Monthly Archives: November 2012

Dakotas in Winter

Fargo North Dakota would normally not be my destination in late November but family obligations called me up there for Thanksgiving.  I took the opportunity to visit a couple of places I had never been –Sioux Falls and Badlands National Park.  Sioux Falls is in downtwon Sioux Falls, SD.  A nice park surrounds the waterfall itself. Unfortunately, the sun is in your face when I visited in late afternoon.  Talk about lens flare.  I was still able to make a couple of nice exposures using a split neutral density filter.  The falls were in shadow and the sky was bright.  I will have to go back when the light is hitting the falls.

Sioux Falls

After battling temperatures in the teens on Black Friday in Fargo, I stopped at Badlands National Park near Rapid City on the way back to town.  The Badlands are not as colorful as the red rock formations of Utah but are still interesting for hoodoos and sandstone formations.  I did not have much time to spend in the park but witnessed one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen.  I tried to frame some of the formations as silhouettes against the sunset.

Badlands Silhouette

The reflected light from the clouds even lit up the tips of some of the badlands.  Badlands Alpine Glow

My son was very excited to see more desert bighorn sheep here after we saw several at Zion a couple of weeks ago. 

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I photographed the Colorado/Washington football game in Boulder yesterday.  The Buffs season is thankfully coming to an end.  Another blowout loss is hard to see.  This Washington receiver diving into the end zone was one of the few good action shots.  Can’t wait for basketball season.  The area teams look to be very good this year.

Touchdown Dive

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Valley of the Fire

I took a trip to southern Utah this past week to see the last of the fall colors.  The weather turned cold and rainy so I headed to Valley of the Fire state park in Nevada.  One of the interesting features for photographers of this park is the many small rock caves that light up brilliant colors in reflected light.  I spent a number of hours photographing these little alcoves.  One in particular, Windstone Arch, contains a small arch with intricate detail in the stone behind it.  I waited for a gorup of photographers to shoot it and then crammed myself into the small space.  I had to adjust my tripod lower just to fit it under the rim.

Later in the day, I spent time looking for a formation dubbed Crazy Hill.  The directions said follow a ravine out of parking lot #3 so I followed one only to find out it was the wrong ravine.   A fellow photographer later showed me the way.  I just had to follow another ravine down a short distance form the parking lot.  Did I feel stupid.  Crazy Hill is made up of streaked rock of all different colors.  It looks like a painter spilled any number of paint buckets.

My favorite place is Fire Wave.  It is a red and white swirled rock that resembles the Wave formation in the Vermillion Cliffs.  A quite colorful sunset greeted the few of us who came out to photograph that evening.  Good photographs can be made from any number of angles here so I did photographs using the setting sun lighting up the rock and using the clouds lighting up after sunset.

There are few trails in the park so one of the best parts is finding features that no one else has discovered.  There are any number of streaked rocks, fins, and other rock formations for photographers to work with in the park.

Fire Wave on Fire

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White Pocket

White Pocket is an area of Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in northern Arizona that is getting more attention from photographers as the Wave becomes increasingly hard to gain access to.  Although it is relatively small in size, the area offers any number of photographic opportunities.  The area is comprised of rock that is swirled in ways that make it look as though it is liquified.  The top layer is mostly white (hence the name) but you can find red, yellow, and pink in many places as well.  Much of the top surface looks like brain matter as it is dotted with geometric patterns.

There may not be an iconic feature such as the Wave to photograph here but the area has many interesting features.  One of my favorite places to photograph is a small canyon where the walls are made of striated red and white sandstone.  The lines seem to lead every which way here. Another favorite is a yellow and white rock formation that looks like a giant ice cream cone.

A wide angle lens such as a 24mm or a 17mm is a must here along with a 70-200 zoom.  I used both a 17mm and 24mm Tilt/shift lens from Canon.  The perspective control helped keep in focus the immense depth of many of the rock formations.

Getting to White Pocket is somewhat of a challenge due to the deep sand in the road the last couple of miles.  To get there, you follow House Valley Rock Road for about 12 miles and then turn onto a sandy track to the north east for another 4 miles.  Many people have gotten their stock SUVs stuck in the sand here so be careful if you go.  Several guide services are available in Kanab, UT and one, Paria Outpost and Outfitters, is located near the old BLM permit office near MP 21 on Hwy 89.

White Pocket fins

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