Get off the trail and into the water!

 By Rick Sprain

Taking your camera on a nice trail is fun and good exercise but how about seeing the world from a entirely new perspective?  On the water. With all the rain we’ve had this winter it’s the perfect time to hit the lakes. Here in Prescott as with many of the lakes and  reservoirs around the state the rain has filled the lakes to the brim.

Since most of the small lakes prohibit motor powered boats, canoes and kayaks are a perfect remedy. If you don’t own one, many locations have concessions that will rent a canoe or kayak by the hour. By now you’re thinking there’s no way I’m taking my $3000 camera or smart phone anywhere near the water. If you just want to go out and enjoy the sites and tranquility that’s fine, but  you’re missing a perfect opportunity to photograph something that most people won’t be able to see.

To help with this problem, I have a number of items that can help you keep your camera safe and dry while still able to capture that perfect picture. You don’t have to spend $3,000 or even $300 on a waterproof housing for your camera. Most remedies range from about $15 to about $50. For you phone and point and shoot  photographers out there, there are a number of products that are available for under $15. The bag shown here is a perfect example. The cost is only about $15 and it lets you shoot right through the bag. There are similar products for phones. Even a tightly sealed freezer bag may protect your camera or phone  from a quick dunk or splash of water from an ore.

Personally I use a water proof bags shown here. There are many styles and sizes available that will accommodate just about any camera. Most range from $15 to $50. These are the same type of bags used by rafters in their boats as they go down the Colorado River. When used correctly they are totally water proof and will float if they end up in the water.

I also take along a towel to set the camera on along with a lens cleaning kit just in case a few drops get on my lens. I’ll take the camera out of bag, check it for water spots and to make sure the setting haven’t changed and take the picture. I then place it back in the bag and paddle to the next spot. Warmer weather will be here soon so get out and get on the water.

Rick Sprain is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Crested Saguaros and Horseshoe Lake

By Jeff Insel

My wife and I decided to venture out to Horseshoe Lake for a getaway of a couple of hours. We hadn’t been there before, even though we’ve lived within 32 miles for almost 30 years.  I brought my camera in the hopes that we might see something interesting along the way and I’m glad I did.

Once you make the turn off of Cave Creek Road to the Bartlett Lake turnoff you finally sense that you’ve begun to “get away from it all” and you have hilly, desert landscape all around. Before reaching Bartlett Lake, you’ll turn left onto Horseshoe Lake Dam Road – paved for a about 3 miles and then it becomes a graded dirt road – there several spots where the recent rain runoff had left dips and pot holes along the way but regular vehicles could still get along ok.

Our first surprise was seeing a Cristate or Crested Saguaro off to the west or left side of the road as we drove towards the lake, it was only about a mile or two on the dirt road and about 100 yards out. These are somewhat rare and you can for years without seeing one as you travel around the Sonoran Desert so I made sure to stop and get a photo.

As you approach Horseshoe Lake you first come to the Dam viewpoint turnoff and we thought we’d check it out. Turns out to be very interesting. It’s not a huge dam compared to Glen Canyon Dam or Hoover Dam and it’s easily accessible. There’s an overlook of the spillway to the left of the Dam and you’ll notice that it also has a walkway underway that spillway where you can walk and then go up to the Dam itself and view the lake and surrounding mountains.  It’s not too far a walk there and back with a slight incline on the road up to the Dam from the spillway. The spillway makes for some interesting photo opportunities.

On the road back out we noticed another Crested Saguaro about 25 yards off the road to the west between mile markers 7 & 6 and took a few minutes to capture a photo of it. I couldn’t believe we’d found two in just a few hours and not too far from each other, in 32 years living in Arizona I’ve only seen about four altogether.  Made for a very pleasant and pleasing few hours.

Jeff Insel is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Use your Creativity to get “Something from Nothing”

Suzanne Mathia Photography

Author: Suzanne Mathia
OK…  So here’s the situation…  You’re at one of the modern-day 7 Wonders of The World, the Grand Canyon.  There’s a layer of fresh snow, but the only 
problem is, the Canyon is completely fogged in.  This is the situation our Arizona Highways Photo Workshop found itself in for our afternoon shoot (Grand Canyon in Winter).  None of us had ever seen fog hanging in the canyon, so thick, for so long.  To give you an idea of just how thick it was, the first image is looking into the GC from the South Rim from just behind the lodges.  Visibility was about 10 feet, so I could see the tree and the edge, which of course was important also to avoid falling down 6800 feet !
Has anything like this happened to you ?  It might be fog, rain, other inclement weather, a lake or river with unexpectedly low water level, or any number of things.  So you can either call it a day and head back to the hotel, or put on your thinking cap, bring out your creative spirit, and perhaps create something amazing !
So what did we do to turn around our foggy afternoon ?
We were out at one of the many Canyon Points, or vistas.  I was trying to get at least something of a shot with the rocky ledge projecting into the Canyon.  Hey, I could at least see it.  This photo shows you just what I was seeing.  Even though we could see the ledge, the scene was still quite blah.
But I thought “If we only had a photographer down on that ledge in a Red coat”.  That would stand out nicely, and create a sense of interest and contrast to an otherwise blah scene.  Now that could be something. Since I had a red Winter parka, that’s when I changed from a photographer into a model.
The result ?  Magic !!
We had all our participants lined up at the overlook to this ledge, and with help from our master photographer (Suzanne Mathia), using the scene to create
their own unique compositions.  You can decide for yourself, but I believe the results were creative, unique, somewhat surreal, and inspired.  A different
approach to capturing the amazing landscape.
The first of these photos is from Bob Blue, our other Volunteer Trip Leader on this Workshop, and the second is from Sharon Philpott, one of our
participants kind enough to share her photo.
You can see that Bob’s photo is oriented as a portrait, uses the trees for framing, and seems to capture the place and the moment of the emerging sun.
Sharon, by capturing the scene in landscape mode, shows off something about the breadth and grandeur of the Canyon.  Although the photographer is still \
a central element for the eye to land on, he’s seen as tiny compared to the giant Canyon walls.  Two photos with two very different feelings and messages.
In both cases, the photographer in red is the key to making these images work.  And I’m not just saying that because it’s me
When presented with adverse or very challenging shooting conditions, don’t just go back to bed…  Think differently, Trust your instincts, and come up with something unique and magical !!
Suzanne Mathia is an Instructor with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops