Cache Valley: Foggy Grey Winter

Photograph of grain silos in dense fog.Above: Grain Silos near Lewiston, Utah on a grey foggy January afternoon in Northern Utah. Depending on the screen you view this on you can see quite a bit. I’m amazed I was able to get sharp focus on the silos. Could be the start of a series of posts on agriculture architecture. There certainly is a lot around the area. Does anyone know the difference (if any) between a silo, grain silo and a grain elevator?

Top images from 2012

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.

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Out of my comfort zone with fall color

Fall color, Blacksmith Fork Canyon in Northern Utah

I have a history with looking up in my photography that started a dozen or so years ago when my friend Jason Byers encouraged me to get closer and exaggerate the perspective of Cleveland skyscrapers. As a result my approach to large objects has always had two competing views. One that says step as far back as necessary to make absolutely sure the perspective is correct and the other that says get too close and look up. To get the perspective correct I use a tilt and shift lens when possible and correct perspective in photoshop for images taken with non PC lenses. For years I have been very comfortable with the way I see the world and what I want to photograph in it. Lately I have been experimenting with selective focus via tilting the lens as a way to creatively stretch they way I look at things. The images in this post a outside of my comfort zone photographically in two ways, one being that I don’t shoot fall color landscapes. They have not been of interest until I moved to Utah and I’m still not sure what I think beyond the color. The second thing that takes me out of my comfort zone is the play of focus. The lens tilt makes things look as if the are miniature and is best accomplished by looking down on the subject. However with the above shot I am clearly looking up. I enjoy the confusion that it causes. The western landscapes is huge and are always photographed to emphasize the size. However this stretch of mine is forcing these huge thing to appear way smaller than they are and thus subvert their western-ness.

Below is a more traditional angle of view using the tilt effect. Most photographers are aware that these effects can be accomplished in newer versions of Photoshop and many iOS apps however I personally would recommend using the lens itself. There is something about committing to the focus area you are interested in and locking that in the RAW file that gives the stretch impact. The lenses are available to rent from Borrow Lenses dot com and Lens Rentals dot com. 

Fall color, Logan Canyon in Northern Utah

Northern Utah: Fall Color

Fall color is in full swing here in Utah. Hope everyone is out enjoying it, I know I am. Last year I missed most of it due to travel so this is my first real Utah fall. It is amazing! In the coming weeks I’ll be posting more fall color, images from the Tetons, another Moab trip and an entirely new series. Hope to get things caught up before it starts snowing. Have fun exploring your world!

Exploring Canyonlands: Potash Road and the Shafer Switchbacks

The Shafer Switchbacks have been on my to do list since I caught the off-road, 4-wheeling, Overlanding bug a few years ago and on this last trip to Moab I had the opportunity drive them. This route was on my mind both from reading the Guide to Backroads around Moab and from viewing posts from the blog New Mexico Backroads a few weeks before my trip. Needless to say I was psyched! Above: Evaporation ponds and red rock. Below: Really red rock! If you look close in the center of the picture you can see a few ladders that are part of a ropes course.

Below: Looking up at Dead Horse Point State Park from Potash Road. Classic western landscape.

Below: Thelma and Louise Point looking at the Colorado River.

Below: Looking North from Thelma and Louise Point. The rock wall in the image produces amazing echo with 4 or more distinct slap backs. A very cool stereo experience. Give it a yodel and see for yourself. A few miles later we would enter Canyonlands National Park and be greeted with a small but very rocky section of road that required low range gearing and all of the driver’s attention (thus no photos of this section). My stock Xterra handled the rocky section beautifully. (edit summer 2014 the road has been improved and is now very smooth. Conditions can change with one good rainstorm, if in doubt contact the National Park.

Below: Shafer Switchbacks. Notice the very small people in the top right corner. Next time I’ll have to remember to stop at a few points and get some pictures. For my first time up I just kept my hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. The switchbacks and the climb were not that bad however I was not ready for the long drive on the narrow shelf road once we were at the top. That section was a bit nerve racking.

Below: Looking down on a group of cyclists that were starting multi day trek on the White Rim Trail. The road was first used as a cattle trail and later as a road for mining trucks. The thought of driving trucks on that road makes me think of the movie The Wages of Fear.

Exploring around Moab: Fisher Towers

On our last trip to Moab we decided to not just take 191 south from Cresent Junction but instead go north of I-70 and do some exploring in the Book Cliffs and Sego Canyon. That part of the adventure ended in the (almost) ghost  town of Thompson Utah and the next part would be the Colorado River Scenic Byway. A pullout near Fisher Towers would be the location of a quick road side dinner and some creative photography. Recently I have become interested in the technique of tilting the camera lens for artistic and technical effects. Most of the examples I have seen are of city or industrial scenes so I thought I would try it out on some southern Utah landscapes. Above: Fisher towers. Below: Mesa near Fisher Towers with tilt blur effect.

Below: Fisher towers with with tilt blur effect on the sky and the top of the red rock.

Below: Road into Moab (128) with tilt blur effect. It takes some practice using the lens in the field and getting the effect where you want it. The look is easily faked in Photoshop, for me though it is way more interesting to think about and apply the technique in camera.

Exploring Canyonlands: Needles Overlook

After our trip to Beef Basin we decided to check out the needles overlook before returning to Moab. As luck would have it we were the only ones there. Even though the wind had kicked up lots of dust making the view  very hazy the Needles Overlook was no less stunning. Sometime I’ll have to stay at the camp ground a few miles from here and photograph this area early morning light. I’m sure it is spectacular.

Below: Looking toward the needles district. In the distance you can see Cathedral Butte (on the right).

Below: Views form the Needles Overlook are stunning even in hazy conditions. I wonder how many lens caps and hats you could find at the base of the cliff. Strong wind can seemingly come out of nowhere and the fence is welcomed. I don’t generally have a fear of heights but this overlook had me holding the railing more than once.

Below: Be where you are. As a photographer visiting such a spectacular location it can be tempting to just get into a zone and photograph like mad. My wife taught me the saying “be where you are” and I keep it in mind when out exploring our world. Taking photographs is a major part of my experience to be sure, however I do take time in-between shots to stop and take things in. The smell of Juniper and the sound wind blowing through evergreen are some of my favorites. Watching birds in the updrafts around the cliffs is another. If you just take pictures the whole time have you really experienced the place or is it just a photo location?