Arizona & Utah at Night

When the skies are clear and you can’t get the sunrise and sunset images you want, there is the option of going out and doing some night photography. The Milky Way core is above the horizon from late March through October, so it isn’t a year round opportunity.

It has to be truly dark, which is from 2 hours after sunset to 2 hours before sunrise. For general safety reasons, you probably don’t want to be doing this alone. In this case, I was with another photographer, but it was still creepy at times.

Monument Valley in Utah is famous for its large rock formations known as The Mittens. We thought this would be a nice place to begin our night efforts. Night photography is totally different from the daytime. All the camera settings and concepts are changed. So, you get a nap from 10pm to 1am, get up and shoot until 4am and then back to bed. We joked that it was like we were going back to the kindergarten school of photography.

The first night was a learning experience, to say the least. We learned quickly though, and the second night’s efforts resulted in a nice shot of the Milky Way over Monument Valley.

Utah, Monument Valley, Milky Way
Monumental : Prints Available

About 20 miles south of Monument Valley, just into Arizona, is this incredible rock mountain known as Agathla Peak. The light from the nearby town of Kayenta lit up edges of the peak providing some great highlights. This location is really in the middle of nowhere, so the creepy factor at 2am was pretty high. Again, it was our second attempt there, but I am super pleased with the result.

Arizona, Utah, Milky Way, Agathla Peak
Kayenta Lights : Prints Available

While at Monument Valley, we took a morning to drive up to an old Indian ruin known as House On Fire. The unusual way the colors streak in the rocks over the ruins has the look of flames, which resulted in the name. I had been wanting to shoot this scene for years and I was finally able to check it off the list!

Flames : Prints Available

We left Monument Valley and headed to Zion National Park for our last couple of days of this expedition. The good news is that there were a few other people out there in the middle of the night, so it wasn’t quite as creepy. Plus, being in a National Park just felt better. The iconic mountain, known as The Watchman, is just slightly illuminated by the light of Springdale. With the long exposure needed for the sky, the mountain appears to light up quite well. There is more to do in this location, so a return trip there could be called for.

Utah, Milky Way, Zion National Park, The Watchman
Night Watchman : Prints Available

During our first morning in Zion, there were some storm clouds that we waited 2 hours for to clear enough to show the peaks. It truly lasted about 30 seconds and they were gone again. The contrast of the bright green spring colors of the Cottonwood trees against the red rock was marvelous.

Utah, Zion National Park, Mountains
Breakthrough : Prints Available

I’ll be heading to the southern Oregon coast and the northern California redwoods next week. The hope is for the rhododendrons to be in bloom and for the fog to roll in among the redwoods. If all goes right, some really nice images are possible.

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

Eastern Sierra and Death Valley

The eastern side of the Sierra Mountains near Bishop, California provide many opportunities for great landscape photographs. I have been there before, but I had some unfinished business there. It had been a slow year for snow in the mountains, but to my delight, there were some pretty good snowstorms in the mountains for several weeks before we arrived in mid-March. The photographs of the mountains just aren’t the same without it.

A primary target was the view of the mountains with the Owens River in the foreground. Yes, it’s been shot a million times, but it was still on my to do list. There were no clouds in the morning, so the usual image at sunrise just wasn’t working, so I waited a few hours for them to appear. The rising sun also provided light, and color, for the vegetation surrounding the river. Sunrise is not always the only option.

California, Eastern Sierra, Owens River
River Reflection : Prints Available

During the day, I’m always out looking for something different to come back to at the right time. I was north of Bishop heading north on a small ridge road looking for mountain views not realizing a snowstorm was crossing the valley behind me. Luckily, I turned around and saw the storm. I quickly headed back to where there was a small canyon, ran out to a good view and captured this wonderful image of the storm crossing the valley.

California, Storm, Eastern Sierra, Mountains
Sierra Storm : Prints Available

After shooting the storm from the north, I headed immediately to a spot to the south of the storm I had picked out where the late sun would light up a group of trees. Knowing they would have the dark clouds behind them, I knew I had to get there.

California, Trees, Eastern Sierra
Storm Colors : Prints Available

Next up was Death Valley. Having been there before, I had a good idea of what I wanted to accomplish. The last time I was there, I was not able to get up to Aguereberry Point due to road conditions. The roads were better this time and I wasn’t going to be denied. One afternoon trip to scout the shot followed by two sunrise trips to get a decent sky. Check this one off the list!

California, Death Valley, Aguereberry Point, Sunrise
Aguereberry Sunrise : Prints Available

The Mesquite Sand Dunes were a place I definitely wanted to return to and capture some better images. Last time I wasn’t prepared to shoot during high winds and sandstorms, but this time I was, equipped with ski goggles to cover my eyes. The winds clean the dunes of all previous footprints and provide wind streaks in the sand. There is also a softer look as a result of the blowing sand.

California, Death Valley, Sand, Dunes
Sand Shadows : Prints Available
California, Death Valley, Sand, Dunes
layers : Prints Available
California, Death Valley, Sand, Dunes
Sandplosion : Prints Available
California, Death Valley, Sand, Dunes
Soft Desert : Prints Available
California, Death Valley, Sand, Dunes
Wind Streaks : Prints Available

It was a very successful expedition. Next up is an April trip to some unusual places in Arizona and Utah red rock country.

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

Lofoten Islands of Norway

At the far north end of Norway, above the 68th parallel, lie the Lofoten Islands. The jagged mountains rise straight up out of the various fjords and are so close, it seems you can reach out and touch them. The wintertime photography there is exceptional and has only become popular in recent years, which is somewhat surprising.

The combination of the red Norwegian cabins against the snow covered mountains is simply stunning. Everywhere you look there are amazing photographic opportunities. The days were short with sunrise at 9:00 am and sunset at 3:30pm. This gave us great low light all day. As a bonus, there was the ability to photograph the Aurora, which we were able to do on one of the clear nights.

Understandably, I’ve been wanting to get there for a few years. It finally worked out for me this year and I couldn’t have been happier with the results. I am looking forward to going back.

Next up will be Death Valley and the Eastern Sierra in March.

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. http://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography

Norway, Lofoten, Renie, sunrise, mountain
Sunrise Perfection : Prints Available
Norway, Lofoten, Renie, Mountains, Reflection, Sunset
Renie Sunset : Prints Available
Norway, Renie, Mountain, Clouds
Morning Movement : Prints Available
Norway, lofoten, Rahmberg, Beach, Sunset
Snowbeach : Prints Available
Norway, Renie, Morning
Morning Glory : Prints Available
Norway, Lofoten, Renie, Morning
Cotton Candy : Prints Available
Norway, Renie
Norwegian Wood : Prints Available
Norway, Lofoten, Skagsanden, Aurora, Beach
Norwegian Nights : Prints Available
Norway, Lofoten, Skagsanden, sunrise, reflection
Winter Reflections : Prints Available
Norway, Lofoten, fjord,
Frozen Warmth : Prints Available
Norway, Lofoten, Skagsanden, Beach, Sunrise
Skagsanden Sunrise : Prints Available
Norway, Lofoten, Renie, Mountain, Sunrise, Moon,
Mountain Moonrise : Prints Available

Carolina Coast

December would seem like an odd time to go to the coast for photography, but the sun rises and sets to the south resulting in much different photo opportunities than in the summer. As a result, December has the sun rising straight off the coast in the perfect position for photographing the Folly Beach Pier and the jetty at the north end of the island.

In addition to where the sun rises from, these images must be taken when it is high tide at sunrise or there is simply too much beach sand and not enough of the ocean waves. We got to Charleston on December 3, just in time to have the tide schedule we needed. The sunrises simply exceeded what we hoped for.

