Traveling With Fujifilm, Part 3: Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

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Abandoned Dream – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

Part 1  Part 2

In 1970, E.B. White published a fictional children’s novel called The Trumpet of the Swan, which is largely set in Red Rock Lakes, Montana. E.B. White is probably best known for penning Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, both of which are literary classics. While The Trumpet of the Swan is not as well known as the other two books, it is also considered a classic children’s novel. Not long before our road trip, we read this book as a family.

My 10-year-old son, Jonathan, who likes geography—you will frequently find him looking at maps and drawing maps—said to me, “Look, I found Red Rock Lakes!” He pointed to a spot on the map that appeared to be very close to our campsite in Island Park, which is in Idaho but very close to Montana. It turns out that the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, which is where the book is set, was only an hour drive away from our campsite. We made plans to visit this remote refuge while there.

The Red Rock Lakes area features lakes, rivers, marshlands, prairies, forested uplands, and mountain peaks. It’s highly diverse. Over 250 species of birds have been spotted in the refuge, including the illusive trumpeter swan, the main character of E.B. White’s novel. Moose, elk, deer, bears, wolves and many other animals call this place home.

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Upper Red Rock Lake – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

The road to Red Rock Lakes is dirt. Rough at times, lightly flooded at times, and narrow at times, and quite rural the entirety, this was a fun drive in our four-wheel-drive truck. We did see some other cars and people, plus plenty of UTVs, but mostly we were alone. Not many people venture out to this lonely place. Red Rock Lakes might not be easy to get to, but it is highly rewarding and worth the journey.

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is incredibly beautiful! Breathtakingly beautiful at times, in fact. It’s a landscape photographer’s playground! I didn’t see much wildlife myself, but I image that wildlife photographers would love this place, too. Upper Red Rock Lake (which I have no idea why it’s named that as I didn’t see many red rocks) is surprisingly still and reflective. It reminded me a little of the Great Salt Lake, but smaller and freshwater. In some ways the refuge was like stepping into E.B. White’s book, and seeing it in person brought the words to life. I would love to spend several days there, not just a few hours. I hope to someday return.

These photographs were mostly captured with a Fujifilm X100V, and a couple were with a  Fujifilm X-T30 and Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens. On the X100V I used my “The Rockwell” and Kodak Tri-X 400 film simulation recipes. On the X-T30 I used my Velvia and Tri-X 400 recipes. Both cameras are great, but the X100V is such a wonderful travel camera that it renders the other gear largely unnecessary.

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Red Rock Lakes Sign – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Red Rock Road – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Frontier Hills – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Dilapidated Dream – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Abandoned House by the Hill – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Green Hills – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Distant Mountains – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Mountain Meadow – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Mountain Wildflowers 1 – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Mountain Wildflowers 2 – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Wildflower Meadow – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Wildflowers in the Forest – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Forest Flowers – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Flower in the Forest – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

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Poolside – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Red Rock Lake in Green – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Algae Water – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Pelican on the Shore – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Looking For Trumpeter Swans – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Grey Reflections – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

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Upper Red Rock Lake Monochrome – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Monochrome Lake Reflections – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Water Pipe – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

Part 4 coming soon!

Traveling With Fujifilm, Part 2: Dirty Jobs & Failed Dreams in Rexburg

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Grease Work – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell”

Part 1

These photographs were all captured at the same place: a Jack-in-the-Box in Rexburg, Idaho. On the very first day of the road trip we stopped in Rexburg for lunch. You just never know when photographic opportunities are going to present themselves, so it’s a good habit to have a camera within easy reach. For me, that was the Fujifilm X100V. Surprisingly, that Jack-in-the-Box in Rexburg provided the chance to create some interesting pictures.

Rexburg is perhaps best known for being underwater when a dam broke 1976, which flooded the area. The town recovered. It’s the last city before Yellowstone, and seems like a nice enough place. Like everywhere, hard working people are what keeps things moving forward. It’s the thankless jobs that often go unnoticed, yet they’re critical to a functioning society. It’s the premise of the television show Dirty Jobs hosted by Mike Rowe. I encountered a couple of those important yet invisible people while in Rexburg.

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Blue Truck Trailer – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell”

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Drive Thru – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell”

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Out of Order – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell”

Right next to Jack-in-the-Box in the same parking lot was a closed and abandoned Wingers. According to the sign, it had been opened for 13 years. I’m not sure why it closed: lazy employees, poor management, mediocre food, bad location, current economic times? I can only speculate, but I’ll never know the answer—it doesn’t matter, anyway. What I found interesting is that just a few steps separated hard working yet invisible people from an empty building that had similar people in it, but no more. They’re gone. Their jobs are gone. They’ve moved on. The dream that inspired its opening failed, leaving only ghosts of the past behind, a haunting reminder of the fragility of it all. Invisible People and Ghost Dreams would be my alternative title to this post. Maybe we’re all ghosts. Maybe invisibility is a super power. Maybe I just inspired the next album for some indie rock band somewhere.

For the top four photographs I used my new “The Rockwell” film simulation recipe. In fact, these were some of the very first pictures that I captured with this recipe. The bottom four photographs were captured using my Fujicolor Superia 100 film simulation recipe. These two recipes are pretty much opposites of each other: one is boldly vibrant, while the other is rather dull in comparison. Juxtaposed recipes for juxtaposed subjects. One mundane stop in a rather ordinary town. You just never know when photographic opportunities will present themselves, so be ready.

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Available Building – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100”

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Available – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100”

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Thistles In The City – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100”

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This Restaurant is Closed – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100”

Part 3

Traveling With Fujifilm, Part 1: Introduction

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Sunrise & Travel Trailer – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V – Fujicolor Superia 1600

I recently returned from a road trip across several U.S. states, which I photographed with a Fujifilm X100V and X-T30. The trip began in Farmington, Utah, which is where I live, and over a week-and-a-half my family and I pulled a travel trailer across Idaho, Wyoming (just a little), and Montana, and back to Utah. I visited two national parks. I saw incredible lakes and rivers. It was just a great road trip!

Upon returning, I was unsure how to best share the experience with you. I decided to break the trip into a series of articles called Traveling With Fujifilm. I’m not sure exactly how many parts there will be in all, but there will be many! This is Part 1. It won’t necessarily be in chronological order, but I hope in a logical order that makes some sort of sense.

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Rural Diner – Tremonton, UT – Fujifilm X100V – Fujicolor Superia 1600

The trip began on July 2nd right after sunrise. The trailer was already packed and ready, and already attached to the truck. We just had to load ourselves into the truck and leave. There are six of us: my wife and I, plus our four children. The truck seats six. It was a tight fit. We bonded (and occasionally not), as we spent significant stretches of time together on the open road.

The first day took us from our home in Utah to Island Park, Idaho. For the most part it’s rural country. We made a few stops for gas and food, but mostly pushed through to the destination. Island Park is amazingly beautiful! I’ll save that for another article, so you can look forward to it.

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Phillips 66 – Malad City, ID – Fujifilm X100V – Fujicolor Superia 100

The film simulation recipes that I used for these three pictures are Fujicolor Superia 100 and Fujicolor Superia 1600. I only used the Fujifilm X100V for this section of the trip. This camera is great for this type of photography. No need to carry a camera bag filled with lenses. One camera, one lens. In fact, I used the X100V for about 90% of the pictures on this trip. While this article has only a few photographs, most in this series will have many more.

Come along for the ride! Join me on this adventure by following this series. I hope that you’ll find it enjoyable, inspirational and perhaps even helpful to your photography.

Part 2  Part 3

Out of Office

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I have to apologize. Many people have commented on this blog, and many people have emailed me, but I haven’t answered those messages yet. I’m sorry for not getting back to you in a timely manor, but I will get back to you eventually. I promise!

Why the delay? I’m on vacation. I’m traveling. I’m camping. The picture above, which was captured with my Fujifilm X100V, is my current view. It is stunning! Any guess where I am? I’ve been keeping quite busy, but also WiFi and cell coverage has been spotty at best, so please be patient and understanding. This is, I suppose, my out-of-office auto-reply.

I’ll be back home soon, and I’ll be able to resume “normal operations” at that time. I have many articles to write, including sharing my vacation pictures, and a new film simulation recipe that I created. Be patient, good things are coming!

Video: Monument Valley with Fuji X Weekly (500th Post!)

Follow along with me as I photograph Monument Valley! The video above, Monument Valley with Fuji X Weekly, is a behind-the-scenes look at my photographic adventure to the incredible desert formations of southern Utah and northern Arizona on the Navajo Nation. It was a thrill to experience Monument Valley. It really is an amazing place!

