A busy week of decent shots

Last week the kiddo got the chance to spend some time with her Great Grand Parents which meant I had some free time to get out and shoot some photos and my wife got some time to relax by herself. All good things.

The week in question started last Saturday when my buddy Collin and I decided to try and go shoot some wildlife at one of the various birding spots. Unfortunately, they had decided to close and lock the gates early, so we had ended up driving there for nothing. After some humming and hawing, we ran a few errands and then I got convinced to do a midnight hike up Adams Canyon. Normally, I really enjoy the hike as it’s quite scenic and the stream is a great relaxer. However, it was dark and I was in flip-flops. Thusly, I was not in any way ready for this. In hindsight I’m glad he talked me into it as we got to the top and shot some long exposures of the waterfall with the stars in the background. Here’s the shot I ended up with:

Adam's Canyon at Night

I tried fidgeting with it to see if I could post in a Milky Way trail behind the waterfall, but none of those images looked very good so I decided to stick with the original.

On Wednesday, I was invited out for an impromptu photo walk as a buddy of mine Zach Leroy (IG: @zacharyleroy) was wanting to get some iconic Ogden shots for his upcoming gallery for next month’s FFAS (First Friday Art Stroll). I always enjoy following him around as he has an extremely unusual perspective by which he sees normal or boring things. I’d recommend check out his Instagram as there is a real sense of art in the mundane objects he shoots. I do think these excursions make me a substantially better photographer. Of course the trip wasn’t just watching someone else snap pictures, I managed to get a few myself. I was pretty happy with most of the keepers. Since I have been trying to work on my HDR skills a little more, I opted to shoot things that would push me more that way. My favorite shot of the evening ended up being the little coffee stop on the corner of Washington and 25th:

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I also managed to get a few decent shots around sunset (which was the entire point of the trip) one of which had a funky painted van, and the other a nice shot of the Well’s Fargo building:

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Aside from those, we stopped on 24th to snap a couple of pictures and swap IG follows with a few kids who were out skateboarding in the area. I’ve always liked snapping photos of skateboarding as the action shots are always super dramatic. If you catch someone mid trick (whether they land it or not) they always look like a bad-ass. Example:

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The week wrapped up yesterday as Collin and I went out to snatch some more sunset shots from a place I visited a few years ago by accident with my buddy Trevor. Unfortunately, the mountains ran in such a way that we didn’t get the sunset hitting the valley we were in like I was hoping. We did however get to pet a couple of beautiful and sweet horses, which was nice.

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Unlike with most photos where I really waver back and forth on whether or not to go black and white, this one was obvious from the start. Going Monochrome here just adds so much more texture and drama. I really loved this shot (even if it kind of looks like there’s a horse-centipede going on in the back).

Since we knew early on the valley was going to be a bust, we moved on as quick as we could in hopes to catch a sunset. The sky was cloudy and it was raining in various parts of the Wasatch front so we figured the sky would be exploding with color if we could just get high enough on the mountain to look out west. We ended up missing it by about 10-15 minutes, but we know where to head to next time. I did manage to get one more pretty solid HDR shots, and a couple mediocre ones. Here’s how those came out:

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I’m not 100% sure I’m going to keep the bottom two in color. I’m not even entirely sure how much I like them. But, I figure I’d post them here and see what everyone else though and if they stink I can always dump them later.

It felt really good to be able to get out and shoot more this last week as prior to this, the last time I got to take a photo of something was around the 4th of July, and that is much too long to go without being outside and roaming about. I think that will do it for this one. As always, until next time– Thanks for reading!
-D

Me Time + Charity Work = Awesomest Week Ever!

This last week managed to be eventful for a couple of reasons. Monday I called into work and opted to take a personal day so I could get out and have some much needed nature time. For the last month or so the weather has been sunny and 60+ degrees during the week and cold, windy, and rainy on the weekends. Knowing full well that Monday was going to be beautiful and it really was. I opted then, after a short search, to find a new hike to take since I had plenty of time to do so. After grabbing some breakfast and moseying about, I left for the Hidden Valley.

I had read online that the trail was pretty well hidden and that there weren’t markers to tell you when to turn off. Since the Hidden Valley hike is connected Indian Head Trail, I manged to accidentally hike about 2/3rd’s of the trail before doubling back and finding the right turnoff. On the bright side though, I happened to detour off to a small rock outcropping and get a decent shot of the Ogden Canyon:

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Once I got back to the right turnoff, I was fortunate enough to run into a group of other hikers who were headed to the same place. It was kind of nice having some people to chat with along the way as the hike up was grueling and long. It was however, totally worth it. I managed a few pretty cool shots along the trail including this one:

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Once I got to the top of the mountain range, there is a short drop back down into a gorgeous wooded valley that sits between the front and back peaks of the Wasatch. Also the payoff at the end is not only a view of the mountain that was peeking out through the trees, but some really neat rock stacking piles that hikers have added to over the years.

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The stack in the top photo is about five and a half feet tall whereas the bottom one is about three feet tall. Of course, like a good hiker and art lover I made sure to add a rock to each pile, snap a few more photos and head out. I would have likely stayed a little longer, but it was starting to rain, and I was in shorts and a t-shirt and thusly not prepared for that. I stopped for one more photo op on the way down to catch a shot of the storm rolling into Ogden from the mountains:

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After recovering from a small cold I caught and pushing through a long week of work, I got to participate in my second adventure of the week: The Utah Firefighters Calendar!

This is exactly what you think it is, and it’s entirely a volunteer based project. My buddy Ben Sant, who also shot last years calendar invited me along to assist him and learn some lighting as well as how to pose models, who were in this case, shredded shirtless Firefighters. The project, which will put out the calendar later this year was done through donations of time and labor, and the sale of the calendars goes to the American Cancer Society. For those who know me, I’m a sucker for a good cause and love the opportunity to give back to a community anyway I can. While I can’t post any full on shots of the gentlemen who are in the calendar I am able to show off a few behind the scenes photos of the shoot, which will hopefully tease you all enough to go out and buy one! If you’re interested in learning more about the project you can check the facebook page here, or if you want to buy one of last years calendars now (and a new one later this year), you can order those through the website Here! You can also search the hashtags ‪#‎fightcanerwithmuscle‬ ‪#‎utahfirefightercalendar

Now for a couple shots:

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On a final note for this post, I finally got around to uploading a few more things into the store front, so If you’d like to order some prints (I can assure you I’d love you forever if you did!), be sure to click the image in the top right corner of the page! Also, I added some more shots to my 500px portfolio which you can see here. If you want to order a print that isn’t in the store, shoot me a message on any of my various networks and let me know, and I’ll get it uploaded for you.

Well that’s all for this one. As always, until next time –Thanks for reading!
-D

Pulling out all the (f)stops

Thankfully, yesterday I was able to get out and shoot some photos again. It’s been a couple of weeks (thus the lack of blog posts) due to a very hectic schedule on both mine and my wife’s part. Nonetheless, it felt great to get out and do some hiking and I opted to try one I hadn’t done before. So I charged my camera and headed out to the Layton area to explore Adam’s Canyon.

This hike was both gorgeous and grueling, taking me just a little over three hours to finish. The hike portion felt a lot like when I attempted Indian Head trail a few years back. There is a series of switchbacks at the start where you pick up a majority of your elevation. It also was similar to Waterfall Canyon in that the payoff for completing this 4 mile (round-trip) hike is a decently sized, albeit not quite as big, 40 foot waterfall at the end. I figured this would be a great place to try and work on pulling water again since you hike along a pretty fast-paced river the whole way. Best of all there were at least a couple of points throughout the hike where you had a few drop offs on the river to make for some great shots, like so:

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The Last shot of the above group was probably my favorite of the three. There is a small bridge that crosses over the river at around the 75% mark of the hike and the surrounding area is absolutely gorgeous.

Of course, what good would I be if I didn’t provide a shot of the payoff at the end of the hike. I have mixed feelings about it for a couple of reasons:

1) I had managed to keep myself (especially my feet) dry the entire way up to the top. Except that in order to see the actual waterfall you have to tread through the river thus wasting all that effort and subsequently making for a soggy and sloppy hike back down.

2) The waterfall while wonderful, isn’t near the size and scope of the one at Waterfall Canyon, and as such will always feel a little lackluster given that the hike to get to it is substantially more difficult and time consuming.

3) On the positive side, the water was exceptionally cold and refreshing, and I managed to run into a trio of awesome humans who had made the hike for the purpose of cleaning up garbage along the trail. I chatted with them for a little bit, but didn’t think to get their names, so if you happen to know them, give them a big hug and another thank you from me!

