Kelly and I arrived at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on July 18th. It is only open in the summer because the road closes due to snow for the rest of the year. I had not been there before and looking forward to this trip. As we left Phoenix with 105 degree temperatures, I was thinking I was nuts. It turns out that the temperatures on the North Rim are about 30 degrees less, due to it being at an elevation of 8,000 feet. It is much more of a forest type environment, compared to the more desert like nature of the South Rim.
In the summer, the sun rises and sets behind you as you face the canyon from the North Rim. Photographically, this can be helpful. Normally, July is the monsoon season with nice big thunderstorms and clouds over the canyon. My frustration with weather for 2014 continued as we had nothing but clear blue skies for the four days we were on the North Rim. To make lemonade out of lemons, we did some Milky Way photography.
Our last evening, Kelly captured a nice wide angle photograph of the clouds as the sun was setting behind us. The morning we were leaving and heading for the South Rim, there were just enough clouds to grant us the one photograph we were able to come away with. It was good not to be totally skunked. We were only going to be on the South Rim for two days but the weather forecast was a little better.
The only way to get to the western viewpoints on the South Rim is on a shuttle bus, which we met at 4:15am to get out to Mojave Point for sunrise. Heavy clouds totally blocked any chance for a sunrise photo so we continued on the shuttle out to Pima Point and managed a photo showing a glimpse of the Colorado River. It seemed like a good area to shoot from in the winter, with the sun rising behind you.
We didn’t get the big, dramatic thunderstorms we were hoping for. Kelly’s photo, Canyon Storm, captured a small rainstorm crossing the canyon. I managed a nice sunset photo and that was about it for the South Rim.
The Grand Canyon is not an easy place to capture a quality photograph. It is, however, an amazing experience, and everyone should try to go there at least once. I will probably return someday as I feel as I have unfinished business there.
The spring in Grand Teton National Park, like the fall, is a great time to be there. The flowers are blooming, the wildlife is out and about and you can even have a snowstorm come through.
Sometimes the clouds are hiding the mountains, which can make the photography a challenge, but patience will eventually pay off. The iconic locations of Oxbow Bend, Schwabacher’s Landing, Mormon Row and the Snake River are hard to resist photographing.
The clouds hid the mountains for a few days so I went up to Yellowstone National Park to photograph the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. I created a large panoramic photo based on 32 photos that are stitched together. This results in a huge photograph with amazing detail. This location had been on my list to do this for quite a while.
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Next up is the Grand Canyon in July. We’re hoping for some dramatic summer weather.
Spring is a great time to photograph in Yosemite National Park. The Dogwoods are in bloom, the fields are green and the waterfalls are running from the snowmelt. At certain times in the afternoon, the sun will hit the waterfalls just right resulting in beautiful rainbows in their mist. I don’t know if there is a view anywhere as impressive as that of Yosemite Valley. It’s been photographed a zillion times, but it’s hard not to make a good photograph from there.
We got just a little bit unlucky with a lack of clouds that could have given us some dramatic sunrises and sunsets. I guess you can’t always have it all but maybe that’s just an excuse to come back.
With a lack of clouds in the forecast for Yosemite, we shortened our time there and decided to go see what might be happening on the rocky coast of California between Mendocino and Fort Bragg. We were able to photograph a really cool sunset at the Cabrillo Lighthouse. Late one morning the fog rolled in off the ocean and we happened to be near the Pudding Beach footbridge allowing us the capture it appearing to vanish in the fog.
It was another good photographic expedition and opportunity to witness just a tiny sample of the beauty of our planet.
We made a quick trip to the Southwest to revisit some locations in Utah and Arizona. On my first trip to Canyonlands National Park several years ago, there was only one day with the sky clear enough to photograph Mesa Arch. If the rising sun is not blocked by clouds, the light reflects off the wall beneath the arch lighting up the bottom side.
On my previous trip, I did not know that getting there 90 minutes before sunrise was not early enough to get one of the few good spots to capture the sunburst from and we missed out. This time we arrived at 4:30am for the 7am sunrise and although we were the second to arrive we got a good spot. I can finally check this one off the list!
The close-up image shows the formation in the distance known as Washer Woman, as it resembles a woman leaning over a rock as if she is washing clothes. I suppose to be politically correct there will be a movement to rename the formation to Washer Person. Uhg!
With the main mission accomplished, we headed down to Sedona, Arizona. This is truly the land of the red rocks. My primary goal here was to photograph the formation know as Cathedral Rocks and capture its reflection in Oak Creek. There was enough breeze to keep moving the water and blurring the reflection, driving me nuts. Finally, just before we lost the setting sun to the cloud bank on the horizon the breeze gave us a short reprieve, just long enough to get a decent reflection. Yay! Mission number two accomplished.
Weather prevented us from our third goal but the landscape isn’t going anywhere so we’ll get that one next time.
I really enjoy the beauty of a fresh snowfall and I had always wanted to spend some time photographing the Grand Tetons during winter. So, a trip in February seemed just the ticket. I had been there before in February for other reasons and had experienced beautiful weather.
Well, this time Mother Nature was not so kind. Over a 9 day period there was only one day you could even see the Tetons. I made the most of it, getting a nice image in the morning with the Snake River. I scurried around to several other locations that morning trying to get something else decent but the sky was getting more overcast so no luck.
Then, just after noon, it began to clear again. I decided to put on my snowshoes and hike the mile out to Mormon Row where several historical barns and other structures are located. This was the longest distance I had ever traveled on snowshoes but it proved worthwhile. I had about an hour to get some images before the sky started to lose its beautiful blue color and go overcast again. That was on day two and it was the last time I saw the mountains during the nine days here.
I made a couple of side trips and gathered information that I can use down the road so I still grade the trip as a success. I may have to come back in June when all is lush and green with better skies.