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?

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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…

Favorite Photographs

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I like taking photographs.

I have recently been reading some blog posts by photographers about the task of paring down all of the images you might have taken in the past year, and presenting your favorites for others to see. These photographers are very active shooters, who have enough images to actually make this a more worthwhile activity. I haven’t really been shooting all that much in 2009, so rather than limiting myself to just the past 12 months, I decided to take on the challenge of creating a collection of favorites from all of my images.

New to the blog are several pages that can be accessed from the menu above under the heading “Gallery” –  from there you can access several categories that I thought best suited the path that my photography has taken.

These are my favorites… not just based on how the final image is presented, but also because of the story behind how each of them was obtained, and the places and experiences I have been able to enjoy along the way. Many of these images were created either early in the morning or later in the day, usually outside of the general population’s tolerance for hanging around. Quite often I am alone in very pretty and peaceful settings when these images were made, and that often means more to me than the making of the actual photographs – though it is nice to empty the memory card and see what I was able to capture.

Here’s one of my all-time favorites to get things started:

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Another version of the Racetrack story

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The last time I visited the Southwest was back in 2007, and during that trip I was lucky enough to have the company of a friend. Steve is very much the outdoorsy type, having climbed the likes of Aconcagua, Mount Hood, and our own Mount Katahdin on numerous occasions. He is an avid hunter and sportsman, detailing his experiences on The Rabid Outdoorsman blog that I subscribe to.

Despite the fact that he slept most of the trip, Steve was able to capture some of his own images from our travels around the Southwest, and it is always enjoyable to see someone else’s perspective. We toured several National Parks including Death Valley, Arches, Canyonlands… along with Deadhorse State Park. He even created a short video of our adventures, and if interested you can see it here