A few weeks ago, Eli and I flew out to Portland, Oregon to visit some friends while Mrs. Frishman was in France for business. Via an odd quirk of fate, we were asked if we might be interested in driving a car from Oregon back to Santa Fe as a favor for a friend. 2,300-mile road trip with a one-and-a-half-year-old….. sure, why not? By the time all was said and done, it amounted to 2,520 miles over eight days, though that included two days of goofing around in the Columbia River Gorge and the coast before we got on the road in earnest. We visited and imposed on friends in Vernonia, Eugene and Jacksonville, OR; Truckee, CA; Wanship, UT; and Telluride, CO, plus a motel in Elko, NV. And we made a couple new friends, acquaintances I only knew via the Internet in Mount Shasta and Moab. Many thanks to all, and great to meet you Bret and Bubba!
Inevitably, this trip was much more about having fun with Eli than photography, and taking the trouble to bring my tripod and three lenses ensured that we didn’t see anything truly spectacular to justify lugging all my gear. But the waterfalls of the northwest in April are irresistible, even handheld at high ISO. Multnomah Falls, Oregon’s highest, was more water than Eli ever imagined could exist in the world (until he saw the Columbia later that day, followed by the Pacific the day after).
Lower Horsetail was no slouch either:
We were also glad to take Bubba’s advice and make time for McArthur-Burney Falls in northeastern California. Teddy Roosevelt allegedly called it the eighth wonder of the world. I might not go that far, but it’s a fine sight by any standard.
Many more snapshots below the fold for friends and well-wishers! Read more…
Any fans of Dinosaur National Monument, or of great scenery and geology in general, should head on over to conservation photographer Dave Showalter’s Western Wild blog and check out his excellent set of aerial views of Dinosaur. Dave does a lot of fine work documenting threatened landscapes from the air, and I’m honored to have been able to advise him a bit on his Dinosaur work. His wildlife and scenic work is mighty fine too!
When I take road trips, I usually prefer to return by a different route if possible. But there are perks to going home the same way. Seeing the beautiful alignment of spectacular volcanic formations near Kayenta, Arizona as we drove to Zion inspired me to spend a night there on the way home and head out for sunrise. A solid cloud ceiling that morning didn’t offer so much as a single sunbeam, but gloomy skies over basalt and sandstone aren’t bad. The main formation here is Church Rock, with the stunning Agathla Peak far off on the right.
This image provided a bit of a stress test for my Photoshop ethics: I really want to clone out those two phone poles. But one of my main hopes for my photography is that it will inspire people to go see beautiful views for themselves, and if someone goes here he will surely see those phone poles. Removing them would improve the image, but I believe it would also violate the implicit trust between me and my viewers that my images show real scenes in our real and wonderful world, scenes which are free for anyone to experience with a little time and dedication.
No part of Zion is anything short of wonderful, but for me the east entrance area has always been the greatest delight. The unfolding views as you drive west of colorful sandstone domes, patterned cliffs and bonsai ponderosas make my heart leap, and the anticipation of the tunnel and subconscious loom of the main gorge are almost more exciting than Zion Canyon itself. And it’s my kind of country, mostly lacking in official trails, but with every roadside turnout promising a hidden treasure in waiting.
I will say to anyone in search of shooting tips for this area: you have to scout it out. To see the best of the area requires getting off the road, and there aren’t really established overlooks or any classic spots; you have to choose your own adventure. Also, it’s a sunrise area, which always makes matters a bit trickier. Though I expect there are also plenty of good shots to be had late in the day, it’s more logical to be up there in the morning, and the terrain is not very friendly to improvising in the dark. I’m pretty used to winging it in unfamiliar locations before sunrise, but when I tried it off the east entrance road my luck failed me. Fortunately, a second attempt with a specific place in mind yielded better results.
This was our last morning in Zion, and a very satisfactory end to an excellent trip!
Some more from Zion: thanks to our local host, we had a splendid evening scrambling around near Cave Knoll, up in the high country of Kolob Terrace, west of Zion’s main canyon. It was much more of a family hike than a photo outing, but I did bring a tripod, and we lucked into some excellent moments of evening light. The landscape up there was full of gorgeous beehive formations, back by long views out to the West Temple and South Guardian Angel, but I didn’t have the luxury of time to spend finding really excellent comps, and the good light was teasingly brief. Still, it was a very pleasing evening!
It was nice to be out shooting with the whole family for once:
And every nature photographer has to head up here, I suppose:
In this age of adventurous parents and intrepid children, I’m under no illusions that Eli is the youngest visitor to the Subway, but he’s probably on a pretty short list of toddlers who have seen it.
I returned recently from a week in Zion National Park, thanks to the hospitality of a friend lucky enough to own a house in Springdale, just outside the park boundary. It was primarily a family vacation, an opportunity to hike and relax with my wife and let our offspring sport about in the river and boulders; but I did manage to get out for some photography as well. Above is first light on the Streaked Wall and its adjacent pinnacles.
A garden in the sandstone:
Reflected light on the Virgin River:
It snowed rather vigorously in the high country the day before we arrived, and the warming temperatures produced this nice ephemeral waterfall in the Temple of Sinawava:
More to come!
After leaving Cape Solitude, Greg Russell and I broke up our return hike by spending another night out at Comanche Point. Comanche isn’t that big a hike from Desert View, so I was a little surprised that we didn’t find any user trail, or much evidence of visitation at all. It’s certainly a place I’d be glad to visit again, overlooking the great open expanse of the Colorado’s meanders near Tanner Canyon among the colorful strata of the Grand Canyon Supergroup, with massive Vishnu Temple presiding to the west. Grand Canyon explorer Harvey Butchart, who knew the Canyon as well or better than anyone before or since, wrote that Comanche Point is “perhaps the finest panorama of the entire Grand Canyon,” and I wouldn’t disagree.
Sunset was beautiful, windy and cold, but I ‘m not happy with my shots from the evening. My best is probably the image above of Greg at work with Comanche Point behind him, and Greg’s best is ironically a view away from the Grand Canyon to the Painted Desert. But sunrise from Comanche was utterly sublime, as dawn waxed over Vishnu Temple and the river bends below.
Sunrise on Vishnu Temple:
Looking back past the Palisades of the Desert towards Cape Solitude: