Archive for the ‘Colorado Plateau’ Category

San Juan River 3 Day Float Trip and Photography Workshop! Monday, March 14th, 2016
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The Bird Shaman Archaeoastronomy Panel Friday, February 19th, 2016

This panel is in Anasazi Ridge near St. George, Utah.  It is a summer solstice marker.  The light castings come through a hole at the top of the cliff behind the rock panel.  The hole was clearly chiseled by humans.

At 8:37 AM on the summer solstice a spear of light appears in the left hand of the large bird shaman figure in the lower left:


At 8:45 AM this spear disappears and re-appears in the left hand of the shaman figure immediately above. This spear of light then disappears:


Twelve minutes later the spear of light re-appears in the right hand of the of the large bird shaman figure in the lower left. This spear disappears three minutes later:


Next, a light form begins to appear in the bottom center of the rock and slowly grows to resemble a snake. The snake moves up the rock until it envelops the time spiral in the center of the rock. It then disappears and the sequence is finished at 9:35 AM:



A New Venue for the Annual Crested Butte Wildflower Photography Workshop! Sunday, October 25th, 2015

I’ll probably still call my late-July Colorado Wildflower workshop my Crested Butte Wildflower Photography Workshop, but beginning this year it will be held in Ouray, Colorado.  Crested Butte may have the title of the Wildflower Capital of Colorado, but that area doesn’t hold a candle to the high-altitude basins above Ouray.  We’ll be doing some serious four-wheeling to get to them, but the payback is huge.  Here are some images from the new locations:

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Lighting up the Milky Way in Arches National Park! Sunday, October 25th, 2015

I was back at Delicate Arch recently in Arches National Park.  After a session of night photography I took a moment to stand under the arch for this image.  Although it appears I’m using a headlamp I’m actually holding a fairly powerful spotlight next to my head.


Tips for Night Photography Friday, October 2nd, 2015

With my annual Moab to Cedar Mesa to Monument Valley night photography workshop coming up, here are some tips for my attendees (sold out).



  1. Camera: Not all cameras are great for night photography. I’ve had particular problems with the Canon Rebel T3i. If you have this camera you might want to consider renter a better, more recent model.
  2. Lens: You will want what is considered an ultra wide lens for most shots, something in the range of a 14-14. You may also want the next step up, something in the 24-70 range. What’s more important is the F rating of the lens. A lens in the f-1.4 – 2.8 range is best. Anything above a f4 is not suitable for night photography.
  3. Tripod: A rock-solid tripod is a necessity. If you’re using a tripod with a plastic head you may want to consider renting a better unit. If you are attending one of my workshops and think you may need a better tripod, check with me to see if I have a loaner available.
  4. Cable release or remote: A cable release or remote can help alleviate the issue of a not-so-rock-solid tripod.
  5. Filters: Remove and filters from you lens.


In night photography it’s fairly important to set a composition you like and stick with it throughout the shooting sequence of that particular location. This is because the biggest challenge in night photography is getting the focus properly set. Once the focus is set you can switch, say, from horizontal to vertical with no problem IF you can do so without touching/changing the zoom setting, but if you change the zoom setting you will need to reset the focus. If you are in the habit of frequently moving your tripod rather than adjusting the camera on the tripod head you will also have problems.

Setting the Focus: There are 2 methods of setting the focus:

  1. I will light a piece of the land-form that we are shooting. You will need to know how to move your camera’s focus point to focus on what I am lighting. With your camera on auto-focus, hold the shutter button half way down and let the camera auto-focus. Then, turn of the auto-focus. You are now ready to shoot.
  2. I often find it easier to manually focus. This is particularly easy on most Canon cameras because of their superior clarity of the LCD in low light situations.
  3. It’s important to check your focus after the first shot. Do this by using the LCD magnification button on the back of your camera. Blow the image up 2 to 4 clicks and make certain everything is in focus. If not, SPEAK UP and I’ll re-light the formation.


Rule of 500: I will explain the Rule of 500 in the cause of general information so you will be knowledgeable about it, but please understand that I rarely use it.

This equation is used to determine the length of time of your exposure. It’s pretty simple:

500 divided by the Focal Length you are shooting at = Max exposure time.

If you’re shooting at 14mm, 500 divided by 14 = 36 seconds exposure

There are many if, ands and buts about this equation:

  1. It assumes an f2.8 lens at an ISO of 1600
  2. The results vary camera by camera, sensor by sensor.
  3. It’s widely stated, “Your camera may work better using 400, 450 or 600”.
  4. If your camera has a cropped sensor you will need to multiply the focal length that the lens is reading by your camera’s crop factor, either 1.5 or 1.6. So, a Nikon with a cropped sensor with an f2.8 lens set at 14mm, 14 x 1.5 = 19.6   500 divided by 19.6 = 25 seconds rather than 36 seconds.
  5. Even the quality/glass/brand of your lens can matter.

Still with me?

