Now some of you know, who have been following me for awhile that I have two places in the Southwest that I really enjoy going. Places that are pretty magical and pretty remote. Number one is White Pocket Arizona and the other is Toroweap sometimes called Tuweap. Now I think that both of these places are really swell and I always enjoy going to see them. As a matter of fact, if you haven’t been to either one of these, they need to go on the bucket list and you need to get a high road clearance 4×4 and get out there. Totally worth it.
I had been hanging out a couple of days in Kanab, Utah when I heard Colleen from Ravens Heart Gallery say that the river was running blue. The times I’d been before it had been more muddy colored. So I loaded up Jimy and we headed out on a fine June day. The journey was pretty uneventful and I even made it with an hour or so to spare. I tried to catch some shuteye at the campground without any luck and then headed down to the end of the road to get ready. June is my favorite month to image. Pretty much right after astronomical dark you can setup to capture the Milky Way and foregrounds.
I knew I was only going to get this one shot and was fine with that
Setting up this close to a 3,000-foot drop (I actually shot this again even closer to make sure I got the bottom) is nerve-wracking. It’s really hard to get an iPhone to focus in the dark with a headlamp by the way.
I had to drop down about 5-6 feet from a ledge above this to get the shot I wanted. I had about 3 feet to play with from the edge to the wall behind me. It was a perfect night, probably in the mid 70s, with just a very light breeze. The sky was crystal clear, the stars steady and without “winking” which is a great sign, the images should be impressive. I leaned back against the wall behind me as it is disorienting to stand in the dark this close to a massive drop. I leaned back then put my hands back on the rock to steady me and watched the camera gear do its thing. It was excessively quiet. I couldn’t even hear the water running swiftly below me. As I watched and waited suddenly I felt something large crawling on my hand.
Now I know the last thing you can do is panic on the edge of a cliff. So I flicked my hand and popped on my headlamp to quickly look what it was. It was a large fat Scorpion which was now stunned and a couple feet away from me. Prioritizing the situation I turned and paused the panorama and then turned my attention back to the scorpion. He was crawling back into a crevasse and I was in no mood to try to battle him and risk falling so I turned off my headlamp restarted the panorama and hoped for the best. This time I stood swaying a bit for the remaining 10 minutes of the shot. Sweet dreams are not made of these moments.
I was really fortunate I got this shot because a few days later a huge fire broke out north of here and the whole area had a haze of smoke. As soon as this shot finished I got my gear and went up top to take the Milky Way images. I think I just shuddered remembering the encounter.
Pretty much normal pano specs for me, 42 images. I thought the airglow here was wild until I ran into a couple of nights in Yellowstone. Enjoy everyone!!
Here’s a real pro tip, never show up for a shoot doing something you have never done before. Oh, I wished I had listened to that advice 🙂
I decided to break out the 150-600mm Sigma Art lens with a 1.4x converter for this occasion (I forgot my nice Canon 300mm with a doubler).
While it’s a fantastic lens it is HEAVY! The ball head on my tracker kept slipping since I was aiming nearly straight up and instead of being smart and just swapping that out I switched to a standard tripod without tracking and used its heavier ball head since the eclipse was about to begin.
I reset the center point of the tripod multiple times and as we entered totality the intervalometer decided to lock up once I removed the solar filter.
Not sure what happened but had to turn the camera off, disconnect the intervalometer and then manual press shoot. I manually increased the ISO up and down to get the brighter and darker pics then plugged back in the intervalometer with the light from my cellphone and shot more. So I missed most of the eclipse visually but at least didn’t have an epic fail, just a fail.
Unfortunate Glory. The day at Yellowstone National Park had been an interesting mix of sun and clouds. As night approached large thunderheads filled with lightning passed overhead. Rumbles echoed throughout the park. The prediction was clearing at 7 pm. As 8 o’clock approached the sky remained ominously dark and cloudy.
I had driven by this smallish lake earlier in the day and noticed its excellent alignment with the Milky Way. As I got out to check I was accosted by mosquitoes down by the shoreline, enough to drive me back to the car. After exploring the park further, I returned as night began to creep in. The clouds had begun to retreat from the east to the west (overhead). The bad news was now the wind had kicked up to 20-30 mph. The surface of the lake which had been a mirror earlier in the day now was opaque other than brief moments of stillness. I went to the water’s edge where the wind was much calmer and 50 or so feet below the top edge.
Again I was driven back by a swarm of mosquitos. I decided to retreat to this spot and shoot instead where the wind would be an ally in keeping mosquitoes off of me. As an added bonus there were tons of little blue flowers to cheer me on. I setup my equipment to shoot the ground and retreated to the car. There were still a few minor wisps of clouds up high and some got reflected in the edge of the water where being more shallow the reflections were much better. Looking at the camera I could see the tinge of color from the sky reflected in the water. Wow was it really that strong?
The answer was yes, another amazing night of airglow color at Yellowstone after storms. I think it has to be related.
