. Long story short, only Eric Good wanted to go. I can’t blame anyone for not going, it’s been snowing for days non stop up there. Eric had the equipment that I did not have so the only thing that kept me hesitant was the cold, getting lost, and avalanches, the usual stuff a mind could conjure up.
There is a tram that will take you up to 8,500 ft above Palm Springs from cactus to clouds. There is also a trail if you are really serious, it has a gain of 11,000ft. Looking out the windows of the tram it was almost like flying through the mountains and clouds. With all the snow the visibility was only a few hundred feet, you could see the beautiful and rugged terrain of one of North America’s most steepest inclines. Gliding through the atmosphere with granite spires and monoliths rising into the stratus cloud and coming only a few feet from the tram so you can really experience what the side of the mountain is really like. You could lose yourself just by looking out of the window for a few seconds.
We got off the lift and the hand rails heading down were completely covered, woo hoo, that ‘s about 4 feet of fresh snow. Skis would have been nice, I had enough wait but a little more wouldn’t of hurt. We snowshoed almost a mile before setting up camp in round valley or somewhere near it, there was not a soul around. At this point it was still snowing too much to scout out a place for morning photography.
At 6AM I looked out of the tent and the clouds were gone and it snowed about an extra foot. I grabbed the camera and one lens, my tripod would not open, the threads were frozen shut, this usually happens when it gets wet and freezes, should of kept in the tent at night. Lever locks seemed to better in this cold enviroment. I found this very limiting but having broken a tripod in the past trying to get it to work so I didn’t chance braking this one. My only choice was to shoot a foot above the ground with the tripod sinking into the snow. Eric and I both went our seperate ways exploring the area for photographs.
I had no idea that this ridge was so close to camp, I can see why some people only return with tree photos from snowshoeing trip. This was the case for me since that was all I found at the time when the light was at it’s best.
The view from my extra short tripod.
For a first time I don’t recommend snowshoeing through 4-5 ft of frest snow, it can become very exhausting. I have snowshoed with just camera and it was a lot easier. I was layered up pretty well so my torso was warm the whole the time and my -20 sleeping bag kept me toasty through out the night. My fingers nearly froze most of the time on this trip while taking pictures, I use mitten flaps when it’s dry out but this time I used goretex gloves with fleece liners so keep that in mind. I did have a hard time getting used to all of this, it is a completely different experience adding the backpacking equipment. I can see how one might find it to be a miserable experience but just the fact that I was experiencing something new again was enough keep me happy. Seeing so much untouched fresh snow heading off into every direction at first light is so worth all the hard work one has to do get there, with or with out a tram. I will definitely try this again before the season is over, of course throw in a little extra cardio into my weekly routine.
Condensation got me at the bottom of the mountain, not a great idea to whip out the camera when going from 25 degrees to 60 degrees. If this happens to you just place your camera back in the bag and don’t open it up as soon as you get home, let it sit for a while.
*This was not a pretty picture show so stayed for some of those in the next post.
Most of us Los Angelinos drive right through the Red Rock Canyon area on our way to the Eastern Sierra, I’m guilty of it myself. It’s designated a state park for a reason, it hosts beautiful cliffs and spectacular rock formations. Even hoo doos you would usually find in Utah. You can find crumbling sand castle formations and other geology here from another world just by driving off highway 14 and onto one of many side roads. When the high desert catches it’s seasonal cold spells, you can often find snow gracing the red canyon walls and after wet winters, the park’s floral displays are stunning.
Even outside the park boundaries you will find wild looking formations that make you wonder if you are still in California. It’s not a wonder that this beautiful desert enviroment was an establishment in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
You can even find arches and mines, any photographer shouldn’t have a hard time at finding something to photograph in this beautiful desert park.