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Lady Wind

Lady Wind

When people ask where my favorite place to travel is theyre often surprised when I dont answer abroad and instead tell them the Southwest might be my favorite place to visit. Every time I head to Utah and Arizona Im just blown away. Antelope Canyon is one of those amazing places that leaves you speechless every time you visit. Ive visited this slot canyon several times yet theres always something new to see and explore.

Ive wanted to get this shot for quite some time but just never made time for it until this trip. With some time to kill on a cloudless morning, Willie, Breezy and I meandered the slot canyon for an hour by ourselves before the place became overrun with tourists. The rock formation on the left is known as Lady in the Wind. Can you spot her head, torso, and flowing hair Standing underneath her, looking up at the sky creates quite the dramatic scene. Ive photographed the Lady twice before from different angles and of the three I love them all for different reasons.

Warning: We were in for a bit of a shock when we arrived. As we waited for the canyon to open we noticed that there were 2 new, fancy, buildings at the entrance. It turns out that a new, and quite awful, company opened shop at Lower Antelope Canyon called Lower Antelope Canyon Tours. They are not the original tour company and they may even be operating illegally. They led us false information (for example: they claimed that the photography tour had to be a guided tour that started 1.5 hours after the canyon opened, well after the light would become harsh and horrible and that un-guided tours are no longer allowed). We went over to the original, Kens Tours, and were able to head into Lower Antelope Canyon unguided. We had the whole place to ourselves for almost an hour. After that is when things went downhill it became so crowded I couldnt even move. When I reached the end and wanted to turn back my only option was to climb up, out of the canyon, walk to the beginning from above, then climb back in to nab a few more shots. Lets hope they dont over commercialize Lower Antelope and turn it into the zoo that Upper Antelope is.

Nikon D800 w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S:
24mm, f/11, 1 sec, ISO 100
Exposure and focus stacked for increased dynamic range and depth.

Splishy Splash

Splishy Splash

On our first full day in Zion we hiked into one of the most amazing slot canyons in the world: The Narrows. We rented drysuit pants, neoprene socks, canyoneering shoes, and a walking stick and trudged 9 miles up and down the Virgin River. Some times the water was almost up to our thighs but mostly it was knee to ankle deep.

One of the photographs on our bucket-list was a photo of flowing water captured with the sunrise reflecting back in the water. As we hiked towards the Wall Street section of the Narrows we kept an eye on the color of the water. About 45 minutes into the hike we finally spotted the beautiful color reflecting in the water. I found a slightly shorter shutter speed brought out more of the color and definition in the water. I liked this particular spot because water was bouncing off one of the rocks in the river.

Nikon D800 w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S:
48mm, f/7.1, 1/15 sec, ISO 640
BW Circular Polarizer

Narrow Glow

Narrow Glow

One of the most amazing hikes in Zion National Park is The Narrows. Once Willie, Yan, and I donned on our drysuit pants, neoprene socks and canyoneering shoes we trudged 9 miles up and down the Virgin River through this beautiful slot canyon. In the morning the suns rays bounce off the red rock walls, causing them to glow with beautiful color.

After finding the end of Wall Street we hiked back towards the beginning and found some beautiful light, which we photographed for a while. Another photographer had already been there and informed us that even though it was still only 10:30am, we had missed the good light back at the end of Wall Street. We didnt believe him so we raced back to the end of Wall Street only to find out that he was right. We went in search of some more of the good light, which seemed like it was further towards the beginning of Wall Street.

On our walk back towards the beginning we found this small section of canyon wall that was just glowing with beautiful orange color. We stopped and used the water flowing around the rocks as a foreground element.

Dont you hate when you come home and find out that you partially ruined your shots with something as stupid as focusing slightly too close Even at f/10 the canyon walls are slightly soft here because I focused on the rock super closer to the camera, causing a DoF issue with the back walls. Oh well, Ill have to go back sometime

Nikon D800 w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S:
29mm, f/10, 3 sec, ISO 400
BW Circular Polarizer

Narrow Beauty

Narrow Beauty

One of the most amazing hikes in Zion National Park is The Narrows. Once Willie, Yan and I donned on our drysuit pants, neoprene socks and canyoneering shoes we trudged 9 miles up and down the Virgin River through this beautiful slot canyon. In the morning the suns rays bounce off the red rock walls, causing them to glow with beautiful color.