Anyways, here’s the money shot:
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and here’s a shot of the three lovely souls who help take care of our trails:
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With all that said, I want to take a quick second as an aside to this to say something.

If the burden of carrying the extra 3-5 grams of weight that your snack wrappers, ziploc bags, or empty water bottles is too much for you to bear, then you should not only skip hiking altogether, but you should probably stop breathing all of out air, you filthy lazy slobs. Please, do us a favor and stay home, where you can be free to lie about in your own filth like the garbage monster you truly are. /End Rant

Now, where was I? Oh yes! Hiking.

All in all I was pretty happy with most of the shots I got and I feel like I am definitely getting better at the silky water thing. I also managed to snap a panorama on my way out right as the sun started setting which I’m pretty happy with as well.

Adams Canyon Pano

There were some other shots I took of the sunset itself as the clouds lent themselves to a pretty epic shoot, but my angles were either way off, or the Sun was much too blown out to be salvageable. Maybe next time I’ll get some that work.

That’s all for this time. As always, thanks for reading!
-D

Hiking the frozen Waterfall

Last week I had hear from some friends that the waterfall was frozen over around this time of year since it finally got cold to do so. The hike went while substantially more difficult do to the ice and slush, also happened to go quite a bit faster than usual. I’d wager it’s because of all the snow creating a long ramp to the top. In some places the snow was up to my waist or about three feet deep. So between sliding about or sinking into a random pit trap, I finally made it too the top where I managed to snap a few shots of the waterfall:

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While I don’t think either of the shots is perfect, I like the blues and contrast on the top one. I also like the more prominent detail of the black and white version.

Since both of these images were composites of multiple, I realized after getting home, the angle I was standing at wasn’t optimal for getting a good wide-angle shot of the whole thing. So for today’s lesson I suggest this tidbit:

Be willing to move around and shoot from different angles! By standing in the one spot, I thought I had what I needed, but alas, I was wrong. I could have likely spent a little more time up there trying a few different things, but I had plans with the wife to go see a movie and didn’t want to be stuck on the mountainside during the previews. However, I will likely get back out and try again before the winter season is officially over and spend a little more time on the next adventure.

Another positive note, is because of all the snow we’ve gotten this year, I am very excited to see the waterfall come spring/early summer. It should gushing at a rate I haven’t seen since I first moved here.

On the way back down, I did stop to try and catch a long panorama of Ogden as the mix of sunlight, clouds, and shadows was just gorgeous. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out:

Ogden Pano

Sadly I haven’t shot a lot this past week aside from that trip so hopefully this week will be better for that. As always, until next time — Thanks for reading!
-D

Appreciating Happenstance

Earlier this week I happened to have a few days off before the holiday where I got to get out and do some hiking/take some pictures. As of late I’ve really been wanting to try and catch some cool wildlife shots in the areas around Ogden. Sadly, those haven’t worked out so well. When I didn’t have my camera with me or the right lens or whatever the case may have been, I’ve stumbled across all manner of woodland critters. However, when I’m actually prepared to take a shot, the creatures of the world seem to know that and opt to stay inside and do whatever the mammalian equivalent of “binge netflix” is.

On the bright side, I did get a couple of pictures that came together simply because of my location and a series of events well outside my control. For example, I set up to take a photo of this woodland scene off of Birdsong Trail that would eventually be an HDR image of a hiking/biking trail with a nice mix of greens and browns as the whole of the wooded area hadn’t yet turned for winter yet. As I began shooting the control images (before I start adjusting the EV) an older gentleman who has coming back from a short mountain biking ride rolled into the frame and I snapped this:

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After catching a few shots of him on his way by, I went back to work on the HDR setup. Once I got home and started review for post, I hated the way the HDR was coming out, but I noticed the shots of the guy on his bike were pretty nice. With a quick bit of post (using a homemade preset) I noticed the image was both sharp, but had a painting like feel to it. So I ended up rolling with these instead.

The other worthwhile shots I got were from wandering into a “no trespassing zone” which ran along the Ogden River heading up 12th street. After a short hike, I was sitting at the mouth of the canyon enjoying the coolness of fall and shooting in a kind of 360 degree fashion. I was just snapping off photos of anything that looked “woodsy” as I was more involved in the hike than I was in bothering to take any pictures. But, sometimes laziness pays off:

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Again this image remained sharp while still feeling like a painting. I would guess that is largely due to the lighting of the fairly overcast day, but since I wasn’t being terribly deliberate in any of my shooting that day I can only wager a guess.

On a side note, I snapped a picture on my hike back to the car as it just seemed really weird and out of place. There was a small amount of litter along the pseudo-pathway I was taking and other general signs that maybe some homeless people had taken up shelter here previously. What caught my eye however was that someone had tied a belt around the branches of a tree for seemingly no reason. I could understand if it was tied differently, it could have been for a bear bag, or to hang clothes that had been washed in the river, or something. But this looked like it was there simply just so someone who found it would be confused. So here’s a belt in a tree:

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To finish this post up, I also got to do a family portrait shoot out at Beus Pond, which came out great. Because the client is using photos as Christmas presents/cards, they’ve asked I not post them online yet. Since I’m such a nice guy, I’ve agreed and will only be posting the favorites after the holiday. However, I was asked to put up a teaser photo or two on Facebook, so I feel like I can drop those here too! What can I say, I’m hella excited for how they’ll be received!

Warning: This couple is super adorable and may cause you to Aww.

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That’s all for this one. Until next time, Thanks for reading!
-D

Moab Overnighter

Today I turned 31, which means I’m officially in my 30s. Aside from just being old, that means I’m wiser too right? Fret not dear reader, I assure you that isn’t the case. I am however becoming way more “granola kid” as a friend of mine puts it. In my growing years I’ve taken up hiking a lot more than I ever did as a kid. Of course, as a kid I was mostly terrified of everything, so the thought of wandering off into the wilderness seemed like just about the worst idea ever. Nowadays, I’ve spent enough time around other human beings that on most days I can’t wait to just flee into the mountains and be rid of them all.

That rambling introduction leads to the meat of this post (which I promise is coming) which was a short trip to Moab I’d taken last week. A few weeks back a few friends of mine and I were out shooting some astro at the Spiral Jetty when we hatched the plan to go down to arches for a couple days and get some of those classic portfolio shots from there. Sadly one of my friends had to work, but my buddy Collin was down to roll, so we left Thursday afternoon hell bent on getting some sweet shots.

We arrived in Moab at about 5:30 and got into Arches right before six. After driving through the park towards the campground which happened to be full, we opted to take a short hike and figure out the gameplan for the evening from there. That short hike turned into about 4 hours and us parking it on top of a rock outcropping to get some shots of the sunset. Here’s a few of the shots from that hike:

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I love how both of those shots ended up coming out. What I loved even more is that while we were on the trail leading from the first image out to another random arch, we were stopped by a curious and fairly lazy lizard. We thought it’d be cool to see if we could get a quick photo, but it turns out the little guy was in no hurry to move along and so it ended up being part of a twenty minute photo shoot. I ended up getting some really nice close ups by getting down low on his level and sticking the camera near him.

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Sun on my face

Once we finished up with all our sunset shots and debating the merits of stealing a camping spot from a no-show, we decided to not risk it and hit up one of the free sites outside the park. Sadly, due to a freakish incoming thunderstorm we were unable to get any night shots on Thursday. While being a total bummer, we figured tomorrow would be a better day and we could try again.

We ended up driving a short ways out of the park and with seeing no signage for the campsite (turns out it was a few more miles down the road) we pull off into a flat area assuming we’re there and set the tent up. I didn’t sleep at all. Sadly (for me anyways) I’m a very light sleeper, which stems from having a child who got up ALL THE TIME in the middle of the night until she was about three and a half years old. So now, of course, any noise or light or anything really will wake me up. Our campsite happened to be the noisiest place on earth that evening and I fumbled about until it was time to get up and shoot some sunrise shots. On the bright side (yuck yuck) I did get a couple I was pretty happy with and may try to put up on a stock agency:

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Sunrise Car

We then proceeded to break camp and grab some breakfast. Once that was done we opted to explore what was around the outside of the park and take a detour down the Colorado River way. We found a sweet free campsite so we pitched the tent up there and then headed out to find a way down to the river itself for a swim. I don’t have any photos of that, but I assure it was brown and cold and exactly what I needed. Once we dried off, it was off to find another hike, which we did called Negro Bill Canyon. The sign had clearly been vandalized a lot with the word negro being scratched, painted, and scribbled all over from various other tourists. The hike was long but enjoyable, with a pleasant stream running aside us the whole way. I got some shots of a cool set of cliffs that supposedly were occupied many centuries ago.

