At the top of the column, that’s the iconic shot of Horseshoe Bend, just outside of Page, Arizona. The Bend is a meander (isn’t that a great word? And technically correct!) in the Colorado River, one of the most photographed shots along the waterway.
To take this photo, you need two things: first, a wide angle lens, one that can encompass the entirety of the scene in front of you. Second, you’ll need to stand absolutely on the edge of a 1,000-ft. drop. No guard rail, no fence, no nothin’! Just you, the edge, your tootsies dangling over the drop, and constant prayers there isn’t a stiff breeze in your immediate future.
And, if you’re like me, you’ll have to take several shots. Shaky hands really blur the shot (heights are not really my thing).
Photo #2 – SEMA Show, Las Vegas, NV.
The SEMA show is one of my favorite events of the year. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend for several years, and one of my friends, John Waraniak, does a great job with a track on Technology and Connected Vehicles. It’s a “can’t miss” if you’re out there.
As you can imagine, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of cars to see. And I have hundreds of those photos. However, for this shot, I saw the reflection on her glasses, and snapped off the shot. She is one of the booth ladies manning –is that an oxymoron? — the Galpin Auto Sports display (if memory serves).
To get the shot, I broke one of my rules. Before photographing someone, I used to always ask permission, even in a public place. It seems polite.
However, what I’ve found is that people stiffen up once you ask, or you might miss a shot or moment. So now, I take the shot, and ask permission later. I show the photo to them, and usually take one or two more. But they rarely match the candid shot.
Does anyone else have this issue? How do you deal with it?
Photo #3 – Miravalles Volcano, Costa Rica
Admittedly, a cheat, with a series of three photos, rather than one shot. However, I was pretty happy with the detail in these.
On our second vacation in Costa Rica, we took a day trip to the hot springs at the inactive Miravalles Volcano. The trip features a rain forest hike to three waterfalls, crossing some swinging, swaying cable bridges, then a trip through the geothermally-heated features: steam room, hot springs, mud baths, etc.
But the finale! A concrete waterslide, probably 1,000 feet long, winding down the mountainside. The start features a giant cistern, which is filled to the top. You sit down in the U-shaped concrete slide, wearing a helmet, and an inner tube.
The inner tube is crammed over your shoulders. It’s there to keep your head off the concrete, and your arms pinned to your sides, as dry, rough concrete (the side of the slide) is not kind to skin or bone, and I have the scar to prove it.
Once you’re lined up, they open the cistern, and several hundred gallons of water hit you and your tube, launching you down the side, feeling very much like a champagne cork.
The slide twists and turns, always accelerating downward, feeling very out of control. You end up in a large pool at the bottom. Depending on survival rates, and impulse control, you can hike back up top and do it again.
These photos are two of my kids, Sammy (she’s the one holding her nose) and Drew, at the bottom of the slide, as they hit the pool.
Bonus Shot – Monkey Head Rock, Gulf of Papagayo, Costa Rica
The only photo in the group shot with Nikon, a candid portrait of my daughter, Kat, as we were aboard a small boat, on our scuba trip. It was her second time diving.
It’s my favorite shot of her, as it perfectly captures her personality.
Photo #4 – Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Our first trip to Costa Rica included a stay at the Hilton Papagayo Resort and Spa (no longer a Hilton, as of 2/15). This was a beautiful property directly on the Gulf of Papagayo, on the Pacific side of the country.
The resort grounds were beautiful, with wonderful tropical landscaping, and beautiful flowers throughout.
Since I usually wake early on vacation, and the rest of my family does not, I usually grab my camera and roll out quietly. I’ll spend an hour or two photographing whatever I can. On this vacation, that usually included iguanas, coatis, the occasional howler monkey, and lots of flowers.
In this case, the plant was still dripping from an early-morning shower.
Bonus Photo – Hilltop overlooking the Gulf of Papagayo
Drew and I took an evening hike, looking for a few good shots. When we got to the top of the hill, two gentlemen were there, watching the sunset.
They had the right idea – it was spectacular.
Drew was mesmerized, and I snapped off a quick shot.
Photo #5 – Tucson Rodeo, Tucson, AZ
Ever wonder what it feels like to have 1,700 lbs. of angry bull stomp on your chest?
Yeah, me neither.
But this cowboy can tell ya. He got thrown about 3 seconds into his ride, and before the bullfighters (no longer rodeo clowns, I found out) could get to him, El Toro decided to stomp him for good measure.
Fortunately, this cowboy wears a helmet (some bull riders still wear just a cowboy hat), and a protective vest. So he was able to limp away after this, with a few cracked ribs to remember it by.
Shortly into another ride, after getting thrown, the cowboy was down on the ground.
The bull was angry and aggressive, looking to even the score.
The bullfighter threw himself between the two foes, buying time for the cowboy to get clear, by distracting it with a new target.
This is NOT a still life study – the bullfighter ran through, putting his hand on the bull’s head to keep a bit of distance, as the bull was charging the cowboy.
The cowboy scrambled to safety.
By the way, to show how tough/stupid/brave/all three the bullfighters are: if you look on the right side of his ball cap, you can see the edge of a bandage. The previous day, while guarding a rider, he was gored by a bull, and almost lost his ear. He was back doing his job the following day, with his ear stitched back on, covered by a large bandage.
Here’s the moment it all starts. The gate man yanks the gate open, the bull charges from the pen, and the rider holds on for eight seconds, if he’s lucky.
What happens if the gate man doesn’t get out of the way in time?
He ends up with a right leg that bends in two spots. He did make it over the wall to (relative safety), and was taken to a local hospital.
He was in the ambulance with a busted thigh, as I was walking out of the rodeo. I stopped and showed him this picture; I figured he earned it.
He said something along the lines of, “Well, it ain’t sposed to bend that way, is it?” and laughed.
Rodeo people are TOUGH.
Photo #6 – Upper Antelope Canyon, Navajo Reservation, outside Page, AZ
Upper Antelope Canyon is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. Formed by eons of wind and water erosion, the canyon is presently about 120-ft. deep. Located on the Navajo Reservation outside of Page, AZ, the canyon is considered a sacred place. To tour the site, you must use a Navajo guide.
This shot is of The Cathedral, one of the larger rooms in the canyon. If you look at the right center of the photo, you can see the bear that guards the room.
Shots in the canyon are long exposures, 30 seconds or more. The wider your lens, the happier you will be with the final shots.
You have to shoot on a tripod to avoid blurring the shot, but the colors are amazing. This photo hasn’t been retouched; that’s really what it looks like.
It was humbling to be in the midst of so much beauty. Our small group was led by Pat, a Navajo who has probably forgotten more about photography than I will ever learn. He was an incredible guide, helping us capture great shots.
Still in the canyon, looking at The Candlestick.
I hope you like the photos and stories. If you did, please leave a comment, and feel free to share this post with others.