Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California

Pfeiffer Arch, Big Sur, California

Big Sur is one of my favorite photography destinations and Pfeiffer Beach is at the top of my list of specific locations. Located two miles off Highway 1 down the winding one lane Sycamore Canyon Road, Pfeiffer Beach is not to be missed. Although this may not be the ideal beach for a picnic due to the near constant wind, the scenic beauty can't be beat. This is a day use only area with a $5 entry fee. I did find it annoying that although this is a National Forest beach it's managed by a private company that collects the fees and therefore the Interagency Federal Lands Pass is not honored, however it's well worth the $5 investment.

Sunset is the prime time to visit. Photographically, November thru February are the best months to visit. At this time of year the sun sets further south and lines up with the arch. The other advantage to visiting at this time of year is that clear skies and sunsets are more likely, during warmer months inland heat draws the fog into the coast. The first time I visited was in September and although it was still incredibly dramatic it was so foggy you couldn't even tell where the sun was in the sky, it just eventually got dark, without any golden light.

If the conditions look promising and you want to try to photograph the arch, with the spray of waves crashing through it lit-up by the setting sun, be sure to arrive a little early. The effect is most distinct from about an hour before sunset to about a half hour before sunset. During that last half hour of the day, when most people seem to arrive, the sun is all ready too low on the horizon to really give the mystical effect seen a little bit earlier.

Sunset, Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California

Pfeiffer Beach Twilight, Big Sur, California

Pfeiffer Arch, Big Sur

Pfeiffer Arch, Big Sur, California

Pfeiffer Arch, Big Sur, California

I know I posted this image recently, but thought I'd post it again now that it's officially an award winning photograph. I entered this photograph in the 21st annual World of the Wild Art Show at Utah's Hogle Zoo. I was thrilled to find out it was juried into the show and even more so when I found out it had won an Award of Merit. The show is hanging now thru March 16th, 2014 at Utah's Hogle Zoo. Be sure to check it out if you're at the zoo sometime in the next month. You can also see the show online here.

Of course, capturing this image was the real thrill. Late or early in the year when the sun sets further south, it lines up with this amazing sea arch, also referred to as Keyhole Arch. On a clear evening, about a half hour before the sun slips below the horizon it lights up the spray of waves crashing through the arch. Pfeiffer Beach is a fantastic place to visit anytime of year or day, but when the conditions are just right it becomes a religious experience.

Contemplating Time

Tree Skeleton and Crescent Moon, Twin Peaks Wilderness, Utah

I’d long been drawn to this tree and photographed it on more than a few occasions before making this image. The shape of this dead tree arrests my eye every time I hike in the vicinity of Lake Blanche. On this night it was like a beacon.

 Situated north of Lake Blanche, on the edge of a large block of resistant stone forming the terrace into which lakes Lillian, Florence, and Blanche are carved, among polished ribs of rock, the setting is perfect for capturing this dead tree cleanly against the western sky. On this night, two nights after the new moon, a waxing crescent moon was setting into a clear electric blue twilight and lining up quite nicely with the tree.

I had just left Lake Blanche where I had stayed till sunset’s bitter end, when the landscape could only be photographed in silhouette. I started towards the trailhead and was almost immediately stopped. The scene materializing before me reminded me of an image in my mind of a lone sculpted tree set against a crescent moon.

I dropped my pack, and worked quickly to set up my tripod. I changed lenses, from the wide angle I’d been working with, to a telephoto lens. Next, I dialed in my exposure, knowing that I needed to keep my shutter speed to one second or less in order to avoid blur from celestial movement. I had almost no time to spare as the light in the sky was quickly dying.  I made several exposures while fine-tuning my composition by physically moving my camera position.

As I made my way down to the trailhead in the dark, I wondered how many hundreds of years it took this tree to reach such stately proportions. This once mighty tree has left behind a monument with extraordinary character, a visual legacy of its noble life.

This monument is a marker of time somewhat closer to mind than the lives of mountains or moons, and when set against the Earth’s cosmic timepiece, endlessly marking days, a deeper layer of meaning is achieved. The two symbols together move the image toward the iconic, the archetypal.

Wasatch Autumn 2013

Hellgate Cliffs, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Lookout Peak from Little Mountain, Utah

Aspen in Fog, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

The Way Back, Emigration Canyon, Utah

October Gold, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Historic Route, Mountain Dell Canyon, Utah

Autumn Evening Showers, Mountain Dell Canyon, Utah

Morning Companions, Little Mountain, Utah

Sunset Reflection, City Creek Canyon, Utah

Along the Mormon Trail, Mountain Dell Canyon, Utah

Winter Birds of Red Butte Garden

Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Last Sunday while at the Red Butte Garden annual holiday open house, I abandoned my booth for a couple of forays out into the wintery garden in hopes of seeing and photographing birds. To my surprise I saw nine different species of birds within about twenty minutes.

I'm guessing that the gardens create a rare concentration of winter food, based on my experience that bird sightings in the Salt Lake City foothills are infrequent this time of year. At least, I haven't seen that kind of variety of birds in one place at one time in any of the other locations I've gone looking this time of year.

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Red Butte Garden Annual Holiday Open House

Pfeiffer Arch, Big Sur, California

Please join me at the Red Butte Garden Annual Holiday Open House, Saturday and Sunday, December 7th and 8th, from 10am till 5pm. Admission to the gardens is free on these two days and you can shop for unique Christmas gifts from a select group of local artists, with 30% of the proceeds going to support Red Butte Garden. I'll be offering a wide range of photographic prints from note cards and small matted prints to large framed photographs and stretched canvases, as well as my unique photo transfers on stone, paper, wood, and metal. I'm excited to show some new work (like the image above) from a recent trip to the central California coast.

Twin Peaks Wilderness

Spotlight on Dromedary Peak, Twin Peaks Wilderness, Utah

Ripple Reflections, Lake Lillian, Twin Peaks Wilderness, Utah

Way overdue for a blog post. Thought I'd share a couple of brand new images from a hike last Friday to Lake Blanche, Florence, and Lillian in Salt Lake County's Twin Peaks Wilderness. This is one of my favorite Wasatch Mountain destinations and sometimes it feels as if I've taken the same photographs over and over again. Sundial Peak reflecting in Lake Blanche is such a great image it's practically impossible not to photograph. Just beware of falling into the trap of trying to include everything (sky, mountain, and lake) in every frame. On this day I focused my energy and my lens on some of the details that make this place so magical, and by including less created stronger images.

Life Aquatic, Lake Blanche, Twin Peaks Wilderness, Utah

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing, Salt Lake City, Utah

One morning in early June as I contemplated heading to the mouth of Emigration Canyon for a quick birding expedition, I noticed a commotion in the mulberry tree adjacent to and overhanging my back yard. Apparently the mulberries were at their peak of appeal to the neighborhood birds.

The commotion was twenty or so American robins battling for control of the tree and generally coming to rest in perfectly spaced zones until displaced by another robin entering their zone with a flourish of wing beats. Several other smaller species feasted as well, but with less bravado, including one of my favorites, the Cedar waxwing.

For about a week the mulberries were like candy to the birds, and the clear whistles of waxwings were constant. I photographed them several times during this week and was able to make a few nice portraits. This one is my favorite.