Travel: Zion National Park in Autumn

45270373434_b84ec46c7a_z

Virgin River From Canyon Junction Bridge – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Zion National Park was the third most visited National Park in America in 2017, right behind the Grand Canyon. Utah has five National Parks–only Alaska and California have more–and of the five Zion is by far the most popular, with Arches National Park a distant second. It’s no surprise that Zion is usually quite crowded. I was surprised at just how packed it was when I visited in the middle of the week in the middle of November. Isn’t this supposed to be the off-season when fewer people are there?

I arrived with my family in the morning about an hour after sunrise. We waited in a somewhat short line to get into Zion. Once inside we found the parking lot at the visitor’s center to be completely full, with a number of cars circling hoping that somebody would leave. We decided that we’d explore what we could of the park by automobile and hope that the parking situation would be better a little later.

This was our first time to Zion National Park and we really didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t anticipate the gobs of people and we didn’t expect that there’s not much one can see of the park from the car. There is the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, which is over one mile long, and a few pullouts along the road that were packed full of cars (I illegally parked to get the photo at the top of this article). There are some things that can be seen and experienced from behind the wheel, but most of the park is accessible only by the park’s bus system or by foot. Once we figured this out we put a more serious effort into finding a place inside Zion to park the car. Unfortunately, parking was still scarce and we were lucky to find a spot in an overflow lot that required a small hike to the nearest bus stop; however, we soon discovered that we left the kid’s sweaters at the hotel and it hadn’t warmed up enough yet to be out without them.

44178790150_fd53369f95_z

Vista From Mount Carmel Tunnel – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

We left the park feeling a bit defeated and disappointed. We found a combination coffee shop and gift shop in Springdale, which is the small town right outside of the park entrance, and purchased some warmer clothes for the kids and the wife and I sipped on some coffee. We decided to park in town and take the free shuttle to the park. This turned out to be a much better way to get into Zion. The bus dropped us off right outside the park, and a quick walk across a short bridge brought us to Zion’s shuttle stop. Unfortunately, the line for Zion’s shuttle was about 400 people deep, but thankfully there were a lot of buses running and the line moved surprisingly quick.

The bus was completely packed. We rode it to the end, which is where the Riverside Walk trail is located. This trail is about two miles round trip and very easy, even for the kids. It’s also extraordinarily scenic! The draw to this place is quite apparent. It’s a landscape photographer’s playground. It was also packed with people and at times felt like we were strolling through New York City and not a canyon in southern Utah. Even so, we had a good time enjoying the amazing natural sights around us.

After our hike we got back on the bus, which we had to wait in a line for and was again filled to the brim. We had intended to stay in the park longer, but we dared not get off the bus at a different stop because we might not find seats on another bus. So our stay in Zion was short. There is no doubt that this park is one of the most beautiful, but it’s too crowded. Next time I will have to ensure that it’s a less busy time of the year for a visit. I hear the park is beautiful dusted with snow.

For these pictures I used a Fujifilm X100F, a Fujifilm XF10 and a Fujifilm X-T20 with an Asahi Auto-Takumar 55mm f/2.2 lens attached using an M42 adapter. The Asahi lens is fantastic, with just a little corner softness that improves as you stop down, and I paid only $30 for it (and it came with a camera). Despite the crowds, Zion is incredibly beautiful with photographic opportunities literally everywhere. I spent a partial day there and came away with these pictures. I felt like I left many great photographs behind. Zion National Park is a magical place for photography, but it’s not a very good place to find solitude, at least not when I was there.

