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The nose of Antelope Canyon

The Nose
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8, iso 100, f/8, 8 sec // buy print)

One thing we were thankful for during our tour of Upper Antelope Canyon was our guide.  He rocked at knowing good spots and also for tossing sand in strategic locations.

We had already shot the sand falling on the right side during our first pass through the Canyon, so on our way back he said he could make it fall on both sides. I quickly moved to this spot and was thankful for the 14mm lens I had with me. It was kind of a tiny area, so being able to get that wide was a bonus.

The rock formation in the middle kind of “jutted” out towards me and reminded me of a big nose on an old man’s face.

Definitely loved being able to finally visit this place, but this scene doesn’t tell the story of about 6 other photographers lined up to my right all shooting the same thing. And people waiting behind them to pass through.

If you are a photographer, I highly recommend paying for the two-hour tour because you get more time and also a bit of preferential treatment.

Spotlight | YoloZona

Spotlight
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/8, iso 100, 8 seconds // buy print)

I’m a 38-year native of Arizona but there are a bunch of places I’ve never seen. Antelope Canyon was one of those…at least until a week ago today. With some really good friends in town to help me shoot a wedding, we decided to venture north and explore some super photogenic spots.

We paid $80 for a professional photographers tour package, which turned out to be the right decision. The first time you enter in with a guide and another tour group behind you…the pressure is a bit overwhelming. You stop, he tells you to photograph these rays of light coming in, you do your best to get it done in about 5-10 minutes, all the while you have a 1-hour tour group behind you waiting for you to finish. We did get that benefit though for paying the extra money. People would have to wait behind us until we were done getting what we needed.  We felt a little privileged because of it and it definitely helped big time.

The chaos in there is pretty crazy. But even with all the people, there would be times when you might be completely by yourself after the other tours and come and gone. And those moments were awesome.

The hardest part though I think is to pick your compositions without ever having been down there before and having to do it in a quick amount of time. The pressure to rock it was crazy. I think I walked away with maybe three images I really love, but we’ll see once I get a bit more into them.

This image was one of the early beams of light we saw. It’s really incredible actually. I’m not sure cameras can do this kind of thing justice. These focused rays of light in such a quiet place.

Despite all the beauty, the weather nerd inside of me couldn’t help but think about what a deathtrap this place is when a flash flood comes through, and how that’s the way this amazing place was formed to begin with. Over 10 years ago 13 people died in here because it rained 20 miles away and it was clear skies overhead at Antelope. I kept looking around, imagining a torrent of water rushing through here. Spooky.

More images to come!

The Milky Way over Sedona | YoloZona

Milky Way over Sedona
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, rokinon 14mm 2.8, iso 5000, f/2.8, 30 sec // buy print)

An epic trip happened this past weekend…a meeting of four photographers who are great friends of mine, all coming here to Arizona, to help me take pictures of a wedding and then shoot the crap out of this state. We created a hashtag for the weekend…#YoloZona.

On Monday morning, after maybe 5 hours of sleep, we all woke up at 3am to shoot some stars out at Courthouse Butte in Sedona. Thanks to some great advice from our buddy in Kansas, Scotty Ackerman, we knew when the Milky Way would rise and roughly where it would be.

I don’t photograph stars very much and when I have, I’ve never seen anything this good. You’d think only 5 minutes south of a town like Sedona that the sky would be saturated from city lights, but thankfully Sedona is super dark at night because of lighting ordinances. Looking up with the naked eye you could clearly see the Milky Way stretching across the sky.

I edited this in Lightroom first for color and shadows, and then used a bit of luminosity masking techniques to make the sky pop a bit more. I’m super stoked with how this image turned out, my only slight regret is that it’s a 30 second exposure which is a tad too long. The stars are streaking just a bit on the edges of the frame. I was at ISO 5000 on the 5D3, which really didn’t give me much noise, so I might have gone higher and done a shorter, 20 second exposure.

Regardless…I love it anyways, and I’m thinking about getting this printed on metal. The stars are amazing and having lived in Phoenix my whole life…I rarely, if ever, see something like this. What an amazing night.