This was my last trip before the worldwide pandemic shut down all of my travel plans. So far I’ve had to cancel two trips, and there’s likely one or two more that won’t happen. I hope that this video will bring you some joy. I hope that it reminds you of some recent travels that you’ve done. I hope that it inspires you to dream of where you’ll go and what you’ll photograph when you can once again go places.

My wife, Amanda, and I created this video. Actually, she did the majority of the work. Amanda recorded the clips. She did all of the editing. She coached me through the narration. I have a face for radio and a voice for print, yet somehow she made the video look great! Her vision, her storytelling, and her talents are what made this happen. Thank you, Amanda!

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Evening at Monument Valley – Monument Valley, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm

The photographs in the video were captured using a Fujifilm X-T30 and X-T1. I used four different lenses: a Fujinon 100-400mm, Fujinon 90mm f/2, Fujinon 35mm f/2 and Rokinon 12mm f/2. Amanda recorded the video using a Fujifilm X-T20 with a 16-50mm lens and a GoPro Hero 8 Black. The film simulation recipes used on the X-T30 were Velvia, Kodachrome 64, Analog Color, Dramatic Monochrome and Agfa Scala, and Velvia and Monochrome were used on the X-T1. Amanda used PRO Neg. Hi on the X-T20.

This article marks a significant milestone that I wanted to point out to you. This is the 500th post on Fuji X Weekly! Many blogs never make it to 500 posts, either because they publish too infrequently or they simply give up before it’s reached. What it means for you is that there’s a lot of content on this blog! If you haven’t been following Fuji X Weekly since the beginning, there are a ton of articles that you might have missed. There are perhaps many posts that could be helpful to you and your photography that you’ve never seen. I invite you to explore the older articles. The best way to do this is click the four lines on the top-right of this page, and either search a topic or browse the archive. Anyway, thank you for being a part of Fuji X Weekly! Without you, the 500 Posts milestone would not have been reached. You are appreciated!

Be sure to follow Fuji X Weekly, so that you don’t miss anything! I invite you to follow the Fuji X Weekly YouTube channel, as well. If you liked the Monument Valley video, I invite you to give it a thumbs-up, comment and share!

See also: Monument Valley – A Monumental Landscape

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5 Tips For Photographing Grand Teton National Park (Without Going Inside The Park)

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Barn by the Tetons – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

The Grand Teton National Park in western Wyoming is incredibly beautiful! It’s one of my favorite places. Once you’ve been, you’ll want to return again and again. There’s a magical quality to it, similar to that first view of the Grand Canyon or a misty morning in Yosemite Valley. If you’ve never visited the range, it should be high on your bucket list of places to see! The Grand Tetons are a landscape photographer’s playground, and you definitely need to visit with a camera in hand.

Many people who see the Grand Tetons do so from their car. U.S. Highway 191 runs north and south just east of the mountain, offering spectacular sights the whole length. There are so many amazing views of the range that don’t require an entrance into the park. Yellowstone National Park, which is a little north of the Grand Tetons, is the more popular park of the two, and Jackson Hole has itself become a destination, so a lot of people only see the Teton Range as they travel between the two places. While taking time to go inside the Grand Teton National Park is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, it’s definitely possible to experience exquisite views from outside the gate. Going inside the national park isn’t required for a memorable Teton visit. Below are five tips for photographing the Grand Tetons from outside the park entrance.

The Off Season Is The Best Season

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Tetons From Mormon Row – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

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Avalanche Canyon – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

The Grand Teton National Park can get very crowded. Even though it plays second fiddle to nearby Yellowstone, it still sees a ton of visitors from across the world, especially in the summer months. The winter months are harsh yet could provide some amazing photographic opportunities for those willing to brave the elements, but that’s not when I’d recommend visiting. There are a couple of small windows that are better suited for travel to the Grand Tetons.

The month of May is an excellent time, as the crowds are low since school is still in for many people, and the weather is usually decent enough. The earlier in the month you go, the smaller the crowds will be, but the temperatures will be colder and it still might feel like winter. Mid-May is the sweet spot. Mid-September to mid-October is another excellent time, as most children have returned to school, and the weather is still decent enough. The earlier you go the better the weather, but the larger the crowds will be. Late September is another sweet spot for visiting Grand Teton National Park. If the forecast is for clouds and cold temperatures, it could provide a dramatic environment for your pictures, so it might be preferable over endless sunshine, but be prepared for the conditions.

