Category Archives: Photographs: Utah

Canyon and Stream

Canyon and Stream
Canyon and Stream

Canyon and Stream. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 24, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A small rock-filled stream wanders along the bottom of a deep Utah red rock canyon

Yet another bend in yet another Utah canyon! We had hiked a good distance down into the depths of this canyon, finally stopping (most of us, anyway) at a scenic bend with lots of interesting photographic subjects. We held up there to make photographs, to sit and talk, and to eat. A few of us went a bit farther and some went a good distance more, but soon we had all checked our watches and realized it was time to start back..

This spot is just below a narrow section of the canyon where the water flows through a narrow cleft and around a big curve. Here, below that section, it seems like the flow must slow a bit, since a few more trees manage to grow here and the bed of the creek held a lot of river rocks and silt. In the distance the canyon curves more toward the west, and this allows a bit more light down into the canyon, producing a bit of a glow ahead.


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.
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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.

Red Rock and Roots

Red Rock and Roots
Red Rock and Roots

Red Rock and Roots. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. October 23, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Long roots extend across Utah sandstone

This was a sort of casual photograph, made while wandering around near our backcountry camp in southern Utah. We arrived in the afternoon, set up camp, and had a bunch of time to kill — time to eat, make plans, hang out, hike, take a nap, and explore. I probably did a bit of all of those things, but eventually decided to take my smaller camera and wander off into the surrounding countryside.

Eventually I ended up ascending a sandstone hill, and from the top I had open views of the surrounding terrain. But the closer subjects were perhaps even more interesting — the curving shapes of the sandstone, the small hollows that were filled with red sand, the plants trying to eke out a living in this spare and rocky area. In several places I found plants that had sent roots or stems over great distances across bare rock, perhaps trying to find pockets of water or moist soil.


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.
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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.

Cottonwood Trees, Autumn

Cottonwood Trees, Autumn
Cottonwood Trees, Autumn

Cottonwood Trees, Autumn. Southern Utah. October 26, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A grove of autumn cottonwood trees in Utah red rock country

After a few days “in the field” in a remote southern Utah location with a group of friends, I left our camp and headed back out to what passes for civilization in this part of Utah. Truth be told, by the end of the day I arrived in a quite civilized place! After driving a bit I ended up in the town of Boulder, where I was to meet my cousin and her husband to share dinner and conversation. But I arrived a bit early, so I decide to explore a bit first.

I headed right on through Boulder and onto the Burr Trail route, following it for a few miles to an overlook where the road descends into a long canyon. I arrived at close to the perfect date to see brilliant colors from autumn cottonwood trees in this valley — although the color peak may have come a few days earlier, I like the combination of colorful trees and the skeletal shapes of partially bare trees. This little valley has a flat bottom, and the trees grew across its width and right up the red rock cliff on the opposite side.


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.
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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.

Bend in the Canyon

Bend in the Canyon
Bend in the Canyon

Bend in the Canyon. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 24, 2014. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A sharp curving bend in the bottom of a Utah canyon

In many ways this is a bend in the canyon much like probably many thousands or other bends in this and other canyons. In places the courses of these canyons seem to wobble back and forth, turning right and then left and then right again as they trace their way down into the deeper sections of such canyons. In this spot the canyon narrowed and steepened just a little bit, and the creeks almost filled the bottom of the rocky section of the canyon around the bend. The nearly vertical canyon walls towered hundreds of feet above and no direct sunlight made it down here while I walked through.

These spots form their own little worlds, cut off from the flat country surrounding the canyons high above, and far from entry and exit points above and below. They are quiet places — at least during the good weather times when I tend to visit — and they are sonically isolated from the rest of the world, too. It is possible to walk slowly down such a canyon, picking your way along and through the creek, stopping frequently to look and perhaps photograph… and completely forget that outside world.


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.
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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.

Red Rock Hills

Red Rock Hills
Red Rock Hills

Red Rock Hills. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 23, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Red rock hills rise from the surrounding terrain, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

I made this photograph in a spot where the ubiquitous flat terraces, covered with lots of dry country plant life, run into the edge of smooth sandstone surfaces which then rise abruptly into hills and valleys and low summits. We went to this place in the late afternoon — it and a nearby area were to be the location for our evening shoot. We parked our vehicles, got out, loaded up camera equipment, and headed toward these hills.

At this point the light was rather subdued for this time of day. High, thin clouds muted the intensity of the light and reduced the otherwise stark contrasts between shadows and subjects in the sun. This generally softens the appearance of the landscape and, to some extent, warms the light a bit. In the lower part of the frame a few hardy plants still manage to eke our a living on the rocks, but just beyond, as the rocks begin to rise up more steeply, almost nothing grows.


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.
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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.

Red Rock Panorama

Red Rock Panorama
Red Rock Panorama

Red Rock Panorama. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 23,2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Evening glow on red rock landscape, Utah

I acknowledge that this color is pretty wild. This is partly a result of the way the camera sees in diminishing twilight, with colors saturating in surprising ways. The photograph was among the last couple I made on this evening when we continued photographing so late that it was about to become tricky finding our way back down in the near darkness. It is also the result of wild color in the sky — a bit of which you can see on the clouds in the upper portion of the frame — that fell on rock that is already quite red.

We had spent perhaps a couple of hours photographing in this terrain, focusing on the sensuous shapes of the curved sandstone, the odd cottonwood tree with fall color leaves, and bits of the surrounding landscape. It was a productive evening, working a group of six of us exploring, at times together, and times in smaller sub-groups, and sometimes alone. I didn’t really want to stop, since this isn’t the kind of location that I can easily return to — but eventually the light faded and our work was done for the day.


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.

Desert Canyon Creek

Desert Canyon Creek
Desert Canyon Creek

Desert Canyon Creek. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 24, 2014. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Sky and sandstone reflect in the surface of a desert canyon creek

I can’t say that I’ve yet spent enough time in these Utah canyons to fully understand their cycles, but it seems to me that there must be an ongoing back-and-forth between forces that heap sand into them and the forces that move that sand away. Whether the canyons are dry or wet when I visit, the effects of water are evident everywhere. Low places hold it long after the flow has stopped, and they can be deep pools or bowls of mud. The passage of water is recorded in dry form in ripples in sand and desiccated mud. And when the creeks flow, their banks often have terraces cut into the deposited sand when the water was at varying depths.

This bit of creek bed was at the base of a short drop below a small cascade, and it must have collected sand during some period of greater flow. The water was flowing sedately and quietly when we were there, yet the evidence of its ability to cut into the bottom of the canyon is clearly visible. The light had a blue-purple coloration here under the overhand of a large cliff, and the golden reflections in the mud and water are from plants and sunlit cliff faces high above.


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.