Unplugging For A Week In Escalante

After our trip to Glacier, we had another 7 days off, so we decided to check out some areas we hadn’t managed to explore yet. The biggest location on that list was Coyote Gulch in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. We start the trip off in Bryce Canyon National Park so I could capture an image I had planned a few years back but was unable to capture due to bad weather. We had seven days and it looked like my best chance at getting the image I wanted was on day two, so on our first day, we explored the extremities of the park and found some beautiful locations we had never visited.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

This waterfall within the park is not within the main entrance and is often overlooked even though the hike is short. I really enjoyed seeing water flowing during this trip even though it was early September. This waterfall used to dry up in the later months, but now flows year-round and delivers water to farms downstream.

After we had hiked around the extremities, we made our way to one of the viewpoints for sunset. The spires don’t catch any light at sunset because the “canyon” is East facing, but a good sunset still renders the area an incredible scene. The first night we were in Bryce Canyon, the atmosphere was hazy. This was most likely due to the strong winds pulling rain into the area. It created a nice layer of diffused light above the spires of the “canyon'“ as the sun set to the West.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

After the sun had set, I quickly made my way to a viewpoint at the opposite end of the park to capture some afterglow that was happening in the sky. The purple hues were incredible and bats were zooming past my head at an alarmingly close proximity. Thanks to those little guys though, I didn’t get a single bug bite that evening.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

That night it drizzled off and on and I was worried my morning image would once again be ruined. I grumbly arose at 4 am to the sound of rain, and made my way out to the location I had selected the previous day. The sky was covered in cloud, but there was a chance I would get what I sought. A small break in the clouds was letting the light from the rising sun peak through, and it happened to be exactly where it was going to rise.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

The sun rose and peaked through the smallest of breaks in the clouds, and filled the valley with warm reddish light for a few seconds before it disappeared behind the cloud layer.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

I noticed another fairly large break in the clouds behind me and waited for another fifteen minutes to see if anything came from that break as I had yet to get the image I came for. I waited, practically dancing as the sun peeked back out of that break and cast the light I was seeking. I couldn’t imagine the intensity with which the sun lit the scene before me. Because of the previous nights’ rain and the narrow window of light that streamed through the clouds, the colors of the park sprang to life as if on fire! I remember feeling giddy as I snapped the following image.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

It was one of the most intense sunrises I’d experienced and I frantically composed a few more images as the sun began to melt off the cloud cover and the light started fading back to normal.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

I stuck around for a while just basking in the moment and chuckled at how small of a chance it actually was that the clouds would have been in the perfect position for the series of events that had unfolded. We left Bryce later that morning and headed out of cell service into one of the neatest and most remote places in the United States; Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.


Our first stop was at a slot canyon that despite being only 1/4 mile long really packs the beauty punch. It is difficult to weave through the narrow canyon which can be filled with water as deep as your waist sometimes. The first 100 feet are usually the deepest and you have to grope with trekking poles so you don’t twist an ankle on the submerged stoned. The walls are less than shoulder-width apart in some parts, which forces you to lift your pack above your head and squeeze through sideways.

IMG_0232.jpg
IMG_0221.jpg
IMG_0216.jpg

Composing an image in this environment is difficult. Setting up a tripod is almost impossible, but manageable if you oppose pressure on opposite walls as seen in the image below.

IMG_8041.JPG

Once you have the shot set up you just have to protect yourself and your camera from sand being blown into the canyon from above, and wait for the light to reach its best. I shot two compositions while in this canyon before the light became too harsh.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

Once we had scraped and clawed our way back out of the canyon and back to our car, we turned our attention to finding a proper campsite to set up shop for the night. We found a wonderfully secluded spot near the following morning’s location and retired early for the night.

We woke early around 4:30 am and headed into Devils Garden, ( an eery place when all you have to light your surroundings is a headlamp) and waited for the sun to rise. The composition I photographed here is by no means new, but I attempted to make it unique. Without a single cloud in the sky, the purple/ pink hues of pre-dawn light illuminated the sky to the south. With nothing to hinder the light as it crested the horizon, there were a few moments when I could capture ambient sidelight on the pillars whilst still getting the nice glow of pre-dawn in the sky behind.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

Because there were no clouds in the sky, the light quickly became harsh and unmanageable, so we packed up our camping gear and headed for Coyote Gulch.

Our entry point to Coyote Gulch was Hurricane Wash, and our goal was Jacob Hamblin Arch which was 7.1 miles down the gulch. The trail started out nicely as we wound our way down the dry wash and into the deeper sections of Hurricane Wash. As we descended, the walls rose up around us and began to narrow. What was dry desert and scrub became seeping water and dense reeds. At times the trail became indecipherable, and I am 100% positive a mountain lion and my wife and I crossed paths on opposite sides of the wash 20 ft apart. We never saw it, but we heard it, and moments later we saw its prints in the wet sand leading to where we heard the rustling. It was an eery, but exhilarating feeling.

We made our way deeper into the wash until it opened up into Coyote Gulch. When we stepped out of the wash and looked around we were amazed at the towering walls above us and the river flowing at our feet.

IMG_8140.JPG
IMG_0285.jpg
© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

We ended up hiking past Jacob Hamblin Arch to Coyote Natural Bridge before we returned to the arch and set up camp. Our total mileage for the day was 14.6, which was a pretty solid feat in this terrain while carrying camera gear and enough for 3 days in the wilderness. Our campsite was quite possibly one of the neatest places we’ve ever camped. Underneath the towering walls and massive arch, the sense of calm was almost overwhelming.

IMG_8153.JPG

Anna arose before dawn to the sound of thunder and flashes of lightning. This was a very bad sign as Coyote Gulch is prone to flash floods and fast-moving water when storms are around. The weather forecast had said clear up until the moment we left the vehicle behind, so it was a bit of a shock to hear thunder. We were relatively safe in the location we were so we waited until sunrise knowing we could scramble to high ground if the need arose. It never did, but with storms lingering around the area, we decided it was best to hike on out so we didn’t get stuck for a few days. I managed to capture two hurried shots before we practically jogged the 7.1 miles back to the car.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

It was weird seeing the sun as it rose and while simultaneously hearing thunder. As we made our way back out of Coyote Gulch and through Hurricane Wash, we turned around to allow ourselves a glimpse of the gnar that was behind us…

IMG_8169.JPG

The storm was building fast and stayed on our tail the whole way out. We had blue skies in front of us and doom and destruction behind us. Somehow we made it to the car in 2 hours and 15 minutes. I managed to get a quick shot of Anna we made our way up the final 3 miles of Hurricane Wash.

IMG_0334.jpg

Next Friday I’ll take you up into the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City where I and a few fellow photographers spent the evening photographing one epic sunset.

Photography During Family Vacation In Glacier

Going on family vacations can be one of the best experiences in the world. You get to spend time with people you love in incredible places. Being a photographer while on vacations can sometimes be a difficult task.

As many of you know the best light happens before anyone really wants to be out of bed, and around dinner time when everyones stomachs are grumbling for food. This makes for some interesting and unique challenges when wanting to photograph locations during your trip.

I recently spent a week in Glacier National Park with my wife, parents, sister and brother-in-law, and ran into some of these challenges. I had planned to visit a lot of spots while everyone else was still waking up for the morning, then return (1+ hrs) to pick them up for the days adventures. I did a pretty good job planning and balancing the overall shooting and family time, but for the first half of our trip I was stuck in Canada for sunrises because the border didn’t open until 7AM. Because of this I spent a good amount of time at Waterton Lakes National Park instead of within Glacier.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

I started off the adventure at a place called Driftwood Bay, and I soon learned the nickname “Windy Waterton” was well coined. Sustained 20-30 mph winds greeted me on that first day and it was hard to stand let alone get an image. My wife and my father tagged along for the 4am journey and their company was much appreciated in grizzly country. I managed to capture a few images I was happy with as the sun began to rise.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

My favorite image from this first morning came when I inserted myself into the image. My wife had to hold the tripod steady while I got into position because the wind had already attempted to throw it from the cliff twice.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

With the sun well risen, it was time to go get the family and head into Glacier for the day.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

Even though it was middle of the day , there were pocket of good light that I was able to take advantage of during our hike.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

I was surprised to find wildflowers still in bloom and it made the hike for me! The views along this hike were incredible, but seeing the delicate flowers, glacial waters and sheer cliffs in this rugged basin was was the icing on the cake.

The following day we hiked around Waterton Lakes and rested our legs a bit. We made the hike to this small waterfall and I got creative to capture this shot.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

Sometimes you find yourself twisted like a pretzel just to find the right composition. I had to use my shirt to screen the lens between shots so water didn’t splash onto the glass. Its a good thing I didn’t skip leg day!

On our way back to the rental apartment, we spotted a deer drinking from one of the lakes with the perfect backdrop. I couldn’t resist getting the shot.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

Day 3 was a productive day. We finally saw mountain goats along the cliffs of Glacier National Park, got great light at St. Mary’s Falls, and ended the day at the Wild Goose Island Overlook for sunset. I had pre made chili to eat so we could stay out for sunset as a family.

