Travel: Snow Canyon State Park – St. George, Utah

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Crevasse Tree – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Earlier this week my family and I traveled to southern Utah. One place that we visited was Snow Canyon State Park, which sits just outside of St. George. This place was new to us. I saw it on a map and thought it might be interesting, so we went. I knew nothing about Snow Canyon State Park other than how to get there. I didn’t have any expectations, but if I did they would have been blown away. This is a really neat state park!

Despite the name, Snow Canyon doesn’t receive much snow. It was named after the Snow family, who were early settlers to the area. The park features beautiful red sandstone, petrified sand dunes, a couple of small arches and different lava formations. It’s a place that begs to be explored. It’s a great location for hiking, camping and rock climbing–oh, and definitely photography!

We arrived about 30 minutes before sunset and stayed for about 15 minutes after. We didn’t have a long visit, which is a shame because it seems like an awesome park! In the short time that we were there we had a lot of fun. The kids ran around and explored as much as they could. From what I can tell the park has a lot to offer, including some large lava tubes that would have been fun to find. I didn’t know about the lava tubes until after we left, so we’ll have to find them the next time that we visit.

There are most certainly some great photographic opportunities in Snow Canyon. The place has something worthy of your camera’s attention at every turn! The quintessential red rocks of the region and the unusual land formations create the potential for great images. I was there for less than an hour and created the pictures in this article, which were captured using a Fujifilm X-T20. Zion National Park, which isn’t far away, get’s a lot of attention, but Snow Canyon State Park shouldn’t be overlooked! It is definitely worth your time to see.

Color

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Last Light On The Cliffs – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Cliff Hanger – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Petrified Sand Dune – Snow Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Overcoming Adversity – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Crevasse Tree in Color – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fuji X-T20

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Autumn Tree – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Autumn Tree In Snow Canyon – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Exploring Kids – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Moon Over The Rocky Ridge – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

B&W:

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Rock Hills – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Monochrome Moon, Snow Canyon – Snow Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Using A Phone Because I Had Her Camera – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Small Arch In Monochrome – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Wood In The Sand – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Window Rock Joy – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Alone At The Top – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Monochrome Moonrise – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fuji X-T20

Photoessay: Along The Highway, Part 7: Wyoming

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Highway Colonel – Rock Springs, WY – Fujifilm X100F – I-80

Colorado  New Mexico  West Texas  East Texas  Oklahoma (Color)  Oklahoma (B&W)

The final leg of our journey, which also marks the end of this series, took us through the lonely state of Wyoming. Towns are few and far between. It’s a very rural place. Antelope outnumber the people. The main purpose of the small communities situated along Interstate 80 seems to be serving highway travelers.

Wyoming is beautiful, especially the northwest corner. We didn’t travel to the northwest corner, but even the empty southern side of the state has some sites worth seeing. There are mountain passes and grasslands and rivers. Spotted here and there are patches of unique natural artistry. We passed through much of it without stopping.

Because the journey itself can be more important than where the road leads, the destination isn’t as critical as the decision to go. On this road trip I saw and experienced many great places, met some wonderful people, and, of course, captured many memorable photographs. I hope to do this again real soon.

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Small Pet Area – Fort Bridger, WY – Fujifilm X100F – I-80

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Lowering Sun On A Travel Day – Fort Bridger, WY – Fujifilm X100F – I-80

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A Trucker’s Life Is Lonely – Fort Bridger, WY – Fujifilm X100F – I-80

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Text Await – Fort Bridger, WY – Fujifilm X100F – I-80

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Waving Above The Structure – Fort Bridger, WY – Fujifilm X100F – I-80

Photoessay: Along The Highway, Part 6 – Oklahoma in Monochrome

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Stu – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

Colorado  New Mexico  West Texas  East Texas  Oklahoma (Color)  Wyoming

Pawhuska is a rural town in northeastern Oklahoma that once boomed. The 1920’s were especially roaring, but the 1930’s included an oil bust, the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, scars of which are clearly evident to this day. The Boy Scouts of America began in Pawhuska over 100 years ago. The town is also home to Drummond Ranch, which is one of the largest ranches in the country. Ree Drummond has a popular television cooking show and has authored a number of books. She also has a store and restaurant in town, and that’s why my wife and I were there.

The town is quite small, but photographic opportunities were numerous. In fact, I made more exposures in Pawhuska than any other place we visited on our road trip. There’s a lot of history, character and hospitality packed into the little town in the middle of nowhere. Pawhuska proved to be a great experience! I felt as though I left many potential pictures unphotographed, so perhaps another visit will be in store in the future.

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Double Flag – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Kitchen Window – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Bakery – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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County Courthouse – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Broken Glass Through The Glass – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Industrial Brick – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Industrial Design – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Star – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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The Other Mother – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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The Merc – Pawhuska, OK – X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Mercantile – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 60

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Cafe Flowers – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 60

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Wet Tables – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 60

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Unlikely – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Pawhuska Rain – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 60

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Osage County – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F – OK HWY 99

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Thunder Sky – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F – OK HWY 99

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Rural Cows – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Horse Gate – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Two Horses In The Grass – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Rural Mail – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

Photoessay: Along The Highway, Part 5 – Oklahoma in Color

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Small Green Hill – McAlester, OK – Fuji X-Pro2 & 60mm – Indian Nation TPKE / US HWY 69

Colorado  New Mexico  West Texas  East Texas  Oklahoma In B&W  Wyoming

When we were planning our summer road trip, the one state that I was least interested in was Oklahoma. I’d been to Oklahoma a couple times, and nothing I saw was particularly memorable. But I had never traveled through the eastern part of the state, which is where my family and I drove through, and I was quite impressed with what I saw. Oklahoma blew my expectations out of the water!

I captured a whole lot of photographs while there, mostly in and around the town of Pawhuska. We stayed the night there, so the images were taken over a span of two days. I used my Fujifilm X-Pro2 for the color pictures, utilizing my Kodachrome II film simulation recipe. If Pawhuska sound familiar to you, it’s because Ree Drummond (“The Pioneer Woman”) lives there. She has a gift store and restaurant in the town. The best food we ate on the entire trip was in Pawhuska, hands down!

We drove down many miles of rural highways in Oklahoma, and saw some surprisingly beautiful scenery along the way. We passed through several quaint towns and experienced firsthand some great hospitality. I hope to one day return, but I’m grateful for the time I spent there, even if it was short.

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Foal Shy – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Drummond Ranch – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Open Window Reflection – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Buckin’ Flamingo – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Locked Door – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Oklahoma Flag – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Brick – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Window Grill – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Pawhuska Reflection – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Contemplation – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Paint Ladder – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Backwards Gear – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Window Seat – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 60

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Rural Sunset – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – OK HWY 99

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Sunset Through The Branches – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – OK HWY 99

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

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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!

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Sand Beneath The Peak – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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Adversity Alone – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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Long Walk Back – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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Sand In My Boot – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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Approaching The Dunes – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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From Dust To Dust – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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Sandal – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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Torrid Terrain – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

Photoessay: Along The Highway, Part 4 – East Texas

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Grain Hoppers – Westlake, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 377

Colorado  New Mexico  West Texas  Oklahoma (Color)  Oklahoma (B&W)  Wyoming

Visiting east Texas was in a way a homecoming for me–well, sort of, anyway. I lived in the Dallas area for a few years as a teenager. I lived in Houston for one year awhile back, as well. I have family on the right side of the state, and I’ve journeyed to see them many times over the years. It’s in east Texas that I first learned to be a photographer. I’m familiar with the region, to say the least.

This trip was about spending time with family. It was about being with people that I don’t see often enough. Photography was secondary, although I did find plenty of time for capturing images. By a large margin I spent more time in east Texas than anywhere else on this road trip, yet this part of the series seems short on pictures.

The highways that I traversed in east Texas were often wide and new. They connected cities and large towns. Sure, there were plenty of rural segments, but I saw a lot of suburban landscapes. There’s a lot more sprawl than I remember, and it served as a reminder that it had been too long since I last visited the place, and I need to return more frequently.

