|Greg Lavaty | profile | all galleries >> My Blog >> A Landscape Photography Adventure out West 08-30-2012||tree view | thumbnails | slideshow|
Our trip started on El Paso at Franklin Mountains State Park where we enjoyed some hummingbirds and quail. From there we moved on to White Sands National Monument, a truly amazing place to visit. Our plan was to back-country camp so we could have the maximum shooting time with interesting lighting. After obtaining the appropriate permit we headed out to our campsite and set up our tent clicking a few shots off along the way. By the time we finished setting up our site the light was starting to get interesting so we kicked off our shoes and headed out across the white dunes.
White Sands is the largest active gypsum dune field in the world and while walking around in it, I almost felt like I was walking on some other planet. The bright sand makes the sky look dark blue, almost an inversion of a normal scene. During out exploration it seemed that no matter what the lighting situation was; the curves and lines of the place always produced something interesting.
After a night under the stars we awoke to an amazingly blue sunrise. The alien feel to the landscape was stronger than ever. Another nice walk around the dunes resulted in what were probably my favorite shots of the trip. On our way out of White Sands we got a peek at a few F-22 jets from nearby Holloman AFB, quite a thrill.
Our next stop was the Bisti Wilderness near Farmington, NM. We arrived in the afternoon and though it was still pretty hot and sunny out we were excited to start having a look around. The further we walked into the badlands the more interesting things looked and the happier I was with our choice of location. It seemed like there were drastic changes in the landscape waiting around every corner and I ended up taking so many photos of the place that I don’t think I will ever finish sorting through them.
Once our feet were thoroughly sore from walking around the Bisti Badlands the sun was getting low on the horizon so we headed for Cortez, CO. On the way to Cortez we decided that it might be neat to try out a little night photography at Ship Rock. After searching around a bit in the dark we found the impressive rock formation and clicked off a few pictures before it completely clouded up. This is a place I would love to explore some more during daylight hours.
Bright and early the next morning we made the short drive over to Mesa Verde National Park. After driving through some prime looking birding habitat we arrived at the visitor’s center and arranged for a tour of Cliff Palace. As the earliest tour wasn’t until around 11am we had some time to explore on our own. After clicking a few shots around the park we met at Cliff Palace where we were greeted by our ranger/guide PT, who did a fantastic job showing the tour group around and explaining what we were looking at.
On conclusion of our exploration of Mesa Verde we mounted up and headed toward Moab. Just before arriving in Moab we made a stop at Wilson Arch for a little more photography before heading on to Canyonlands National Park.
Our arrival at Canyonlands was late in the afternoon and we immediately checked for a campsite but they were already all spoken for. The sun was getting low so we headed for the Grand Viewpoint to see if we could catch some nice light for photography. At Grand Viewpoint we quickly explores the area and pretty much clicked our fingers off at the beautiful vista. There was still some sunlight when we wrapped things up so we decided to head for False Kiva for a little night photography.
We arrived in the vicinity of False Kiva just after sunset and headed out in search of our target. It wasn’t long until it got very dark, especially since he had a fair amount of cloud cover. After a couple of hours poking around in the desert we headed back to the car. To our delight, when we arrived at the car the clouds were starting to break so we ended up hanging around for another couple of hours photographing the stars.
Back at Canyonlands we made another attempt at False Kiva, this time with clearer directions and plenty of daylight. With the deck stacked in our favor, and a ranger just ahead of us we quickly made it to False Kiva and spent a while enjoying the view.
Next on our list was Arches National Park. We spent the early afternoon exploring the park before heading up the trail to Delicate Arch for sunset. The crowds at the arch were pretty impressive but there were still a few opportunities for shots of the arch without people. Much to our delight, we had clear skies for sunset and then a wonderful view of the Milky Way above the arch.
A few more photos from the trip can be viewed here: