2013 in 10 photos

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This was a year of looking, learning and contemplating. If I had to choose just one image to represent 2013 it would be this image of a mountain goat on Willard Peak in Northern Utah. I took the photo on a drive to Inspiration Point with a photographer friend who shoots pictures of wildlife. Unlike earlier trips when I looked at animals through binoculars, this time we hiked to the mountain goats and saw them at close range. I look forward to doing more of this in 2014. Technical info: Willard Peak via National Forest Road (starts in Mantua) to Inspiration Point. Accessible in warm months by automobiles with high clearance. The last few turns are  at over 9000 feet elevation and exposed. Not for the faint of heart.

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Lone teenager at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. Any year when you get to visit Moab six times is a good year. The area offers so much to explore and so many photographic possibilities that it boggles the mind. Now that I can go there frequently, I have the luxury of not feeling rushed or compelled to fill the day with a million must-see things.

Hunter Power Plant from Ghost Rock

Ghost Rocks viewpoint looking toward the Hunter Power Plant. This photo was taken on a solo winter trip to photograph the area. It was nice to experience Southern Utah at a slower pace and find new locations like this. The quickest way from Moab to SLC is through Price, but a winter storm made travel over Soldier Summit questionable so I took I-70 across the San Rafael Swell and saw a new part of the state.

Top of the World TrailPhone Home on the Range. Last spring I had the opportunity to travel the Kokopelli Trail on a Cruise Moab pre-run. A friend was writing a review of an off-road trailer so I came along to document the run. This great trip gave me access to some amazing country that is not accessible with my stock 4-wd vehicle and I got to meet a group of off-road travel enthusiasts. The view from here to the East Tavaputs Plateau–the ridge line in the distance–is more than 40 miles.

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In 2012 I wrote about a grain elevator in Preston, Idaho that burned down and how it seemed to have changed the identity of the town. This year I explored this idea and created a series of images documenting grain silos in small towns within a few hours of Cache Valley, Utah. The image above is from Soda Springs, Idaho. More images from the series can be found on my website.

20130317_Ogden_Utah_094-EditThe series on grain elevators led me to industrial areas of towns and other sites like this at American Nutrition in Ogden, Utah. The dramatic light and shadow from the late afternoon sun bring out the structural beauty in this otherwise mundane industrial facility.

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My search for silos took me north to Pocatello, Idaho, where I came across Walts Scrap Metal. It may not speak to everyone, but it interests me because of the play of the flat surfaces depicting western scenes against the actual western landscape. Additionally, the compression of space and the illusions it creates is a kind of puzzle and you have to really look at the photo to pull the different elements apart and try to make sense of the image. Scenes like this make the hours of driving worth it to me.
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On a return trip to Utah from Denver I crossed the continental divide via Rocky Mountain National Park’s Trail Ridge Road. I had just completed a Phase One Capture One training event and was delighted to come upon this dramatic scene.
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As I mentioned, 2013 involved a lot of learning and looking. When not photographing I spend a lot of time looking at the world via Google Earth. Last year I took advantage the opportunity to look down from an airplane window in Iceland: the location is somewhere between Reykjavik and Akureyri.131020_Moab_138 1Shelf road leading out of Spring Canyon. From my sixth and final Moab trip of 2013. I hope you enjoyed this short review of my 2013 photographs and if you have a similar post about your past year’s adventures please share a link in the comments section.

Happy travels and pleasant photography for the coming year!

Exploring Greater Canyonlands: Maries Place

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On your way to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in Southern Utah on the top of the first hill you will pass by a small ghost town with a locked gate and a sign over the entrance that says Maries Place. Most people will hardly notice and just pass by this desolate and nondescript grouping of buildings without ever knowing the colorful story of what happened here. Above: the Inner Portal of the Home of Truth. The story of these buildings can be found in the wikipedia entry “Home of Truth, Utah”20130208_Maries_Place_038Above: The locked gate. Respect private property and photograph the Home of Truth from the road. Hopefully in the future it will be open for visitors to explore.