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Storm Shelter – McKinney, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 380

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Two Towers – Dallas, TX – Fujifilm X100F – TX HWY 366

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Walk This Way – Princeton, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 380

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A Little Birdie Told Me About The Brew – Westlake, TX – Fuji X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 377

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Trash Pallet – McKinney, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 380

Photoessay: Along The Highway, Part 2 -New Mexico

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McTaos – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – NM HWY 68

Colorado  West Texas  East Texas  Oklahoma In Color  Oklahoma In B&W  Wyoming

The highways of New Mexico took me through some incredibly beautiful areas! I was surprised at just how interesting the northern part of the state is. Unfortunately, we were on a time schedule and had to view much of it from the car window. We did stop in Taos to see the famous Pueblo. This area was an early stomping ground for Ansel Adams, and it was a thrill to see it for myself. The Taos Pueblo is not located directly off of any highway so the pictures don’t meet the qualifications for this article, but I will get around to sharing them in a separate post. Santa Fe was also interesting, but I discovered that the photographs captured there were also not along any highway.

The east side of the state is the least scenic, as this is where the Great Plains begin (and, as my kids would say, “I can see why they call this area ‘plain.'”) Still, a gas stop near Santa Rosa provided an opportunity for photography, and even an unassuming spot in a mundane landscape can prove to be photogenic if one keeps their eyes open.

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Once Becomes Obsolete – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – NM HWY 68

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Warrior – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – NM HWY 68

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Empty Table – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X100F – I-40

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Air1 – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X100F – I-40

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Semi & Dinosaur – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X100F – I-40

Photoessay: Along The Highway, Part 1 – Colorado

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Uncertain – Delta, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 50

My wife and I, along with our four children, took a road trip across several states over the course of 16 days, and we returned about a week-and-a-half ago. It was, at times, especially epic, and we saw some amazing places. I, of course, captured the whole thing using my Fujifilm X series cameras.

Upon returning, one of the first things I did was review the images that I had captured. I noticed that there were a lot of pictures of things I saw along our highways. Oftentimes when we stopped for gas or to eat, I’d capture some images of what was around. I had many photographs of different sights that were found along the highway. Some were immediately off the highway, while others were perhaps a half-block away from the highway. I felt that, as long as the highway was clearly visible from where I captured the photograph, it was alright to include it in this series.

I decided to break this Photoessay, called Along The Highway, into several segments organized by states. The first part, which are viewing now, is Colorado. These are the pictures that I captured while traversing along the highways in that state.

The highways in Colorado were open and oftentimes lonely. That is, outside of the city limits, as we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic in Denver at one point. Sometimes towns were far apart and it seemed like we were far outside of civilization. We crossed mountain passes and saw some amazing scenery! Many of the towns we drove through had quite obviously seen better days, and they sharply contrasted the natural wonder that was never far away. It was almost as if these communities were not supposed to be there, that they were holding on with their last inner strength against an unseen force to rid them from this place. Either that, or the residents lost sight of the wonder around them, and neglected to maintain what those who came before had begun. This is not unique to Colorado, but a phenomenon seen throughout the west. It was simply more obvious this trip. It was, at times, depressing. But the highway compelled us on.

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Discovered Truck – Fruita, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – I-70

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Fresh Wind – Fruita, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – I-70

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Warehouse Sunset – Montrose, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US Hwy 50

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Campground – Montrose, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US Hwy 50

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85 Pounds – Montrose, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 50

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Tough Times – Gunnison, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 50

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Safe – Gunnison, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 50

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Regular Sign – Gunnison, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – CO Hwy 135

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Continental Ride – Monarch Pass, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US HWY 50

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Motorcycle Mart – Burlington, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – I-70

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County Road V – Burlington, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – I-70

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Old Truck & Mt. Lindsey – Fort Garland, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US Hwy 160

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Monarch Pass – Monarch Pass, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – US Hwy 50

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Storm Over San Luis Valley – Alamosa, CO – Fujfilm X-Pro2 & 60mm – CO HWY 150

New Mexico  West Texas  East Texas  Oklahoma (Color)  Oklahoma (B&W)  Wyoming

Road Trip: Black Hills, South Dakota – Days 5 & 6

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East North East – Lusk, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Days 1 & 2  Day 3 – Part 1  Day 3 – Part 2  Day 4 – Part 1  Day 4 – Part 2

The final two days of the road trip to South Dakota involved packing up the trailer and driving home. It was stormy and at times the wind was blowing hard, which meant a lot of white knuckles as I tried to stay on the road. Needles to say, I didn’t capture a whole lot of photographs! I did manage to get a little photography in here and there, which are the pictures you see here.

