Debra Powell Photography LLC: Blog https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog en-us (C) Debra Powell Photography LLC [email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) Mon, 28 Mar 2022 00:56:00 GMT Mon, 28 Mar 2022 00:56:00 GMT https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/img/s/v-12/u103909814-o13069598-50.jpg Debra Powell Photography LLC: Blog https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog 120 120 ALL ABOARD! https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2022/3/all-aboard She was on a train, somewhere in The Rocky Mountains …

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Sounds like the beginning of a story in the J. Peterman catalogue I know, but my train ride through The Rockies was by all means a highlight of my trip to (ultimately) Washington DC this month. 

Unlike air travel, you get plenty of room in coach class on the train.  There are even footrests too!  You can really put your seat back and take a nap if you want to, but with this much beauty, it’s hard to want to, no matter how tired you’re feeling! 

During my trip in mid-March of 2022, there were still Covid rules in effect, requiring all passengers and people inside the train station to wear masks.  This was the main encumbrance to enjoying the trip, but on the other hand, I didn’t get sick either.  So, there’s that.  I’m hearing that these mask requirements may be lifted in mid-April of 2022, but we’ll see. 

At the time of my trip, the only passengers who were allowed in the dining car were sleeping car passengers, so one of the things you must do is pack a lunch.  I ended up buying some stuff in the train station in Grand Junction, such as yogurt, which I like to eat for breakfast, and some other snacks I could munch on throughout the day.  The train station in GJ is small and they do enforce the rules. 

The train trip itself was incredible, and the sights were fabulous!  Most people really feel like they get their money’s worth just enjoying the scenery either from their seat beside the window (which I did on the way to Denver) or from the Lounge Car which is a glass-topped dome with views to forever.  I spent a few minutes in there between Denver and Grand Junction.  This is fantastic all the way across the mountains.  Most people who've seen it think it's some of the most spectacular scenery on earth.  Needless to say, this kept me busy with my cell phone camera the whole day.  I have no regrets.

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The train engineer also serves as a tour guide, and although mine were entertaining both ways, the guy on the way back from Denver did a fantastic job!  He’s a Colorado native who knows lots of local history and tells stories all the way.  I don’t want to steal his thunder, but here’s something you should know: some of this scenery is impossible to see any other way but from the train!  Unless you’re a very strong hiker perhaps, most of the scenery you can see from your Amtrak window is spectacular and unreachable through any other means. 

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On the train, you ride through areas where there are no roads, no trails, and no other way to approach this spectacular scenery, other than by train.  On the tracks, you’re also somewhat elevated from where you would be either driving or hiking, which extends the view, much like people who like drone photography.  In a few places there are paved or unpaved roads.  We went through after a snowstorm, which made the scenery even more amazing, but one poor guy in a pickup truck spun out on the road somewhere far in The Rockies and the back end of his truck was down in the creek.  It didn’t look like he had been injured thankfully, but the emergency personnel were on the scene getting ready to tow him out when we passed by. 

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I’m sure that some people bring their fancy Nikons, Canons and Sony’s to these rides, but I felt my cell phone camera was sufficient for what I was doing, especially considering that all photos are taken from the window of a moving train.  In some ways then, you get what you get.  There are no long exposures, no real chance to do photo stacking, little chance of creating panoramas later.  By the time you capture an image, you’ve moved on to another equally amazing scene.  I’m embarrassed to say how many photos I took on this trip, so I won’t. 

Our engineer pointed out that many cinematographers for movies and commercials have filmed locations from the train and some of the most famous photos of old have been taken from the train as well.  As I said before, there’s no other way to get these scenes.  If you’ve ever seen the famous photo of three tunnels that was used back in the day to promote Amtrak that photo was taken from the train of course!  I took a similar photo, but it only has one tunnel in it!  The iPhone camera has a pretty decent wide-angle lens in it, but I guess I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  If you’ve scouted out the location, know when it’s coming up, where to stand, and when to click the shutter, you can probably get that shot too from the train.  It’s possible though that these professional cinematographers and their producers, paid extra to ride in the engine or to have special access.  I was riding coach.  From where I was sitting, you get what you get.  It’s still worth it! 

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From a cost perspective, riding the train across The Rockies from Grand Junction to Denver makes all the sense in the world.  You can relax and not worry about driving over possibly icy mountain passes.  You’re deposited right at Union Station in Downtown Denver.  From there, you can catch another train to DIA if you’re flying out somewhere that evening, or you can rent a room at or near the train station in Denver and fly out the next morning.  You don’t need to call Uber.  The local train will take you from Union Station and drop you off at DIA.  It’s great! 

Although it does add another day to your travel itinerary each way, it’s relatively carefree and the scenery is so spectacular, you’ll feel refreshed when you reach Denver or GJ or SLC or wherever you’re headed.  I’ll definitely take Amtrak again! They are offering something this year that is similar to the Eurail Pass, and that is a pass for $399 that allows you to ride several times during the year and the cost for the passenger is about $40 a segment.  Gee!  That's pretty good although I don't know what they consider a "segment" to be.  I would call a segment Grand Junction to Denver, but they may call it Grand Junction to Glenwood Springs, so that's something to check out.  As it is, I booked about 2 weeks out from my trip and I thought I got a pretty good deal.  

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I actually wish they had trains that went north and south, for instance, in my virtual train world, you could ride from Albuquerque to Denver, and from Denver to Cheyenne, or you could ride a train from Phoenix to Flagstaff to Moab to Salt Lake to Boise.  They do run north and south along the coasts, and I'd like to see them in the interior of the country as well.  Bring it!  

The Canadian Company known as The Rocky Mountaineer also has a train that runs on this track in the summertime.  You can board in Moab, Utah and ride it to Denver, or you can go the other way around.  I have not had the opportunity to ride that train, although I’ve heard it too is spectacular and a luxury trip.  It stops for one night in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, one of my favorite places.  It’s considerably more expensive than riding Amtrak. I paid less than $100 for a RT ticket on Amtrak and The Rocky Mountaineer is well over a $1,000 for the same trip, but it does include a night in Glenwood Springs at a luxury hotel.    The trains are a sleek blue color with gold printing on the side.  They run through Grand Junction, close to my home, and I have SEEN the train, but not ridden it.  I would love to do that sometime and compare the service, but I must say, I was perfectly happy with my Amtrak trip. 

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All of the photos associated with this article were taken with my iPhone X. 

 

 

 

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) #Amtrak #Colorado #Rockies iPhone Photography https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2022/3/all-aboard Mon, 28 Mar 2022 00:55:42 GMT
BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH! https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2022/3/beware-the-ides-of-march Most people I tell this story to start to laugh about halfway through, and I can laugh now, but it wasn’t funny at the time! 

I had quite an experience in Washington DC when I was there a few days before St. Pat’s.  I was there to visit my daughter, who lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, and I spent most of my time with her, her husband, and their adorable dog Jasper, a French Bulldog.  But on the last full day I was there, I decided to call an Uber to pick me up from their house, which is about 8 miles or so from DC and take me to the U.S. Capitol Building and drop me off for sunrise. 

I had this vision in my mind of a colorful sunrise lighting up the sky as the Capitol Building is reflected in the pond below it.  I wanted the water to be still and a perfect reflecting surface, and preferably, no people!  For all intents and purposes, it should have worked out just as planned, but of course it didn’t.  Things rarely do I’ve found.  It’s important to be flexible! 

Just as a reminder, I live out in the desert, in a smallish town a few miles from the border of Colorado and Utah. I moved here from Denver four years ago.  So far, I’ve never had any reason to call an Uber.  I have the app; I just never have used it.  Well, my two daughters are much more proficient Uber users than I am, and we used it several times during this trip, both in Colorado and around the DC area, getting to and from the airport and so on. So, after several days of my daughters calling for an Uber, I decided I could undoubtedly do it myself. On Tuesday evening, the 15th of March, I checked sunrise time and scheduled for my car to arrive to pick me up at 5:30am the following morning, since sunrise was supposed to happen at something like 6:23am. I figured this would give me just enough time to get there, get set up, and wait for sunrise. 

So far, so good.  The driver showed up at 5:30am as arranged.  I rode to the area of The Capitol Building and was dropped off right in front of it.  It seemed to be darker though, than I had anticipated it would be!  I checked sunrise again.  Oh ya!  Daylight Savings Time had changed over the weekend, and now sunrise wasn’t until close to 7:30am!  It had snowed the day we arrived, a few days earlier, and it was still kind of chilly before sunrise.

I decided to walk up the capitol steps and to get a lay of the land.  From where I was, I couldn’t even see the reflecting pool!  I walked up the steps.  I had my backpack on my back, with my camera equipment inside.  I looked around and could see the reflecting pool.  The next thing I know, I’m tumbling down the steps!  I have no idea why this happened, I usually maintain my bearings well, but I fell mostly on my right arm and then down a couple more steps, hitting my right shin as well.  This was scary, but I recovered quickly and went back to the reflecting pool to wait for sunrise. I quickly decided I hadn’t broken anything, which is what I was concerned about.  Yes, I know it’s not a good idea to be out in the city before sunrise, and then to fall down the steps alone. 

As I waited for sunrise beside the reflecting pond, my phone kept sending me messages.  I had no idea why this was happening.  It kept beeping me!  I would check the messages briefly and then hit delete to have them go away.  They were messages from Uber, apparently about leaving a tip, or leaving a review, or leaving something.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with that right then, so I just ignored them.   The sun rose as expected, but just an hour later than I had planned.  I got a few decent shots, but it wasn’t anywhere near as beautiful as I had planned.  I was a little let down about this, but of course, I have no control over the weather. 

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Now that the sun was up, The National Mall began to fill up with people.  It was spring break time, and there were tons of school kids and their teachers, parents, and chaperones filling up every open space.  I headed towards The Washington Monument, which was surrounded by the pink sky of dawn by this time, which was very lovely I thought.  The marble was soaking in the color of sunrise as well. 

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I walked past the Smithsonian Administration building, with it’s Merry-Go-Round and brick façade, which reminded me of Hogwarts.  I got several good pictures of this, but there were people and cars everywhere.   Rather than getting photos that would be considered at all “artistic,” I’m now doing straight travel and street photography.  

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The Jefferson Memorial is probably my favorite memorial on the mall.  I can’t so much explain why, but I just really like it.  Maybe it’s the Neoclassical architecture, but I also like the statue of Jefferson and the way voices echo through the structure. I think I was last there in something like 2003. 

031522-18031522-18 I could hear them long before I could see them.  A couple busloads of high schoolers inside the Jefferson Memorial.  I climbed the steps of the memorial and sat on a bench inside and waited for them to leave, and they did in about 10 minutes. Once I was alone again, I admired the beauty of the memorial, and took a few pictures.  Then I walked outside the memorial and over to the western side of it.  I remembered getting a nice shot there in 2003 with a throw-away film camera I got at Walgreens and I thought maybe I could get another similar shot now.  Unfortunately, they have placed chain link along the side of the memorial now, I suppose to keep it safe from homeless people and taggers.  It’s sad that they’ve had to do this. 

031522-32031522-32 I headed back out to continue my walk around The Tidal Basin when after a short distance, I realized I was in an area that isn’t being maintained.  I have no idea how I ended up here!  The sidewalk I was on was the original sidewalk from a hundred years ago.  It was broken and cracked.  I thought it would be best for me to get on the newer, modern trail.  As I looked over in the direction of this trail, I could see there was chains and chain link that has been placed there, once again, as a means of keeping people out.  I could see a place where I could just dash under the chains and be on the maintained walkway.  As I mentioned earlier, it had snowed there a few days previously, and I had to walk through a muddy, unmaintained area to get to the place where I thought I could slip under the chain and get to the official walkway.  Well, it was very muddy.  I began slipping around.  I made it to the chain and the walkway, but because I was wearing a backpack, my backpack got stuck on the chain as I attempted to slip under it.  I was crouched down in the mud and unable to move either forward or back! 

Just then I looked to see a couple of lovely young women coming towards me and pushing a baby carriage.  As they passed by, I looked up and asked if one of them could help me out by untangling my backpack from the chain.  They looked at me a little skeptically but then decided I was worth taking a chance on and freed my backpack from the chain.  When I emerged from the mud and the chain, the first thing I noticed was that they both had coffee mugs in their hands.  Boy!  Did that look good right about then!  I thanked them and then asked right away where they got the coffee.  There’s no place on The National Mall to get coffee, especially early in the morning!  They said they got it at the hotel before they had set out.  I’m sure my disappointment was palpable.  By this time, I was getting even more tired. 

I had no idea what time it was by then, but possibly around 9am.  I tried to check my phone once, but the Uber app had syphoned all the power out of my phone by sending me messages about tips and reviews.  I knew I was in trouble, and I didn’t want to push my luck any further.

I walked through the Roosevelt Memorial and got some pretty good shots from that location.  Then, on to The WWII and Korean War Veterans Memorials and then on to The Lincoln Memorial.  I managed to make it up the steps with great effort.  People were everywhere!  I’m guessing it was around 9:30am by this time.  I decided to sit down on the steps of The Lincoln Memorial and rest briefly.  Honestly, I was probably there for about 10 minutes.  During that time, at least three little kids begged their parents to let them slide down the marble on the side of the steps where I was sitting.  I was so glad their parents said no! 

031522-43031522-43Roosevelt Memorial

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031522-47031522-47Korean War Veterans Memorial Washington DC 031522-49031522-49Washington Memorial & Tourists

After catching my breath there and catching a few snaps of The Washington Memorial reflected in it’s reflecting pool, along with the other tourists, I ambled over to The Vietnam War Memorial.  I have found there is no way to prepare myself for this emotionally ahead of time.  I didn’t spend a lot of time there, but I walked past slowly, looking at the flowers that had been laid there.  There were people literally hunched over crying when they found the names of their loved ones there.  The emotional impact cannot be overstated.  I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.  I was dog tired.  My legs were killing me.  I could barely walk.  I didn't take any pictures here.  It seemed inappropriate somehow. 

