Not enough time… Bryce Canyon

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I understand how lucky I am to live relatively close to Acadia National Park. I have what is considered a landscape photographer’s dream location in my backyard… a jewel of a park that I can explore and get to know more intimately in a variety of conditions and in all seasons. If the afternoon light suddenly looks promising, I can literally take off and be in one of the prettiest places in America within an hour. As I said… I am lucky. Like many photographers though, I also dream of seeing the iconic landscapes of the American West and beyond. I have always been intrigued by photographs of places such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion… and Bryce Canyon, but in order to experience these places for myself, it takes immense planning and a considerable commitment – unlike my local early morning or late afternoon impromptu jaunts down to Acadia.

Every now and again I get a chuckle out of reading online opinions preaching that in order to photograph a particular location properly, you must spend time there, you need to come back to the same location again and again in different seasons, in different light… you need to fall in love with the landscape to truly appreciate and make a photograph of it. Of course spending time in a particular location will help you get to know it better – and probably photograph it better (whatever that means) – but sorry… but while I would love to buy into the romantic requirement of becoming one with the landscape to make a pleasing photograph, for me, like most normal people, it’s just not always practical. I’m often in the position where I’m stealing a weekend – or maybe even just one morning – in an attempt to catch a glimpse of a place that I might have been longing to see for quite some time. Since I usually don’t have any flexibility with travel plans, my fingers and toes are crossed, hoping that the weather cooperates to provide those ever-elusive “perfect” landscape photography conditions. That’s OK.

A few years ago I was able to tack on a couple of extra days to a work-related Salt Lake City conference, and one of the stops I made on my whirlwind tour of southern Utah was Bryce Canyon National Park. I literally rolled into my hotel after dark one evening, and only had the next morning to “see” the park before I was scheduled to fly back home. Obviously I would have liked more time to better understand and discover this wonderful place, but despite this frustration, I was determined to make the best of what little time I had there. It’s also not a bad idea to do a little research ahead of time so that you can maximize your time. Beyond the obvious mapping of where you want to be, checking where and when the sun is going to rise, and if you will be beside the ocean, checking the local tide charts can give you some added information about the conditions you are likely to experience.

The relatively small 56.2 square miles of Bryce Canyon National Park is quite high in elevation, sitting at over 8,000 feet on the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in south-western Utah, and as such, it is exposed to a wide range of elements. Frost and dissolving rainwater have shaped the limestone amphitheaters into a ragged and surreal landscape of canyons, arches and the famous spires called hoodoos. As the sun peeks over the eastern horizon, early light bathes the park and the colorful rock formations actually appear to glow… quite a sight, and when I was there a recent snowstorm had dumped at least another foot of the white stuff on the landscape making for a spectacular vista.

Speaking of vistas… on this particular occasion due to the deep snow and the brief time I had available, it wasn’t workable for me to venture much beyond the standard touristy viewpoints skirting the rim of the park. I wish I could have hiked down into the heart of the park and explored the wonders of Bryce more fully, but when opportunities are limited and there’s not enough time, you make the best of it and embrace the moment… wherever you are… hopefully coming away with a few photographs that remind you of the incredible sights you saw.

A slice of heaven

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No… this hasn’t turned into a food blog, but I figured I would share some iPhone pics from our recent visit to NYC – I love having the camera with me (Lori’s iPhone) all the time.

There are lots of cities that lay claim to having the best pizza in the US, and needless to say, New York City is definitely one of them. Luckily we get to visit what I consider to be the most incredible city in the world quite often, and every time we do, we like to sample some of the local fare, especially the pizza. John’s Pizzeria on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village has long been a favorite of ours, and judging by the number of “Top 10 Pizza in NY” lists it is on, we aren’t alone in our admiration. I can remember visiting John’s with friends one Saturday night back in 1989 when Lori and I lived and worked in Manhattan, so now every time we return it brings back great memories.

