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Dead Rock Canyon

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Red Rock Canyon. Dead cactus. Dead Rock Canyon.

See what I did there?

So clever Mike…so clever.

Back in March I explored this area west of Las Vegas and was struck by these dead things. I think they are some kind of cactus, but I have no idea. I tried to Google them, but I couldn’t find anything. Either way, they kind of speckled this wide valley expanse between the red cliffs and the western mountains off in the distance.

What’s interesting about going to shoot place that are big attractions for “something”, like amazing burnt red rocks…is when you turn away from them because you are more drawn to something else.

I had left my project site and raced out here to shoot in the canyon…and was just happy I got a few shots off before the sun sank behind those cliffs. Definitely a beautiful place to visit.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 18mm, f/22, iso 100)

The Seam


(clicking on the image may not give you a larger view depending on your resolution, but it will frame it in a lightbox nicely)

Traveling is harder for me than it used to be. I still hated being gone for weeks at a time from my wife, but now that we have a little girl…it’s a lot harder. We use FaceTime on the iPhone all the time now when I travel and while it makes things easier…it also kind of makes it more difficult to see those faces and not be close to them.

I used to just sit in my hotel room and veg out on these work trips, but lately I’ve tried to pass the time I’m away by exploring the places I’m staying. These days that is mostly Las Vegas.  I’ll get done working around 4-5pm and hit the pavement with the rental car to find something interesting out there. Last week it was Red Rock Canyon and the town of Nelson…both areas within about 45 minutes or less of Las Vegas.

The image above was taken in Red Rock Canyon, simply a beautiful place to explore. There is a nice road looping through the area with cool stops along the way…plus vistas that are definitely unique to this park. The photo may be a bit deceiving in a way because the red area up top isn’t really part of the foreground formation, but belongs to a  larger hill behind it.

I did something I don’t usually do with this photo…because of the wide angle and the closeness I have with the ground right in front of me…I shot two sets of brackets in live view. The first set I focused on the rocks in the background to get them crisp, and then I focused the next set on the foreground right in front of me. I then tonemapped both sets of exposures and blended them later in Photoshop before stylizing.

In hindsight, I have no idea why I wasn’t maxed at f/22 on this shot for this very reason…but that is likely one of those moments where one cannot recollect what your mind was thinking at the time *grin*

On a side note, my buddy Brian Matiash has been posting some of his own awesome shots of Red Rock and here is his similar entry from last week. I love the different looks he gives you with each of his shots from this area.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/16)

The road through Red Rock Canyon

(enjoy a better view by clicking on the image and seeing it in a lightbox)

I’ve been to Las Vegas countless times for my day job. Even after picking up photography only about 18 months ago…I still have been here at least 5-6 different times since then. Never during any of those times did I make a trip out to Red Rock Canyon. It’s not always easy…like in the middle of winter when the sunset in Las Vegas is 4:30 in the afternoon. That’s just silly. Those of us working normal hours don’t have a chance.

But finally on this trip the sun wouldn’t set until 6:45 and I had a couple of hours to spend driving out there and looking around.

All the reports are true. It’s a beautiful place. And there were a lot of people being all “touristy” like me, plus exercise nuts riding their 10-speeds around the park’s looped road. The only thing I kept in the back of my brain was to try and find something unique that someone else might not see. I always, always try to do that even if I don’t necessarily accomplish it. If I saw people gathering and taking pictures at obvious spots, I tried to look to the opposite area.

I was hoping for a brilliant sunset because of all the high clouds, but they thickened up as the day wore on and it ended up not allowing for much color in the sky. Still, I liked the way they looked anyways and of course you know I can’t resist a solid road shot.  It’s not too easy to see here, but the road does a little “S” curve as it disappears and cuts through the hill where you see orange-looking crevice.

As I’m sure most people say after visiting this park…I only wish I had more time. If only we could freeze the hour before sunset just to wander around capturing all that beautiful light goodness.

My friend, Iron Man Brian Matiash, posted his own shot from Red Rock when he was here last, you must go check it out.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso 200)