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Hello, and welcome to my blog!  My name is Jeff Barnhart, and I am an Award-Winning Pacific Northwest Landscape Photographer, High School Senior Photographer, and Wedding Photographer.  Follow me as I journey across Oregon, Washington and Idaho to create art often inspired by my readers!  This is where you can read all about the adventures of Jeff Barnhart Photography, and this is where you can Experience Art!

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First Winter in Red Rock Country

Monday, January 13, 2014 6:56 PM

landscapes utah

Although most of my photography is taken in the Pacific Northwest, I recently had the opportunity to visit Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah.  In my amateur days, I had visited these places before, but truly wasn’t capable of creating the kinds of imagery I’m capable of today, so I had been dying to give them another shot! 

I wanted to get there as soon as possible, especially with the short winter days, so my flight came in at 2:00 am on Saturday at Grand Junction Regional Airport, and the rental car place didn’t open until 8:00 am.  I was just going to sleep in the airport, but they lock the place up as soon as everyone has grabbed their baggage.  They have double doors to the entrance, so they allowed me to sleep between the two sliding doors for about 2 hours, until the morning crew arrived and I moved into the main part of the airport and got another 4 hours of sleep, kind of, before I got my rental car and headed on my way.  As promised by the weather reports, it was snowing as I left, but that quickly dissipated, and by 9:00 am it had completely stopped.  I was hoping for a nice, fresh dusting of snow, but I could tell it wouldn’t last.

When I arrived at Dead Horse Point State Park, I reserved my campsite, or more like campground at the visitor’s center, as I was the only person camping here.  Haha.  Maybe people don’t enjoy winter camping when the temperature is single digits, maybe it’s the relentless wind there, or maybe they are just much smarter than I and know of a better spot to spend the night.  Never the less, Dead Horse Point is the closest campground to Canyonlands and has running water (heated bathrooms too!), both of which Canyonlands does not.  After I got my site, I checked out the beautiful view that is Dead Horse Point, which is often mistaken for the Grand Canyon, as several films have been done there and referred to it as the Grand Canyon.  I posted a picture of it on Instagram, so check it out!

After Dead Horse Point, I took a scouting trip to Mesa Arch in Canyonlands to calculate how long it would take, and what gear I would need, if any, to get there in the snow.  After that I drove to Arches National Park to shoot the classic Delicate Arch!  The trail up there is well marked, and required no special footing, although the last 50 yards is pretty slippery.  Actually, on my way back I slipped and fell down a canyon to my death.  Just kidding.  I’m still alive.  LOL.  I did fall on my butt, but there was truly no danger, except to my equipment, which is still fully functional.  I can’t say the same to the fellow photographer that was switching lenses while perched on the rim viewing Delicate Arch and dropped his $1,900 lens down to the bottom.  He said, “I almost did something really stupid and dove after it, but at least that wasn’t me”.

Arches National Park

It is common for people to stand under the arch and have their picture taken, although with the sheet of ice on the path there, I guess people felt it was worth risking their life, and the life of their children to get the shot they wanted.  Grown men were literally crawling hands and knees on the ice be immortalized on their Facebook page.  LOL.  As the sun set, and the orange rock started to glow red, all the photographers gathered on one side to take pictures, until a few who arrived late decided they wanted to get a closer shot right next to the arch, which puts them in everyone’s shot.  Most of the time I am pleasantly surprised by how courteous other photographers are of each other, but that wouldn’t be the case here.  I said, “If you can’t beat them, then join them”, and headed over to get my shot, and pretty much everyone with a camera followed.  As it turns out the lighting was really nice from that angle and I was able to capture this image!

Delicate Arch

I thought about taking some night images here, and one day I will, but I abandoned the idea, as I didn’t feel the conditions for Milky Way shots were quite right, and I really wanted to get a solid shot of Mesa Arch in the morning, so I hiked back down in the dark, and drove to Dead Horse Point for a few hours of sleep.

Sunday I was planning on waking up at around 5:30 am, but the brutal cold woke me up around 4:00 am, so I decided to drive to the trailhead where I could perhaps get a little nap in car with the heater on full blast before the hike.  I was first to arrive (shocker), and waited until another photographer hit the trail before I decided to follow.  I was able to stake my claim to a nice composition before the photographers started to pile in.  There were about 15 of us shooting this morning, all shoulder to shoulder to get a solid composition.  It was already blessed with a beautiful sunset the night before, so I‘m not going to complain too much about perfectly clear skies too much here.  J  OK, maybe a little, but at least it gives me a reason to revisit this wonderful arch.

Mesa Arch

After I was done shooting I headed to Moab for a breakfast restaurant my wife and I went to on our honeymoon called “Jailhouse Café”.  They put on the door “Best Eggs Benedict”, which was a bold statement, but challenge accepted!  If you are ever in Moab, look this place up because it is no joke!  The Best!  For me, unfortunately, they are a seasonal restaurant, so they were closed until March!  I’m not even going to talk about where I went instead, because nothing even had a chance at that point.

After breakfast I took my time and drove back up to Canyonlands, and out to Grand View, which is an okay viewpoint, but Green River Overlook is much more interesting, in my opinion.  After that I started the searched for the False Kiva trailhead.  When I visited Canyonlands on my honeymoon, I had seen a picture of this place, but the ranger’s won’t tell you where it is, and it’s not marked on any of their maps.  In fact, I drove by it 3 times and didn’t even see it!  Needless to say, before I left, I sent a text to my wife, “If I’m not back by 10:00 pm, please call for help”.  The first half of the trail is actually quite nice, and the second half is only about a 3 out of 5 on the sketchy scale.  The sun beats down on this location, and there is virtually no wind, so I took off both coats, my hat and gloves and was perfectly warm.  I had a couple hours before sunset, so I took a couple test shots, and then took a little nap until I heard some movement.  The trail goes below the view point, so when I looked to see what it was I saw nothing.  Eventually I was startled by a guy peaking his head as he climbed up the trail.  I was all, “Hey, I saw you the other night.  You’re the one who dropped your lens”.  He replied, “Oh great.  That’s what I’m known for”, and gave a little chuckle.  We had an interesting chat about photography equipment as we took shots of the sunset, and I headed out shortly after the light was gone.  When I got back to the car I called my wife to tell her I was still alive, and drove back to Grand Junction.

False Kiva

1 Comment(s)

Nancy Barnhart - 1/14/2014 8:58 AM

Hi Jeff, Really enjoyed your blog and the pictures are gorgeous !!

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