Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Great American Southwest - Death Valley, The Grand Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley and Zion National Park

I was finally packed and ready to go. My trip to the American Southwest was becoming a reality at last. As I pulled away from my home in Lake Tahoe, I knew I was going to see and photograph some of the most iconic places in the world. On my trip I would have the pleasure of visiting Death Valley, The Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley and Zion National Park. And what a trip it was.... The American Southwest is like no other place on earth. The landscape is awe-inspiring and sometimes surreal. There is such a diverse amount of terrain located in a relatively small area that it provides for endless photographic enjoyment. My first stop was Death Valley. I didn't have much time in Death Valley but the sunrise at Zabriskie Point was not to be missed.
"Zabriskie Point Sunrise"
From there I continued east through Las Vegas, across the Hoover Dam and onto Grand Canyon National Park where I arrived just in time for some great afternoon light and a wonderful sunset.
"Grand Canyon"
The real treat in Grand Canyon National Park was the Big Horn Sheep that I came across. Not two minutes after being out of the car and walking along the rim of the canyon I ran across this amazing creature. He posed for several minutes along the edge of the Grand Canyon and then went on about his business. I couldn't believe I walked into such an amazing opportunity. Sometimes you go looking for great photographs and sometimes, by dumb luck, they find you.
"Grand Canyon Big Horn"
After darkness took over I headed for Page, Arizona and made camp. I awoke early and grabbed some breakfast in town. Eager to start photographing, I headed east out of town towards Lower Antelope Canyon. I chose Lower Antelope vs. Upper Antelope because it seemed to me that less people went into Lower Antelope. Instead of having to book a tour and get on a bus in town (Upper Antelope), I was able to drive up to the entrance to Lower Antelope Canyon, pay my fee, and go exploring.
"The Bird"
Lower Antelope Canyon is one of the most serene, peaceful and enjoyable places that I have ever had the pleasure of being in, let alone photographing.
"Sand Wave"
"The Womb"
Lower Antelope Canyon is much narrower than Upper Antelope Canyon. I found myself contorting my body in all sorts of various positions to get the angles that I wanted.
"Hot and Cold"
As an added treat I was able to photograph several beams of light penetrating from the canyon's roof. I heard this was only possible in the summer months. Going to the canyon in October I had written off the prospect of photographing the famous light beams. Turns out, for just a few seconds, I was able to capture a couple beautiful displays of light. They only occurred for about ten seconds apiece, but it was more than enough time to get a good shot.
"Piercing Light"
"Canyon Light"
The next day I made my way out to Monument Valley. Whenever anyone thinks of the American Southwest they probably have a vision of Monument Valley in their head, whether they have been there or not. The Mitten formations in the valley are some of the most iconic formations in the world.
"Monument Valley Sunrise"
I arrived to the valley in the afternoon and took a lot of shots. Some were ok but the real treat was the sunrise the next morning.
"Monument Valley Silhouettes"
"The Mittens"
It was on to the last and final stop of the trip, Zion National Park. The easiest way to describe Zion is that it's like a sandstone Yosemite, at least at first glance. When I pulled into the valley I was surprised to find that the fall colors were still in full swing.
After taking a drive around the park I headed over to the ranger station to get my permit for the next day's hike, The Subway.
"The Subway"
The Subway is one of the most unusual canyons in the Southwest. The approach isn't easy but it's well worth it. Once you reach The Subway, and yes it does really resemble a subway, you will most likely stand there and recap in your mind the millions of years it took to form such an amazing canyon.
"Dark Pools"
"Autumn Flow"
"Serenity Falls"
After leaving Zion I headed back across the Nevada desert on Hwy 50, The Loneliest Road in America, to finish up some shots for a project I'm working on for Nevada Magazine............but that's for another post.

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