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
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
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
After flying into St. George Municipal Airport and picking up our rental car, a 4×4 Jeep, we hit the road to Bryce National Park. Turned out that renting the AWD Jeep was a good idea because about 30 minutes into the drive the snow started coming down. Apparently we had flown in just as a blizzard was about to hit. For about an hour the snow came down so hard that we could barely see the lanes in the road. At some point the storm disappeared, we found a route to Bryce, and we arrived at our hotel 2 hours later than expected. We went to bed expecting that sunrise at Bryce would be covered up by the clouds.
We were treated to a nice surprise when we woke up: the radar showed an opening in the clouds right around sunrise. Drudgingly we got dressed, put on as many warm clothes as we could and headed out to Sunset Point to watch the sunrise (yes, its a bit of contradiction that Sunset Point is one of the best places to watch sunrise at Bryce). The clouds did stay away long enough for sunrise to occur and it lit up the hoodoos at Bryce beautifully. Unfortunately the sky was dull of color and none of those photos came out well.
After warming up in the car my buddy and I decided to hike the 1.5 mile Navajo Trail Loop into the canyons. The hike is absolutely stunning and we were treated to some beautiful light. As we descended into the canyon we came across this dead tree, that must have split in some previous storm. The light was hitting it perfectly — making it glow, almost as if it was on fire. I thought that it was neat that this photo combined the beautiful light with the falling snow — which shows off the wonderful juxtaposition of Bryce National Park: a dessert with huge red rock canyons, crazy rock formations, yet at the elevation that it SNOWS
Nikon D700 w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S:
70mm, f/2.8, 1/1250 sec, ISO 500
Available for Purchase at Aaron M Photography
My buddy and I decided to take a mini photo-vacation to Southern Utah/Northern Arizona with 2 goals in mind: shoot The Wave (Coyote Buttes) and The Subway (Zion). After flying into St. George Municipal Airport (SGU) and getting permits to hike The Wave we were all set
We got up early on Sunday, drove our 4×4 jeep into Vermillion Cliffs State Park, had a really fun time driving through the sand (and made sure not to get stuck), parked and then trekked to find The Wave. Like The Subway, theres no actual trail to The Wave. We both downloaded Topographical Map apps to our phones, pre-loaded the maps on, entered waypoints the night before, and used our natural sense of direction and occasional checks on the GPS to make sure we were in the right direction. The entire way to The Wave we were pretty much hiking through the dessert, making our own path, moving between shrubs, avoiding cactus plants and filling our shoes with sand.
Once we made it to The Wave we had the entire place to ourselves. When we first arrived I heard some japanese tourists as they left — we didnt see/hear another soul the entire day. The Wave is a lot smaller than I had thought. I had imagined it was this giant open space that extended for quite a distance; instead its a pretty small little cove of really awesome shaped rock. We spent a while exploring the little ins and outs of The Wave while snapping photos.
Unfortunately for us it was a cloudy day (and eventually started snowing In the middle of the dessert) and we couldnt take any of the typical Wave shots with the big waves and nice blue sky (and perhaps some clouds). Instead we had to keep our compositions to the rock only. I thought this photo was neat because it shows some great lines and also shows some perspective of the place. Theres also a neat illusion in this photo — its show so wide that my buddy is distorted and the area furthest from the camera appears much smaller than it actually was. I also liked this because it seemed to have almost a mirror effect to it
Nikon D700 w/Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.G ED-IF AF-S:
17mm, f/11, 1/80 sec, ISO 400, Handheld
No HDR — almost straight out of the camera (some curves, noise reduction, etc)
Available for Purchase at Aaron M Photography
My last stop on our photo vacation was Sedona, AZ home of the red-rocks. We knew that Cathedral Rock was completely over-photographed as well but you know what, everyones gotta have these photos in their portfolio so we figured wed head on over to Cathedral Rock and try to catch it glowing at sunset. When we arrived we walked all over the river bank trying to find a good spot. We had noticed a spot a little further upstream (to the left in this photo) that had great reflections of Cathedral Rock but we decided it was too over-photographed and went to this spot (note: eventually we did move back to the reflection spot and spent most of our time there, however, I preferred this photo once we were done shooting).
I liked this location because the rocks made an S curve in the water and eventually leads the eye into Cathedral Rock. A couple of guys and their dog were hanging out in the river keeping cool and I had to wait a longggggg time before they got out of my shot. I didnt mind the dog hanging around in the shot — it almost looks like a lion in the photo
Right before the trip I added the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens to my collection of gear and this was one of the first chances I had to put it to good use The 17-35mm was on my rent D700 and was just too wide for Cathedral Rock. I have a feeling im going to love this lens
This shot is part of my Arizona Photovacation Series. On our trip we stopped at Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon (Upper/Lower), the Grand Canyon, and Sedona.
Nikon D300s w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S
38mm, f/18, 13 seconds, ISO 125, Feisol Tripod
BW 3-stop grad Lee Filter Holder w/HiTech 3-stop ND, 3-stop ND Grad, and 2-stop ND Grad
Note: I didnt want to drop to ISO 125 (I wanted to keep it at native ISO 200) and I didnt want to go smaller aperture than f/13 but I wanted a long exposure for the water and that was the only way. I needed something like the 10-stop big stopper to have the settings how I wanted. There was just too much light even though I was adding in a roughly 11 stops of filters
Available for Purchase at Aaron M Photography