Aspen Trees, Kaibab Plateau

Posted on 26 November 2014 | Comment

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.
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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.

Potholes, Dusk

Posted on 26 November 2014 | Comment

Potholes, Dusk

Potholes, Dusk

Potholes, Dusk. Utah. October 23, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Dusk light on the curving pothole forms of Utah sandstone

The grand landscape is a wonderful and impressive thing, but a bit of dusk light on curving rock can evoke the fundamental qualities of a place. This was my final photograph of the day, made just before there was no longer enough light for the kinds of photograph I had in mind, and as it was about to become to dark to find my way out of this landscape. Earlier I had begun by photographing subjects that were perhaps more clearly specific to this location, but as I continued to photograph and as the light changed I made photographs that I think are less about the particular location and more about the feeling of such places.

The light was tricky on this evening. There had been sunlight earlier, and at times it had been the beautiful soft yet direct light of the sun coming through high clouds. But it has also been very muted at times, as the clouds became thicker, producing the a kind of flat and colorless light that is challenging. But earlier clouds can lead to later sky color as the sun drops near the horizon and lights up these same dull clouds from underneath. As I finished with some of the more obvious photographic subjects I began to look at the patterns and colors of the rocks as possible subjects of more abstract images, and it was at about this point that the sky opened up for a few minutes, producing light with colors ranging from yellow to red to burgundy. I made this final photograph of the evening as the tempo of the work slowed in luminous twilight, and this light combined with the natural color of the sandstone to produce intense and saturated colors on the sinuous shapes of the rock. A moment later we all realized that it had become quite dark, that we had not brought headlamps, and that we had to negotiate some tricky terrain in order to get back to where we started!


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.

Low Water, San Luis Reservoir

Posted on 25 November 2014 | Comment

Low Water, San Luis Reservoir

Low Water, San Luis Reservoir

Low Water, San Luis Reservoir. Central California. November 21, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Low water at the San Luis Reservoir, Autumn

California is currently in the third of three years of historically bad drought conditions. Water is power in the state — and a lot of politics has gone on around the acquisition of water, the use (and misuse) of water, and the construction of water projects. I’ve lived in the state long enough to have been in the valley now filled by this huge reservoir before it was filled. I have a faint memory of traveling across the valley bottom in a car with my dad at the wheel, looking at things that he told me were soon to be submerged — I have a specific recall of a bit of roadway and a bridge. That valley is long gone now, having been filled by the late 1960s.

The reservoir is an unusual one. The water it holds is pumped up into the reservoir from below and stored from year to year, producing some electrical power when the water flows back down from the reservoir to the valley. Essentially, water goes both directions though the dam! At the end of this third drought year the water level is extremely low — as low as I recall seeing it — and some of the huge structures at the dam are well above the water line. This is partly a photograph of those structures, partly a record of a phase in California’s water crisis, and partly a juxtaposition of angles and surfaces and curves, all under beautiful hazy late-autumn California light.


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.

Canyon Light

Posted on 25 November 2014 | Comment

Canyon Light

Canyon Light

Canyon Light. Southern Utah. October 19, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Warm reflected light filters into the depths of a Utah slot canyon

I’m somewhat new to the world of Utah slot canyons, but I’m also increasingly enthusiastic about them and their photographic potential. I have not visited some of the iconic “big name” slots (and I may or may not do so), but I have found similar experiences in other locations. During my recent Utah visit I had thought about exploring a particular area in southwest Utah. I had a few place names in mind, but I really did not know much about them in any detail. (I often prefer to not know too much about these places, preferring instead to discover them on my own.) This canyon has a name that I had heard before, so one morning I decided to head out that direction and see what I could discover.

I drove down a gravel road, parked, loaded up camera equipment and a snack, and headed down a broad wash into the upper part of the valley though would eventually narrow and become a slot canyon. While it is no doubt more efficient to begin closer to such canyons, I enjoy the process of moving from the wider valleys to the narrower canyons, and the walk down the meandering path of the stream above the narrow canyon was enjoyable. Inside the narrow section the walls rose vertically, the canyon floor was often quite wet, and beautiful soft light filtered down from above, reflecting the warm reddish colors of the rocks and highlighting their shapes and patterns.


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.

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