Archive for the ‘Grand Canyon’ Category

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

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First Book Talk/Signing was a Success! Sunday, May 10th, 2015

We were totally blown away with the result of our book talk/signing tonight in Rocky Mountain National Park. Horrible weather all day and getting worse, 96 people showed up. Almost standing room only. We spent 30+ minutes afterward in the bookstore signing books; sold a bunch of books. Great applause, great feedback, and everything ran smoothly! Couldn’t be happier! This pic got the most OOOoooos.

Spruce House

Doing Photography in the Desert Southwest Thursday, May 7th, 2015

It’s All About the Search

Recollections about fieldwork in Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Cedar Mesa and Colorado National Monument

I’ve retired twice. Photography is my 3rd career. I began the business side of this by conducting photo tours in Rocky Mountain National Park, a 45 minute drive from my home. That was in 2008. I think I had 4 clients in that first year. By 2014/2015 I was licensed and conducting private photo tours and group photography workshops in Colorado, Florida, Wyoming, Utah and Arizona. I work in the Everglades, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Rocky Mountain National Park, Canyonlands, Arches, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Cedar Mesa. With all these spectacular places to call my office, my passion is the desert southwest. To quote Steve McQueen, “I’d rather be in the middle of nowhere than any place on earth”.

It’s not even conducting the photo tours and workshops that motivate me. Those are simply the means to the end. They provide the funds and the excuse for what really drives me, the search and sense of discovery. I have no recollection of my first visit to Mesa Arch, Delicate Arch or House on Fire Ruin, even though I have images of those places now considered iconic by some people. I do remember the 5 trips on 5 consecutive monthly new moons to Delicate Arch it took to get the lighting right for my night shot with the Milky Way.

Delicate Arch 2

I remember the 4 trips to House on Fire Ruin that it took to experiment with different lumen powers and light bulb Kelvin temperatures to get the look I wanted in this shot. I remember the 18 months of conversations with the powers that be at the Monticello office of the BLM over my rights to take and present this image to the public. Their first call to me was a 15 minute demand that I stop taking the picture and remove it from my website and all my promotional literature. It reached a point where they said “By reaching your hand inside the ruin to set a battery-powered lantern, you are, technically, entering the ruin” (which is illegal). Me: “What about the hundreds of people who stick their heads in to look around?” Them: “We can’t control them, but we can control you because you have a commercial permit”. This resolved itself in my favor when a scheduled meeting between us fell 3 days into the 2013 government shutdown.

House Fire Ruin Night20x41

My absolute favorite part of the business, though, is doing the field research in my never-ending hunt for new places to take clients. I began searching for Doll House Ruin in 2011. It was rumored to be in the age range of 750+ years old, in pristine condition and with a completely intact wood roof. There was no information available on the internet in 2011 about where it was located. I began by inquiring with the volunteers at the Kane Gulch Ranger Station on Cedar Mesa. After quite a bit of searching they came up with a set of GPS coordinates they translated from the government system to the public Degrees-MMss format. My wife and I spend 7 hours that day driving and searching, to no avail. I checked with the Edge of Cedars Museum and noted desert southwest archaeologist Winston Hurst. Later, I called the BLM office in Monticello. I expected them to deny knowing anything about it since the site was known to still have artifacts in situ. To my surprise, the ranger gave me another set of coordinates. Another search, another dead end. And so it went until early 2013 when I found a set of directions on a desert southwest site. I managed to find Doll House, even though the directions contained 2 errors! This is the image I got on that first visit. The next day I had a vision of shooting it a night with lighting. I went back in 2 weeks, carried in my lighting and came home with this.


Doll-House-Night-2 - Copy

 My wife and I have just released our first book, A Photographer’s Guide to Colorado’s National Parks and Monuments. Before the printed versions even landed on my driveway I had a vision of doing another book, this one about night photography in the desert southwest. Who knows how many changes the concept for that book will undergo before it becomes a reality, but for now that is giving me the drive and focus to pursue new, uncommon images in that genre. A few weeks ago I spent parts of 3 days looking for The Big Crane petroglyph in Butler Wash. Even with GPS coordinates I just couldn’t rein it in. The third time was a charm (with the help of Jim from the Recapture Lodge in Bluff).