The Black Hills turned out to be more beautiful and interesting than I had imagined. I felt like I could have stayed several days longer to really experience the place. While Mount Rushmore was a slight let-down, the rest exceeded all expectations. If you’ve never been you’ll have to be sure to someday go.

You might have noticed that I didn’t capture a single photograph using my Fujifilm X100F. All of the photographs in this series were captured using my X-Pro2 (unedited camera-made JPEGs, by the way). The reason for this is that my wife was using the X100F on this trip. Now she has her own camera, an X-T20, so I have my X100F back.

You may have also noticed that I used the Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens a lot on this trip. I learned photography with a nifty-fifty, and for a long time that’s all I had. So having a 50mm (equivalent) focal length lens was a nice change of pace, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The Meike lens, while far from perfect, is well worth the small price it goes for.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series. I know that viewing other people’s photographs of someplace is never the same as going yourself and creating your own images. But I hope that this inspires you to get out on your own road trip, camera in hand, to see the wonderful world that’s around you.

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Wyoming Thunderstorm – Orin, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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On Track To Rain – Orin, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Storm Over Orin – Orin, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Unleaded Sky – Orin, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Fingernail Moon – Alcova, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Always Moving Ahead – Rawlins, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Trucks, Stopped – Rawlins, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

 

 

Road Trip: Black Hills, South Dakota – Day 4, Part 2

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Paddling Sylvan Lake – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

Days 1 & 2  Day 3 – Part 1  Day 3 – Part 2  Day 4 – Part 1

After my adventurous morning in Custer State Park, I returned back to the campsite as everyone else was waking up. Once breakfast was finished we drove a short distance to Hill City to visit the small railroad museum and watch the steam train arrive (which we almost missed because we were in the museum). Afterwards we had lunch and then returned to camp.

The afternoon was kept low-key. In the early evening we returned to Sylvan Lake to catch some fish. My eight-year-old son, Jonathan, was eager to attempt fishing in South Dakota. Unfortunately, the kids didn’t catch anything, although we could see the fish jumping all over the place. Still, we had a great time and Sylvan Lake is incredibly beautiful.

That night, after everyone was asleep, my wife and I did some astrophotography (my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were camping with us and stayed behind with the kids). We drove up the Needles Highway to Needles Eye, set the camera up on a tripod, and did some long exposures. It was extremely dark and a little creepy, as we heard plenty of noises around us–that area is full of wildlife. The night sky was full of stars and simply breathtaking. Unfortunately, the cloud-like Milky Way wasn’t visible, and I knew it wasn’t going to be because I had done some research before the trip, but I still wanted to get some nighttime photography in.

I used a Fujifilm X-Pro2 for these photographs, which are all camera-made JPEGs using the different film simulations. I attached a Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens and a Fujinon 16mm f/1.4 lens to the camera. Enjoy!

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Semaphore – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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1880 – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Telegraph Office – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Tall Train Tales – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Hartmann – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Wood Cart – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Save Money – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Caboose Roof – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Amanda, Looking Through The Lens – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Boy With A Fishing Pole – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Preparing To Cast – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Fishing With A Worm – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Fishing Can Be Gross – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Line In The Water – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Joshua Fishing At Sylvan Lake – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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The Cast – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Impatiently Waiting – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Casting The Line – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Johanna Watching From Her Stroller – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Rocks & Trees, Sylvan Lake – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Sylvan Lake In May – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Wood & Stone – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Sylvan Lake Reflection – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Stars & Stones – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Stars Over Stones – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Needles Eye Night – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

Days 5 & 6

Road Trip: Black Hills, South Dakota – Day 4, Part 1 – Early Morning In Custer State Park

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Black Hills Sunrise – Custer SP, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Days 1 & 2  Day 3 – Part 1  Day 3 – Part 2  

Late to bed and early to rise is the life of a photographer, especially when travelling. Even though I had stayed up the night before capturing star pictures, on Day 4 I woke up when it was still dark to catch the sunrise along the Needles Highway, which is within Custer State Park. This area features unusual granite rock formations, many of which are pillars. There’s also an arch called Needles Eye that is unusual in that it is tall and not wide. The highway is narrow and curvy with several small one-lane tunnels. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful drive, and I wanted to capture it in the early morning hours.

I arrived at the Needles Eye area about 10 minutes before sunrise. I didn’t have a chance to scout the location ahead of time, so I was hoping to quickly find some good spots for photography. I think I did alright in that regard, but if I had a chance to visit before hand I would have come away with some better photographs. As far as sunrises go, the one that morning was mediocre since there were no clouds. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to try again another time.

The Golden Hour was spent in the general vicinity of Needles Eye, trying to find different angles and views of the rocks. On the way back to the campsite I stopped at Sylvan Lake. You might recognize this lake if you’ve seen the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets. It’s a very scenic spot, and I enjoyed a peaceful morning hike around it, capturing photographs as I walked.

All of the photographs in this article are camera-made JPEGs using my X-Pro2 and either a Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens or a Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 lens. Both are great options for landscape photography, depending on if you want wide-angle or a “standard” focal length. One costs about 10x as much as the other. I used Acros, Velvia, Astia, PRO Neg. Std, and Classic Chrome film simulations.

There is one photograph that I did not include, called Father Nature (if you want to see it, click the link). It seems inappropriate, but I assure you that it is a natural granite rock formation found along the Needles Highway in Custer State Park. Since I want this to be a family-friendly website, I decided to simply link to the photograph instead of posting it directly on this page. Take a look if you want, or don’t click the link if you don’t want to.

Enjoy the photographs!

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Meager Pine – Custer SP, SD – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Monochrome Needles – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Black Hills Above The Great Plains – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Dawn At Cathedral Spires – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Morning In The Hills – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Needles Eye Tunnel – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Improbable – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Needles Eye – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Needles Eye Arch – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Reaching Up – Custer SP, SD – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Rugged Rocks – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Jagged Landscape – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Tunnel At Needles Eye – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Overlook At Needles Eye – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Needles In The Black Hills – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Towering Rocks & Trees – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Sylvan Lake Monochrome – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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The Dam Bridge – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Black Hills Pine Forest – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Morning Sun Through The Trees – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Looking Down The Dam – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Risky Tunnel – Custer SP, SD – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Sylvan Blue – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Chairs On A Dock – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Sylvan Lake & Blue Sky – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Boats Ashore – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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River Canoe – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Spill – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

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Grazing – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

Day 4 – Part 2  Days 5 & 6

Road Trip: Black Hills, South Dakota – Day 3, Part 2

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Rocky Ridge – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Days 1 & 2  Day 3 – Part 1  

After leaving Mount Rushmore National Monument, we drove around the Black Hills a little, and then returned to our campsite to relax. After spending the two previous days on the road, it was good to limit the time in the car. We kept the evening low-key, playing board games and throwing around a football.

That night, once everyone was in bed, I tiptoed out into the darkness and did a little night photography. I set my X-Pro2 with a Fujinon 16mm f/1.4 lens on a tripod for some long exposure photography, utilizing Fujifilm’s Cam Remote app. The sky was dark but full of stars. I shined a flashlight into the forest and saw about 100 eyes looking back at me–deer, and perhaps other animals, were all over the place!

These photographs are all camera-made JPEGs. The black-and-white are Acros and the color are Velvia. I really appreciate the look that Fujifilm gear creates in-camera. I could spend hours in front of a computer post-processing, or I could rely on straight-out-of-camera JPEGs that look like they’ve been post-processed. I choose the latter whenever possible, because my time is important to me.

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Black Hills – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Norbeck Overlook – Keystone, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Twisted Tree – Keystone, SD – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Leaning Tree & Stars – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm f/1.4

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Night Forest – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm f/1.4

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Night Sky Over Needles Highway – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm f/1.4

Day 4 – Part 1  Day 4 – Part 2  Days 5 & 6

Road Trip: Black Hills, South Dakota – Day 3, Part 1 – Mount Rushmore

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Four Fathers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Days 1 & 2  

On the morning of the third day of our South Dakota trip, which was the first full day in the Black Hills, after breakfast, we headed out to see Mount Rushmore National Monument. This is an iconic landmark of America. The heads of four quintessential presidents were carved into the rocks: George Washington, the first president and Revolutionary War general, on the far left, Thomas Jefferson, the third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, on the middle-left, Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president and Rough Rider, on the middle-right, and Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president and slavery abolisher, on the far right.

Gutzon Borglum is the sculptor who, along with his team of over 400 people, carved Mount Rushmore, which is an incredible work of art. The work began in 1927 and finished in 1941. It was mostly carved by careful use of dynamite. Borglum was a renown artist even before Mount Rushmore, but this is certainly his biggest and best known accomplishment.

When we arrived we were surprised to learn that our National Parks Pass didn’t do us any good. There is a “parking fee” (but no entrance fee), and they offer no discount for those who have an annual pass. The parking garage, which resembles something you’d find at a large airport or downtown, is a big expense, I’m sure, so I certainly understand the need to charge money to park. I just think that, if you have an annual pass, they should give a discount of some sort.

The way that this monument is set up is you traverse a walkway towards the sculpture, with things on your right and left as you make your way down. It kind of feels like much of it was an afterthought instead of integrated design. Still, it’s laid out in such a way that you could choose to get as much out of it as you want. Except, when we were there, half of the trail and the Sculptor’s Studio were closed. Still, we found the museum to be interesting enough.

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Mount Rushmore Monochrome – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Our ten-year-old and eight-year-old kids did the Junior Ranger program. This is a great way for them to not only learn about the park, but to be engaged and excited about it. Afterwards, once they had completed the requirements, they were sworn in as Junior Rangers and received a badge. This was a highlight of the trip for them.

The four heads are very large, but it is difficult to really appreciate the scale from the main viewing area. There is a trail that takes you closer, and it isn’t until you reach the end that you can better appreciate the size of the carvings. After we left the park we decided that Mount Rushmore was a neat place to see, but mildly disappointing. On the other hand, it made us want to watch the Alfred Hitchcock classic North by Northwest, which takes place, in part, at Mount Rushmore.

One takeaway from visiting this place is that photography is a lot like sculpting. Borglum’s job wasn’t all that much different from yours and mine, except the tools are different. He removed all of the stone that wasn’t Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. What was left was his great work of art. When you and I compose, our job is to remove everything that doesn’t belong so that what we are left with is the strongest image possible. Often less is more.

The photographs in this article, which are all camera-made JPEGs, were captured using a Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens attached to it. I really like this camera-lens combination, and I thought it was a good choice for the location. One of the things that I appreciate about my X100F is the simplicity and restriction of one-camera and one-lens, and I found that not changing lenses on the X-Pro2 while at a location provides a similar experience.

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Forefathers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Heads Up – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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George – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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George Washington – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Monumental Proportions – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Junior Oath – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Getting Ranger Badges – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Junior Rangers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Making Connections – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Securely In Father’s Arms – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Along For The Ride – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Josh, Joy, Jon & Forefathers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Amanda, Johanna & Forefathers – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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American Heroes – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Monumental – Mt. Rushmore, SD – X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Avenue of Flags – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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State & Federal – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Umbrella of Liberty – Mt. Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Day 3 – Part 2  Day 4 – Part 1  Day 4 – Part 2  Days 5 & 6

Road Trip: Black Hills, South Dakota – Days 1 & 2

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Threatening Sky – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

A couple of weeks ago my family and I took a road trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore. I visited that area when I was a little kid and don’t remember much of anything. Mostly what I remember is getting a piggy bank with the four presidents’ heads on it. My wife and kids had never been. We decided that it would be a great travel destination, so we hitched up the RV trailer and went.

Living in the Salt Lake City, Utah, metro area affords us the opportunity to see all sorts of great places. It’s closely located to many iconic sites of the American West. We can get to most anywhere west of the Great Plains within two days of driving, and many places can be reached within one day. To get to the Black Hills required two days on the road, although, if we weren’t pulling the trailer and really stretched ourselves, we might have been able to make it in one day.

Approaching the Wyoming boarder the landscape changes significantly. Even though you cross the Continental Divide several times while traversing the Rocky Mountains, the scenery becomes rather boring. While it is quite clear that these are not the same Rocky Mountains that John Denver penned songs about, there is a certain beauty in the emptiness, especially with building thunderstorms around.

We spent the night in Alcova, Wyoming, which is a tiny community along the North Platte River. It’s also the halfway point between our house and Mount Rushmore. This is where the scenery starts to become interesting again. The hills slowly become more green and trees begin to appear here and there, eventually becoming thick pine forest in South Dakota.

On the second day of our trip we arrived at our campsite north of Custer and south of Hill City in time to cook dinner and enjoy a campfire. Everyone was glad to be out of the car and at our destination. The fresh pine air felt great to breathe in. We spent the evening settling in and relaxing, as we had plenty of things planned for the next two days.

The only pictures that I captured on the drive out was at the camp in Alcova, Wyoming, and at a gas stop in Edgemont, South Dakota. Mostly I just wanted to “get there” so I kept pushing forward instead of stopping for photography. I saw plenty along the way that would have been worth the time to capture, so maybe on another trip through the area I will take my time. Once settled in at our camp in South Dakota I pulled out the camera again and captured some more images.

All of the photographs in this article were captured using a Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Meike 35mm lens. I really like this combination a lot. On this trip the lens was brand new so I was still figuring out how to best use it. I had other gear with me, but on these first two days I stuck to just this one camera and lens, more for the simplicity of it than anything else. These are all camera-made JPEGs, mostly Classic Chrome and Acros, although Velvia, PRO Neg. Std, and PRO Neg. Hi were also used. Enjoy!

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Grey Reef – Alcova, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Rusty Cactus – Alcova, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Old Wood Fence Post – Alcova, WY – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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N. Platte River – Alcova, WY – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Flowers & Rail – Edgemont, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Gas Tanks – Edgemont, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Sinclair – Edgemont, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Conoco – Edgemont, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Big Cookie, Little Girl – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Camping Face – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Adventure Joy – Hill City, SD – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Campfire – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Leaning Tree – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Black Hills Monochrome – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Partly Sunny – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Ominous – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

Day 3 – Part 1  Day 3 – Part 2  Day 4 – Part 1  Day 4 – Part 2  Days 5 & 6

Road Trip: Bonneville Salt Flats, Wendover, Utah

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Kids At The Salt Flats – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

The Bonneville Salt Flats are an otherworldly place in Utah near the Nevada border, just outside of the town of Wendover, along Interstate 80. It’s a remnant of Lake Bonneville, which was a giant lake that covered a significant chuck of Utah plus parts of Idaho and Nevada. The Great Salt Lake is also a remnant of Lake Bonneville.

You’ve likely seen this place before, even if you’ve never been there. Almost 50 movies, documentaries and television shows have filmed scenes at the Bonneville Salt Flats, including Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds EndIndependence Day and Con Air. Plenty of television commercials and advertisement shoots have taken place in the stark and salty landscape. Award-winning photographs have been captured there, too.

The Bonneville Salt Flats are perhaps best known for fast cars. The Bonneville Speedway is a section of the salt flats that has been set aside for motor sports. Many land-speed records have been set there, including a couple that exceeded 600 MPH! Even if you are not racing, many people take their cars out on the salt flats for fun.

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Bonneville Salt Flats – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

This was my second trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats and the first for my family. It might seem like this is just a flat and bleak desert, but upon close inspection there is plenty to find interesting. The kids had fun just exploring. The place is surprisingly photogenic, and it seems like every exposure is a keeper.

I used my Fujifilm X100F for a few of these shots. I was teaching my wife photography, and so she had that camera for most of the trip. The camera that I mostly used was my Fujifilm X-A3 with the 16-50mm zoom lens attached. Even though it is a cheaper camera model, it did just fine capturing great pictures.

All of these images are camera-made JPEGs. About half of the images captured using the X-A3 received some light post-processing using Nik Color Efex or Nik Silver Efex, and a few saw a little more robust editing. Many of them are straight-out-of-the-camera JPEGs using the different film simulations. I hope you enjoy these pictures that I captured at the Bonneville Salt Flats, an unusual place that’s unusually good for photography.

