PLATEAU POINT, GRAND CANYON

By Vicki Uthe

We (my wife and I) live in Flagstaff, AZ which means Grand Canyon’s South Rim is a little over an hour away and makes for a glorious day of hiking. We like to go to the canyon for training hikes to get in shape for longer hikes.

One such day found us at the South Rim heading down Bright Angel Trail toward Indian Garden, which you can see in this image as the splash of green on the right side in the smaller canyon, then out to Plateau Point. We did it with full 25# packs. It is six miles down which means six miles back up…12 total.

Here’s another image of Indian Gardens but showing the switchback of trail heading down. My constant dilemma when doing activities such as this is…WHICH CAMERA DO I BRING?!?  Weight is almost always the first concern. I believe strongly in the “Less is More” philosophy so I only own three camera bodies, two of which are identical. I have a mirrorless Lumix Gx8 times two with four lenses and a Canon S120 point and shoot that shoots RAW images.

These images, however, were taken before I switched my setup to something lighter and easier to travel with. These images were taken with a Canon 40D and 35-70mm lens. Far heavier than I am willing to travel with these days. This is the view from Plateau Point, a 1.5 mile jaunt from Indian Gardens, to the river below. If you look closely you can see a river raft parked at the large beach on the left.

Here’s the thing about this blog: I focus on  taking images when most travelers would be shooting, during the day. In a perfect world I would be here at sunrise and/or sunset, but in a traveler’s life, that is not realistic. Time is short and many things and places are crammed into a short period of time so it is my intent to show that, even though conditions are not ideal, it is still beneficial to bring your camera and snap some pictures.

The canyon had some wildflowers  in May when we hiked. Wildflowers are always worth a stop and a shot. Here I played with a wide open F/stop to blur the canyon in the background.

The Prickly Pear cactus were in bloom as well as the cactus below. The splashes of color on the hike were wonderful to see.

So take a camera, even on long hikes. Be aware of weight so you bring the correct one and don’t regret hauling it around. And then don’t forget to take it out and shoot with it!!!

Happy shooting!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Mexico – Colors Galore

By Men Tay

New year, new resolutions.  If you are looking for a rich cultural experience that provides numerous opportunities for beautiful travel photography within a small budget, I have a suggestion for you.

Just south of the United States is a neighbor that is widely misunderstood.  Americans think of Mexico as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Rocky Point, etc.  A Mayan civilization that goes back to about 3,000 years, Mexico is a country full of history, culture and color.  Get away from the dull beaches and you will find a kaleidoscope of colors in places like Mexico City, Oaxaca, Puebla, Merida, etc.

Start your trip in Mexico City, the capital city of Mexico with a population of about 22 million people.  Not much landscape photography here but the sights of people, shops, food, museums, will overwhelm you.  The city revolves around the Zócalo.  In front of it is the massive Catedral y Sagrario Metropolitano with its baroque-style façade.  Worshippers inside pray at the Altar de los Reyes, a gilded wood altarpiece that took nearly 20 years to complete.  You may run into a group of indigenous people performing their traditional dances.  Stroll the streets and watch the locals shopping for clothes, food, hardware, etc.

About an hour from Mexico City is the colorful city of Puebla.  A city famous for its colorful buildings, ceramics and namesake dish, mole poblano.  Strolling around an outdoor market, you will find colorful pottery, artwork, street musicians, and handicrafts.

Next stop is Oaxaca, a beautiful colonial city that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Much of the activities center around the plaza of Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzman.  You find cafes, locals strolling around, food vendors and if there is a festival, dancers parading the square.  Nearby is the 20th of November market, where you find spices, mescal, fruits, and even roasted crickets, a local delicacy.  A mad display of sights, sounds, and smell.

If you love history, there is the nearby ruins of Monte Alban, built by the Zapotecs around 500 BC.  Pyramids, palace, ball court, and bas reliefs are the attractions.  Come early for the best photography or you will run into large crowds.

Next is the popular expat town of St. Cristobal, located in the highlands of the state of Chiapas.  Like most Mexican towns and cities, life revolves around the zocalo.  However, if you branch further out from the city, you will find many of Mexico’s indigenous people, with their rich traditions and colors.  Weavers still use hand looms to make colorful blankets and tapestry.

