Tag Archives: red

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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Dry Mud and Sand

Dry Mud and Sand
Dry, cracked mud on top of red sand under reflected canyon light, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Dry Mud and Sand. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 25, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Dry, cracked mud on top of red sand under reflected canyon light, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

I almost titled this photograph, “Another Photograph of Mud.” But I have resisted that temptation, and once again used a simple more or less objective title. But, indeed, this is almost a photographic type when it comes to the Southwest, and one that is awfully difficult to pass up. These formations come about when silt-laden water rushes down desert canyons, washes, and streams, leaving behind a layer of very wet silt. The layer may be thin, as it was in this case, or it may be quite thick. In one narrow canyon last year I slipped into such silt-mud and it almost seemed like there was not bottom!

I’m not sure quite what explains our fascination with these formations. Is it because they are among the most transient features of the physical landscape, disappearing and then reforming every time it rains? Is it the patterns themselves, which can have a wonderful geometric quality and, at the same time, embody a randomness? Is it the combination of the colors of the material, which can range from white through black with many colors in between, and the reflected canyon light? Possibly it is all of these things and more.


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


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Fall Foliage, Sandstone Canyon

Fall Foliage, Sandstone Canyon
The colors of fall foliage and red sandstone canyon rock, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Fall Foliage, Sandstone Canyon . Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. October 22, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The colors of fall foliage and red sandstone canyon rock, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

These are the kinds of Utah colors that make some of us return to California and to find that “our Sierra Nevada” looks a bit more gray than we thought! In my experience, the color season in southern Utah begins in late September with the arrival of aspen color. (I have seen it, but so far have arrived just after the peak color.) It continues later in the month as the lower elevation cottonwood trees become intensely colorful. In some places the show is still continuing in early November.

The fall color show on its own would be impressive, but place those colors against the backdrop of Utah’s colorful sandstone landscape and the overall effect is very powerful. We returned from a daytime adventure elsewhere in Capitol Reef National Park and passed through this canyon area just before sunset. The light in the areas shaded by the tall cliffs was already becoming soft and luminous, and in this light the colors can become even more intense. We stopped and more or less wandered for as the sun continued to drop, photographing in the quite evening right up until the light was too far gone.


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


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

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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Sculpted Canyon Rock, Plant

Sculpted Canyon Rock, Plant
A lone plant grows in a crack in sculpted Utah canyon sandstone

Sculpted Canyon Rock, Plant. Utah. October 19, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A lone plant grows in a crack in sculpted Utah canyon sandstone

These canyons feel isolated from the rest of the outside world. In the narrow sections, the only view of the familiar world may be a small strip of sky directly overhead. The tall canyon walls, which may be only feet apart, block any view of the surrounding terrain, and the focus of my attention narrows down to the section of the canyon where I find myself, the walls where I stand a some short distance ahead before the canyon twists out of sight.

Not only are we visually cut off from the outside, but we are also isolated acoustically. No sound makes it down into the bottoms of the canyons from the above. In the canyon there may be the sounds of quietly flowing water, and perhaps the tinkling sound of water dropping over rocks. A bird may sing. The sound of my footsteps echoes between the walls. In this spot, daytime sunlight high above bounced between the canyon walls, diffusing until a wash of soft red-tinted light reached the canyon bottom. Horizontal layers had eroded at varying rates, a jagged crack cut the canyon wall vertically, and one plant grew in the crack.


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


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Red Bus, People on Bench

Red Bus, People on Bench
A group of people sit on a concrete bench as a red bus stops behind them.

Red Bus, People on Bench. London, England. July 8, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A group of people sit on a concrete bench as a red bus stops behind them.

I think there might be a bit more to this photograph than meets the eye — at least I like to think so. The scene is a concrete bench along the edge of Trafalgar Square late in the day, as the low angle sun hits the bench and its occupants straight on. I’ll leave it at that…


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


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.