Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Favorite Places: From Readers & Pros
For real estate and nature photography, there’s nothing as important as location. Check out this selection of diverse places around the country so you can be in the right place to get your shots.
Over the ages, the Escalante River has carved a labyrinth of intricate canyons deep into thick layers of sandstone along its 100-mile journey to the Colorado River. Hole-in-the-Rock Road provides the main access to this region as it parallels the west side of the Escalante canyon system. Beginning southeast of the town of Escalante, Utah, this well-graded, 50-mile-long gravel road traverses an expansive bench beneath Fifty-Mile Mountain, and sweeping views will fill your windshield as you head south toward the Escalante’s most famous features, such as Coyote Gulch, Spooky Gulch and Devil’s Garden/Metate Arch. The road crosses countless dry washes, each of which flows east into the labyrinth of canyons draining into the Escalante. Most have hidden slots and other secrets that would take a lifetime to explore. This wide variety of geologic features, from expansive panoramas to narrow slot canyons, is precisely what makes this my favorite location to shoot in southern Utah.
Essential Gear: You could use every lens and camera body in your gear bag to shoot along Hole-in-the-Rock Road. A panorama camera would be great to capture sunrise illuminating the cliffs of Fifty-Mile Mountain. Also, a wide-angle lens is mandatory to achieve maximum depth of field in the narrow slits of Spooky Gulch and Brimstone Gulch. A telephoto is required to pull in the 10,000-foot dome of Navajo Mountain to the south, and a tripod is a must for all serious landscape photography. In addition to camera gear, since it’s a long way back to the nearest hotel in Escalante, you’ll need to bring all your food, water and camping gear if you hope to capture sunrise and sunset along the route.
Getting There: From the town of Escalante, follow SR-12 southeast for 12 miles to the well-marked turnoff. Four-wheel drive is a must during wet periods when the road can turn into a mucky mess, and also is necessary to cover the last five miles from Davis Gulch to Hole-in-the-Rock above Lake Powell. Visit the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Escalante to check on road conditions and any other special information. The road is well-marked, with small signs leading to access points for all the major canyons and points of interest. There are no facilities along this dry stretch of desert road, so be sure to carry all your provisions.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park and the southwestern part of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range within are, in my mind, the most opportune locations in Colorado for landscape photography. Seeming totally out of place at the edge of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains, these dunes of pure golden sand cover an area of about 35 square miles and reach heights of 700 feet above the floor of the flat San Luis Valley, making them the tallest dunes in the United States. The valley below, which is over 7,500 feet in elevation, extends for more than 100 miles south into New Mexico and is bordered by the San Juan Mountains to the west and the lower Sangre de Cristo Range to the east, hills that mark the edge of the Rockies and continue southward toward Santa Fe. I’ve observed wide varieties of flora and fauna throughout the area. Wildlife sightings are common. Recent observations include mule deer, elk, coyotes, golden and bald eagles, ravens, magpies and, just outside park boundaries, American bison. Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro, Tamron 18-200mm ƒ/3.5-6.3
This particular shot was taken in Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah, at the White Rim Overlook in the Island in the Sky district, which is about a mile from the end of the main road. This was my first visit to this area and it’s now one of my favorites. With great early-morning light, this special place is one of the most photogenic areas I’ve been to. The shot captured exactly how I felt standing there looking at this beautiful view. The area is so majestic, I spent a good deal of my time not thinking about getting “the shot” and just enjoying the scenery. Nikon D200, Tokina 12-24mm ƒ/4 DX
Havasu Falls is located in a side canyon of the Grand Canyon, roughly 35 miles west of the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Havasu Falls leaves an impression like no other place on earth—a tropical, turquoise creek (that flows more like a river) pouring over red, desert cliffs. It lives up to every bit of hype it gets and is the absolute definition of a desert oasis. For this night shot, I used my Canon 17-40mm lens to catch the main waterfall, as well as some of the cascading falls in the foreground, and opened everything up to get as much light as possible since there was no moon out. I used a headlamp to paint the background. I lit the scene for roughly two minutes while the exposure lasted for roughly eight. Needless to say, I was very happy with the result. Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF 17-40mm ƒ/4L
Note: * denotes pro photographer
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