Lower South Desert Outlook (Utah)

Last week, I returned from an exciting photography trip that was dedicated to exploring Utah’s backcountry.

I spent 10 days driving dirt roads deep inside the deserts and mountains of Utah. I drove along some iconic dirt roads like Bull Trail, Hole in the Rock, and Cottonwood Road, all of which have deep roots in Utah’s rich history.

To accomplish such a trip, I needed two things: a high clearance car and dry weather. Most of the dirt roads in Utah are composed of clay and are unpassable when they are wet regardless of what car you are driving.

I originally intended to take this trip last spring, but I had to change all my off-road plans on the fly because of the rainy weather that occurred in the third week of May.

This time, everything went according to plan. I secured a Jeep Wrangler for 10 days and the weather was perfect, hot, and dry.

Utah. Capitol Reef National Park
Loc: 38.402230, -111.208023

I took the featured photo during the spectacular but very rough and bumpy 100km Cathedral Valley Drive in Capitol Reef National Park.

I was on my way to the Cathedral Valley Campground, which is a unique place on its own. It is located at an altitude of 2,400m and offers an unobstructed and open view of Cathedral Valley. The campground has only five spots and works on a first come first serve basis. I wanted to secure a spot for the night as early as possible.

This is when I stumbled on the Lower South Desert Overlook. I did not know about its existence and had not seen any photos of it as I planned the trip. When I witnessed the view from the overlook, I was completely overwhelmed by the enormity and beauty of the scene. I remember I had a similar feeling when I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time.

Unfortunately, the photo does not convey the scale of the scene or its vastness.

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Chimney Rock in Kodachrome (Utah)

The Kodachrome is a relatively small state park. You could probably cover all its trails and visit it from corner to corner in two to three days. But, despite being small, it presents a variety of potentially interesting landscapes.

It has canyons, mountains, cliffs, and beautiful plains with pipe rocks randomly scattered across. Plus, it presents a stunning and unique view of Bryce Canyon.

One of the unique features of the Kodachrome is Chimney Rock, which is located on private land and is accessible to park visitors.

I took the featured photo of Chimney Rock from the south facing the north. Behind the beautiful mountain ridge in the background and only a few kilometers away is the doorway to the Escalante area of Utah and the Scenic Byway 12, which is considered to be one of the most scenic roads in the US. It also takes more than 30km to drive around.

Utah. Kodachrome State Park
Loc: 37.521560, -111.992315

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Monument Valley Layered View (Arizona)

Monument Valley is one of the most spectacular locations I have visited in my entire life. It is both breathtaking and overwhelming all at once. I do not think you can properly convey the scale and beauty of the valley through photography. You simply must visit it yourself.

At the same time, the visit to Monument Valley has its own challenges. It is located on the Navajo Indian reservation and, as a result, has tribal restrictions. You can only drive along a 13-mile dirt road loop during the day; you are not allowed to hike or explore the park on your own.

This creates some limitations in regard to photography. For example, the sunset or sunrise photography is limited in the summer months because the park is only open between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

I planned on taking a paid, guided sunrise photography tour, but I could not make it work with my schedule.

I took the featured photo during my drive along the 13-mile loop. I drove slowly and tried to spot any opportunities for an interesting composition so that I could stop and take a few shots along the way.

Arizona. Monument Valley
Loc: 36.944012, -110.062333

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San Francisco Panorama from Twin Peaks

The view from Twin Peaks hill is one of my favorites in San Francisco. From the top, you can observe part of the city from Golden Gate Bridge to Bay Bridge with downtown in the middle and San Francisco Bay in the background.

Because of the ever-changing weather in the San Francisco area, you never know what kind of view you will find when you visit Twin Peaks.

On the day I took the featured photo, the air was perfectly clear but, somehow, only the bay was covered with a combination of clouds and fog that made it difficult to locate iconic landmarks like Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. But, at the same time, the clouds and fog created an out-of-focus, blurred background effect that pointed the viewer’s attention to the city. I did not complain.

The view from Twin Peaks also makes you realize how unique San Francisco is. Instead of typical city colors like grey, yellow, and brown dominating the city, San Francisco’s predominant color is white. This creates such a distinctive urban pattern.

San Francisco. Twin Peaks
Loc: 37.756433, -122.451392

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Hiking to the Lower Calf Creek Falls (Utah)

The featured photo is from my latest trip to the Southwest where I had the chance to explore more remote and less popular destinations.

During the Utah leg of my trip, I camped not far from Bryce Canyon. The day I took the featured photo was entirely dedicated to exploring Utah’s famous Scenic Byway 12 as I drove from Bryce all the way to Capitol Reef National Park.