One of the first spots we found with glowing walls was here in the middle of Wall Street. This is only a small section of the rock wall that was lit with a beautiful orange and yellow but I really loved how the water was also reflecting the color. I decided to use a less traditional landscape (horizontal) orientation so that I could include the glow of the water in this photo.

We set out fairly early in the morning with the goal of being at the end of Wall Street by 10:30am. We stopped a couple times along the way and made it to Wall Street around that time but apparently missed the light show at one of the more popular spots. We back-tracked to find the light and stopped here around 10:45am with the light just blazing! Such an awesome place!

Nikon D800 w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S:
24mm, f/11, 1.3 sec, ISO 320
B+W Circular Polarizer

Purchase at Aaron M Photography

Packer' Up (and go home!)

Packer' Up (and go home!)

When the San Francisco Giants won the World Series this past year the entire city bathed itself in orange to celebrate the victory. Various buildings lit up the city skyline in orange. When Willie texted me to say that the city was bathed in Orange, Gold, and Red for the 49ers playoff game I knew I had to make it into the city Only there was one hitch: my roommate and I had just invited her parents over for dinner to see the apartment for the first time. With a sigh and If youre not home by 7pm Im throwing your camera gear out the window while you sleep I was granted permission to go

Willie and I made our way over to Twin Peaks. This was my first time here and we arrived early and walked around taking in the sights. There are a number of curvy roads that lead up to Twin Peaks and we wanted to use the winding roads in our photos. The plan was to first stay wide angle and include the winding roads while there was still some light and then throw on the telephoto lens as blue hour started to peak and focus on the colorful buildings.

I made the prediction earlier in the evening that the Beacon might make an appearance tonight and sure enough it did They couldnt turn the crown jewel on at 5pm during the holidays but they could for a sports team Dont question this, I was happy it was on As the sun went down and blue hour kicked in the orange and gold lights became more evident. Blue hour came and went before I really knew it (perhaps it was only about 5-10 minutes long).

I included Market Street, City Hall, Coit Tower, the Transamerica Building, and just a smudge of the Bay Bridge to commemorate the 49ers kicking the Packers tuchases (yiddish for BUTTS) You can also see that the tops of the Embarcadero Center buildings are lit in interlocking red and gold, just to the right of the Transamerica Building. What a neat sight

Nikon D800 w/Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF:
112mm, f/11, 5 sec, ISO 200

Glowscape

Glowscape

One of the most popular scenes near Moab, Utah is sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park. The previous night Andy and I had met up with Phill Monson and his brother-in-law Jeff to photograph Delicate Arch, and we arranged to meet on this particular morning at Mesa Arch at 5:30am. This meant leaving our hotel at 4:30am (ick). We wanted to be the first photographers at the arch so that we could stake out our favorite spot. To our delight we were the first photographers for a couple minutes at least. 5 minutes later our solitude was broken as groups of photographers began to arrive.

For a saturday morning we were extremely lucky – only about 15 photographers showed up. No pushing or shoving, knocking tripods, or being rude. Everyone politely came over, found a spot, setup their tripods and waited. As the sun began to rise over the La Sal Mountains in the background, the rays of light hit the underside of Mesa Arch and caused it to glow

I chose this composition because I wanted to include as much of the plateau below the arch as I could. There are beautiful mesas, buttes, spires, canyons, and rivers here and I wanted to try to include them all I also knew that I wanted to include some sky and as much of the arch as I could; at times I wished I could have even been more wide angle than I already was. I took a number of photos as the sun rose and I wanted to include the largest sunstar that I could; I chose this photo because it has the suns rays on both the mountains and the arch.

This is NOT an HDR. Phill challenged me to take advantage of the amazing dynamic range of the Nikon D800 and this is only 1 exposure All it took was some simple dodging and burning, a curves adjustment to bring back some contrast, and some additional minor tweaks here and there.

Nikon D800 w/Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S:
17mm, f/22, 0.6 sec, ISO 100
No Filters