100 Days of National Parks: Day 63 – Storm Shadow – Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Rising up above the valley floor outside of Cortez Colorado onto the towering bluff of Mesa Verde, it’s easy to get distracted by the view of the southern Rockies to the northeast. The towering snow-covered peaks beckon, trying to pull wanderers like myself deeper into their midst. Climbing up the winding road into Mesa Verde at sunrise, I found my gaze continuously drawn to the amazing sunrise, and the looming shadow of a late spring storm descending on the mountains. It was one of the most spectacular vistas I’ve ever come across, and as a result, I arrived at my intended destination far later than I’d planned.

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Storm Shadow

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Rising up above the valley floor outside of Cortez Colorado onto the towering bluff of Mesa Verde, it’s easy to get distracted by the view of the southern Rockies to the northeast.  The towering snow-covered peaks beckon, trying to pull wanderers like myself deeper into their midst.  Climbing up the winding road into Mesa Verde at sunrise, I found my gaze continuously drawn to the amazing sunrise, and the looming shadow of a late spring storm descending on the mountains.  It was one of the most spectacular vistas I’ve ever come across, and as a result, I arrived at my intended destination far later than I’d planned.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 63 – Storm Shadow – Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 61 – Morning Beneath the Patriarchs, Zion National Park

Morning beneath the Patriarchs

One of the benefits in becoming as familiar with Zion National Park as I have become over the past half decade is the fact that I can go to the park and not feel the need to constantly chase new sights or places I haven’t seen. On my last real trip to the park in November of 2014, I spent two weeks hiking familiar and unfamiliar trails and generally wandering the park freely, as the winter chill had emptied the park of most of its crowds, allowing me the peace of exploring at my own pace in my own manner.

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Morning Beneath the Patriarchs

 

Morning beneath the Patriarchs
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One of the benefits in becoming as familiar with Zion National Park as I have become over the past half decade is the fact that I can go to the park and not feel the need to constantly chase new sights or places I haven’t seen.  On my last real trip to the park in November of 2014, I spent two weeks hiking familiar and unfamiliar trails and generally wandering the park freely, as the winter chill had emptied the park of most of its crowds, allowing me the peace of exploring at my own pace in my own manner.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 61 – Morning Beneath the Patriarchs, Zion National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 56 – Sunrise Point, Bryce Canyon National Park

The view over Bryce Canyon at sunrise is truly a special sight, as the first light of the day shines across the distant plateaus of the Grand Staircase and illuminates the high walls and towering hoodoos of the Faerieland Amphitheater. Crowds in the hundreds are known to assemble at the accurately named Sunrise point to watch the spectacle, and with good reason. Of all the places I’ve watched sunrises, Bryce Canyon is one of the best.

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Sunrise Point

The view over Bryce Canyon at sunrise is truly a special sight, as the first light of the day shines across the distant plateaus of the Grand Staircase and illuminates the high walls and towering hoodoos of the Faerieland Amphitheater.  Crowds in the hundreds are known to assemble at the accurately named Sunrise point to watch the spectacle, and with good reason.  Of all the places I’ve watched sunrises, Bryce Canyon is one of the best.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 56 – Sunrise Point, Bryce Canyon 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 39 – Golden Dawn – Crater Lake National Park

Sunrises over Crater Lake are always dramatic, but when the smoke from nearby wildfires obscured the sun during my visit there in September of 2015, I was treated to this remarkable scene across the lake. As damaging and dangerous as wildfires can be, I love the way they impact the light of the rising and setting sun.

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Golden Dawn

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Sunrises over Crater Lake are always dramatic, but when the smoke from nearby wildfires obscured the sun during my visit there in September of 2015, I was treated to this remarkable scene across the lake.  As damaging and dangerous as wildfires can be, I love the way they impact the light of the rising and setting sun.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 39 – Golden Dawn – Crater Lake National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 26 – Mather Point Sunrise, Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Sunrise

In many ways, there’s no better place to get up early and watch the sunrise than on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. There’s something refreshingly peaceful about the feeling of waking up at 5am and heading out into the dark to one of the many points overlooking the black vastness of the canyon below, and settling to watch as morning light slowly warms the eastern horizon.

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Mather Point Sunrise

Grand Canyon Sunrise
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In many ways, there’s no better place to get up early and watch the sunrise than on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  There’s something refreshingly peaceful about the feeling of waking up at 5am and heading out into the dark to one of the many points overlooking the black vastness of the canyon below, and settling to watch as morning light slowly warms the eastern horizon.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 26 – Mather Point Sunrise, Grand Canyon”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 16 – Light in the Storm, Zion National Park

Light in the Storm

After what’s been an unexpectedly rough and emotional week, I find nothing re-energizes me on a creative, emotional, and spiritual level than getting out and exploring. When work has me worn down, or my personal life seems to be falling to pieces, I find the simple act of getting out and wandering, finding beautiful moments and beautiful places to photograph, is often enough to clear my head and bring the peace of mind I’m craving.

In September of 2012, my wanderlust was in full swing. I’d started a new job, but had a week off each month to get out and explore, and the main target on my list was a return to Zion National Park. Still trying to find some piece of myself that I found lacking, trying to make myself whole after multiple failed relationships and personal losses, I set out for seven days in southern Utah that would wind up being transformative in my outlook and would further establish my profound love affair with Zion and the National Parks in general.

I’d been once before, seemingly in passing during a weekend road trip the year before, and associated much of the places in the Park with a relationship and people that I no longer wanted to be connected to. Instead of hiding from those associations, though, I faced them head-on, and made a concerted effort to establish new associations, new connections, that have proven more profound and real than any that may have existed before.

A few days into my week there, a massive storm rolled through, and I was privileged to witness one of the most spectacular scenes that everyone should have a chance to appreciate some day. Zion in the rain is a singular experience, one that transforms the park from a dramatic landscape to something otherworldly, seemingly created just for your eyes. As the crowds thin and the clouds obscure the pinnacles of the surrounding cliffs, waterfalls spring out of dry rock faces and life abounds, animals and plants bursting forward to revel in the surrounding wetness.

The morning of the storm, I woke early to take photos of the sunrise, and was treated to this amazing vision as the sunlight streamed through a small hole in the clouds on the East Rim of the park. The darkness of the storm seemed to part and let the light through, and I stood in awe of the scene, brief and fleeting though it was, and consider myself profoundly lucky to have been there to witness it.

It’s a true metaphor for the effect visiting these amazing places has on my life and my outlook on the world. No matter how dark things may seem, that darkness just makes it easier to appreciate the moments of light when they find their way through the holes and cracks in the storm.

Light in the Storm

Light in the Storm
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After what’s been an unexpectedly rough and emotional week, I find nothing re-energizes me on a creative, emotional, and spiritual level than getting out and exploring.  When work has me worn down, or my personal life seems to be falling to pieces, I find the simple act of getting out and wandering, finding beautiful moments and beautiful places to photograph, is often enough to clear my head and bring the peace of mind I’m craving.

In September of 2012, my wanderlust was in full swing.  I’d started a new job, but had a week off each month to get out and explore, and the main target on my list was a return to Zion National Park.  Still trying to find some piece of myself that I found lacking, trying to make myself whole after multiple failed relationships and personal losses, I set out for seven days in southern Utah that would wind up being transformative in my outlook and would further establish my profound love affair with Zion and the National Parks in general.

I’d been once before, seemingly in passing during a weekend road trip the year before, and associated much of the places in the Park with a relationship and people that I no longer wanted to be connected to.  Instead of hiding from those associations, though, I faced them head-on, and made a concerted effort to establish new associations, new connections, that have proven more profound and real than any that may have existed before.

A few days into my week there, a massive storm rolled through, and I was privileged to witness one of the most spectacular scenes that everyone should have a chance to appreciate some day.  Zion in the rain is a singular experience, one that transforms the park from a dramatic landscape to something otherworldly, seemingly created just for your eyes.  As the crowds thin and the clouds obscure the pinnacles of the surrounding cliffs, waterfalls spring out of dry rock faces and life abounds, animals and plants bursting forward to revel in the surrounding wetness.

The morning of the storm, I woke early to take photos of the sunrise, and was treated to this amazing vision as the sunlight streamed through a small hole in the clouds on the East Rim of the park.  The darkness of the storm seemed to part and let the light through, and I stood in awe of the scene, brief and fleeting though it was, and consider myself profoundly lucky to have been there to witness it.

It’s a true metaphor for the effect visiting these amazing places has on my life and my outlook on the world.  No matter how dark things may seem, that darkness just makes it easier to appreciate the moments of light when they find their way through the holes and cracks in the storm.