You wouldn’t believe how many pizza joints there are in NYC… it feels like there’s literally one on every block. In my book there’s no such thing as bad pizza, but to survive the competition in New York you’d better be good! Besides, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere… wait, isn’t that a line from a song or something ;)

Touch it and feel it…

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Actually… I wouldn’t advise that you touch and feel prints, not unless you want to get smudgy fingerprints all over them! While viewing photographs on-screen in a computer slideshow or on a web site can be impressive, there’s definitely something about physically holding a print in your hands that just can’t be beat. It’s similar to that comforting feeling of turning the page in an old-fashioned paper book, even though I do enjoy reading on my iPad. By the way, if you do get smudges on your print (like I always do), you should be able to simply “polish” them gently away with a piece of soft cotton.

In reality, I don’t get that many images printed, so when I do, I always get excited for when they arrive. I have had my adventures, or should I say misadventures, with printing, mounting and framing photographs, so these days I take a rather lazy route… but one that I can be fairly sure will be successful. It’s simple actually… I let the experts do the printing and mounting, and I buy off-the-shelf frames that I think will show the prints well. To this point I just haven’t uncovered the desire to print, mount, cut mats and make frames myself.

Known as “The Dark Hedges” – this is a scene from back home in Ireland where a magnificent row of 300 year old beech trees rather spectacularly line and frame a local roadway. I love how the trees reach high above the road to become tangled as an overhead canopy, and the side-lighting from the overcast day added a nice layer of depth to the landscape. I have wanted a print of this photograph for some time, and just this week I finally took the time to get it done. I used a California based company who accepts online orders – Aspen Creek Photo – and I couldn’t be happier with the quality of the print (and the whole ordering process). It was printed on Fuji Pearl paper, a metallic paper that renders the scene almost 3D-like, and this time for reasons of stability, I also chose to pay a little more and have it professionally mounted on 3/16″ Gatorfoam.

Just for fun… here’s the un-framed image below, and for those following my travails with selecting a new WordPress theme, this is still the same one (Nuntius) that I have been using for a while. I’m having a hard time deciding on a new theme, so to buy myself some time, I made a few tweaks to the color scheme. Simple, and hopefully sharp.

If interested in purchasing prints from this location, visit my online gallery at: http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com

In the light of day…

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On our way back home from New York today, it just happened to be around lunchtime as we crossed over the Piscataqua River from New Hampshire into Maine, so we stopped in York for sandwiches from a local deli. When I sheepishly suggested that we enjoy the unseasonably warm weather and have ourselves a picnic at the lighthouse… I was thrilled when both Lori and Jack were in total agreement – they are so patient with me and my camera! I know I said no more photographs from this location, but before I do a refresh of the blog, I wanted to share a couple more from our brief return visit today. Besides, in most of the photographs from my last visit, all you could see was the silhouette of the lighthouse!

On my previous visit I had arrived before dawn, but because we were in a hurry to continue our journey on to New York, I only stayed until about 20 minutes after sunrise. The light was obviously very different then, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring a darkened landscape which was somewhat unfamiliar to me. This afternoon though, as the bright sunlight played hide-and-seek from behind the clouds, I was obviously able to recognize much of the terrain. My previous sunrise visit had coincided with high tide, and what do you know… it was high tide again when we arrived this afternoon. If anything though, today’s tide was even higher, actually making it impossible for me to get to some of the ledges and rocks I had used as shooting locations on my last visit.

We all know that the softer light of the early morning or late afternoon often makes for more dramatic landscape photographs, and truth be told, I live for the peacefulness and solitude that you can experience at these times… but there’s no rule that says you can’t shoot in the middle of the day, especially if the conditions are just right. Blue skies with puffy clouds, high tide breaking fiercely over a rugged coastline, and a striking subject that is pretty much one-of-a-kind… I’d say the conditions were just right!