This photo was proof of something, the wind had dismayed me and I almost got back in Jimmy and departed, due to the wind messing with the reflections, but sometimes the best shots can be those you think least likely to succeed.
Anyway, the sky was enough to make me literally do a little dance of joy and yell out a couple of expletives that were apparently heard by a nearby wolf, just across the road behind me. There were no answers to his cry so I howled back my pleasure loaded my car and departed.
42 images, (some replacement of blurred areas with extra flowers), ISO 8000, f1.6, 55mm
I really like this picture. Maybe my favorite, at least at the moment. While much of this is a visual extravaganza the really missing aspect is the sound. The noise here was deafening. I stood maybe 2 feet from a 30-40 foot drop to the pounding ocean. This is Cook’s Chasm. Here the Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well put on fantastic shows (you might google them) and the ocean going up into this chasm is amazingly loud and powerful. Every thirty seconds or so there would be an incredible whomp that literally shook the ground I stood on.
I had done a panorama at Thor’s Well before this shot, but the tide was low enough and ocean calm enough (light wind and clear skies) that the Well was not going to cooperate. I think it will be a cool picture but I was impressed after looking at the camera with the ethereal nature of the ocean splashing against the rocks in this shot.
The ground was encrusted with small black mussels here which crunched under foot as I walked over to do this shot. There was a slight spray and mist in the air that made the shot quite nippy while I waited for the shot to finish. I drew my coat around me tighter and hoped the dew heater would keep the lens clear of water droplets. Sitting this close to the edge, I normally sit as standing on the uneven ground in the dark for long periods, because it is way harder than it sounds. I stared into the chasm and watched the brightening and darkening of the waters as they surged in coupled with the sound, it was almost mesmerizing. The shot ended and I wasn’t even thinking about it for a period of time watching the waves break.
At last, I stirred and realized I was done and retreated back to Jimmy to end a fantastic evening of sensory delight.
Lens kept totally clear with the Dew Destroyer and Perfect focus with the Reveal focus filter both available at:
Many people have seen the double rainbow Youtube video, it’s fun. Here we have a double fall. One that is a waterfall and one is a star fall.
Here’s a video of it in the daytime.
Finding Cave Falls was a real treat. Although it nowhere near the size of most of the falls at Yellowstone National Park, it’s a hidden gem you can get right up to and lines up perfectly with the Milky Way This top view of the falls was the one that really got me excited. The flow of the picture is so visceral. The contrasting arches of water and stars and the roar of the water standing there in the dark made this an all senses experience.
There had been puffy clouds earlier that rapidly dissipated as day turned to night. I shot the falls below this one called Belcher Falls first, then captured the Milky Way as the last of the clouds vanished. Finding this particular spot was a bit of luck. I had not seen it in the daylight but moving Jimmy up from the lower falls caused me to get disoriented and take the wrong path through the woods. I ended up here and the view was amazing. There were tree branches on either side of me though and I was unsure how to get the unobstructed shot I wanted. There was also a split rail fence guarding the edge.
Finally, it hit me. Stick two of the tripod legs into the fence then let one rest on the rocks below. It was precarious, but I kept one hand tightly on a leg of the tripod to keep it from falling in while the pano-head and camera captured the scene. It actually worked! I should have taken a picture of this crazy setup but was too afraid of losing my gear into the roaring waters.
Well, Jimmy and I went on the trip of a lifetime, 6900 miles in 12 days. After Jimmy’s recent resurrection with a $1,000 of new front end parts, we headed out in search of new images and great adventures.
The weather patterns over the SW dictated that I not head there as clouds and monsoons swirled about covering all the normal areas I visit. Looking at the forecast it appeared the North West would be clear almost indefinitely. Many of my followers had recommended Oregon to me but the drive was staggeringly long. The Painted Hills in Eastern Oregon were 29 hours of driving. And the coast much further still.
Along the way, there were multiple stops at fun places. As I neared the ocean, several people had suggestions of where to try the coast. South of Yachats seemed to be the consensus. So Jimmy and I drove to the coast of Oregon starting south of Yachats. The Oregon Dunes were beautiful, but large gates and signs that the area would be closed at night deterred my interest. So I headed north with a follower inviting me to stop by for help locating a spot to shoot. I stopped in to meet some of the most interesting and fun people on the planet. There was food, plenty of talk and then it was time to go shoot.
I had scouted on my way up the coast and it had surprised me how few locations were actually possible to shoot the coast, get any water and still frame the Milky Way correctly. As I started to leave I invited one of my new friends to accompany me, watch and maybe get a tip or two on how to do this. With the offer accepted we headed out to this first spot where this moderately small pool had caught my attention.
I took two shots here this being the second of the two and by the end of the image my friend had nearly frozen and we retreated to the cars.
That night was fabulous overlooking the Pacific Ocean and sitting talking during the image and solving the world’s problems, well that and looking out for car headlights on the hidden highway.
Focused with the Dave Lane Astrophotography Reveal Filter and protected from dew and mist by the Dew Destroyer both available at: