Colors of Lower Antelope Canyon, AZ Thursday, Jul 21 2011 

While I was looking for more photos to post from our trip to Zion National Park, I kept running into some scans from rolls of medium format Fuji Velvia film that I shot in 2009. That year, John, Tyler and I were joined by Scott Jones in our adventures throughout the American Southwest. One of the most satisfying destinations was Lower Antelope Canyon, near Page, Arizona.

Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon

Even if you don’t bring a camera, this stretch of real estate is amazing to behold. It’s a tight slot canyon carved over eons by sand and water, which inexorably pushed through the layers of sandstone. The Lower is much more difficult to navigate than the nearby Upper Antelope Canyon; there are several places where steel ladders were installed to assist the hikers.

The light comes from many dozens of feet above and it is generally reflected back and forth off canyon walls. This brings out a wide palette of colors, which is what this photo attempts to show. There are the fiery oranges where the light is more direct, but as the canyon walls deepen, so do the shades of red and even purple.

Regardless of what I said a few paragraphs earlier, you need to bring a camera here (I brought three!). You also need a tripod, but most of all, bring your sense of focus. It’s easy to get lost in the majesty of this place and snap away. Many of my shots were lost to lens flares or poor composition. And yet, this one stood the test of time – nearly thirty months later, I still find joy in looking at this image.

Note: My Flickr gallery has a few more shots from the Lower Antelope Canyon (“Straight Up“, “Lower Antelope Canyon“), and quite a few more from the Upper Antelope Canyon (“Spotlight“)

Alien Landscape, Mono Lake Tuesday, Jun 22 2010 

These mist covered mountains are home now for me, but my home is in the lowlands, and always will be – Mark Knopfler

Actually, with me it’s the opposite, but the point is, I’ve always enjoyed the mountains more from a distance, for their photogenic qualities. Given the choice, though, I’d rather do without the snow, the cold, the storms, the winds…

In our quests to enjoy the American landscapes, my friends Scott, John, Tyler and I went through some really weird places. Up there on the weird scale is this new entry, Mono Lake, to the east of Yosemite National Park.

The lake is a freak of nature; it’s salty and alkaline, and its geology is quite unusual. It is in the middle of nowhere, with only a small town of Lee Vining nearby. The limestone formations you see in the foreground are called “tufa”, and they are calcium deposits created from hot springs bubbling from under the lake. They can appear quite eerie in golden hour light, so we picked the lake for our first sunrise location on the trip.

I didn’t really know what to expect, so I was taken by surprise with the alien landscape. I shot mainly with my 7D, looking for a way to start off a brand new roll of 120 size Fuji Velvia film. And while I got some interesting colors on the digital camera, Velvia knocked it out of the park when I scanned the shot above. The sky and the water are almost an unnatural purple, but I like how the mountains in the background stand out and layer the image along with the tufas.

On a technical note, my horizon wasn’t level, so I rotated the original 4:3 image and cropped it to 3:2. Below is a similar digital shot – both are otherwise untouched.

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