A fresh lick of paint

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I love the variety of themes available on WordPress. It is so easy to personalize your blog, and you can have a complete site redesign all within just a couple of clicks of the mouse. It was only last October that I switched to this current theme, Nuntius. I like many aspects of what it offers, and when I activated it last fall I thought I had matched the colors of the custom header with the rest of the theme. The header was just supposed to be temporary, but here we are some four months later, and I never did get around to creating something more interesting. I work almost exclusively on a MacBook Pro laptop, and on that screen I’ve always thought that the shades of red matched properly. It’s only now as I’m visiting granny and grandpa and viewing the site on a different computer that I’m embarrassed to notice that the reds aren’t even close :{

Cue a new look… within the next few days I will probably be switching themes (again), but before I do, I will be taking a hard look at the range of options. I love the font on the Nuntius theme, but for displaying photographs, the lighter background isn’t necessarily the best. Maybe I will choose a theme with a darker background this time around… one that makes color photographs “pop” a little more? Anyone have a suggestion?

Here’s a screenshot of my failed custom header. Yikes… I can’t believe I thought those reds matched! Stay tuned for a fresh lick of paint… and if I use a custom header in my new theme, I’ll make sure to match the colors correctly this time.

When plans go awry…

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Last one from my stop by Nubble Light last weekend… I promise :)

I had originally been hoping to use tidepools along the shoreline to frame a reflection of the lighthouse, and although they were there as advertised, my plan didn’t quite work out. As I lowered my tripod all the way to the ground, I splayed the legs as far as I could. I lay on my belly to see through the viewfinder to frame a composition, but at that point I realized my plan wasn’t going work out. Sure enough, there would have been a nice reflection to include in the frame… if it weren’t for one problem… the water in the tidepools was frozen! No worries… I settled for using the tidepools as interesting foreground elements, and I went on to thoroughly enjoy the rest of my morning spent exploring this wonderful place.

Working within the frame…

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When I spend time photographing in a particular location I always try to fully explore the scene. I enjoy the exercise of physically wandering around looking for different angles, less obvious perspectives, and interesting elements to include in compositions. More sky, less ground… more ground, less sky… landscape orientation versus portrait… the size of the aperture and the length of time the shutter is open… using a wide angle lens to accentuate certain things or compacting the scene by using a longer lens… just some of the many ways to experiment with what you include within the viewfinder.

For me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of landscape photography is choosing which elements of a scene to include within the frame and which to leave out. Next comes arranging important elements in relation to how they interact with each other to make a pleasing composition. Sometimes it comes together and “works” better than it does at other times, though of course what I personally like in a photograph might not be what someone else likes… it’s all totally subjective, but isn’t that half the fun? When I became seriously interested in landscape photography a few years back, a pro-photographer friend of mine, Kip Brundage, told me that if I find an interesting subject, I should photograph it every which way I can. He also told me to try to make it mine. While I could certainly learn from another photographer’s interpretation of a particular scene, I should constantly strive try to create something original… this particular piece of advice has always stuck with me.

Here are a few more examples of what I was seeing on the recent mid-February morning I visited Nubble Light in York, Maine. As you can see, I was all pretty random with some of my compositional choices, but since there isn’t any single “right” answer, I got to experiment and try all sorts of ideas. Most significantly for me though, it’s all about actually being there in person to fully employ the senses and appreciate the wonder of this earth we live on. I learned that there is something very special about standing on the tide-soaked rocks below Nubble Light before a winter dawn, and if I can come even remotely close to conveying my personal experiences in a single photograph… then I consider that photograph to be a success.

Time and tide… plus a famous lighthouse

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I was excited that high tide and sunrise would almost coincide, and I had used a cool piece of software called “The Photographer’s Ephemeris” to determine that the sun would rise directly behind the lighthouse. I was hoping for some fast-moving high clouds, and I had this vision of being able to capture the early rays beaming out from behind the lighthouse like some heavenly scene. Alas… no clouds, so on to plan B.

As I wandered around the shoreline looking for interesting foregrounds, I came across a couple of what I can best describe as “cracks” where the surge from the high tide would push its way in and then slowly retreat back to where it came from. I perched myself rather precariously on a small rocky outcrop, and waited for the “seventh” wave to roll in with its energy being funneled into the crack below me.