The Crane is in the upper left of this image

Like any other job with deadlines (even if self-imposed), everything isn’t always fun and games. I just returned from a 2 week scouting trip to Cedar Mesa and Monument Valley where the goal was to find new sites suitable for night photography. It rained, snowed or blew walls of dust all but one day of the trip. In 2014 I went into False Kiva, in Canyonlands National Park, for night photography. When I arrived there was a group of 3 young Asian tourists and an older man. They were in a conversation that I wasn’t really paying attention to, but struck me a bit strange. The man intended to stay for night photography. The Asians were leaving and said over their shoulders “Well, if the sky clears we may come back for night photography and if we do we’ll bring you some water.” Clearly, he had no water. What I didn’t know until later, after we struck up a conversation with him, was that the Asians had found him lying unconscious in the trail at the bottom of the alcove. They had managed to get him and his camera gear up into the alcove… and then left him. He had driven 15 hours straight from California to the False Kiva trailhead, then hiked in with no water or food. After our night shooting session it fell to me to guide him back to his car. About 5 minutes into the climb out he began screaming and vomiting violently. My friend and I ended up carrying all our gear out plus his gear. It took us 2 hours to get him back to his car.

False kiva night 9

One of my more interesting experiences happened while I was researching Colorado National Monument for our book. My plan was to hike the Independence Monument Trail to get a sunrise shot of the Monument and the Kissing Couple. Because it would be a 1 to 1.5 hour hike in the dark on an unfamiliar trail I hiked it the evening before and got this shot of the moonrise over Grand Mesa.





I started hiking the next morning about 4 AM. About two weeks prior, there had been reports of mountain lion encounters in the Boulder area, so mountain lions were a bit on my mind. In all my night hiking I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a critter of any kind, but I admit that on this day I stopped twice to scan around me with my headlamp for any eyes shining back at me. About one hour into the hike I rounded a bend and saw 21 pair of eyes reflecting back at me. With my heart racing, I quickly set up my tripod and camera and ripped off one shot while having no idea what my settings were. After about a minute I had the presence of mind to shoot again with a very high ISO (6400), which allowed me to see that they were big horn sheep. I continued along the trail and got the sunrise shot I was looking for. When I returned down the trail about an hour later the sheep were up, moving, and standing in the trail. As I approached, they parted, leaving me at a 30 foot path between them for me to pass through.




There is a big difference between “taking pictures” and “doing photography”. Photography is hard work. I wouldn’t trade the experiences it provides for anything!


Bob Maynard operates Colorado Plateau Photo Tours ( and has just published his co-authored book, A Photographer’s Guide to Colorado’s National Parks and Monuments. He lives in Boulder, Colorado and loves photographing the desert southwest.

2015 Grand Canyon 4-day Photography Workshop Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Join me August 21 – 24, 2015 for 4 intensive days of shooting in the Grand Canyon.  We’ll meet in Phoenix on the 20th for the 6.5 hours drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  We’ll spend a day shooting the North Rim (the least visited part of Grand Canyon National Park) before working our way around to Canyon Village.  After 2 days of shooting along the South Rim we’ll spend the night at Hualapai Loadge on the Havasupi Reservation in preparation for the helicpoter flight into Havasu Falls early on the final day.  Havasu Falls is the most beautiful spot in the park and few workshops go there because of the difficulty accessing the falls.  I’ve timed the workshop to coincide with the start of the monsoon season to increase our probability of having dramatic skies and hopefully avoid the photographers’ deadly clear blue skies the are normally present in the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon4 havasu-falls--havasupai-nation--arizona

2015 Starts With Night Photography in Moab, Cedar Mesa and Monument Valley Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Here is the schedule for my 2015 workshops:

March:  The Everglades:  The Everglades is one of my favorite places to shoot.  When you know where to go and what time to be there the Everglades is non-stop shooting.

March:  Night Photography in the Desert Southwest:  Moab, Cedar Mesa and Monument Valley with Possible add-on of Arizona slot canyons.

April:  Moab, Cedar Mesa and Monument Valley:  Choose buffet style from the parts of this trip that interest you.

May:  Rock Art and Ruins of the Desert Southwest.  A Journey Through Colorado and Utah’s Desert and Canyon Country.

July:  Colorful Colorado:  Circumnavigate Colorado in a whirlwind tour that begins in NE Colorado at Rocky Mountain National Park and then takes in Sand Dunes National Park, Mesa Verde National Park,  Hovenweep National Park, the Maroon Bells and Crystal Mill near Aspen, and two days in the incredibly dense wildflowers of the high alpine basins above Ouray, Colorado.

July:  Colorado Wildflowers:  Previously marketed as my Crested Butte Wildflower Workshop, I’ve moved this to Ouray, Colorado after discovering the high altitude basins above Ouray that are much more dense in flowers.