Lastly, Merida is an old city that has many colonial buildings and old churches.  Get up early and walk the streets and you will find many opportunities for some interesting photography.  The zocalo comes alive in the late afternoon and evening.  Street musicians, food vendors, friends and family meeting each other.  The type of scenes that you don’t see too often in the United States.

A question that is often asked when I travel to such places is:  Is it safe there?  The places I mentioned above are all quite safe.  However, there are precautions that one must take no matter where you travel in the world.   I’ve written a post on my travel blog that talks about how you can protect yourself when traveling to unfamiliar places:   https://mengineurope.blogspot.com/2017/08/

If you can be randomly shot at a concert, nightclub, theater, school, parking lot and even a church here at home, then everyplace else is much safer.  You have to venture out of your comfort zone and enjoy the world.

Meng Tay is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

I see a sign!!

By Rick Sprain

If you’re a photographer, then you must love to travel. Especially here in the state of Arizona. No matter where you call home here in Arizona, you’re only minutes from someplace spectacular that’s deserving to be photographed. Having lived in Prescott for a few years now, I would make the trek to Yuma to visit family as often as

Old hotel sign in Wickenburg

possible. Highway 60, the highway traveling between Wickenburg and Highway 10 near Quartzsite, was once the main road connecting Los Angeles and Phoenix. Small towns such as Agulia, Wenden, Gladden, Harcuvar, Brenda, Hope and Salome became popular rest stops for the weary traveler.

Salome definitely had its share of characters over the years, from the towns co-founder Dick Wickenburg Hall to brothers Russell “Bus” and William Sheffler. Hall (born DeForest Hall) was a humorist who lived in Salome and wrote the towns newsletter The Salome Sun. One of his many characters  he developed was the Salome Frog. The frog was a seven-year old bullfrog weighing 18 pounds who never learned to swim because the lack of waterholes in the desert.

1940s postcard of the Sheffler’s Motel

Current sign for Sheffler’s Motel

The Sheffler’s  moved to Salome in 1939 after California outlawed gambling from ships anchored off the coast. The brothers supplied slot machines to the mob that were using on the boats as flouting casinos. With the intent to create their own resort in which Californians would flock to, the Sheffler’s constructed the Sheffler’s Motel and purchased Van’s Cafe. Although appearing legitimate, the business were a front for the brothers  real interest, which was gambling and prostitution. The cafe building is now home to the Salome Restaurant and the Cactus Bar. The Shefflers Motel is still in business and appears today as it did back in the 1940s.

As you travel up and down Highway 60, you can’t but help to notice the old hotel signs along the way. In the 1940s and 1950’s neon signs were all the rage. Hotels and motels all across the county were placing these bright signs along the highways as beacons for their establishments.

The old Sunset Motel in Wendon has
been beautifuly restored and is now used by
local artests to sell thgeir work

The Saguara Motel sign in Aguila

 

 

 

 

 

Quite a few of the old signs are still visible today. Most are no longer operational, but still serve to remind us of days when signs could be a work of art. As you drive along on Highway 60 or Route 66 or any other of the old highways, take a look at the history you are passing. Stop and take photographs of the relics from the past. Some will still have their bright colors reflecting the

1940s postcard of the Blue Star Motel

afternoon sun while others are barely readable.  If you are traveling at night and you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a

1950s postcard of the Ambers Hills Motel and Cafe

working neon sign, pull over to a safe spot, set up your camera on a tripod and snap a few shots.

Current sign of the Amber Hills Motel

Rick Sprain is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Arizona Snowbowl

By Vicki Uthe

Hard to believe but ski/snowboard season is just around the corner. If this is your thing and you like to photograph I have a  little something for you to do on those long rides up the chair lift. Take your camera! I shot the following with my trusty Canon S120 point and shoot. You could just as easily do it with a phone. But here’s the trick…don’t drop the camera!! It’s easy to do as you’re fiddling with ski poles, gloves, pocket zippers and handling a camera with cold hands. Just be very mindful.

These images were taken the morning after Northern Arizona had a storm. The trees were encased in snow and ice. It was beautiful. I took these heading up chair two at Arizona Snow Bowl.