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Above: Abandoned buildings at the Home of Truth. I would love to someday tour the facility and see the view from that wrap around porch.

20130208_Maries_Place_051Above: The largest building at the Home of Truth photographed in early morning light from North Flats Road. The area around the Home of Truth is great for scenic driving with many striped rock outcroppings and the occasional corral.The better part of an hour south of Moab it is usually passed by as visitors are on the way to the famous newspaper rock petroglyph site.

Small Town Utah: Brigham City

Brigham City, Utah

I took a walk around Downtown Brigham City earlier this year. It was the back of building that caught my eye this time. You get a different story when you walk the back alley. Old cars, a BBQ, TV antenna (who still uses those?), A really old building made of odd shaped rocks and with no windows, lots of wires and a new prefab temple and a carwash.

Brigham City, UtahAbove: Someones Hideout, my favorite shot of the day. Photographed just before the leaves hid it for the summer. More wires.

Brigham City, UtahAbove: More wires and shopping for boxes. A popular dumpster that had 3 visitors while I was photographing here none of whom seemed to notice me.

Brigham City, UtahAbove: The old general Store in Brigham city with 4.9 cent gas on a beautiful day.

Brigham City, UtahAbove: A couple of barns with green sides and beige backs, a bag caught in the tree and a small dog watching me.

Brigham City, UtahLast stop, the Grain Silo. They sure keep this one clean and tidy. At first I was not sure about cropping the top of the silo head house but now I love the way it divides up the space. one more for my Grain Silo Survey project.

Looking at: Malad City Idaho

Grain Elevator, Malad, Idaho

My exploration of the west is not that of a grand vacation or sponsored trek to some exotic location but one of many small trips to locations starting close to home and moving gradually farther away. It starts out with an idea for a photography project or a curiosity about a certain area. Following that I spend some quality time with a paper atlas and then some snooping around on google earth. My visits to Malad City Idaho so far have been for two different projects. The first is my exploration of commercial blocks in small towns the second is a more focused project documenting grain silos in the area as the exist in 2013. Above: Profile view of grain silo’s in Malad, Idaho.

Malad, Idaho grain elevators

Above: Silo structures in Malad City, Idaho. The square silo building in the foreground is a wooden structure clad in tin. If you look closely you can read that at one time it was a part of General Mills. The tin siding takes a beating in the wind and a large section has been recently replaced. Notice the letter “M” on the hillside. A very small skunk crossed the road while I was photographing the scene above. Though not visible in this frame it was fun to watch.

Western mural painted on the side of a bowling alley in Malad, Idaho

In my exploration of small western towns I have taken notice of these really cool western murals. Many are fading badly and I hope someone out there is keeping the tradition alive.

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I love it when I find buildings like these. The Thomas Electric Furniture building looks majestic compared to the Hotpoint building. When I see building like the one on the left I can only wonder what they were like when they were first built. All those windows on the top floor must have let in so much light. Was it storage, a workshop a residence? If I am there on a day they are open I’ll have to ask.

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Department Store in Malad City. This is an interesting grouping of buildings. The building on the left is actually a wedge shape on the intersection. the building that says CO-OP BLOCK actually wraps around it with entrances on two different streets. Though now all connected notice the 3 different window dimensions. Also notice that when the original windows were replaced they used off the shelf solutions instead of keeping the curved top window. Lastly notice the faces at the top and the ornamental metalwork and the photographer (me) reflected in the window by the door.

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Bikers out on a Sunday drive pass through Malad City Idaho. Visible from this angle you can see the other side of the CO-OP BLOCK building and how it wraps around to the other street. The red building is the Oneida Pioneer Museum

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Lots of interesting (and gross) things can be found by walking a towns alleys. In Malad City I was fascinated by this small red building behind what was a ZCMI building. A classic low-road building that I am amazed is still standing.

20130512_Malad_Idaho_038Lastly another silo structure with a few features I am wondering about. The tanks have a coating or insulation that I have not seen on other silos and the head house on the two silos on the right is unlike ones I have seen before. Notice the letter “M” on the hillside on the right.

