Just this past week, I was asked by William Blair, a Chicago-based investment banking and asset management firm, to be their lead event photographer covering their groundbreaking ceremony for their new corporate headquarters that will be opening in 2015 along the Chicago River.
A few days prior, we had had met for the location scout where, along with the video crew and marketing team, we determined the best place to set up for filming and catching the essential still shots of the WB executives and Chicago politicians including the Mayor, Rahm Emanuel. In addition to the employees of William Blair, the Mayor and his staff, there would be an additional 90 people in attendance not to mention camera crews from every newspaper, local magazine and TV station throughout Chicago.
Oh, to be a photojournalist. It’s certainly different from what I do on a daily basis. Granted, I sometimes need to work with my subjects’ to make them more comfortable in front of the camera but this was more of a battle between photographers to get that perfect shot. Every move I made, there was someone on top of me, looking for the best angle and we are all, in tandem, following the Mayor as he made his way through the crowd. At some point, as polite as you might try to be, manners get left behind and everyone is on the same page as we are all trying to accomplish the same thing so let the best photographer win. Hats off to those who do this day in and day out!
Taking a trip through Arches National Park has been on my bucket list for years. Finally, I had a chance to see for myself what the fuss has been all about. Set up high above the Colorado River, Arches contains over 2,000 natural arches which have been formed through thousands of years of weathering and erosion. Over 3 million years ago, inland seas, which covered the area evaporated and refilled dozens of times leaving behind the salt beds, sandstone and red canyons that created the spectacular rock sculptures that are visible today.
The hike up to Delicate Arch is rough 3 mile roundtrip with a 480 foot elevation change. The path is only marked by rock cairns that lead the way.
The best times to check out the view are early morning and twilight as this is one of the most photographed arches in the park and the trails do become crowded not to mention there is little or no shade and the temperature can easily swell to over 100 degrees.
From Park Avenue, there is a trail that descends steeply into a spectacular canyon and continues down the wash to Courthouse Towers. One of my favorite views.
The drive alone is pretty incredible as you can look out into the La Sal Mountain Range while making your way deeper into the canyons.
The view from the Primitive Trail at Turret Arch and Sunrise at Pine Tree Arch.
Storms approaching as we came up to the North Window on the primitive trail.
I also wanted to experiment with light painting and night photography as Arches is the perfect playground with so many awesome opportunities for amazing captures under the dark skies. In order to do this, all that we needed was the tripod, a few LED flashlights, a remote shutter release so as to prevent camera shake and plenty of time.
Here we are at the Cove Arch in the Windows section in the park. In order to create these star trails, we captured over 25 30-second exposures and in post-production, layered the files to create the trails.
At the Turret Arch, we combined the star trails technique with light painting using a mix of white-balanced and red LED flashlights which paint the color during the long exposure.
And my favorite…this is the South Window again using the red LED.
As our trip was close to 3 weeks long and consisted of horse-back riding, rafting, hiking and plenty of photo excursions through Utah’s canyonlands and forests, admittedly Arches National Park proved to be the pinnacle of the trip for me. There really is no other landscape like it, with its’ archways, sandstone fins, balanced rocks and mountain range, this incredible landscape offers so many opportunities, it’s no wonder it’s on every photographers’ bucket list!
Over the last few weeks I took a break from photographing corporate head shots and environmental portraits for a much needed breather with Monica. Traveling from Chicago to Colorado, through much of Utah and some of Arizona, we made our way through the North Plains then drove from peak to peak in the Rocky Mountains and throughout the Canyonlands.
The concentration of our travels focused on Estes Park and The Rocky Mountain National Forest where we visited Monica’s family then to Moab in Utah where we hung out with my niece Chloe and checked out Arches National Park and onto Zion near the southwest border of Utah and Arizona.
Along the way, we managed to pen a potentially grammy worthy song regarding the prevalence of cattle in Nebraska. Then we swung through the completely off-the-grid towns of Colorado City and Hilldale which boast a fundamentalist polygamist community of over 10,000 members of the Warren Jeffs persuasion and we also managed to avoid being swept up in a flash flood while hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park. Here are a few more prevalent stats from the trip:
And for your viewing pleasure, here are just a few of my favorites from the trip……
Rocky Mountain National Park | Estes Park, Colorado
Hiking to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park | Moab, Utah
His Name was Harley – Red Cliffs Canyon Lodge | Moab, Utah
Juniper Tree in Arches National Park | Moab, Utah
“You’ve always been crazy, this is just the first chance you’ve had to express yourself.” | Thelma & Louise
Monument Valley | Navajo Nation, Utah
Big Bend | Zion National Park, Utah
Hiking the Narows of the Virgin River | Zion National Park, Utah
Grotto Trails | Zion National Park, Utah
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park | Between Kanab and Mount Carmel Junction, Utah
Rough Mule’s Ear Flowers | Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah
Hoodoos in the Amphitheater | Bryce Canyon National Park
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon | Arizona
Cathedral Valley | Capitol Reef National Park
And don’t miss another special treat: my fave pics from Arches in Moab, Utah. You can check them out here. A definite highlight as we experimented with night photography and light painting and this is probably one of my favorite places I have visited west of the Mississippi. Gotta love hippies and hitchhikers.