B&W

45994297671_651c57230b_z

Virgin River Through Zion Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

32123270578_75675f93c3_z

Rocky River – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

31055545967_2918283cc6_z

Sun High Over The Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

31055546007_4baeb73a3d_z

Zion Canyon Sun – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

45945067442_06790b43ba_z

Sun Over Bridge Mountain – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

31055620057_648b4b0b9f_z

Amanda & Johanna Asleep – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

44178529030_4cb2f66258_z

Rock Wall – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

44178597510_7af5767e09_z

Trunks & Leaves – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

31055730057_be39a68f1f_z

Monochrome Vista From Mount Carmel Tunnel – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Color

31055640317_0a79d8d94c_z

The Family, Zion Bridge In Autumn – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

31055374387_cc58604156_z

A Pine Among The Rocks – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

45270373384_343dc9e919_z

Mount Carmel Tunnel & Chevy – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

45994430421_d503c45449_z

Autumn River – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

31055639347_78ff220027_z

Virgin River In November – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

45270142614_6caaa97370_z

Strolling Through Zion Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

45082646385_424b3b2346_z

Rock Ledges – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

45994436821_9b51641da1_z

Yellow Tree Against Red Rock – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

32123654708_75bcccabe8_z

Yellow Trees Below Bridge Mountain – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

45082696865_7d2f8f2726_z

Rocks of Zion – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

44178791370_0defd0b8f8_z

Desert Juniper – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

45270217254_a171ecb153_z

Virgin River Through Zion – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

31055545037_61775288d0_z

Yellow Tree, Zion Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

45270022494_2003bc7ba8_z

Canyon Tree in Fall – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

45082697455_b07bf14869_z

Yellow Leaves in Zion – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

31055377547_151c05f5e1_z

Autumn Tree & Rock – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

31055500437_173540e9e3_z

Sunlight Through The Trees – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

45270024764_8a4fb02ed5_z

The Yellow of Autumn – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

45270123204_bd6241df98_z

Autumn Along The Virgin River – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

44178470480_0008df861b_z

River Along The Autumn Path – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

32123409398_d2a37f7cc7_z

Flowing Through Zion Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

45270024354_8fb36e18cc_z

River In The Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

45269985494_7caa7afa43_z

River & Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

31055377217_281490d676_z

Rushing Virgin River – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

45082700115_8bed7c7452_z

Vibrant Autumn Forest – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado – Part 2: Color

42948639654_ce185eddb7_z

Sangre de Cristo & Sand Dunes – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

Part 1 – Monochrome

The Great Sand Dunes National Park lends itself well to black-and-white photography because of the highlight-and-shadow play that is so prevalent, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good place for color pictures. While I definitely came away with more monochrome images, a couple of my favorite pictures are in color. I imagine that autumn would be especially nice for color photography at this location, and perhaps late-spring or early summer when there is an abundance of fresh green. Late summer features a lot of brown, tan, and yellow, which can still be alright.

All of the photographs in this article are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs captured using my Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 Macro lens attached to the front. I used my Kodachrome II film simulation recipe for most of them. Enjoy!

28784401817_2826ea62fb_z

Sand Beneath The Peak – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

41864549450_02ba5a5160_z

Adversity Alone – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

41864550510_d9b6ee601c_z

Long Walk Back – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

43681424571_c2c7431048_z

Sand In My Boot – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

28786400537_1294c4dcdd_z

Approaching The Dunes – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

42769948535_3b2036238a_z

From Dust To Dust – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

42769948315_f38cd740c5_z

Sandal – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

43671429401_d4bd7b358a_z

Torrid Terrain – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado – Part 1: Monochrome

28777067747_c5d16386da_z

Great Sand Dunes Sign – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

In July my family and I visited the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve near Alamosa, Colorado. This national park features the tallest sand dunes in North America. The towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains loom in the background. It’s an impressive and unusual landscape!

During wetter months the Medano Creek flows beneath the sand dunes, and in order to get to the dunes one must get their feet wet. We were there during a dry month and there was no water in the wide creek bed. Unsurprisingly, a visit to the sand dunes requires a significant amount of walking on sand, which means that it takes more effort and more time to get from one point to another. It’s no walk in the park, and it’s best to come prepared with plenty of water and ready for the hike.

While we were there, once on the dunes, the wind was blustery and it kicked up the sand quite fiercely. It pelted our legs and would occasionally blow in our faces and get into our eyes. It was more of an issue for the kids since they’re shorter. It was not a fun experience, so we did not stay on the dunes for very long.

The place offers amazing photographic opportunities. If you like working with shadows and highlights and abstract shapes, this is the place for you! The Great Sand Dunes National Park is one of those special landscapes where it’s difficult to come away with bad pictures. I had with me a Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 Macro lens attached to the front. The X-Pro2 is weather sealed, but the lens is not. Thankfully I did not get dust on the sensor. I would strongly recommend not changing lenses while at the dunes, as you’re just asking for trouble by doing so.

We were only at the sand dunes for a couple of hours. It would have been great if we could have stayed longer. I think that a sunrise hike to the top would have been epic, but time just didn’t allow for it. Even so, we were glad for the opportunity that we did have. I’m happy with the photographs and memories that I came away with.

43665051791_1585d1046b_z

Great Sand Dunes – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

42955228264_1a65f4f737_z

Mountains & Sand Across The Valley – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

29801351608_8335b127c6_z

Mountain of Sand – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

43672710951_5454634260_z

Stroller Alone – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

42778384965_b1604e08db_z

Sand & Sangre de Cristo – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

28786427707_90426bdb36_z

Running In The Sand – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

43675378781_abdfb48bc0_z

It’s A Long Ways To The Top – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

29805374378_666a6929c2_z

Mountain, Sand & Sky – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

43672711911_79edd06588_z

Sand & Sierra Sky – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

41866134320_246b619647_z

Improbability – Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO

41864550350_608c24749f_z

Sand Walkers – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

41864550960_b88010e004_z

Passerby – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

42959071824_d9ccb16e54_z

Silver Sand – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

28784401827_2063d021a1_z

Sandal In The Sand – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

Part 2 – Color

Road Trip: Grand Canyon National Park, Part 2: Monochrome

40238695694_e16083fa6a_z

Canyon Cliffs – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

Part 1 – Color

I’ve heard it said that at Grand Canyon National Park your widest lens isn’t wide enough and your longest lens isn’t long enough, no matter how wide-angle or telephoto those lenses might be. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon several times, and each time I’ve felt that way. The place is amazing, yet it seems difficult to do it justice with a camera.

The canyon is huge! The national park is almost 2,000 square miles. The Colorado River traverses 277 miles through it. At its deepest point (or, really, the highest part of the rim to the river) is 6,000′. The longest stretch across rim-to-rim is 18 miles. It’s hard to effectively portray this scale in a photograph.

The Grand Canyon is the most photographed landmark in Arizona and one of the most photographed places in America, with tens of thousands of images created within the park daily. The task of creating something that’s photographically unique is nearly impossible. I’m sure that there are hundreds of pictures that look almost identical to mine. One has to spend significant time within the park, as well as exercise the creative mind, in order to capture something different than what’s already been done before.

40905092422_58a01d5294_z

Watchtower Sky – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

I was attempting art with some of the photographs that I captured at the Grand Canyon. Other images were family snapshots meant simply for memories. There’s a difference between interpreting and documenting. Both are valid and serve different purposes, and they each take a different approach to accomplish. In this article you’ll find both.

I used my Fujifilm X100F for most of these pictures, which are all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. The Acros Film Simulation makes for exceptional monochrome images, and I used my Acros and Acros Push-Process film simulations for these X100F images. I used my Fujifilm X-A3 with a Jupiter 21M lens for three of these pictures, which are also camera-made JPEGs. I used the Monochrome film simulation, which isn’t as good as Acros, but the X-A3 doesn’t have Acros so I couldn’t use it.

I love black-and-white photography, and Grand Canyon National Park is a wonderful place to create monochrome images. I look forward to returning. Grand Canyon is a special place, and it’s been much too long between visits. Maybe next time I can stay a little longer.

27076395208_120057abd2_z

Kids Approaching The Rim – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

27076892548_8a39e954fc_z

Maricopa Point – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M 

27076275648_7a484434c8_z

Canyon Juniper – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40947155591_5dea336b79_z

Boy Riding Backwards – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

39137378580_9de85b1613_z

Strapped In Her Stroller – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40905264272_b4d7c11d7d_z

Joy of Window Shopping – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

27075980918_f15b0142fe_z

From Behind Glass – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40905116902_8d3dfae789_z

Two Young Explorers – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

27076163748_e149be83ee_z

Tree Over Arch – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40052872605_aaec54c852_z

Of Light & Shadow – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

27075874718_59bc8ee49a_z

Canyon Grand – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40946810181_76472ca380_z

Scraggly Tree At Grand Canyon – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40946512741_3fa4db6ddb_z

Looking West From Desert View – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

39137245550_16a3ce1258_z

The Watchtower – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40946622501_d271705da7_z

Mary’s Watchtower – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40904937822_04f63be131_z

Watchtower Sun – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

27075536598_89ebae2a6f_z

Desert Watchtower – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

39137128640_d4086ce412_z

Telescoping – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

26075105167_085b6efa68_z

Canyon River – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

39137026640_ae1d40dc51_z

Sky Above The Canyon Below – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

26075335847_fd7a3bf059_z

The Grand View – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40053463155_6b5d6922f9_z

Heavenly Sky – Valle, AZ – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40946429051_6e64cbf1ce_z

Passed By – Williams, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

Road Trip: Grand Canyon National Park, Part 1: Color

40052609345_fabae35919_z

Grand Canyon From Desert View – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

A couple of weeks ago my family and I jumped in the car and made the long drive to Grand Canyon National Park. From my house to the hotel we booked in Williams, Arizona, was nine hours of driving, not including stops. We left early and arrived late, weary from the road. Really, it was too many hours in the car for one day, but we only had a short time for this adventure, so we pushed through to our destination.

The next day we got back in the car and drove 45 minutes to Tusayan, the tiny town right outside the entrance of the national park, and had some breakfast. After our bellies were full, and with cups of hot coffee, we continued the short trek to Grand Canyon Village and to the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

I’ve been to the Grand Canyon several times before, and the reaction for first-time visitors, as well as those who haven’t been in awhile, is the same: “Whoa!” That first look is always awe-inspiring and breathtaking. It just appears so impossibly grand! Everything seems so small and insignificant in comparison. It really is the magic of this incredible place.

We walked along the Rim Trail for awhile, stepping into some of the historic lodges and buildings along the way. We encountered the Bright Angel Trail and headed down, but only to the tunnel, which is probably about a mile trek round-trip. Someday I’d like to hike all the way to the bottom, but this wasn’t the trip for that.

26074564777_e000e4c1de_z

Grand Sight – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

Lunch was at the Harvey House Cafe. Then we headed to the car to drive around and see more sights. Heading east on Highway 64, we made it to Desert View and saw the Watchtower, which is at the eastern end of the park. On the way back towards the village we stopped at a few overlooks. It was approaching dinner, so we said goodbye to Grand Canyon National Park and traveled back to Williams.

I cannot say enough how amazingly beautiful Grand Canyon National Park is! If I had more time I would have made sure to be there for sunrise and sunset. This was just a quick visit, so I missed both golden hours. Early the next morning we left for home, which is near Salt Lake City, Utah. We encountered some winter weather, so the drive back ended up being longer than the drive out. To say that we were happy to be home when we arrived close to midnight would be a huge understatement. It was two full days of being crammed in the car just to be at the Grand Canyon for one day, but it was completely worth it!

For these photographs I used a Fujifilm X100F and a Fujifilm X-A3 with a Jupiter 21M lens. The X100F was great because it fit into my jacket pocket and captured wonderful pictures with ease. The X-A3 with the Jupiter lens was bulky and heavy and became tiresome carrying around my neck, but it allowed me to capture some images that I simply couldn’t with the other camera. When you travel, smaller and lighter is almost always better, but sometimes something more is needed.

These are all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs, and I used Velvia, Classic Chrome, PRO Neg. Std, and PRO Neg. Hi film simulations. Not editing the pictures saved me tons of time, and both cameras did an excellent job thanks to Fujifilm’s fine JPEG engine, which I rely heavily on. If I had post-processed RAW files instead, the results wouldn’t be much different to what you see here, except that I’d still be sitting in front of the computer editing them. Instead, they were finished before I even got home, and you’re able to enjoy them today.