 

 

The Astoria-Megler Bridge

Astoria_Megler Bridge
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/16, iso 50, 123 seconds // buy print)

I had never heard of the Astoria-Megler Bridge until we stumbled across it on our vacation a month ago to Cannon Beach. We drove north to check out the Peter Iredale shipwreck and then also the town of Astoria itself. But when I was passing by this bridge and saw all the wooden supports scattered around, I apologized to my wife and flipped a u-turn.

It was an overcast day, so I opted for a long exposure and black & white processing. I loved that bridge. We drove over it later and it was kind of creepy to just suddenly be that high over the water…and then further down you can see it drop again and is level with the ocean. Creepier still was the fog that left us driving towards Washington but seeing nothing ahead of a road going into grey and water on each side.

I loved the Cannery Pier Hotel on the left side and while I was intending to shoot only the bridge, I ended up really digging this comp. It helps give you an idea on the size of the bridge as a comparison.

Oregon…endless possibilities of things to shoot there. I feel so blessed that I’ve been able to spend time in that state.

The Peter Iredale Shipwreck | Oregon Coast

The Peter Iredale Shipwreck
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 50, f/16, 119 sec, b+w 10-stop // buy print)

Last week my wife and I took a much needed mommy-daddy ONLY vacation up to the Oregon coast. No kids, no worries…just relaxing in a beach house, reading, eating good food and seeing the sights. I miss it already.

This is the Peter Iredale shipwreck. It ran ashore back in 1906 meaning it’s been sitting there for over 106 years. Incredible. Slowly over the years it’s been buried and worn away from ocean waves, wind and probably vandals. It was amazing to me how it’s there without protection. No ropes, no fences, no nothing. In fact a Toyota pickup was just off camera to the left here by about 50 feet. The guy was clamming out in the waves. I was surprised you could just drive right by it and park.

It’s a lot bigger than you would think from a picture…at the high point there it’s about 15-18 feet. It was kind of crazy walking from our car over a bluff and seeing it for the first time. No words to describe it. Looking at something that has been in the same place for 106 years and is slowly disappearing was magical and thought-provoking.

When we were planning this trip, I knew I wanted to go here. I’d seen a few photos and couldn’t believe how close it was to Cannon Beach. I’ve been up that way before but had no idea about the ship wreck until recently.

The day was foggy and rainy, so I opted for some black and white long exposures.

 

Gorge | Seal Rock, Oregon Coast

Gorge - Seal Rock Oregon Coast

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, f/10, iso 50, 258 seconds, b+w 10 stop nd // buy print)

One of the hardest things for me when I get a chance to visit Oregon is that usually I don’t have a lot of time to take pictures. I end up running to the coast with only an hour or two maybe to find cool spots and setup shots around sunset. The last few times there I’ve felt like I walked away with only a single good image because of just not knowing the terrain very well and having zero time to explore.

This last trip was kind of the same way. I had picked out Seal Rock from Google Maps because it had easy parking access and was around the area I wanted to be in for sunset. When I got there I hiked down the trail to the beach, but before I got there, I noticed another path veering off towards some cliffs and I decided to skip the beach and check it out.

And I’m glad I did. The rock on the left is what I believe is the actual “Seal Rock”, because the “beach” side of it is pretty crazy. But on this side, it helps create a gorge with this other giant rock/cliff on the right.

The tide was way out, so I hiked down pretty low to take this. The water actually came right up under the tripod a few times during this 4.3 minute exposure.

A cool little spot, totally dug all the creepy rocks.

 

The Forgotten

The Forgotten - Bombay Beach - Salton Sea

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/22, 117sec // buy print)

The Forgotten is a not-so-great film with a pretty great title, so I’m using it this week for Movie Title Wednesday! When I look at this image, the word “forgotten” is the first thing that comes to mind.

The movie itself stars Julianne Moore and is a sort of creepy, sci-fi, horror-ish kind of tale. I honestly don’t remember much other than Moore and seeing a dude get sucked through the roof of a cabin. I’m a sucker for sci-fi films in general and I do feel like I enjoyed this one. But judging by the 5.7 on IMDB, it wasn’t the best-ever reviewed movie. Check it out though if you are in the mood for something different on a Friday night.

This image comes once again from the Salton Sea. The movie title encompasses not only this particular photograph, but in reality, the entire Salton Sea area. It’s so strange that this place exists in the middle of California. At one point the plan was to turn it into a resort and amazing getaway location. Instead you now get to see a land that time forgot. People still live out there, amazingly…but it’s a weird kind of existence.

Bombay Beach was where this image was taken. I urge you to click on it to see it bigger and sharper. I once again have to thank my buddy Chris DeAngelis for letting me use his 10-stop filter (I now have my own, yay!) to get this long exposure. I processed this using tonality control and luminosity masking, which I discovered through an amazing photographer named Zack Schnepf. Now, usually when doing that, I’m going for a natural look, but this scene demanded more and so I added some apocalyptic tones to give it an extra punch.

Next week I head to Oregon for 3 1/2 days and expect to be able to do a bit of 10-stop photography along the coast. I’ve been there once before and it was amazing fun. Can’t wait to get back.

Tributary

Tributary - The Salton Sea

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 4.0 l, 22mm, f/22, iso 100, 56 sec, b+w 10-stop // buy print)

Our first stop on the Salton Sea was on the northwest shores. Rick Young took us down some random road that gave us the heebie jeebies. We had no clue if it was truly safe or if we might suddenly stumble upon a murder in progress.

Yes, it’s really that creepy over there.

We got out and took a beautiful stroll down a beach with the crunch of rotting fish under our feet and the smell of those carcasses in our noses. It was a bit like stepping into another world. This place was only 40 miles from Palm Springs and just a turn off I-10? Really?

As I tend to be, I don’t like to sit in one place too long. I started walking south and eventually found this tributary. The second I saw it I knew I had likely found the one shot I’d take away from this first detour along the Salton Sea. I loved the curves it made as it approached the water…and the reflection of the clouds. I knew while I was shooting this would be a B&W shot.

Thanks to Rick for letting me borrow his 10-stop for this one. I believe he made photographer #3 to loan me one on this trip. They’ll all be happy know I finally purchased a 10-stop, so needless to say I wont be so annoying on our next outing!

 

Reaching for the stars

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 20mm, f/4, iso 5000, 30 sec // buy print)

Since I know you skipped the italics above, PLEASE click on the image to see it fit your monitor with a sexy black border.

One of the more exciting opportunities in Joshua Tree National Park was the chance to shoot some nighttime star shots, including the Milky Way. I’ve never really done that before and have always wanted to give it a shot.

Props again go to my buddy Heath O’Fee for inviting me to meet him out there (along with some other peeps), and also for finding this tree. Sure, we all probably would have found the tree eventually, but like Christopher Columbus, Heath gets the credit.

I’ve posted another shot of this tree from an angle further away, so this was one up close, almost underneath it. In fact, I took this one first…wandered around a bit elsewhere and then saw the second composition that I posted earlier.

This shot wasn’t a solo effort. The entire group of us…Chris DeAngelis, Chris Frailey, Doug Wise, Heath and Rick Young were all shooting this same scene. We had Rick firing off his strobe while we all sat in various spots with different compositions. Was a heck of a fun time yelling at everyone to get their exposures ready so we could FRAKKING take the picture already!

As hella cold it was that night, it was also a ton of fun. Loved hanging with these guys who have all become amazing friends over the last year.

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life - Joshua Tree National Park

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 20mm, f/4, iso 5000, 30 sec // buy print)

It’s funny. We were freezing cold at Joshua Tree National Park when the sun went down, but then the stars came out and none of that mattered.

My buddy Heath O’Fee found this tree. Earlier the lot of us had been right under it, shooting upwards at the stars while someone light-painted the rocks. We were all having so much fun taking pictures of things we normally do not. The night sky. It’s fairly new to me and I want to explore it more.

But then we all kind of dispersed to find our own compositions in and around the rocks. And I found this one. I thought the sky would light up nicely on the horizon because of the far off cities and the sun having gone down earlier. The tree growing between the rocks was pure awesome.

The real treat though…was one of my cohorts doing his own light-painting on the far side of that tree. I decided to take advantage and so I waited for him to take another shot and then I took mine.

No idea who it was, but thank you.