Friday, September 4, 2009

Mixing work and play (photography)

This last week I attended a meeting in the Denver area and gave a presentation about some new software we are developing for planning observations with the VIMS instrument (Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer) aboard the Cassini spacecraft. Since one of the people on the science team is a photographer friend of mine, I decided to take a few extra days so I could photograph on the way to Denver, while in Denver, and on the way home.

My path took me first to Moab, and the slick-rock country of south-east Utah. I visited Moab 15 years ago and went to see some of the sites while I was in the area but didn't bring back many pleasing photographs from that trip. This time I visited new places I hadn't been to before in Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park (Island in the Sky), and Dead Horse Point state park. Here is a sunrise photograph I took at Dead Horse Point looking toward the La Sal mountains. I used a wide angle lens (17mm on a full frame DSLR, f/11, 1/13 sec) to emphasize the broad expanse of the landscape. The color on the upper clouds only lasted about a minute.

Next, I drove to Denver and gave myself a couple of days to explore the mountains nearby. The most interesting place I went was to the top of Mount Evans (14,250 feet above sea level). Amazingly, there is a road to the top and my friend Roger picked me up at 5 AM and we got up there before sunrise. It is a beautiful place to be and there is a surprising amount of wildlife. We saw mountain goats, yellow-bellied marmots, pica, and ptarmigan. Here are two photographs, one showing the landscape (looking south-east from near the top just after sunrise, 28mm, f/16, 1/50 sec) and one showing a mom goat and her kid (300mm, f/11, 1/250 sec).

The next day I visited Brainard Lake recreation area west of Boulder and did a hike around Long Lake. On the way in I stopped at a small lake covered with water lilies named Red Rock Lake and photographed the sunrise over the lake (40mm, f/11, 1/320 sec).

After the meeting, on the way home I drove late into the night to get to Almogordo, NM so I could get up early and photograph at White Sands National Monument. They don't open the gate there until 7 AM which is a little late for the sunrise but fortunately there were quite a few clouds in the east which helped with the light a bit. I plan to revisit the area later this fall when it is a bit cooler and camp in the park so I can get some images earlier in the day. This photo features some of the insect tracks I saw in the sand. They had had some rain on previous days which changes the texture of the sand a bit.

When I get a chance to go though my photos and process more of them I'll post them on my website at

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