2012 Photo Trip – Day 3 – Horseshoe Bend & Lower Antelope Canyon

Day 3 of our trip brings us to the part that Gregg was most looking forward to: The Slot Canyons. Most of yesterday, whenever we found something narrow and vertical, he’d shout out “Slot Canyons!”

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend

We started the day with a hearty breakfast at the Courtyard in Page at about 8:30, thinking that the best time of day for Horseshoe Bend and the Slot Canyons would be high noon. The canyon walls on Horseshoe bend are so vertical that we were thinking vertical light would be needed. But, in hindsight, maybe not. I’m thinking the perfect time to be there would just after sunrise, as the sun is just touching the inner lip of the canyon. But thankfully HDR processing (via HDR Efex Pro, not the horrible job that the Photoshop HDR processor does) could render a semi-decent picture of the canyon and get the light to be acceptable. I still don’t like the “look” of HDR pictures, but this is one example where it was HDR or throw away most of the pictures.

Antelope Canyon Shaft of light, just before the invasion of VERY rude Japanese tourists

Antelope Canyon Shaft of light, just before the invasion of VERY rude Japanese tourists

After shooting around the canyon for an hour, we headed over to Lower Antelope Canyon, called  Hasdestwazi, or “spiral rock arches” by the Navajo. Kash told us that it was MUCH narrower and much “less commercial” than the upper canyon that everybody typically flocks too. And in talking to the people at the entrance booth, only one family runs the lower canyon, while 5 different tour groups fight over the upper canyon, so this is a much more relaxed, enjoyable place to be (except for the Japanese tourists which I’ll discuss later). We got our Photographers Pass (a free “upgrade” which means you’re basically alone, with time to setup and compose your pictures, rather than being walked through as a group).

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2012 Photo Trip – Day 2 – Vermillion Cliffs National Park

Day 2 on the photography trip was an improvised trip around the Vermillion Cliffs National Park. Gregg, Kash and I REALLY wanted to get into “The Wave”, but it’s only available by permit, and they only permit 10 people PER DAY into that area. We found out at 10am on Friday that if we could have been at the Ranger Station in Kanab at 9am on Friday, they hold a lottery for open slots on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I wish we would have known that ahead of time, but maybe this will help somebody else out in the future.

We drove north out highway 89, then headed south on House Rock Valley Road. We turned in at Buckskin Gulch and went for a walk. One thing I should mention is that the park maps that they have at the various trailheads are HORRIBLE. No distances, no trails. Nothing. Just a big blob in the middle that says Vermillion Cliffs National Park. I’m not used to finding that poor of maps at National Parks, so you’ve been warned… 🙂

Buckskin Gulch was really “unusual”. Strange formations, lots of hidden little canyons, and weird stuff everywhere.

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2012 Photo Trip – Day 1 – Grand Canyon

I had to go look too!

I had to go look too!

After a year and a half of no photo trips at all, I’ve been talking to my friend Gregg about a new photo excursion for 2012. We discussed going back to Arches and Canyonlands in Utah, and in starting to plan that trip, ended up adding Monument Valley, Grand Canyon and a few other places in northern Arizona. But the logistics of staging that long of a trip from Denver meant a LOT of driving time.

I’ve also been talking with another friend from Santa Barbara (Kash) and have been trying to coordinate meeting for a photo trip for years, but timing has never worked out until now.

So to make it a little less driving and a little more time on the ground, we all flew to Phoenix to start the trip.

Day 1 was at the Grand Canyon. We all got up WAY TOO EARLY in the morning and headed for the airport. We met at Phoenix at 9:30am, grabbed a quick breakfast, and then headed north. We had plans to come in from the eastern entrance and drive to Hopi Point (west of Grand Canyon Village), but never made it past Lipan Point. Based on an app (yes, technology) that shows us sun angles at sunset time, we figured that being on Lipan Point where the river curves to the north would give us the best light on the eastern walls of the canyon.

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2011 Parker Family Pictures

The entire Parker Clan

The entire Parker Clan

For the first time in quite a few years, we had the entire family together for Christmas this year. So, right after the traditional eggs benedict breakfast (which is significantly harder to make for this many people), we headed out to take family pictures. 600 of them. WAY too many to post, and way too many to process. but I did. And here’s the top 30 or 40… 🙂

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Christmas 2011

Cameron's still not happy about the pajama experience

Cameron's still not happy about the pajama experience

Christmas 2011 with the Parkers, Hogges and Holden families. Just the picture album below the break, no real stories (yet…)

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A Santa Barbara Picture Weekend

SB Sunset from Cliff Drive overlook

SB Sunset from Cliff Drive overlook

Since I brought the good camera equipment from home for the Christmas holiday, and had a weekend to hang around Santa Barbara, I decided to do a little photography on the side. For the first day, I drove up to East Camino Cielo, back through Solvang/Buelton to Nojoqui Falls, then back down the 101 into Santa Barbara for the sunset.

I had read about a new technique for “Polar Planets” I wanted to try out. I went and took some pictures of the Santa Barbara Mission and West Beach to see how they’d turn out. You can try out this technique yourself, but I will say that I’ve learned that having the bottom 10-25% of the entire panorama (vertically) be a fairly boring, consistent texture (i.e., grass, sand, concrete, etc) makes for a better picture.

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Santa Barbara Polar Pictures

Santa Barbara Mission - #1

Santa Barbara Mission - #1

I’m starting to play around with a new technique that maps panorama pictures into polar coordinates. I’m still learning “what” to do in both the original shots and the process to make them look good. I have a GREAT idea for a Christmas picture this year that should be a lot of fun.

Basically I take 12 pictures, then stitch them together. If anybody’s interested in trying this, send me a note and I’ll point you at the links that walked me through doing this.

Read more for additional examples

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The annual Steamboat trip – 2011

The Lowrimore’s, Goering’s, and I went up to Steamboat for our annual vacation. This year’s theme was lack of snow and COLD. Like highs of below 10, and lows around -10 through -15. Decent weather, although it got a little windy on our last night. Add that to the temps, and Brrrrr…

On the first day, we all bought tickets (whatever happened to early season ticket prices??? $80 for an adult??? To ski on brush, pine boughs, and ice? Fun, but not enough fun to do it for two days. So… on the second day…

… it was cold, but not quite cold enough to keep us from taking the kids out sledding. We went to the main hill leading up to the Gondola Base (Werner Circle), and found enough snow on the hill under the parking gondola to let the sleds run. We were sledding through weeds, but it was still a blast. Check out some of the expressions on the kinds faces….
Day three led me to get out of the condo with the cameras, and head over to a barn that I’d found last year (A Barn to Shoot Next Fall).  Not only did I get some great pictures of that barn, I also found a ski-boot graveyard, some horses, and then Gregg and I went back out again around sunset to get better light. The entire gallery is shown below the break.

December 10th, 2011 update: Gregg’s pictures from the barn trip can be found here and here.

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Fall Colors 2011, this time on the Softail

Taking the Softail out for a Fall Colors trip

Taking the Softail out for a Fall Colors trip

This year, I thought I’d try packing the cameras on the back of the Softail and head for Twin Lakes, one of my favorite “local” areas for Fall Colors. Knowing that I’d be on the bike, and would have to avoid gravel roads, I wasn’t sure what I’d do. As I was heading up Highway 70 towards the mountains, though, the heavy rainclouds started coming in from the south-west, and I definitely didn’t want to go on a rain-ride (although i did have rain gear, just in case).

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A quick trip to the Wild Animal Sanctuary

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! Along with some other critters too

Colleen, Cindy, Matt, Ryan and I went to the Wild Animal Sanctuary today to see what was out there. This is a place that takes in endangered and captive predators for rehabilitation, and then provides a permanent home for them for the rest of their lives. It’s a large operation with over 700 acres of land, and quite a bit more donated land waiting in the wings. We got there a little too late to see most of the cats (about 11am, since we missed the turnoff from hiway 76). And a heads up to everybody driving up there: Although their address says Keenesburg, they’re much closer to Hudson..

It’s a pretty neat place, but I’d recommend either very first thing in the AM or at dusk. It was a little too hot out there and the big cats were pretty lethargic. I still got a couple decent pix though.

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