A Twelve Hour Difference

One of the advantages of living where I do is getting to see the George Washington Bridge light up at night.  The bridge is beautiful in its own right, but when the towers light up it turns into a triangulated jewel.  I will generally take my photographs from an overlook in the park that runs along the cliffs next to the bridge.  The Port Authority only lights the bridge towers on national holidays, so I try to photograph as many of these occasions as I can.  It seems like they made an exception to celebrate the Super Bowl; the towers were lit and the suspension cables were lit up with Bronco orange and Seahawk green.

I tried my first attempt late Saturday night.  I've taken many pictures from the first overlook in the park, so I hiked further into the forest for a different view.  I found an overlook that had promise, set up my equipment and took a test image.  Seconds after taking my test image, the bridge went dark.  The timing was perfect.  It's as if someone at the Port Authority was playing a cruel joke on me.

The next day after the Super Bowl, I decided to try again, only a bit earlier in the night.  I didn't want to risk coming home empty handed again, so I quickly took a set of photos at the first overlook, my usual vantage point.  I was curious to see if they would change the cable lights to all be the color of the winning team, but they were still half and half.

I walked out to the other overlook from the previous evening, scaring a few deer in the process, and got one set of shots before the bridge lights turned off again!!

The next morning I woke up to six inches of snow on the ground with more falling.  I decided to go do some hiking in the snow, back to the overlook.  Normally I'd crop the trees out, but snowy trees tend to complete winter scenes.  Oh, the difference twelve hours can make.

Goldilocks Would Be Proud

Well, besides the whole "rule of three" thing.

I received an order of paper and frames last week and decided to put them to good use.  Take a look at the Firefly Startrail family representing the range of print sizes I'm planning on using.

From largest to smallest we have 16x24, 12x18, 8x12 and 5x7.  I'm debating if the smallest size should be 4x6 because it has identical proportions.  That would also make a nicer mathematical sequence.  Hmmm….

Printing Test Run

Since I got back from my trip, one of the many things on my to-do list has been finding the best method for printing my photographs. This is an important step in my goal to finally sell my work. Once you look, the options out there can be quite daunting. Where do I sell? Do I send my photos out to a print lab or do I print them myself? If I decide to print them myself, which printer and which paper should I use? Should I sell prints or framed prints? If I decide on framed prints, should I do the matting myself or…

And on and on. Probably enough decisions to make a really sweet flow chart infographic. Hmmm, now that I mention it, that does seem like a good idea. Add that to my to-do list.

Well, back to the subject at hand. Here is the end result of my first test run for the entire process.  These are 5x7 photos, double matted in nice simple 8x10 black frames. Two of the photos are from a print lab and the third photo I printed myself. Can you tell which is which?

There are a few more things I need to decide and research, but I am getting very close to having everything figured out.

Colorado Utah Followup

Happy New Year everyone!!  Okay, one more entry about my trip.  But first, I'd like to thank my family for hosting me when I wasn't out on the road.  It was a very nice start and end to my trip.  One of the more interesting aspects of traveling is the people you meet.  I intentionally left these interactions out of my entries to help keep them shorter.  So, it seems like a good idea to write about a few of them now.

I met Jim in Natural Bridges National Monument one afternoon while I was cooking on my camp stove.  He was in the process of driving down to the Grand Canyon for a rafting trip.  Not only did he recommend going to Capital Reef National Park, he also explained the National Park Passport to me.  You can purchase a booklet/passport that has information on all the sites run by the National Park Service.  Each site has a unique rubber stamp to mark in the booklet signifying your visit.  Just like stamps in a real passport represent visits to a country.  I forget how long Jim has been doing this, not more than ten years, but he currently has around half of the total available stamps.  Which is more impressive once you realize there are currently 401 total.  One of his goals this trip was to get the stamp for the remote Rainbow Natural Bridge, which is only accessible by boat from Lake Powell.  In parting, he told me to keep an eye on Chris Christie, since I live in New Jersey.

While I was at Goblin State Park waiting for the sunset, a group of cyclists rode in from a day tour.  I struck up a conversation with one of them and somehow we got on the subject of cycling abroad.  I told her about wine tasting while cycling in Tuscany and she told me how how awesome cycling through France is.  Everyone is courteous, giving cyclists the right of way and yelling encouragements.  "Allez, Allez!!"  They will even give you a helpful shove up hills.  Well, only if you're a woman according to her husband.  Perhaps I need to head to France and try some of the classic Tour de France stages.  Shorter versions of course.

I was coming back from a hike in Arches National Park when a fellow photographer inquired about the ball head on my tripod.  He was visiting the park all the way from Norway, one of my favorite countries.  Of course, being photographers, we talked about our gear.  He ordered a lens from B&H Photo before he left Norway and had it shipped to his hotel in Utah so it was waiting for him when he arrived.  I'll have to remember that trick in the future.

My final interaction comes from Canyonlands National Park.  I was coming back from Upheaval Dome with another hiker when we crossed paths with an older German couple and started talking.  They mentioned how being seated in American restaurants reminded them of living in East Germany before the border opened up.  Apparently you didn't have the freedom to sit were you want, but had to wait to be seated, unless you had connections.  To be honest, I can't remember how seating works from my visits to Germany, but the American way never seemed to bother me, unless it was crowded.  The husband then went on to proudly boast that he's never eaten at McDonalds.  Which is where I had lunch and free wi-fi the day before.  Smile and nod.  Smile and nod.

Sorry, no images for this entry.

Canyonlands NP to the End

A short distance north of Moab is Canyonlands National Park, the next stop on my trip.  Canyonlands NP protects the junction of the Green River and Colorado River which divide the park into three districts; Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze.  I chose to stay within Island in the Sky due to its excellent accessibility and my lack of time.  This region is literally covered with thousand foot deep canyons, inside thousand foot deep canyons.  As generic as the name "Canyonlands" sounds, it is a perfect description.  I arrived during the afternoon which ruled out any morning locations such as Mesa Arch.  Instead, I hung out at one of the overlooks and waited for the sunset.  If you look closely you may be able to see the lone photographer on the ledge below the sun.

The following day I stopped for a ranger presentation and heard the same story about cryptobiotic soil that I heard repeatedly for the past week.  A combination of bacteria, algae and other living things will form a microscopic net in the sandy soil.  This prevents the soil from washing away and also provides basic nutrition for other plants and animals; it is the basis for life in the desert.  Since damaged cryptobiotic soil can take nearly a century to repair, there are signs everywhere urging you not to walk on it.  My final hike in Canyonlands NP was out to Upheaval Dome.  Once believed to be the result of an underground salt dome, it is now thought to be caused by a meteorite impact.  The size of the crater is hard to comprehend when you stand there, but is an amazing two miles across.

Deadhorse State Park is very near Canyonlands NP and has similar terrain and features.  One unique vantage point provides a view over the potash evaporation ponds, which supply the factory in Moab.  Water is pumped underground into the salt domes, returning to the surface as a brine slurry.  The slurry is left in open ponds, putting the brutal sun to good work.  Once the water evaporates, the salt is collected by big Caterpillar scrappers and hauled to the factory.  The blue ponds are a very nice contrast to the warm landscape.

My time in Utah was over as I drove east and crossed back into Colorado.  My destination was Colorado National Monument, the last Natural Park Service facility on this trip.  Colorado NM (confusing abbreviation, right?) is a series of canyons and spires originally explored by John Otto.  He lobbied the government to turn the area into a national monument, and later ran the park when they did.  The most interesting feature in the park is actually its perimeter road, Rim Rock Drive.  The road was built by the CCC, which provided work for the unemployed after the Great Depression.  It is a breathtaking road that hugs the canyon edges, with barely a guardrail between them.  One of the popular overlooks is Wedding Canyon where John Otto married his wife.  She was a city girl and couldn't handle the outdoor life; they divorced months later.  While I was taking these photos, a wedding ceremony was happening further into the canyon.  Hopefully their marriage turns out better than Otto's.

I hiked a few trails and listened to a few ranger presentations, but my trip was winding down.  From Colorado NM, I drove east on I-70 along the Colorado River.  I've been to this region of Colorado many times, so this was pure driving, no sightseeing.  However, I did allow myself a quick stop in Leadville to see the town and visit the Mining Hall of Fame.  This short detour resulted in me crossing Tennessee Pass, Fremont Pass and finally the Eisenhower Pass, all three over the continental divide.  Then it was a clear shot back to family and my first laundry day in nearly two weeks.

Well folks, that's the end of this trip.  It took me three months to write about a two week trip, which is something I need to work on.  In the end, I hope these stories were as enjoyable to read as they were to experience.  Probably not, but it seemed like a nice thing to close with.