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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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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Silence Your Critics

Light on the walls at Pueblo Bonito create an abstract photo in Chaco Culture National Historic Park, New Mexico. (Mike Cavaroc)
Light on the walls at Pueblo Bonito create an abstract photo in Chaco Culture National Historic Park.

It’s easy to enjoy receiving feedback from others, and in many cases, it provides helpful tips and techniques to help us evolve. There are times, however, where we let other peoples’ opinions dictate how we should be following our passion. Consistently following their advice, no matter what their rank or recognition or how well-meaning they mean to be, can be detrimental to your work.

The title of this blog post could be misinterpreted to mean create a body of work that awes and inspires them, rather than giving them something to critique. Yet I don’t mean that at all. When I say "silence your critics," I mean let them say whatever they want, but don’t let somebody else’s subjective opinions define how you should express yourself.
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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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Court of the Patriarchs in Zion Canyon

The Virgin River flows past the Court of the Patriarchs in Zion Canyon of Zion National Park, Utah. (Mike Cavaroc)
The Virgin River flows past the Court of the Patriarchs in Zion Canyon of Zion National Park, Utah.

Zion Canyon in Zion National Park can be a tricky place for sunrise or sunset. Locations for capturing direct light on any of the surrounding peaks or canyon walls is pretty minimal, so as a result, I began scouting out some potential shots, and eventually settled on the Court of the Patriarchs with the Virgin River as the foreground. While it wasn’t a spectacular sunset, there were a few clouds in the sky that made it worth it and provided a good amount of interest to round out the whole scene.

Zion National Park was the first national park I ever visited back in 2004, so it holds a good amount of sentimentality for me, and seeing the towering sandstone peaks is always a welcome sight.
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Categorized: Landscape
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