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A personal blog of photography and commentary by Andrew McAllister.

Posts tagged Idaho

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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!

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.

20130406_Downey_Idaho_8626In my travels I often come across cool little low road buildings that I think would make great artist studios. This one is in Downey and is a combination of a cabin with french doors and a quonset hut. Images from Google Earth show that until recently there were a few others next to it. I learned about low road buildings and how they contribute to society in Stewart Brand’s book How Building Learn. These little buildings are ephemeral and I am compelled to document them while they still exist. 
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Downey, IdahoOn my last trip to Downey I was at the tail end of a 3 day weather system that came across Northern Utah and Southern Idaho. As I was photographing the grain elevators in Downey I got the dramatic light I was hoping for. Over the span of a few minutes the light went from a cool overcast grey to super dramatic. I like both images however at some point I will have to decide which one to keep as the portfolio image.

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I would like to ask followers of Looking at the West which version of the scene they prefer and why.

Top images from 2012 and a little info behind their selection.20120102_Whites Valley Utah_020Above: Whites Valley in Northern Utah. An introduction to a different western landscape and the beginning of my exploration Northern Utah and Idaho. Looking forward to exploring the gem state in 2013 and have 4 trips planned already.

Simpson Springs Station.

Above: Simpson Springs Station on the Pony Express Trail in the West Desert of Utah, from a journey I’ll do again this year with the UXOC. This is a beautiful and remote area that I’d love to explore more, maybe pulling a camper from Moby 1.Preston Grain Silo

Above: Preston, Idaho on a sunny Sunday morning January 2012 and the start of a project looking at small western towns and structures that define place. In this case it was the grain elevator that defined entering Preston and unfortunately it was destroyed by fire a month later.Downey Idaho

Above: Weston, Idaho and another grain elevator. This one looks particularly church like. I revisited Weston in December and the sign and pole have been removed. Time moves on even in small towns.20120413_Mantua_027

Above: Mantua, Utah spring 2012. At the time I took this the space reminded me of Iceland. Looking at it now it is nothing like Iceland, trees for starters. Maybe it was the really green treeless hills and the rain snow mix of weather. I’ll settle for exotic looking and not what you expect for a Utah landscape. FWIW locals pronounce Mantua as “Man Away”.

Road along the Bear River

Above: Near Cutler Reservoir early spring 2012. Jetsons-looking power pole in a barren landscape carved by man for irrigation.Beef Basin

Above: Near the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Trying to get a feel for how massive these formations are (look at the fence at the base).20120805_Floy_Utah_008

Above: Ranch Exit at Floy, Utah. Grey lumps in the barren landscape just north of I-70. Composed in a way that excludes the book cliffs and any of the red rock that southern Utah is famous for. People have commented on the texture of the grey earth looking elephant like.Driving the desert of Southern Utah

Above: from the base of the Book Cliffs looking toward Moab, Klondike Bluff and the Manti La Sal Mountains. From a solo trip to Moab in early August 2012.20120804_Onion Creek Road_048

Above: Onion Creek Road near Moab. Look for more images from this area in the coming year. Lots to explore and photograph. This was taken on my first trip on the road and as it was getting dark I made my way back to the main road. Not being familiar with the road, alone, and without additional illumination on the Xterra. Why risk driving off the road in the dark? 20121021_Caribou National Forest_039Above: Open road on Skyline Drive near Weston Canyon in Caribou National Forest. From a day of photographing open roads near the Utah-Idaho border in late October and my last trip on this road before it was closed for the season. As I was taking these images I came across three moose; a nice way to end a day of solitary photography. Work kept me busy the rest of the year and so this is where my 2012 season of photography ended. Looking forward to what 2013 will bring.

Thanks to everyone who liked a post, made a comment, nominated me for an award or became a follower of Looking at the West.

My past eight posts have been about Southern Utah and my trips to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. The landscape is so dramatic there that it has been a struggle to get back in a Northern Utah frame of mind for the blog. However slow posting does not mean I have not been out looking at the west and exploring. Shortly before leaving for Moab I met up again with the Utah Xterra Owners Club for an afterwork outing on Skyline Drive above Bountiful. When the outing was first being discussed I had misinterpreted where we were meeting and discovered that there are many skyline drives in Utah. Our trip that evening was cut short due to a gate being locked but we did find a few nice spots to pull over and enjoy the sunset. Though the view is nice the overall experience is a bit squalid. The area was crawling with people most of whom were on ATV’s and dirt bikes and many more camping on the side of the road. Literally on the side of the road. Like not even ten feet from the road. Needless to say this area is not on my list of places to camp. However the view is worth it and I saw more than a few 2WD cars up there so give it a look if you are in the area. The road starts near the big “B” above Bountiful. When the road is fully open you can drive all the way up to Bountiful Peak (elevation 9259 ft.)

The photo above is from another Skyline Drive. This road is in the Caribou National Forest just over the Idaho border. Given the location you will see more cattle than people and the area was ATV free during our visit. I would recommend starting from the Cache Valley side vs. the I-15 side as it’s a bit tricky to find the road on the west side. From the small town of Weston head west toward Weston Canyon. The road to Dry Canyon Campground is the road you want to start the drive. It’s a decent gravel road and not challenging. The views are not spectacular in a postcard kind of way but subtle, relaxed and quite. When I came across this small herd of cattle tucked away along this creek I had to stop and take a picture. It really says “the west” to me.

Downtown Downey Idaho April 2012. Two classic brick structures define the main intersection of this small farming town (population 613) in southern Idaho.

Old Downey Theater sign says “opening soon Laurel and Hardies.” The two story structure is called Hyde Block and it houses the town’s market It features an ad for Mountaineer Overalls with Stop Loss pockets.

The best image from the shoot includes a dilapidated two-story building, a grain elevator, a bar with a log cabin facade, and a variety of other single-story buildings.

Cunningham Implement and Downey Lumber bathed in orange street light.