Underground

The Dragons Den

The Dragons Den

The Dragons Den

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Unlike a true ice cave tunnel this is actually a stack of arches with narrow openings in the roof, these openings allowed light and snow to enter. I found it whilst scouting on the glacier below Cerro Torre in Los Glaciers National Park Argentina. At the time I had something else in mind so I gave it less attention than it probably deserved. I just propped my camera against a rock and set up a rough composition. I knew I was going to need something to show scale so I used a remote trigger to fire off a timed shot whilst I stood in the background.  It was only later that when I got to my computer that I realized I’d captured something quite nice. The gravel creates a pleasing leading line and the snow really works to bring out the dimples in the ice.

I struggled to think of a name for the shot so the title might sound a little bizarre, the Andiperla is an insect that lives on glaciers in Patagonia. It’s also known as a Patagonian Dragon.

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Chapel of Light

Chapel of Light

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Many landscape photographers believe they need dozens of images for their portfolio; my goal is to capture five beautiful pictures.  Having spent eight years shooting landscapes, predominantly in the American Southwest and Patagonia, I consider this my first. My ethos is ‘quality not quantity’ which means I have less desire to use artistic license when processing. It’s important that a photograph reminds me of the scene rather than hours behind a computer. When I found this tree I knew instantly it had great promise, but it would take 4 days to get the shot. I watched the light change throughout the day, attempting numerous compositions. Peak lighting was around 11.00am when the wall behind the tree was illuminated with bounce light and the right side of the tree was just kissed along its length by direct sunlight.

In all I shot almost 60 gigabytes of images, each focus stacked shoot had to be roughly processed on a laptop before I chose the perfect composition. I pulled out all the stops trying to shoot with the camera seven feet in the air. That attempt required fitting broomstick handles to my tripod legs, and standing on stilts so I could get high enough to see through the viewfinder.


The Rainbow Room

The Rainbow Room

The Rainbow Room

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I went to shoot this slot canyon with a good friend who warned me that the monsoon rains had washed a tree deep into the canyon causing it to wedge hard against the sandstone walls. We brought hand saws to chop the tree out but when I saw my buddies saw I knew I was going to be putting in some extra effort. His flimsy bow saw looked like a child’s toy!
I ended up putting in over two hours solid hard work before we could both shoot.


Final Resting Place

Final Resting Place

Final Resting Place

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This is quite an old shot of mine, I’d seen a version of it in Michael Fatali’s gallery in Springdale Utah. I went out to try to photograph it myself and hopefully put my own spin on it. That was difficult to do, Fatali is a master large format photographer and there’s only so many ways to take the same shot. This style of ‘stamp collecting’ photography gives me no real pleasure anymore but I include this image in my gallery purely because I like it a great deal and because it took quite a lot of effort to get the image at a time when there was water in the foreground.


The Amber Room

The Amber Room

The Amber Room

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This remote slot canyon often gets confused with the far better known Antelope Canyon, which is effectively a tourist zoo. I wasn’t the first to shoot here, photographers typically call this ‘comp stomping’ many would suggest it’s a talentless way to create photographs. I felt the only way to stamp my name on the image was to include a person to give scale. My good friend ‘Mr Jalapeño’ modelled for the shoot.


Windstone Arch

Windstone Arch

Windstone Arch

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Windstone Arch is barely 4′ tall, you could easily pass right by without knowing it was there. I’d seen photographs from Marc Muench and whilst I knew the alcove was somewhere in Valley of Fire I had no idea quite where. These days people seem only too happy to add location advice on their websites and with camera phones recording GPS satellite data locating places like this has never been easier. When I set out to find the alcove I had no such help, I spent countless hours roaming the state park looking in every opening. Eventually I had to give up in defeat, it was months later when I was back in the UK, I got an email from someone who kindly pinpointed the location on a map for me.
I shared the location with a good friend who lives nearby and he came up with the idea of using a tumbleweed as a prop. I had to wait a year before I could return to the States and one of my goals was to attempt a shot of Windstone Arch for myself. It was a time when I was beginning to experiment with focus stacking, I knew that this composition would look its best when shot with a longer focal length. I wanted to compress the distance between the arch and the tafoni sandstone in the background. Focus stacking allowed me to use a long focal length whilst maintaining depth of field.


Ephemeral Arch

Ephemeral Arch

Ephemeral Arch

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Created by natural water and to a lesser extent wind erosion this exquisite natural arch is in danger of collapse, if you look closely you can see the arch is cracked at the top, it’s actually cracked around the bottom as well, surely the next big flood will take it down forever. When the sun is in the correct position overhead light is bounced from the left wall and hits the back of the arch creating the wonderful glow seen in this image. Here’s another shot slightly earlier:

Ephemeral Arch

Ephemeral Arch

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Spooky Gulch

Spooky Gulch

Spooky Gulch

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This is an old image but it’s one I still like. Despite its somewhat remote location Spooky Gulch has to be the second busiest slot canyon in the world. The slot is so narrow you have to sidle through dragging your camera bag behind you. Setting a tripod on the ground would have been impossible because the moment you got set up a dozen boy scouts would come through. I managed to set my tripod upside down with the camera upside down, the image was then flipped in post.


Canyon Dreams

Canyon Dreams

Canyon Dreams

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I shot this one in lower Antelope Canyon, I’d love to say I shot it in the days before it was popular but that’s not true. When I first went to this canyon it was very well known and had been shot to death over the years. Thankfully it was nowhere near as busy as it is now. I include it because I feel it’s beautifully composed and I really like the way the shark fin shaped rock has a  glow of light at the tip.

Here’s another often photographed comp’ from Lower Antelope:

 

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Tongue and Groove

Tongue and Groove

Tongue and Groove

Antelope Canyon near Page Arizona is so well known that people automatically assume any slot canyon shot must have been taken in that one canyon. There area actually hundreds of slot canyons in the American Southwest, even the Grand Canyon is in effect a slot canyon. Antelope Canyon is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful slot canyons; the best time to photograph Antelope is in June when the sun is high overhead, unfortunately this is also one of the busiest times for tourists. For that reason I have always preferred to scout lesser known canyons. This particular feature can be found in a remote canyon about 3 miles hike from the road. I would hazard a guess and say it receives only one or two visitors a year, compare that to Antelope which probably gets a couple of hundred thousand visitors per year!

Here’s two more:

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