My most rewarding project of 2017 was photographing butterflies at Red Butte Garden. In fact, the image above of a Satyr Comma (Polygonia satyrus) is my personal favorite photo of the year. I photographed Swallowtails, Monarchs, and Greater Fritillaries during a couple of visits to Red Butte Garden over the summer, but the real action was in November.
The weather had turned warm again after an early October cold snap. Butterflies were concentrating at Red Butte Garden to get nectar from the last prolific blooms to be found anywhere around; showy pale pink chrysanthemums and purple asters. I was able to observe and photograph ten different species of butterflies on a handful of visits in late October and early November.
The first Autumn butterflies I noticed were Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui). It was the Painted Ladies loving the blue hyssop in my backyard that first put the idea of going back to Red Butte Garden to photograph butterflies in my mind. When I got there I wasn't disappointed, there were a lot of Painted Ladies. I was able to capture a number of fine images, none more exquisite than the wing detail above.
I was excited by a number of the butterfly images I was able to capture last year. I can also see a lot of room for improvement and exploration, which is exciting as well. Certainly some of the little guys that aren't represented here, like Coppers, Skippers, and Blues are worthy of more attention. I'm looking forward to observing butterflies even more closely this year.
The Peekaboo Loop trail in Bryce Canyon National Park is an instant favorite. Mile for mile this half day hike has more mind blowing, jaw dropping scenery than any other trail this length I can think of. I'm sure there are times when this trail sees heavy traffic, but midweek in mid February I practically had the place to myself.
In "Hoodoos and Snow", simplification of composition is achieved by isolation of elements of the scene through lens choice and camera placement. The more simplified, more elemental images often seem more personal in such iconic wide view places as Bryce. This image of Bryce is mine; the wide view from the rim, not so much. One reason I highly recommend the Peekaboo Loop is, it gets you up close and personal with the hoodoos; an experience much different than walking along the rim.
The Peekaboo Loop can be accessed at the top by a steep trail coming down from the rim at Inspiration Point, or at the bottom, by a short connector trail coming from the bottom of the Navajo Loop/Queens Garden trail junction. Because it's more difficult to access, I would imagine traffic is always less than the Navajo Loop and Queens Garden trails. The loop itself is not level, but climbs and descends several times as you climb in and out of several canyons between fins of hoodoos. I'm assuming the trail is named for those moments when you climb to a pass on a fin, walk between hoodoos, and a new world is revealed in the next drainage.
This was only my second trip to Bryce Canyon National Park. Which makes Bryce my least visited Utah National Park, by a long shot. Less than four hours from my front door, not sure what kept me away. Maybe it was the thought that it's a small park without a lot of hiking. Probably aught to hike the trails there are before deciding there's not enough hiking. After this trip to Bryce if feel like I owe it to myself to go back soon.
One of my favorite images from last year and a good example of the influence Instagram has had on my photography. In the last three years I've put myself in the frame significantly more often than the thirteen years previous. I think the reason I've been more open to those opportunities has a lot to do with the photographers I follow on Instagram. An increased exposure to images of tiny people in giant landscapes has helped me tune-in to situations were that sense of scale provided by the human form makes setting my self timer seem like the appropriate thing to do.