I was excited when the Sonoran Institute recently sent me to photograph their Colorado River Delta restoration project in Baja California, Mexico. The Sonoran Institute is a U.S. non-profit that works to
The year 2014 seemed to involve a string of amazing photo shoots and travels. For me the real highlight was settling into my new home in Tucson and reconnecting to the landscape and people around the South West. Looking back over the year I discovered there were many occasions where conversations and ensuing connections with people led me down creative roads I might not have otherwise explored.
I'll share one of those encounters. A magazine assignment for Arizona Highways sent me to Mexico to photograph scientist Fransisco Zamorra who works for the conservation group the Sonoran Institute. In the course of the shoot Fransisco, who is also an avid wildlife photographer, introduced me to the Colorado
Months ago when I heard that a group of developers from Phoenix were planning to build a tram into the Grand Canyon from the rim down to near the confluence of the Colorado River and Little Colorado River, I thought it would never get anywhere. But now I learn the Navajo government has agreed to this project.
The confluence is visually the heart of the Grand Canyon and a place I have viewed from many vantages.
The photo below is at 60 mile Canyon on the Colorado River. In the distance you can see Cape Solitude. This location is less than a mile up stream of where the proposed tram complex will be established in the Grand Canyon.
Should the proposed tram be built you would see the cables and gondolas from where I took this photo. The inner canyon, in places like 60 mile Canyon, are peaceful and quite places to retreat. Even with 25,000 or so people a year who float past this location on river trips this place along with most of the inner Grand Canyon is wild. The developers for the tram proposal estimates they will be able to send 9,000 people a day into the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park intends to fight this as do other groups.
It will be interesting to see how this develops in 2015.
I learned several things on this 5 day hike through the West Clear Creek Wilderness in Arizona. I learned that whereever there is water in Arizona things will grow and that when the water flows year-round things will grow in profusion. Hiking into this wilderness I guess I just didn't expect so much greenery. The cool water and flora was a great relief from the shoots I have been doing in the scorching desert heat of Southern Arizona.
The object of this trip was to follow and photograph a team of botanist doing a plant survey of the entire wilderness area. This two year project is headed up by grad student Wendy McBride from the University of Northern Arizona. So far she has collected nearly a thousand plant specimens and it's expected the collection will grow to over 2,000 or more by the time she is done.
This was a remarkable team of scientist who were all very adept at working and moving in this rugged
There's a lot of chance that plays into getting interesting photos in remote locations especially when you let the unfolding events control your shots. What I've discovered is on some photo outings nothing happens; the skies are clear, the company is dull and the location sucks no matter how stunning the place might be. Then on other trips great events unfold, great light happens and making nice photos is as easy as pointing the camera in the right direction and letting the shutter fly.
This point was made clear to me again on a recent multi-day hike off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I was joined on the trip with two botanist, Glenn Rink and Steve Till, as well as another avid canyon explorer Bob Dye.
I was in the Canyon on a scouting trip for a future story. The others had no set determined goals so the hike quickly unfolded as a casual romp in the Park to explore some new country and have some fun. And of course I brought a camera should anything interesting happen.
I liked this shot of Steve exploring the art of flying. If I claimed that this sort of activity is a hot new sport craze, it would have the Park managers of GCNP sleepless with worry, but it's only Steve enjoying some flight-time.
Okay I did have some photographic goals during the trip. I did want to make a nice portrait of Bob Dye. Bob is incredibly knowledgeable about the canyon and displays an uncanny ability to find ancient building sites and artifacts.
Glenn Rink is the ultimate energized hiker. As we walked out of the Canyon across the Powell Plateau in a blowing fog and wet snow, I managed to get a photo of Glenn in his element. He later admitted that when I took this photo he was freezing cold and was nearly running to stay warm.
So like many people I enjoyed three days of photo serendipity in the Grand Canyon and I am already planning on my next trip. This last photo is what Glenn says is the ultimate scout of Deubendorf Rapids. What I saw was the beautiful curve of the Colorado River, the steep ridges dropping off the Great Thumb and more than a few reasons to return.
I am used to putting my cameras in all kinds of situations that might not be too healthy for the camera. This photo was made one morning during a boat trip down the San Juan River in Utah. I took the shot looking down river with my iPhone 5. To get the photo I held the phone just above the murky brown waters of the San Juan. Was I afraid the camera would drop in the drink and never be found, of course, that's why I held it with both hands, but I also have all the data backed up and the phone is insured. After making this photo I put the phone back in it's happy river home a steel water proof and sand proof case.
One of the things I've learned is that you can't be too prepared for an adventure shoot. I wrote about this and looked at how a photo disaster could have been saved with a little more prep. Here's the link to that article in Australian Geographic Outdoor magazine.
Melanie and I spent a lovely wet three days packrafting down the Colo River in NSW, Australia.
The trip was a bit of a gamble since we knew a cyclone was bearing down on NSW and bringing with it heavy rains. Melanie and I figured if we played our cards right we might get some initial higher water with the early rains that came before the main force of the storm hit the Colo basin. Yeah, right!
Well as it turns out we had a low water float for all three days and rain for two of those days. A few hours after we got off the Colo it spiked from .6 meters to 16 meters! It would have been some
I thought it was pretty cool that Australia Geographic Outdoor recently republished my packrafting story on their web site that I wrote for their print magazine. The story is about the packrafting guru Roman Dial. In my article Roman talks about packraftings past as well as the future of packrafting this is a link to the story on the Outdoor website.
Just in the past couple of years I've seen packrafting really catching
on downunder. From what I have seen recently on rivers and in the Australia media Alpacka rafts, the company that's on the cutting edge of packraft design, must be
selling a lot of their boats to adventurers in Australia. With so many rivers located in remote and roadless areas and accessable only by foot packrafting makes a lot of sense in
Australia. I see a very bright future for packrafting in both Australia and New Zealand. Here's a link to the video from the packraft trip Roman, Cody and I did down the Franklin River a couple of years ago.