Now… I don’t really know if there is any scientific grounding in the notion of every seventh wave being stronger than the rest, but I do know that if you pay attention and watch for patterns, every so often on a fairly regular basis (maybe even every seventh wave), the swell definitely gets bigger. That means something to patiently wait for when pressing the shutter, and since the ocean can be a powerful thing it is also something to be wary of.

A Nubbly Sunrise…

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At the head of the York River, Nubble Light stands tall as it welcomes seafarers home to the coast of Maine. Most people will be more familiar with the day time scene from here where the classic white and red buildings are framed with green grass, rugged rocks, and the mighty Atlantic surrounding it all… but on this cold February morning I wanted to try and capture something that was a little bit different.

It’s school vacation week here in Maine – and much of the United States – so that usually means a trip south to see granny and grandpa. Often we will drive from Maine to New York in one straight shot, but since Sam was due some little brother time, we decided to forego the usual mad dash down I-95 and stop off in Brunswick to pay him a quick visit. After a scrumptious dinner at Clementine with him and his pal Charlie, we hit the road again and drove another hour or so south before stopping in York for the night. I had been wanting to shoot this lighthouse again for some time, and figured since we were going to be right here in the morning… why not give it a shot. Sunrise was scheduled for 6:37 a.m. on Saturday, so my alarm was set for 5:15 a.m. to allow for an early enough start that would give me time to scout around for compositional possibilities.

Even though our mid-February temperatures have been fairly mild, standing on the edge of the ocean before dawn with a cool winter breeze blowing is sure to wake you up. Unfortunately there were very few clouds to speak of, but there was a nice gradient of color in the eastern sky and a sparkling crescent moon heading toward the horizon. High tide was due at 6:50 a.m., so I wasn’t sure how close I was going to be able to get to the water. A couple more photographers pulled into the parking lot, but since sunrise wasn’t officially scheduled for another 45 minutes or so, they decided to stay in their cars a little longer and keep warm. Me… I know that some of the best light actually occurs before dawn, so I bundled up and hit the rocks looking for interesting foregrounds that might compliment the already spectacular lighthouse just off shore.

I made my first photograph of the morning, posted above, at 6:00 a.m. and long before the sun had made an appearance. The rising tide was washing over and around the ledge I was standing on, and although a relatively slow shutter speed rendered the water as quite peaceful, there were actually a few angry swells that made for interesting moments. I was intrigued by the puddles left behind, and hoped that they would hold enough interest in the foreground to make this as I had intended… maybe just a little bit different?

Growing up playing sports

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A composite of several photographs showing Sam's baseball swing

I grew up playing soccer. From I was no age at all, I was playing soccer… morning, noon, and night. I played non-stop, and it was the only thing I ever wanted to do. I played every morning before school, at recess we threw jackets down for makeshift goals and played, I hurried through lunch so I could have even more time to play, and you guessed it… I played every day after school until it got dark and we couldn’t see the ball anymore. In fact, I was that kid who literally dribbled a ball on the way to school and back… seriously… there are pictures somewhere to prove it!

I spent my younger years in a part of the world where there is a tremendous passion for the game, and as a kid I was certainly swept up in it. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED playing soccer – or football as it is rightly known – and I needed no encouragement whatsoever to devote countless hours to doing what I loved. However, looking at that experience through my “parent” lens today, I can see that it did take up an awful lot of time, often at the expense of other potential enriching pursuits. Maybe that’s why Lori and I have been reluctant to push too hard with the boys when it comes to youth sports?

Sam at the plate

Despite our reticence when it comes to youth sports, Sam dabbled in most activities while growing up, and although he is still an ardent fan of just about every game, he eventually settled on playing baseball, which he excelled at. As a teenager, he spent endless days practicing on the Little League fields, and I can remember playing some serious catch with him on the side of the yard as he honed his pitching skills. The heel of my left thumb still hurts when I think of the times spent kneeling as a catcher trying to deal with his fastball. When he learned to throw a curve ball… forget about it… my days as catcher were over!

