When I was an interpretive park ranger at Dinosaur National Monument last summer, I created a photography program to give amateur photographers ideas on how to improve their vacation photos. The “Simple Tips to Better Photography” was a non-technical tutorial on the art of seeing. With today’s do-it-all-for-you digital cameras, most of the technical stuff is already done by the camera, and often done quite well.
But what snapshooters need to learn most is what I call visual poetry. They need to learn how to make a compelling photograph. Too many people don’t use their telephoto lenses to their best advantage, and that is one of the most important tools they have to capture the compelling part of the photograph.
Although this presentation is focused on landscape and nature photography, the same can be said about photographing people.
I began my presentation with a discussion about visual poetry, adapted for general audiences: Read the rest of this entry »
When my son and his wife visited me recently, they wanted to do some climbing at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. While they climbed, I hiked. Then we did the First Creek hike together. I wish I knew the name of the flower in the foreground, but I can’t find it in my field guide or online. Read the rest of this entry »
Ryan and Amy wanted to go rock climbing in one of the world’s premiere spots – Joshua Tree National Park. Who knew? These rock pillows and piles didn’t look very impressive to me, as far as conquering goes. But apparently they are very challenging, and very scratchy.
However, they are very beautiful, especially at dusk and dawn. Some of these images are taken right in the campground, or very near it. Read the rest of this entry »
A psychedelic mountain rises from the desert on the east shore of California’s Salton Sea, a beacon to the lost and the joyous. Vivid flowers and red hearts and lime green words abound. One phrase repeats over and over again. “God is Love.” Read the rest of this entry »
It’s not really a sea. It’s a lake with a strange history. You see, the Salton Sea was once a legitimate lake (a small portion of prehistoric Lake Cahuilla), but then it dried up thousands of years ago. When a canal was built in the early 1900s to divert water from the nearby Colorado River to the Imperial Valley for crops, the engineers failed to take into account the fact that the river sometimes floods. Read the rest of this entry »
After three months of looking at the replica of this famous Fremont culture petroglyph panel in the visitor center, I finally got to see it in person. We can only make educated guesses as to what these figures represent. Someone told me that this largest figure is of a woman. If the figures are solid in color, they are male. This one is “hollow” and the three stripes on the bottom of the torso supposedly represent the number of children she had. I am not sure if this is true, but it’s the only story I have. These figures are done in the Classic Vernal Style representing a culture that ranged widely in the Southwest 800 to 1000 years ago. They are likely ancestors of today’s Utes and other modern Native tribes. Read the rest of this entry »
I had my weekend (Mon-Tues) all planned out: get my aging minivan serviced at the Ford place in Vernal, Utah, visit the nearby McConkie Ranch’s petroglyphs, then swing south through Nine Mile Canyon (really 70 miles long) to see more rock art. Car muffler repaired, check. Car engine problems – still ongoing. (Sigh!) Drive up Dry Fork Canyon Road north of Vernal, Utah to McConkie Ranch. Scramble up to see a handful of unimpressive petroglyphs. Climb a ladder over a fence to follow a trail that mysteriously ends at a gate to see the more impressive Three Kings petroglyphs. Give up on that idea since there’s nobody to ask. See a magnificent peregrine falcon. Then head west and south through several miles of oil/gas fields with muscular turbo-charged diesel trucks impatient to pass on these tight turns. Feliciana (my 2000 Ford Windstar) has already whined and complained about going down this road, and my gut instinct tells me I don’t really want to do this. When the road turns to gravel I realize I don’t have the heart to deal with the oil field traffic for who-knows-how-many-dirt-miles. I turn around and pick another destination from my long list of places I want to see before my job at Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado ends in six weeks. Read the rest of this entry »
Monsoon season in the Southwest brings an ever-changing skyscape as pop-up storms build, wring themselves dry, and scoot off into the sunset. The light after a desert storm is brilliant and clean, and it enticed me to an east-facing overlook on the side of Plug Hat Butte in Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m one of those people that generally wakes once in the night and can’t fall immediately back asleep. I also like to check the night sky while I’m up, and when I saw that there were several lightning storms in the distance, I drove 8 miles north to a good viewpoint.
Dinosaur National Monument doesn’t just have dinosaur bones. It also has petroglyphs made by the Fremont people, who were a different sort than the Ancestral Puebloans of Mesa Verde where I worked three summers ago. This series is found along the Cub Creek Road on the Utah side of the monument. All are easily visible from the road or a short walk. Read the rest of this entry »