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I'm now selling my photos!!!

I now host galleries of my favorite photos @ www.lloydshell.zenfolio.com Feel free to surf over there to see photo's that may have drifted into the darkest reaches of the archives here on Blogspot.

I also have begun selling my photographs when requested, I can handle most sizes and finishes either locally or via my on-line printing service.

Thanks for looking!

Lloyd
lloydshell@gmail.com

Thursday, June 10, 2010

More Flowers From Mom and Dad's Garden

My mother has spent a lot of time in her life collecting and growing many different colors of Iris. After/during a recent family party I spent a few minutes in her garden capturing a few of them. Hope to get some more at other times, she has so many to shoot!








Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 1 Capitol Reef National Park-Capitol Wash and Golden Throne

In what is hopefully going to be an annual tradition (crosses fingers) I made my spring pilgrimage to the best part of red rock country: Southern and Southcentral Utah. This trip was taken from May 12 to May 15, 2010. Our driver was a good friend of mine Kerry, our Camp Cook and associate photographer was my brother Phil, and then there was me the map guy/lunch food dude/camp location co-ordinator and associate photographer. Here are Kerry and Phil at the trailhead of our first hike.

We had a heck of a weather day getting there, we had snow through the Fishlake National Forest area, and the threat of rain most of the day. Nevertheless we prevailed in having a good time and enjoying the scenery!

Speaking of which, here is the Dome of the Golden Cathedral. So called because in the sun the stone looks gold/yellow, and the early european explorers felt like these formations looked like cathedrals of stone. If you drive the Cathedral Valley Loop Road you have a spectacular view of these domes (There are several) to the southwest.

As previously mentioned the skies were cloudy with off and on rain, making landscape photography less than spectacular, however flowers tend to be shown off better with more diffuse light so I spent a fair amount of time crouched down or on my knees taking pictures of the local flora.

Most spectacular of the blooming things were the cacti. I am really not sure which variety lives in the Capitol Reef area, and frankly I don't care, all I know is that they were beautiful and I enjoyed looking at them!

Once we got to the end of the trail, we took the opportunity to rest and relax, some more than others. Of course for a photographer just taking photographs is enough to relax you!

There were other flowers around, but they didn't really photograph as well as I would have liked. I could have done better but after awhile you get tired of bending so much. I must be getting old...

Kerry was a little disgruntled to be at the end of the trail, he would have hiked all day given the opportunity I think. He was a good scout about Phil and I stopping to take photos of all the stupid things we stopped for. Guess I owe him...

Here Kerry and Phil are re-enacting a favorite scene from a Pirate Movie, walking the plank isn't quite the same when it is made of solid sandstone.

This is an arch in the making, one day it will stand after the rock behind it wears away, or it may collapse on some poor unfortunate photographer who was dumb enough to be standing underneath it when it gave way. Arches to collapse and rock does fall at times, I just hope it never does it when I am there!

This look back at the Golden Throne shows the effect of water on the color of sandstone... I makes it look even better! We had just spent 15 minutes hiding under a tree and an outcropping during a rain shower, while not putting us in danger of washing away it was still inconvenient and made for quite muddy hiking conditions for the last half mile or so...

It was interesting to see how the cacti captured the water in the cup of the blossom, I don't know if they are able to absorb the water, but I wouldn't be surprised. We deliberately scheduled our trip in the later spring trying to capture the desert in bloom. Glad we did!

This was about as clear of a sky as we had.

We ate lunch at the trailhead picnic area. Just behind one wall there was a chipmunk running around doing it's thing. So I did mine, what else is a photographer to do?

The vivid reds and greens are a sharp counterpoint to the yellows and browns of this desert formation. It is an engrossing thinge to walk through a canyon and look at the layers and realize that each step takes you thousands of years backwards or forwards in time.

This is an area called "The Tanks" up Capitol Wash (I guess technically it is down canyon but whatever....) from the trailhead. It is worth walking up the wash to see the pioneer register (Cool but not photogenic) and some of the other geological formations that make up "The Capitol Reef" and lead down into Waterpocket Fold. We had thought of driving the entire Waterpocket Fold the next day but simply had not enough time, and worried about taking a fullsize diesel pickup truck down an area that would swallow it whole if it rained enough. Besides I HATE pushing trucks out of mud bogs, especially large heavy ones!

Here are my intrepid fellow explorers headed back to the truck. While not strictly speaking a "Slot Canyon" it is still fairly narrow and quite enjoyable to travel through.

If you are interested in further information about Capitol Reef National Park, click here.

Day 1 PM Cathedral Valley Road

After leaving Capitol Gorge we drove back past the visitors center (Well worth a stop, especially if it is your first time through) and turned East on Utah SR-24, which bisects the park east to west and ends up going past one of my other favorite areas of the state Goblin Valley State Park.

However we were not going anywhere near that far. About 5-6 miles east of the visitors center is the ford road turn off, where funnily enough you ford a river (The Freemont River to be exact) which is not a big deal, unless you are in a small car with no ground clearance. Seeing as we were in a big brawny 4 wheel drive truck we blasted right through and kept going.

Just a few miles up the road we stopped at an area Phil and I explored last year on our way out of the area, we were curious to see what had happened to the dead cow we saw but I didn't have the stomach to photograph last year. Well this is what was left... a few bones scattered around on the cracked earth.


This is the old drill truck that was used to drill the nearby well. It looks like it was abandonded after drilling was completed and has just sat there since. It has sunk into the desert sand/clay so deep the the frame now rests on the ground. It is surprisingly well preserved considering it's age. I still haven't really captured the thing, but I didn't have much time this trip seeing as we had a series of squalls heading right at us.

Here is the approaching front that drove us off the drill truck and back on the road. We were fortunate that really all that was going on was little squalls and not full out large heavy storms. It there had been we would have headed right back out of there. As it was the 10-15 minutes of moderate rain and hail wet the road down enough that the top 2 inches stuck to the tires and pulled off the road bed leaving ruts behind us and flying off the tires to loudly hit the bottom of the truck. A disconcerting noise to be sure. Be sure to click on the photo to make it larger, if you look closely you can see the dome of The Golden Cathedral in th middle left of the photo, it is one of three large domes eroded out of the reef.

Traveling further northwest, we ended the day at the Upper Cathedral Valley Campground. Phil and I stayed there last year and really enjoyed the silence and solitude. Both nights we have spent there were quiet without another person in the campground. That is my kind of campground! It's free too, you just have to be crazy enough to drive 25+ miles of fair to middling dirt road to get there. You have cellular service (With Verizon Wireless) but not much else beyond a fire pit, picnic table and a plopper toilet. No running water or trash cans. After we started setting up camp, Phil alerted me to an impending sunset event. Quickly grabbing my camera but not my tripod I ran to the edge of the bluff less than 150ft from our campsite and started shooting. The light was ethereal and the clouds delicate yet powerful. All in all a moment in time worth immortalizing.

After a gloomy day the payoff was glorious, this shot has spent many days as my wallpaper.

And so has this:

There is nothing quite like this spot, the majestic view is one I could NEVER get tired of.


Day 2 AM Cathedral Valley

Getting up in the morning is always hard for me after a long busy active day, but not when a sunrise is in the offing. This is our camp from the south side, which appears out of sequence, this photo was taken after the sunrise photos you will see further on.

This is one of those HDR shots you hear about, it is not my typical way of processing this type of shot, but I felt I wanted to show something closer to what I was seeing, rather than as the camera sees it with just one shot.

This is a single shot of the same scene, it is dramatic but not what I was seeing with my own eyes.

Later in the morning after one of Phils Phantastic breakfasts (Nobody EVER starves when they camp with my brother!) we headed out to the Upper and Lower Cathedral Valleys. Upper Cathedral Valley is the valley pictured in the sunset shots of the evening of Day 1. These formations are just out of the frame to the left in the sunset pictures you saw. Here is another view of them from the year before.

Once again the skies were not my favorite but you shoot with what you got and make the best of it. I may not be able to use this to launch a career with National Geographic, but they have a certain drama.


After leaving the Upper Valley, we drove down to the Lower Cathedral Valley, where the Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon are located. In that short 15-20 minute span we got sun and puffy clouds... Nature really is a mother sometimes.....

I love the dirt roads and textures of the landscape. I often wonder if God didn't create this area just for pleasure.


I love the omnipresent volcanic boulders that are scattered all over the area, it makes a sort of whimsical sense to have these petrified sand dunes and sea bottoms get bombarded occasionally in the distant past with volcanic debris. Sorta like putting a ducks bill on a web footed mammal that lays eggs. Proof that God has a sense of humour I suppose.

I tried this in a B&W but still haven't quite gotten it right, though I am not sure it even works better in monochrome. But I suppose that if it was ok for Ansel Adams to shoot all B&W, I ought to be able to do it occasionally... right?

The road leading from the area is called the "Caineville Wash Road" It also provides magnificent vistas. The clear air, blue skies and puffy clouds did help though.


Day 2 PM Traveling and Diasppointment

I always find myself wondering if I would have survived as a pioneer/explorer in the years before air conditioning and the Internal Combustion engine. It was quite pleasant to travel in comfortable temperatures and not having rain on my head.

Here we are on the lower Cainville Wash Road, this was a pleasant part of the drive. I half expected to see Wile E. Coyote and that silly Road Runner whizz past us.

A few short minutes later on SR-24 headed west... here come the clouds, tinged with red from the light reflecting off the deep red of the rocks.

Now traveling over the Boulder Mountains and over 8,000 feet it is snowing, and we are worrying, our next destination is another 26 miles down yet another dirt road. Are we doomed? Possibly, you never know in Utah.

Just south of Boulder, UT, and just a few miles down the road and a few thousand feet lower in elevation the weather has cleared a bit, this is called "The Hogsback" a road on top of a ridge that drops away sharply on either side. SR-12 is designated a "Scenic By-Way" and scenic it is. It is one of my favorite roads to drive but altogether too short.

Next Stop Escalante-Grand Staircase Ranger Station in Escalante, UT. Where we received the bad news that the road was not in good shape before the rains, and we were watching it rain on the Hole-In-The-Rock Road on our drive into Escalante. After a quick Pow-Wow we headed to Escalante State park to eat lunch and weigh some options for camping that night.

Day 2 PM Trail of the Sleeping Rainbow, Escalante State Park

It is considered a given that once someone purchases a DSLR (Digital Single Len Reflex Camera) they will begin to buy more lenses for it. Really... you bought it because you CAN change lenses so that you have the best lens for the job, why would you then buy just ONE lens and keep it on all the time? Where is the fun in that? I immediately thought about that when I saw this sign telling people to not collect the petrified wood. Kerry had a little trouble with this but eventually he was persuaded to touch but not take... ;-)

The colors of the petrified was amazing! Especially once it started to drizzle a little, the water makes the colors so much more brilliant! We had a ball hiking around and discovering the area.



The bark is still easily discernable on many pieces and it is beautiful beyond words.

We saw a whole bunch of deer (11-12) on our way in and out. They were pretty scruffy with their winter fur still in, but it was fun to stalk them on the way out. I had to push the ISO up because the light was failing and the shots are not so sharp due to slow shutter speeds, but who cares, we got closer to deer than I have been in a LONG time!


After our little hike, we made the decision to push on to Canonville and check the KOA Campground there to see if we could spend the night. Kodachrome Basin State Park, our destination for the next night was full... sigh....