A Challenge In Utah

I had a crazy nine days in Utah exploring areas I had not been to before, while trying to capture some fall color. The Weather Gods gave me clouds only on one day so most of the time was spent searching for more intimate scenes that would not have sky in them.

After flying into Las Vegas, I made it up to Snow Canyon State Park for sunset. I hiked out to an area called Petrified Dunes, which seemed like a perfect name, as the mounds of rock looked as though they might have been sand at one point. I was even allowed a few clouds, although that would be the last I would see of that for days.

Utah, Snow Canyon, Sunset, Red Rock
Snow Canyon Sunset : Prints Available

The following was a long day to get up to Hanksville to explore the canyons south of there to Hite, Utah and the area around Lake Powell. On a previous trip there in August, I did not get the chance to photograph the east side of Factory Butte before sunrise during what is known as “blue hour” for the bluish cast that you get before the sun comes up.
Utah, Factory Butte, Desert, Shadows, Blue Hour
Desert Shadows : Prints Available

With that accomplished, it was down to the area of red rock canyons around Hite. This was the one day that I actually had clouds! I did my best to make the most of it. The Cottonwood trees turn yellow that time of year and the ones there did not disappoint.
Utah, Hite, Red Rock
The Beacon : Prints Available

Utah, Hite, Canyon, Red Rock, River
Canyon Explosure : Prints Available

Utah, Hite, Canyons, Cottonwood, Tree, Red Rock, Fall Color
Hidden Away : Prints Available

Utah, Hite, Fall, Color, Canyon, Cottonwood, Scene
Standing Alone : Prints Available

Capitol Reef National Park is west of Hanksville, and while a small national park, it has some neat rock formations and some really nice Cottonwood trees, some very old.
Utah, Capitol Reef, National Park, Fall, Color, Red, Canyon
Cottonwood Contrast : Prints Available

Utah, Capitol Reef, National Park, Red Rock, Canyon
Corner Spire : Prints Available

Utah, Capitol Reef, National Park, Canyon, Fall, Colors
Capitol Colors : Prints Available

After three days there, it was time to head back down to Zion National Park to see what fall color scenes I could get there. On the way there, I wanted to stop at the colorful Paria Canyon, a place that had simply escaped my attention before. I arrived at the perfect time, late in the afternoon. This was just an unexpected bonus and exceeded my expectations.
Utah, Desert, Colors
Desert Flow : Prints Available

Utah, Canyon, Color
Cascading Colors : Prints Available

I finished up with three days in Zion National Park. Photographing the towering rock formations was just not an option as there was not one wisp of a cloud. Plain blue skies just don’t cut it. So, the challenge was on. I have been to Zion before, but always had nice clouds. I was now going to have to work for it, finding good scenes without clouds.
Utah, Zion, National Park, Canyon, Shadows,  Red Rock
Vertical : Prints Available

Morning Warmth : Prints Available

Utah, Zion, National Park, Kolob, Canyon, Fall, Shadows
Zion Shadows : Prints Available

Utah, Zion, National Park, Temple, Sinawava, Red Rock, Canyon
Sinawava Colors : Prints Available

Utah, Zion, National Park, Canyon, Fall, Color, Red, Yellow, Orange
Zion Red : Prints Available

Utah, Zion, National Park, Fall, Color, Canyon, Surprise
Canyon Surprise : Prints Available

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Fall in Yellowstone & The Tetons

Although I have photographed in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks before, I had not been there in the Fall. I have been spending the fall season shooting in Utah and Colorado in the past, but it was time for a change.

We spent the first part of the trip in Yellowstone, and while there are not Aspens or other trees that turn color there in the Fall, there is so much else there.

The hot springs at the Geyser Basins, Grand Prismatic in particular, offer a wonderful opportunity to capture some great colors with the rising steam.

Prismatic Gold : Prints Available

Wyoming, Yellowstone, National Park, Thermal, Basin, Spring
Into The Sunset : Prints Available

The massive waterfall in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, never ceases to amaze me. It was suggested that the landscape around it formed the shape of a heart. I didn’t see it before, but I do now.

Wyoming, Yellowstone, National Park, Grand Canyon, Waterfall
Canyon Falls : Prints Available

I have previously passed on shooting Gibbon Falls, but it occurred to me that maybe a close-up of the lower part of the falls would work. The light was hitting the rocks in the upper right and it worked beautifully. Sometimes you just have to give some locations some extra thought.

Wyoming, Yellowstone, National Park, Gibbon, Falls
Gibbon Falls : Prints Available

After Yellowstone, it was on to the Grand Tetons. We were excited by the opportunity presented to us with an unexpected snowstorm covering the mountains. It is so rare to have an early season snowfall. While we waited for the skies to clear, we spent a few days tracking down some really nice fall color scenes.

Wyoming, Grand Teton, National Park, Fall Color, Aspen, Tree
Fall Mix : Prints Available

Wyoming, Grand Teton, National Park, Aspen, Trees
Aspen Angles : Prints Available
Wyoming, Grand Teton, National Park, Fall, Leaves
Red Moment : Prints Available

I even delayed my flight out to be able to be there when the weather improved and the mountains were visible. It was two incredible days. On the third day, as I headed to the airport, the snow moved back in and the mountains were gone, once again. I didn’t mind. I had been given photographic opportunities that were previously only in my wildest imagination.

Wyoming, Grand Teton, National Park, Oxbow, Bend, Moran, Snake River, Reflection
Rare Reflection : Prints Available

Wyoming, Grand Teton, National Park, Storm, Mountains
Peak Storm : Prints Available
Wyoming, Grand Teton, National Park, Snake River, Fall Color
Snake River Colors : Prints Available
Wyoming, Grand Tetons, National Park, Mormon Row, Barn, Clouds
North View : Prints Available
Wyoming, Grand Teton, National Park, Snake River, Fall, Winter
Seasonal Mix : Prints Available
Wyoming, Grand Teton, National Park, Fall, Color, Snowstorm, Mountains, Oxbow Bend, Snake River
Soft Morning : Prints Available

Next up will be an exploratory trip to Utah to locations that I have not been to before, some quite remote. Of course, I’ll be searching for fall color.

Thanks for looking and feel free to share. You can also follow the journey on Facebook or Instagram for more current photographs that may not be on the blog. We appreciate all those that follow us. https://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography and https://www.instagram.com/josephfiler

Arizona and Utah

I managed two expeditions to the American Southwest this summer in July and August. There are so many photographic subjects there, and with unpredictable weather, it simply takes a lot of time to cover it all.

East of Phoenix are the Superstition Mountains. I was targeting some mountains to the north, but the clouds and lights really weren’t happening there. Fortunately, there was this wonderful scene to the south and the setting sun lit up the mountains and clouds perfectly.

Arizona, Gold, Canyon, Sunset, Desert, Mountains
Golden Sunset : Prints Available

Heading north from Phoenix, it is hard not stop in Sedona, Arizona. These were just a couple of the great images we captured of the beautiful red rocks there.
Arizona, Sedona, Sunrise, Red, Rock
Northern Steps : Prints Available

Arizona, Sedona, Sunrise, Cathedral, Peaks
Stormy Sedona : Prints Available

Continuing north from Sedona, there is the Grand Canyon. The clouds didn’t show up for sunset, so I got some nice images of the shadows deep in the canyon from the South Rim. Moving on to the North Rim of the canyon, I was there for the moon setting over the canyon as the sun rose to the left lighting up the canyon walls. The moon beams were just spectacular.
Arizona, Grand Canyon, National Park, Sunrise, Moonset, Moon, Smoke, Fires
Canyon Moon : Prints Available

Arizona, Grand Canyon, National Park, Sunset, Shadows
Canyon Shadows : Prints Available

East of the Grand Canyon in New Mexico is a very striking mountain known as Ship Rock. I’ve wanted to photograph this for years, but never had good clouds in the forecast. On this trip, there was a thunderstorm forecast to be there on only one afternoon, so the schedule was changed to be there for it. This is exactly the image I was hoping to capture.
New Mexico, Shiprock, Storms, Arizona
Shiprock : Prints Available

