Stormy Vestrahorn

Arrived at Vestrahorn just in the nick of time

Stormy Vestrahorn

There had been clouds, snow showers and heavy wind all day, but there had been breaks in the clouds, something we hadn’t seen in days! We spent the morning at the Ice Beach had a quick break for lamb soup at lunch and were on our way to Vestrahorn. It’s about an hour drive from the Hali Country Inn. When we arrived there were a few clouds dancing around the mountain range. The sun was starting to set over my right shoulder and many went off to photograph the setting sun. I had studied a few images of this location and knew I wanted to capture the brown wind blown grass on the black sand dunes… This image is one of my favorites. I was lucky to to initially settle in on this comp as 20 minutes later a snow squall blew in and left us with white out snow conditions…

Here’s an image take just 20 minutes later:

snow-vestrahorn

Deep inside an Ice Cave-Updated

Ice Caves of Vatnajokull Glacier
Inside Crystal Cave!

Loved this view from the depths of the Ice Cave! Click on the image to see a larger version!

Shooting conditions inside Ice Caves is quite challenging. The light, the blowing snow, the cold, and fellow photographers are some of the reasons.

This image was shot entirely inside the Ice Cave but it is a composite image of two scenes. Here’s the first image I captured of the hiker closer to the entrance:

j-icecave1
Inside an Ice Cave

I liked this image as the hiker definitely gave a sense of scale of the cave..

j-icecave12
Deeper in the Ice Cave

As we moved back into the cave we didn’t have any models at the front of the cave at this time. I liked this comp with the cone of snow that was growing by the minute pointing towards the entrance. I couldn’t have shot this model from this location as there were roughly 10 other photographers standing behind the snow cone! I also feel this is a good image without the hiker, but I feel it’s better with hiker…

So with a few handy Photoshop tools I combined the two images into one…

Thingvellir-Summer vs. Winter

Pingvellir National Park in Iceland.

It’s a short hour or so drive from Reykjavik. It’s the split in the basalt that separates Europe and North America. I visited the area during the summer of 2014 and captured this image. Europe is on the left and North America is on the right.

River Below Oxararfoss

I was also able to return to the location in the winter of 2016 and captured the same image as best I could remember, since it was covered in snow!

Snowy Pingvillir

The second trip allowed me to also capture my buddy that made his way to the top of the Basalt ridge. It’s a great place to visit anytime of the year!

Which do you prefer?

Skogafoss Winter

Skogafoss is a majestic waterfall in the South of Iceland and a must see at any time of year!

Skogafoss
Winter Skogafoss

I do recommend that you include a pair of Crampons or MicroSpikes if you plan on visiting any of the Iceland Waterfalls during the winter months.

Zoomin’ Towards Christmas

Christmas Tree Bokeh!

Over the years I’ve seen blurred images from Christmas lights and thought, that’s cool! Once in awhile I’d give it a go. This year I found a beautiful tree that my Mom decorated and started taking photos of it. I first started with regular in-focus images and slowly started to turn the focus ring out of focus. I then started playing with the zoom ring as well!

I’m quite pleased with the images! Here are a few more(Also, Here’s my Bokeh Gallery for better viewing and options to purchase):

Gnarled Reflection or Duck Reflection

Can you find the Duck?

 

When you’re at THE WAVE you can hike up the hill a bit and find more pools and more gnarled rocks! A friend of mine pointed out what looks like a duck taking a drink of water in this scene. I hadn’t noticed it until he mentioned it. Can you see the Duck?

I used the Dynamic Contrast filter in Perfect Photo Effects 9.5 to subtly pull out the details in this image. I can’t wait to get my hands on the up coming Perfect Photo Studio 10, which is due out soon.

Taking a Ride on THE WAVE of Sandstone

THE WAVE at Paria Canyon Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness

A definite “Bucket List” Item for any Photographer or Adventurer!

THE WAVE-North Coyote Buttes
THE WAVE
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The Wave is specifically located in the North Coyote Buttes area. It’s just across the border into Arizona. From Kanab you’ll take Highway 89 towards Page, AZ and then look for HouseRock Rd. which happens to be a dirt road. Take HouseRock Rd to the Wire Pass trail head and that is the trail to THE WAVE. There is a secondary way through Jacob’s Lake if the top of Houserock Rd been washed out as there are a few washes that you have to cross, a 4WD is a good idea! THE WAVE is an area protected by the BLM which has set it up as a permitted area. 20 permits are distributed each day through a lottery system. 10 are granted via an internet lottery and 10 are granted through a daily lottery at the Kanab, UT BLM office. The daily lottery is held each day for passes granted the following day! You can’t show up at the office and win a permit to go in that day, if you win it is only for the next day only! It’s a true lottery for 10 spots at the office. I’ve sat through 3 lotteries at the office and there have never been less than 90 people entered for the 10 slots. At the office you sign up as a group up to 6 people and you can’t enter the lottery more than once at the office, so you can’t sign up 6 times for each of the people there. Online is a different story each of the 6 can technically enter for 6 slots which gives you a slightly better chance, but also realize that everyone else is doing the same thing online. We won our permits through the online lottery. I personally didn’t win but was fortunate to have a friend that did win and allowed me to tag along and I would have done the same had I won.  Check out the BLM Wave Permit page for the latest info.

Obviously a few will ask, What if I don’t get a permit and just hike in, without a permit?

There are a few reasons:

  1. The area is a protected land that will hopefully survive human interaction for generations to come
  2. It can be dangerous as there have been deaths due to heat and dehydration as there really isn’t a well defined trail and it’s easy to get lost. We met a lady from the BLM office at the trail head at 5pm to ensure that all permit holders had made it out safely. I’m not sure if she’s there everyday or not, but they want to ensure that everyone gets out and is ok. The BLM provides detailed maps with photos along with your permit.
  3. It’s also just not cool as there are some that have spent years applying for permits and have not won. The day we went in there was a couple that had applied for the Lottery 5 times and finally won on try #6. They were very upset when a couple of girls showed up at 7am and hiked in. Granted the two girls hiked in and out without getting into trouble, but the BLM office was notified about their incursion.
  4. If by chance they happen to send a BLM Park Ranger out and find those without permits there is a ticket and a fine give to those with out permits. The fine is in the hundreds of dollars, and can go higher based on circumstances.

Pink Sunset Over South Coyote Buttes!

Witnessed this amazing sunset over the South Coyote Buttes

Paria Canyon Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area

Purchase this Photo from South Coyote Buttes
Pink Sunset over South Coyote Buttes
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Our first visit to this area was in the middle of the day with no hopes of making sunset as we had other places to go. That previous visit was enough to know that I wanted to one day come back and stay for sunset! After a cloudy afternoon the cloud deck lifted just enough at sunset to turn the whole area pink!

Pink Reflection – South Coyote Buttes
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More images from South Coyote Buttes can be found here: http://www.sandquistphotography.com/Collections/LandscapeTravel/South-Coyote-Buttes-Vermillion-C/

South Coyote Buttes is a BLM permit area that requires a 4WD to get there. I fell in love with the area after my second visit, maybe that had to do with the fantastic sunset with incredible clouds!

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