40947877581_4012818f16_z

Kids At The Canyon – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

26074711247_ac15ce895a_z

Amanda, Johanna & I – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – captured by Joy Roesch

39137463380_55c622aa5a_z

Kids On Bright Angel Trail – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

39137884820_e4986c537a_z

Evergreen Tree & Red Canyon – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40238629514_e6583193b6_z

Canyon Behind The Pines – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40906064792_cf61f53466_z

Grand Canyon Railway – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40946897081_29fc2b147e_z

Lamp In The Lodge – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

27075748578_30dc64ff5d_z

Hopi Art – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40947720461_548a9ea5af_z

Unforgiving Environment – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40905986002_733e6e18e0_z

Colorado River of Green – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

39138019560_92fe54b1fe_z

Red Canyon Walls – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40904867842_06049dc5cb_z

Trees, Rocks & Cliffs – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

26073939457_7a69a82ac4_z

Light Over A Barren Landscape – Valle, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

39136905080_eb01803623_z

Get Your Gifts On Route 66 – Williams, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40947869801_b7061b6807_z

Neon Gifts – Williams, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40238085044_7f989758a7_z

Cheap Room – Williams, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40238114724_e1d70e39a0_z

Neon Bistro – Williams, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

40052389895_8a9759406f_z

Drink Coke – Williams, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

27076982438_925722d7a0_z

Steaks & BBQ – Williams, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

26073838237_02e9a03950_z

BBQ & Coke – Williams, AZ – X100F

40947860941_aa4e1777e5_z

Fire In The Sky – Flagstaff, AZ – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

26075376787_5f0a732976_z

Spiked Cactus – Kanab, UT – Fujifilm X100F

26075369757_3ab82a0856_z

Kids At Moqui Cave – Kanab, UT – Fujifilm X100F

40905765692_0d8e73f522_z

Anderson Mountain – Paragonah, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

Part 2 – B&W

Travel: Canyonlands National Park, Part 2: Monochrome

39948089554_de7fb1eba6_z

Subtlety – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

Part 1

I surprised myself with how few images I captured in monochrome of Canyonlands National Park. During that visit I most often chose color, as the lighting made for wonderful color photographs, and I only went with black-and-white here and there. This is the opposite of what happened at Arches National Park earlier in the day, in which I chose monochrome more often because of the poor light. In general, I’m more drawn towards black-and-white photography, and so it was very unusual for me to focus so much on color.

Canyonlands was a  joy to photograph and I felt like I came away with some print-worthy exposures. The pictures in this post were mostly captured using my Fujifilm X-A3 with a Jupiter 21M lens attached, which is a good telephoto combination. I used the Monochrome+R film simulation, which isn’t as good as Acros, but the X-A3 doesn’t have Acros and so I couldn’t use it (the lone Fujifilm X100F image was captured using Acros). All of these photographs are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs, which I prefer because it saves me tons of time. A couple of them could have been slightly improved if I had edited the RAW exposure, but the JPEGs are certainly good enough in this case.

If I ever have the chance, I’d love to spend a week at Canyonlands National Park. I feel like I barely touched the surface of the potential photo opportunities there. It seems like a place that could provide plenty of portfolio material. It was just so breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful. I just can’t say enough about Canyonlands! If you ever have the chance to go, definitely go, you won’t be disappointed.

39762877885_2cbcaf4e15_z

La Sal Moon – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fuji X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

26786793828_26ab1ba3a7_z

La Sal From Island In The Sky – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40616042492_fe2c3e7504_z

Mountains Through Mesa Arch – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

39762830975_a8510dc792_z

Tree at Grand View Overlook – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40581684311_1555da1bf8_z

Oh, Deer – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

40615844212_5cbc4e2681_z

Monochrome Mesas – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

See also: Dead Horse Point State Park

Travel: Canyonlands National Park, Part 1: Color

40823581752_7cb004cf62_z

Canyon Pinion – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

On the same day that I visited Arches National Park in Utah, I also made it to Canyonlands National Park, which is right around the corner. Even though these two national parks are quite close, they are very much different places. Arches is known for unusual and seemingly impossible rock formations, while Canyonlands, which also has some unusual rock formations, is more known for amazing vistas and seemingly endless canyons.

