Grand Canyon North Rim, Bright Angel Point

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Speaking of Grand Canyon North Rim… the most popular, and accessible trail is just outside of the Grand Canyon Lodge:  Bright Angel Point.

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The trail is paved and an easy walk to the point at the end, overlooking the vastness that is the Grand Canyon.  It’s hard not to be awestruck by it’s majestic depth and beauty.

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One takes pause to take it all in.

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I loved the craggy trees along the trail that grew out of moldy rocks filled with character.  These trees have grown and leaned in the wind and heard tales of generations who have walked past.

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Buzzard Point

I have lived in Arizona most of my adult life.  While I was born in Phoenix, I have moved around quite a bit… but settled into AZ when I went to college, and never left.  I now live outside the big city, away from the traffic and the crazies.  The biggest drama I have these days is the elk eating my tulips… or the deer pooping in my drive way… Or where to go for our outings.

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We just got back from exploring some of the back roads outside of Flagstaff in the Woody Mountain Road (FR 213) region.  This area has some amazing overlooks that just continue to amaze me with their stunning beauty.  As long as I have lived in Arizona, I never tire of it’s wonderful vistas, stunning ridges, and deep canyons.

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This particular trip took us to Forest Road (FR) 792 outside of Flagstaff, and in particular Buzzard Ridge Point.  The end of the road yields this stunning overlook that just takes your breath away…. simply amazing.

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Milk Ranch Road

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Last I blogged, I spoke about the Mogollon Rim and it’s many faces.  We continue to explore it’s personalities and strive to find new places to capture it’s essence.  This week’s trip took us to Milk Ranch Rd, which is kinda on-the-rim-off-the-rim.  You still get those great views, but not the great winds (if you’ve been to Mogollon Rim you know what I mean, it’s always windy).

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We found a great spot and stayed overnight to get sunset and sunrise shots.    The sun casts shadows across the canyons creating dark lines, making it ever challenging to capture.  But I’m up for the continued challenge.

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Unfortunately, on this particularly trip I forgot my tripod.  Pretty humorous that was an issue for me, as I have never been a tripod shooter.  It always seemed such a pain.  Now that I have embraced it, I can’t live without it.  I can set up the tripod and take those low light photographs (sunrise, sunset, stars) while maximizing my aperture to let lots of light in but still keeping my ISO low to avoid noise.  Star photos were a bit dicey though taken on a sweatshirt.  The glow of our fire cast a orange hue on the pine trees above.

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Rim Pix

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We have been trying to capture the Mogollon Rim.  While it is a drop dead gorgeous landscape, it is so vast it is hard to capture.  But we’re determined to build a collection of photos that do it justice.  So be prepared… this is not the first, nor will it be the last post on this topic.

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spirecPSi.JPGIt has so very many faces, both in terms of blue blue skies… and storm clouds on the horizon.  It’s got gnarly trees and craggy ridge lines.  It has endless personalities with tons of character.

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For us, it’s our all time FAVORITE place to have dinner.  I don’t know what it is, but we’ll pack up a dinner and head out to the rim… and the food always tastes better.  The scenery is surreal and of course, the company always fantastic.

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And when we’re lucky… we even get visitors (of the furry kind).  Last week we saw a bear.  Too far away to photo, but a bear nonetheless.  For us… that was a thrill.

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Whether to Weather

My friend, Maureen, recently asked me which is better – gray skies or blue.

Hmmm. As in all things… it depends.

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I love the dark clouds of an oncoming storm. It adds such great interest to a photo. Gray clouds are an entire different matter. They can create a washed out dull photo. In those situations it may be best to just cut the sky out of the photo altogether and enjoy the absence of a gray washed out sky.

Blue sky on the other hand can be very harsh and lend no interst to the sky… no drama or interest.

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It’s as they always say … dawn & dusk are the best.

Those times yield the best low lighting on your subject casting a nice soft glow.

Weather can yield the best photos. Dark, bloomy clouds add depth. But if it’s just gray and overcast it can create a bad photo day. Watch for the weather. Embrace it, and take advantage of the weather… it often adds more than less.

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Arches National Park

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Arches, while aptly named with memorable arches to view and walk amongst, is so much more.  It is multiple spires, hoodoos if you will, large canyons and seas of rock formations jutting out of the valley floor… and arches.

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Arches true colors shine at sunset when the colors turn a brilliant unreal orange-red.

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The rock pillars radiate as if they were on fire, taking on an other worldly glow.  It makes you stop dead in your feet just to take it in.  It comes like a storm, lights up the world, then without pause or hesitation it disappears behind the horizon until it comes back tomorrow.

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For me, I’m just happy to be witness to it’s grandeur and share in it’s awesome beauty.

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Slot Canyons

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Slots canyons are a landscape that is reminiscent of the desert southwest.  They are completely unique to Arizona / Utah area.  It’s not like they are common in Florida or Maine.  They are canyonesque shapes and textures that are unique unto themselves.

Here in Arizona they are common through the Indian Reservations… which unfortunately makes them expensive.  But there are other less accessible places to enjoy them, though they do require knowledge, agility, and a hike to get there.

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They also require, if you’re so inclined, finesse in capturing them photographically.  Slot canyons are an illusive subject matter with their sandstone form and varying light.  They represent an abstract challenge to capture visually.

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For me, they are difficult to capture.  Maybe because I tend to photograph tangible subjects like wildlife and landscape.  Photographing something abstract takes imagination.  You must see the shapes, contours and contrasts without washing out the colors.  It’s also technically difficult because the poor (dark) lighting conditions require a tripod … and a cloudy white balance setting promotes the orangey hue.  Pity I don’t have more opportunity to practice.

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