Heading back to the west and north up into Utah brought us to Monument Valley. I had been there before, but just never had good clouds at sunrise. It’s one of those places you could shoot every day as it’s always going to be different.
Utah, Monument, Valley, Sunrise, Glow
Mitten Glow : Prints Available

Continuing even further north took us to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. I was able to climb all the way up into the top of Double Arch and get a great shot looking south and was rewarded with a rainbow over the mountains. In Canyonlands, I had been after a good image at Dead Horse State Park for years, and finally got the sky that was going to make it work.
Utah, Arches, National  Park, Double, Arch, Rainbow
Doubletake : Prints Available

Utah, Dead Horse, State Park, Red, Rock, Sunrise
Deadhorse Point : Prints Available

Utah has such a diverse landscape from deserts to mountains, but I may be most impressed by some of the desert landscapes. Once again, there wasn’t much weather in the forecast, but we had high hopes for one of the mornings we were in the area near Factory Butte. It’s a bunch of miles out some dirt roads, but this view of the desert at sunrise was just surreal with the mountains and storm in the background. I am going to remember this experience for a very long time.
Utah, Hanksville, Desert, Sunrise, Butte
Desert Buttes : Prints Available

Utah, Hanksville, Sunrise, Desert, Storm, Clouds
Ultimate Sunrise : Prints Available

Back down into northern Arizona, is an area known as White Pocket. It’s about 2.5 hours on dirt roads from the closest town so you have to camp overnight there. It’s been a long time since I have slept on the ground, but it was worth it. These are just a few of the possible compositions that are possible in White Pocket. I can easily see a return trip there.
Arizona, White Pocket, Red Rock, Formation
The View : Prints Available

Arizona, White Pocket, Rock, Formations
Red Swirl : Prints Available
Arizona, White, Pocket, Red, Rock
Bursting : Prints Available

Arizona, White, Pocket, Rock, Formation, Sunrise
The X-Factor : Prints Available

This post is a little long, but covers about 18 days out there shooting during July and August. Stay tuned for more!

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Oregon, Once Again!

We first headed to the coast at Cannon Beach to photograph Haystack Rock at sunset. It turned out to be heavy overcast and covered in fog, so we hoped for the morning. At first, it wasn’t looking too good then either, but as the sun came up behind us the clouds began to absorb and reflect some really nice color. This turned out to be one of the most dramatic skies I have ever photographed.

Oregon, Cannon, Beach, Sunrise, Pacific, Coast
Haystack Drama : Prints Available

Next up was the coast down south at Waldport. The beach there is flat and seems to go out forever at low tide, but once you get way out there, the photographic opportunities seem endless. The sunrise was once again lighting up the clouds offshore, and while not as dramatic as Cannon Beach, pretty darn nice.
Oregon, Waldport, Beach, Sunrise
Unexpected Burst : Prints Available

We headed back north to Pacific City to make an effort at Cape Kiwanda. Two previous trips there did not yield an acceptable image. We hiked up the tall sand dunes and out to the end of the Cape to be able to shoot back at the orange sandstone formations that the Cape is known for. We even got the cooperation of the Pacific Ocean with some nice waves. So, the third time here was the charm.
Oregon, Cape, Kiwanda, Storm, Wave
Kiwanda Storm : Prints Available

Next we went inland to the area around Bend, Oregon to shoot sunset at Smith Rock State Park and sunrise at Sparks Lake. I have to say that both worked out extremely well.
Oregon, Smith, Rock, Sunset
The Rock : Prints Available

Oregon, Smith, Rock, Sunset, River
Smith Rock Sunset : Prints Available

Oregon, Sparks, Lake, Sunrise, Reflection
Morning Calm : Prints Available

Our next location was Trillium Lake up near Government Camp, but it was just too windy to get any good reflections so no sunset image that day. We left there at 3:45 am the next morning to get up to the north side of Mount Hood before the sunrise would begin to light it up. The plan worked to perfection and it turned out the setting moon was in exactly the right place at the right time. I wish I could say I planned it out that way.
Oregon, Mount, Hood, Sunrise, Moon, Mountain
Sunrise Moon : Prints Available