My visit to Arches was marked by poor midday light. On the other hand, since I arrived at the park entrance about 90 minutes before sunset, I managed to catch Canyonlands under much better late-evening light. Even though I spent twice as much time at Arches National Park, I felt that my best pictures on this trip were captured inside Canyonlands National Park.

Another difference between Arches and Canyonlands is that one park had many tourists and the other had only a few. Canyonlands seemed more open and peaceful, and I felt a deeper connection with this place. I enjoyed Canyonlands immensely, and my biggest regret was not spending more time there.

Canyonlands National Park is huge, and I only did the Island In The Sky tour, which is a small portion of the park. Because my time was limited, I missed out on some great locations within the Island In The Sky quadrant. I imagine that one could spend a few weeks at Canyonlands and not see and experience everything.

My gear was a Fujifilm X100F and Fujifilm X-A3 with a Jupiter 21M lens attached. I used many different film simulations, including Velvia, PRO Neg. StdPRO Neg. Hi, Astia, and Classic Chrome, but mostly Velvia. All of these are camera-made JPEGs. I think a few of them are worth printing.

I love America’s national parks, and one of my favorites is Canyonlands National Park. It has a peaceful yet draw-dropping beauty that begs you to explore and experience. I’ve never been to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, but I image it to be a similar experience. It’s a place where you can relax, reflect and restore. It’s a great place to photograph. I will return, camera in hand.

39763134525_a79da2c632_z

Rural Fork – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fuji X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40658009161_19934642fb_z

No – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

26786931118_0eb6f38543_z

Young Explorers – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

39948317704_61bc045f90_z

Feeling Blue – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40540166712_1dd7348417_z

Green Tree – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

39687913655_0865436b2a_z

Mesa Arch – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

39871894244_27312b0185_z

Family At Mesa Arch – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

25787223227_74c36d0b7c_z

La Sal Through Mesa Arch – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

39763014065_832c8f2cf2_z

La Sal Behind Mesa Arch – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

26710631608_9b84f8d958_z

Mesa Arch View – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

38847882690_e1c7e65c70_z

Plateau & Mesa – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

39762816095_f08a3acdf2_z

Canyonlands View – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40615952352_1b4fcb17b9_z

Hoodoos – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

26710133658_3a621462e8_z

Canyons – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

40540089372_0211e2fe7f_z

Full Moon Over Grand View – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

39948138074_a43a227641_z

Juniper – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40615861002_90cc531c9a_z

Orange Canyons – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

25787015017_cf57bfab50_z

Canyonlands Evening – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

38847630580_c96c4e3306_z

Canyonlands Sunset – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

Part 2 – Monochrome

Travel: Arches National Park – Part 2: Monochrome

25787610697_b48493ff88_z

Arch & La Sal – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

Part 1

As I mentioned in part one, the lighting for photography was pretty terrible during the few hours that I was at Arches National Park. Still, the place was nothing short of amazing! I wanted to capture it all, and found that black-and-white was often a better choice than color. I think if I had been there closer to sunrise or sunset, color would have been the way to go. Because I was up against the harsh midday sun, monochrome seemed to better express the abnormally stunning landscape.

On the X100F I used my Acros and Acros Push-Process film simulations, except that I had the dynamic range set to DR400. I often chose Acros+R to simulate the use of a red filter (making the blue sky darker), although the results are closer to what one would get with an orange filter in real black-and-white film photography and not a red filter. On the X-A3 I primarily used the B&W+R film simulation with the highlights and shadows set to +2, which seems to give the right amount of contrast in most situations.

