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!


Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Big Trip

My brother (The man who's fault it is that I am a Pentaxian!) and I, recently had the opportunity to run away for a few days to southern Utah. He and I are avid amateur photographers, we took a photo trip to part of this area a few years ago and were both yearning to get out of the valley and photograph some beautiful parts of our great state. So.. we did.

We started out leaving the Salt Lake Valley on a Wednesday, the Wednesday before Easter. This may not have been the best idea. Neither of us connected going to Goblin Valley with crowds, as we never go there during the busy times of the year. sigh... Anyway, we got a late start due to work issues and got to Goblin Valley State Park in SouthCentral Utah right about dark. We realized as we drove to the ranger's kiosk that there were a LOT of people around. As we pulled up we saw the sign that said that the campground was full. This was a bummer as we wanted to camp with hot showers and access to the valley. Neither of us had thought to get a site reservation, so we headed out to BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land adjacent to the park where it is legal to camp at the side of the road.

We got set up in the gathering gloom (See the following post for a picture of our "Camp") and then set about playing with our cameras. It was quite windy (Broke a pole in my dome tent) with a bit of dust but nothing horrible. We turned in to get some rest for the next days hike and drive. I didn't sleep much, the wind was flapping the tent, and though I brought a good sleeping bag and an air mattress, thermax long johns, wool socks fleece watch cap etc... I was FREEZING!! It was fairly cool and the desert cools off fast after sunset, plus I forgot that air mattresses tend to suck the heat out of whatever is lying on top of it. Great for summer, bad for early spring. I finally nodded off about midnight when the wind quit. I then woke up at 4:00 ish to the music of my teeth chattering. Desperate to get warm, I got up, dressed, set up my camera and tried for a few more shots while I jumped up and down and ran around to get warm. When I was done with that magical light I got back in bed with everything but my coat and boots on. Mildly warmer than when I got up.

As sunrise approached I looked out checked for anything good developing, it wasn't, so I went back to sleep for another hour or two, got up and went on walkabout. I didn't get a much but it was fun to wander around and just look and be warm.

After breaking down camp and stooging around taking some more shots, we ate a sparse and cold breakfast and headed to Little Wild Horse Canyon. I would highly recommend this to anyone going to this area. It is a very accessable hike with several areas of tight slots. It is georgeous and lacks the overuse and crowds of the slots in Zions National Park, though it is not quite as dramatic as they can be. There is a whole post further down with photos of this magical place. Here is your humble photographer.

And here is the man responsible for me being a Pentaxian.

We tried to live by the motto of take only pictures and leave only footprints, in fact I felt so strongly about it... I took a picture of a footprint!

Finished with LWH we headed into Goblin Valley for lunch and exploration. Even in the harsher noonday sun, Goblin is a rather unusually weird place but still beautiful. If you ever saw the movie Galaxy Quest then you have had a glimpse of Goblin Valley.
After wandering for an hour or so we packed up and headed southwest to Capitol Reef National Park, specifically to Cathedral Valley. Which I had never been too, I wish I had. It is one of the most beautiful and little touched (and yet fairly easily accessable) areas of Utah. Here I am in front of the Temple of the Moon. This area is accessable by 2WD vehicle with high clearance. If it rains though even a Hummer won't get you out of there.
We thoroughly enjoyed the drive and despite the pressure at many spots due to the Easter weekend, we saw 4 cars the entire drive in. Four. We camped at the Cathedral Valley Campground in the north end of the park. By ourselves. Glorious solitude. Silence. Yet strangely I had cell service, go figure. Anyway, we camped my bro. made a huge and filling dinner and we hung out by the fire for awhile. This is my brother, the cook, he tends to have a little fire in his eye at times.

We got up and drove out the next morning, again photo's to follow, and drove to Lower Calf Creek recreation area and hiked to the falls, enjoying a beautiful afternoon stroll. As we finished, decision time came, weather was moving in, confirmed by radio weather cast on 2 meter band radio. We had planned to camp another night but decided to not bother due to the weather, and made a run for Ruby's Inn at Bryce Canyon for dinner before blasting back to the Salt Lake Valley.

It was incredible, beautiful, and exhausting. We took tons of pictures (over 450 for me) and got some memories that will last a life time. I hope you enjoy looking at my following posts half as much as I enjoyed taking the photos!

First Night and Early Morning

I have long wanted to play with long night exposures. Well... play with them and get them right!

Film always was a challenge due to having to wait for the film to be developed etc.... no quick feedback at all. So, with the advent of the Digital SLR I have been salivating/dreaming about doing some long exposures in an area where there was little light pollution and good moonlight. I got my chance on this trip in a big way. The first 4 shots of this post are all long exposures, 10 minutes for most of them, if you want I can look up the EXIF for you. Anyway, with instant feedback you can easily know if you botched the exposure or got it right, and a DSLR gives you that.

I had originally wanted to wander down into Goblin Valley itself and take some shots, but with the park being full we had to camp to the west of the park on BLM land. I don't think I got shorted too much, I really like what I got. IF there were not star trails, you could almost imagine that these were taken during the day, which still amazes me.

This photo was taken just after we got everything set up and just 30-40 minutes after moonrise. There was a fair amount of car traffic due to our poor planning and going out on the week of Easter. This is looking southwest with the moon to the left of the camera.

This is looking more northerly with the moon to the right of the camera. Again with a fair amount of car traffic. In a way it adds to the landscape, but it is hardly the "aloneness" type of shot I was really looking for.

This is somewhat west of north with the moon quartering behind me. I lost some stars due to light pollution from the moon. Which was a bit of a tradeoff. Someday I want to do some startrails down there due to the clarity of the sky at night, I just need to do it when there is no moon!

This was taken at 4:00AM ish, why? Because I was flipping COLD! I forgot to take a foam overlay for the airmattress and it just sucked the heat right out of me. So I got up, set up the camera and exercised to warm up while it ran. It is amazing how bright the full moon is in the desert. This was the shot I really wanted to get once we set up and looked around.

This was taken the next morning. The landscape in this area is completely surreal and utterly georgeous. I spent a great deal of my time wishing I had a better way to capture the beauty of this landscape. Mainly because no matter how good my photos are they will never be able to convey the true majesty of this area to the viewer. Makes one a little melancholy.

As I went on my early morning walkabout this shot captured my attention. I loved the textures and the color. I do wish I had gone with a somewhat smaller aperture and deeper depth of field. But I still think it stands as is.

This was taken from back at camp with my 135mm f2.5. I love the colors and the road winding in and out of the frame and off into the distance. The road is the one to Little Wild Horse and Bells Canyon trailhead.

This was also taken with my 135mm.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Grumpy Old Men

When I was a child I loved to find faces and shapes in clouds and other random things. Both here in Little Wild Horse adn at Goblin Valley I tend to look for faces in the rocks. This reminded me of two grumpy old men, with kind of gnarled faces sitting next to each other. This was taken during the LWH hike but I felt it deserved a special spot all of it's own.

Little Wild Horse Canyon, San Rafael Swell, Utah

I really struggled with picking the shots to use here, as you can tell by the sheer number I am posting. I took about 115 images in 2 hours or so of hiking. I may have included some here that should have been deleted, but just like I could not give up a child, I have trouble giving up some of my images. As an aside, I REALLY LIKE all my children, and I am not planning to ever give them up!

Anyway, here they are, I will insert comments as I feel necessary, they are posted in order of being taken.

There are many undercut areas and twisty spots. I just love how this shot frames up.

There are many areas where there are these Iron looking deposits in the middle of horizontal sand strata. They could be 2 million year old bird poop for all I know, but I loved seeing them just to provide a little variety.

There are areas where different strata run together at crazy angles. I liked how the wind and water hollowed holes lead into the V, the whole area is fascinating to look at I found myself stopping and just looking at times, forgetting to take pictures.

I guess I like things to open up to the left, either that or mother nature prefers that. You tend to do a lot of looking up at the sky in slot canyons. A little rain upstream can ruin your day.

This is quite nearly one of my favorite views in a slot canyon, Looking straight up at a narrow ribbon of blue sky. It is kind of a lonely feeling being waaayyy down there, but at the same time it makes me feel safe. Maybe I had an ancestor who was a mole? I dunno.

I have found that it is really impossible to capture the feeling of being in a slot. Maybe if I get a fisheye lens one day. It is just an awesome feeling to stand in one of these. The weird and wild shaping of the rock due to water and wind add to the alieness of the landscape.

This shot was taken where we stopped and turned around. There was a long stretch of flooded slot and we didn't want to wade it. I was curious to see if I could get any reflections in the water. Once it completely settled down it was literally smooth as glass.

The blue of the sky was at times overwhelming, It was just SO BLUE especially with the contrast of the stone.

This was my attempt at a more artsy shot. I find that if I try to compose a shot that is balanced and blah blah blah, well it ends up a blah shot to me. I don't know if it is a failure of my technique, or lack of inspiration, but I tend to do better just walking around and shooting what catches my eye. This is a more studied shot, I included it because it sets the scene of the opening back out of the canyon. I am not sure I like it a LOT, but I don't hate it either.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Goblin Valley

After leaving Little Wild Horse Canyon, we headed back East to Goblin Valley, a very short drive. The sky remained that impossible blue during our time there. Goblin is a special place for me. I had hoped to do some nightime, long exposure, really crazy stuff, but that was foiled by our not finding a campsite inside the park. Really should have remembered it was the week before Easter. sigh.....

Anyway, here is the road coming back from LWH, I found that I kept wanting to keep a lot of sky in my pictures, it was so impossibly blue with perfect puffy white clouds. I still get a really cool feeling when I think about it.

Goblin is full of impossibly twisted and sculpted rocks, some by themselves and others in groups. This hoodoo as they are called by some is a favorite of mine.

This is more of a general biew of the East end of the valley just to give you an idea of the scope of the place.

This fin sticking out reminded me of a dolphin. So I named him "Flipper"

This Butte shows the rock layer above the mudstone of the valley. I love the contrast between the red and the Grey.

I don't remember this many sticky outy rocks before, the park seems to be always changing, every time I visit I see new things.

Photographically, there are so many textures to be found in this landscape, and the colors just make me a little giddy to see.
I love the starkness of this shot, the sere, dry, stone with the rich blue behind it. It really looks like this. Honest!

Lower Cathedral Valley: Temple of the Sun & Temple of the Moon

I had never heard of these particular formations until I started researching Cathedral Valley for this trip. I would love to go back and be there at sunrise, I think the scene would be unbelievable.

Temple of the Moon in front, and Temple of the Sun in the background.

Moving on around, I like this composition better... but I don't know why.

This pretty much is the desert for me. Gravelly rock and sand with dead stuff stuck in it. It is a harsh place with death waiting even for the hardiest plants. Though beautiful in it's own starkness.
This is cropped down from a wider shot, I simply loved the framing, this was a magical little grotto a cool place out of the sun, from which I could see the object of my contemplation.