Now, let me tell you how I actually do it in the field. No matter what camera and lens you are using, start with these settings;

ISO 1600*     Manual Mode     30 seconds     Lens wide open (lowest f-stop number)

*Unless you have one of the very high-end cameras, say a Nikon D4s, you will need to become comfortable with a higher than normal level of noise and grain. You can correct for this with de-noise software, but at the expense of lost detail.

Start shooting at these settings and check your results. If the image is too dark you will need to go to a higher ISO. If it’s too bright you can go to a lower ISO to reduce noise/grain, or shorten the exposure to get more pin-point stars. It’s not practical to go to a longer exposure than 30 seconds. Thirty seconds is the longest you can go without getting noticeably ovaled stars.

A Caution: During the day we often have problems seeing the image on the LCD screen because the sun is so bright. The opposite problem happens with night shooting. The image on the LCD may look great, but when you load it into your computer it’s very dark, maybe even black. You will want the image on your screen at night to be very bright.




Night Photography in Monument Valley, Cedar Mesa and Moab Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

There is only 1 space left for the October 9-12 night photography workshop.  Come learn shooting methods and processing techniques for creating stunning images of desert southwest landscapes and night skies.  These workshops are scheduled to coincide with new moons to aid in optimizing images of the Milky Way.

We’ll start in Moab’s 2 national parks, Canyonlands and Arches shooting iconic and lesser known sites such as Delicate Arch and Double Arch.  Long past are the days of light painting as now I carry in an array of lighting equipment that produces warm steady light and eliminates the haphazard and inconsistent results that light painting produces.  The lights are staged to either eliminate shadows or create shadows that are quite different from images produced with light painting from the same position as the camera is shooting from.

After 2 nights in Moab we’ll move south to Cedar Mesa with its densest collection of Anasazi artifacts and ruins in the desert southwest.  On Cedar Mesa we’ll hike into ruins where I’ll stage lighting both inside and outside the dwellings to produce images with light coming from the windows and doors as if some is home!  The final night we’ll spend with Navajo guide Ray Begay in the Monument Valley back country shooting arches and formations not accessible to the public without special permits or Navajo Guides.


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Delicate Arch 2

Elk Rut Workshop in Rocky Mountain National Park Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

October 3rd and 4th are the dates for this year’s elk rut photography workshop in Rocky Mountain National Park.  We’ll be out in the early mornings and late afternoons shooting from prime locations as the bulls fend off challenges to their harems from other bulls.  You’ll hear the occasional clashing of antlers and the surprisingly high-pitched bugles from these 1000+ pound mammals as we sit at a safe distance but close enough for great images.  Younger bulls will practice sparring, cows will gather in increasingly larger groups and older bulls will challenge for control of an already existing harem in meadows with 50 to 150 animals.  Bring your long lens and a tripod or monopod!  For more information:—rmnp-fall-color-elk-rut.php

2012 Elk Rut 2 Elk6 elk-bull-and-cow-2


Space Available for the Annual Colorado Fall Colors Workshop Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

I’m down to 2 spaces for my annual fall colors workshop that will be based out of Ridgway, Colorado on September 26th and 27th.  The Ridgway-Telluride area is THE place to shoot fall colors in Colorado.  Lodging in the area is already becoming scarce, so don’t delay signing up for this one.  I’ll get you to the right spots at the right time of day for capturing fabulous images.—crested-butte-area/2-day–ouray-telluride-fall-colors.php

Sneffels-Range-5                Sneffels-Range-6


Tularemia Found in Rocky Mountain National Park Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

I’m posting this announcement for all my local and visiting friends. Rocky Mountain National Park issued a warning minutes ago to us licensed guides that TULAREMIA has been found in the Lilly Lake area of Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s spread by insects like mosquitoes, ticks, etc. and the health impacts are very serious. The best defense is heavy insect repellent. From the CDC…. symptoms:

Ulceroglandular This is the most common form of tularemia and usually occurs following a tick or deer fly bite or after handing of an infected animal. A skin ulcer appears at the site where the organism entered the body. The ulcer is accompanied by swelling of regional lymph glands, usually in the armpit or groin.

Glandular Similar to ulceroglandular tularemia but without an ulcer. Also generally acquired through the bite of an infected tick or deer fly or from handling sick or dead animals.

Oculoglandular This form occurs when the bacteria enter through the eye. This can occur when a person is butchering an infected animal and touches his or her eyes. Symptoms include irritation and inflammation of eye and swelling of lymph glands in front of the ear.

Oropharyngeal This form results from eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Patients with orophyangeal tularemia may have sore throat, mouth ulcers, tonsillitis, and swelling of lymph glands in the neck.

Pneumonic This is the most serious form of tularemia. Symptoms include cough, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. This form results from breathing dusts or aerosols containing the organism. It can also occur when other forms of tularemia (e.g. ulceroglandular) are left untreated and the bacteria spread through the bloodstream to the lungs.

Headed to Rocky Mountain National Park? Check Out my new Exhibit at The Fork in Lyons Saturday, July 4th, 2015

Thanks to Gary Clendening for the help in hanging this new 28 piece exhibit at The Fork restaurant in Lyons, Colorado. This is the 4th year I exhibited there throughout July, August and September. This is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, so it gets seen by hordes of people!

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