All of the photographs in this article are camera-made JPEGs. If I had relied on RAW and used Lightroom or some other software on my computer, I’d probably still be editing the pictures. Instead, I saved a ton of time and relied on the camera’s great JPEG processor. I’m happy with the results. I didn’t capture any portfolio worthy pictures, but all things considered, I managed at least a few decent photographs that I’m proud to show here. I just hope for the opportunity to return and photograph Arches National Park in better light.

If you ever have the chance to go, I highly recommend this place. It’s so unusual, filled with seemingly impossible formations and brilliant colors. It’s a landscape photographer’s playground. Or just a great place to wander in the wonder of nature. I enjoyed my short visit to Arches National Park, and I cannot wait to return, hopefully sooner than later.

39886081204_8d03b7dd73_z

Park Avenue – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

39948822234_07ed2d5953_z

Queen Nefertiti – Arches NP, UT – Fuji X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

39948813234_00bd287700_z

Beanpole – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

39948809084_515fea0c00_z

Mt. Peale In The Distance – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

26787348988_7a9f4562a5_z

La Sal Range – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40658391521_deacf2df50_z

Monochrome Rocks – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40616538452_91343d14ee_z

Gossip – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

38773501820_fc968c2bfc_z

Balanced Rock – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

40554720262_4cb48f03e4_z

Balance – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

25787598997_7c43b1b866_z

Graboid – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40658293261_92a46d83ef_z

Monument – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

25787603707_55f65e5ac9_z

Window Arch & La Sal – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40658278441_f1646550fe_z

Bird Flew – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

39872550954_a2f11e6780_z

Monochrome Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

39948667514_4e1e66c6f1_z

Rock Window – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

38848241510_1fb386b56c_z

Mt Peale – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

38848234120_878dd2ba23_z

Tree In Rocky Terrain – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

25712122567_023d3d4c52_z

Window Arch In Monochrome – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

39701988335_f69ce770eb_z

Cairn & Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

40540426322_522dd5ca75_z

The Desert Is Unforgiving – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

39948557234_037b38cf9a_z

Three Stone Peaks – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40658169011_b98346a33f_z

Monochrome Layers – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40658152991_e474436217_z

Over The Desert Ridge – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

26787217378_e9f44bd719_z

Hidden Human Head – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

Travel: Arches National Park – Part 1: Color

25726642457_cb80d1c341_z

North Windows Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

I moved from California to Utah almost two years ago. One reason that my wife and I chose Utah was its proximity to many great National Parks. So far we’ve made it to a few, but not nearly as many as I would like. Last week the opportunity came to take my family to Moab, Utah, to see Arches National Park, and so we went.

When I was a kid my family visited Arches National Park, but it had been nearly three decades since I was last there. In fact, I was near the age of my two oldest children. Even though it had been a long time, the park seemed familiar, and I was constantly saying, “Oh, I remember this!” It was really good to return, and to share the experience with my family.

The weather was quite pleasant. It was sunny with blue skies. The temperature was little cool but not cold, far from scorching hot like it gets in the summer and not freezing cold like it was that same day at my house near Salt Lake City. We were there midday, so the lighting was about as awful for photography as one could find. The shadows were deep and the light-colored rocks were reflecting the brilliant sunlight. Trying to balance the exposures was a tricky task, because it was easy to have blocked-up shadows or blown highlights or both.

Arches National Park is simply amazing! The odd red rock formations seem like something from another planet. The place looks fragile and even sometimes impossible. It’s a grand landscape in a harsh and barren desert. It’s worth seeing, if you ever find yourself in southern Utah. If you do go, make sure you download onto your phone the GyPSy automated tour guide app. It’s the best few dollars I’ve spent on an app ever.

I brought along a Fujifilm X100F, which is the camera I most enjoy using, and a Fujifilm X-A3 with a Jupiter 21M lens attached, which is my telephoto option. I used DR400 on both cameras because of the harsh light conditions. I used Velvia, PRO Neg. HiClassic Chrome and Eterna film simulations for these images. All of these pictures are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs.

I don’t believe that I captured any great color images at Arches National Park, but I do think I got a few decent exposures. It just wasn’t a good lighting, and photography is about light perhaps more than anything else. I do hope to return sometime in the near future, and maybe I’ll be able to photograph the place under better conditions.

It’s very difficult to capture anything remotely unique when visiting a heavily photographed location. Thousands of pictures are made inside Arches National Park every day. I always attempt at unique, knowing full well that I will probably fail. Are these pictures art? Maybe a couple of them. Mostly they’re snapshots, simple memory aids for my family. I hope you appreciate what I captured and that you enjoy these pictures.

26787334238_d2c07b7b7b_z

Close Knit Rock Family – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40616616462_c6e9ba909e_z

Cliff Dwelling – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40658329811_d6196d19cd_z

Outdoor Kids – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

40658286311_1ef580e8e7_z

Birds Allowed – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

39886128734_cb6146d4b5_z

Green Tree, Red Rock – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

39688269705_3a6cfc6703_z

Down The Steps – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

40540905752_c2d9514797_z

Under The Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

26711423068_6b792c0490_z

Kids In The Window – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

39688532205_9043113d17_z

Looking Through Windows Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

26711293088_80e456aa64_z

Turret Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

39701925985_e7209a7f6e_z

Trail To Turret Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

39701943305_e051b2a6e4_z

South Window Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

40540425052_ea53b48a9b_z

A Harsh Dry Land – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

38848196580_cbb9f94650_z

The Red Desert – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

25787483807_58d815781f_z

Reaching – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

38848088290_148143765d_z

Hot & Cold – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

39948478904_f137a8a43d_z

Delicate Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

Part 2: Arches National Park in Monochrome

Photoessay: Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park

25523662598_bde0e6a0eb_z

Kolob Canyon Road – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

In late December, just a couple days after Christmas, I had a chance to visit Kolob Canyon in Zion National Park. Zion is the sixth most visited national park in America and is the most visited national park in Utah. Kolob Canyon is a lesser known section of the park that’s isolated from the rest. We found a little snow on the ground from a storm the week before.

Access to Kolob Canyon is easy because it’s right off of Interstate 15 between St. George and Cedar City. A quick five-mile dead-end road curves through the scenic canyon. Because those on the freeway are just passing through and it’s a bit out of the way for those visiting the main part of the park, it just gets overlooked. It really is a hidden gem!

Kolob Canyon is full of impressive red-orange cliffs, finger canyons and sweeping vistas. It’s higher in elevation than the more-visited sections of Zion, so the landscape is little more green and a little less desert. It’s easy to see why this area was included in the national park, it’s just chocked full of natural beauty!

My short visit to the park was not during ideal light conditions for photography. The sky was a deep blue, but the sun was harsh and nearly overhead. My family and I arrived at 12:40 in the afternoon and we left about an hour-and-a-half later. Undeterred by the problematic light, I used my Fujifilm X100F to capture the grand sights that were before me. I used my wide-angle conversion lens for many of the exposures.

All of these photographs are camera-made JPEGs; however, I used Fujifilm’s X RAW Studio to process the RAW files (click the link if that statement is confusing to you). I used my Velvia Film Simulation recipe, but adjusted shadows to -1 and sometimes -2 because the shadows were harsh. I adjusted highlights to -2 in a few of the images, as well. In retrospect, I wonder if using DR400 would have worked better. Either way, I’m pretty happy with the results, all things considered.

27616701549_8171346754_z

Beatty Point – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

38685766094_fd3a4a0329_z

Paria Point – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

27615164819_275a192668_z

Paria & Beatty Points – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

27616637949_81accef53b_z

The Zion Desert – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

39363620652_be81c09091_z

Timber Top Mountain – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

39393731751_6b2dbd7c26_z

Old Log In Zion – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

39362162842_67c14d3594_z

Sunlight Over Shuntavi Butte – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

38514320755_8e585643a9_z

Orange Cliffs – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

38514302805_ceb44e831c_z

Kolob Canyon In December – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

38687424064_135bb9032a_z

Trees, Rocks, Canyons & Hanging Valleys – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F