Ogden Utah industrial agriculture

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This past winter I started looking at grain silo’s, mills and other structures associated with industrial agriculture in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho with the idea of creating a photographic survey. Above: Horizon Milling facility, Ogden Utah 2013.

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Above: Cache Commodities, Ogden Utah 2013 Check out the piping and sorting units. Anyone with information about various parts of these facilities please comment.

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Above: Abandoned slip formed silo’s near Wasatch Laboratories in downtown Ogden, Utah 2013. When visiting these type of sites make sure to respect fences and no trespassing signs. I look at it as an additional challenge to photograph from roads and public access ways.

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Above: American Nutrition, Ogden, Utah 2013. Love how the late afternoon sun creates those hard lined shadows.

Phone Home On The Range

Phone Home On The Range

It’s been a busy month or so but the lack of posts do not mean I have not been out looking at the west. I have some new images ready that include a trip on the Kokopelli Trail (including Top of the World and Rose garden Hill) during Cruise Moab, lots of looking at grain elevators around Cache Valley and some other nice scenery.

Arches National Park: Delicate Arch

20130303_Moab Trip_8304Locations like Delicate Arch are difficult to photograph. Look online and you can see thousands on technically great shots, thousands more that try to hard with star trails, sparklers, dramatic light and on and on. Lots of advice as to best time of day or examples of the arch in different seasons. The first time I was there I made a midday panorama that had around 70 people in it. A cold day in early March had a dozen people up there posing for family photos under the arch and more on the way up. Delicate Arch is kind of like the Eiffel Tower in that the thing itself is so cool and so recognizable that photographs of it rarely do it justice. Delicate Arch and they way you come up on it from the trail is so powerful that I like to sit down and enjoy the view and spend some quality time taking it all in, consider how amazing it is that this exists. Then take some pictures, mostly for my personal archive.

20130303_Moab Trip_8258As I was sitting up there on a rock at Delicate Arch, camera anchored to one of my trusty tripods, watching all the people and taking it in. A family with teenage boys approached the Arch and had a little photo session. Mom and Dad hugging under the Arch, Mom with the boys, goofy shots looking like you are pushing the arch, all the usual stuff. One of the teenage boys wandered away from the group and was messing with a phone or iPod. As I watched him I noticed that this was the picture that I wanted to make. Kind of funny to walk up to a world famous site and take a picture that does not include the “famous” thing. It’s a shot, a view, a situation that I had not seen, it spoke to me of being disconnected to the environment. 20130303_Moab Trip_8320

People watching in the National Parks is a great activity as is spotting cool cars in the parking lots. As we concluded the hike and made it to the parking lot the first thing I noticed was this really cool bright red Jeep. Chrome wheels, big tires, winch, fancy bumpers, the works. Easily a $50K ride but with no soul (at least not yet). Parked a short distance was this old Dodge Van. My friends and I gathered around it and inspected it’s scars, rust and dirt. This was not the best ride in the lot but man it has some history. Just looking at it you know it has had some serious adventures.

No Town Utah: Floy revisited

20130209_Floy Utah_014Not all of Southern Utah is Red Rock. The ranch exit of Floy (near Crescent Junction) has a great collection of strange grey lumps that may make you think you are on another planet. I last visited in early February and it was much to muddy to go exploring off the road. The time before it was around 100˚ with no shade. This landscape at the base of the Book Cliff does not fail to inspire.

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Above: When driving Utah 152 watch your speed. Because the road is empty 99.99% time, it’s tempting to drive in the middle or left side of the road to avoid potholes and rough section. Beware though that the road does have blind areas and would be terrible to have a head on collision in such a remote place (or anywhere). On a technical note these images were shot using Nikon’s 24mm PC-E lens. I’m finding it to be a great lens for the landscapes I’m photographing. Any thoughts on the lens flair in the right corner. Some people like it, I usually get rid of it.

20130209_Floy Utah_008Above: Contrail in the Southern Utah sky.

20130209_Floy Utah_007Above: Open Road at the Floy ranch exit near Crescent Junction. Note the lack of shoulder and no fence so watch out for the wildlife.