Sam on the mound pitching

Anyway, we have been really hands off with Jack to this point when it comes to organized sports. We didn’t want to push him into team activities, but at the same time we don’t want him to miss out on what we believe can be a very positive growth experience. He has played rec. soccer the past couple of years and although he enjoys the game, it doesn’t seem to be something he is especially passionate about. Lately though, just as we began feeling a little guilty for not signing him up for more activities – quite coincidentally – he has started taking more of an interest in baseball. Maybe it’s the poster sized photograph of his big brother Sam playing in the Senior League World Series that hangs over his bed, or maybe it’s because his friends are all getting into that scene? We also just rediscovered the huge collection of baseball cards that were accumulated when Sam was younger, so it does appear that Jack is genuinely starting to develop an affinity for the game.

Our newest little baseball player

So, when asked if he wanted to play organized baseball like his friends this spring, he immediately jumped at the chance. Last Saturday we headed out to the local sports store to buy him a new glove… one of his own that will fit him until his hands grow big enough to use Sam’s old glove. He was thrilled to be able to choose the one that he liked, and we went straight to the gym to try it out and break it in. He is a good little athlete (some say he gets that from his mother’s side of the family), with pretty good hand/eye coordination and a willingness to work hard, so it looks like we might be jumping in with both feet to see if baseball becomes Jack’s thing. It might seem strange considering my upbringing and association with soccer, but I absolutely love everything about the game of baseball. Perhaps Jack will too, and that would mean I get to shoot sports again… and maybe it’s also time to feed the fire and schedule another trip down to Fenway to see the Red Sox!

Displaying your art…

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…is something we all should do. I still have those old photograph albums with the sticky sheets that use some sort of goo to hold maybe two 4 x 6 photographs per page, or the hardcover albums with the plastic sleeves and clunky ring binders that want to nip your fingers every time you open or close them. Thankfully advances in technology mean that exhibiting your art no longer means risking the loss of a finger – whether you want to display your work online in a slideshow, on the wall in a high-quality print, or even in a self-published coffee table type book. I have used all of these formats, and it never gets old seeing something you are proud of on display. In fact, I’m expecting a couple of my favorite photographs back from the printer any day… can’t wait to see how they look!

Home-made or school-made, we encourage and eagerly anticipate Jack’s artistic new releases, and it’s always fun to ask him to share some insight about what he makes. His imagination can run wild, and the stories he tells can be priceless. Like most homes, our kitchen refrigerator has its fair share of kid art pinned to it, but we also have quite a few pieces framed and proudly on display throughout the house. Jack doesn’t seem to mind that we exhibit his creations so proudly, and as along as he keeps making, we’ll keep displaying! Ladies and gentlemen… I give you “Shark in the Caribbean” – the latest piece by renowned and soon-to-be-famous abstract painter, Jack Robert Patterson.

Pressed nice and fresh!

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Regular readers of this blog might have noticed a little spike in the number of comments posted recently. Let me explain…

On Friday I published the last in a four-part retrospective mini-series about a trip I made out west a few years back. Like many northerners this time of year, I had been suffering from an annual bout of winter-induced cabin fever, and my main goal with that little series was really just to remind myself of warmer times and help get me closer to the springtime. Besides, the 9 degree farenheit bone-chilling temperatures over the weekend here in Maine meant I didn’t have any new and original photographs to share!

I was working from home on Friday when I started noticing a slew of email notifications from the blog flying into my gmail account. Since this wasn’t the first time I had been freshly pressed, I figured out fairly quickly what had likely happened. I wandered over to the WordPress home page and sure enough, there it was… a photograph from my most recent post… Back into the Valley of Death …pressed nice and fresh!

From the WP folks about Freshly Pressed: “Each weekday, we hand-pick and promote approximately ten new blog posts to the Freshly Pressed section of the WordPress.com homepage. These posts represent how WordPress.com can be used to entertain, enlighten or inspire.”