©  Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

On day four I returned to a composition I had seen a few days before and hoped for a sunrise. I usually check the weather and cloud cover at the locations I visit, however my phone had decided to putz out on me while in Glacier. So, I went in blind so to say and hoped for the right conditions. Instead I got some serious cloud cover and very chilly temps, so I decided to work with what I had and produced a moody long exposure thanks to my Lee 6 stop ND Filter.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

Despite the weather being cold and miserable in Waterton, by midday in Glacier we had blue skies and beautiful mountain views.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

The place I was most surprised by was Avalanche Gorge. A short hike in along a boardwalk makes this spot an easy venture for anyone. When I first arrived the light was not very good and by waiting about 4 hours I found myself looking into one of the prettiest places I have ever seen!

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

The last stop was Lake McDonald and I thought it was going to be a wash. We made sure to eat near the lake so we could make it to sunset. the amount of cloud cover made for a nerve racking hour and a half, but right as the sun set some very red light filtered through to the peaks. It was a great way to end our stay in Glacier. We got to see many new and incredible places, and it is a location I would definitely love to return to.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

A Quick Jaunt Into The Desert

August was a hectic month for my wife and I. With family visiting for most of the month, it was difficult to find time to photograph. During the middle of the month my cousin Paul came to visit and I took him into the Utah desert to experience what makes it special.

Our first stop was Capital Reef National Park. This park is often passed by for the more popular parks in the state. Because it is less travelled, it makes for a great place to truly experience the landscape’s ruggedness and remoteness. On day one we hiked a six mile canyon in the heart of the park. It was amazing to see water flowing strong even though it was the middle of summer. What was even more amazing was the fact that we only saw one other family along the whole section of canyon.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

After our hike through the canyon, we headed out to the Cainville Badlands for the evening to experience the desert silence. Upon arrival we had the entire landscape for as far as the eye could see to ourselves and it remained that way until we left. We set up camp and reminisced about college while waiting for the evening to fade to darkness. The next morning we arose to perfect conditions overlooking the otherworldly landscape and I manage to wake Paul in time to witness it. In complete silence we sat as the sun began to illuminate the area.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

After the sun was well on its way to the height of its ascent we packed up camp and left this special place behind. Our last stop was Goblin Valley State Park, a place I’ve visited many times. I did not take any images but it was fun hiking through the surreal landscape of small goblin-like rock formations as the day went on. The next morning we packed up and headed back to Salt Lake City in order for me to prepare for my Glacier National Park Trip.

Come back next week to learn what it’s like being in Glacier as a photographer who’s on vacation with family. Thanks for reading!

If you are in need of a 2020 calendar, check mine out here.

It is full of beautiful images from around the US, with stories about each image. They make great gifts as well!

Back Blogged

I’ve been busy, real busy, and I’ve created a back log of images that need to be shared with the world. So over the next few weeks, I’ll be releasing a blog post each Friday to catch up!

When it comes to photography, I get excited easily. So when we made plans to visit Grand Teton National Park it was no surprise that I could barely contain that excitement. What feels like very long ago, when I was in my first year of college, my family and I made a trip to Grand Teton National Park. It was the first trip out west I had ever made, and it really helped shaped me into who I am today. I fell in love with the mountains and the landscape of the American West and the ruggedness of the terrain. Since then I have sought out places in this country that evoke that sense of awe and tried to memorialize them.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

On our first day in the area, we managed to snag the last available campsite anywhere near the location I wanted to photograph the following morning ( A good omen). The next morning came and we hustled our way down an old gravel road to a well documented barn that I was expecting to be brimming with photographers. However, upon arrival I had the area virtually to myself. One other photographer was off to my left a ways. I set up my composition and waited for sunrise.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

The thing that makes the Tetons so special to me is how flat the landscape around them is. They dominate the landscape for miles and miles, and create such a stark contrast to the valleys below. I captured my version of the usual barn scene, and moved on to another image I had envisioned. The image at the beginning of this blog represents how I feel about the Tetons. Bathed in golden light, the Grand Teton rises above the trees and fills the frame of this image creating a sense of majesty that captivates your attention while you travel through the area. To me, that image symbolizes the strength and beauty of nature. It is tender and inviting, yet ultimately rugged in the same moment.

The weather was forecasting thunderstorms by mid afternoon, so we hiked the rest of the morning before we had to hunker down and wait out the storm. I managed to capture one image from the trunk of our vehicle while the winds were howling and throwing rain every which way.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

With lightning striking nearby, we didn’t venture out far from the vehicle, but as the last light of the day was disappearing, I managed one more image down near Jackson Lake.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

Mt. Moran makes the perfect backdrop to this image, and while a perfect sunset would have been nice, the moodiness of this image works nicely for this scene. The brownish rock in the foreground that is glistening a golden color makes me think of the gold rush and it’s influence it had in shaping the West.

Wet and all, we made our way back to the tent excited to do it all again the next day. The following morning was a wash as we awoke to rain pounding the sides of the tent. We opted to stay in our bags and enjoy rising slowly that morning. As midday came around, the weather had slightly improved, so we headed out hiking.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

Well after the sun disappeared behind the mountains and the valley fell into darkness, the sky remained a beautiful shade of orange that faded into the purple dark of the evening. I created a silhouette of the Teton range and then went to bed excited to see what sunrise would bring to this location. The next morning I arose to a view of the entire range in view and knew it would be a special sunrise. Sitting in the calm morning air waiting for the sun to warm the valley I reflected on how lucky I was to be experiencing these locations with my wife.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

We spent the morning enjoying the moment and after we had packed up and headed away from our campsite to head back to civilization, I turned around and noticed one more composition. So naturally I unpacked my camera, set up the tripod and took one final image. Much like the first image in this post, I like how the forest framed the mountains in the distance, and gave them a sense of enormous scale.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

4 Days and 9 images later it was time to say goodbye to the Tetons. I hope one day I will return to this incredible place and show my children the awe inspiring peaks of Grand Teton National Park.

Check back on Friday to see where we traveled to next!

Life Is A Blur

SO…. SLOW DOWN AND LIVE A LITTLE.

One day, before you know it, you will reach the time of reckoning. You will sit at the edge of your bed and you will think about your life; whether it was fulfilling, lackluster, or somewhere in between. In today’s world it is easy to get lost in the endless feeds of content creation we call social media. A long list of stories that only a small handful of your “followers” actually give a damn about. We forget to be present, we forget to be ourselves, we attempt to create “content” that will resonate with the masses and get us a momentary spot of recognition before we are swallowed up by the endless tide of incoming posts.

I used to chase followers, thinking that they were important to build my career, until I had a small epiphany. They are called “followers” for a reason, to follow. If they controlled my path in life and photography, they would be called leaders… and I would be a slave to their demands.

I remember a time when I would spend hours in a dark room creating a tangible photographic print that could be held and viewed as a 3 dimensional piece of art. Nowadays, a vast majority of my images never leave the computer screen. They sit in a catalog of a thousand images on a hard drive in a place weirdly reminiscent of the island of forgotten toys from the classic Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer tale. Those images had their moment on the endless social media train, some of which received momentary glory before being tossed aside for the next new image. Now they collect digital dust and may never be seen again.

What does this all have to do with a photography blog post and reaching the inevitable end of the road?

Last week, as I sat in Yellowstone National Park staring at a sunset that was so beautiful it practically rendered me speechless, I had an epiphany. I realized I was constantly trying to create content for the next social media post instead of creating work for myself, work that resonated with me. Because I had been creating work for the momentary pleasure of strangers, I had stopped seeing and enjoying for myself. It had become a wash, rinse, repeat cycle form of creation and I wasn’t getting any joy from the incredibly beautiful scene playing out in front of me. The pungent smell of the sulphuric gases fuming from the geysers, the interaction of steam and cloud, of light and shadow; I was viewing the scene as if I were behind a screen. I wasn’t present in the moment. I was too focused on “content creation”, and that is a travesty.

So in that moment I stopped shooting wildly, walked away from a mediocre composition, took a deep breath and studied the interactions occurring in front of me. I felt the warm steam as the south eastwardly blowing wind pushed the water vapors towards me and up over the hillside behind. I watched the light dance across the shallow pools of water on the delicate surface of the geyser basin. I listened to the water as it bubbled up through the geyser pools, steadily releasing sulphuric gases into the atmosphere. I reminded myself I was standing on the worlds largest volcanic hotspot, and of the power it held beneath the surface.

I set my camera back up and took one photograph. Just one.

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

© Andrew Lockwood 2019

As a photographer I made the decision that I want my images to resonate with me first, with the experience and feeling I had within that moment. I want my images to speak to me, to make me feel, to wonder. Like the artists’ work I adorned my walls with as a budding adult, I want my images to inspire me. If I can create images that provoke those feelings within me, then those same images are bound to provoke the same sense of wonder in others.

Let’s tie this all back into this posts title.

Life is a blur, so slow down, be present, and experience the subtle nuances of the many places you will find yourself as you write your life story. If you are an artist, create for yourself first, your creations will speak louder, and in turn get noticed by those that matter. You will feel more fulfilled at the end of the day and when your judgement day comes you can say, “ I experienced my life, and in doing so, created something meaningful, something lasting. I was present each and every day and made true connections with others, and with the planet around me. I lived.”

In that moment, I reignited the fire of exploration, discovery, and creation within me and am excited to slow down and experience the many, many events and places that will shape me as I continue to get older.