Choo Choo TrainThe Subway Hike
Zion National Park, Utah
When I visited Zion National Park in 2011 one of the hikes that I absolutely loved was The Subway. In fact, I went so far as to call it my most favorite hike I've ever done! Willie, Yan, and I had hiked the Narrows the day before and also found it to be equally amazing. Yan, having heard me raving about the Subway insisted that we head here on our second day in the park. I wanted to try something new, specifically hike to Kanarra Creek, but Willie and Yan convinced me that emerald pools and glowing walls would be worth it. The Subway it was!
We arrived at the parking lot quite early and were shocked to see so many cars had already arrived! It was decided to see if we could pass *all* of them and we took off almost at a run at times. Other groups came and went in our wake as we flew up the Virgin River towards the Subway. About halfway through the hike I realized that our blistering pace was causing me to not enjoy the hike at all and I forced Willie to slow down so we could take in the scenery. This also gave us a chance to look back and realize that the clear skies we were hoping for were being covered with clouds … not good for glowing walls in the Subway. On the other hand, it was perfect for photographing Archangel Falls located slightly before the Subway.
Despite our fast pace to the Subway we were the second group to arrive. We had to wait for them to finish taking their pictures and then waited some more while they got out of ours. Turns out that waiting was well worth it because the clouds that had been blocking the beautiful glow inside the Subway disappeared for about 15 minutes and we frantically snapped photographs. A flash flood 2 months earlier deposited sand inside the Subway and left the emerald pools looking yellow and boring. It took some "special sauce" in post processing to bring back an emerald color to the pools.
We brought a bag of leaves with us and were able to get beautiful some beautiful swirling motion in the water, which had eluded me when I photographed this in 2011.
Nikon D800 w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S:
24mm, f/16, 8 sec, ISO 50
B+W Circular Polarizer
Sunset at Factory Butte
I love exploring the South West. There's about the landscape down there that's just so captivating. Perhaps it's because the landscape changes so vastly: from giant red rock canyons, to grand vistas, to mesas, arches, slot canyons, rivers, desert, badlands ... the list goes on. I always love exploring a new area and our trip to Factory Butte, in Southern Utah, was no different.
Willie, David, and I spent a long weekend down near Hanksville Utah, exploring the badlands around. On our first night, before David arrived, we had been scouting around Factory Butte when we came upon this little wash. We loved how the S-curve of it drew the eye in towards the Butte. Luckily for us, a few clouds caught some color as the sun set.
It was quite a windy night: we had pitched the tent before sunset and I was surprised to find the tent still there when we got back from taking photos. Apparently the rocks I stuck inside the tent had saved us! I gave up on sleeping in the tent and slept in the car ... that is until about 3am when I heard “Meyers! Help!” Willie was trapped in the tent, getting tossed in the wind! We quickly disassembled the tent and spent the rest of the night in the car. Lets just say we were glad to get out of the wind :)
Nikon D800 w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8:
26mm, f/13, 1/30 sec, ISO 100
Sunrise at the Mesquite Sand Dunes
Death Valley National Park, California
The last time I visited the Mesquite Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park things were a bit of a disaster. Willie loves to arrive early to things, which is usually great. It gives us time to get settled, scout out an area, find the best views and make sure we don’t screw anything up. That’s normally fine ... except when it’s 85°F with absolutely no shade and sunset isn’t for 4 more hours. After getting little sleep the night before, Willie woke me up from my nap to demand we head out to the sand dunes. We spent hours trying to hide from the sun after realizing we had gotten out there way too early.
Determined not to make the same mistake again, we got a few tips from David on where to head once at the sand dunes. We had left his house in Las Vegas at 3am and made the trek over to Death Valley in time for sunrise and we lugged our massive “Bazooka” telephoto lenses out with us. We arrived early but not too early!
Although David pointed us in a general direction, we still struggled to find compositions. Both of us ran around trying to find the shapes and patterns we had seen others find. Willie stayed in a small area while I explored further. At one point I found this view, setup, and fired a few quick photos before running off to try a different view. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I had found a spot with these beautiful rolling sand dunes!
Nikon D800 w/Sigma 150-600mm f/2.8:
165mm, f/11, 1.0 sec, ISO 100