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Revisiting the Grand Falls in northern Arizona

Some of you may remember a photo or two I posted from my trip to Grand Falls in May…I posted a few shots of it…one here and one here.  I think I processed this one as a black and white first and posted it in a few  random places, like Flickr and JPG Mag. But I was looking back through my photos the other day and realized I’d always wanted to see this one as an HDR and just forgot about it.

I love the scope and details that you can see in the shot. Clicking on the photos for the larger version takes away some of the sharpness, but the details are still there.

What’s interesting about the falls is all the junk that is collected in the lower left portion of the photo. Most of what you can see are from trees and dead foliage captured along the way, but there are definitely some “man-made” objects down there as well.

This is definitely a place I plan on revisiting next March, hopefully after a nice, snowy season for the high country. The flow over the Falls when it’s peak is pretty amazing from what I’ve seen in photos. I need to see that in person.

The road through the forest

While it may be obvious from my constant babble about weather, storms and lightning, that I LOVE that stuff with passion, there is also something else I enjoy immensely.

The cool pine trees of northern Arizona.

Being a desert-born dude who lives in the Phoenix area almost year round, minus the occasional excursion elsewhere, getting out of that blistering sunshine is of vital importance, especially during the summer. Ever since I was a kid my dad used to take us camping once or twice a summer. People who don’t live in Arizona have no idea that the pine trees are only less than 90 minutes northeast of Phoenix, and if you drive just a little further, you can go from 105 degrees to 75 in just two hours. And at night, the temps drop to the 40’s and lower.

We’re hopefully going camping again this summer, me and a few buddies. The place I always go is the Mongollon Rim, north of Payson, AZ.

This photo, however, was taken about three hours north and west of Phoenix, around the Williams area. I visited back in May and this weekend while cleaning up my hard drives, I found out I hadn’t processed all of the photos I took that day. I cannot lie, I love this shot. The storm clouds add a nice contrast to the green pine trees, and you know me, I always enjoy a nice road in a composition.

I processed this with the usual suspects: Photomatix, CS5, Topaz Adjust, Imagenomic….but with Topaz I used a little more flavor than just a simple contrast adjustment, and I like the effect that I got here.

Another scene from stormy northern Arizona

I continue to dig a little here and there into the pictures I took in the middle of May when I went up to northern Arizona on a work trip. I made a detour on the way home to visit Grand Falls and stopped to snap many photos along the way. The weather was gorgeous, storms were plentiful and something I had not expected.

This was along Indian Route 6910. I loved the giant rock formation in the middle of the generally rocky terrain, but also the cool part of this shot is the San Francisco peaks that you can see on the left horizon. These are north of Flagstaff and constitute one of our state’s two big ski areas.

Stormy skies in northern Arizona

This photo is from a few weeks ago on my trip to see the Grand Falls in northern Arizona. The clouds were stormy, but not really dropping a ton of rain…like these in the shot. Mostly virga, but still awesome to see. The skies were amazing that day and I had to stop every few minutes to snap another photo. Helped that I was on a 10-mile dirt road going only 25 mph.

This is panoramic made up of two, 3-bracket HDR photos stitched together in Photoshop. The clouds were so tall and spreading, I almost needed a third shot to get the tops.

Completely enjoyed my time up there that day…the weather was superb, the skies were amazing…the country was so interesting and new to me…hope to visit there sometime again!

A blessed little tree

I’m not sure how to describe or talk about this photo. I was driving to Grand Falls and the sunlight was really streaming down through the clouds like some archangel was descending in a rage of glory. I saw only two trees on the 10 mile dirt road and this was one of them (if you can call that thing a tree…but it was the closest thing to one anywhere around). I was eying it from about a quarter mile away because it clearly visible sitting atop this little hill.

As I got closer, it was just magic that somehow these rays of sunlight seemed to be casting all their power on this little tree. At least, that’s how I saw it in my mind.

I think as far as my photography goes with landscapes and HDR and all that jazz, this is more abstract and a little bit religious for me? I am not sure why…but that’s what I feel when I look at it.

The Green Arizona Desert

My buddy Jon who was in town with his family this past weekend joined me for a hike of the San Tan Mountains just southeast of the Chandler-Gilbert area. It’s a neat little regional park that I never really paid much attention to until I started getting into photography.

The views were great, but one of the main reason I went out there was to capture the greenery that is now covering much of the desert floor here in Arizona. The incredible amount of rainfall has created greenish tints to all the mountains around town and when you examine them closely, you’ll find newly growing grass, weeds and other vegetation.

Some of these vertical photos might look cool together in a side-by-side display…maybe three frames together, or one wide frame with three spots. I may try to do that myself.

This last photo is just a wide landscape shot of these cliffs on the south area of the San Tan Mountain range. It was too far for us to hike that day, but I plan to get closer eventually.