In the middle Escalante area, I stopped at Calf Creek Park to visit and photograph the Lower Calf Creek Falls. The only way to reach the falls is to hike at the bottom of the narrow canyon along the river. The hike itself is 10km round trip and is not very demanding at all.

Based on my research, I expected to see a lot of people swimming in the falls, taking selfies, and hanging out. But, I was lucky; during my hour-long stay at the falls, I met only one other person.

Since I did not plan to stay at the falls until sunset, I did not bring a tripod. All I brought was my camera and two lenses for a nice, light hike. The only disadvantage was that I could not take long exposure shots of the falls. Instead, I used my favorite technique of shooting a series of photos of the running water (10 to 20 shots) and later blended blend them together in Photoshop to create a long exposure effect.

Lower Calf Creek Falls
Loc: 37.829060, -111.419825

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Symmetry and Reflections (Montreal)

My exercise routine is simple. I go to the gym early in the morning and, in the evening, I go for an easy walk with my camera at the river. If I do not exercise in the morning, I usually go for a run in the evening without a camera.

The day I took the featured photo, I had a good workout in the morning and went for an easy walk. I brought my Fujifilm XT2 and the 10-24mm lens with me.

I was rewarded with perfect weather complete with beautiful clouds and zero wind. For Montreal Island, which is surrounded by the Saint Laurence River and lakes, quiet days without wind are rare occurrences.

I knew this was the perfect opportunity to photograph the reflections on the river.

Although the composition of the shot is not exactly symmetrical, the reflection of the clouds created an illusion of perfect symmetry.

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Hiking in Kodachrome Basin (Utah)

I took the featured photo in Kodachrome State Park while hiking one evening along the Grand Parade Trail. The weather was perfect with thick white clouds serving as a giant diffuser to the already soft evening light.

I hiked somewhere between 2.5 and 3 hours and did not see another person the entire afternoon. It was absolutely perfect.

Recently, I published a series of articles dedicated to the topic of composition in photography. Today’s photo perfectly reflects how I approach the artistic side of photography.

My goal here was to create the illusion of depth in a two-dimensional photo. First, I identified the foreground (the vegetation and log), the midground (the tree and rocks), and the background (the distant mountains and sky).

Next, I aligned the burnt tree according to the rule of thirds. Finally, I made sure the hiking trail served as a leading line inviting the viewer deeper into the composition.

Plus, the color contrast between the blue sky, the orange rock, and the green vegetation was absolutely breathtaking.

Utah. Kodachrome State Park
Loc: 37.521560, -111.992315

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Kodachrome Sunset Colors (Utah)

The featured photo is from the place I did not know existed at the time I was planning my latest trip to Arizona and Utah. The place called Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah. I discovered it by accident.

The park is famous for 67 monolithic spires or chimneys spread across the park and spectacular view of Bryce Canyon. The moment I entered the park I could see that it was a photographer’s heaven and there was no way I would leave without exploring it first. So instead of driving to the Lake Powell as I originally planned, I stayed in the park for 3 days, camping in paradise.

Kodachrome Sunset Colors (Utah)
Utah. Kodachrome State Park
Loc: 37.521560, -111.992315

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Burned Tree at the Bryce Canyon (Utah)

The featured photo fully reflects my latest photography trip to the Southwest I completed last week. I spent two weeks driving through Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California, completing 5500km and camping in the most beautiful and spectacular locations.

I brought in total 4200 brand new photos. After importing them to Lightroom and sorting them I have 500 keepers, the photos I will use in my portfolio and publish on my blog.

It was challenging to select the very first photo for publishing out of 500. But the featured photo I took while hiking at the bottom of the Bryce Canyon was a definite winner. It represents constant changes in weather, colors, and landscapes you experience while traveling through the midlands of Arizona and Utah.

Bryce Canyon. Utah.
Loc: 37.626542, -112.159870

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Urban Goose (Montreal)

I live not far from a beautiful park located on the bench of Saint Lawrence River. I visit the park on a pretty much daily basis. This where I go for a run, family picnic and it became my testing ground for new photo equipment.

About eight years ago, early in the spring, I spotted two big geese in the park, and they made a home there for the rest of the year. The following season they returned and brought with them six or seven friends. Three years later there were around 20 birds and with every year the seasonal population of grey geese kept growing. Our local park became a nesting ground for more than hundred of birds.

They became a local attraction and the best indicator of seasonal change.

When they fly away in the late fall, you can be sure that warm days are over. And when they appear in the spring it indicates that winter is not coming back.

The featured photo illustrates my first encounter with geese this year. Spring is officially here!

​​Montreal. Canada
Loc: 45.431538, -73.688518

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