Category Archives: Photographs: Arizona

Evening Aspens, Kaibab Plateau

Evening Aspens, Kaibab Plateau
Evening Aspens, Kaibab Plateau

Evening Aspens, Kaibab Plateau. Near Grand Canyon, Arizona. October 18, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A grove of autumn aspen trees at the end of a meadow on the Kaibab Plateau

Back in the early autumn of 2014 I headed off to southern Utah for some significant time photographing — first on my own in the area around Kanab and points a bit east of there, then up to Capitol Reef to meet a friend for a few days, then out into a relatively off-the-grid area south of Escalante to photograph with another group of photographers, with a quick stop after that in the town of Boulder, and then west to Zion to meet family members for a few days. Whew! On my first day in Utah I ended up at a motel in Kanab, where I settled in by late afternoon. I originally figured it would be too late for photography, but I found myself with a few hours late in the day and no plans made. I looked at a map and saw the road heading south toward the north rim of Grand Canyon (where I had never been before — it is a long story) and thought, “what the heck, I’ll go to Grand Canyon!”)

I headed out of Kanab with a very amorphous plan to follow the road south, perhaps getting to the rim by sunset if I was lucky. I crossed the valley and began the climb up to the Kaibab plateau where, to my surprise, I found late season aspens along mountain meadows that still had some color. In the dusk light I stopped — I couldn’t help myself! — and made a few photographs of these slender, tall, and straight trees against the backdrop of bare aspens and the conifer forest beyond. (I eventually did get to the rim… but it was already deep in dusk when I arrived.)


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Aspen Trees, Kaibab Plateau

Aspen Trees, Kaibab Plateau
Aspen Trees, Kaibab Plateau

Aspen Trees, Kaibab Plateau. Kabab Plateau, Arizona. October 18, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Nearly bare autumn aspen trees on the Kaibab Plateau near Grand Canyon National Park

This story is partially about how I finally got to Grand Canyon National Park… sort of. Believe it or not, I had never visited this iconic national park of the American West. There are a perhaps surprising number of parks that I have not visited, perhaps because I’ve long been quite happy to go straight back to my Sierra Nevada whenever I had time to travel, at least since I was a kid. There is also my long-time failure to get to the Southwest, which I have written about before. In any case, I had failed to see this park — aside from through an airplane window at 35,000′ — at all… until this year.

I had arrived in Kanab, Utah late in the day. After checking into a motel I was considering things to do on an evening that didn’t look overly spectacular from a photographic perspective. As I looked at maps I realized that this area is a sort of gateway to the North Rim of Grand Canyon. (I really don’t do a lot of research before heading out to shoot!) Checking a bit more I saw that the road south from Kana could take me up to the North Rim. I had heard of that place. ;-) So, late in the afternoon I started driving, half expecting that I might not make it before dark, but I had no better plan. The road generally rises at it heads south, and before long I was in a beautiful area of high forests that believe is the Kaibab Plateau. Although it seemed to late in the season, before long I saw that among the many bare aspen trees there were still a few with leaves, so I started watching for them. I saw this grove near the end of a meadow and couldn’t help but stop and make a photographs in the evening light. I soon realized that I didn’t have a lot of time to spare, so I got back on the road and continued south, arriving at the rim of the canyon at dusk to find that most facilities were closed for the season and there were few people about. Yes, I could tell that there is a very big canyon there! No, there wasn’t enough light left to really photograph it. I walked along the rim for a few minutes, pondered briefly, returned to my car and headed back to Kanab. At least I can no longer be accused of never having visited The Grand Canyon!


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Storm, Monument Valley

Storm, Monument Valley - Black and white photograph of incoming storm clouds looming over Monument Valley, Arizona
Black and white photograph of incoming storm clouds looming over Monument Valley, Arizona

Storm, Monument Valley. Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona. October 12, 2012. © Copyright 2012 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Black and white photograph of incoming storm clouds looming over Monument Valley, Arizona

As we moved on into and through the Monument Valley area, the weather and light conditions were constantly changing. One moment we would be in the midst of a heavy downpour, then we would emerge into the bright sunlight, made brighter by the contrast with the nearby gloom of a passing shower. We were traveling west, and even when the sun was out it seemed like there was a big cloud ahead, ready to drop more rain on us. The wind howled continuously, whether we were in sun or rain.

When I took this photograph we were momentarily in the sun – though that wind hardly allowed it to become warm. Looking around our locations I could see pouring rain, bright sunshine, and more incoming clouds. Despite the bright sunshine on the butte at lower left and the slightly obscured sunlight on the rocky hills beyond, in the distance there was a very large and very ominous cloud, pouring rain onto the desert. However, in virtually every way, I preferred this wild weather – even with the wind – to the alternative of boring blue skies!

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Approaching Storm, Monument Valley

Approaching Storm, Monument Valley - A storm front approaches the iconic towers of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
A storm front approaches the iconic towers of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Approaching Storm, Monument Valley. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona. October 12, 2012. © Copyright 2012 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A storm front approaches the iconic towers of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Considering that we only passed through Monument Valley on a drive between two other locations and that we happened to arrive when a storm front was passing through, I have to consider myself lucky to have made any photographs of the location at all on this visit. We were on the long drive between Moab and Springdale, so we unfortunately could not afford to hang around long waiting for idea conditions – so I went ahead and shot in the “weather.”

Quite a few of the photographs were made in actual rain – as in, it was raining where I was shooting, or I was shooting into or through curtains for rain. However, the nature of this storm was that a line of weather would come through, there would be a bit of clearing, and then the next squall line would arrive. So between the bouts of rain there were some moments of sunshine, and the sunshine not only dried things out a bit but it also made the clouds more visible Here a very large cell was building over some of the iconic Monument Valley formations. I chose the vertical format and only included a bit of the solid ground so as to emphasize the size and height of the clouds.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Rain Squall, Monument Valley

Rain Squall, Monument Valley j- Distant mesas and towers of Monument Valley, veiled by a passing rain squall
Distant mesas and towers of Monument Valley, veiled by a passing rain squall

Rain Squall, Monument Valley. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona, October 12, 2012. © Copyright 2012 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Distant mesas and towers of Monument Valley, veiled by a passing rain squall

I have a bit of a surprising confession to make. Utah is not the only state in the American Southwest that I had not previously photographed. Although I have been in the state before, I had never photographed there prior to this year, when we made a quick pass though the upper portion of the state on a drive between Moab and Zion National Park. Several things explain this. First, as I’ve written before, I’ve long been a California landscape bigot – the “local” landscapes of ocean and mountains and deserts and redwoods and more have been, and continue to be, such a focus that I’ve felt little inclination to shoot elsewhere. More recently, as I discovered Utah, I felt a bit of an obligation to avoid Arizona for certain other reasons that I won’t go into right now.

That’s right. I’ve never photographed the Grand Canyon. In fact, I haven’t even seen the Grand Canyon except from the air while flying over the state. And, no, I had not seen Monument Valley either. As we left Moab and headed south, I was excited about seeing this new landscape, but a bit concerned about the potential for photography as a storm – and not just the afternoon monsoon – was moving through. Sure enough, just about the time we got near to Monument Valley the clouds thickened, the wind blew, and it began to rain in earnest. However, I soon caught sight of the towers and mesas of this valley in the distance, familiar from so many photographs I’ve seen, and I quickly realized that the rainy conditions were actually going to provide some very special light and effects. This photograph is a case in point. It was cloudy but not raining at my camera position. Just beyond, a passing squall was dropping rain across the desert terrain and muting and blurring the features, but beyond that the sun was shining on the stupendous distant formations, and beyond them broken clouds were moving.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.