We concluded our trip up at the Columbia River Gorge, where we were able to get a nice shot overlooking the Columbia River and the Vista House. Added to this were some images at Gorton Creek, Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls. The hike uphill to Ponytail was serious, but it was well worth it. The lush greenery in the Gorge is unlike anywhere else in the U.S.
Oregon, Columbia, River, Gorge, Gorton, Creek, Trail, Footbridge
Bridge To Somewhere : Prints Available

Oregon, Ponytail, Waterfalls, Columbia, River, Gorge
The Horsetail : Prints Available

Oregon, Columbia, River, Gorge, Ponytail, Falls, Creek
The Ponytail : Prints Available

Next up will be an expedition to Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. I’m hoping for some summer storms to complement the landscape.

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South Dakota and Wyoming

South Dakota is home to Badlands National Park, which contains some of the most unique rock formations that I have ever seen. Also nearby are areas like Custer State Park and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Wyoming is home to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. I had previously been unsuccessful in getting the image of the Tetons in the Spring that I wanted, so a return trip was warranted.

We drive 3000 miles on this trip, beginning our expedition in South Dakota. The Needles Highway runs through this amazing section of rock formations known as The Needles. We were on the move on this expedition and were only going to have one sunrise there. They were covered in heavy fog the day before and we couldn’t find them before it got dark. The next morning we had to scurry around to find them and then figure out the best location to shoot from. I found the spot just as the clouds were lighting up, got several shots and then the clouds came down and covered them up for the rest of the day. I am rarely this lucky, but you won’t hear me complaining.

South Dakota, Custer, Sunrise, Needles, Needles Highway, Rock, Formations
The Needles : Prints Available

Before heading to Wyoming, we couldn’t resist going over to Devil’s Tower. Ever since Close Encounters of the Third Kind many years ago, I wanted to go by there. We had the good fortune of some dark stormy clouds, which really set the scene. I could just imagine an alien spacecraft coming through them and landing. It was really fun to have had the opportunity. Now I just need to go back when there is a lightning storm!
Wyoming, Devils Tower, Badlands, National Park, Stormy, Clouds
Pending Encounter : Prints Available

We crossed Wyoming to get to Grand Teton National Park. My previous efforts here did not result in some nice clouds over the mountains in the morning. We only had three days there, but on the second day, we got the clouds we had hoped for. After that we got some really stormy looking clouds that made for some nice images of the peaks.
Wyoming, Teton, Grand Teton, Mountains, Sunlight, Schwabachers, Landing
Magnifiicent Mountains : Prints Available

Wyoming, Grand Teton, National Park, Mountains, Sunrise
Morning Storm : Prints Available

Wyoming, Grand Teton, National Park, Mountain, Storm, Clouds
Storm Coming : Prints Available

We were leaving Grand Teton National Park and headed back to South Dakota and had to go through Togwotee Pass on our way there. To our surprise, there was a late season snowstorm resulting in some beautiful winter scenes near the Pass. It wasn’t really winter, but it sure felt and looked like it.
Wyoming, Winter, Grand Teton, Togwotee, Pass, Snowstorm, Spring
Surprise Snow : Prints Available

I had photographed in Badlands National Park some years ago, but were mostly chasing wildlife at the time and not doing much Landscape work. I had always thought there were some real nice opportunities there. It always seems to be a challenge to get some good clouds, especially in the morning. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
South Dakota, Badlands, National Park, Sunrise, Rock, Formations
The Badlands : Prints Available

South Dakota, Badlands, National Park, Sunrise, Rock, Formation, Norbeck, Pass, Light
Soft Rock : Prints Available
South Dakota, Badlands, National Park, Rock, Formations, Sunrise
Planet Badlands : Prints Available
South Dakota, Badlands, National Park, Sunrise, Norbeck, Pass, Rock, Formation
Twin Peaks : Prints Available
South Dakota, Badlands, Sunrise, Norbeck, Pass, Rock, Formation
Points Of The Pass : Prints Available

Next up is a return trip to Oregon in June. We will be working a large area from the coast to inland areas including the Columbia River Gorge.

Thanks for looking and feel free to share. You can also follow the journey on Facebook for more current photographs that may not be on the blog. https://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography