August 31, 2012

Autumn and Fall Colors

Side lit trees contrast against a dark background in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Fall is just around the corner. The mornings are cooling down and the leaves have already started to turn in the mountains. I am really excited for fall this year. I've got ideas galore and I can't wait to get out and make some unique imagery. I've got plans ranging from Ogden Valley, Utah to Banff National Park, Canada. I'm especially excited for Canada. I've never been, and many of those I look up to photographically have thrived in places like Banff and Jasper National Park: Darwin Wiggett, Chip Phillips, Marc Adamus, and all contributors to Photo Cascadia to name a few. Hopefully I'll make it back in time for the peak fall foliage here in Salt Lake. If you're looking to up your photography game there is a fall workshop in Northern Utah at the end of September hosted by Adam Barker. I would highly recommend it. The most exciting of all is that fall is another excuse to get out and enjoy nature. So take a drive, climb a mountain and enjoy the fall scenery this Autumn!

Here are some old photos to get your fall senses tingling. 

Light filtered through the smoke of campfires illuminating the fall leaves in Millcreek Canyon
Abstract of fall leaves in a snowstorm 
A small stream leads the way through the fall foliage near Mountain Dell golf course
Yellow leaves contrast the blue and pink sky near Guardsman Pass in Big Cottonwood Canyon
A lone yellow tree sits in a field of brown grass near Mountain Dell

August 14, 2012

Bonneville Speed Week 2012

The Yankee Engineuity Express starts down the flats reaching 153 MPH.

Another day full of engines, salt, and speed! Bonneville Speed Week is like nothing else. Men and women spend the year building and perfecting their vehicles in hopes to squash land speed records on the fastest course in the world. Racers of all types lined up despite the wetter-than-usual salt this year. A storm had hit the night before, closing two of the three courses, but had not managed to dampen any spirits. Spectators, racers and photographers were as giddy as school children; something about loud and fast cars that gets people excited.
Those invested in the 'projectiles' wait anxiously while docked at the starting line, waiting for their signal. Large trucks peel out as they push the aerodynamic cars down the course until they can reach third gear pace. The crowd waits for the punch as the driver finally picks up his own speed and quickly disappears into the mirage near the edge of the horizon.
Many come to show off what they've been working on during the past year, revving engines and lifting hoods ready to share their life story to any passerby curious enough to strike up a conversation. Those who have been coming back since the beginning, however, are there for only one reason; to get some speed! 

This car waited hours at the starting line, only to pull off at mile 2 after reaching 161 MPH.

The salt flats are aptly named, as there is no shade to speak of. You have to make your own if you want to be out of the sun.

Some of the competitors have used their life savings to build the kind of car required to reach speeds of up to 400 MPH. 

Speed Week is a perfect time to show off your pride and joy, even if it never races for timed speed.

Photographically speaking, I kept my Singh-Ray warming filter on my 17-40mm and my Vari-N-Duo (warming filter and neutral density filter combo) on my 70-200mm. This allowed me to get shots that weren't completely blown out by the bright scene and play around with a slower shutter speed (see first photo). As all races are held during the day, the bright harsh light is always a factor when shooting Speed Week. It just becomes part of the scene. I would definitely suggest a warming polarizer of some sort. It make just that extra bit of difference in such harsh lighting.

People from all over the world come to see speed records fall at the salt flats.

August 03, 2012

Location: Mount Timpanogos

The meadow full of wildflowers below the summit of Mount Timpanogos

We finally made it to the meadow, sweaty and exhausted. The hope of wildflowers was met with patches of blue and red below the summit of Timpanogos. We found a spot to pitch out tents and quickly crashed after setting up our beds. My sleep was interrupted throughout the night, by hikers getting an early start (as early as 2 am) and coyotes howling under the moon. My lack of sleep and excitement for the photo ops in the early morning light got me up before dawn. The views were right outside my tent door, so I didn't have to go very far to get what I wanted. I opened my tent and started setting up my gear when three deer casually walked just eight feet in front of me. The first one heard me and froze. I tried taking a shot, but hadn't realized the lens cap was still on. Oh well. They probably would have only been a blur, anyway, with the predawn light. They left as quickly as they came and the sun was starting to rise. I grabbed my gear and started scouting sunrise shots with overwhelming opportunity. 

Lupine wildflower in the basin of Mount Timpanogos

Lupine in the foreground of the summit

Camping under the moon and the stars at Mount Timpanogos Wilderness Area

The next morning we decided to relocate our camp and head towards Emerald Lake to filter some water. It was hard to put a heavy pack back on and climb further up the mountain, but it was worth it. The area surrounding Emerald Lake offers 360 degrees of beauty. Mountain goat were abundant and wildflowers were scattered throughout the area. We headed to the summit in the afternoon and made it back to enjoy some pasta salad with some friendly fellow backpackers. I soaked a sore knee in the icy glacier water and caught some sunset light on our camp. We packed up the next morning feeling rested and successful and started the long hike back down the mountain. 

Mount Timpanogos shelter near Emerald Lake

(Clockwise starting from the top left photo) Hiking to the top, camping under mountains, mountain goat family, Emerald Lake, Lupine and Indian Paintbrush wildflowers, Mount Timpanogos Wilderness

Hiking to the top of Timp

Emerald Lake and the Timpanogos shelter

Moose on the hike up Mount Timp

Timpanogos shelter and our camp near Emerald Lake

Lupine and Indian Paintbrush in the meadow of Mount Timp

View from the summit

Lupine and the Timp shelter

Timpanogos Wilderness