Photoblog

One Utah Summit Fall 2021

I was hired last-minute to be the official event photographer for the One Utah Summit hosted at SUU. The organizers of One Utah Summit have raised the bar on this event over the past few years. For me, it was fun to be a fly on the wall for the whole experience. Some pretty neat things are happening in Utah.

On a personal note, it was fun to work alongside another media professional. I got to know the videographer as we crisscrossed paths all day. He is a cool guy. I don’t think I caught his last name, but his first name is Noah. Noah’s videos made for and from this event are posted below. A talented guy that Noah.

Noah’s Intro Video

Noah’s video from the day


Ferron Mountain Milky Way

Ferron Mountain Milky Way

In June of this year, I took my kids and met a bunch of my family on Ferron Mountain for a few days of camping, relaxing, mountain biking, and Milky Way photography. We had favorable dark skies, which means getting out to shoot the Milky Way was a must, no matter how tired or unmotivated we felt. So I got my kids settled in our tent, took 22-month-old Lillie to sleep in my parent’s trailer. My dad, niece, and I headed out for some dark sky hours around 10:00 pm. We drove to the top of Ferron Mountain and enjoyed the next three hours watching falling stars, photographing the Milky Way, and listening to all the night-time critters. Bats and owls kept us company.

When I got home, I downloaded my photos, and I haven’t touched them until now. Life is busy. Milky Way photography requires a lot of post-processing. It takes a lot of time to get the shots and a lot of time to edit them relative to any other photography. Capturing the photos usually take hours. I’ve got my editing process down pretty well, but it is still a multi-step process. The image above is 8 photos from the same tripod spot and this is one of the simple Milky Way photos. The complex Milky Way photos I do involve a star tracker, multiple rows of shots to get a panorama and lots of post-processing to bring it all together. For a simple Milky Way photo, here is what the process looks like:

Foreground: ISO 6400, 14mm, f/2.8, 325sec. A really long exposure is necessary to capture the foreground on moonless nights. This was over 5.5 minutes.
Single exposure of the Milky Way. ISO 6400, 14mm, f/2.8, 20sec. Take 7 of these in a row, one immediately after the other.
7 of the above images stacked together using Starry Landscape Stacker to reduce noise.
The stacked images edited in Photoshop. The process includes color correction, exposure adjustment, star reduction and some saturation adjustments. This process brings out the core of the Milky Way.
The stacked and edited sky blended with the foreground. (same image as the first one)

So there is the process. I actually like the way this image came together more than I thought I would. I wasn’t super excited about the foreground, but I like the way the composition turned out. I like the leading lines of the converging double-track roads.


Nutcracker Poster Shoot

A St George dance company is doing Nutcracker this year. They needed a few shots for their promotional posters and material. These are some super talented kids. It was a quick shoot, and they nailed the shots.

We shot on white seamless to give them the flexibility to extract and re-create in whatever creative ways they need. I’m excited to see what their posters look like. I’m sure it will be more creative than my typical slap-some-words-on-a-picture approach.


No Water at Cascade Falls

Took the littles for a hike to Cascade Falls, but there was no water. We had fun and took some photos anyway. It is still beautiful up there and the leaves were just starting to change.

There is a really neat bristlecone pine tree growing on the edge of a ridge. The root system of this tree is crazy.


Utah High School Shakespeare Competition 2021

A couple of quick photo shoots for dance groups at the Utah High School Shakespeare Competition 2021. I think it is pretty neat that the Shakespeare Competition includes dance as well as theatre. These kids are busy with classes, rehearsals, and performances in front of judges for two days. The dances have to have a Shakespeare theme. The dancers in white are from Canyon View High School in Cedar City. They were performing a piece choreographed by my wife Jennie which was about Romeo and Juliet in the afterlife. They won first place in their division.

The other dance group is from St George. They just wanted a few quick group shots before they performed.


NICA Moab Race 2021

I probably should be more specific about these NICA races. They are the Utah Southern Region races since the team I am a part of, the Iron Giants, is in the Southern Region. Moab is a fun course, but the interesting sections of course to photograph are not accessible to spectators. The Moab course has the most restrictions when it comes to audience viewing. I love to pre-ride the course with our team, but it is not the funnest to photograph. I still enjoy taking pictures at Moab though, don’t get me wrong.

Here are some of my favorite moments from the day.


Manti Temple in the Fall

Photoblog

I happened upon a pretty autumn scene in Manti, Utah at a particularly pretty time of day. I had to take a picture. It had just stopped raining and the sun had just set. There was a subtle pink glow in the clouds and the autumn colors were at their absolute peak.


Family Headshots

My wife needed a new headshot for an upcoming dance performance. It has been a long time since I had a decent headshot also, so we made it a family event. I couldn’t get the two teenagers to cooperate, imagine that. The rest of us got some photos. Personal work is the most important photography I do. I’ve been terrible at showcasing my personal work, so I am going to try and do better on this blog. That is the beauty of this blog. I don’t feel constrained by the expectations of social media to be one specific type of photographer.

These headshots were done using some new-to-me techniques. I used natural light. I played with a couple of spots, but settled on our garage as the final location. I taped a piece of white seamless paper to the wall with gaffers tape, opened the garage door and played with the distance from the opening of the door to the subjects. I was going for a super soft light. Turns out putting the subject too close to the garage door opening made the light too bright. Placing the subject at the back of the garage was too dark, not soft enough. Somewhere in the middle was just right.

So here we are in all our headshot glory. Jennie actually got herself ready for this, but the rest of us just came as-we-were, paint on faces and all.

These are my new favorite photos of Jennie.


80 Miles in the Wind River Wilderness

In 2015, I went on my first long-distance backpacking trip. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was unprepared on just about every level. I had the wrong gear, my backpack was too heavy, I was not in shape, I was overweight, and I was unprepared for the physical demands this hike would place on me.

It is not an understatement to say this trip was life altering for me. It was a wakeup call to my fitness ability, my health, and my enjoyment of life. This trip taught me that I can do hard things. It taught me that age is just a number. Just about everybody I hiked with on this trip was older than me. They all out-hiked me. Up to this point in my life, this was the hardest thing physically I had ever done.

This trip was a pivotal moment for me. After this trip I changed my lifestyle, I lost weight, I started to exercise regularly, and I invested in better/lighter gear. I learned that despite the demands of being a father and working professional, I can still go on big adventures and invest in my health.

Of course I hiked the 80 miles with my DSLR, specifically I had the Nikon D700 at the time. I took two lenses, a 50mm f/1.8 and a 24mm f/1.4. This is my photo story. I also made a 5 minute video of the trip, catch that at the end of this story.

My first view of the Wind River Range. Pulled off the highway to take this photo.
A map of our route. This is a screenshot of the actual GPS track data. We started on the north end at Green River Lakes and ended at the Big Sandy trailhead on the south end.
Square Top Mountain in the background with the first Green River Lake in the foreground.
The second Green River lake. It is a completely different color because it is the first lake that the silty Green River flows into from the melting glaciers of the Wind River Range.
Getting closer to Square Top Mountain with the Green River in the foreground.
Fellow backpacker and photographer Scott Wyatt getting his shots of the iconic Square Top Mountain. We were both carrying Nikon full-frame DSLR cameras on this trip.
We hiked about 15 miles the first day when the clouds rolled in and it started to rain. We made camp for the night and it rained all night.

Our first day, we made it about 15 miles (24.14 km). That was not as far as our group had hoped. At this point, I felt exhausted, but still enthusiastic. It started to rain as we were setting up our tents for the night, and it rained all night. I slept great because I was so tired. I slept for 12 hours. The rain forced us into our tents at 7:00 pm, and we crawled out of our tents at 7:00 am the next morning.

The second day of this trip took us through some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever experienced. Our route took us past Peak Lake and then up and over the highest pass on the route, Knapsack Cole, at 12,238 feet (3,730.14 m). We descended Knapsack Cole into the Titcomb Basin, past glaciers. The Titcomb Basin was my favorite section from a photo perspective. I long to go back and spend more time with my camera.

Wildflowers blooming at Peak Lake. Our path took us along the shore of this lake as we began our ascent to Knapsack Cole
Looking back at Peak Lake with the inlet in the foreground.
A glacier and waterfall as we head up to Knapsack Cole.
Looking at the peaks of the mountains from the top of Knapsack Cole, the highest point on the trail at 12,238 feet.
Coming down the other side of Knapsack Cole, hiking past a glacier on our way into the Titcomb Basin.
Looking down the Titcomb Basin toward the Titcomb Lakes.
Looking back from where we entered the Titcomb Basin. Bonny Pass is in the distance. The path down from Knapsack Cole is also in the distance.
Looking at Island Lake. This lake greets you at the bottom of the Titcomb Basin.
Somewhere halfway through the trip. After the first couple of days I was not feeling well and didn’t take very many pictures, but this sunset caught my eye. This was on one of our longest days where we hiked over 20 miles.
Looking back from where we came around mile 60. It was remarkable to look back and realize the Titcomb Basin and Knapsack Cole were somewere beyond the horizon.
Looking down the back side of Texas Pass at what we just climbed. Texas Pass is one of the passes that takes you over the Continental Divide and is the pass that drops you into the Cirque of the Towers.
In the Cirque of the Towers. This was our crew. I’m on the very left. Pingora Peak, a popular climb for mountaineers is in the background.
Looking down from Jackass Pass, the last of many passes on the 80 mile trip and about 10 miles from the Big Sandy trailhead.
Since this trip, I’ve gone on to do the same route again as an entirely different person. My second time through was much easier than the first and was an entirely different adventure and entirely different photo story. I’ve also gone on to do even harder things like run a 100-mile ultra marathon and run the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim. This trip was the beginning of many great adventures.

A Video Summary of the Trip


NICA Richfield Race 2021

The Richfield NICA course is always great for photographs. The start, finish, and dynamic spots on the course are reasonably close to each other, which allows me to bounce around and get good shots. The Richfield course also has a one-mile section of motocross track in the course. The motocross track winds back and forth, allowing for multiple pictures of kids as they work their way through. This year I found myself not spending any time at the motocross track because the weather threw us some curveballs. During the Varsity race, there were lightning strikes close enough to make the race officials nervous. They cut the Varsity race short and delayed the next group, and shortened their race too. Things got back on track by the end of the day, but those shortened/delayed races eliminated some laps, which in turn eliminated some of my photo opportunities.

Despite the weather challenges, it was a good day with the camera. Here are some highlights from the day.