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

Epic Family Roadtrip #2, Part 1: The Land of Enchantment

Wednesday June 22nd at an ungodly hour of the night, My wife and I loaded up the car and started the long drive down to Albuquerque, NM to spend the next few days with her family. Her grandparents had put together a family reunion of sorts and we figured we could lump that and some time with her parents in together as the first leg of our trip.

The drive itself is around ten hours if you don’t stop at all, but since we need things like food, water, and gas for the car (not to mention the occasional stop for a photo-op), it is in reality around 12 hours. However, even though it’s insanely long and not terribly interesting at 2:30 in the morning when it’s too dark to see, the sunrise on Thursday outside of Monticello, UT was super worthwhile:

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It’s also only the second time I got to break out the new camera. I recently (about three days prior) had upgraded into a full frame Sony A7Rii. The only shot I had managed to take with it prior to the road trip (that was salvagable) was this one:

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I snapped this one from Willard Bay on Tuesday night as my wife and I drove around the greater Ogden area trying to catch the sunset. Of course, all that is neither here nor there.

The rest of the drive into New Mexico was fairly uneventful as I tried to sleep for most of it. I’ve always found New Mexico to be fairly ugly –largely the opposite of picturesque. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with having grown up here and spending roughly twenty plus years of my life in various parts of the state. Once you’ve kind of seen everything a place has to offer it tends to lose its luster. Given that, I haven’t really broken out the camera a whole lot on this initial leg of the trip as there isn’t a lot that inspires me to take any pictures. I did however feel that it would be worth getting up one of the mornings while we were up in Los Alamos to try and catch the sunrise. The reason being, is that the mountains sit fairly low on the horizon from the vantage point of the east canyon you drive up to get into town. So that mixed with a valley and the few trees that have managed to thrive in this barren wasteland of a state looked like it might be worth an early morning. As it turns out, it was. I managed a 4-shot panorama that came out surprisingly well:

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While it isn’t going to crack into my top tier of photos I’ve taken, it was pretty good considering how biased I am against the aesthetic value of the state as a whole.

The trip however has been anything but a bust though, as we’ve gotten to spend some time with family, in which I repeatedly put my foot in my mouth trying to be funny. We got the chance to see some friends we haven’t seen in a while and catch up/reminisce about the olden days; and on Tuesday we went down to the Albuquerque Zoo/Bio Park, to take the kiddos (our child, and my wife’s little sister who’s eleven now) out for a fun filled afternoon of complaining about how hot it is, and how much their feet hurt. I even managed to take some pictures while I was there and ended up with a few winners:

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As for the next stage, Wednesday morning finds us heading out super early in order to make it to Santa Cruz as the second leg of the trip will involve lying on a beach and enjoying the sun. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to that. So the next post will likely come on Sunday or Monday pre-4th once I’ve gone through those photos and recharged the batteries on both my gear and myself enough to write another post. As always, until next time –Thanks for reading!
-D

Denver Trip part 3: The Long Ride Home

By the time we were pulling back into our apartment complex on Monday night, it had felt like spent just as much time on the road as we did in Denver. While I generally dislike driving, this particular trip home wasn’t as bad as it usually feels largely in part to the number of detours we took. We had decided to take a different route home instead of the usual drive across the southern part of Wyoming, which is a barren hellscape lacking any sense of photo worthiness. This time involved a drive down the I-70 and then cut off onto the 13 which was a much longer drive but also substantially more scenic. The highway 13 involved a long winding mountain road that ran along a railroad and the Eagle River, which gave me plenty to stop and shoot.

Our first stop however was in the city of Vail, which is a tourist community much like Park City here in Utah. It’s primary function is a ski-town, and it spends most of the spring and fall closed for the “offseason”. While that meant most of the shops that weren’t selling t-shirts and nick-knacks were closed, the city itself was still exceptionally pretty and worth meandering around for. I also found yet another super creepy mannequin:

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Aside from turning a corner to have as soul-eating beast greet me in the sweatshirt aisle of a store, there happened to be a river that ran through the middle of town that made for some solid relaxing scenery:

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Once we left Vail and merged into the heart of our trip, we found a few pretty sweet spots to pull off and snap some photos. Here’s what came of the trip home:

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Even though it was almost 12 hours to get home, I had an excellent time and it made for a great finish to a wonderful weekend away with my wife.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our excursion into the wilds of Denver, Colorado. I should have some new prints up in the shop later this week from all the other things I have been taking pictures of since getting home as well. 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:

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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

Bald Eagle Day: Lessons in Zoom.