When I reached the end of the wall, there was a group of tourists, men and women, standing there on the sidewalk trying to decide what to do next.  One, a bit taller than the others, looked at a map, then looked at his watch and announced, “It’s a 25-minute walk back to the hotel.”  I thought, “Hotel!  If I can get to a hotel, there’s probably a coffee shop there. I can get something to eat or drink, and possibly charge my phone enough to be able to call someone. I don’t know where they’re going but I’m following them!”  And that’s what I did. 

I followed them from The Vietnam Memorial, down Pennsylvania Avenue, past The White House (I quickly got a picture of it as I tried to keep up with this group - nothing worth saving) and then up 15th Street for a couple of blocks.  If they knew I was following them, they didn’t let on.  I could overhear their conversation.  They were clearly from Ireland, I could tell by their accents and manner of speech. 

Sometimes they would get way ahead of me.  I was so tired, and my legs didn’t want to carry me in a straight line anymore.  I kept listing to the right.  I was becoming concerned that I had done some major harm to my hip joints either when I fell down the Capitol steps or got caught under the chain at The Jefferson Memorial.  I didn’t know what else to do except keep going. 

031522-26031522-26Just Before All Spring Breaks Loose Cherry Tree Washington DC

If you’ve ever been to Washington DC, you know that the architecture is very traditional and understated.  There are plenty of hotels there, but the ones in town don’t have big neon signs on them announcing their presence.  You kind of just have to know where they are.  We made our way up 15th Street, the Irishmen and I.  I was slowing down considerably and having a harder time keeping up with them.  I looked over to the right and saw an understated sign on a building that said something like Washington Hotel, or Hotel Washington.  I decided that any hotel was better than none, so this one was as good as any. 

I crossed the street with some trepidation.  The door on my side of the building had a sign on it that said to go around the corner to find the main entrance.  I made it to the main entrance, which was guarded by valets.  They gave me permission to enter.  It was dark in there.  Dark and empty.   I walked a little way down the hallway and a young lady eventually appeared behind a small podium.  I asked if they had a coffee shop or a restaurant.  She looked at her watch and announced the time as 10:30am, and therefore, no.  The coffee shop closes at 10am, however, I could still order something and have it delivered to my room.  Seriously?  I told her that wouldn’t work for me. 

She told me that there was a coffee shop another two blocks down the street and that she’d heard it was pretty good.  I should go over there and try my luck.  I trudged back out the door and up a slight hill until I found the coffee shop she had referred me to.  By this time, I could seriously almost not walk. I was nearly in tears now, not because of The Vietnam Memorial, but because of the pain and sheer exhaustion. 

I ordered a cup of coffee and made my way out to a table on the sidewalk where I had just enough juice in my phone to call my daughter to come pick me up. 

PS:  I learned later that the Irish contingent I followed was here for a US/Irish Gala held in DC for St. Patrick’s Day.  The people I was following were undoubtedly a part of The Irish Government in some way, and one of them may even have been the Irish Prime Minister, which later that same day, was diagnosed with Covid.   I’m fine.

PPS:  I missed the Cherry Tree Bloom by about a week! Maybe next year ...

 

 

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) MLK Memorial National Capitol Washington DC Washington Memorial https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2022/3/beware-the-ides-of-march Sun, 27 Mar 2022 03:35:43 GMT
TRIP REPORT: MEXICAN HAT, UTAH https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2022/3/trip-report-mexican-hat-utah On our recent trip to Monument Valley Tribal Park, we stayed in beautiful downtown Mexican Hat, Utah, which is about 20 miles north of the border with Arizona .  We arrived during the last few days of February, and most places around there were closed for the winter season.  I suppose the people who live around there were on vacation elsewhere.  Their season officially starts March 1.  One place that was open was The San Juan Inn, a solid 2-star rated motel.  It’s actually rated 2.5 stars on Travelocity.  It’s a 2-story motel essentially, and all rooms face the San Juan River, which runs right past it.  We ended up spending three nights there.  I bought the first two nights on Travelocity, and then I bought the third night after we arrived.  The lady who works the front desk gave me $5 off what I paid through Travelocity, which I thought was nice.

It’s not fancy, but it was really comfortable.  It was very quiet during the time we were there, so it was easy to sleep and the bed was quite comfy as well.  The people who work there are also very nice.  We ate at the on-site restaurant the first night.  We each had a Navajo taco.  These things are huge and take up a whole plate.  I wasn’t able to eat all of mine.  I’m trying to eat less meat these days, so I had a vegetarian Navajo taco.  John had a regular Navajo taco and he said it was good but he described the meat as “mystery meat,” which makes me think of the ground beef you find in a Taco Bell taco. 

Navajo TacoNavajo TacosAt the on-site restaurant at The San Juan Inn, Mexican Hat, Utah

MOTEL CAT 

People who know me well think of me as “The Cat Whisperer” or, "The Crazy Cat Lady" and so it was funny when the motel cat decided to follow us to our room.  We let him in, and he hung out with us the first evening we were there. We asked someone what his name was later and we were told his name is “Garage.”  A strange name for a cat, but ok.  When we got back from dinner the first night, he was sleeping on our bed.   This is the kind of thing some people might not like, but I found it hilarious! 

 

Garage KittyGarage KittyThis cat followed us to our room the first night after we met him in the lobby. Here is is making himself at home on our bed.

MATCHES!

I used to have a fairly decent collection of matches from various restaurants and bars until most places quit providing them after smoking in restaurants and bars became illegal.  But I have good news!  The San Juan Inn has matches!  I picked up a couple of books.  My match collection has been stymied for years and also my cats have used some of them to play hockey with so I’m missing quite a few.  I’m hoping I’ll find them under the sofa one day.  In the meantime, it’s nice to find some replacements! 


San Juan Inn Matches0222 San Juan Inn MatchesTo add to the match collection!

PETROGLYPHS 

While we were in the area, we checked out a few petroglyph sites, among other things.  Some of the best ones we saw were at a place called Sand Island Recreational Area.  People mostly go to this place to camp and fish but there’s a great petroglyph panel there as well.  It’s now protected by a chain link fence, but I think the panel was unfenced and unprotected for many years.  There is some modern graffiti there and some of the petroglyphs have been vandalized.  It’s interesting to note that the book “Custer Died For Your Sins” was published in 1969, so the graffiti with those words was etched into the stone sometime after that. 

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I can’t help myself from wondering what the original artist was trying to tell us, since these panels are mostly ways of telling a story.  The panel with all the animals has a lot of pecking of dots around it for instance, which makes me think that maybe they’re telling us about a hunt in the fall or winter, when it was snowing.  And then there’s some that have what appear to be lightning strikes around them, so maybe these things happened in the spring.  There’s even a cowboy on a horse, so this makes me think that it was probably done in the 1800’s around the time of The Indian Wars.  There’s also a picture of a baby, and something that I’m not sure, but it looks like intestines.  These are not the best-preserved petroglyphs I’ve seen in Utah, but it’s still a nice panel. 

022722-4022722-4Petroglyph with what looks like a cowboy on a horse, a lightning strike and perhaps someone conducting a ceremony, along with some earlier, fainter 'glyphs 022722-5022722-5 Your guess is as good as mine, and I'm guessing here, but looks like lightning strikes and a hand with 5 fingers.  There was also something else on this panel which I didn't seem to get a picture of, that refers to the number 5.  Could it have been something that happened in May?  I also see something that looks like a snake and something that could be a fish.  This would be possible, since this panel is very close to The San Juan River.  

Petroglyph hunting has become something I like to do when I can.  It can be both very rewarding and very frustrating.  Especially frustrating when I’m told they’re there, but I can’t find them at all.  Sometimes John has good luck finding them when I can’t.  It’s like not being able to see the forest for the trees.  I feel oddly protective over these things and get upset when I hear they’ve been vandalized, which happens from time to time.  Listen people.  This is why God made cameras.  Everyone has a camera in their pocket these days.  Use it to record the ‘glyph.  You don’t need to touch the petroglyphs or try to make etchings of them.  Leave them as they are so that your children and grandchildren can hopefully see them and appreciate them one day. 


022722-8022722-8Perhaps a baby?

 

 

 

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) matches Mexican Hat road trip Utah https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2022/3/trip-report-mexican-hat-utah Wed, 09 Mar 2022 22:51:13 GMT
LOOKING FORWARD TO SUMMER? ME TOO! https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2022/1/looking-forward-to-summer-me-too Life has been different for me for the last couple of months.  Ever since I returned from my trip to Death Valley, anyway, which was right at the beginning of December.  For the last couple of years it’s always been go-go-go as I’ve been exploring Western Colorado, Utah and The Colorado Plateau.  I’m becoming an expert on this region!  But, between winter, covid, a car accident with my car in the shop for nearly a month, school, and various – (lots of various!)  I’ve been staying in all during December and January.  Sometimes it feels like I may never leave the house again!  Fortunately, summer is shaping up to be a bit more active. 

In June I’m going to Antelope Canyon and the Lake Powell area for a couple nights, and John and I will also be visiting Crested Butte in July (after the grand baby is born!)  to see and photograph the beautiful fields of wildflowers up there.  We didn’t get to go last year because we were too late in trying to book it.  The rooms up there sell out early as people make their plans to be there for The Wildflower Festival in July.  Our rooms are booked just as that festival is finishing up, so that’s probably why I was able to find a room at all.   Many places up there have already booked up and we’re still 6 months out!   Yikes!

 One time a few years ago we stayed at this place called Three Rivers Resort in Almont.  It’s got the vibe of a summer camp and lots of people – both individuals and groups, like to stay there to go river rafting and fishing in the summer.  It’s 16 miles away from Crested Butte, but it doesn’t seem like a super long drive to get to the wildflower fields.  Maybe that’s because it’s just so beautiful up there! 

Anyway, I booked a room back at that place again.  It’s way cheaper than staying at a deluxe hotel in town.  It has a restaurant/bar and a store.  Because of Covid, I prefer outdoor dining these days and it has a large outdoor dining area.  But I’m hoping that Covid will be in less circulation next summer anyway. Fingers crossed that we’ll all be able to have a more normal summer season!   

The baby is due either late June or early July so I’m keeping that time open between approx. 06/15 and 07/15.  I’ll be visiting my daughter in Denver during the first half of June to do a maternity photo shoot with her, and then … coming home for a little while to - well, sit around and wait for that special day to arrive!  When it does, or when we have a better idea of when it’ll happen, I’ll be in Denver.  Waiting.  With bated breath!  I’m currently working on putting my maternity/newborn traveling photo shoot kit together!  (Can you tell I’m excited about this?) Yep, I’m getting my photographer act together and taking it on the road!

I’m not sure how all this is going to work out, or how long I’ll be in Denver at that time, but I’ll be there even if I have to sleep in my car! 


07_19_18 East River_07_19_18 East River_

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) Colorado Crested Butte road trip https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2022/1/looking-forward-to-summer-me-too Sat, 29 Jan 2022 19:41:43 GMT
THE JOY OF PHOTOGRAPHIC MEDITATION https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2022/1/the-joy-of-photographic-meditation Meditation Blog 6Meditation Blog 6December Sunrise Colors

 

We had a very dry autumn season in Western Colorado.  Almost no rain at all, and no snow until after Christmas.  The temperature, likewise, stayed mild.  I was still eating lettuce out of my garden half-way though November. 

With the fall color season behind me, and no snow to photograph either, I ended up staying home for most of the month of December.  We also had the great joy of being rear-ended by another driver near the beginning of that month.  It didn’t total the 4-Runner, but it did do $8,000 worth of damage to both the back and the front of the vehicle, since we were sandwiched between two cars during this event.  Fortunately, we weren’t injured, but we were without our trusted steed for almost the whole month of December.  We found out we didn’t have rental car coverage on our auto insurance either, so we had to rent a smaller car, rather than having the insurance company rent one that was similar in size to our usual car.  I discovered how much I hate little, tiny cars that sit a couple inches off the ground!  Many people in Grand Junction, where I live, drive large, pickups. (Ya, it’s a hemi) Every time I was riding around town with John, it seems like we inevitably ended up at a stoplight behind one of these giant trucks and their tailpipe was right at my level!  Anyway, my husband did the driving in December.  In fact, I didn’t drive at all or even go out much if I could help it.  It’s like, after our trip to Death Valley, I was in for the duration. Almost complete hibernation.   

So, what’s a nature photographer to do? 

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At earlier times in my life, I liked to sleep in.  I stayed up later and got up later.  But now, I’m usually awake well before sunrise.  This makes sunrise photography easy for me.  Over the years I’ve adapted my body clock to the sun, so I do also get tired earlier and go to bed earlier.  The upside of all this is that changing from daylight savings time to standard time and back doesn’t usually affect me at all.  I wake up a little before sunrise during all seasons.  In the summer, I usually go to a nearby state park to photograph the sunrise, but in the winter, I must admit, I don’t feel much like going out when it’s cold! 

After putting the coffee on and feeding the cat (at his insistence!) I’ll often sit in a large set of windows we have that face east.  The sun rising over The Grand Mesa in the morning can be quite spectacular on some mornings.  Because “The Mesa” as it’s known around here sits at over 10,000 feet in elevation, it takes the sun at least 15 minutes longer to reach us than it would if it was just flat land.  Sometimes I tape my iPhone to the window and set it to do a time lapse.  I love that!  It’s so easy, and fun to watch the sunrise again later.  I set it up there for between 30 and 40 minutes and watch as the sky changes color and the clouds move – usually west to east – but sometimes the other way – if stormy weather is moving in or something.  The time lapses come out at between 30 and 40 seconds long and can sometimes be quite dramatic! 

