As an aspiring landscape photographer, I have the opportunity to explore less traveled parks and remote wilderness areas. This blog shares of my "notes from the field," including photography techniques, hiking tips and lessons learned the hard way ... like the time I fell through the ice in the Merced River, Yosemite National Park. I welcome your comments and thank you for visiting our site. Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer, Field Photographer
“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ― George Eliot (pen name for Mary Ann Marian Evans)
In relocating from the mid-west to Arizona, I lamented that our family would sorely miss the change of seasons. Some 22 years later, it’s good to realize how entirely mistaken I was in my limited thinking. In my mind’s eye, the Southwest landscape was one of unchanging arid deserts and relentless heat. Sunny, hot and dry - all year long.
Aspen Grove, Capture My Arizona Photo of the Day
Little did we know of Arizona’s glorious mountain ranges, rich foliage and dramatic weather in the higher elevations. Just a few hours from the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix), we find ourselves in scenic locations like the iconic Grand Canyon National Park, Monument Valley, the Mogollon Rim and the White Mountains.
Abineau Canyon and San Francisco Peaks, Capture My Arizona Photo of the Day
This Fall, my son David and I found the most dramatic change of season and autumn colors in Flagstaff, Arizona (elevation, 6,910 feet). Fall was really “in the air” on that mid-October day, given an earlier snow, gusting winds and vivid autumn colors.
The first part of our day involved some adventure, but not much in the way of photography. After a bouncy drive on a craggy rock strewn forest road (F 418), we enjoyed a rigorous hike on Bear Jaw Trail, about mid-way up San Francisco Peaks (elevation, 12,623 feet). Due to the earlier freeze, the Aspen branches were entirely barren. Their fallen leaves created a lush, golden carpet at our feet.
Autumn Reflections with Moonrise
Driving out of this area – not far from the trailhead, we came across a spectacular view of rugged Abineau Canyon. In the aftermath of an avalanche back in 2005, the canyon was laden with enormous boulders and topped trees. Resting majestically in the background, impervious to the wind, were the snow capped San Francisco Peaks and our first glimpse of golden Aspen groves along the mountainside.
Time really does fly, when you’re in an area of such natural beauty, especially with a digital camera in hand. We spent the rest of the day driving and quickly hiking along the Hart Prairie Road area.
Autumn Glow, Flagstaff, Arizona
We were so pleased to come across thick Aspen groves, a quiet reflecting pond and vistas of new plant life in the aftermath of the Mount Eldon fire.
So, Northern Arizona once again graces us with a true change of seasons, from delicate wildflowers to pristine snow and golden leaves in the wind. Such a memorable day, witnessing the glorious cycle of life and the regenerative powers of nature.
Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer
Arizona Autumn Collage: Leave Afloat
Related posts: West Fork Trail, Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, Arizona: Part 2 – Autumn, Autumn Colors: Hart Prairie Road: Flagstaff, Arizona, Mountains in the Wake of the Gladiator Fire and Autumn Brook, Cotton Wood, Arizona.
Crisp Autumn Day
“Fall colors are funny. They’re so bright and intense and beautiful. It’s like nature is trying to fill you up with color, to saturate you so you can stockpile it before winter turns everything muted and dreary.”
― Siobhan Vivian, Same Difference
Autumn Brook, NIKON D800E,f/18 @ 17 mm, 0.5s, ISO 160
My sincere thanks to my fellow photographers and the editors at Capture My Arizona, for the Challenge Editors' Choice Award in the Northern Arizona's Autumn contest. It's truly an honor to have my images shown and recognized on this photo exchange website, along with the work of so many talented photographers.
Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer
”Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better. ” - Albert Einstein
”Our first trip to North Coyote Buttes was full of uncertainty and the unexpected, mainly due to threatening weather conditions. We set out on this trip with a preconceived image of the main geological attraction, the “Wave,” awash in vivid color against bright blue skies. Instead, we encountered ominous skies with gray cloud cover and relentless chilling wind.
NIKON D70,f/22 @ 18 mm, 1/15
Under these conditions, the landscape was dark, colorless and rather foreboding.
Our party of photographers almost cut the trek short a couple of times, faced with periodic spitting rain and concerns about an impending storm. Instead, at Tom Gendron’s suggestion, we found a bit of shelter along the mountainside near “Wave Two,” where we enjoyed some hot tea and trail mix. This break gave us a second wind (no pun intended) and energy for a bit more exploration.
Late in the afternoon, we were pleasantly surprised to notice a bit of soft light glowing through the clouds in the otherwise gray threatening sky. Under this extra bit of illumination, the Jurassic Navajo Sandstone buttes came to life with rich color and texture. Hiking up to a plateau just beyond on the Wave, we were delighted to find a quiet reflecting water pools under the backdrop of the distant muted horizon.
Staying a bit longer in North Coyote Buttes, we were rewarded with some wonderful hiking and photography opportunities. We’re all a bit wiser for this trip better understanding the value of patience and openness to the unanticipated.
D70,f/22 @ 18 mm, 1/13
Although North Coyote Buttes is most well-known for the Wave, it is also home to a number of other fascinating geological features, including “brain rock” and dome like rock formations known as “teepees,” riparian vegetation and wildlife.
NIKON D70,f/25 @ 27 mm, 0.3s
At an elevation of 5,000 to 5,400 feet, the Paria Plateau is a natural habitat for rare and some endangered species including Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, California Condors and the Peregrine Falcon."
Related postings: White Pockets in Paria Canyon –Vermilion Cliffs, Glen Canyon Recreation Area - Ahlstrom Point at Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon (slot canyons), Arizona – Utah Border and Arizona and Utah landscape photography and Grand Staircase Escalante Photography.
NIKON D200,f/5.6 @ 34 mm, 1/125, ISO 100
Sad Final Note: In recent months, three people have lost their lives hiking near the Wave. While the deaths are being investigated, it appears that the hikers likely suffered from excessive heat exposure and dehydration. This book excerpt and photos from the Wave are posted in memory of the fallen hikers, with deepest sympathies to their families and friends.
Excerpted from Windswept Landscape: Images from the Arizona – Utah Border, Tom Gendron, Marcus W Reinkensmeyer and Steve Stilwell.
Marcus W Reinkensmeyer
NIKON D200,f/14 @ 24 mm, 1/125, ISO 200
“I am sure the next step will be the electronic image, and I hope I shall live to see it. I trust that the creative eye will continue to function, whatever technological innovations may develop.” - Ansel Adams - 1983
“If you’re photographing in color you show the color of their clothes – if you use black and white, you will show the color of their soul.” - Anonymous
After resisting for several years, I finally made the leap to black and white photography in the digital realm. Now that I’ve made the transition, I’m a bit overwhelmed with this whole new world and the endless possibilities at hand. What’s more, it turns out that I can readily convert many of my earlier digital images to black and white. Generally an “early adapter,” why did I wait so long to make this move?
Mesquite Flat Dunes, Death Valley, NIKON D300,f/20 @ 24 mm, 1/25, ISO 200
Having worked with medium format negatives in a traditional darkroom, I was generally doubtful about the prospect of capturing and processing quality black and white digital images. Candidly, I was held back by “purist” concerns over image resolution, size and a strong connection to film. After all, I figured, film is integral to serious black and white photography, especially so for fine art photography. In my conventional thinking, great emphasis was placed on film choices, paper selection, darkroom techniques and the physical nature of the printing process as whole.
Mesquite Flat Dunes, Death Valley, NIKON D300,f/22 @ 200 mm, 1/15, ISO 200
Beyond technical considerations like image resolution and tonal range, it was especially hard to comprehend how color digital photos could be instantly converted to credible black and white images. The idea that a digital photographer could have both options after a shoot somehow seemed so easy – just too good to be true.
My “conversion” came about mostly through a nagging sense of curiosity, my recent upgrade to a full frame DSLR and a fortuitous look at Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. This remarkable Photoshop plug-in came bundled with some other Nik digital color filters and sharpening software, both which I use regularly in color post processing.
Laguna Beach, California, NIKON D300,f/22 @ 200 mm, 1/15, ISO 200
Silver Efex Pro has several presets for black and white conversion, grouped in general categories: classic, vintage, modern and favorites. Once the preset is selected, the software allows for subtle adjustments in structure, brightness and contrast. Tonality protection is also provided via slider controls for shadows and highlights. Standard black and white filters (e.g., red, orange, green, etc.) and “film type” options are readily selected and compared using an easy preview mode.
Point Reyes Shipwreck, Tomales Bay, California, NIKON D800E,f/20 @ 78 mm, 0.6s, ISO 200
The current issue of Outdoor Photographer (August 2013) discusses other B&W conversion software packages, HDR for B&W, digital B&W master "darkrooms" and traditional B&W glass filters.
To date, my most successful digital black and white images have been created from high resolution photo files, mainly of patterns in nature. Images of the Death Valley sand dunes and other geological formations seem to present particularly well in the black and white format.
Aspen Trees, Hart Prairie Road, Flagstaff, Arizona, NIKON D800E,f/7.1 @ 70 mm, 1/320, ISO 400
Given this broader perspective, I feel a bit (no pun intended) re-energized - eager to capture my next color photos with an eye to the revered gray scale. And all of this with no red glass filter in my camera bag. We’ll just darken those dramatic blue skies on the computer, back at home … of course.
In peaceful surrender,
Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer
Landscape photography techniques, photo expedition travel planning and hiking tips.