Archive for the ‘Moab Area’ Category

San Juan River 3 Day Float Trip and Photography Workshop! Monday, March 14th, 2016
WRx photography 2016.indd
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.


Doll-House-Night-2 - Copy





House Fire Ruin Night20x41

Delicate Arch 2

Scheduled Photo Tours and Photography Workshop for the Remainder of the Year, including Moab, Canyonlands, Arches, Cedar Mesa, Monument Valley, Crested Butte Wildflower Festival and Colorado Fall Colors Sunday, May 31st, 2015

Scheduled events that still have openings:

August 1 – 2   Colorado Wildflower workshop.  I usually hold this to coincide with the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, but I’m holding it later than usual this year because of the cool, wet spring, AND I’m holding it in Ouray.  I discovered high altitude fields above Ouray last year that are far better than anything I’ve found in Crested Butte.
August 1 – 8   Colorful Colorado.  The first 2 days of this 8 day workshop are the Ouray wildflower workshop, then we do a whirlwind tour of the state, including Hovenweep/Mesa Verde/Canyon of the Ancients, Great Sand Dunes, Rocky Mountain National Park, Maroon Bells, Crystal Mill, etc.
September 26 – 27  Colorado Fall Colors  We will base this workshop out of Ridgway.  Field work will include Ouray and Telluride
October 9 – 12  4 Day Moab to Monument Valley Night Photography     We’ll do night photography in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks before moving on to Cedar Mesa and Monument Valley.
My Yellowstone/Tetons and Grand Canyon workshops are full.Scheduled
Canyonlands National Park Reiterates “No Commerical Guiding to Fales Kiva” Thursday, May 21st, 2015

About three years ago Canyonlands National Park declared False Kiva off limits to commercial guides.  This has always irritate the heck out of me.  In essence, what they’ve done is prohibited those of us who are charged with knowing and enforcing the rules and left it open to everyone else.  I still go there a lot, it’s one of my favorite spots, and nearly every time I’m there I see people violating the rules: sitting on the walls, entering the ruin, etc.  I’ve questioned  the reasoning behind this several time with park staff and have yet to get an answer.  So, if you want images like these you’ll have to find the place on your own:

False kiva night 9


Arches National Park Photography Workshop Panorama Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

This is a shot from this spring’s Moab to Monument Valley photo tour.  I’ve shot this many times, but I believe this is the most dramatic sky I ever captured.


Many Thanks to The Surveyor Magazine for the Feature Article about my Photo Tour and Photography Workshop Exploits in the Desert Southwest Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

I am humbled beyond belief to be featured in the spring, 2015 issue of the Colorado Archaeology Association’s quarterly publication, The Surveyor, that features 3 photographers who are passionate about the desert southwest. To be mentioned in the same context as Tom Till and Adriel Heisy, and with accompanying articles by Sharon Tinainow and Stephen H. Lekson, head of the archaeology department at the University of Colorado is beyond imagination. The 4 page article about me describes some of my exploits in photographing and guiding in the desert southwest. This is the cover photo for my part of the publication.


The article follows some of my exploits shooting and guiding photo tours and photography workshops in Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Cedar Mesa, Monument Valley and the slot canyons around Antelope Canyon.

Portrait Work in Monument Valley Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

I added a new dimension to my spring Moab to Monument Valley photography workshop this year.  Our Navajo guide arranged for a mother-daughter team to pose for a portrait session among the scenery of Monument Valley.  The workshop started as usual in Moab, with night session in Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, and still included a day on Cedar Mesa near Blanding, but we finished with both night photography and portrait session in the Valley.  We’ll be repeating this in October this year!

Portrait-3 Portrait-9 Portrait-8

Rock Art and Ruins Desert Southwest Photo Tour: Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Cedar Mesa and Monument Valley Monday, May 11th, 2015

Many of the ruins I posted images of in the last couple of weeks will be included in the May and November “Rock Art and Ruins” photo tour in SE Utah. We’ll do a combination of day and night photography and include some iconic and some relatively unknown petroglyphs and pictographs.  We’ll start in Moab, shooting site in both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, then head south to Cedar Mesa before ending up doing a night photography photo tour in Monument Valley.

Doll-House-Night-2 - Copy Sego-Canyon-2 Sego-Canyon-1 Great-Gallery-front Mitten shadow Fallen-Roof-with-pots-2 Moon House Ruins Peephole   TIFF

Canyonlands photo tours, canyonlands national park photo tours, arches photo tours, arches national park photo tours, cedar mesa, cedar mesa photo tours, monument valley, monument valley photo tours, canyonlands national park photography workshops, arches national park photography workshops, cedar mesa photo photography workshops, moab, moab photo tours, moab photography workshops