Early Morning Is Magical

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Mountain & Clouds – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

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Sliver of Illumination – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

While sunset can be a spectacular time to photograph the Grand Tetons, nothing beats sunrise. Since the highway runs on the east side of the range, the sunrise light is often better for photographing the mountains. The early morning “golden hour” is a time that you don’t want to miss. Be sure to arrive well before the official sunrise because the peaks will illuminate before the valley. If you can only be there for either sunrise or sunset (and not both), make sure that it’s sunrise. It’s worth getting up while it’s still dark outside to catch the early morning light on the Teton Range.

Because the sunrise will light the tips of the peaks first, it’s a good plan to begin the day with a telephoto lens. Once more of the landscape has daylight, you can switch to a wide-angle lens if you’d like. The Grand Tetons are a place where you’ll want the option for both telephoto and wide-angle focal lengths, and you’ll probably switch between both frequently.

Mormon Row Is Historic

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Mountain & Mormon How – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

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Barn In The Mountains – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

If you are starting off your photographic journey in the early morning, make the Mormon Row Historic District your first stop. It’s located just north of the Grand Teton National Park entrance on the east side of the highway. The old houses and barns are found about a mile down Antelope Flats Road. The John Moulton Barn is probably the most famous of the historic structures, and surely you’ve seen pictures of it, but there are other buildings that are equally picturesque. Mormon Row is one of the most famous spots at the Grand Tetons for photography, so even during the off season you’re likely to find a crowd with cameras at this place.

Besides the historic buildings, this is a location where you might spot bison, as buffalo commonly graze in the area. You might also see deer or even moose. Always be vigilant around wildlife and keep a safe distance. While the animals are fairly used to crowds of people, they can still be quite dangerous, so don’t get too close.

Schwabacher Landing Is Unbelievable

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Tetons From Schwabacher Landing – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

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Schwabacher Landing Beaver Dam – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

After you are done photographing the barns at Mormon Row, head further north up the highway to Schwabacher Landing. There’s a little road on the west side of the highway that takes you down close to the river, which is calm and reflective thanks to a bunch of beaver dams. Honestly, this place is magical! It can feel unreal. It’s my favorite place at the Grand Tetons, so be sure to stop here.

If there’s a place that you’ll want to use a tripod and really take your time, this is it. Walk around the trails a little. Soak in the scene. Enjoy the incredible nature that’s around you. Don’t be in a hurry to head down the road. Be in the moment, because the moment is amazing. If you are visiting during the off season, there’s a good chance you’ll have the place to yourself. Don’t miss Schwabacher Landing because it’s unbelievably beautiful!

Snake River Overlook Is Iconic

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Snake River Fog – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

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The Tetons and the Snake River, 2017 – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

About 21 miles north of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is the Snake River Overlook, which is a pullout on the west side of Highway 191. There are a bunch of scenic pullouts along the highway that offer stunning views of the Grand Tetons, but this one is special because Ansel Adams captured one of his most iconic pictures at this spot. What makes it especially great is that you can capture the Snake River winding in front of the incredible mountain range. This is a good place to finish the morning, and, if you can, return for sunset.

As a photographer who has studied Ansel Adams’ work, who has been inspired and influenced by his pictures, there’s something prodigious about being in the exact spot where he captured one of his famous pictures. It’s walking in the footsteps of greatness. It seems particularly appropriate, when you visit the Teton Range, to pay homage to Adams by making your own photographs at the Snake River Overlook.

See also: 5 Tips To Become A Better Photographer

Photoessay: Passing Through Nevada, Part 2: Monochrome

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Terrible Ford – Boulder City, NV – Fujifilm X-T30

Part 1: Color

I’ve passed through Nevada many times, often only stopping for gas or lunch. It never seems to be my destination. I’m headed somewhere else, and I have to go through the Silver State to get to where I’m going. While I have stayed longer than a few hours, most of the time I’m through Nevada so quickly that it’s easy to forget that I was ever there. The photographs in this article were captured during those times where I just passed through, and didn’t stay. In fact, many of them were captured from inside my car. I hope that you enjoy this set!

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Plaza Hound – Las Vegas, NV – Fujifilm X-T30

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I-15 Overpass – Las Vegas, NV – Fujifilm X100F

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Chance of Rain – Las Vegas, NV – Fujifilm X-T30

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Abstract Roof Lines – Las Vegas, NV – Fujifilm X-T30

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Empty Hoppers – Las Vegas, NV – Fujifilm X-T30

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Palm Shadow – Las Vegas, NV – Fujifilm X100F

See also: November Arizona

Photoessay: An Arizona Spring in Color

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Colorful Cactus Blooms – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

When most people think of Arizona, they picture dry dusty deserts and sprawling cities. It’s hot. It’s brown. It’s inhospitable. There are endless rows of look-alike stucco homes. Many people might be unaware that the desert bursts with color in the spring. Arizona isn’t just brown, there are vibrant greens, blues, reds, yellows, purples and other colors, especially in the spring, which is my favorite season in the state.

Arizona isn’t all desert, either. While it may be best known for the Grand Canyon, you might be surprised to learn that the largest ponderosa pine forest in the world is in Arizona. There are tall mountains and even winter skiing. The state is full of surprises. It’s one reason why I love Arizona and appreciate visiting whenever I can.

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Yellow Palo Verde – Black Canyon, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

I used to live in Arizona. Back when I was barely an adult, the Air Force sent me to live in Arizona. I met my wife there. My first two kids were born there. I have a deep fondness for the state. I would love to live there again someday. It’s a wonderful place for photography. I highly recommend grabbing a subscription to Arizona Highways magazine to see many wonderful pictures of the state. A fact that you might be surprised to learn is that Ansel Adams was frequently published in that magazine back in the day. Many great photographers were, and still are.

The photographs in this article were captured a few weeks ago. I used my Fujifilm X-T30 camera with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens and a Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens, which are both excellent examples of Fujifilm’s great glass that they’ve become renown for. I hope that you enjoy this variety of photographs that demonstrate there’s more color in Arizona than one might initially think.

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Pine In The Sky – Flagstaff, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Green Leaves – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Agave Green – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Cactus & Blue Sky – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Palo Verde In The Windy Blue – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Palm – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Vultures In A Tree – Wickenburg, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Wildflowers & Stone – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Impatient? Stop & Smell – Sedona, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Yellow Rose of Arizona – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Little Bloom Design – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Yellow Blossom Flowers – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Splash of Red Among Green – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Bougainvillea Bloom – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Bloom In The Rocks – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Blooming Cactus Landscape – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Red Prickly Pears – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Beginning To Blossom Red – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Desert Landscape – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Spring Saguaro – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Yucca Bloom – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Cactus Blooming Red – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Red Ball Fruit – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Barrel Cactus – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Cactiscape – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Prickled – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Pops of Yellow – Black Canyon, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Yellow Desert – Black Canyon, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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One Barrel Cactus Bloom – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Red Spiky Blooms – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Red & Purple Desert Blossoms – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

Travel: Zion National Park in Autumn

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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.

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Color

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

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

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

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Autumn River – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm XF10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Desert Juniper – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visiting Ree Drummond’s Mercantile & Ranch in Pawhuska, OK

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Drummond Ranch – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

This last summer my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Ree Drummond’s mercantile store and ranch in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Ree Drummond, who is also known as The Pioneer Woman, is a famous television host, cook, author and blogger. She’s practically a household name! Her home, which just happens to be one of the largest ranches in America, is just outside of Pawhuska, which is where you’ll find her restaurant and store.

Pawhuska is a quintessential rural country town in northern Oklahoma. It once boomed, but an oil bust, the Great Depression and Dust Bowl left lasting scars on this small town. Less than 5,000 people call Pawhuska home, but it does have one famous resident that has breathed new life into the area, and it has become a mecca of sorts, a tourist destination for fans of The Pioneer Woman. People travel from all over the county, even the world, to visit The Mercantile.

You might be wondering right now what any of this has to do with photography, as Fuji X Weekly is a photography blog, other than I captured some photographs of this place while visiting. Well, a lesser known fact about Ree Drummond is that she’s a pretty good photographer. She’s captured some amazing photographs of Oklahoma ranch life. In fact, her store and ranch are decorated with her pictures. You’ll find some of her photographs in her different books. I know that she’ll never read this article, but if by chance she ever does, I would strongly urge her to publish a photoessay book showing life on her ranch, which might include 40-50 of her best black-and-white photographs. The art world has yet to recognize Ree’s pictures, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a talented artist or that she shouldn’t share her pictures with the world. I do believe someday her prints will find their way into an exhibition somewhere, and she’ll receive recognition for what she’s done with a camera.

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The Merc – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

We visited The Mercantile, which is an old brick building in downtown Pawhuska, in the afternoon, browsing the store that’s packed with unique items. Some of these things feature Ree’s designs, while other things fit her style but aren’t designed by her. It’s a fun store to walk through, and my wife found many things that she wanted to purchase. After that we went upstairs to the coffee shop, which includes a great space for sipping hot drinks and eating tasty pastries and just relaxing. The Mercantile was busy, but it didn’t feel overcrowded, and we took our time soaking up the experience.

The Drummond family opens up The Lodge for tours from time-to-time, and it just so happens that it was open for tours while we were there. The Lodge is located on their ranch several miles outside of town and down some dirt roads. This is where the cooking show is filmed, and it serves as a guesthouse for visitors. It’s a beautifully restored and decorated ranch house. Visiting it was an intimate experience, as it felt like stepping into their home, even though this isn’t their main house. My wife pretended to host the show, and we got a good laugh out of that. We were able to pet a few of their dogs, which are seen in the show and books and were just hanging around the building. We even saw some of their horses, and my 10-year-old daughter, who loves horses, got to pat one on the nose. It was a good time and well worth the dusty drive to get there and back.

That night we returned to The Mercantile for dinner in the restaurant. The food was every bit as delicious as we imagined and then some! The atmosphere was just as enjoyable as the food. It was one of the best meals we had on our road trip. Ree’s restaurant really was ridiculously good!

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Kitchen Window – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

We spent the night in Pawhuska. We awoke the next morning to rain, but that didn’t stop us from returning to The Mercantile in the morning for breakfast. As delicious as dinner was the night before, breakfast was even better! I can understand why Ree is a popular television cook, as her recipes are incredibly tasty.

Before coming to Pawhuska we had read on the internet that The Mercantile and restaurant can be extremely crowded with long lines, and that sometimes you have to wait for hours. We didn’t experience any of that, but as we were leaving town we did notice that the line for the restaurant was becoming quite long. I would suspect on weekends or busy travel days, during peak hours, that it can get extraordinarily crowded. My recommendation would be to come during the middle of the week and be there either early near when they first open or late just a little while before closing and you’ll miss the gobs of people.

The Pioneer Woman experience was a highlight of our summer vacation. It felt like we were invited guests and not strangers. We ate delicious food. We toured their guesthouse. We purchased some merchandise. We didn’t want to leave, but it was time to go. We took with us some good memories. Oh, and I captured the photographs you see here.

Color:

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Pioneer Woman Table – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Singing Cowboys – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Headless Three – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Chair Shadow – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Backwards Gear – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Window Seat – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Blackberry Lemonade – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Berry Creme Brulee – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Devil’s Food – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Drummond Ranch Horse – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Mercantile Treats – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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The Lodge Porch – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Kitchen Flowers – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Chairs By The Window – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Ranch View – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Cowboy Boots – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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The Lodge Kitchen – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Dog & Cow – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Drummond Ranch Vista – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Foal Shy – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Country Horses – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

B&W:

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Mercantile – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F

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Cafe Flowers – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F

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Wet Tables – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F

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Bakery – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Light Fixture – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F

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The Pioneer Woman Store Corner – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Pat – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Cup of Joe – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X100F

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Rural Cows – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Two Horses In The Grass – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Horse Gate – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Horse & Hand – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Drummond Ranch Overlook – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Drummond Ranch View – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Walter – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico – Part 2: Monochrome

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Storm Over Pueblo – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

Part 1 – Color

One thing I found particularly fascinating about the Taos Pueblo is that this historic site is still inhabited. This is a real home to many people. The doors and windows belong to someone. Inside there are living spaces, bedrooms and kitchens. Surrounding the two large pueblos are even more houses. There’s a church. This is a community.

Visiting Taos is like being invited into a stranger’s home. You have the opportunity to see a more intimate side of things, and perhaps come away with a different perspective. What I found in Taos was not what I had pictured in my mind prior to visiting, but something much more interesting. There’s a certain profoundness to this place that’s difficult to put into words.

I appreciate those in Taos for allowing me in, answering my questions and showing hospitality and kindness. Unfortunately, my stay was much too short. I had only a couple of hours to spend at the pueblo, and then it was time to continue down the highway to Santa Fe. I truly hope that the opportunity to return comes sooner than later.

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Taos Tourist – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X100F

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Jacob’s Ladder – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Dream Ladder – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X100F

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Tree & Shed – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Bells & Crosses – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Pueblo Sky – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X100F

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Taos & Sky – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Second Floor Pueblo – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Pueblo Roof – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Boxy – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Taos Pueblo Apartments – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Storm Approaching Taos – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X100F

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico – Part 1: Color

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San Geronimo Cross – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

Ansel Adams’ very first book, Taos Pueblo, was published in 1930. It featured photographs that Adams had captured in the spring of 1929 at Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. He would return to Taos several times on his journeys across the American west. It was while flipping through one of Adams’ books that I first learned of Taos, and for the next twenty years I would dream of one day experiencing the place firsthand.

The Taos Pueblo is the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America, dating back to about 1000 AD. There are actually two pueblos, the north house and south house, that look much the same and are of similar age. It’s amazing how little has changed over the centuries, and it is said that the pueblo appears similar to visitors today as it did to Spanish explorers in 1540.

People still inhabit the Taos Pueblo. It’s like a giant apartment complex. Many of the lower-level units are used as restaurants and shops. You can buy handmade art and trinkets. It’s a neat experience. It does cost money to visit ($16 per person), but I didn’t mind as I’m sure it helps those who live there. Sadly, it appears as though poverty is a common issue at the pueblo.

My family and I only got to spend a couple of hours at the Taos Pueblo. We were just passing through on our way to Santa Fe. It would have been great to spend more time capturing this historic site. There are so many photographic opportunities! Interestingly, and perhaps unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), photographs are for personal use only, and one must obtain prior approval and pay a fee for commercial photography. If I wanted to sell a picture that I captured at the pueblo, well, I can’t, unless I jumped through the appropriate hoops ahead of time. This is something to consider if you are planning a visit, and if I were to spend more time than just a couple of hours at the site I definitely would have done this just in case I captured something special.

I used a Fujifilm X-Pro2 with a Fujinon 60mm lens attached to capture these images. They are all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs using my Kodachrome II film simulation recipe. I hope you enjoy viewing them!

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San Geronimo de Taos – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Taos Cowboy – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Pueblo Door – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Red Door – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Flower Pot – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Pueblo Peak – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Pueblo – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Pueblo de Taos – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

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Fallen Fence – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

Part 2 – Monochrome

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

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

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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.

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Great Sand Dunes – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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

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Mountain of Sand – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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Stroller Alone – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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

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Running In The Sand – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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

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

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Sand & Sierra Sky – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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Improbability – Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO

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Sand Walkers – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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Passerby – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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Silver Sand – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

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Sandal In The Sand – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

Part 2 – Color

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 3 – West Texas

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Cadillac Spray Cans – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm – I-70 / Route 66

Colorado  New Mexico  East Texas  Oklahoma In Color  Oklahoma in B&W  Wyoming

West Texas is vast and empty. There are small towns scattered around, most of which have seen better days, and a few larger cities. But, for the most part, there’s a whole lot of nothing. It’s a rural life that’s lived here, and that is likely an understatement.

You might think that the opening paragraph was written with a negative tone, but I don’t mean it to be. I’m actually quite fascinated with the region, and I’d love to spend some significant time photographing it. Each little town offers something of photographic interest. There’s something that draws me in. There’s a story to tell.

My photography instructor in collage was June Van Cleef. Her most important work was capturing the life and times of rural west Texas. She spent years in the small dusty towns that seemed to be barely hanging on, camera in hand, capturing the people who called the place home. Perhaps it’s her perspective that I took away from those many months in her classroom.

I don’t have a real draw to west Texas other than I can clearly see the photographic potential. I have never made the time to act on that potential. Like most people, I just pass through on the way to somewhere else. That’s what highways are good for: taking you someplace else. Like all the times before, I came and went quickly, and saw the view from behind the car windshield. Someday, though, I will take my time and immerse myself in capturing this rural land. I hope to, anyway.

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Cans & Cars – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm – I-70 / Route 66

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Ex Lover – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X100F – I-70 / Route 66

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Def Bus – Amarillo, TX – Fujifilm X100F – I-70 / Route 66

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No Truck Parking – Childress, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 287

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Steel Snowman – Childress, TX – Fuji X100F – US HWY 287

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Potted Flag – Bowie, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 287

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Rural Ranch – Bowie, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 287

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Truck Stop – Bowie, TX – Fujifilm X100F – US HWY 287