Bill Canyon Caves

The payoff for that hike was pretty sweet too. A 243 foot-long land bridge connects the rocks on either side of the valley. It made a really nice alcove with a small natural spring. There are apparently hikes you can take that put you on top of the bridge instead of underneath it letting you rappel off the side. While I didn’t get to do that, I opted to live vicariously through the terrified children who were going. Here’s a shot of one of them:

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We finished that hike around 3 and decided to head back to the campsite and catch a short nap so we could be ready fro another sunset hike and to get some night shots out at the delicate arch. Like any true sad tale, the clouds rolled in again (after being a perfectly clear day) which wrecked any chances of the star shots happening. However we did get a few more sweet sunset photos after climbing on top of a different rock outcropping.

Smooth Dome Sunset

Arches Valley Sunset

We had originally planned on camping out that night as well and coming back in the early morning, but I started to feel sick from exhaustion having hiked about 13 miles in two days and having not slept at all the night before. Even the nap I took only lasted about 30-40 minutes due to heat and ants. All in all the trip was a blast and while it stinks I didn’t get any of the shots I was wanting, I got a ton of great ones of other stuff. Sorry for the long rambly post this time. Hopefully I’ll have another one up soon. Till next time, thanks for reading!
-D

P.S As a quick aside. If you enjoy the blog and feel like supporting, you can feel free to click the portfolio link in the upper right and donate there! Or you can visit my Patreon here. If you prefer some other method, like sending me a check, feel free to hit me up on one of my connected networks! Thanks again for your support you lovely people you!

Sometimes Its Better To Be Lucky Than Good

If I’ve learned anything in teaching myself how to take photos over the last year or so, it’s that every so often you’ll snap a shot having forgotten to set the “correct” settings, or change your focus or whatever, and lo and behold it’s everything you dreamed of. Sometimes, you get lucky and your auto-focus does exactly as you’d hoped. Sometimes, a person moves into a shot and it makes for an incredible photo. It just so happened I’ve experienced this at least a couple of times the last few days.

The first came when I took the kiddo to the duck pond to play and walk. I always tend to take pictures of the ducks as you never know when you’ll catch a photo of them taking off (see earlier posts) or fighting, or doing some other duck related thing. In this particular case I was watching one in particular wander up to my daughter with no real sense of concern for its own safety and I snapped a photo. Turns, out I didn’t think to even check the settings or the focal range or any of it. I just shot from the hip and I happened into a brilliantly focused image.

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While the photo itself isn’t much, the fact that the shot somehow framed VERY well without me having really done anything for it, makes me quite happy. It also points back to the intro about getting your auto-focus to do what YOU want instead of what it THINKS you want. I ran into a similar situation regarding the focus the next day while hiking when I saw come flowers and opted to try and get a quick shot of them too:

White Petals

Purple Flowers

As for having people wander into a photo, there’s a story for that too. I took my buddy Trevor up to Waterfall Canyon since he hadn’t done that particular hike before and as we sat at the top snapping random shots, a young lady who also had just made the climb came and sat down next to where we were shooting. I ended up with this:

Taking a Breather

It’s like something you’d see on a poster for granola bars. I did end up doing some post work as a small child had also wandered into the frame and I am mostly opposed to taking pictures of children that aren’t mine (Let me know int he comments if you can tell where she popped up). This is another one of those cases in which things just kind of fell into place and I ended up with an image I am very proud of. Of course, being socially awkward with taking peoples photos still (according to Eric Kim, that’s exceptionally normal) I didn’t think to talk to her and see how she felt about the fact. Maybe she’ll find this and I can have that discussion another time.

These of course are only the most recent examples, the ghosted train image from an earlier post was another example of me wanting a certain photo, forgetting to properly adjust settings, yet somehow ending up with a great picture anyways. I’m starting to think I should just use superior auto and let it ride. Luckily though, that thought doesn’t last long! That’s it for now, I’ll be out shooting some more tomorrow hopefully. So till next time, Thanks for reading!
-D