Saturday was kind of a big deal here in northern Utah as the state puts on “Bald Eagle Day”. What is Bald Eagle day exactly? Well it is the height of the Bald Eagles Migratory period through the area, so the half dozen or so wildlife refuges in the area all open the gates for bird enthusiasts to come out and ogle the birds as they sit around with their metaphorical thumbs in their asses.

I for one, welcome the opportunity to photograph an awesome creature who is much too lazy to move around. It truly makes my life a lot easier. Nonetheless, this day still presented itself with a few challenges. The first of which was an awkward exchange with one of the park rangers for Farmington Bay. Basically, I somehow missed a sign that said I can’t walk out into the snow (mostly because I was looking at the Golden Eagle I was trying to shoot and not the 8″ tall, white sign hiding in the snow. Even Still, given my current setup can only zoom to a maximum of 210mm, I needed to get a little closer to get a shot that wasn’t of just a spec on an indistinguishable tree a half mile away.

In hind sight, I probably should have just accepted that I wasn’t gonna get the shot and moved on. I didn’t though. What annoyed me about the interaction with the Ranger though, was how exceptionally stupid and awful he was about it. Instead of a “Hey, you can’t go out there. Please leave.” to which I would have just left. Instead, I got him honking his horn and shouting at me then trying to tell me that I was scaring the birds with all the noise I was making. I was dumbfounded. Seriously? Me quietly sitting behind a bush in the snow is being loud? Not the guy who was laying into his car horn and screaming like a lunatic? Touche sir. Touche.

Even though that was a hassle, I did get one mediocre shot of that bird, which let me tell you was not worth the nuisance:

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After moving on from there, I decided to leave the dyke area and head over towards the information centers to see if they had set up any sort gimmick to attract the birds that way. On the way I noticed a guy who had pulled over and was shooting something out in the tree line that was pretty far off. Turns out it was a mating pair of Eagles. Neat! I pulled over myself to try and get some shots, but they were just too far off to get anything great. I ended up with these two which I had to crop so there would be something noticeable aside from just trees.

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The quality on the top photo is basically trash. Which is a bummer as otherwise it would have been an interesting shot. What this tells me is I need to explore a tele-converter or a larger zoom lens (something like a 400-600mm). Being unable to really pull in on something of distance is kind of frustrating when it’s the whole reason you’re there.

Of course, the day wasn’t entirely a bust. Over at the nature center, there were a couple of ladies from the nearby Hogle Zoo who had brought out a Peregrine Falcon and what I believe they said was a Harris Hawk. So I chatted with them for a few minutes about hawks and stuff and snapped a few pictures of the two birds.

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I’m not entirely sure why, but Peregrine falcons are the most adorable birds ever. They looks soo stupid and terrified all the time. That poor bird was so done with the day the second he got out of his box.

The last thing I did on my way out and back to the house was stop by and catch a shot of the Blue-Heron Maating colony as I thought it would make a decent image. Once again, I was wrong. The picture itself isn’t total garbage, but because most of the Salt Lake valley has been in an inversion the last two weeks (basically the smog has just sat in the valley due to a lack of wind or weather to push it out) and so our air quality has been worse than Beijing or Hong Kong. What this means for photos is everything is a very ugly grey and super difficult to shoot. You’re basically trying to photograph something through a thick fog which means a ton of post work is required to salvage you images, not to mention the natural lack of sharpness you get saddled with too. That being said here’s that shot:

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Overall, I had a lot of fun, even if the photos didn’t come along as I had hoped. I think I’m going to hold off on trying to shoot birds or wildlife for a while until I can pick up some additional gear to improve my options. As always, until next time … Thanks for reading!
-D