My email box was pretty busy over the weekend, and a quick check of my stats page indicates that since last Friday alone at about 10:00 a.m. when the fresh pressing actually occurred, there have been close to 17,000 new views on this blog! And since so many people were kind enough to take the time to comment on my blog, I felt that it was only right that I reply to them… believe me, that’s a lot of replies :)

Anyhoo… it’s Tuesday evening now, and as my blog slides off the WordPress front page the frenzied pace of site views and email notifications has slowed somewhat, I can finally take a deep breath and relax. It has been a fun weekend though, and before resuming our normal programming here on the blog, I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone for their very kind and generous words.

Thank You!

Back into the Valley of Death

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*Update: I have been overwhelmed with the kind words from everyone about this post. Being freshly pressed has certainly brought a new audience to my blog, and I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone for stopping by. If interested, here’s a more complete gallery of some of my favorite images from Death Valley.

Death Valley is one of the most spectacular places on the planet. It is a vast and diverse landscape, one that ranges in altitude from the heights of Telescope Peak (11,043 ft) in the Panamint Range, to the desolate and unique salt water flats at Badwater (282 feet below sea level). If you ever want to see a landscape that is like nothing you have ever seen, then DVNP is the place to go. This is the last in my mini-series of reflective posts from when my buddy Steve and I visited the american southwest a few years ago – Steve has a cool video and narrative of our trip posted on his blog, The Rabid Outdoorsman. Ignore his descriptions of my driving and the near-death experiences… all are highly exaggerated. We covered a crazy amount of ground on our trip, spending several days in Death Valley before driving north to escape the heat toward Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Deadhorse State Park.

One of the things I like most about blogging is how chronologically recorded stories allow for a retrospective glimpse at a timeline. When examining site stats, I often find myself checking out an older blog post that someone has searched for and visited, and from there I start to wander along the timeline, reminiscing as I begin a mini-journey of moments from the past. Building this little four part series from the southwest transported me back to 2009 when Steve and I had a blast exploring what was some seriously big country.

We wrapped up our conference where the stifling sidewalk heat of the Vegas strip hadn’t even come close to preparing us for the fieriness of Death Valley. Only fools, crazy europeans, and two idiots from Maine would venture out into the vast expanses of Death Valley in the summer where the temperatures were 120+ degrees, but we figured what the hey… we might never get a chance to do this again. Risking heatstroke, we wrapped water-drenched towels around our heads and plowed on as we explored some of the amazing and surreal sights of the valley. The photographs in this post are from several of the more iconic locations in Death Valley… the Mesquite Dunes near Stovepipe Wells, the Badwater Salt Flats, the Racetrack, Zabriskie Point, and then back to the dunes… truly awe-inspiring.

Thanks for indulging me with my past four posts and mini-review of this memorable trip to the southwest from a few years back. Now, back to the present day… regardless of the weather, I am determined to get out with the camera again this weekend, so your regular programming from a cold and wintry Maine should resume soon :)

Where dead horses once roamed…

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Is it just me, or does the title of this post read funny? It probably should have read “Where horses once roamed…” but that didn’t let me weave in the “dead ” part :)

This is the third in my little mini-series of posts about the southwest. It shows not a national park this time but a state park, although there is no shortage of beauty in this particular vista. The desert southwest of the United States is a vast area, though the three locations I have recently shared photographs of – Arches, Canyonlands, and now Deadhorse State Park – are surprisingly all within about 45-50 minutes of each other.

On the edge of Canyonlands National Park, Deadhorse State Park is a huge mesa overlooking the Colorado River as it snakes its way 2,000 feet below toward the Grand Canyon and beyond. Mustangs used to run wild on the mesa, and cowboys would drive the horses out onto what was a natural corral. Legend has it that a herd of not particularly market-worthy horses were left behind to find their way back onto the open range, but for some reason they chose to stay on the mesa where they unfortunately died of thirst… hence the name of the park.

Finding this photograph immediately brought back memories of dreams I had while on this trip in which I was always falling… considering the incredible vistas and the potential precipitous drops I encountered, not really all that surprising, eh?