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 After I’ve finished with the sunrise time lapse, I turn my attention to how the light is coming in through the window and lighting up my little indoor winter flower garden.  Some days I photograph this, and other days I do my sun salutations and other yoga stretches while keeping my eye on the light.  We have a lot of sunny mornings here in Grand Junction!  Again, this can provide for an intriguing photo session that can last anywhere between 30 and 40 minutes.  I’ve found that the sun lights this northern wall in my house up through at least March before it moves farther north, and the light starts to come straight in through the window.  In December and January, the sun is quite far south though.  For this reason, my time lapses rarely show the sun itself. 

I’m super grateful that I have the time now to spend on these kinds of meditational pursuits!  While waiting for sunrise and watching the light move across the flowers and the wall, I’m able to spend time in meditation and contemplation, which is a great way to start the day.  Sometimes it does feel like I’m not getting anything done, or that I’m not contributing anything to the good of the planet, but deep in my heart I know this isn’t true.  By spending time this way, I’m being the peace I wish to see in this world.  I take this peacefulness with me into the rest of my day. 

122521-2122521-2Redbud Tree in My Backyard First Hard Frost Christmas 2021

Right now in history, it’s seeming like there’s a lot of division in our society.  Everyone is picking their side and sticking with it.  What I would like to suggest is that at the deepest levels, we are all one. Some people don’t realize they’re all part of The One just yet and are still focused on division and separation.  It’s sometimes hard not to be focused on that, especially with the media being as intrusive as it is.  Perhaps I could also suggest that just like some people have one day in which they don’t eat meat, maybe we could all have one day in which we forego watching the news!  Just a thought. 

Anyway, maybe the next time you’re up early in the morning, try this form of photographic meditation and contemplation.  Just use your cellphone.  That’s what I usually do, although the photo of the redbud tree was taken using my Nikon.  Some days are just too good not to take the big camera out!  But you can certainly make a beautiful photo using your iPhone in your own backyard. 

And one more thing:  On those early mornings, if you think of it, think of me.  Just for a moment, recognize that you are not alone in your sunrise meditation.  We’re all in this together. 

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2022/1/the-joy-of-photographic-meditation Fri, 14 Jan 2022 22:19:18 GMT
MOVING FROM TIME TO TIMELESSNESS https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/12/moving-from-time-to-timelessness This is a phrase I often use when talking or thinking about my photography practice and the effect it has on my life.  Yes, photography is a practice, like meditation or yoga or working out.  It’s like anything else we decide to intentionally make time for in our lives.  The person who gives their time, intentionally and mindfully to anything, has a practice.  Among other things I practice, like meditation and spiritual study, I have a photography practice. There’s some overlap between my practices of choice.

The time I spend out in nature, that is, out in the field, is a time that is holy to me, kind of like a sabbath.  The only person I spend part of this time with is my roadie (husband), but I do usually get out for a local shoot once a week or so, which I do entirely alone.  During this time, I seem to be focused (excuse the pun) almost entirely on space, as opposed to time.  I’m looking at objects in space and attempting to frame up a good composition.  I’m physically and spiritually appreciating the beauty of nature; the nature I find in the space that surrounds me. 

At the same time, my photography practice makes me acutely aware of time, because you see, the camera is a time machine. Arriving at the right place at the right time to be present for the light is an act of working with time, irrespective of whether you have a camera in your hand; but if you do, you have a way to manipulate time that was unavailable to previous generations until the advent of photography.  There was nothing even remotely like a camera until 1816, and then, the technology, such as it was, was not available to the average person.  Photographic film wasn’t even invented until 1885.  Cameras became more popular and more in-use gradually, until today, everyone can carry a very powerful one around in their pocket, and many do – including me!  I love my cell phone camera! 

Anyone who has taken a beginning photography class, is aware of what is called “The Photographic Triad.”  This consists of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO (or ASA if you prefer).  Make no mistake though, there are still only two building blocks to our reality, and those are known as time and space, “the time/space continuum,” sometimes called the fabric of time and space.  Graphics I’ve seen that describe this visually, make our galaxy and the planets in it, look like they are connected by squares of flexible graph paper.  Time and space are the building blocks of some basic things like, oh … gravity, for instance.

So, returning to the photographic triad, we have shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Every one of these things is a way to adjust how the camera records time.  Beginning with shutter speed, well, any phrase with the word speed in it, refers to time of course. Speed is an attribute of time.  So, if we adjust the shutter to click more slowly, we’ll end up with blurring in some cases, depending upon the subject matter.  On the other hand, long exposure photography can be a lot of fun to play with.  The image that is created has taken place over at least a second or two or three, or maybe even longer … some of the coolest shots I’ve seen that take advantage of long exposure, are photos of falling water, clouds moving across the sky, or the headlights and taillights of cars on the highway. Setting your shutter speed to click faster, will give effects like water bursting out of a hose in individual droplets.  I used to love to take pictures like this when my kids were little and playing in the sprinkler or with the hose.   

If instead, you choose to adjust the aperture, essentially the same thing happens.  When you adjust the aperture to a lower number, say 2.5 or 3.0, which is a very wide-open lens, (in fact some camera lenses won’t open that far) you let in more light.  When you let in more light a couple of things could happen, depending upon your other settings.  1.  it could wash out the photo, making it too light, or over-exposed.  2.  Your resulting photo could have too much “noise” or it could appear grainy, as we used to call it in the film era.  Some forms of photography call for this though, like for instance, photographing The Milky Way.  This is the only way I know of currently to capture all those little points of light and color in your night sky images.  Milky Way photography also uses long exposure, but you don’t want to go too long either, because otherwise you get star trails.  I’ve done very little of this kind of photography myself, although I admire the images of those people who are good at it and have the appropriate kind of technology to do it justice. 

If, on the other hand, you go the other way, to an aperture with a higher number, like F-16 or higher as an example, you will have a setting which will reduce the amount of light coming into the camera.  Light is a time element, believe it or not.  More time = lighter image, less time = darker image.   When you allow less time, everything gets darker, but it also comes into much greater focus, kind of like putting decisions off to the last minute.  When time is of the essence, we know that things come into very sharp focus mentally.  The same is true in photography.  That’s not always the best way to make decisions, and it’s also not always the best way to create an image, but there you have it. 

ISO is the third side of the photographic triangle.  This is also a time element.  Once again, if you set your ISO high, you’re likely to get a very noisy or grainy image.  You’ll need special settings in your post-production software to eliminate the noise and bring out the colors.  Some of the newer cameras today have the capability of very high ISO settings, like 50,000 or something.  They keep perfecting the technology and its capabilities continue to expand, but you’ll need to be prepared to pay for this if it’s important to you.  Many landscape photographers use 100 ISO or even 64 ISO if their cameras will go that low.  This low ISO allows for much deeper color saturation and if you have a very slow moving, or stationary object, you’re not likely to need to set your ISO that high.  You’ll still need to use a tripod at these ISO settings, or you’re likely to suffer some blurring of your images. If you want to go without a tripod, you’ll need to up your ISO to at least 200 or possibly 400 depending upon your other settings. Wildlife photographers use a higher ISO because their subjects are moving very quickly sometimes – think birds in flight.  You’re not likely to get a clear picture of a bird in flight with a low ISO like 100. 

So yes, the camera is a time machine.  It records time and allows the user to manipulate it a bit. This was inconceivable less than 150 years ago. 

If I could take this just a step further, I would say that time is the one element that controls everything.  This one element controls space and all the objects which comprise it, as well as the use of the time machine known as the camera.  Everything that exists would not exist were it not for the element of time.  The galaxy and all the planets in it, the universe and all the galaxies in it, all formed over the course of time.  Except for the time machine known as the camera, there has been no way at all for humans to control it.  Even more than the designation of time zones, and the advent of time keeping devices like clocks, the camera gives us a way to expand or contract time at will. 

Just a little teeny tiny unimportant thing to think about in your copious spare time. 

120321-29120321-29 Exposure TriangleExposure Triangle

 

 

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/12/moving-from-time-to-timelessness Fri, 24 Dec 2021 21:47:17 GMT
WINTER DESERT ROAD TRIP PART 4 - BRYCE CANYON https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/12/winter-desert-road-trip-part-4---bryce-canyon DRIVE TO BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK

It was near sunset when we left The Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada to make the drive to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.  It’s nearly a four-hour drive between these two locations, and that’s if you don’t stop for bio breaks or gas. John took the wheel.  We were in for a long evening of driving on dark, two-lane roads.  NOT my favorite thing!  At times I honestly felt as though I wished we hadn’t stopped at Valley of Fire, but then, in further retrospect, I’m glad we did. 

ACCOMMODATIONS

We arrived outside of Bryce Canyon National Park about mid-evening, I would say about 9pm or 9:30pm.  We were dead tired from our day of driving, and especially the last 90 minutes or so, which were all on dark, two-lane roads which featured plenty of on-coming truck traffic.  We were booked for two nights at The Best Western Ruby’s Inn.  We were tired and a bit disoriented when we first arrived, and we couldn’t see where check-in was!  We drove around some buildings and parking lots and then noticed how big the place was, and that it continued down another block.  We crossed the street and parked there, in front of the office and staggered in.

We stayed two nights and were quite comfortable, except for the pillows.  Instead of full-sized pillows, they have the beds stacked with little square pillows.  They have pillowcases like bed pillows, but they’re more like throw pillows you’d put on a couch or something.  And they’re not soft!  It’s like putting your head on a rock. 

We had some plumbing issues while we were there also, but they sent someone right over to take care of it.  The customer service is really very good. 

I would stay there again.  I like the property and its location right outside the park.  They also have a campground and RV park if you’re into that sort of thing. 

COWBOY’S BUFFET AND STEAK ROOM

Before going to our room though, we stopped for dinner at the restaurant on the property, Cowboy’s Buffet and Steak Room. I liked this place a lot.  It has a great, comfortable feel to it and the people who work there are very nice.  Good service!  They specialize in home-cooked style food, which I thought was quite delicious.  That first night we were there, I had the hot turkey sandwich.  Ah!  Comfort food after several nights of chips and trail mix for dinner!  The open-faced sandwich came on Texas toast, which seemed a bit much to me.  I often remove the bread anyway when having a hot turkey sandwich, but in this case, there was no way I could eat that much thick-cut bread.  John had the country fried steak, which he also thought was delicious.  The second night, John had coconut shrimp and I had fish tacos.  Both were wonderful!  The portions were generous.  For me, overly generous.  There was certainly nothing gourmet or exotic about these meals, but the quality was excellent.  I wondered why more coffee shops and casual dining places don’t produce food of equal quality these days!

Your reservation at the lodge includes a free buffet breakfast at this restaurant also.  Once again, the food was good with everything ranging from scrambled eggs to French toast, waffles, and fruit.  Since the sun doesn’t come up until almost 7:30am in early December, I was able to get in a sit-down breakfast before heading out to the park.  They open at 6:30 am. 

And I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the music in this place.  I think they probably use satellite music, but they started playing old-timey Christmas music right around Thanksgiving I would guess.  Most of it was old cowboy singers like Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Burl Ives and some other names I can’t remember.  But it all sounded very familiar and reminded me of my childhood!  When you go here, you should be ready for a walk down memory lane.  It’s like a real-life version of the Donny and Marie show.  I usually get disgusted with overtly sweet throwbacks but for some reason, this settled really well for me.  Be prepared though!  If you’re sure you’re going to hate it, you probably will.  Or you can take a more easy-going stance and just settle back and enjoy it.  They probably play similar old-timey music at other times of the year, without the Christmas theme.  My guess.

BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK 

This place is magical!  This is the best word for it.  Although hoodoos like these can be found in other parks and wild places the world over, this is the largest concentration of hoodoos in the world.  Their fantastic shapes make one think of all kinds of different things, from people, warriors, animals, buildings, you name it. 

This is the second time I’ve visited the park, and it’s definitely worth going back again and again under different conditions.  For instance, seeing these hoodoos covered with snow would be truly amazing!  The park reminds me some of The Colorado National Monument, which is close to my home, in that you don’t have to hike it to appreciate the beauty.  The main road will take you all the way to the end of the canyon and drop you off at a large parking area, where you can easily take in the vista.  Then, you can work your way back stopping at the various viewpoints along the way.  This can be done in one day, or even one afternoon, but I would recommend staying at least two days, as I did. 

I didn’t get up early the first morning, but kind of dilly dallied, resting a bit from my previous adventures.  Then, we set out mid-afternoon to get the lay of the land.  The light in mid-afternoon is – meh – but that’s the best time to do some photographic scouting.  You want to know where you want to be for upcoming sunrises and sunsets.  December is a good time to visit as well, because the crowds are greatly diminished this time of year. 

One thing about early December though, is that the days are short.  Long shadows begin stretching over the canyon about 3:00 or 3:30pm.  Some things that you might find nicely lit on a late summer afternoon are in total shadow this time of year.  At some of the viewpoints, I noticed couples taking selfies and pictures of each other as they stood with the canyon behind them.  After snapping the photos, they left in a hurry, presumably to make it to the next viewpoint before sunset.  (As Clark Griswold said at The Grand Canyon in the Vacation movie, “um hmm, ah, huh, ok, let’s go.”) The thing that I felt sad that they didn’t seem to know about, was how the hoodoos glow at sunrise and sunset.  Of course, it depends upon what you’re trying to capture with your photos too.  The canyon makes a great backdrop for portraits, but you really should stick around for the main show as long as you’re here anyway…

Sunrise the second morning was fantastic!  As the sun lit up the hoodoos the place resembled a fairyland straight out of a Disney movie!  The hoodoos glowed like they were lit from within.  I put my 400 mm zoom lens into great use to capture some of this amazingness close-up.  The sky was clear the morning I was there, and so the show just went on and on as the sun lit up different areas in the canyon.  I visited a couple of viewpoints at sunrise, including the aptly named Sunrise Point.  The views are stunning from the viewpoints closest to the entrance to the park at sunrise.  It’s easy to walk between these viewpoints, but it’s probably faster to drive.  Either way works! 

