Discovering Bandelier National Monument

Fog Over Frijoles Canyon

During my trip to the southwestern United States this past fall, one of my destinations was Chaco Culture National Historic Park, or more commonly known as, Chaco Canyon. Turning off the highway overrun these days with traffic for the oil and gas industry, I began the winding journey down the back roads to Chaco Canyon, only to find 15 miles in that the campground was full. An amazing thing about Chaco Canyon is that it’s in the middle of nowhere. A downside to Chaco Canyon is that it’s in the middle of nowhere. The nearest lodging, assuming I wanted to go that route, was over two hours away and I wasn’t quite sure just how far back the oil industry was destroying our beautiful BLM lands, so camping anywhere nearby was out of the question. I pulled out my atlas and found two national monuments still in northwestern New Mexico, but neither of them terribly close, either being a good bet for camping though.
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Categorized: Article, Landscape, New Mexico, Travel Logs, Wildlife
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Southern WY Along 191 and Dinosaur National Monument

Juniper Log and southern Wyoming sunrise
Juniper log resting below a fiery sunrise near Highway 191 in southern Wyoming

I’m currently catching up my connected life in Moab, Utah where I’m having a delicious sandwich at Pantele’s Desert Deli (thanks for the recommendation, Bret!), downloading photos, and going through emails. Thus far, the trip has been great! My only regret is not getting a quick interview from a guy named Steven that I met in Dinosaur National Monument when he told me about someone going door-to-door in Grand Juction, Colorado offering to pay residents to put up shielded lighting and having the vast majority of them refuse, even though it came out of his pocket and would cost them nothing. Lesson learned. Thanks for the great conversation regardless, Steven and Bill!

Night sky above dead juniper tree
Stars and night sky spin above dead juniper tree, southern Wyoming

After a late start on Tuesday, I found myself driving south along Highway 191 in southern Utah, a spectacular high desert region blanketed with juniper trees with the occasional bare spot exposing millions of years of erosion along ancient seabeds in the form of badlands.
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Categorized: Landscape, Travel Logs
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Red Hills and Lavender Hills of the Gros Ventres

A trail leads into the Red Hills of the Gros Ventre Mountains, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming (Mike Cavaroc)
A trail leads into the Red Hills of the Gros Ventre Mountains, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming


Distance (one way): 2.1 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Best time of year: Spring, Summer, Fall

Tucked away east of Jackson Hole is local treasure very few take the time to see. The Red Hills of the Gros Ventre Mountains are an exposed sandstone deposit that are leftover from when the region was under a shallow sea, roughly 50 million years ago. The road to the hills is engineered in such a way that immediately after coming around a small bend in the road, a dramatic view of the hills overwhelms you with a sense of natural beauty and wonder. A pullout is conveniently located at that exact location so that you can fully appreciate the view.

While the view from the road is amazing, the hike up through the hills is even more rewarding.
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Categorized: Hikes and Backpacks, Travel Logs, Wyoming
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12 Favorite Photos from 2013

January
Mountain lion kittens sit cautiously behind their mother in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
Mountain lion kittens sit cautiously behind their mother in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Certainly one of the most exciting moments of the year was when I found myself sharing a trail with cougars. This was not just the first time I had ever seen wild cougars, it was the first time I had ever seen wild cats at all. The excitement I felt in the moment was overwhelming, and equally was the disappointment when they began to run away. Taking ample time to fully immerse myself in the scene, and not just grab a few shots, it became a defining moment that I will not soon forget.

February
A coyote quietly sneaks through snow and sagebrush in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
A coyote quietly sneaks through snow and sagebrush in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Yellowstone always provides a great getaway during the winter. Plenty of wildlife scours the blanket of snow for traces of food during the harsh winters, much of it unconcerned if a road crosses its path.
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Categorized: Article
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Night Photography Basics Part 2 – Full Moon, Star Trails, and Auroras

Moonlight illuminates Glen Canyon and the Colorado River near Page, Arizona. (Mike Cavaroc, 2008)
Moonlight illuminates Glen Canyon and the Colorado River near Page, Arizona.

In Part 1, I discussed the ideal settings for shooting a dark night sky under a new moon, as well as what all those settings mean. If you’re not comfortable working in Manual Mode (M) on your camera, you should go back and read it to make sure you’re up to speed. This section will assume that you’ve got the basic understanding of M Mode and how it works.

This time around, I’ll be discussing how to alter those settings to account for a full moon, how to capture star trails, and also how to photograph the northern or southern lights, aka the Aurora Borealis or Australis, respectively.

Understanding The Histogram

Before moving further, it’s important to understand the histogram as displayed within the camera. Put simply, the histogram shows you the light that was captured in a given scene.
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Categorized: Article
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The 12 Best Photos from 2011

January
Pilgrim Mountain in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming rests under glowing sunset clouds. (Mike Cavaroc)
Pilgrim Mountain in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming rests under glowing sunset clouds.

I found myself rather unproductive in early 2011 in terms of stills. With the recent purchase of a 7D and getting it up to working order, as well as discovering time-lapse photography, my still photography became a bit stagnant. As a result, most of my work was in the form of a time-lapse and before finding a good balance of time-lapse, video and still, I even wondered if I would move entirely into video. Eventually the balance did work itself out and once I had my 7D back and functioning properly the following spring, it was full-steam ahead in every direction!

I discovered this image during that time after forgetting about it. I was looking back through a day in January where I hadn’t shot very much at all, but saw potential in a nice sunset above Pilgrim Mountain.
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Categorized: Article, Landscape, Panorama, Video, Wildlife
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