By Jeff Insel
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.
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!
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.
Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes
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
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.
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.
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
afternoon sun while others are barely readable. If you are traveling at night and you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a
working neon sign, pull over to a safe spot, set up your camera on a tripod and snap a few shots.
Rick Sprain is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes
By Vicki Uthe
By Amy Novotny
Recently, a friend commented that he had moved away from wildlife photography to landscape photography because it was hard to find wildlife and then even harder to capture an image of a moving animal. He mentioned that he would go out searching and might get a shot or two but then get frustrated so he switched to landscape scenes. Although I love landscape photography, I have begun photographing more wildlife during the hot summer and I mentioned a couple suggestions to him that have helped me in the past couple months.
First of all, speaking to biologists or searching the website of the Arizona Game and Fish Department are great ways to gain some knowledge of where animals will be and when they will be most visible to humans. This past May, Bruce Taubert, wildlife biologist and photographer took a small group of us to the desert to photograph western Screech owls and elf owls. His knowledge of the owls’ territory and their activity level at this time of year led to a great night of shooting. He knew that the birds would respond to calls and the approximate height of where they would perch in the trees, making it easier for us to photograph in the night sky.
Images: Elf owl, Western Screech owl, Elf owl. Taken in the desert in Cave Creek, Arizona.
Learning animal behavior can also be a huge asset in saving time finding animals and even capturing an image of a moving animal. Recently, I was out photographing bighorn sheep in the canyon surrounding Canyon Lake, Arizona. The Arizona Game and Fish Department had set up a boat tour at the beginning of July to search for the sheep. Even though it is typically the hottest time of the year for Arizona, this is the time when the mating season is underway and sheep can be seen going down the walls of the canyon to drink from the lake. Sure enough, within minutes of being on the boat, we came across a herd of sheep halfway up the canyon. The boat driver recommended waiting to watch the sheep, as he suspected that they would climb down to the water. To our delight, his knowledge of animal behavior was accurate and helped us get the opportunity for some close up shots of the sheep at the water’s edge.
Image: Bighorn sheep climbing back up the canyon walls surrounding Canyon Lake, Arizona
Knowledge of animal behavior is also critical for capturing moving animals. This is especially useful in bird photography when trying to capture a bird in flight. When trying to photograph a roadrunner in flight, I studied his behavior for a bit and learned how he turned his head and changed his body position just prior to takeoff. Although it was still difficult trying to capture the little guy in motion, having some knowledge of his tendencies increased my opportunity of getting a shot.
Images: A Greater Roadrunner begins to dive and then dives off the branch to the ground at the Pond at Elephant Head Ranch in Amado, Arizona.
Workshops, such as those offered through Arizona Highways Photo Workshops, are great ways to highly increase your chance of capturing images of wildlife because the professional photographers have done all the research for you and gained special access to areas. However, when workshops are not an option, other sources exist, such as Bruce Taubert’s book, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife” that describes when and where to find certain wildlife throughout Arizona. The Arizona Game and Fish Department website also has email newsletters of wildlife viewings throughout the year.
Amy Novotny is a Volunteer with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops
By Nathaniel Smalley
The American Southwest, a land of raw elements and rugged terrain, a place where only the hardiest wildlife and plants survive. This corner of the world has captivated the imaginations of people for centuries. Once known as the great frontier, it drew settlers from all corners of the world seeking to make it their home. Today we read in history books about ‘How the West was won’, but my recent travels throughout Arizona and Utah would indicate that the wild west is anything but tamed. While crowds of tourists surely pour down its main highways in the summer months, just over the distant hills remains a land of unexplored beauty and silence. There the sun rises and sets over a stunning landscape, painting shadows in the corners that act as a supporting cast to the elaborate sandstone formations.
This was the first year since moving to Arizona in 2007 that I have not been in some remote corner of the world for the season of Spring. I took full advantage of this opportunity and spent the past three months chasing the light throughout the American Southwest. I was recently asked by Arizona Highways to lead a Best Of The West Photo Workshop for them in April of 2018, this was the perfect opportunity to scout for that upcoming itinerary and fill out my portfolio in those areas of the State.
My adventures of the season took me to countless iconic destinations across the gorgeous Arizona landscape. Monument Valley has long been known as the back yard playground of some of Hollywood’s greatest actors, most notably John Wayne. Standing there overlooking the vista dominated by towering rock buttes that are illuminated by the setting sun one quickly realizes why many have been so easily drawn to this magical place.
