April 20, 2013

March Through the Southwest

Photographer Dave Shumway hikes The Wave, in the Coyote Buttes district of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Utah. Captured with a Canon 5D III and 17-40/4.0L in aperture priority mode with an exposure bias of - 1/3 at ISO200, f/11, and 1/640 of a second. The camera was mounted on an Induro CT214 tripod with an AcraTech GP ballhead.
For my "sabbatical" trip I decided that it was time to revisit the American Southwest, and March seemed like the perfect time to do this first trip, with a digital camera. The other reason behind the trip in March, is that it allowed me to get plenty of great climbing in too, while snow and ice cover the rocks back in Montana.

Each parks name is linked to its corresponding gallery of photos and the thirty "best" images are in  "The Best of My March Through the Southwest (2013)."

On March first I left Billings and drove well past Salt Lake City, where I stopped at a rest stop for a few hours sleep, before pushing on to Las Vegas. Actually I was to the west of Vegas, meeting friends for a week of climbing in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The climbing was amazing, and the photography was not to shabby wither. I ticked off my first 5.11 on-sight trad lead (Animal Boy 5.11d, or if you listen to Mountain Project it is 5.12a), I got to climb many of the famous climbs, and even climbed some of the remote, rarely climbed routes. Did I mention that I took some pictures too.

After Red Rock Canyon I went with friends to Zion National Park...Zion is beautiful, but without leaves on the trees it just does not seem right to take many pictures, but the climbing is good.

From Zion we made our way to the San Rafael Swell with a quick little stop in Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park (I'll come back to Bryce). The "Swell" is amazing and worth a visit, or ten. The main plan was to get in some great canyoneering, and we did. We made our way to the middle of the "Swell" and did Baptist Draw and Upper Chute Canyon, if you are interested in technical canyoneering and find yourself in the area, I would call these a must do.

After the Swell, I left one group of friends to meet with another in Arches National Park, but they changed their plans and left me to Arches and Canyonlands National Park all by my lonesome. That was just fine though, I'm a nature photographer...that's how I work best, and with a new moon the planned night photography part of my trip was just getting started.

Arches and Canyonlands, especially Island in the Sky, are simply incredible. The parks are really a landscape photographers paradise, and if you plan a fall or spring trip the low sun angle makes for some different opportunities that will help you photos be different from the millions of summertime visitors.

I made my way South for some climbing in Indian Creek, and photography in the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park, and that continued my streak of awesome climbing and photography.

After leaving Canyonlands I made my way to Natural Bridges National Monument for one last night of star trail photography, and the clouds cooperated letting me have a great night to shoot Owachomo Bridge. I left Natural Bridges in the dark, so I could get down to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park for sunrise, and that worked out quite well. Although I had been up all night, and was getting tiered I decided to drive up to Antelope Canyon, so I could get into the upper canyon on a week day (praying for less crowds). Light shafts begin to make their way to the canyon floor again in mid March, and being able to visit in the "off season" with light shafts and on a week day meant that I was able to arrange a 2 hour (maximum time you can spend in the canyon) solo tour.

Antelope Canyon, like many of my destinations on this trip, has been shot by seemingly everyone, but I hope I was able to let my style keep my images from looking exactly like everyone else's.

From there I decided that I was ahead of schedule and could in fact try my luck at getting a Wave permit. I made my way back into Utah, past Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and into The Grand Staircase Escalante-National Monument. Access to The Wave is limited to ten online permits (reservations earned months in advance) and ten lottery permits issued the day before. It took me three tries, but I got a permit and spent an entire day in and around The Wave (actually waves).

When you loose the lottery you need something to do that day, while you wait to try again the next day, so I shot many of the other local sites, including; The Toadstools, The Towers of SilenceCoral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and Moccasin Mountain Track Site.

After ticking The Wave off of my list, I decided to head back ti Zion National Park, to see if the leaves had come in yet. Unfortunately they were just starting to bud, and the rangers predicted another week before things really started to be green. With that bit of bad news I decided to head North a bit and give Bryce Canyon National Park a little bit more of my time.

Three weeks into my trip, and all of my major objectives crossed off of my list I decided to look at the weather and determine the safest break in snow storms to drive back to Montana, and it is a good thing I looked when I did, because the time to leave was right then...as it was I ended up driving just ahead of the storm that pounded Northern Utah, Idaho, and Western Montana for the next few days.

Once I hade made it through the mountains I did decide to make a short side trip down to Yellowstone National Park, but it would have been rude to be so close and not pay the park a visit.

Make the jump to go through the online gallery, I ask that you leave comments/criticism or at least give your favorites a thumbs up...Thanks!

If you have questions, ask. I published the camera information with each image and have added full keywords to share just about anything you would want to know about the images.

Happy shooting

1 comment:

  1. WOW Dave, you spent a lot of time in our favorite part of your country.

    Looks like an awesome trip to me and I'm glad you got your permit for the Wave.