The next time I go, I’ll definitely be doing some of the short, easy hikes down in the canyon itself, such as Bristlecone Loop and Mossy Cave.  It’s not by any means the largest of the national parks, but there’s plenty to see and do in this magical place! 

 


120321-17120321-17 Sunrise Glow at Bryce Canyon National Park  

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Hoodoo Lit From Within - Bryce Canyon National Park  

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/12/winter-desert-road-trip-part-4---bryce-canyon Mon, 20 Dec 2021 00:28:11 GMT
WINTER DESERT ROAD TRIP PART 3 - https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/12/winter-desert-road-trip-part-3 VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK, NEVADA 

The best laid plans of mice and men … or, man plans, God laughs …. And by “men” and “man”, I mean – humanity:  This human, (me) in particular. 

I’m generally pretty good at planning things and I’m able to coordinate details down to the minute sometimes.  While this has always been one of my strong suits, I’m not 100% with it, and this excursion was my time planning failure for sure on this trip.  My original plan was to visit this park at sunset before we made it to Las Vegas.  We drove through Utah at near-record speed trying to make it to Valley of Fire, hopefully, a couple hours before sunset.  Not possible.  It takes 7 hours to drive from my home in Grand Junction to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.  We had to stop for Bio breaks and gas, so that extended our time in Utah and there just wasn’t any more daylight the evening we arrived. 

Also, it’s a longer drive off the interstate to the park than I realized.  It takes about 30 additional minutes to get to the park once you leave the highway.  It’s a narrow, two-lane road too, so you can’t get up any real speed as you’re chasing the last light of the sun, as I was.  Don’t worry.  I wasn’t really speeding.  My roadie (read:  husband) has an app on his phone that allows him to watch my speed of travel and he lets me know if I’m speeding.  So irritating! 

Anyway, we arrived at the east entrance to the park just as the sun was dropping behind the horizon.  There was no one working the gate, but there was a place to pay your entrance fees.  You can just write a check or pay $15 cash to get in.  I don’t carry cash anymore, so I wrote a check.  I dropped the envelope with my payment into the box and turned around just as the sun dropped behind the horizon.  I had lost the light! 

With great frustration, I turned around and went back the way I came.  If I were the right kind of diehard, I would have set up my tripod and done some night sky photography.  This is a great place for it, being at least 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas.  Instead, I drove to Vegas in the dark after stopping for a gourmet McDonald’s cheeseburger.  Yep, my roadie and I sat in the McDonald’s parking lot, eating our poison of choice for dinner, and looked across the road at Criss Angel’s pizza restaurant.  I wondered what happened to him.  Back in 2007 or ‘08 when I was last in Vegas, Criss Angel was literally scaling the walls of buildings out there.  I saw him doing it when I was there, and then he had a TV show for awhile where he did stuff like that.  I think he’s still an entertainer, but he also has a pizza restaurant in beautiful downtown Overton, Nevada. Who knew?


Criss Angel'sCriss Angel's CRISS ANGEL'S RESTAURANT

Some less determined people would have just called the whole visit to Valley of Fire off at this point, because it simply didn’t fit into the time I had available.  But, I’ve wanted to visit this park since at least 2015, when I attended a photography conference in Moab and one of the presenters there showed her photos of Valley of Fire.  One thing I can’t stand is to be thisclose to my dreams and just not able to make them happen.  The struggle is real!  So after leaving Death Valley National Park, we drove for a couple hours and stopped at Valley of Fire again.  We got there in mid-afternoon.  Ah!  Much better.  We entered through the western entrance, and there was someone there to take our money, give us a brochure and ask us if we had any questions they could answer. From there, it was a short drive to The Visitor’s Center, where we stopped in for a few minutes and bought some t-shirts and other schlotzkies at the store there.  Then, we headed out for a drive around the park. 

We spent a couple of hours at the park this time.  All I can say is, the colors of the rock in this park are truly amazing!  Except for the other tourists, it was ideal.  I took a short hike at one point to see some petroglyphs, but mostly, this is a driving park.  This place has the feel of a national park, but it’s owned and operated by The State of Nevada.  The lady at the toll booth told us that lots of people try to present their national park card, hoping for free admission, but this is not a national park.  It is a U.S. National Landmark, and has been a state park since the 1930’s.  It’s the first state park of Nevada. 

Following are a couple of photos I took while we were in the park.  If I get a chance to go back, I definitely will, and I’ll spend more time next time.  The stuff we saw during our afternoon in the park barely scratches the surface of what the park has to offer.  I would recommend anyone to see this beautiful place and to spend a whole day there if possible.  Pack a picnic lunch. 


120121-15120121-15Desert Mountain Goat
Valley of Fire State Park
Nevada
  

DESERT MOUNTAIN GOAT AT VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK, NEVADA  - THIS GOAT HAS FIRE IN HER EYES!

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Nevada
VALLEY OF FIRE ROAD - VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK, NEVADA 

120121-21120121-21Petroglyphs
Valley of Fire State Park
Nevada
PETROGLYPHS AT VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK, NEVADA 

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Nevada
VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK, NEVADA 

 

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/12/winter-desert-road-trip-part-3 Fri, 17 Dec 2021 20:02:00 GMT
WINTER DESERT TRIP REPORT PART 2 https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/12/winter-desert-trip-report-part-2 DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK  

When I was a kid, my family had a large cabin in Crestline, California.  It was perched on a hillside that looked over The Mojave Desert.  There was a large picture window in the living room that had a telescope in it, presumably for star gazing.  As a kid though, I would use it to watch people in pickup trucks drive along the dirt roads a couple of miles away, with the dirt and sand blowing behind them in great, billowing clouds.   I always wondered what it was really like down there, and my spying had the feeling of voyeurism, as I could literally see the faces of the drivers and they had no idea I was watching them from several miles away … kids! 

So, one day I got my opportunity to visit the desert myself.  Our family and another family all piled into our family station wagon and headed off to Death Valley.  It wasn’t a national park in those days, but it was a national monument.  I didn’t know anything about that stuff though in those days, but all I knew was we took a day trip out to Death Valley.  The name had a ring of finality to it, for sure. 

I honestly don’t remember much about it, except sitting in the back seat of the station wagon with the moms.  I was the oldest child of the two families.  The rest of the kids all piled into the way back and rode the tailpipe out to Death Valley, sans seatbelts of course.  The place seemed like a giant wasteland to me.  I remembered only one place on that trip, and that was when we came to the crest of a hill and looked down into the deepest dip I’d ever seen in a road before!  Beside us, and on the right, was a giant, white boulder.  This is the way I remembered it anyway.  Turns out this spot does in fact exist and is located on the road known as “Artist’s Drive.”  There’s actually two giant, deep dips and hills there with white boulders on the right-hand side of the road.  I didn’t photograph this spot.  It’s burned in my memory forever! 

A note about Crestline, California:  When I was a kid, I thought of it as high in The San Bernardino Mountains, but it sits at about 4,600 feet in elevation, about the same height as Grand Junction, Colorado, where I live now.  Grand Junction sits in a valley carved by The Colorado River and is surrounded by much higher peaks, including The Grand Mesa, which tops out at over 10,000 feet.  But I digress …  

ACCOMMODATIONS

While we were in Death Valley, we stayed at The Ranch at Death Valley, which is run by Xanterra, the company that holds most, if not all, the hospitality contracts for the national parks.  They have two resorts there; the other is known as Oasis at Death Valley.  I had hoped to find time to visit Oasis, but the beauty of the park kept me otherwise occupied, and I didn’t make it over to that resort.  The pictures I’ve seen of it are beautiful.  The Ranch though, is more utilitarian, but still comfortable and nice.  We spent two nights there.  Our sliding glass door opened up to a golf course green with a few palm trees and oleander bushes scattered throughout the grassy area.  They are making some additional upgrades to the property, which undoubtedly will raise the prices when they are finished. 

FOOD

One thing they have done at The Ranch and at Oasis as well, is plant a large date palm orchard.  Date palm farming is becoming a big thing out in the desert these days, and Xanterra is jumping on that bandwagon by growing their own dates, which they use to make ice cream and milkshakes.  At first, I wasn’t too excited about the prospects for this delicacy, but before we left the park I decided I wanted to try it.  They advertise it as their “World Famous Date Ice Cream” and “World Famous Date Milkshakes!”  I figured I’d pick one up on the way out of the park.  When I made my order, I was informed without apology that they didn’t have any date ice cream, so neither of these two “World Famous” goodies were available. I ended up with a chocolate milk shake I neither needed nor wanted.   Note to self:  Be more assertive and don’t settle for something you don’t want.  This chocolate milkshake I didn’t need or want set me back about $12 or $13. 

While we were there, the main restaurant, called The Last Kind Words Saloon wasn’t open, ostensibly because of Covid. The only food available then, was food from the ice cream shop, which is basically junk food, like eating dinner at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor or A&W; two other world-famous gourmet food places where we used to eat when I was growing up in Orange County, California. So, because of Covid, we decided that rather than eat their junk food and possibly become exposed to a fatal disease, (while further wasting our money,) we would bring our own junk food and eat it in the privacy of our own room.  So, for two days and two nights we feasted on potato chips, trail mix, mixed nuts, and cookies. We also had some fruit we brought with us, but all in all, not the healthiest of eating ensued. Forewarned is forearmed.   

GAS

There is a gas station on property that sells gas at about $7.50 a gallon at the time of our visit.  Be sure to fill up before arriving at the park.  We drove back to Nevada on gas fumes after our visit to Death Valley to avoid paying that exorbitant gas price.   We made it, but don’t take any chances.  You don’t want to get stuck out in the desert with an empty gas tank.

ZABRISKIE POINT

I had seen many photos taken from this location on social media and other photographer’s websites and this was the very first place I wanted to visit. I wasn’t disappointed!  We arrived the first evening for sunset.  There was a fair amount of other people there with cameras; everything from cellphones to mirrorless Sony’s were present.  These badlands are spectacular at both sunrise and sunset.  I know too, because I showed up there the next morning for sunrise, and then again, the last morning we were there.  I couldn’t get enough of the place! Watching the light traverse the sand hills and peaks of Zabriskie Point is like looking at the world through a constantly changing kaleidoscope.   If I could, I would go there once a month for at least a year just to see what the light is like at sunrise and sunset.  But since I only had two sunrises and two sunsets in the park, I had to make my decisions about where to go. This is a don’t-miss location for anyone with a camera.  It’s a short uphill hike from the parking lot to the shooting location, but most people should be able to do it without trouble.  It’s paved.  Most people with cameras wait for sunrise on a hill directly below where the official viewing platform is, which makes sense, if you don’t want a photo filled with other people and their cameras. This was my location for sunrise.   

113021-20113021-20Zabriskie Point at Sunrise Zabriskie Point at Sunrise - Death Valley National Park 

20-MULE TEAM CANYON

Remember 20-Mule Team Borax?  Well, this is the location where they actually drove 20-mule teams that hauled borax out of the desert in the late 1800’s.  This was a huge thing back in the day, and Ronald Reagan starred in a TV show in the mid-60’s that was sponsored by 20-Mule Team Borax.  This is where the stuff was mined that was processed into those scrubbing bubbles!  It’s a short one-way drive that is quite scenic and reminds me very much of a place closer to home for me, known as The Adobe Badlands, just outside of Delta, Colorado. You would think that after spending a couple days out in Death Valley I would have had enough of this kind of scenery, but my intention to spend time walking through the Adobe Badlands with my camera is stronger than ever.  These colorful, sculpted hills are amazing! 


113021-54113021-5420 Mule Team Canyon
Death Valley National Park
California
20-Mule Team Canyon - Death Valley National Park 

BADWATER BASIN

I walked out on the salt flats and looked around.  It was chilly out there. It was still early morning and the mountains to the east cast a long shadow over the salt flats.  The first thing I noticed was the smell.  There is a small puddle of putrid water out there that puts out an impressive smell of rotten eggs, or sulfur.   It’s large enough to use to capture some reflections, which I did.  There’s a sign on the side of the mountain close by, that upon further inspection, signifies where sea level is.  This spot is the lowest point in North America, at 282 feet below sea level.  I turned around and looked west, out into the valley.  The salt flats are white, but very reflective, so they were reflecting the shadows and the blue sky, making them look blue as well.  The part where you walk is very flat, probably having been trampled down by hundreds of pairs of hiking boots.  It’s reminiscent of snow and it crunches beneath your boots.  Kids have been down there digging it like they would beach sand and their little scratch marks can be seen here and there.  Tiny pyramids of salt are piled up within these scratch marks, but they’re not very big.  The salt is very hard and compressed.   I snapped a few pictures on my short hike out to the end of the compressed salt flats, kind of wondering what the big deal was about this place.  Then, when I started processing these photos later, I appreciated this location a whole lot more. This salt is highly reflective, and the photos portray a kind of abstraction that is usually only present along shorelines of very still lakes.  Sometimes for me, and maybe for all of us, it takes looking at things a little differently to see their true beauty. 

113021-64113021-64Badwater Basin
282 Feet Below Sea Level
The lowest point in North America
Death Valley National Park
California, USA
Badwater Basin - Death Valley National Park  

113021-82113021-82Salt Flats at Badwater Basin
282 Feet Below Sea Level
Lowest point in North America
Death Valley National Park
California, USA
Badwater Basin Salt Flats - Death Valley National Park  

ARTIST’S DRIVE

This is the location I told you about that we drove through when I was a kid.  The spot with two huge dips!  This is the only place on earth I’ve been to that has such huge dips in the road.  Now, in all fairness, I’ve seen relatively little of the earth’s overall surface, but still … these dips are impressive!  There are many amazing bends in this one-direction road with amazingly colorful hills and rocks. If you think of Death Valley as a kind of a gray place with very little vegetation, you might be surprised when you get there!  Some of the colors are truly awesome!  We live on an amazing planet! 

113021-96113021-96Artist's Drive
Death Valley National Park
California, USA
A Bend in Artist's Drive - Death Valley National Park  

113021-108113021-108Artist's Drive
Death Valley National Park
California
Rock Outcropping on Artist's Drive - Death Valley National Park  

MESQUITE FLAT SAND DUNES

A good place for both sunrise and sunset photography, these dunes are also very popular with families.  Kids love to play in them!  There are little footprints everywhere!  We were there at sunset one day during our visit.  The footprints are impressive for sure!  I didn’t get out there for sunrise, but if or when I’m able to get back, I certainly will, as I’m told the morning has the very best shadows and light.  You do have to be careful out here, although it all looks like fun and games.  Earlier this fall, a young woman wandered out into the dune field and never returned.  They found her body about a mile and a half out, just past the tallest dune.  She was only 27 years old.  I don’t know what happened to her, but don’t plan to hike out there after about 10am and bring plenty of water. 

113021-109113021-109Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Death Valley National Park
California
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes - Death Valley National Park  

DANTE’S VIEW

As we were exiting the park, we took a drive out to Dante’s View, which is a terrace view point about a mile high overlooking Badwater Basin and The Death Valley.  The panoramic view is amazing, but the thing that appealed to me the most were the abstracts I was able to find in the patterns in the desert sands below.  According to a nearby sign, there is an underground river that runs the length of this valley.  Additionally, it gets rain runoff at the surface, and this creates some very beautiful abstract designs.  So, of course, it just depends on what you’re into, but for me, the panoramic view is wonderful, but the intimates and abstracts are truly incredible.  I love erosion!  This view point was used in the 1977 Star Wars movie as well, with some art added to it to make it look like a star port. 

120121-7120121-7Dante's View
Death Valley National Park
California
Death Valley as seen from Dante's Overlook - Death Valley National park  

120121-12120121-12Abstract of Dante's View
Death Valley National Park
California
Abstract of the floor of Death Valley - Death Valley National Park  

Part 3 coming soon!  Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada 

 


  


 

 

 

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/12/winter-desert-trip-report-part-2 Wed, 15 Dec 2021 23:19:13 GMT
WINTER DESERT TRIP REPORT PART 1 https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/12/winter-desert-trip-report-part-1 LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

The week following Thanksgiving, my photo roadie and I (read:  husband) took a 5-day road trip through the desert southwest.  We visited a couple of national parks, a state park, and of course, Las Vegas. 

Sometimes I forget how massive the desert southwest portion of this country really is!  It starts in inland California, and goes all the way across Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Western Colorado, New Mexico, and although I haven’t spent much time there … Texas.  In other words, it’s huge!  We left our home on the upper NE edge of the Colorado Plateau and drove all day the first day, without stopping, to get to Las Vegas.  As we drove southwest through the Utah desert, we were accompanied on the road by literally thousands of people driving home in the opposite direction as they returned home from their long Thanksgiving weekend out in the deserts of southern Utah, Southern California, and Arizona.  Billowing clouds of dustbowl era-esque dust and sand billowed behind them as they tried to avoid traffic and take a shortcut on the dirt side roads that front the interstate.

We suffered the longest traffic delays on the short 30 miles we drove through Arizona, as the road was in horrendous condition, filled with potholes and cracks.  They had lanes closed for construction as well, but it was impossible to tell what, if anything, they were doing.  At least there was no chance of anyone speeding through Arizona! 

After driving all day, we were very tired when we arrived in Las Vegas, which was our first stop during this trip. Now neither one of us are big gamblers.  In fact, we’re not gamblers at all.  The only reason for me to stop in Las Vegas is because it happens to be on the way to wherever else I might be going.  Before this trip, I hadn’t been to Vegas since something like 2007, when I attended a travel convention there.  The city is constantly re-making itself, and so if you only show up there every 12 or 13 years or so, you’re likely to not recognize it.  Count me in with that group. After driving around in circles a couple of times, we finally found the correct offramp and checked into our hotel, which happened to be The Excalibur. 

Oddly enough, this is the same hotel I had stayed at when I was re-locating to Colorado from California back in 1992.  It’s changed some since then.  In those days, I just drove up, parked my car, and walked into the lobby.  The place was still new back then, and there were no other hotels further to the south or west.  There was no Mandalay Bay, and no Luxor. It was just the first hotel I came to after driving through the desert in California for five hours.  Nowadays, I book way in advance so I can get the best prices and I don’t like taking chances that I won’t have a place to stay or that I’ll get over-charged. 

So, here’s the killer about this place:  I booked way in advance and got a great rate of only $37 a night!  Heck of a deal!  Of course, they don’t mention on Travelocity that you’ll be charged an additional $50 resort fee and $15 a night for parking.  So, by the time it’s all said and done, you’re looking at $100 a lot more closely than you thought you would.  At that point though, I was so tired from driving all day, that I probably wouldn’t have blinked if they charged me $1,000 or more.  I just wanted someplace to sleep. 

The only way to get to your room of course, is to walk through the casino.  I mean, right through it.  People are sitting at the machines, gambling and smoking.  Yes, you’re allowed to smoke in there.  Although my husband and I are not gamblers, I don’t mind occasionally dropping a quarter into one of the machines if I happen to be walking past or loitering nearby for some reason, but the machines these days only take cards.  I didn’t check it out too closely, so I don’t know if you buy a pre-paid casino card, or if they’ll take your credit card.  If I were a gambling woman, I’d say, just put your debit or credit card into the machine and start playing.  The house always wins.  No worries.

The place is filled with twenty-somethings; guys walking around wearing baggy pants, gold chains, and a baseball cap turned the wrong way and young women wearing mini dresses with spike heeled boots and stockings with holes and runners in them.  Most are carrying large containers of daquiri drinks that they’ve been nursing for an hour or so, or all night and day.  When they finally do finish their drinks, they just leave the huge plastic containers with straws and melted daquiri mix at the bottom, sitting around the casino or even outside on the sidewalks.  Workers come around periodically and pick up after them while they go crash somewhere and let the drunk wear off. 

In spite of all of this, masks are required indoors and most people seem to be honoring that mandate in the shops and café’s along the strip.   

Our room at The Excalibur was very nice to tell the truth.  I’ve paid twice that much for a room and had a terrible experience, but this wasn’t too bad at all.  The bed was comfortable, and the furnishings were quite nice.  The place was clean.  There was a little noise by one woman in the middle of the night, but all in all, not bad. 

I was too tired to go out and photograph the city lights in the evening, so I got up well before sunrise the next morning to do a photo walk down the strip and try to catch some of the lights at that time.  Once I got outside the hotel and casino, it took me a few minutes to get my bearings.  When you’re inside those giant buildings, you can’t tell what direction you’re facing, or honestly, whether it’s day or night.  I soon discovered that Excalibur isn’t even on the strip, but I was able to get there very easily, since it sits right at the corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas Blvd. During my photo walk, I walked about 3.5 miles roundtrip, from Excalibur to Bellagio and back.

The thing about this walk that I noticed is that Las Vegas has gotten so much better at herding pedestrians than they used to be.  The elevated sidewalks with escalators that they have downtown, very carefully lead you where they want you to go.  You can’t just walk down the street like you used to in the old days.  I accidentally took a wrong turn at one point and ended up out in the middle of Las Vegas Blvd.  It was hell trying to get back to a safe place, as traffic was beginning to pick up around sunrise.  It added about a half mile to my walk. 

There’s a fair number of homeless people sleeping in the nooks and crannies of town at night.  None of them bothered me.  Walking around a city in the dark isn’t for the feint of heart, but I’ve done it before, not only in Denver, but also in Las Vegas, so I figured I could do it again.  I did, but I had to really get my city mojo working for me, since I haven’t spent any time in the cities of this world since I moved to the desert in 2017.  It’s up to each person as to what they feel they are up for, but I usually don’t feel afraid walking around a big city either in the dark, or as the sun rises.  I act like I know where I’m going and what I’m doing. I keep my eyes peeled and so far, I haven’t had any trouble. I know that mankind is the biggest predator out there, and I act accordingly. 

I’ve included some pictures I took on this photo walk.  None of them qualify as iconic Las Vegas city pictures.  They’re intimate views of lights, store windows and buildings. I do what I can to bring this massive urban jungle down to human size.    I’m more interested in the art of the city; the abstract designs, and the softer side of city life where I can find it. 

 

Excalibur Hotel112921-27 Excalibur Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada 112921-21112921-21Typewriter Erasure Sculpture
Las Vegas, Nevada
Typewriter Eraser by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen - they have large sculptures in many cities, including one in Denver, right outside of The Denver Art Museum.  I recognized their work right away, and just had to stop and photograph it.  

112921-19112921-19Waldorf Astoria Walkway
Las Vegas, Nevada
This bridge is next to the Waldorf Astoria, Las Vegas

112921-14112921-14Las Vegas, Nevada

This sidewalk in front of Bellagio and right across from The Paris Hotel has a bit of a feeling of Europe to it.  

112921-12112921-12Abstract
Las Vegas, Nevada
An abstract of a colorful, lighted sign on the Las Vegas strip 

112921-8112921-8Las Vegas, Nevada The Devil You say .... shop on The Las Vegas Strip 

112921-5112921-5Las Vegas, Nevada Hotel Lobby with a Christmas Tree and a large panoramic photo of the famous maple tree at Portland's Japanese Garden.  

112921-4112921-4Hard Rock Hotel Sign
Las Vegas, Nevada

Lighted guitar sign and escalator to The Hard Rock Hotel and Cafe' in Las Vegas 

 

Part 2 is about our time in Death Valley National Park in California and I’ll be posting soon, either tomorrow or the next day. 

 

 

 

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) Las Vegas road trip https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/12/winter-desert-trip-report-part-1 Tue, 14 Dec 2021 21:31:16 GMT
PHOTOGRAPHY AS A FLOW EXPERIENCE https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/12/photography-as-a-flow-experience 120321-15120321-15

I just finished reading the book “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  This book was first published in 1990, which both seems like a lifetime ago, and like it all just happened yesterday! 

It’s advertised as a national bestseller but I have to say it’s not one of the easiest books I’ve ever read, and I read a lot of nonfiction.  It’s 240 pages of tight, 8-point font, not including over 40 pages of notes and references, information about the author, and an excerpt from another one of his books about Flow and Creativity.  When it’s all said and done, there’s over 300 pages of very dense information in this book.  It’s something that I had to read, and then let it swirl around in my brain for a while to see how it settled. 

So, you may be wondering, how did I come to read such a book?  Well, I’m currently a student working on my second master’s degree; this one in Consciousness Studies.  And as I mentioned earlier, I do a lot of reading on my own as well.  A couple years ago I made a pretty extensive reading list.  Now that I’m retired from the 9 to 5, I started working my way through it in my copious spare time. (really?)

Well anyway, when I started my studies this year, one of the first books I read referenced this book “Flow.”  Now I had this book on my shelf at my old house for almost 15 years and never read it.  I thought it was one of my husband’s books, but it’s possible I had purchased it at a used book sale or something.  Anyway, it was on the bookshelf in my living room for almost 15 years.  I walked past it every morning and evening and could see the word “Flow” on the spine of its bright, blue cover, but I never had the time to pick it up and read it.  When I was packing up to move to the western slope in 2017, I decided to “cull the book herd” a little bit, and thinned it out by about 20%, giving many books to charity.  “Flow” was one of those books.  I figured that if I hadn’t read it by then, I probably wasn’t going to. 

So, then I picked up the next book on my list for this year.  It also referenced the book “Flow.”  Then, lo and behold, the next book also referenced the book “Flow.”  I try to be open to these synchronistic nudges and I decided it must be time to read the book. So, I bought another copy and I finally got around to reading it this fall.   

Now, in photography we hear a lot about defining a workflow.  I do in fact have a photography workflow when it comes to processing my photos.  It is easier to define what you want to do, learn your process, and then stick with it.  Most photographers do this and It’s different for everyone.  I know some photographers who do batch processing for instance.  They know how they like their photos processed, and they want them all to come out with the same look.  They also don’t want to spend a long time in post-processing.  For others, the joy is in the processing and creation of art, and they spend the majority of their time in Photoshop and Lightroom, perfecting their images and creating fine photo art. 

I would place my workflow somewhere in between these two extremes.  I like giving my photos individual attention and deciding how I want them to look individually, while at the same time making any adjustments I want to make to the photo itself, eliminating spots and “eye grabbers” for instance, but I don’t make major changes to my photos in photoshop.  I’m able to do this while listening to music or watching TV and I find myself “in the flow” doing this more often than not, much as some people can knit a complex sweater with different patterns, while watching TV or attending a meeting. 

According to Dr. Csikszentmihalyi, there are nine steps that create the sense of flow with any activity.  They are: 

  • There are clear goals every step of the way.
  • There is immediate feedback to one’s actions.
  • There is a balance between challenges and skills.
  • Action and awareness are merged.
  • Dimensions are excluded from consciousness.
  • There is no worry of failure.
  • Self-consciousness disappears.
  • The sense of time becomes distorted.
  • The activity becomes autotelic. 

Now the book “Flow” goes into a lot of detail about different activities that one can do that may bring you into feeling a sense of flow in your life.  He doesn’t mention photography specifically, but then, photography has changed quite a bit since 1990.  Digital photo processing has become the norm in the intervening years.  Even in 1990, you needed to have access to a dark room to be able to create the kind of photo art that is easily accessible to most people now.  When I was taking photography classes at the local community college back in the mid-1990’s we were still processing photos in the darkroom and learning those techniques.  Of course, that knowledge is transferrable to digital work, but it does take some time to make those intellectual connections and figure out what’s the same and what’s different about it all. 

And that is one of the things that creates flow in the art and practice of photography.  There’s a pretty steep learning curve in the beginning, and then, depending upon what your photographic goals are, the learning curve continues over time, either as a gentle upward climb in complexity, or you can take it faster if you like. Whether you decide to take it faster or slower, it’s the element of complexity that keeps the sense of flow going.  Many people think that relaxing is the key to happiness.  They just want to get off work and veg out in front of the TV or something. But the truth is, it’s the complexity of learning new things, making new discoveries, and accomplishing goals that really creates the sense of flow in one’s life.

When you’re in the flow you know it, and most people don’t get a sense of flow from watching TV or even from watching sports. You’re more likely to experience flow when you’re actively doing something yourself, whether it’s photography, yoga, golf, or some other kind of physical or mental activity. 

I would say, take a look at how you’ve been spending your time and see if the nine steps that create a sense of Flow are present.  If not, you might want to make some adjustments in how you spend your time so that more of your time is spent in activities that create a sense of flow. 

One possible thing to consider might be a photography workshop!  If you take a look at my workshop page, you’ll notice I have several on offer for 2022.  During these workshops, you’ll get the opportunity to learn how I process my photos, but also to spend time with other like-minded photographers, and actually feel that sense of flow that one gets from exploring a new place and spending time in nature.  Everything about photography is a flow experience from start to finish!

Enjoy the photo of rock formations glowing at sunrise in Bryce Canyon National Park!

 

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) flow https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/12/photography-as-a-flow-experience Fri, 10 Dec 2021 20:18:00 GMT
NOVEMBER TRIP REPORT https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/11/november-trip-report COLORADO RIVER SCENIC BYWAY, HWY 128

SOUTHEASTERN UTAH

 

I moved to Colorado’s western slope four years ago when I retired from my HR career.  I chose this part of the state because of it’s beauty, and relative closeness to so many of the national parks of the American west, particularly the “mighty five” in Utah. 


From where I live, it’s an easy jaunt to The Black Canyon of The Gunnison National Park here in Colorado, and The Colorado National Monument, which is right across town from me.  Grand Junction and The Grand Valley in general is really the gateway to the magnificent Colorado Plateau, rich with red rock beauty for hundreds of miles.  The national parks aside, we have lots of open space near here which is easily accessible and run by the BLM and local agencies. This is perfect for a girl with a camera!   

Although I still have other responsibilities and things that tug at my time, as I’m sure we all do, I do try to get out once or twice a week for a photo trip.  As the fall color season in Colorado comes to an end, I usually change my direction and start heading west and out into the open deserts of Southeastern Utah.

This past week my roadie and I (read:  husband) set out to drive the beautiful Colorado River Scenic Byway, which runs for about 50 miles between I-70 and Moab, Utah, along the far southeastern part of the state of Utah.  The color here too, is past it’s autumn prime by the third week in November, but the color in the red rock walls of the canyons more than make up for the bare tree branches. 

The weather was still warm, but breezy, requiring only a light windbreaker or jacket.  The season for shorts is over, but surprisingly, I still saw a couple of people on rafts out on the Colorado River!  The river runs slow this time of year, so it’s perfect for photographers who want to get a river’s-eye view of the amazing canyons and rock formations!  Of course, we also tend to get out mid-week, which has its advantages, mainly, many fewer people. 

We did something this trip that we hadn’t done before, and that is, we drove part of the way through Onion Creek.  I had been putting this drive on the back burner, because when we had our previous vehicle, a Honda CRV, I was a little concerned that it wouldn’t make the road.  Some books I have say the 4WD road is rated about a 3, but I checked with some local friends who said they found it to be an easy and fun drive, and that I shouldn’t have any trouble with my 4Runner out there.  So off we went!  And yes!  We had a blast splashing through the multiple creek crossings on this road.  I’m not an expert 4-wheeler, but I never felt concerned that we wouldn’t make it.  Sometimes I have to admit to scaring myself before I even try something. 

If you’re not up to a 4WD road, there are plenty of photo opportunities along the main road, Hwy 128.  The frustrating part for me is always that the spots I consider the most photogenic have nowhere to pull off and then if you pull off down the road a little bit and walk back, well, there is no shoulder, so you could be in danger of getting hit by a car.  This is never a good outcome.  Stay safe and drive all the way to Moab for lunch.  On the way back, spend some time hanging out near The Fisher Towers, which turn bright red at sunset.  Undoubtedly one of the best sunset locations on The Colorado Plateau. 

As usual, I used my Tamron 18-400mm “one and done” lens.  I have found this lens to be a great investment for the kind of photography I like to do, which is kind of on-the-run travel photography.   I do have a super wide- angle lens as well, but I rarely use it anymore.  I keep it in my bag just in case.   

In December, we have two short road trips planned, one to Death Valley National Park, Bryce Canyon, and a couple of Nevada State Parks, and then at the end of the month, we’ll be visiting Monument Valley Tribal Park, where Forrest Gump decided to stop running. 

Wishing you and yours a Happy Day today – Thanksgiving, 2021! 

111821-73111821-73 DESERT SCENE OFF HWY 128 in SE UTAH 

111821-60111821-60

Autumn Grasses at Onion Creek 

111821-70111821-70 FISHER TOWERS AT SUNSET 

 

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/11/november-trip-report Thu, 25 Nov 2021 22:51:08 GMT
FIVE PHOTOGENIC COLORADO LAKES https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/8/five-photogenic-colorado-lakes No, Colorado isn’t necessarily known for it’s “Great Lakes.”  We’re mostly a mountain and stream kind of a place.  I went through five years of photographs looking for lakes that I though photographed well.  Some of these lakes are so small and so off the beaten path that you can’t consider putting a motorized vehicle on them.  They’re mostly for fishing and camping beside.  There’s some real beauty out there so let’s get started!  Also, since it’s so hard to narrow down to My Five Favorites, here’s a list of five that I like. 

BLUE MESA RESERVOIR

Blue Mesa is the largest body of water in Colorado.  It was originally dammed in the 1960’s and it’s nearly 20 miles long, following the path of The Gunnison River.  At least one town was completely flooded and at this time, the water levels are so low that people are reporting that old buildings – a gas station, a house, a small store … are now visible at times.  You can walk out to them. I haven’t seen this myself, but I have heard it reported.  The lake is situation to the south of Gunnison and Gunnison is the closest city to the lake.  I’m including some of the pictures I took one afternoon as I was on my way to Crested Butte.  I was really intrigued by the reflections in this very still, blue water and the abstract patterns that emerged.  Lots of activities take place at this reservoir including fishing, camping, and boating, both motorized and non-motorized. 


08_10_18 Blue Mesa Reservoir08_10_18 Blue Mesa ReservoirBlue Mesa Reservoir 090420 Circle of Reflection 1090420 Circle of Reflection 1The is Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest body of water in Colorado. It supplies water for electricity and irrigation throughout the southwestern United States. This mid-day reflections make for interesting abstracts. CONNECTED LAKES 

Connected Lakes is a section of The Colorado River State Park that runs along the Colorado River near my current home in Grand Junction.  Small dams have been created that help divert water from the river to irrigation ditches in the area.  These small lakes and their adjacent parks are lovely oases in the surrounding desert.  You can fish at Connected Lakes, but there is no camping allowed at this section of the state park.  Unmotorized boating and fishing is allowed.  Long after the aspen have lost their leaves, the cottonwoods at Colorado River State Park, Connected Lakes, is still going strong.  Time to move down to a lower elevation! 

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HIDDEN LAKE

OK, I admit I’m partial to this suburban lake because I lived beside it for 14 years.  The lake is privately owned by guy who runs a waterski company, but as residents, we were allowed to use the if we signed an “Opt-in Agreement”, which I did, so I could paddle my canoe around the lake.  I spent too many evenings on my front porch or in my living room, looking out the window at this lake.  I decided to move to Colorado’s western slope when I retired to have closer access to all the national parks in Utah and Colorado.  My new location is perfect for a nature photographer, but I must admit I miss “my lake.” 


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LAKE GRANBY and GRAND LAKE

Two for the price of one!  Lake Granby and Grand Lake are both located just outside the western border of Rocky Mountain National Park.  The yacht club up there lays claim to being the highest private yacht club in the country at just over 8,000 feet in elevation.  Lots of recreational activities take place at both Lake Granby and Grand Lake, including boating, fishing, hiking around the lake, camping and the usual activities.  Plenty of dining, lodging and camping is located nearby. 


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PRIEST LAKE

I have no idea why this small lake is called Priest Lake, but there is an old cabin nearby, which, who knows?  Maybe a priest lived there.  Since this lake is actually a small dam, it’s possible that there was no lake here when the cabin was occupied.  I was mostly attracted to it because Priest is my maiden name, but there is no relation that I know of.  There are a couple of camping spots located here, maybe five or six.  It’s pretty rough, disbursed camping.  It’s located about 30 miles south of Telluride.  I think it’s one of the most beautiful little lakes I’ve ever seen.  I got there just a little late to see the aspens in color, but it was still remarkably beautiful. 


102320 Priest Lake_-49 (2)102320 Priest Lake_-49 (2)A small man-made lake south of Telluride, Colorado.

So, there you go, five incredibly beautiful lakes in Colorado – a place not known for lakes! To see more beautiful Colorado lakes, take a look at my gallery entitled "Colorado Lakes".  

 

 

 

 

 

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/8/five-photogenic-colorado-lakes Thu, 19 Aug 2021 00:00:43 GMT
THE ART AND PRACTICE OF MINDFUL PHOTOGRAPHY https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/8/the-art-and-practice-of-mindful-photography …There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the earth.” – Rumi

 

One evening a few years ago, I was out for a drive through a nearby town called Glade Park.  Glade Park, Colorado sits on a high mesa above The Colorado National Monument, tucked between Pinyon Mesa, a part of The Grand Mesa National Forest, and the state line that separates Colorado from Utah.  As a relative newcomer to the area, I was stopped dead in my tracks the first time I visited this magical place, when I looked to the west at sunset and saw the most beautiful old log cabin ruin I’ve ever seen. I’ve since learned that this was the original homestead cabin for a couple named Johnny and Ruthie Miracle.  What a great name!  And this cabin has really stood the test of time.  It was built very well and still looks like - with just a few upgrades - you could move in and start living. 

The sun was low in the sky, and billowing clouds of smoke from western wildfires darkened the horizon making the sun look like a red rubber ball as it sunk over the edge of the earth.  I pulled over and parked the CRV.  I checked my daily weather app to see how much time I had before sunset.  I had about 7 minutes.  I grabbed my cameras and tripod and got them set up.  Then, of course, I dragged them back and forth to try and capture the scene from different angles.  I felt my mental focus tighten as I focused my lenses to capture both wide-angle and zoom shots.  Focusing on this event was a real peak experience as everything else in the world literally slipped away and the sun lowered itself behind the horizon line over about a 5-minute period.  It was an absolute rush and that period that I think of as “moving from time to timelessness.”

Now 5 minutes is a very short time.  But when totally focused mentally and physically in those moments, it releases one from the ordinary, and facilitates the experience that Michael Singer calls, “The Untethered Soul,” Jon Kabat-Zinn calls “Mindfulness” and Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi called “Flow,” in his book of the same name.  Some people simply call it “getting into the zone” and it can happen with anything we do that commands our full attention and love. 

Not every photo shoot lends itself to such an experience, but they all certainly have that potential.  We can prepare ourselves for these experiences through daily mindfulness meditation at home, or even when taking a morning walk.  When I do this, I bring my cellphone and use that to focus my attention on nature’s beauty, both small and large.  Being in the present moment is the key, whether we’re at home or outside in nature at the time.  Taking a few moments to center ourselves can make all the difference.  At times when something amazing is happening and time is short, it pays to have a constant practice you do that makes you more mentally and emotionally available when the time comes. 

Mindfulness meditation is much like any form of exercise, and you can build up your mindfulness fitness by following a daily meditation routine.  Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as moment-to-moment nonjudgmental awareness. Practicing this for as little as 15 minutes a day can pave the way to more peak experiences in nature!  Once you know how it feels to be totally in-the-moment, you can get there much quicker when the right time presents itself. 


08_10_18 Fiery Sunset 108_10_18 Fiery Sunset 1 08_10_18 02 Through the Rafters08_10_18 02 Through the RaftersThe Miracle Homestead in Glade Park

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) glade park sunset https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/8/the-art-and-practice-of-mindful-photography Sat, 14 Aug 2021 23:40:04 GMT
June 2021 Trip Reports https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/7/june-2021-trip-reports I stuck close to home in June.  My 87- year- old mother had some surgery during the month, which necessitated me standing by in case of emergency.  Things are improving on that front now, but I did spend one whole Saturday in the ER with mom after her surgery.  So yes, I’m definitely living in interesting times right now. 


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Pinyon Mesa

I’m fortunate that there are so many places of beauty within a short drive of my house.  One such place is Pinyon Mesa, which is so close I can get there in an evening after dinner and be back home and tucked safely into bed by 9:30pm. The whole drive is a loop, part of which is technically considered The Grand Mesa National Forest.  This place is spectacular in the fall, but springtime is a close second. From this picture you can see that there are a few dead, drought-afflicted trees, but for the sake of this picture, I think they make a nice contract with the different colors of green.  I’m offering a weekend tour and workshop of Pinyon Mesa in mid-September, when the aspen leaves turn to gold.  The beauty of this place is truly jaw-dropping! 


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This sunset shot was also taken on Pinyon Mesa looking west into Utah.


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  Western Colorado Botanical Gardens  

Early fireworks this year!  That’s what this photo looks like to me.  They’re also much quieter than fireworks!  Another bonus!  This garden is 12-acres of desert beauty right in the heart of Grand Junction.  These gardens are managed by a nonprofit organization known as STRIVE, which offers support to individuals with disabilities and their families. On the first Friday of every month, you can get in for $1!  I went and enjoyed a couple hours of peace and mindful photography.  While I was there, I did a video with an affirmative prayer and a short silent meditation.  You can find this on a Facebook page I manage called Peace, Prayers & Meditations.  Here’s the link for 8 minutes of peacefulness in nature: 

https://www.facebook.com/mondaynightpeace/videos/2833036746917237

 

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[email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/7/june-2021-trip-reports Fri, 16 Jul 2021 17:40:20 GMT
FIVE “DON’T MISS” COLORADO WATERFALLS https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/7/five-don-t-miss-colorado-waterfalls
  •  The Alluvial Fan – Rocky Mountain National Park  
  • On July 15, 1982, the Lawn Lake Dam above this area in Rocky Mountain National Park, gave way.  When this happened, it flooded the park as well as the town of Estes Park.  Over 200 million gallons of water poured from the dam.  It has receded now and water flows naturally over the rocks that were flung from the original dam in a type of waterfall called – yes – an Alluvial Fan.  Water cascading down this rocky hillside is a sight to behold.  Just last year, they built a bridge over the roaring river, which makes the incredible views from this location more easily accessible.  It’s a short walk from the parking lot, but you should wear closed shoes in any event.  It’s really too rocky to hike around there wearing sandals! 


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    2.   Chasm Falls – Rocky Mountain National Park 

    One of the prettiest falls in Rocky Mountain National Park!  This waterfall has a 25-foot drop and makes for a lovely, very classical looking waterfall photo.  You can hike to it, or you can pretty much drive right up to it.  It’s located in the park, right along Fall River and Fall River Road, so you can hike it, or you can simply drive up to it and then take a short walk to several scenic overlooks on the trail to get a good picture. 

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    3.  Bridal Veil Falls at Hanging Lake

    I never really thought of the falls being separate from the lake, but technically, the water that flows over the rocks there is called Bridal Veil Falls.  There’s at least three such-named falls in Colorado that I know of!  But this is definitely one of my favorites.  This beautiful natural area has been designated as a National Natural Landmark.  To get to it, you must hike a very steep 1.1 mile trail.  This is one of the most challenging hikes I’ve done and I won’t be doing it again, so I’m glad I got this picture!  I hiked it several times when I was younger.  In order to get to it now, you must reserve a time to go as they have a reservation system.  If you’re up for the hike, you should reserve your time now!

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    4.  Rifle Falls

    Located in Rifle Falls State Park, just NE of the town of Rifle, in western Colorado.  These falls are the central feature of the park and are easily accessible from the parking lot.  This is a 70-foot triple waterfall that flows from the dam above and into East Rifle Creek.  I took this photo in the winter and the water is still flowing!  Another interesting thing about these falls is that there is a trail that goes back behind where the falls are, with caves that become “ice caves” in the winter.  Wear solid hiking boots for this hike!  It’s easy to get to, but can be slippery, especially in the winter. 

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    5.  St. Vrain Falls

    If you’re driving to Rocky Mountain National Park from The Denver Metro Area, you’ll be driving along Hwy 7 to get to Estes Park.  Along the way, you follow The St. Vrain River and at one point, this lovely bend in the road that offers a small waterfall.  If you decide to hike, there are many other parts to this waterfall that cascade down the side of Long’s Peak.  It looks peaceful enough, but people can and do get hurt out here, including by falling into the river.  Wear sturdy hiking shoes and don’t get too close to the water’s edge! 

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    [email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/7/five-don-t-miss-colorado-waterfalls Fri, 16 Jul 2021 17:35:42 GMT
    HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH FLOWING WATER https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/7/how-to-photograph-flowing-water So, when you’re photographing flowing water and you want to get that smooth, cotton-candy type look to the water, how exactly do you do that?  For the most part, you won’t be able to reliably get that effect using your cellphone, but there are apps you can get to use with your cellphone that will allow you to capture this effect.  The better, and I think, easier choice is to use your dslr for these kinds of shots.  All of the photos above were taken with my crop-sensor Nikon. I remember being totally baffled when I first got it and tried to document flowing water, waterfalls and other moving things to get that flowy appearance.   This was the first thing I wanted to do and the first thing that caused me to have any real interest in taking my camera out of automatic.

    After taking my camera out of auto, I started messing around with shutter speed, because I figured it was the time factor that made all the difference.  Well, I was right about that, but that direct approach to slowing down the shutter speed caused me some other problems, like over-exposure.  The longer the shutter is open of course, the longer the light has to come in.  The water may look smooth and flowy, but you’ll definitely need to “fix the exposure in post”.  Sometimes this comes out ok, but usually not.

    There are a couple of options you have to fixing this problem in-camera.  You can go into full manual mode, setting the shutter speed and the aperture yourself.  Some people feel this is always the best choice and that any photographer worth his or her salt should be shooting in manual mode anyway.  Most modern dslr’s have a variety of settings you can use other than the extremes of either full auto or full manual.  I’m a “middle of the road” type of gal at heart. I do think learning manual shooting is good because it gives you a better understanding of what is called “The Exposure Triangle”, which is composed of ISO (which used to be called ASA and denoted the speed of the film back in the day of film photography), the shutter speed, and the aperture of the lens.  See illustration below for “The Exposure Triangle”

    Exposure TriangleExposure Triangle

    When you’ve set your camera in either A mode or S mode, that means you’re choosing the shutter speed in S mode, and the camera will adjust the aperture for you; or likewise, if you’re shooting in A mode, you’ll set the aperture of the lens and the camera will choose the shutter speed for you.  This helps take some of the guesswork out of the process.  I often shoot in A mode, which allows me to change my aperture on the fly while allowing the camera to figure out the shutter speed for me -one less thing to think about!  When I’m in the field, my total attention is on what’s happening around me and I don’t like to spend my time thinking about too many technical variables. 

    Below is an illustration of what the lens of your camera does depending upon where you have set your aperture, or “F-stop”.  These show two extremes, to give you some idea.  So, when looking at F/16 you can see that the lens is stopped down to a small point, nearly a pinhole and in f/4, the lens is open almost all the way letting in more light.  I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but in photography, the smaller the F-stop #, the more light comes in, and the bigger the F-stop #, the less light it lets in.  Clear as mud?  OK.


    Aperture-f4-vs-f16Aperture-f4-vs-f16

    So in an alternative to slowing down your shutter speed, going into full manual mode and setting your aperture, most modern cameras allow you to set one while the camera will set the other.  This is my “go to” setting for shooting waterfalls and moving water in general.  The bigger number F-stop I use, the less light comes in, which requires more time.  Thus, the shutter speed is slowed down allowing for smooth flowy water pictures without over-exposure. 

    Now everyone’s aesthetic tastes are just a little different and your aperture setting depends on how flowy you want to go. I have found F/16 usually does the trick.  You could probably use a smaller number and still get the effect you want, but you should experiment with it.  I’ve seen some water pictures where I personally think the slowing was a little too slow, making the water look more like a gas.  I personally like mine to look flowy, but natural for my more documentary style. 

    Other options while shooting to slow shutter speed down include using filters on your lens while shooting.  I usually use a radial polarizer which cuts glare and does slow the shutter down slightly on it’s own.  Some people really like to use Neutral Density Filters, which slow things down even further, depending on the strength of the filter.  Shooting waterfalls in general is best done in the shade, or on a cloudy day because the water can create a lot of glare if it’s in full sun and thereby speed up the shutter speed so you lose the flowy effect.

    The best thing to do is to get out and practice until you find settings that do what you want in the way you want them done.  In photography, I’ve found that there is always more than one way to achieve any particular result.  Have fun! 

     

     

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    [email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/7/how-to-photograph-flowing-water Tue, 06 Jul 2021 22:24:36 GMT
    May 2021 Trip Reports https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/6/may-2021-trip-reports May Trip ReportMay Trip Report While I had originally planned to return to the mountains in May, we had several late-season snow storms that made me change my mind.  There was still quite a bit of snow at the higher elevations, and as it began to melt, there was significant mud on the dirt roads I prefer to travel.  So, other than an end-of-the-month trip to Denver to visit family and friends, we stayed out in the desert for the most part. 

    We started the month out taking a drive through Nine Mile Canyon.  It’s best known for it’s plethora of petroglyphs, and I saw many of them out there, but for some reason, this old stone house captured my attention as much as anything else out there.  Someone went to a lot of work and love building this place, but now it stands vacant and looks like it’s been that way for some time.  Across the road are all the old farm equipment they left behind as well.  I’m not sure what happened, but I’m guessing it might have had something to do with an oil company right-of-way.  There’s still lots of oil company activity out there. 


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    We found ourselves out in The San Rafael Swell again too.  One of the truly most spectacular stretches of road you’ll find anywhere.  I don’t want to spend too much time out here in the summer (too hot!) but it’s making me long for winter again because there’s still so much more to explore out there. 


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    A trip to The Colorado National Monument doesn’t really classify as a “trip” for me, it’s right across town, but on weeks when I stay home, or during mid-week, sometimes I like to visit there for an evening’s respite.  The trees and shrubs are softening the canyon walls with lovely shades of spring green this time of year. 


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    One evening we drove up to Glade Park in the middle of a horrendous thunderstorm.  This old house up there makes a great foreground subject during sunset.  If you angle yourself just right, you can get the light from the setting sun coming through one of the windows as I did here. 

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    Late in the month we went to Denver to visit some friends and family and take care of some business in the city.  I took one day to visit one of my all-time favorite places – The Denver Botanic Gardens. 


    May Trip Report-6May Trip Report-6 And a little Denver street photography to finish up the month!  

     

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    [email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/6/may-2021-trip-reports Sat, 19 Jun 2021 18:53:13 GMT
    My Five Favorite National Parks (For Now) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/6/my-five-favorite-national-parks-for-now
  •  ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
  • Of all the national parks, Rocky is the one where I have spent the most time by far.  When I was still living along The Front Range, it was just a hop, skip and a jump from home.  I think I’ve been there in every season!  Yes!  Even in winter!  Rocky Mountain National Park is 415 square miles of alpine and subalpine splendor.  Filled to the brim with scenic views at every turn, spectacular fields of wildflowers in the summer, and great wildlife viewing year-round, but especially in the fall, when the “rut” occurs.  Huge herds of elk fill the valleys and montane with sights and sounds you’ll never forget.  You can also find large herds of deer and Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep.  With over 300 miles of hiking trails, it can keep a photographer very busy for a very long time.  One of the first photography workshops I ever attended took place in Rocky Mountain National Park in winter.  We got up in the middle of the night and hiked up to Dream Lake for sunrise.  It was an adventure, to be sure, but I just about froze to death! In spite of wearing two layers of gloves with hand warmers tucked into them, my fingers were so frozen I couldn’t feel them on the shutter of my camera!  One lady fell through the ice and into Dream Lake.  I don’t even want to imagine how she felt.  I took one picture and just wanted to get off that mountain!  On the way back down, the trail was so snowy we couldn’t tell where it was, and at one point we fell off the trail and landed in a huge snowbank.  Getting out and back on the trail was quite a challenge. I had fun and I don’t regret doing it, but when I hold a winter photography workshop in Rocky, we won’t be hiking to Dream Lake in the middle of the night!   There are other, equally beautiful locations that are more accessible in winter.  Just sayin’. 


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            2.   GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK & PRESERVE

    These amazing dunes are the tallest in North America!  That’s right:  Taller than White Sands, taller than anything in Death Valley, and taller than any of the dunes at any seashore in North America.  This park is open 24/7, year- round.  Backed by The Sangre de Cristo range in the southern Rockies, the landscape surrounding these dunes is remarkable in it’s own right.  In the springtime, those Colorado fourteeners are capped with snow, which melts into seasonal Medano Creek, creating an awesome nearly tidal-like effect known as “surge flow”.  The melt water surges and then builds up again and then surges again while heading down the hill.  May is the peak time for visitors, where people ride sand boards down the dunes, and play in the creek.  But it’s equally beautiful and more serene in summer, when the entire San Luis Valley blooms with yellow prairie sunflowers,  rabbit brush and sage.  I’ll be offering a summer photography workshop there the first weekend in August.  We’ll also spend some time in Alamosa and some of the surrounding areas.  

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          3.   BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK

    Deep, steep, and narrow, The Black Canyon of The Gunnison holds some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires you’ll find anywhere.  The Gunnison River has been sculpting this rock for two million years.  Sitting in the presence of this work of wonder is mind boggling and you can practically feel the pulse of time as it flows through the canyon.  This is the place to just sit and be.  Many photographers avoid this park, because it’s very difficult to capture beauty in the direction of DOWN.  Fortunately, I’m not that freaked out by ledges as long as there’s railing, which in this case, there is.  In certain light you can definitely see how The Black Canyon got it’s name.  It’s dark and nearly black in the shadows.  But when the sun hits the canyon walls the colors in the rock light up and it’s like looking at a psychedelic painting.  There’s also plenty of minerals and even some semi-precious stones in the mix, like ruby, which sparkle and glow in the right light.

    Black CanyonBlack Canyon

         4.   ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

    This place is seriously like a wonderland.  Home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the most famous arch of them all, Delicate Arch, which is pictured on the Utah license plates.  The red rock pinnacles, spires and fins glow crimson in the light of the setting sun.  Magical dragons of yore appear and disappear in shadow form over the rock canyons and walls.  In the winter months, the days are short, but the light is spectacular.  People flock to this park to take advantage of it’s international dark sky park status.  The number of stars that can be seen here at night will floor you!  I’m offering a weekend workshop in Moab in mid-November.  I suggest you plan to spend another day or two exploring this park, since we won’t be doing any photography in here during that weekend.  Moab has tons of other nearby beauty, but I can’t recommend this park highly enough! 

    Arches Winter Warm 3Arches Winter Warm 3

         5.   CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK

    As long as you’re in Moab anyway, this is a don’t miss natural phenomenon!  This dramatic desert landscape has been rightfully compared to The Grand Canyon in places and has been carved by the same forces of nature for millions of years.  The Green River and The Colorado River converge near the south end of The Island in the Sky district and they’ve been hard at work there for a very long time.  The Island in the Sky district is a huge, flat-topped mesa dotted with extraordinary panoramic overlooks. I think I could stand at the end of Green River Overlook every sunset for the rest of my life and never tire of it.  Once again, although we won’t be spending any time in this park during the Moab workshop, I highly recommend you check it out.  Stay another couple of days and immerse yourself.  You won’t regret it. 

    White Rim Sunset  4White Rim Sunset 4

    So there you have it.  My current Top 5 picks for National Parks.  Over the next year I plan to visit some other parks, specifically, Death Valley National Park in California.  I’ve become a regular desert rat! desert beauty is subtle, mystical and oh- so- cleansing. 

     

     

     

     

     

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    [email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/6/my-five-favorite-national-parks-for-now Sat, 19 Jun 2021 18:51:13 GMT
    April 2021 Trip Reports https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/5/april-2021-trip-reports Sun Sculpture with Birds Nest inside!  Needles District of Canyonlands National ParkSun Sculpture with Birds Nest inside! Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

    SUN SCULPTURE AT NEEDLES DISTRICT OF CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK - WITH BIRD'S NEST INSIDE!

    As I’ve said for years, if you can’t go wider, go deeper.  Between Covid restrictions and other personal family reasons, we haven’t flown anywhere in over a year!  We do try to get out every week though to explore and find some new territory.  During the month of April, we spent a great deal more time exploring Utah.  In looking back through my photos over the last few months, I was surprised at how much ground we’ve covered!  I spent an extraordinary amount of time looking for petroglyphs.  Not because they make for great photographs, but mostly it’s to make a connection with the ancient ones.  The most difficult petroglyph for me to find was Intestine Man, which was hiding in plain sight right on the main road into Canyonlands National Park.  I’m glad I didn’t give up!  We went back and wandered around pretty much aimlessly, or so it seemed, at least three times before I found him. The photo of him which I’ve attached is a cell phone shot, (as are almost all of the photos in this trip report.)  Then, we spent a fair amount of time hiking and driving around Canyonlands National Park.  I discovered a great overlook there that I hadn’t seen before and made some pretty dramatic images at sunset there. 

    Intestine Man petroglyphIntestine Man petroglyph

    INTESTINE MAN

    Another week we took a somewhat longer drive and visited The Needles Section at Canyonlands.  Wow!  A whole new place to explore!  It’s quite off the beaten path and doesn’t get near the traffic of Arches or the Island in the Sky District at Canyonlands.  Just the drive out to the park is something like 40 miles of jaw-dropping beauty.  It’s very hard for a photographer not to stop at every turn! 

    040121_-13040121_-13 ROAD TO NEEDLES DISTRICT OF CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK 

    On the way down to this section of Canyonlands, we stopped at a crazy tourist trap called Hole in the Rock and took a tour of the house that Alfred and Gladys Christensen built by carving it out of the stone.  Yep, they carved a 5,000 square foot home out of the rock and lived there for years.  We took a guided tour of the home, visited the gift shops and looked at all the sculptures and various items that they have to look at outside.  When I posted about our trip to this place on Facebook, I discovered that one of my Facebook friends, Lyle Nichols, who is a local sculptor living near me here in The Grand Valley, has several pieces of his metal art sculptures on display there!  I didn’t know this when we were there, so now I’m looking forward to making another trip out there to check it out again!  This is a short, inexpensive diversion when you’re on a long drive.  If you have kids or grandkids in tow, they’ll love this place.  It even has a zoo!  So worth it.  It’s right on Hwy 191 in SE Utah – right on the way to Canyonlands. 


    Old Truck at Hole in the RockOld Truck at Hole in the Rock

    OLD TRUCK AT HOLE IN THE ROCK 

     

    Old Truck at Hole in the RockOld Truck at Hole in the Rock

    1928 DIAMOND T AT HOLE IN THE ROCK 

    Hole in the RockHole in the Rock

    HOLE IN THE ROCK  - A FUN TOURIST TRAP ON HWY 191 IN UTAH 

    The Crystal Geyser is another kind of cool, kind of funky place we discovered in the desert outside of Green River.  It’s sort of SE of town off some dirt roads.  It’s a geyser that was capped during an ill-fated oil drilling event back in the first half of the 20th Century.  Now I don’t know anything about the oil business, or why someone would want to drill in a place where there is a known spring, but they did.  Anyway, the geyser went off, and it’s still going off today.  It’s not nearly as dependable as say, Old Faithful or anything, but it goes off a couple times a day whenever it feels like it.  In case you think that we’re alone when we’re out wandering around in the desert, let me assure you that more often than not, this is not the case.  We were there on a Thursday afternoon, and there was a big group of motorcyclists also there! 


    Colorful travertine rock at Crystal Geyser, near Green River, UtahColorful travertine rock at Crystal Geyser, near Green River, Utah COLORFUL TRAVERTINE ROCK NEAR THE CRYSTAL GEYSER 

    Another neat place we discovered just north of the City of Green River is Swayze’s Beach.  A real, white sand beach shaded by cottonwood trees alongside The Green River.  I definitely plan to spend an afternoon here doing nothing again soon!  You can camp here for $10 a night if you’re so inclined. 


    Swayze's BeachSwayze's Beach SWAYZE'S BEACH 

    And speaking of Swazye’s, (we were, weren’t we?) these four brothers (unknown relationship to Patrick Swaze) roamed around the Central San Rafael Swell in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, running cattle through the area.  Out in the desert off I-70, and then down several dirt roads, you’ll find Swayze’s Cabin, a small cabin built 100 years ago where the brothers could stay while rounding up their cattle to take to market.  I had a friend ask me how to get there.  Well, it’s hard to explain and my best directions go something like this, “Go until you feel the need to turn….”  There are detailed directions somewhere on the internet. 


    Swayze's CabinSwayze's Cabin SSWAYZE'S CABIN - CENTRAL SAN RAFAEL SWELL, UTAH

    And finally, Tamarisk is a great place to stop for a meal if you’re in the Green River area, heading in either direction on I-70. We stop for lunch almost every time we pass by.  The food is great and the views are wonderful.  It’s located right along the bank of The Green River, in – you got it – Green River, Utah.  I had this plate of fish tacos, which was delicious, but I couldn’t eat it all – they’re not skimpy on the portions!  Since we’ve been vaccinated, it’s really nice to be able to eat in restaurants again without worry.  Utah has mostly done away with their mask mandates, with the exception of Grand County, which has two national parks and lots of tourists.  We usually wear our masks indoors and in restaurants until we’re seated.  View from Tamarisk, a restaurant in Green River, UtahView from Tamarisk, a restaurant in Green River, Utah VIEW OF THE GREEN RIVER FROM TAMARISK

    Fish Tacos at Tamarisk in Green River, UtahFish Tacos at Tamarisk in Green River, Utah

    FISH TACOS AT TAMARISK 

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    [email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2021/5/april-2021-trip-reports Sun, 02 May 2021 19:26:44 GMT
    IN MORE DETAIL https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2020/9/in-more-detail My life has been a long and winding road, leading me through early failed marriages and abusive relationships, through single-motherhood, building a career, educating myself and doing the hard work to create any semblance of a secure life, whether that be spiritually, financially or relationship-wise.  I was born and raised in Southern California and never planned to leave there, until I found myself in dire need of relocation at the end of a long, difficult 10-year marriage.  I found a safe place in Colorado and re-started my life step by step. 

    I got a job and an apartment and after a few years, I returned to school.  Not seriously at first, but during this time in the mid-1990’s, I took every photography class offered at the local community college.  I was still shooting with an old Nikon 35mm film camera I inherited in my first divorce.  I used that camera for about a quarter century, documenting my children’s lives and growth. By the time I finally learned that cameras only have so many clicks in them, and mine had “clicked out” we were firmly in the digital photography age, so I eventually bought a new Nikon DSLR and that’s when I started to get serious about landscape and nature photography. 

    In the meantime, my kids grew up and left home and I began to pursue my formal education at the university level.  I was working at Regis University in the Human Resources Department at that time.  I spent seven years getting my bachelors and master’s degrees.  By this time, I was definitely ready to be a student!  Since I had waited so long to pursue my degrees, I decided to get as much out of it as I possibly could, so it took a little longer to get my bachelor’s degree.  I did a double major in HR Management & Applied Psychology with a minor in Religious Studies. Whew! I loved every minute of it.  I seriously considered getting my masters degree in clinical psychology, but in the end, I decided to stick with the management/HR course of study I was already on.  I got my master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and continued my HR career.  

    I had four jobs over 25 years, about half in private industry and half working for private institutions of higher education.  I did some work teaching Organizational Psychology as an Adjunct Professor. 

    After completing my degrees, I had time to focus my attention on my spiritual growth and development in a more serious manner.  I had been attending Mile Hi Church in Lakewood, Colorado for many years and taking classes there in spiritual development.  I then enrolled in Practitioner training, which is an intensive two-year course in developing a higher spiritual consciousness through the practice of prayer, meditation, life-long learning and spiritual study, and a commitment to be of service to others. After completion of the course, and a couple of other steps, I am now a licensed Religious Science Practitioner (RscP) and planning my next step towards ministerial service by attending The Holmes Institute.  In a few years time, I'll have a second master's degree, this one in Consciousness Studies.    

    After 25 years as a professional Human Resources Administrator and Director, I sold my house, skipped town and moved to Colorado’s Western Slope so I could get out of “the big city” and closer to the national parks in The Colorado Rockies and The Colorado Plateau, which includes Colorado, Utah and Arizona.  Most of these magnificent parks are within a day’s drive or less from my home in Grand Junction. The Colorado National Monument is practically in my backyard; but other outrageously gorgeous places such as The Black Canyon of The Gunnison, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Great Sand Dunes and Mesa Verde National Parks are less than a day away.  Spending time in nature is an important part of my spiritual practice, and my camera is the tool I use to focus my attention; using stillness, mindfulness, and intuition to move from time to timelessness.

    While photography is currently my primary form of artistic expression, I also enjoy writing and music and I’ll be adding more information about these activities as I expand my page. 

    Life continues to be interesting and challenging at times.  You can chart out a plan for yourself and then still be surprised at the little twists and turns that come up that cause things to turn out differently than you might have planned.  This is definitely true in my life.  Soon after moving to Grand Junction, my mom moved in with us.  She’s 88 years old now and has been diagnosed with dementia, which is a progressive disease from which she will not recover.  This has created a whole new learning curve for me and my husband as we move through this time together with her. A long and winding road indeed. 

    Thanks for visiting my page.  I hope you will feel comfortable here and visit again and again as we get to know each other better.

        

     

     

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    [email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2020/9/in-more-detail Wed, 09 Sep 2020 21:19:50 GMT
    ARTIST'S BIOGRAPHY https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2020/9/artists-biography I’ve been a photographer since childhood. I took every photography class offered at Arapahoe Community College back in the 1990’s, just before the conversion to digital. (of course!)  The basics of photography haven’t changed, but the implementation of functions continues to evolve and we must evolve with it!  I have continued my photography education in the digital age by attending workshops, seminars and classes offered by other photographers that I have admired and also through studying books and magazines.  Over the years I have won photography contests, had my work shown in galleries and other venues and been published in places as diverse as Cowboys & Indians Magazine and Science of Mind Magazine. Mostly, photography is a form of mindfulness meditation for me, which provides me the opportunity to move “from time … to timelessness” while in nature. 

    In addition to my photography practice, I have also been a musician for most of life.  I sing and play guitar and piano.  I’ve written some songs, in the Folk/Americana tradition. I’ve played in churches, coffee shops, concert halls and festivals over the years.  I’m inspired by singers and songwriters such as Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell.  I’m staying home for now because of the coronavirus, but when the age of coronavirus is over, I’ll be available to sing and play at your church, coffee house or festival.  I’m about ¾ of the way through the making of a mini 6-song CD and I’ll keep you posted. 

    I’m a writer and a blogger, focusing on the areas of spiritual development, implementing new life skills, and occasionally some travel reports and stories of my photo expeditions around “God’s country” – aka Colorado and Utah. I have a couple of books in the works, and hope to have them finished soon. Life is good! 

    I hold two degrees from Regis University, a Jesuit school located in Denver, Colorado.  A double Bachelor’s degree in HR Management and Applied Psychology and a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership.  In 2017, retired from a 25+ year career in Human Resources to focus my attention on my artistic and spiritual pursuits.   

    I’m so glad you’ve stopped by my page!  You’ll not only see samples of my nature photography, but you can sign up to take a FREE introductory class in cell phone photography and other classes that I offer online for a minimal fee.  If you’re interested in the FREE CLASS or anything else on this page, please feel free to send me a note including your email address so that I can respond or get you set up for the class.    Again, thanks for stopping by! 

     

     

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    [email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2020/9/artists-biography Wed, 09 Sep 2020 21:13:56 GMT
    ARTIST STATEMENT https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2020/9/artist-statement Photography is my key to the secret garden of life, my trip down the rabbit hole, a true magical looking glass with which I perceive the world.

    I have been interested in photography since I was a child, when my parents first gave me their old Kodak Brownie camera. Capturing each moment of life through the camera lens has always struck me as magical and as a way to truly live in the moment. From snapshots and portraits, to fine art landscape photography, this magical process has had its way with me over the years leading me ever deeper into unity with the divine energy of light. Photography fills me with a sense of wonder and joy that can best be compared to the sense of unity one experiences only in prayer and meditation. Through the practice of photography, I am able translate my inner vision to the external world.

    All things are light.  I am light. I shoot from the inside out, following my inner consciousness as it guides me to reveal the essence of the light around me. At the same time, I work deliberately in post-processing, employing my learned skills and modern technology to create the final image.

    I am a spiritual guide with a “beginners mind” and a Religious Science Practitioner, licensed through The Centers for Spiritual Living, a New Thought Church.  I continue to be awed by the mystery of creation.

     

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    [email protected] (Debra Powell Photography LLC) https://www.debrapowellphotography.com/blog/2020/9/artist-statement Wed, 09 Sep 2020 21:10:09 GMT