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Southwest Black and Whites

For a while now I’ve been meaning to do a series of black and white photographs of the Southwest.  I’ve made a few trips to the National Parks of Utah recently with this in mind .  This series has photographs from Arches, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands National Parks, and Valley of the Fire State Park.   In particular, I tried to find images that featured trees.  Many of the trees in these parks are old or dead.  Their twisted and gnarled shapes make for some wonderful compositions.  Perhaps my favorite trail was the Navajo Knobs trail in Capitol Reef. This trail has volcanic rock and a plethora of dead junipers that make for perfect black and white compositions. 

Black and White Conversion Process

I like to create contrasty black and white images to highlight these features.  I start with a color digital file.  I use the high contrast red filter in Photoshop to achieve this effect. I start with the presets of the filter and then adjust the individual color levels accordingly.  I often lower the yellow percentage just a little and lower the Cyan and Blue levels even more to darken the sky.  

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King Lake

The long hike to King Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is worth the effort.  Near the end, you are rewarded with great views, rushing water, and abundant wildflowers.  Getting there requires a 6.5 mile hike from the Hessie Trailhead near Nederland, CO.  The trail begins steeply as it climbs over a rocky slope before reaching a trail divide after 1.5 miles.  Veer left (the right branch goes toward Jasper Lake). The trail crosses the creek and climbs past a beautiful waterfall.  You reach a trail divide again at mile marker 2.5.  Keep straight.  Then the trail enters the forest and climbs only gradually for the next three miles.  Not many views are found during this portion of the hike. Finally, the trail joins up with the creek again at around mile 5.5.  The next mile is steep as it switch backs up to a meeting with the Betty and Bob Lakes trail.  Just past the junction you have to cross the creek to reach King Lake.  In high water, the creek can be crossed easier to the right and then skirting back to the trail through some large boulders.  Finally, after a long hike, you reach the pretty shores of King Lake.  

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Picket Wire Canyon

I have been meaning to hike Picket Wire Canyon near La Junta, CO for some time now, but I kept putting it off.  I finally went down there to do a hike to the dinosaur tracks.  The wait was worth it.  The hike is a long one but the canyon is very green compared to the surrounding landscape. The wildflowers were also blooming in abundance due to some recent spring rains.  

The Hike

The trail starts at the Withers trailhead about 45 minutes south of La Junta.  The trail quickly descends into the canyon from the parking lot and loses about 250 feet in elevation.  Once in the main canyon, wildflowers dot the landscape including prickly primrose, sunflowers, and cholla cactus.  An old ranch house is reached after a mile.  The next landmark is a cemetery located 3.7 miles from the trailhead.  In this stretch of trail, views open up of the canyon and the Purgatory River below.  The dinosaur tracks are found another 1.5 miles down the trail.  Several Brontosaurus tracks tracks can be seen here.  An even bigger collection can be found just across the river, but due to high water, I decided not to wade it.  The hike is 11.6 miles round trip.  There is very little shade so bring plenty of water.  


Picket Wire Canyon is located south of LaJunta.  Take highway 109 from La Junta and turn onto the signed dirt road top the right after 13 miles.  The road will turn at mile 8 toward the canyon.  Follow this road for 6 miles.  One final turn is required and this road goes 3 miles to the trailhead.  The way is well-signed.  

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Niwot Erie Girls Soccer

Niwot and Erie High Schools met in the First Round of the CHSAA 4A Girl’s Soccer playoffs yesterday.  Niwot capped a crazy comeback with a goal in the 2nd overtime to advance to the 2nd Round.  Erie led 3-2 with :25 left in regulation but failed to properly throw in the ball deep in Niwot’s end.  Niwot took advantage of the miscue going the length of the field to score the tying goal with 17 seconds left.  It was a fun game to photograph as the girls were playing hard as any number of players dove for balls or took hard hits.  A light rain also was falling throughout the game. Kudos to both teams for a hard fought, action-packed game.

Calf Creek Falls

I decided to hike to Calf Creek Falls in the Escalante National Monument near Escalante, Utah this past weekend. Cloudy weather had put a damper on my plans to do some hiking along the Hole-in-the-Rock Road, so I stopped at the trailhead for the falls.  Calf Creek  Falls is a beautiful reward after a somewhat easy 3-mile hike through a pretty, riparian canyon.  The trail follows Calf Creek as it meanders through a deep canyon.  Along the way, many species of trees and birds can be spotted.  A number of Claret Cup cacti were blooming with their scarlet flowers as well.  The only drawback to the hike is that is features walking though deep sand the land mile or so.  The falls is tucked away at the end of the canyon.  

The trailhead for Calf Creek Falls is located about 15 miles form Escalante or 13 miles south of Boulder Town along Highway 12.     

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