That blue sky is for real. I did nothing in post processing to make it that blue. Wow, right? And look at those trees! A pocket camera is perfect for this. These two were not taken from the chairlift but from the ski runs. My poor friend had to keep stopping so I could shoot.

 I was digging the shadows on the snow as well.

This is a chairlift shot of the San Francisco Peaks in all of their frozen glory.

These two were also taken from the chair. They are essentially the same shot but the bottom one had a skier inter the frame with a red jacket! What LUCK!

One of the fortunes of living in Flagstaff is having access to this kind of beauty immediately following a snowstorm.

The ice tipped trees didn’t seem real.
Today’s lesson? Keep your camera with you always and…dress warm!!
Happy Shooting!!
Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

How well do you know your camera?

By Amy Horn

Ice focus stacked imageAlmost a year ago I changed camera systems. Sold all my Nikon gear for an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and it has been a fun year learning new features on this camera. The two I use most are focus bracketing and focus stacking. The focus bracketing feature programs the camera to take up to 999 photos and it adjusts focus from near to far on the subject. Of course, a tripod and shutter release are

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

crucial.

Afterward I plug the images into Helicon Focus to stack the images. Here is an image of frost from a stack of 53 images using this feature.

Afterward I plug the images into Helicon Focus to stack the images. Here is an image of frost from a stack of 53 images using this feature.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Focus stacking on the Olympus camera is similar to focus bracketing in that the camera is programmed to capture images from near to far but it will only capture eight images with this feature. The bonus of this stacking feature is the camera stacks the eight images and processes a final stacked .jpg in camera! The image of Queen Anne’s Lace is an example of a .jpg using this feature.

Another feature I enjoy using is the double exposure setting. With this feature, I capture one image and before I capture the second image, the viewfinder displays the first so that I can place the double image where I want. This is an image from Gold King Mine, Jerome using the double exposure setting.Double exposure image

There a few other features I have yet to explore on my new camera and I will get to them. Do you have features on your camera that you don’t use or didn’t know you had? For me, learning is fun and if it gives me an excuse to play with my camera, I don’t complain!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAME 

Amy Horn is an Instructor with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

EASTER EGGS

By Vicki Uthe

Easter is coming up in a couple of weeks and it is a fantastic holiday for shooting, especially if you like color as much as I do.

Apparently my household doesn’t color eggs as often as I think we do because I only have two years of examples. But that doesn’t matter. This is a blog about inspiration so YOU get out there and find those eggs and baskets and colors and YOU get some images.

This bowl of eggs was sitting on our kitchen counter. I set up a tripod so I could shoot in low light without camera shake. You could spend an hour just shooting this bowl and changing around the eggs to find the best lines, forms and color combinations.  Of course changing the  angle is also also an option as I did below.

Seriously, this makes me want to color eggs this year just to have a photo session.

One year we got a hold of a box of egg color that had faces and hair in them. That was a fun shoot!

So, this Easter, get with the kids and/or grandkids and color some eggs! Then get out your camera and have some fun. I did!

Happy Shooting!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Las Vegas – So Much to See (and Photograph!)

By Megan P Galope

Most people I talk to either love or hate Las Vegas. Many dread having to go there on business, with all of the people and noise. But Vegas is a great place for photography, with so many different options for subjects. Do you like to take photos of people? There’s no better people watching than Vegas. Is night photography your thing? You can’t beat all the lights on the strip. If you’re lucky and have a good view from your hotel room, you can even take photos from there.

Photo from my hotel room

If you like to photograph flowers, the Bellagio flower garden is a must. It changes periodically, so you never know what you’ll find.

Peacocks made from flowers in the Bellagio flower garden

The flower garden is a perfect place if you enjoy macro photography.

Flowers in the Bellagio flower garden

The Bellagio is also great for the massive water display out front and the Chihuly ceiling in the lobby.

The lobby of the Bellagio with the Chihuly glass ceiling

Once you’ve had enough of all the lights and noise, Red Rock Canyon is just a short drive away. It’s a beautiful area with many hiking trails, or you can just drive through and look around.

Red Rock Canyon just outside of Las Vegas

So the next time you go to Vegas, be sure to bring along a camera. You’ll be surprised with all of the photographic opportunities!

Megan Galope is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

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