A picture postcard from out west

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Continuing my theme from traveling in the southwestern United States, this is Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park… another postcard icon that you will find on the bucket list of many photographers. There’s a reason why this is considered an icon…. it is absolutely breathtaking to stand here and gaze through the arch to the landscape below. It isn’t hard to understand why people want to experience this place for themselves and make a photograph of it, myself included.

Back when I visited Canyonlands, I was on a panoramic kick. I often didn’t feel as though I could capture the magnificence of such an awe-inspiring scene within the constraints of the camera’s rectangular viewfinder, so I would shoot a series of overlapping frames, with the intention of stitching them together when I got back to the computer. This process can mean a lot of work, and the two panos in this post kind of got passed over at the time. I used to do this all by hand, though technology has come a long way, even in a couple of years, so I dusted them off and let the computer have a go at putting them together… not a bad result, and certainly a lot less hassle then stitching them by hand.

Hopefully the images in this post give a sense of how the spectacular morning light evolved from the blues and shadows of the pre-dawn, all the way through until the famous conditions developed where the early sun gets reflected on the underside of the arch, lighting it up like it was on fire. When I visited this area it was the summertime, and the sun was rising off to the left of the scene so I wasn’t able to capture any kind of starburst effect using the underside of the arch. Still pretty though…

A delicate and beautiful arch

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As winter’s grip tightens here in Maine, I’m sure like many cold-hatin’ photographers do, I recently went mining in the archives for memories of warmer times and photographs that had not yet been processed. Delicate Arch is one of 2,000 naturally preserved sandstone arches that can be found in the small, but incredibly interesting and aptly named “Arches” National Park. Located just outside the funky little town of Moab in Utah, I had the good fortune of exploring and enjoying this little gem of a place a few years back when I was attending a work-related conference out west with my buddy Steve.

I remember making the 1.5 mile round trip hike to Delicate Arch on a warm summer evening, huffing and puffing as we tried to reach the 52 ft tall icon before the sun had set. I also recall being absolutely mesmerized by the red sandstone landscape, and even though this is one of those picture postcards that many other people have photographed, I still got quite a buzz from being there in person and seeing it for myself – hiking back down the trail in the dark was also a pretty neat experience. Those are the La Sal Mountains in the background, rising higher than 12,000 feet along the eastern edge of the Utah state line and above the Colorado Plateau, and it never ceases to amaze me how “open” and “big” this landscape is.

The third photograph in this post was made on a different day… actually in late morning light, and from another trail and angle across a deep canyon. If you look closely, you can see a person standing under the arch, perhaps giving you a sense of just how big this structure actually is. It’s always good to explore new places, and I have to admit, the slickrock and surrounding landscape of this unique area made a huge impression on me.

The Dark Hedges: before the bright shiny fence

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I just talked to a college buddy of mine who now lives quite close to the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland, and he informed that a new, bright and shiny fence has been installed inside the tree line to help maintain control of the local livestock. Apparently it doesn’t exactly add to the splendor of the view, and that’s a shame, because this is a popular scene that has stirred the imagination of many photographers. While I totally understand the rationale, I can’t help thinking that a different strategy might have been employed… one that kept the sheep where they needed to be, and one that maintained the quality of the view.

This is a unique stretch of the Bregagh Road near Armoy, County Antrim in Northern Ireland that has been re-named locally as The Dark Hedges. Supposedly haunted by the “Grey Lady” who appears at dusk among the trees, I had an opportunity to visit here a few years back and although I did not see any ghosts, I was fascinated by what was once a pretty spectacular driveway leading to Gracehill Mansion, home of the Stuart family.

As you can see, over the past 300 years or so, the Beech trees guarding the lane have reached up and across to each other, becoming heavily intertwined to create a remarkable sight. People flock from all parts to photograph this scene, and although it certainly might look pretty cool on screen, seeing it in person is far more impressive. If looking for directions on how to get to there for yourself, check out a post I made from a while ago… just one of the many remarkable sights to be found back home in Northern Ireland.

I can’t imagine what it looks like with a bright and shiny fence :(

If interested in purchasing prints from this location, visit my online gallery at: http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com