Tag Archives: night

Natural Bridges Part 1: The San Rafael Swell and Glen Canyon Roadtrip

When doing the big Southern Utah loop through the National Parks I realized half a day in Natural Bridges was not enough and vowed to go back. The added benefit is I could plan a roadtrip down through San Rafael Swell, Upper Glen Canyon, and leave past Comb Ridge, Canyonlands, and Moab.

Open field
Golden waves of grain

Although the goal was to hike Natural Bridges, getting there is half the fun. Plus some big beautiful storm clouds were chasing me out of Northern Utah. I checked weather.gov beforehand and the storm hitting the north wouldn’t impact me in the south.

Mile marker 68.99 instead of 69.
I guess the alternative was getting stolen too often.

It took me a few second to figure out why they wouldn’t be able to post mile marker 69??…
Oh!  Now I get it!

Barren Landscape in San Rafael
Barren Landscape

It was slightly longer to take I-70 to the monument but I wanted to drive through San Rafael Swell to scout for a future trip. After descending through pine mountains you come out on the barren desert plateau.

San Rafael Swell
Looking over the San Rafael Swell

The San Rafael Swell is currently BLM land very popular with ATV and slot canyon explorers. So far oil and gas interests haven’t been encroaching, but if any unprotected place in Utah is befitting a being elevated to National Park status it’s this place. If you like any of the Utah Mighty 5 parks, you’ll love San Rafael Swell.

Long Straight Road
The Long Straight Road

After I-70 breaks through the broken edge of the Swell it’s a long straight ride across the desert plains that separate the Swell from Canyonlands and the Green and Colorado Rivers.

Slickrock dunes
Slickrock dunes

After a last chance for gas in Hanksville more southward travel changes from desert plains as you start to cut down through the slickrock towards the canyons of the Colorado River. This area is prime slot canyon territory.

Glen Canyon Monuments
Glen Canyon Monuments

The Colorado River sliced through the sedimentary rock carving complex canyons into the desert named Glen Canyon. Covering much of the southern portion of Utah.

The north end of Lake Powell
The north end of Lake Powell

In 1966 Glen Canyon dam was completed 185 river miles away creating Lake Powell. It’s difficult to define where the river ends and the lake begins but Hite crossing is generally considered the north end of Lake Powell. The Lake used to cover the surrounding floodplains but recent drought has left the marina high and dry.

Hite Bridge
Hite Bridge crosses the Colorado

Even though it slices through nearly a quarter of the state the Colorado River only has 3 drive-able river crossings in Utah. Hite and nearby Dirty Devil Bridges were considered “The world’s most beautiful bridges” when completed in 1966. I don’t know about that but the setting could definitely sway the vote.

 Red Rock Plateau
Straight to Red Rock Plateau

After the flat desert plain it’s easy to see why this area of Utah is known as Canyon Country.

Milky Way Galaxy and ISS
The International Space Station crosses the Milky Way

Natural Bridges was the worlds first “International Dark Sky Park.” There are few places with as low of light pollution as this. And in summer the core of the Milky Way is in full view, occasionally the International Space Station and the odd satellite make an appearance as well.


Here’s the full roadtrip and all the pictures from the trip:


French Colors and subconcious influence from Vincent Van Gogh

One of Van Gogh’s most famous pictures “Cafe Terrace at Night” evokes a sense of a warm inviting cafe to stop in for a drink on a comfortable night in Arles.

Cafe Terrace at Night
Cafe Terrace at Night

As he himself described it to his sister:

On the terrace there are small figures of people drinking. An immense yellow lantern illuminates the terrace, the facade, the side walk and even casts light on the paving stones of the road which take a pinkish violet tone. The gables of the houses, like a fading road below a blue sky studded with stars, are dark blue or violet with a green tree. Here you have a night painting without black, with nothing but beautiful blue and violet and green and in this surrounding the illuminated area colours itself sulfur pale yellow and citron green.

I was editing pictures from my trip to France and noticed the color palate was very familiar.  The fashions may have changed but you can see not much else has; an evening out for a drink with friends is still as it was.

Cafe Terrace at Night
The blue sky of early night.

These pictures are actually from the old town of Aix en Provence and not Arles like Van Gogh’s painting but the similarity is striking.  I actually wasn’t setting out with that in mind when shooting or when editing.  It’s just some street photography on an old French street, but you can really see a modern interpretation of the world as Van Gogh probably saw it as a 30 year old capturing the night around him.

Crepes evening snack
Snack before hitting the town.
A date with the boys
A date with the boys

I actually took a picture of Van Gogh’s cafe during the day from the exact same perspective later in the trip but I think these street shots of the night in Aix is closer to his work than that picture.

Les Enfants
Les Enfants

I read a lot of books and looked at a lot of pictures by famous Artists from the area and it looks like I subconsciously copied it a bit.  Or perhaps all of southern France is just as beautiful as the paintings from a time long past.

Shooting with a Wide Angle lens

Wells Fargo Center

The day I got my new wide-angle lens I headed downtown to try it out. It takes a bit of getting used to a really wide-angle lens; at 14mm(eq.) the camera sees about the same field of view as I do rather than a cropped version of what we see. The positive side of this is that the images look a lot like you saw with your own eyes, the drawback is that distant objects are tiny on the image you get.

Also with a wide-angle lens the perspective is close to natural perception and the image seems to have more depth as opposed to telephoto where the image seems flat and distant objects are closer to foreground elements. Taken to extremes with a fish-eye lens this can cause odd distortion making objects in the cnter of the image larger (like a glass peephole on a door).

However in a city this effect is great looking up at buildings as they seem to stretch higher into the sky. To get the full effect of a wide-angle lens it helps to have have some foreground or element that pulls away from the camera towards the background to emphasize the depth of the image, a simple corner of a building starting an the ground and reaching up works great.

This particular shot was under the foot bridge at the Wells Fargo building. From the side it’s interesting with the lights, the glass enclosure, and the circular shape of the supports. But standing right under it the curve of the supports become more sweeping and contrasts well with the sharp lines of the building behind it.

I was kneeling down shooting up at the building but if I had been willing to lay down I probably could have included the very bottom of the curved support beam and had less emphasis on sidewalk and road below.

Self Portrait


Sorry about the poor quality of the picture; phone cameras are crap at night. It’s nice to occasionally take a self portrait of yourself. It’s made all the harder taking late night time lapse pics while on a solo sojourn through the desert.

I hope to get enough free time in the next week to develop the actual picture.