Brigham City cell towers

The mountain behind our house has a passive repeater on it. It’s one of those things that looks like a blank billboard. I wrote about it back in 2011 in this blog post (link). Since that time my eye has been tuned to these various bits of communications infrastructure (especially outdated ones) and when I find ones that are interesting I make a picture of them. I have loosely grouped them as a collection called Repeaters, Towers and Power. 170317_Brigham City_Ut-10

Beautiful spring weather always inspires me to go out to look and see my environment and photograph what I find interesting. This day in March of 2017 it was communications equipment. As I was coming down from the pass that connects Cache Valley to the Wasatch Front here in Northern Utah I spotted a familiar group of cell towers, but today a maintenance crew was working on one. The normal collection of strait metal poles was disrupted by an orange slash of some sort of lift bucket being used by the workers. A cluster of cell towers had never been that interesting to me but that little bit of orange drew me in. The old utility pole that looks like a cross on the hill also sparked my attention. That I was seeing quite literally the new mode of communication replacing an older one. I remembered a time many years ago, in Ohio, when cell phones were just getting popular. All of a sudden these giant towers started showing up in fields and hill tops. It was disturbing because it was something new on that hill where it was only trees before. Us older folks are used to seeing them now and the younger kids have always known them. That is life. I cant imagine what the technology will be 50 years from now. Will these things be around or will we have moved on to something better? Think of houses with giant TV antennas or those huge satellite dishes. Who knows, maybe this seemingly mundane image will be of interest to a future generation who no longer lives in a landscape with these structures.

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A few blocks away I found a transceiver pointed to a nearby passive repeater. To my eyes it looks both old and futuristic. Like it should be in a Saturday afternoon movie. I imagine it being installed and it being the talk of the town. The big dish does certainly make a statement. 

Looking at the West: return to blogging

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Over the past few years I stopped publishing this blog. Just let it go. Not because I did not enjoy building it up but because it got to a point where it seemed like what is the purpose? Most other photography blogs I was exposed to were thinly veiled attempts to sell workshops or gear review and training sites. It felt as if photography as it exists on the web was only about selling gizmos. I could not find good content from photographers that interested me. That made me reconsider why I was doing it myself. In that confusion it became easier to just switch to Instagram and stop trying to write blog entries. After all it is more fun and interesting to just go out on adventures and take photos than to sit at a computer and write. After years and stops and starts on that platform I feel like it’s becoming just a huge space for advertising and self promotional content, plus the photos are too small. The end result is after I have liked about a 50 things I don’t feel any connection to what I just saw nor have I learned anything new. Maybe it’s time to get back to blogging. With a huge backload of images from  adventures over the last few years I’m planing on restarting the blog and posting with some consistency. The photo above is from earlier this year (2017) from a trip I made to Dinosaur National Monument, a place where I have had the great opportunity to work the last 2 summers as part of a team of researchers. I’ll get to what we were doing later but lets just say this is my happy place. The photo has all the elements of my adventures, interesting and rugged landscape, remote and rugged road and an epic view. Speaking of the view the river in the distance is the mighty Green River and it has just come out of Split Mountain located just to the right. In the distance are the Unitas, one of the few East-West trending ranges in North America and also the northern border of the Colorado Plateau.

Exploring Promontory: Golden Spike National Historic Site


Just over an hour away from Logan Utah and on the way to the Spiral Jetty is The Golden Spike National Historic Site. Usually I’m bringing friends out to the Jetty and we pass by much of what the site has to offer and just stop at the visitor center. This past trip was a bit different as my passengers were meeting me at the center and I would have some time alone to get off the main road and photograph along the East Grade Auto Tour. It was amazingly still and the only sound to be heard was that of a cow off in the distance. That changed with the unmistakeable sound of small caliber gunfire, and close too. Above and below: Looking East from the Central Pacific Grade on a beautiful spring evening.


The landscape of Promontory is unforgiving and it is that aspect along with it’s austere beauty that attracts me. On a previous visit the wind was so fierce that one could hardly stand outside of the car, it’s no wonder few people live here.


Take a moment and consider that these rail cuts were made by men with hand tools. Looking east through the cut toward Brigham City and the Wellsville Mountains. It was at this point I heard the gunfire and thought that it sounded pretty close. After returning to my car that was parked on the road I went through the cut and there I found the family using the Golden Spike Historic Site as their personal shooting range. As a reminder “Firearms may not be discharged in this national park or along the scenic drive and should not be used as a wildlife protection strategy”. Say what you will about firearms the thing that gets me is the attitudes of “it does not apply to me” or “I’m in the middle of nowhere so who cares”, in this case there are multiple public shooting ranges with in view of this location.



Promontory has a lot to offer if you have the patience to travel there and empathy for what you will discover. On this day I was pressed for time and had to get back to Cache Valley but I will no doubt return and continue to photograph the landscape around the Golden Spike National Historic Site in the near future.


Images and text © Andrew McAllister-Looking at the West.