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A personal blog of photography and commentary by Andrew McAllister.

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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.

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.

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.

20130209_Utah Scenic Route 128_088Who knew red rock country could look silver and blue? A few images from my first trip to Moab this year (February 2013). All three were taken along Utah Scenic Route 128. It starts near the ghost-town of Cisco and follows the Colorado River into Moab via Professor Valley. The image above is available through Glow Artworks who I starting working with earlier this year.20130209_Utah Scenic Route 128_074It would not be Utah if the landscape did not have some evidence of the gas and oil industry. The facility above is part of a pipeline that runs through the area.

20130209_Utah Scenic Route 128_078Lastly a view into Professor Valley from Utah Scenic Route 128. Close to the center is Fisher Towers, an area not known to look blue. FWIW all 3 images were shot with the spectacular Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar lens.

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.