LEE’S FERRY WITHOUT A BOAT

By Vicki Uthe

In November 2016 we loaded our mountain bikes and tent and headed to Lee’s Ferry for a three-day campout over Veteran’s Day. The weather was spectacular. The ferry is generally the fist thing you think of when launching a Colorado River trip through Grand Canyon but this time we didn’t bring boats, we brought bikes and hiking boots.

Paria Canyon meets the river here and created this riffle. There were other buildings near the put-in that housed the ferry company back in the day. I did not include them here but they are fun to explore and photograph as well.

We parked the cars for the weekend and took the bikes all over. We road out to Highway 89 and down the road to this dirt road that seemed to go on forever.

That’s Navajo Bridge in the background, the only way over the canyon for hundreds of miles. We also had a great view of the river below.

We ran across this hogan, a traditional Dine’ dwelling, out on a dirt road with the beautiful Vermillion Cliffs in the background.

This is just a fun low angle shot I took while out on the bike ride. I had with me my Canon S120 point and shoot because it was easy to slip in and out of my pocket. It is also an easy camera to shoot one handed.

I like shadows.

Shooting while riding…NOT recommended.

This is the gate to the local cemetery that tells a very sad story. There are several children buried here that all seemed to pass in the span of a year. Not sure what the illness was but it ravaged this family.

We parked our bikes at the opening to the Lonely Dell Ranch like they were horses. This property had several buildings and an orchard. It was a great place to shoot.

Heading down Cathedral Wash, this was the trickiest part. The hike was beautiful but nothing compared to what we got to see at the bottom, our beloved Colorado River!

Mud patterns and reflections

This rock looks like a turtle head!

We found a great beach to hang out on and enjoy the roar of the river. Beach time in Northern Arizona!

Go explore, bring your camera and document your adventures. It’s fun to go back and relive them through photographs.

Happy Shooting!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Action Photography with Cowboy Mounted Shooting

By Sara Goodnick

To improve your action photography skills a day or two spent photographing the fast-growing sport of Cowboy Mounted Shooting is just the ticket.

Cowboys and cowgirls compete on galloping horses, shooting single-action 19th century style revolvers, with theatrical black powder ammunition blanks at balloons. They compete one at a time, racing through one of 82 pre-determined patterns of 10 balloons on sticks, with the goal of having the cleanest round and the fastest time.

It’s dramatic, but fun and completely family-friendly. The noise is loud, but one can get used to it, or just wear ear protection. The participants and their horses definitely wear ear protection.

They often dress in traditional western gear, both modern and historical, so when you get tired of the action, go for the interesting details.

Because they run the same pattern, you can stay in the same spot and get some consistency in your photographs as you improve your skills.

I have had horses for most of my life, so I know how to behave when around them. For those of you new to the horse world, if you go, just remember, be polite and friendly, stay out of the way of the riders, do not go into the arena, do not feed or pet the horses without permission, do not move quickly when you are behind a horse, smile and chat with the other photographers, and stay out of the way of the official paid photographer.

The photography skills I was working on during the two days I photographed the Phoenix Winter Championships recently:

  1. Using my Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens at 400mm and getting the fast moving subjects in focus. The depth of field for this lens on my Nikon D810 at 50 feet is a short 1 foot 6 inches, according to my app, DOF Scale, so it was a real challenge. I had to guess how far they were, but it varied by as much as 50 feet at least.
  2. Capturing and freezing the action as they fired the pistols. Getting the smoke was good, but the real test was in getting the flames before the smoke.
  3. Finding good light both inside the covered arena and outside.
  4. Finding a spot without a distracting background.
  5. Testing the limits of the camera’s ISO range.
  6. Learning to use focus tracking.

Here is what I learned:

  1. It takes a lot of practice and concentration to follow a moving subject and keep it in focus.
  2. You must trigger the shutter before you see the flash of the flames from the pistol. If you see the flames through the viewfinder, it is too late. You have to anticipate. Watching some of the runs without trying to photograph them will help.
  3. Shutter speed must be 1/1000 sec. or faster. Shoot on manual and adjust aperture and ISO accordingly. Or you could use shutter priority.
  4. Try another lens, such as the 70-200 f/2.8. I had very nice images from this lens when I could get close enough.
  5. Shooting a high speed burst doesn’t always catch what you want if your timing is already off.
  6. Shooting a high speed burst over and over again can cause buffering problems as the camera just stops shooting and tries to catch up. I had a 120Mbs CF card but between the card and the camera, I just don’t have a top of the line sports dedicated camera. But what I have is good enough for my purposes.

Here are some of my favorites, and several with some things to watch out for.

First, the bad:

The horse’s feet are in an awkward part of the stride. This happens a lot in this type of event and there is little to be done. With practice, you can catch some better foot placement, but trying to also catch the shooting at the right time is just luck.

I really try to avoid photographing a horse with its mouth gaping open. This is a very busy background and the balloon is in front of the horse. Legs are awkward.

Some of my favorites:

Sara Goodnick 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

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

Front Yard Photography

By Megan P Galope

If you’re searching for a subject to photograph, sometimes you don’t have to look further than your back (or front) yard. There are the usual plants and flowers, but if you pay attention, you may find something more interesting. A few weeks ago, I went out to get the mail. When walking under the tree in our front yard, I noticed something on the ground. Upon further examination, it appeared to be owl pellets (along with bird poop):

I looked up with the hopes that I would see some evidence of an owl, and this beauty was looking down at me:

Dr. Hoo (a great horned owl) has been coming to visit a few days each week ever since. It pays to pay attention, because you never know what you might find in your front (or back) yard!

Megan P Galope is a Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.

What is my photographic specialty?

By Jon Vemo

To quote a photographer I’ve followed for some years, Rick Sammon, “I specialize in not specializing.” Why limit yourself, why focus only on one or two particular photographic genres, when there is so much that life offers? Sure there may be things that you are more interested in or passionate about – and that’s OK. But when it comes to creating images, I, like Rick, prefer to be open to whatever I find of interest.

Like so many people that carry a DLSR or one of the new mirrorless, when out with my camera, I am often asked about what I do and what my specialty is. I’ve tried to answer this in many different ways, but I have recently landed on, “I photograph life around me” – meaning what I see or whatever is happening around me that I find interesting. I enjoy a beautiful landscape, I am intrigued by unique people I see on the street, an object with unique lines or appearance, or any other activity that I find interesting.

The colors, the smells, the people of a vibrant public market…    

Pike Place Market, Seattle, WA

Several years ago while visiting the tulip fields in Washington’s Skagit Valley, I came across a tulip growing from a highly unlikely spot…

Skagit Valley, WA

I do not really consider myself a bird follower, however when presented opportunities to make an image of natures more majestic winged creatures, I am quick to reach for my camera…

   

Sonoran Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ

I am also often intrigued by lines, leading and otherwise, and applying different techniques to create that unique image;

Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, AZ

Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, AZ

And especially the beauty of the Pacific Northwest coast;

Oregon Coast, Oregon

So my advise to those starting out in their photographic journey (as well established photographers seeking inspiration), is not to limit yourself to a particular form of photography. Go after the images that interest you, what excites you. After all, it’s about following a passion and what interests us, and we shouldn’t limit ourselves on the images that we create.

Jon Vemo is a Volunteer with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes