Tag Archives: cliff

Two Trees, Granite Face

Two Trees, Granite Face
Two trees, one very old and one very young, grow high on a granite face in Yosemite National Park

Two Trees, Granite Face. Yosemite National Park, California. July 13, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Two trees, one very old and one very young, grow high on a granite face in Yosemite National Park

This tree grows high on the apparently barren face of a tall granite dome in Yosemite National Park’s high country. Of all of the improbably places to spot a tree, and one that seems reasonably healthy and strong at that, this has to be one of the most unlikely. Given its location, it must be putting its roots down in little more than a large crack in the rock and it has to be fully exposed to strong winter winds and snow.

I have photographed it more than once in the past, and it continues to intrigue me. For thinking that I know the tree well, I was surprised to find that I had not previously noticed the smaller tree growing just beyond and to the right of the main tree — perhaps the offspring of the larger tree? For a short time in the morning, low angle light streaming across the tops of more granite formations to the east glances across the surface of the dome and beautifully lights the two trees.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Base of the Cliff

Base of the Cliff
Autumn plants growing at the base of a sandstone cliff

Base of the Cliff. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. October 22, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Autumn plants growing at the base of a sandstone cliff

It seems that we have arrived at that time when each year my thoughts begin to turn again to autumn photography. That is probably my favorite season as it includes those final warm days of Indian summer, the first inkling of the coming winter, the annual color transition as trees lose their leaves, and the first real winter weather — all of which are favorite photographic subjects of mine. (I’ll be paying special attention to Sierra Nevada fall color this coming season, for a number of reasons, but especially since this is the first autumn following the publication of my book on the subject: California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” from Heyday Press.)

So, an autumn photograph! This one comes from last October, when I had the opportunity to make a photography trip through some of may favorite areas of southern Utah. Partway through the trip I met up with my friend and fellow photographer, David Hoffman. We spent several days poking around in and photographing Capitol Reef National Park. On this evening we passed through a narrow gorge not far from our camp, quickly stopped, and ended up photographing the red rock canyon walls and the autumn colors until the light faded at the end of the day.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Weathered Cliff, Evening Light

Weathered Cliff, Evening Light
Early evening light on the face of a rugged and weathered sandstone cliff, Capitol Reef National Park

Weathered Cliff, Evening Light. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. October 22, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Early evening light on the face of a rugged and weathered sandstone cliff, Capitol Reef National Park

Recently I have been thinking about where we find subjects for photographs and about the fact that they are everywhere — I could say that you don’t always have to seek out particularly “special” places, or I might instead say that if you look closely enough almost any place can be special in some way. I do understand the interest in creating photographs of recognizable subjects and perhaps even the challenge of trying to make such photographs stand out in some way. But for me it is far more interesting to use the camera as a means of focusing more closely on what I can find wherever I am, and then trying to clear away obstacles to seeing these subjects in my own way.

Late in the day we had stopped along a section of roadway in Capitol Reef National Park. We knew, of course, that red rock sandstone cliffs and autumn trees were there, but most of all we stopped because the light was so fascinating. We simply walked along the road and looked, and almost everywhere we looked we found something that seemed like it might be worthy of a photograph. There was so much to see in this small area that as fast and furiously as we photographed, we felt like the light was passing too quickly. The subject of this photograph is a rough and weathered by of sandstone cliff that I happened to notice as I looked up from another subject I had been photographing.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


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Redrock Country, Near Fruita

Redrock Country, Near Fruita
Cliffs and eroded towers near Fruita, Capitol Reef National Park

Redrock Country, Near Fruita. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. October 20, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Cliffs and eroded towers near Fruita, Capitol Reef National Park

I’m a sucker for juxtapositions of mountains and cliffs, and sunlit and shadowed surfaces. (In fact, “juxtaposition” is a word I think about a lot when making photographs.) This part of the world provides these juxtapositions with a vengeance. Everywhere in the red rock country of the Southwest there are sandstone walls, lined up, building one on top of the other, standing in front of and behind each other, layered with eroded rock and soil, standing above valleys and beyond lower ridges.

We had only a brief time to photograph on this first afternoon in Capitol Reef National Park. I had arrived in the middle of the afternoon and then busied myself with setting up a tent and a few other camp chores, plus catching up on the news with my friend Dave. By the time all of these important things had been taken care of the sun was rapidly dropping toward the horizon, so we quickly headed to a nearby area to see what sort of late-day light we could find. Literally within minutes of leaving our campground (which is just to the right of the shadowed trees visible in the lower part of the photograph) we came upon this intense and saturated late-day light, with shadows starting to stretch across the valley and the low foreground ridges.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


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Arch and Canyon

Arch and Canyon
A large arch above a Utah sandstone canyon

Arch and Canyon. Utah. October 24, 20114. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A large arch above a Utah sandstone canyon

I have been down this canyon a couple of times now. The walk begins in what might seem like an inauspicious place in rather plain terrain. Soon the route drops below the level of the plateau and enters the upper portion of a shallow canyon. Continuing to walk into this canyon, the walls soon rise higher and the canyon narrows and twists. Before long the expected sandstone walls appear.

As is usually the case, we followed the course of the creek along the bottom of the canyon, alternately walking in it, walking next to it, or cutting over higher ground between bends in its course. Places like this are full of distractions, and stops are frequently to photograph water seeping over rocks, trees with fall colors, arrangements of rocks and pebbles, reflections and always the sandstone canyon walls. Eventually we reached a familiar personal landmark along the route where we stopped to photograph, eat, and talk. A short distance beyond and the around another bend, and a path led up to a high point, from which there was a view through this arch back into the canyon.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


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Forested Cliffs, Königsee

Forested Cliffs, Königsee
Steep, tree-covered cliffs along the shore of the Königsee, Berchtesgaden National Park, Germany

Forested Cliffs, Königsee. Berchtesgaden National Park, Bavaria, Germany. July 14, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Steep, tree-covered cliffs along the shore of the Königsee, Berchtesgaden National Park, Germany

I 2013 we spent a magical week in the Berchtesgaden area of Bavaria, right next to the Berchtesgaden National Park and a short drive from Salzburg, Austria. This was part of a longer trip that began in London and also included an additional week in the Heidelberg, Germany area. We met up with members of Patty’s family, and this big extended family group stayed at a big, rambling farm-house in Bavaria, from which the backyard view from the outdoor table where we often ate included a chunk of the Bavaria Alps culminating in the summit of the Watzmann, the second-tallest peak in Germany.

The Königsee was a short distance away. In a loose way, Königsee feels just a little like a Yosemite Valley with a Lake filling it. The lake sits in a long, narrow valley surrounded by much higher mountains — though these mountains have a more alpine appearance than those visible from the floor of Yosemite Valley. It also includes some of the “touristy” features of Yosemite — the lake itself is most certainly no longer a wilderness. One of the most popular of those features is the system providing boat rides up the length of the lake. (In deference to the purity of the lake water, these boats are powered by electricity.) The boat ride is quite something, beginning at a place that truly is “touristy,” but soon passing through this narrow section of the lower lake between steep, tree-covered cliffs, before the terrain opens up revealing longer views further up the lake.


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.
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.