August:  The Grand Canyon:  Photograph this amazing wonder of Nature in a 5 day workshop that will encompass both the North and South Rims and end with a helicopter flight into the trailhead for Havasu Falls.  Havasu Falls is possibly the most stunning waterfall in the United States for photographers.

September:  Colorado Fall Colors:  Centered around Ridway, Ouray and Telluride and the splendor of the San Juan Mountain in SW Colorado.

September:  Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons:  Capture the wildlife and grand landscapes of America’s oldest national park and it’s sister to the south on this 5 day workshop.

October:  Night Photography in the Desert Southwest:  Moab, Cedar Mesa and Monument Valley with Possible add-on of Arizona slot canyons.

October: Moab, Cedar Mesa and Monument Valley:  Choose buffet style from the parts of this trip that interest you.

November:  Rock Art and Ruins of the Desert Southwest.  A Journey Through Colorado and Utah’s Desert and Canyon Country.

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Big-Horn-Sheep-7    Telluride-River-Walk-Painting-2  TheTurret19_12.79Print FINAL Crystal Mill

Delicate Arch 2

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

I finally finished loading my complete 2015 photography workshop schedule into my website. It needs to be cleaned up a bit, but all the info is correct. Next up: March 26-29 Desert Southwest Night Photography, including 2 nights in Monument Valley on the Navajo Reservation. This will include sessions with females modeling traditional Navajo clothing, staged horse sessions with the Navajo horsed out among the formations. As a BONUS, this trip is scheduled to coincide with the shadows of the Mittens aligning!  As always, our schedule is heavily based around Moab, Canyonlands, Arches and Rocky Mountain National Parks, but I’ve also added the Everglades, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, the Grand Canyon and a new tour of Colorad, “Colorful Colorado” that circumnavigates the state to cover Rocky Mountain National Park, Sand Dunes National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Hovenweep National Park and Canyon of the Ancients, the Maroon Bells and Crystal Mill.



2015 Photo Tour Schedule! Friday, December 26th, 2014
Here is a rough outline of the workshops I’ll be offering in 2015. If you’d like more information on any particular one please email me at bobmaynardphotography@comcast.netMarch: Night Photography in the Desert Southwest (Moab, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Cedar Mesa and Monument Valley)
April: Moab-Monument Valley-Cedar Mesa and slot canyons
May: Rock Art and Ruins of the Desert Southwest (The Great Gallery, Moab, Goblins State Park, Cedar Mesa, Ute Mountain Tribal Park)
July: Colorful Colorado statewide tour (Includes the annual Crested Butte Wildflower Festival)
July: Colorado Wildflowers – Ouray and Crested Butte
August: Grand Canyon – Bryce – Zion
September: Colorado Fall Colors
September: Yellowstone-Tetons
October: Night Photography in the Desert Southwest
October: Moab-Monument Valley-Cedar Mesa and slot canyons  (Moab, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Cedar Mesa and Monument Valley)
November: Rock Art and Ruins of the Desert Southwest  (The Great Gallery, Moab, Goblins State Park, Cedar Mesa, Ute Mountain Tribal Park)



Group Workshop for Crested Butte Wildflowers, Moab Night Photography, Yellowstone and the Tetons and Fall Monument Valley and Slot Canyons Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Here is the current status of availability for these small group workshops:

Crested Butte Wildflowers:  Schedule for July 5-6, but may be revised to 2 weeks later because of the wet, cool spring.  3 spaces available.—crested-butte-area/2-day–crested-butte-wildflowers.php

Moab Night Photography in Canyonlands and Arches:  3 spaces available.

September 16-23 Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons:  SOLD OUT.

October Moab – Cedar Mesa – Monument Valley – Arizona slot canyons:  2 spaces available—6-days.php

2015 Seven day Costa Rica – 4 spaces available.

2015  Seven day Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion – 4 spaces available.

The maximum group size is always 5 people.

Custom, Private 7 to 10 Day Desert Southwest Photo Tours. Monday, May 5th, 2014

We’re Now Providing Custom, Private Photo Tours in Moab, Cedar Mesa, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion and the Slot Canyons of the Page, Arizona Area.  Fly into Grand Junction, Colorado.  I’ll pick you up at the airport and provide a fully planned and organized photo tour all the way to the Grand Canyon, Bryce or Zion and drop you at the airport for your flight home.  You tell me the important stops you want to make and leave the rest to me.