Sunset

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Dead Horse Point. What a funny name for a state park, don’t you think? But it’s probably one of my favorite places in Utah that I’ve ever photographed. It is beautiful at any time of the day and in the two days that we were in Moab, we visited this place twice. It was that cool. I also liked it because it was so easily accessible. There weren’t long hikes or anything that you had to do in order to get some great views. You pretty much park your car and you are right there in the mix of all this amazingness. I took this while I was waiting for the sun to go down. It’s hard to believe places like this really exist.

Speaking of which, have you seen the HBO show West World? Andrew and I started watching it from a recommendation of a friend and just hearing people talk about it in general. I think we’ve seen 3 episodes of it. To be honest, I’m not a big fan. It’s a little too weird for me. There are so many characters and so much going on at once that it’s a bit too much for me. I can’t find a single character to really care about or relate to. But I mention West World because it looks like the characters on the show are straight up living in National Parks. I don’t know for sure but some of it must have been filmed in Utah and they make it look amazing! I think that’s the most exciting part of watching West World to me. Just watching the scenery and imagining what life really must of been like back in the day, when there were no real rules, just amazing landscapes. Oh man, the trouble I probably would of gotten myself into. HAHA!

BTW, did you know that if you hoover on top of the image and there’s a link to “purchase print”? Obviously, you can buy this print if you’d like, but it also allows you to view it larger. I’d recommend doing that! This image looks even better bigger! For realz.

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Flowers are my favorite. They make me so happy. Especially when you see a whole bunch of them growing like these sunflowers in southern Maryland. This image was taken last year and I’ve heard the ones this year are just couple weeks away from blooming. Can’t wait!

So if you’re in the DC metro area and interested in shooting these sunflowers, google or click this link for McKee Beshers. It’s hard to give an exact location to where they are but on their website, they’ll have a map of where the sunflowers are blooming. That will be your best bet.

If I can offer you any tips on shooting these sunflowers, it would be BRING BUG SPRAY. Not even joking. I’ve never had so many bug bites in my life. Two years ago, I went with my friend Ryan to go shooting and at one point we decided there were way too many mosquitos and we started running back to the car. Tell me how I swallowed 2 of them!!! It’s absolutely nuts how they just swarm you. I’ll never wear shorts out there. I rather be hot in long pants and a shirt before I even think about going there with too much exposed skin. If you haven’t noticed yet, these bugs are for real. Definietly take precautions. The mosquitos and I are not friends.

Other than that, sunset is probably your best time to go too. I’ve tried sunrise a few times but where these fields are located, sunset is definietly the time with the best light. I’ve seen people bring ladders and that’s probably a cool point of view as well. If you have any other questions about these sunflowers, don’t hesitate to ask 🙂 I know a lot of people were asking me about them on instagram so I think that answers the majority of them.

My settings for this image was F7.1 at 1/13th of a second ISO 125 shot at sunset while a storm was approaching.

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The last night in New Mexico and we tried to visit Taos Pueblo. I say ‘tried’ because there was road construction and we weren’t actually able to make it in to the vicinity! So 2 hours of driving basically went down the drain. It’s all good though. I always try to make the best of the situation and luckily the town outside of the Pueblo had some amazing Tex  Mex. So we stopped for a little bit to stretch out legs and got some food. And I’m talking about cheese on top of cheese with a little bit of cheese sprinkled on top plus some of the best bites of elote corn I’ve ever had. YUMMMM.

With our bellies full we made the drive back to Santa Fe. We stopped at a few scenic overlooks which were all very beautiful but it wasn’t until about 30 minutes before sunset did the sky really start changing. A storm was about to come through and I had no idea where we could stop to take pics. I was totally prepared to take sunset pictures at the Taos but didn’t know where I could do it along the road. Soon enough we drove right by this huge intersection and I quickly pulled into the parking lot of a Ohkay Casino. It was probably the most random place to pull over considering there bus loads of people and cars there but it didn’t matter, I was there for the backdrop of the casino. I mean how amazing is this backyard? Absolutely nuts. The mountain range seemed like it was out of a movie but we had no idea who or what was inside the shack. We kept our distance and I decided to just use it as a foreground.

Moral of the story: everything will be ok as long as cheese is involved.

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I know its wrong but whenever I travel and check the hours for a national park, I kinda just assume it’s more like a guideline as opposed to an actual rule. I think it’s because there have been so many times at so many different parks that the gates are left open and I just drive right through. Well this is definietly not the case at White Sands National Monument. They closed the gate! I was so disappointed that we woke up early just to go take some sunrise shots and it was closed.

But since we were already up, dressed and ready to take some pictures, we decided to pull over at this camp site spot near the entrance of the park. It had really pretty cactuses and a lake that maybe we could get a few shots in. I didn’t really expect much but then I saw these three birds just hanging out in the water. I knew they were going to fly away as soon as they saw me so I did my best to slowly approach them. I only had my 28-70mm so I wasn’t able to zoom super close to them like I would have wanted to. Regardless, I’m really happy that I was able to capture them taking off. My favorite part of the image is that one little water drop in the middle of the second and third bird. Such small details like that can really make an image. For me, my eye keeps on going straight to that spot and I love it!

So listen to me now. If you’re going to White Sands National Monument, definietly get your beauty sleep in so you can be ready to shoot sunset. Sunset is where it’s at at White Sands! 

Settings for this image was F7.1 at 1/200th of a second ISO 500.

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It’s hard to say which was my favorite spot on the road trip, but White Sands National Monument is definietly up there in the rankings. A strong #1 or #2 for sure. Before leaving for the trip, it was the place I was most excited to visit and it definietly did not disappoint. The initial drive into the park was like we drove on to another planet. I had never seen anything like it. We were surrounded by white sand dunes and I could not have been happier. My favorite part are the lines that the wind creates in the sand. I thought I’d have to search long and hard to find a dune that was untouched but it’s crazy because they were everywhere! The sand was really soft like beach sand but not hot like it. We left our shoes in the car because it was just so much easier walking around barefoot.

I planned on having a little photoshoot here so I purposely packed a flowy dress for the occasion. We may or may not have changed in the welcome center’s bathroom. LOL. What I didn’t expect was a rain storm right at sunset when we arrived! It was like the most exciting photoshoot everrrrr! So the sand dunes are not huge but it can get tiring if you’re running up and down the thing several times. At one point Sue asked if I was ok because I was kneeling down with my tripod and camera breathing so heavily. The only thing I could say was “yes, I’m just so excited” and kept on shooting and shooting.

I’d highly recommend visiting if you ever find yourself in or near New Mexico. The whole park is just incredibly beautiful.

The settings for this image was f/6.3 at 1/10th of a second ISO 200.

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Man o Man was Arizona hot! That’s what you get when you drive through a heat wave. I think the hottest we experienced was 115 degrees fahrenheit. Luckily, we were just in Tucson. I heard the heat was so hot that it was melting mailboxes in Phoenix! That’s pretty crazy if you ask me. We pretty much arrived in Tucson, went straight for the hotel pool, got out just in time for dinner in air conditioning and sunset in Saguaro National Park. The next morning we woke up and left Arizona, ASAP.

I didn’t expect too much from the park. I like to keep my expectations low so I don’t disappoint myself but it was way better than I had imagined! These Saguaro cactuses were huge. Way taller than me. So much fun to drive through and point at. If you’re planning on visiting anytime soon, I suggest starting out on the east end of the park where they have a paved road to drive through an 8 mile loop. There are a lot of pull over points where you can just stop and enjoy the views.

From a photographer’s standpoint I had a blast in this park but found it a little difficult to shoot. First of all, there are SO MANY saguaros. To single anyone of them out was difficult. Especially since there are so many cactuses around. They all sort of blended in with their surroundings if you wanted to shoot wide angle. So the way that I did it was to use a foreground element to sort of frame a really cool looking saguaro. I think if I had more time there, I’d also try to use the evening or early morning light to try to highlight the outline of the cactuses. I think that’d be pretty cool. Oh well, next time. Hopefully it won’t be as hot that time.