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 15 – Divine Light, Death Valley National Park

Rays of Fire

I am perhaps the furthest thing from a religious man, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had profoundly spiritual moments in my life, moments that affirm for me the reasons I travel and seek out beauty in everything, the reasons I want to keep exploring in the future. I’ve found, through exploring wilderness areas, particularly in our National Parks, the kind of spiritual connection with the world I never knew before, an understanding of my place within that world, a profound appreciation for natural beauty in all its forms and a desire to see more of it before my time is done.

April 15th is a hard day for me. On this day in 2012, I lost my closest, best friend in the world, Erik Lemke, to a sudden illness that took him before I could say goodbye. For months I existed in a state of perpetual shock. I became disengaged from work, family, friends, everything. I was grieving, yes, but there was more to it. I was facing mortality in a way I’d never dealt with it before, and I was increasingly drawn toward doing all the things I’d always wanted to do, but never had the chance or will to do before.

In June of 2012, I took a road trip up highway 395 in Eastern California on a drive that would take me up to Washington for some much needed family time. On the way, I wanted to detour to some of the National Parks I’d always wanted to see, but for some reason in my five years living in Los Angeles, had never made the trip to. It was the beginning of what I referred to as My Summer of George, and would culminate in visiting a dozen National Parks that year and set me on the path I continue to walk today.

The first stop was Death Valley National Park. Though I arrived late and didn’t spend much time, I did manage to reach Furnace Creek in time to catch this shot, one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen, and one of those life-affirming moments I touched on earlier. There, standing on a rise above the furnace creek campground, I watched the sun blast its rays through the tiniest of holes in the pervasive cloud cover, divine rays stretching out across the sky in brilliant red and orange hues. In that moment I knew I couldn’t look back, that I had to see more moments like this in my short time on my earth, that I had to chase moments like this, seek them out wherever I could find them. It’s why I hike. It’s why I take photos.

Life is short, and filled with moments that could be missed opportunities if you don’t go out and take advantage of all the world has to offer. Get out. Stay out. Find your own.

Divine Light

Rays of Fire
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I am perhaps the furthest thing from a religious man, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had profoundly spiritual moments in my life, moments that affirm for me the reasons I travel and seek out beauty in everything, the reasons I want to keep exploring in the future.  I’ve found, through exploring wilderness areas, particularly in our National Parks, the kind of spiritual connection with the world I never knew before, an understanding of my place within that world, a profound appreciation for natural beauty in all its forms and a desire to see more of it before my time is done.

April 15th is a hard day for me.  On this day in 2012, I lost my closest, best friend in the world, Erik Lemke, to a sudden illness that took him before I could say goodbye.  For months I existed in a state of perpetual shock.  I became disengaged from work, family, friends, everything. I was grieving, yes, but there was more to it.  I was facing mortality in a way I’d never dealt with it before, and I was increasingly drawn toward doing all the things I’d always wanted to do, but never had the chance or will to do before.

In June of 2012, I took a road trip up highway 395 in Eastern California on a drive that would take me up to Washington for some much needed family time.  On the way, I wanted to detour to some of the National Parks I’d always wanted to see, but for some reason in my five years living in Los Angeles, had never made the trip to.  It was the beginning of what I referred to as My Summer of George, and would culminate in visiting a dozen National Parks that year and set me on the path I continue to walk today.

The first stop was Death Valley National Park.  Though I arrived late and didn’t spend much time, I did manage to reach Furnace Creek in time to catch this shot, one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen, and one of those life-affirming moments I touched on earlier.  There, standing on a rise above the furnace creek campground, I watched the sun blast its rays through the tiniest of holes in the pervasive cloud cover, divine rays stretching out across the sky in brilliant red and orange hues.  In that moment I knew I couldn’t look back, that I had to see more moments like this in my short time on my earth, that I had to chase moments like this, seek them out wherever I could find them.  It’s why I hike.  It’s why I take photos.

Life is short, and filled with moments that could be missed opportunities if you don’t go out and take advantage of all the world has to offer.  Get out.  Stay out.  Find your own.

100 Days of National Parks: Day 14 – Majesty in the Mojave, Joshua Tree National Park

If I’m being completely honest, I find Joshua Tree National Park, above all others, to be the most difficult park to photograph. I believe the main reason behind this difficulty for me is the profound aversion I have to the Mojave Desert. Dry, dusty, gross, and gray, I feel like you have to work to find the beauty in this landscape, to appreciate the minutiae of the details. Perhaps I’m jaded from spending so much time wandering through the deserts of Southern California, perhaps my aversion to the landscape is more deep-seeded, but whatever it is, I really dislike the Mojave Desert.

Despite all of this, however, there is true majesty to be found in the right angles, the right moments. Taken as a whole, the Mojave, and Joshua Tree National Park, seem barren, lifeless, vast expanses of gray and brown nothingness. It’s when you look at the details, however, and notice the wild asymmetry of the joshua tree in bloom, the way it stands out, and above, the surrounding landscape, that the beauty of this seemingly lifeless desert comes to the fore.

The monolithic namesake trees in Joshua Tree National Park stand taller than any other I’ve seen, and seem ancient, permanent. Their bulbous late winter flowers protrude from their spiked arms, drawing in a huge number of pollinating insects. The shade of their outstretched branches is the only respite in all the surrounding countryside from the ever-present heat of the sun above. They seem at once permanent and infinitely fragile, impervious to the harsh elements in which they grow, yet feeling weak enough to tip over with a strong push.
The extra work to find the right shot in Joshua Tree is what, for me, makes the experience of exploring the park a great one. While most of its visitors wander the iconic boulder fields or seek out its numerous mines and hidden canyons, for me its the challenge of finding the beautiful moments, the minute details that aren’t readily apparent at first glance, to appreciate the majesty of the mojave, in spite of its many flaws.

Majesty in the Mojave

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If I’m being completely honest, I find Joshua Tree National Park, above all others, to be the most difficult park to photograph.  I believe the main reason behind this difficulty for me is the profound aversion I have to the Mojave Desert.  Dry, dusty, gross, and gray, I feel like you have to work to find the beauty in this landscape, to appreciate the minutiae of the details.  Perhaps I’m jaded from spending so much time wandering through the deserts of Southern California, perhaps my aversion to the landscape is more deep-seeded, but whatever it is, I really dislike the Mojave Desert.

Despite all of this, however, there is true majesty to be found in the right angles, the right moments.  Taken as a whole, the Mojave, and Joshua Tree National Park, seem barren, lifeless, vast expanses of gray and brown nothingness.  It’s when you look at the details, however, and notice the wild asymmetry of the joshua tree in bloom, the way it stands out, and above, the surrounding landscape, that the beauty of this seemingly lifeless desert comes to the fore.

The monolithic namesake trees in Joshua Tree National Park stand taller than any other I’ve seen, and seem ancient, permanent.  Their bulbous late winter flowers protrude from their spiked arms, drawing in a huge number of pollinating insects.  The shade of their outstretched branches is the only respite in all the surrounding countryside from the ever-present heat of the sun above.  They seem at once permanent and infinitely fragile, impervious to the harsh elements in which they grow, yet feeling weak enough to tip over with a strong push.

The extra work to find the right shot in Joshua Tree is what, for me, makes the experience of exploring the park a great one.  While most of its visitors wander the iconic boulder fields or seek out its numerous mines and hidden canyons, for me its the challenge of finding the beautiful moments, the minute details that aren’t readily apparent at first glance, to appreciate the majesty of the mojave, in spite of its many flaws.