100 Days of National Parks: Day 59 – Wandering Stones, Death Valley National Park

Wandering Stones

Racetrack Playa in Death Valley is one of those places that make you realize how strange and mysterious the world can actually be. Walking along the cracked and dry lake bed, miles and miles from the nearest civilization, you come across strange, serpentine tracks left in the dry mud. Following these tracks bring you to the infamous “Wandering Stones” of the Racetrack, and the reason the playa received its name. These stones, some too heavy to lift, slide along the valley floor for reasons that, until recently, were a complete mystery to scientists and casual visitors to the area. While it’s now known that these strange tracks are created by periods of freezing and thawing of winter water cover, which buoys the stones along, dragging long furrows in the muddy ground, walking through this desolate and remote section of Death Valley is still one of the stranger experiences you can find in any National Park.

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Wandering Stones

Wandering Stones
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Racetrack Playa in Death Valley is one of those places that make you realize how strange and mysterious the world can actually be.  Walking along the cracked and dry lake bed, miles and miles from the nearest civilization, you come across strange, serpentine tracks left in the dry mud.  Following these tracks bring you to the infamous “Wandering Stones” of the Racetrack, and the reason the playa received its name.  These stones, some too heavy to lift, slide along the valley floor for reasons that, until recently, were a complete mystery to scientists and casual visitors to the area.  While it’s now known that these strange tracks are created by periods of freezing and thawing of winter water cover, which buoys the stones along, dragging long furrows in the muddy ground, walking through this desolate and remote section of Death Valley is still one of the stranger experiences you can find in any National Park.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 59 – Wandering Stones, Death Valley National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 57 – Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

There are many reasons in my time as a photographer that I’ve had to sit and wait for a shot to materialize. It could be waiting for the right lighting, or for an animal to turn its head, or snapping away at a particularly large panorama, aligning each shot over the course of an hour to make sure it all lines up in the edit. Then there are those times when you simply know that you’re in a special place, one that is so popular that the people flock to it en masse, and all you can do is sit and wait patiently for the shot to clear so you can get that one clean exposure.

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Delicate Arch

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There are many reasons in my time as a photographer that I’ve had to sit and wait for a shot to materialize.  It could be waiting for the right lighting, or for an animal to turn its head, or snapping away at a particularly large panorama, aligning each shot over the course of an hour to make sure it all lines up in the edit.  Then there are those times when you simply know that you’re in a special place, one that is so popular that the people flock to it en masse, and all you can do is sit and wait patiently for the shot to clear so you can get that one clean exposure.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 57 – Delicate Arch, Arches National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 54 – Hickman Bridge, Capitol Reef National Park

As one of the easier hikes in Capitol Reef National Park, the short 2 mile trail to Hickman Bridge is definitely worth the stop, just for the chance to pass under the impressive natural span of sandstone. Other than Natural Bridges National Monument, I’ve never found a place with a more accessible, and stunning display of a natural bridge. Whether combined with a longer hike out to the Rim Overlook, which looks down upon the orchards of Fruita Valley, or as a short diversion when passing through the park, it’s definitely worth the stop.

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Hickman Bridge

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As one of the easier hikes in Capitol Reef National Park, the short 2 mile trail to Hickman Bridge is definitely worth the stop, just for the chance to pass under the impressive natural span of sandstone.  Other than Natural Bridges National Monument, I’ve never found a place with a more accessible, and stunning display of a natural bridge.  Whether combined with a longer hike out to the Rim Overlook, which looks down upon the orchards of Fruita Valley, or as a short diversion when passing through the park, it’s definitely worth the stop.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 54 – Hickman Bridge, Capitol Reef National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 51 – Mesa Arch Sunrise, Canyonlands National Park

One of the great challenges that I find as I travel and advance my photography career, is fighting the ever-present threat of desensitization to the beauty of the places I go and photograph. It hasn’t happened yet, though I’ve felt it creeping in, in amazingly beautiful places that I’ve been to several times, or seen in countless photos from other artists I admire. There are certain places that seem almost over-shot, places that you’ve seen countless times online or as prints in galleries, and so seeing them in person loses some of its luster, and photographing them almost becomes a chore. I’ve seen it in other photographers, arriving at a spot just to shoot it and get it over with, the passion and spark that led them to chasing those shots in the first place replaced with irritation at the process of capturing it.

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Mesa Arch Sunrise

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One of the great challenges that I find as I travel and advance my photography career, is fighting the ever-present threat of desensitization to the beauty of the places I go and photograph.  It hasn’t happened yet, though I’ve felt it creeping in, in amazingly beautiful places that I’ve been to several times, or seen in countless photos from other artists I admire.  There are certain places that seem almost over-shot, places that you’ve seen countless times online or as prints in galleries, and so seeing them in person loses some of its luster, and photographing them almost becomes a chore.  I’ve seen it in other photographers, arriving at a spot just to shoot it and get it over with, the passion and spark that led them to chasing those shots in the first place replaced with irritation at the process of capturing it.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 51 – Mesa Arch Sunrise, Canyonlands National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 50 – Bighorns on Checkerboard Mesa, Zion National Park

Bighorns on Checkerboard Mesa

It’s the halfway point of my 100 Days of National Parks Photo Series, and I wanted to mark it by going back to the photo that in many ways marked the beginning of my love affair with Zion National Park, with landscape and nature photography, and with travel and exploration in general. This shot of a herd of bighorn sheep on the slopes of Checkerboard Mesa in Zion is the first photo I took in the park, and marked the point where I stopped shooting randomly as a tourist, and started to take photos with a purpose in mind.

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Bighorns on Checkerboard Mesa

Bighorns on Checkerboard Mesa
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It’s the halfway point of my 100 Days of National Parks Photo Series, and I wanted to mark it by going back to the photo that in many ways marked the beginning of my love affair with Zion National Park, with landscape and nature photography, and with travel and exploration in general.  This shot of a herd of bighorn sheep on the slopes of Checkerboard Mesa in Zion is the first photo I took in the park, and marked the point where I stopped shooting randomly as a tourist, and started to take photos with a purpose in mind.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 50 – Bighorns on Checkerboard Mesa, Zion National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 46 – Living on the Edge, Grand Canyon National Park

Living on the Edge

One of the unique challenges of photographing the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is finding a way to capture more than the macro impression of the Park, the wide vistas, the depth and breadth of this massive chasm. As someone who loves landscapes, and particularly panoramas, I can say there are few places that lend themselves more readily to focusing on the big picture. What I find makes the most interesting shots, however, is often using the canyon as a backdrop, rather than the focus, of a shot.

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Living on the Edge

 

Living on the Edge
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One of the unique challenges of photographing the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is finding a way to capture more than the macro impression of the Park, the wide vistas, the depth and breadth of this massive chasm.  As someone who loves landscapes, and particularly panoramas, I can say there are few places that lend themselves more readily to focusing on the big picture.  What I find makes the most interesting shots, however, is often using the canyon as a backdrop, rather than the focus, of a shot.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 46 – Living on the Edge, Grand Canyon National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 41 – Teakettle Junction, Death Valley National Park

Sometimes it’s the randomness of a place, the strange traditions it’s inspired, the sense of discovery when you stumble upon it without expecting it, that makes it great. For all intents and purposes there’s nothing special about the junction of Hidden Valley Road and Racetrack Valley Road in Death Valley National Park. Like much of the park, there’s a lot of dirt, some barren mountains, more dirt, some rocks, and a few scraggly desert bushes for texture, but not much else. Except for the sign, that is.

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Teakette Junction

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Sometimes it’s the randomness of a place, the strange traditions it’s inspired, the sense of discovery when you stumble upon it without expecting it, that makes it great.  For all intents and purposes there’s nothing special about the junction of Hidden Valley Road and Racetrack Valley Road in Death Valley National Park.  Like much of the park, there’s a lot of dirt, some barren mountains, more dirt, some rocks, and a few scraggly desert bushes for texture, but not much else.  Except for the sign, that is.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 41 – Teakettle Junction, Death Valley National Park”