La Verkin Creek, Zion National Park

Zion stream and pool with small waterfall and tree
La Verkin Pool, Waterfall and Trees underneath towering cliffs.
The quest for my favorite thing in the world continues in this entry:  finding desert waterfalls.  From the high elevation of Zion National Park Kolob Section, I started hiking down the trail.  This trail goes down for 4 miles without stopping.  It makes it fairly easy to get down to the valley but the grueling hike back up is another story.

I was able to enjoy hiking and swimming in the beautiful La Verkin Creek.  As I enjoyed this, I kept looking for good photo opportunities within the light would allow.  I took several pictures which you can see on my website of this great location.  My favorite pictures were taken just at sunset.  As the light was fading in the sky, some beautiful clouds and soft light on the rocks made for a beautiful scene.  I took several photographs and felt like magic was captured.  

Utah desert waterfall and pool
Gregory Peak and La Verkin Pool
Unfortunately I was not going to camp overnight in a was forced to hike back out in the dark.  Armed with a headlamp, I made it but I would not recommend it as a fun experience.

Gordon's hike rating:
Hike Difficulty:                   ★★★ Moderate
Trail Condition:                   ★★★★ Great
Trail Hazards:                      ★★ Mild:  Hip-deep water, steep slopes, bushes, boulders
Trailhead:                              Lee Pass
Time Required:                     All day hike
Distance round trip:              8 miles
Off the Beaten Path:             ★★★★ Yes, 4 Stars
Scenery:                                ★★★ Great, 3 Stars
Photographic Potential:        ★★★ Great, 3 Stars

Like a Rothko Painting

Colors like Rothko
If you find yourself bored someday and want to create a little colorful magic, try this.  Get a macro lens, grape juice, gatorade and diet orange drink.  The important thing is that the drinks be different colors and different sugar content.  The one with the highest sugar content, the heavies liquid, goes in first and then the next heaviest and finally the lightest.  The liquids separate in a nice colorful gradient.  Using a macro lens right up close to the glass surface, I shot this simply for the fun colors.  

Mosida Pioneer Trek Photography: Shooting the 3-day Event

Family portrait handcart trek pioneer
One of 20 Handcart Families
Event photography includes weddings, parties, family reunions, school activities and much more.  This year I was asked to be an event photographer on a pioneer trek.  Youth groups from the LDS church sometimes will have an opportunity to join a commemorative trek, giving them a sample of what their pioneer forefathers experienced.  This particular trek took place in Mosida, Utah, and isolated but very beautiful place.  Temperatures were around 90 degrees, not a drop of humidity but occasional clouds gave us some shelter from the unrelenting sun.  The experience itself was wonderful.  I would like to share a little bit about what is involved as a photographer if you’re ever asked to do something like this.

Walking was involved.  Because I was trying to capture a little bit of everybody, I did more walking than the average person.  I would walk with and photograph part of the group and then moved to a different part.  Sometimes I would run ahead to get some pictures of the group as they were climbing a hill or going along a particular section of the path.

The 200 individuals involved in this were divided into 20 different family groups.  Just getting 10 members of each family together for a picture was a challenge.  Multiply that by 20 different families and you can see how getting the family pictures took me about 2 hours.  I would do that every morning after they would eat breakfast.

With 200 individuals, I hoped to have about 5 good photographs of each individual.  Some of these would be in group shots and others would be individual shots.  I estimated I would need to take about 1000 pictures each day to have some quality pictures for each individual to have after the trek was finished.  (I must say here that the kids were not allowed to bring electronic cameras or phones along, so they would not have any photos without my work.)

I brought a variety of lenses but the ones I used the most were my 16-35mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/4, 85mm f/1.2, and 24-105mm f/4.  I did not use my tripod.  People were moving too quickly for anything to be set up.  I did bring my flash and used a fill-in flash on my family portraits.  I did not use the flash at any other time however.

More intimidating and time-consuming than the track itself, processing 3000 photos afterwards and creating a yearbook took me 4 days of non-stop work.  Of the 3000+ photos, I threw out 2000, leaving me with 1000 good photos.  For the yearbook we created, I used Entourage Yearbooks Company.  Their online yearbook creation site does work well although it is very slow.  It took me about 30 minutes to create each page and I am not a slow worker.  I must say they were very nice to work with and got my printed books to me ahead of schedule.  And the books look amazing too!

Please see the sample of my pictures below but if you’re interested in seeing the entirety of the work, visit my website gallery for the trek:  Mosida Trek Gallery.  
Handcart trek sign in Utah
Mosida Trek Site is in Central Utah
Pioneer handcart trek in Mosida Utah
Walking 4-7 miles daily
Pioneer line dancing Mosida Trek
Dusty Dancing the first night
Pioneer youth Mosida Utah trek
Pulling the Handcart
pioneer young women on handcart trek
Pioneer Trek Fun
Women's pull mosida handcart trek
Women's Pull
two pioneer men carrying woman across river
Echo River crossing
Pioneer youth pulling handcart across river
Pulling Handcart across the Echo River crossing

Wind and Photography: Catch It or Be Blown Away?

ISO 400, f/11, Shutter speed 1/50 second
ISO 50, f/16, Shutter speed 1/4 second
Among the many things out of my control, the wind probably is mentioned the least.  We tend to talk about the light more than anything else.  Clouds certainly enhance a photograph and I love the beautiful partly cloudy sky.  Wind can only be seen in the effects it has on movable objects.  In a sandstorm, it can create dramatic effect on the sand dunes.  Usually wind is a foe to good photography because it makes for blurry moving objects.

Wind is almost always present on the Montana prairie.  As I made my annual trip to photograph my favorite cabin, the wind was blowing moderately.  I decided to try a couple of different photographs to capture the wind.  I wasn't sure if I would like them more or less than the perfectly still shots.  To be truthful, I wasn't sure of my still shots would work at all because of the wind.

On the left I chose a very slow shutter speed, smaller aperture and a low ISO film speed.  This allowed for plenty of movement.  On the right side shows a faster ISO film speed, a much quicker shutter speed but still a fairly small aperture so that I would have everything in focus.  The picture on the left is an exposure of 12.5 times a much time as the right.  I was hoping to get a lot of motion without making everything so blurry as to become indistinct.  (That kind of blurriness is achieved by using a neutral density filter.)

Hopefully you can see some things you like in each photograph.  One tells the story of the wind on the prairie.  The other is a story of the prairie without the wind.