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Welcome, It’s Bright – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Salt Exploration – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Kids & Salt – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Exploring The Salt Flats – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Deceiving Distances – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Baby On The Flats – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Mountains Beyond The Salt – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Salty Sasquatch – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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45 MPH Road – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Racing Stickers – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Almost Flat – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Desolate Desert Wandering – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Hopeful – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Umbrella Boy – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Salt Water Reflection – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Hills Beyond The Salt – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Amanda, The Boys, Bonneville Salt Flats – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Joshua & Umbrella – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Stark Salt – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Bonneville Bright – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Jon & Joy Exploring Salt – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Salt Flat Fire – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Sky’s The Limit – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Sun Roof – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Salt & Light – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Inhospitable – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Rays Over Wendover – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Desert Circles – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Salty Tree Stumps – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Wendover Will – Wendover, NV – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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Concrete Curves – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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A Sad State of Affairs – Wendover, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & 16-50mm

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Canyon Juniper – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Canyon Grand – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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

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

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The Watchtower – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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

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Watchtower Sun – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Desert Watchtower – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Telescoping – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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

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

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

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

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Passed By – Williams, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hopi Art – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Neon Gifts – Williams, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Cheap Room – Williams, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Neon Bistro – Williams, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Drink Coke – Williams, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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Steaks & BBQ – Williams, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

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BBQ & Coke – Williams, AZ – X100F

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

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Spiked Cactus – Kanab, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Kids At Moqui Cave – Kanab, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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

Part 2 – B&W

Travel: Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

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Endless Canyons – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

The day after visiting Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park in southern Utah, I checked out Dead Horse Point State Park. It is located very close to the Island In The Sky district of Canyonlands and offers stunning views of the national park. It’s essentially a smaller Island In The Sky with some good views of the Colorado River.

The story behind the name is tragic. Early settlers used these “sky islands” as natural pens for livestock and other animals. Even the local Native Americans did this to an extent. Some early American settlers trapped a group of wild horses on the mesa that’s now the state park. They picked the mustangs that they wanted to tame, then left the others on the mesa to die of thirst. That’s why it’s called Dead Horse Point. My 10-year-old daughter loves horses, and she was particularly appalled at the story. That, of course, is just a brief dark period for this land, but the name stuck, even though it is a little grim.

Dead Horse Point State Park is breathtakingly beautiful! The views are stunning. For the most part, what you see is Canyonlands National Park, just from a little different angle. You actually get better views of the Colorado River here than on Island In The Sky. It’s surprising to me that this section isn’t included in the national park system.

If you have the choice between the two, definitely go for Canyonlands. If you have time for a little more, visit Dead Horse Point. On the way out from Moab on the way home, my family and I detoured to see the state park. It took us, from the time we left U.S. 191 to the time we returned, a total of three hours. We could have stayed much longer, but we were a little strapped for time.

Lighting was terrible for photography when I was at the state park. There was a thin high overcast layer of clouds that did just enough to make the light ugly. Also, I was there mid-morning, well past the golden hour. I used a Fujifilm X100F and Fujifilm X-A3 with a Jupiter 21M lens attached to capture these images. I edited the camera-made JPEGs using Nik Color Efex and Nik Silver Efex software, with the exception of two, which are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. I would have preferred to rely just on the JPEGs unedited, but the light was just so ugly for photography while I was there that they needed some work to make them look decent.

I didn’t capture any great photographs while at Dead Horse Point State Park, but I definitely saw the potential. At the right time under the right light, the opportunity to capture some portfolio worthy images certainly exists at this place. I hope to return sometime in the near future to capture better photographs.

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The Dead Tree – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Erode Down – Dead Horse Point State Park, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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La Sal From Dead Horse Point – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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South Vista – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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The River Bend – Dead Horse SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Rock Temple – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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A River Runs Through It – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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River Island – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

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Cliff Above The Canyon – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Hanging On – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Long Ways – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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It’s Not Easy Being Green – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Desert West – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Red Desert Cliffs – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

Travel: Canyonlands National Park, Part 2: Monochrome

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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.

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

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

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

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

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Oh, Deer – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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

See also: Dead Horse Point State Park

Travel: Canyonlands National Park, Part 1: Color

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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.

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

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

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

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

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Green Tree – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Mesa Arch – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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

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

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

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Mesa Arch View – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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

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

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

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Canyons – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2 – Monochrome