Wednesday Nov 07, 2012 at 12:50

Malhamdale, North Yorkshire

A couple of a months ago (already – can't believe it), we spent three weeks back in the UK, visiting friends and family, running a half marathon, and attending a wedding in Cambridge.

With a few days to spare between the Great North Run and the wedding, we decided to stay in Malham, North Yorkshire. The last time I’d visited North Yorkshire was back in the 1980s to Swaledale on a school camping trip – an occasion that brings back memories of mud, rain and damp canvas more than anything else.


This time round we came better prepared in terms of waterproof gear, but as it turned out, we didn’t need it so much. A 5-mile loop walk past Gordale Scare and Malham Cove took us over some higher ground that provided some wonderful views (above).

Limestone Pavement

Malham Cove’s limestone pavement photographs surprisingly well in midday light. On this trip, given the wide variety of clothing required for all our other activities, I didn’t bring an SLR. Instead, Alice brought along her Lumix GX1 – a Micro FourThirds camera, which I borrowed for the shots on this page. It performed very well indeed, although I didn’t challenge it in any low light situations.

On our second day hiking, we headed up to Malham Tarn, on what proved to be a slightly wetter and more blustery day. The weather was moving quickly providing some good opportunities to catch dramatic light on the limestone formations above Malham Cove:

Above Malham Cove

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Stephen · Wednesday, November 07, 2012, 12:50 · Permalink

Wednesday Nov 09, 2011 at 23:06

A visit to Sedona

Surveying Sedona

Alice and I planned a week in Sedona intended to be timed for peak fall colour in Oak Creek Canyon. As things turned out, we never really saw peak colour.

For one, we ended up working rather longer than planned (releasing a new product, finally). Secondly, we were simply too late.

While much of Colorado saw later than usual changes in the aspen (although the Cottonwoods were overall very disappointing), this trend did not appear to extend to Oak Creek.

Nonetheless, by the time the software was out the door, an early season snow storm arrived in town and dropped some very attractive snow overnight on Friday:

Sedona Snow

Sedona Snow (click image for larger view)

Red rock and fresh snow makes for an irresistible combination, and Airport Mesa had attracted a decent group of photographers by early morning.

Following a quick coffee, we headed up Oak Creek, parking at West Fork to take our first look at one of America’s most renowned day-hikes.

Snow at West Fork

Snow at West Fork (click image for larger view)

While peak colour was past, there was still plenty of foliage on the trees to collect the snow.

We didn’t exactly arrive early (around 10am, I think), but the car park was mostly empty – something I found unbelievable. There can be only once in a year at most when there’s fresh snow on late autumn forest (and I imagine in some years, it doesn’t happen at all, with the leaves fallen before the snow arrives). Yet, the usual crowd decided to stay at home. I certainly wasn’t complaining however!

West Fork - Oak Creek

West Fork – Oak Creek (click image for larger view)

Some of the best compositions I found were close to the car park. There is a good variety of trees there and plenty of space to find different juxtapositions of rock and trees, including some colour hanging on the face of the snow:

Last Call

Last Call (click image for larger view)

After a largely lazy afternoon, we hung around Upper Red Rock Road to see if the light would break over Cathedral Rock. It did not, but at the last, the sun escaped between the clouds and Woodchute Mountain to the west:

Last Blast

Last Blast (click image for larger view)

We made it to a suitable spot with seconds to spare. I think I ran a 400m personal best back to the car from my tripod, having chosen the wrong lens. I’m sure many people think of landscape photography as a sleepy pastime, but no, to paraphrase Steve Jobs, it exists at the intersection of art, technology and sport!

Stephen · Wednesday, November 09, 2011, 23:06 · Permalink

Saturday Nov 05, 2011 at 00:07

51 weeks and counting

I figured I should post something here before the bell tolled on a full year of blog silence. It’s been, shall we say, an interesting year – one which provided few opportunities for photography.

Since settling back in Colorado in August, I’ve had a few opportunities to start shooting again. Alice and I took a road trip around Colorado to try and catch some of the fall colour.

Starting out in Aspen, we proceeded from there to Crested Butte then down to Ridgway and Telluride. Without at doubt, the San Juans of SW Colorado are my favourite part of the state.

Fall Colour on Last Dollar Road

Fall Colour on Last Dollar Road (click image for larger view)

The picture this year was very mixed – some very poor conditions (particularly around McClure Pass – I’ve seen shots from here in some years that are amongst the very best aspen images you’ll find), but also some very intense, bright colours in other parts of the state.

The reds and oranges along Last Dollar Road were the best I’ve seen them (in four years of visiting):

Full Spectrum

Full Spectrum (click image for larger view)

Dallas Divide did not disappoint either, with some glowing leaves mixed with cloud and snow (although not as much as was to arrive a couple of days after this shot):

Dallas Divide Evening

Full Spectrum (click image for larger view)

I’ll post a few more in the coming days.

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Stephen · Saturday, November 05, 2011, 00:07 · Permalink

Friday Nov 12, 2010 at 19:27

Back on the road

For the first time in a long while, the camera had a chance to come out and play on a recent, brief trip over to Utah. With our friends Doug and Terri, we headed over to Zion National Park hoping to catch some peak autumn colour. While we were around a week early for that, things were still looking very pretty in the Narrows:

Virgin River Narrows

Virgin River Narrows (click image for larger view)

On the day of our hike, the river was running at around 52 cfm (cubic feet per minute), less than half the max allowed by the park service for walkers to enter the Narrows. Water temperature was a chilly 46F, so I was glad we hired dry-suit pants from the Zion Adventure Company. (We saw a couple of parties wading up-stream in bare legs and running shoes – they didn’t look happy and didn’t stay very long. Quel surprise.)

Wall Street

Wall Street (click image for larger view)

We ventured as far as the Wall Street section before heading back out. The day was perfect – blue skies overhead (giving a very cool feel to the canyon) and perfectly still – great for foliage shots (unlike my visit last year where things were moving way too much in the wind).

The next day, we explored a couple of other areas of the park on the hunt for some decent colour. At higher elevation, the maples were turning nicely:

Mixed Maples

Mixed Maples (click image for larger view)

We headed back to Colorado via Scenic Byway 12 and Route 24 – one of the great drives of the American West – passing through Capitol Reef National Park just in time for sundown:

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock (click image for larger view)

…then onward to Moab for the night. The next morning, we briefly explored Negro Bill Canyon, located off the 128 road that follows the Colorado River back towards I70. Some nice scenes in the shady parts of the canyon (sadly, not too many shady areas left by the time we got there):

Autumn cactus

Autumn cactus (click image for larger view)

Wish we could have spent longer, but it’s still possible to see a ton of great stuff in just a couple of days.

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Stephen · Friday, November 12, 2010, 19:27 · Permalink

Tuesday May 11, 2010 at 16:30

Blooming Arches

Courthouse Towers

Spring is sprung in Arches National Park. The image above is from this morning, right by the roadside at Courthouse Towers, minutes from the park entrance.

I shared this spot with Joe Zinn who I’d previously run into at the Pawnee Buttes last June.

Joe told me that this particular plant has been around for at least the last ten years. So long as you’re equipped with a suitably wide-angle lens, it is perfectly situated for this shot (as other, more famous, photographers have long known!)

Off to the Fiery Furnace now.

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Stephen · Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 16:30 · Permalink

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An Englishman living in Colorado since 2007, photography has proven the perfect way to start exploring the American Southwest.

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