South Carolina, Folly Beach, Pier, Sunrise
Stunning Sunrise : Prints Available
South Carolina, Folly Island, Sunrise, Beach
Sunrise Rush : Prints Available

Also near Charleston, is the Tomotley Plantation, one of a few of the old plantations that remains privately owned. Although you can’t go to the actual plantation house, the real attraction is the massive old oak trees that line the entry road. Its been on my list for a while and I’m happy to be able to have done this scene justice.

South Carolina, Tomotley, Plantation, Oak, Tree
Enchanting Entry : Prints Available
South Carolina, Oak, Trees, Tomotley, Plantation
Endless Oaks : Prints Available

Near the plantation are the remains of the Old Sheldon Church. It was first burned by the British in 1779, rebuilt, and then burned again by the Union Army in 1865. I rarely photograph old ruins, but the contrast of color and the framing by the oak trees made this one irresistible. I love the way the warm colors of the bricks reflect the early morning light.

South Carolina, Sheldon, Church, Oak, Tree
Southern Remains : Prints Available

After Charleston, we headed south to Savannah and Brunswick to explore the “Low Country”. In this area are these beautiful marshes with tall grass that glows with the rising or setting sun. The residents have long docks that extend over the marshes to get to the narrow channels of water. Some of these docks have very photogenic roofed structures at the end of the dock, but they are hard to find where you can photograph them as they are all behind someone’s house. I wanted to capture the feeling of the marsh at sunset, and with this image, I believe I did.

Georgia, South Carolina, Marsh, Sunset, Low Country
Savannah Sunset : Prints Available

Next up will be some wintertime photography in the Lofoten Islands in Norway in early February. This is another one of those bucket list photography trips that has been in the planning for a couple of years. I am practically counting the days.

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. http://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography.

Fall Color In Colorado

The San Juan Mountains in Southwest Colorado can simply be spectacular in the fall if you have the good fortune to have some snow on the mountains. The last time we were there, two years ago, there wasn’t much snow and it was somewhat disappointing. As we headed south from Grand Junction and got near Ridgway, we could see there had been snow!

We headed to an area known as the Dallas Divide for sunset and captured the first photo you see below. It was the best sunset I had ever seen there. In the days that followed, we had more success at other nearby locations.

Sunset On The Divide : Prints Available
San Juan Sunrise : Prints Available
Sunset On Sneffels : Prints Available
Mountain Sunrise : Prints Available
Mountain Winds : Prints Available

We came across this out of the way location by chance. The horses in the pasture were fenced in by the rustic wood fence, which was just what the image needed in the foreground. If I go back again, I’ll have to take some apples for the horses to get them closer to me.

Fenced In : Prints Available

It is said that the shootout scene at the end of the original “True Grit” was filmed in the pasture here beneath Chimney Rock. Other scenes were filmed nearby in and around Ridgway, Colorado. The clouds at sunset above the Rock almost look like smoke coming out of the Chimney.

Smokin' Chimney : Prints Available

I really love it when I can find some nice ferns under Aspen trees in the fall. We were driving through an Aspen grove area near Crested Butte and I let out an excited “Stop, Stop” to my friend who was driving when I saw this scene. Long hours and lots of searching can really pay off big.

Aspens and Ferns : Prints Available

More Aspen trees photographed in the area.

Endless Aspens : Prints Available

I was delayed getting this report done as I have been working on my New Website! Everything is now found at www.josephfiler.com. There are some boring Google search reasons for the change, but aside from that, it is designed to load images faster, work on all sizes of devices from desktops to phones, show what is in the galleries at a quick glance and be easier to purchase prints. I still have some small tweeking to do, but I am really pleased with it.

Next up will be a trip to the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway at the end of January. The winter mountain scenery on the rocky coasts there is incredible and there is also a good chance of seeing and photographing the Northern Lights.

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. http://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography