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 

Landscape Photography from Peaceful San Rafael Valley, Arizona

July 19, 2015  •  5 Comments

"Land, then, is not merely soil: it is a foundation of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals."  - Alan Leopold, Co-founder, The Wilderness Society


< Nikon D810, 1/125 at f/16

Based in Phoenix, we generally head north for landscape photography excursions in Sedona, Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon.  At the suggestion of my adventurous son-in-law, Todd Severson, we recently switched things up with a trip to San Rafael Valley.  Situated in Southern Arizona in Eastern Santa Cruz County, this vast valley represents yet another facet of our state’s diverse land and lifestyles.


< Capture My Arizona Photo of the Day, Nikon D810, 1/10 at f/20

Touched by gentle winter winds, tall golden grasses are in constant motion.  The valley is flanked by expansive mountain ranges, with the State Natural Area resting on the Arizona-Mexico border:  Patagonia Mountains to the north, Canelo Hills to the northeast and Huachuca Mountains to the East. A few large cattle ranches rest quietly in the valley, accessed by well-maintained dirt roads. The valley is also home to countless John Wayne movies and other western films. 


< Nikon D810, 0.6s at f/16

As always,  our best photo opportunities were found in the early morning and late afternoon "golden hour" light.  The Patagonia Mountains are simply majestic in pink pastel pre-dawn light, revealing seemingly infinite layers aglow.  Under mid-morning’s full sunlight, we captured a few images of single trees along the shallow waters of the winding Santa Cruz River. Our first evening was a photographer’s dream: richly textured foreground grasses backed by the cross-lit Huachuca Mountains.


< Nikon D810, 1/15 at f/16

My favorite image of the trip is a lone tree reflection on a small pond, captured in the waning light of sundown.  Honestly, we were packed and driving out of the valley for late dinner when we drove past this wonderful, placid scene.  Our rushed tripod set-up was comical,  particularly given the tranquility of the scene. From an outsider's view, our shooting was like a choppy old time movie displayed on fast forward .... 


< Nikon D810, 1/125 at f/16

Locals at the Stage Stop Inn in Patagonia advised that the San Rafael Valley is even more scenic during summer monsoon season, when rains bring stormy skies and brilliant wild flowers to green fields.   So, we’re planning a return trip to Southern Arizona, hoping to learn more about this natural oasis so far from the city.  

Related posts:  Northern Arizona Sunflowers on a Windy Hillside; Whirlwind Photography Trek: Arizona and Utah; Snow Laced Sedona; and Grand Canyon  Afterglow

Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer

Impending Coastal Storm: California Landscape Photography

June 20, 2015  •  12 Comments

"To me the sea is a continual miracle; The fishes that swim-the-rocks-the motion of waves-the-ships, with men in them, What stranger miracles are there?" - Walt Whitman 


This past Memorial Day weekend, we made a quick family trip to LaJolla, California.  While the days were filled with family activities, I was able to break away for some early morning – pre-dawn – photography on the rugged ocean shoreline.  

< Nikon D810 2s at f/20 ISO 31

The first morning was chilly, with a palpable mist in the air. On the second morning, I encountered strong winds and intermittent spitting rains. My biggest challenge was keeping the camera and lenses dry, mainly by covering my camera with a protective plastic rain sleeve and using deep lens hoods.  Even then, on the second morning, I found myself wiping down my lenses and filters every few minutes.  Some of my shots were ruined by water spots and condensation on the lens. 

< Nikon D810 5s at f/18 ISO 31

While these aren't the most comfortable conditions for sight seeing,  low light and gray skies make for some terrific photo opportunities.  On both days, overcast skies created a strong sense of doom and impending storms.  Being a resident of Phoenix, Arizona, it felt good to once again experience some weather and to photograph the dramatic ocean shoreline under unpredictable conditions. 

< Nikon D810 1.3s at f/20 ISO 31

Under the low morning light, I was able to shoot fairly long time exposures of the surf moving across shoreline boulders until mid-morning.  For those planning to visit the area, the rock outcroppings at Shell Cove make for excellent foreground and a natural breaking point for the waves.  Just South of Shell Cove, the fascinating color palette displayed in tidal pools is particularly vibrant under flat, cloud-diffused lighting. 


With such stormy weather, only a few other people were out walking on the otherwise busy beach areas.  For the most part, in composing my images, I was able to work around these folks and manmade objects. The one exception was a small, vacant lookout shelter, included in a few images for a sense of scale and a feeling of solitude. 

< Nikon D810 0.4s at f/18 ISO 31

Back at home, I spent quite a bit of time adjusting the color balance and other settings in Photoshop. In the end,  I found that  black and white versions of the scenes best captured the stormy mood and essence of the seashore environment. The conversion from color to monochrome was made with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2  (a Photoshop  plug-in),  using the  000-Neutral filter from the pre-set library and an orange digital filter. 

< Nikon D810 2s at f/20 ISO 31

Ah, the wonders of digital photography. Vividly, I recall carrying a pouch of colored filters and BW sheet film when shooting a 4 x 5 inch format camera way back when.

Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer

Related posts: Natural Coastline Shift: Big Beach, Maui, Hawaii; Lighthouses and Piers: Ten Tips for Coastal Photography; Black and White Digital Photography:  A Peaceful Surrender.

People's Choice Apparel Features Reinkensmeyer Photos

June 13, 2015  •  4 Comments

  Dear Family and Friends: We’re pleased to present some new shirt designs from People’s Choice Apparel (PCA), using some of my more recent photographs. The full collection of my photo shirts can be found at PCA

As a part-time landscape photographer, I‘ve never had the time or the expertise needed to actively market my images outside of traditional publication channels such as magazines, calendars and prints.  The folks at People’s Choice Apparel have opened up a whole new world of possibilities, now displaying my photos on phone cases as well as various styles of shirts.


Located in Los Angeles, this family owned business produces tasteful, high quality customized merchandise at reasonable prices.  It’s  great working with talented PCA team, given their strong sense of design and deep commitment to customer service.


A bit more information about some of the new shirt images, featured in the above banner: 


- Autumn Aspen Reflections is a time exposure image taken at a small pond just off Hart Prairie Road near Flagstaff, Arizona. It was such a windy day that I opted to shoot a series of sweeping abstract images, rather than fighting to “freeze” the branches and leaves.

- The image Snow Laced Cathedral Rock was taken this past New Year’s Day, when the iconic Sedona red rock was blanketed in snow and ice.

- Jardin de Monet presents a single deep red flower dripping with morning dew, from our painter Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny, near Paris France. The gardens and ponds were the source of inspiration for Monet’s vast collection of iconic Water Lilies paintings.


My sincere thanks to People’s Choice Apparel for the opportunity to present my photography and to all of you for your continuing support. 


Related posts: Snow Laced Sedona, Autumn Aspen Reflections: Northern Arizona Photography, Northern Arizona Sunflowers: Photography on a Windy Hillside, Autumn Colors, Arizona Fall Colors, West Fork Trail and France Landscape, Architecture and Travel Photos.  


Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer

Snow Laced Sedona: Winter Landscape Photography

March 14, 2015  •  2 Comments


“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?”  - J.B. Priestley


Capture My Arizona Photo of the Day

Nikon D810 1/30 at f/20 ISO 4000


This past New Year’s Eve, much of arid Arizona was touched by a major winter storm.  While the storm brought rainfall to the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix metro area), higher elevations were blanketed with heavy snowfall. We headed up to Flagstaff on New Year's Day morning for our annual winter get away, "stopping" along the way in Sedona to quickly explore photo opportunities.  I did not hold high expectations for Sedona winter scenic images, as the snow always seems to quickly melt given the moderate elevation (3,800 feet) of this area. 

Nikon D810 1/1250 at f/25 ISO 100

How mistaken I was, as we made our way into the snow laced red rock formations of Sedona. With heavy cloud cover and dense fog, temperatures were just below freezing and the snow was only beginning to melt. Constantly shifting clouds filtered the fleeting sunlight, adding yet a bit more drama to this winter wonderland.

NIkon D810 1/60 at f/20 ISO 100

So, our quick stop became a day of short hikes at the Bell Rock loop trail and Oak Creek (Crescent Moon Ranch Park), along with some roadside vista shots.  

Our biggest challenges: Dealing with traffic congestion and finding a less traveled locations for serious landscape photography.  This being a holiday, the park areas were full of hikers and we came across several photographers, including two parties from our Capture My Arizona group.  With all of this activity, several otherwise lovely scenes were overwrought with footprints and sled marks in the snow.

Nikon D810 1/60 at f/16 ISO 100

With bit of exploration and some dumb luck, we managed to work around the footprints and crowds to find some unblemished winter scenes.  Leaving Sedona early that evening, I was overwhelmed with a sense of wonder and gratitude.  The iconic red rock formations are picturesque on a bad day and all the more enchanting in dramatic light.  With the winter storm, we were blessed with transient magical light and a truly enchanting frozen landscape.

A special thanks to my lovely and very patient wife, Anita, who had really wanted to arrive in Flagstaff well before dark. Several times, she reminded me of the icy mountain roads in the high mountain elevation of Flagstaff, 7,200 feet. What a great companion on a very different kind of New Year's Day, one not to be forgotten.

Capture My Arizona Photo of the Day 

Nikon D810 1/30 at f/20


Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer


Related posts: Frozen Meadow Aglow, Snow Laced Grand Canyon, Deep Freeze Landscape Photography, Whirlwind Photography  and Black and White Digital Photography.   


Nikon D810 1/1250 at f/25 

Conversion to Black and White, using Nik Silver Efex Pro, a Photoshop plug-in

Frozen Meadow Aglow: Winter Landscape Photography

February 22, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

When snow falls, nature listens.”

     - Antoinette van Kleeff


Capture My Arizona Photo of the Day, 

Nikon D810 1/25 at f/16


Hiking into the snow covered meadow well before sunrise, I was struck by an overwhelming silence and sense of calm.  Although it was about 9 degrees F, the air did not seem unbearably cold given an absence of discernible wind.  As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, subtle shadows gave definition to a ridge line and the snow covered hiking trail.  In the aftermath of a major snow storm, the evergreen trees and fallen branches were laced in fresh snow.


My first decision was to stay off the trail and to instead walk on the edge of the meadow, leaving no footsteps in the pristine snow. Venturing further into the meadow, I shot a few low light images to double check camera settings.   


My early arrival was awarded with a brief, but remarkably intense winter sunrise in the cloudy sky.  What a stark contrast: A warm colored sky over a frozen winter scene illuminated by indirect, flat light. The resulting image is one my my favorites of Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff, Arizona (elevation, 7,000 feet). So much so that I also converted the color image to a black and white version using Nik Silver Efex Pro, a digital plug-in filter for Photoshop.  

Nikon D810 1/125 sec at f/16


As the morning sunlight emerged over the Alpine tree line, the serene meadow underwent an instant transformation. The warm sun beams seemed so intense, creating vivid gold tones and long shadows on the satin white snow.  At this point, my shooting was a bit frenetic, knowing that this classic "Golden Hour" would last only a few minutes at best.

VIDEO: Frozen Meadow Aglow


These kinds of moments are a photographer's dream come true, but always seem far too brief.  Such situations leave me pondering, "How could I have been better prepared for the moment, what other scenes did I miss and - with all of our advanced technology - why can't we just stop time?"  On the positive side, I learn a lot from such rushed photo shoots by later examining my camera settings and compositions. Without about a doubt, I am my own worst critic.


Photography buffs may be interested to know that this was my first time carrying two camera bodies.  Given the extreme cold and the risk of condensation, I thought it best not to change lenses in the field. I outfitted the camera bodies with different length zoom lenses (medium and telephoto lengths), remote controls and tripod mounting brackets to make transitions as easy as possible. The extra weight in my backpack was well worthwhile, considering the added degree of flexibility and ease of operation in the bitter cold.  


Although I remained in the meadow until mid-morning, the best photo opportunities unquestionably occurred during sunrise and the brief "Golden" moments after first light.  What an invigorating way to start the day ...


Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer

Related posts: Yosemite Winter Landscapes, Snow Laced Grand Canyon, Deep Freeze Landscape Photography, Black and White Digital Photography: Peaceful Surrender and Whirlwind Photography Trek.  


Notes from the Field

Landscape photography techniques, photo expedition travel planning and hiking tips.