Archive for May, 2010

After almost stepping on a rattler hidden under a prickly pear cactus, my heart pumped adrenaline through my body so fast I turned bright red, flushed from being scared. I leaped vertically onto a two foot tall red sandstone boulder as the snake slithered away.

Barely fifty feet from the car, this, was my introduction to Arches National Park in southeastern Utah. Arches, is the center of the world’s largest congregation of natural stone arches. http://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm, www.arches.nationalpark.com/

73,000 acres and more than 2000 natural sandstone arches to explore and photograph. It’s a great location to rejuvenate and feel inspired by the landscape. Arches Park has an arid desert climate. With red sandstone formations called spires, fins, arches and balanced rocks in all directions it is hard to choose which way to go. www.utah.com/nationalparks/arches.htm

Sillouetted hiker under Double Arch

Hiker at Double Arch

Arches’ is actually one of my favorite places. Located just outside of Moab, Utah Arches’ is about 119 square miles in size. Its highest elevation is 5,653 feet (1,723 m) at the top of Elephant Butte, and its lowest elevation is 4,085 feet (1,245 m) which is at the Park’s visitor’s center.

Nature’s forces that created the landscape throughout the park reveal rock layers depicting millions of years of erosion and deposition. These elements continue to shape life in Arches today.

A 40-mile round trip paved road will lead you to all the major sights and trails throughout the Park.

For landscape photography the park’s most famous geologic feature is Delicate Arch but other major areas include: Skyline Arch, Double Arch and Balanced Rock in the Windows Section of the Park. Hikes into the Devils Garden will expose Landscape Arch and Double O Arch. The Fiery Furnace section of the Park is a labyrinth of salmon-colored sandstone cliffs.

Land formations sculpted by wind and water

Arches National Park, Utah

Understanding the process that creates the landscape gives the photographer a more exacting choice in deciding on interpretation and which compositional elements to include when capturing the image. Time, water and wind sculpted both the Entrada and Navajo Sandstone creating layer cake lines and swirls that spark design ideas.

Light can get harsh very fast here and for the best photography early morning and especially the evening hours are the best for drama. That’s when you have to decide if you should include those intriguing snow-capped La Sal Mountains that are always looming on the horizon into another image.

Hiker in the Devil's Garden

Hiker in Devil's Garden

Arches National Park receives only an average of 10 inches of rain a year. Each season offers something different in light quality and weather conditions to experience. Hot in summer, cold in winter just like nature intended.

An excellent book to help capture the spirit of the Park into your images before you travel is by Edward Abbey who was a park ranger at Arches National Monument. He kept journals that became his inspirational book Desert Solitaire.  

Canyonlands National Park, www.canyonlands.nationalpark.com/ and Dead Horse Point State Park, www.discovermoab.com/stateparks are both close by, each is distinct and worth more than just a side trip but even a day trip to each is worth the effort and they will expand the opportunities for quality landscape photography. The views are amazing.

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Photographs used in this post are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography, 2010, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited without the written permission of Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography. My image catalog can be viewed at http://www.rangeofvisionphotos.com. You can contact me through this blog or email at: wayne@rangeofvisionphotos.com

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An ice mass emerged from the deep shadows and cold waters of the glacial cirque that holds Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana. www.visitmt.com . As it floated by in the sun and crossed the background for some reason I saw a hawk formation within the composition of my viewfinder. An abstract image of course but it was a noteworthy shutter release.

Iceberg Lake in Glacier Park Montana

Iceberg Lake Glacier National Park Montana

Many Glacier Valley is located on the east side of the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park, to the north of St. Mary. www.nps.gov/glac/ Iceberg Lake is an aquamarine colored jewel. The lake was named for the icebergs that float in the lake after the spring/summer melt occurs. It lies deep in the shadows on the northern flank of Mt. Wilbur – receiving very little sun.

Because of this, the lake develops a thick coat of ice during the winter. It slowly melts away during the summer. Adjacent snowfields also drop icy chunks into the lake. Consequently, even in August, the lake usually is full of floating ice.

The trail to Iceberg Lake is 9 miles roundtrip and passes through prime Grizzly Bear territory, so it is not a good idea to be hiking after dark.

The hike begins behind the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, www.NationalParkReservations.com, and follows the Ptarmigan Wall through some spectacular scenery. There is an elevation gain of 1200 feet. For most of its length, it passes through very open terrain, with lots of wildflowers and a few forested sections along the south slopes of Altyn Peak and Mt. Henkel.

Incredible views are all around with the turquoise waters of the lake, 3,000 foot towering cliffs and the clear cold marshy wetland waters of Wilbur Creek below the trail make for a fantastic day hike with amazing photographic opportunities.

On the southwestern end of Montana and into northern Wyoming, www.WyomingTourism.org lays Yellowstone National Park with all its geysers and hot springs. Deep into the heart of this the world’s first National Park is Midway Geyser Basin and the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring.

Prismatic Hot Spring Yellowstone National Park Wyoming

Prismatic Hot Spring In Yellowstone Park

The Grand Prismatic Hot Spring bubbles and steams from the depths of the earth. The scent of sulphur clings to the heated mist. It is the largest hot spring in the US and is the third largest on earth.

Yellowstone, www.yellowstonenationalpark.com, itself contains the most concentrated display of hot springs and geysers in the world. The Grand Prismatic Spring is spectacular. It is large 90 meters (300 feet) across and 50 meters (160 feet) deep.  The dark blue water in the center of the pool is 87° C (188° F). Along the cooler edges of the pool heat-loving bacteria and algae thrive.

The bacteria produce colorful tints in the mineral rich waters and as a result, the pool shows off with a spectrum of colors.  In the summer, the algae mats are likely to be orange and red, whereas in the winter the mats are usually a dark green color. The deep blue color in the center is a result of the high purity and depth of the water and is sterile because of the extreme heat. Grand Prismatic discharges an estimated 560 gallons of the heated water per minute.

Rudyard Kipling, who visited Yellowstone in 1889, gave this basin the name of, “Hell’s Half Acre.” All of Midway Geyser Basin is packed with photographic opportunities. Several trails crisscross this volcanic area giving the photographer a chance to view things from all directions with changing light patterns. It is another unworldly location for the travel and outdoor photographer to capture moments of nature’s beautiful exhibition.

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Photographs used in this post are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography, 2010, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited without the written permission of Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography. My image catalog can be viewed at http://www.rangeofvisionphotos.com. You can contact me through this blog or email at: wayne@rangeofvisionphotos.com

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