The beauty of this region extends below the earth’s surface as well, deep into narrow slot canyons that have been forged by flood waters rushing over the sandstone for centuries. These powerful torrents carry rocks, logs and other debris with such force that they carve out fantastic underworld realms that are incredible places to explore and even better to photograph! During the Spring and Summer months sunbeams occasionally make it down through the top of the canyon walls painting the walls with light and revealing their amazing textures and patterns. Walking through the chasm one can often hear the call of a Raven perched by the top echoing through through the passage, or that of a Great Horned Owl if you’re lucky!
The plant life in the Southwest is unlike anywhere else in the United States. Gigantic Saguaros and other varieties of cactus decorate certain sections of the landscape while other parts support species that dominate a specific region as is the case in Joshua Tree National Park. I happened to be there during the season when these ancient trees bloom and found some wonderful subjects. This image of one bowing down to the earth burdened by the weight of time was one of my favorites due to its unique shape.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share one of the wonderful shots I captured of the Grand Canyon during this adventure. Here is a place that is impossible to put into words or offer an image that dose justice to the majesty and glory of gazing out at one of the seven wonders of the world. When the sun cuts across the ridge line at sunset and casts beams across the vast opening it is truly breathtaking.
Another location that I photographed during this whirlwind tour was the beautiful Canyon de Chelly. Here a towering sandstone spire rises up 750 feet from the canyon floor reaching to the sky. The Navajo Nation has a fantastic legend about Spider Woman surrounding this formation that would impress even the most dedicated comic book enthusiast. Sunset overlooking this valley is unforgettable.
No trip in the American Southwest would be complete without walking around under the cover of darkness in the shadow of ancient rock formations, so I returned to do just that last weekend. My travels took me north where there is limited light pollution in order to photograph the Milky Way. Here in the wee hours of the morning the galaxy explodes above and leaves one feeling incredibly small. It is therapeutic, it puts life in context and heals your tattered soul. The adrenaline that courses through you standing there can not be duplicated. What a wonderful world.
The simple reality I discovered is that the West will never be won, it is a wild and free land for those who are willing to go out and seek its raw dimensions. If you would like more information on my upcoming Best Of The West Photo Workshop you can find complete details at this link. Three spots filled the day it was announced and space is limited. I can’t wait to return to these exceptional destinations next year with my group and look forward to sharing our images with you at that time. I am now off to lead my Ultimate African Adventure Safari, I’ll put together an in depth trip report from our experiences once we return. Thanks for reading!
Nathaniel Smalley is an Instructor with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops
Bruce Taubert will be presenting two learning sessions at Arizona Highways Photo Workshops’ 30th Anniversary Symposium. Here’s more about his “Macro- Photography” Session.
Bruce takes photographs of small things because they are beautiful, and he can only really appreciate how beautiful and unique they are by having an image to look at. It is almost impossible for him to see the scales that make up butterfly wings or the pollen on a bee’s legs without viewing a photograph. He never really appreciated the intricacy of a dragonfly’s eyes or the interweaves of a bird’s feather, again until he saw a close-up photograph of them. There is an incredible WOW factor when he looks at images that show the pieces of the natural world that he has never seen before. Even though many of his images of small things may never be published, it is through these images that he better appreciates the beauty of the small pieces of our world.
Macro-photography is normally defined as “taking photographs of small items and making them larger than life size”. This definition, for most photographers, is too limiting. It can be defined more simply as “close-up” photography, allowing photos of less than life-size subjects to be included.
Macro-photography is unique from other forms of photography in that it requires the use of different types of equipment than landscape, portrait, and most wildlife photography. It also requires some different skills than other forms of photography. The cameras are the same, but only through the use of specialized lenses and other equipment can the photographer take photographs at 0.5X and it is even more complicated as we attempt to photograph at magnifications greater than 1X.
In the “Macro-photography” learning session, you will learn all about the specialized equipment, techniques, and art of macro-photography. Bruce’s hope is that after you digest all of that information, you will better understand how to use the cameras, lenses, and associated equipment to open up the special world of macro-photography.
To read the post on Bruce’s other learning session, “Hummingbird Photography,” visit our Capture Your Moment page.
For more information and to register for sessions like this, please visit the AHPW’s 30th Symposium website.