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Author Topic: Less than 3 days in the Southwest taking pictures  (Read 6362 times)
ksklo
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« Reply #20 on: May 14, 2013, 09:47:38 PM »
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Maybe I can give a little explanation to all those who think I am crazy.

Frist, I don't live in the States.  I am from Hong Kong and will only be traveling to Las Vegas for a show.  The southwest to me is like ten thousands miles away, and I can only afford very little time for photography, which is something I truly love.  You may call me crazy, but I've done it a few times already, to squeeze in a little fun at the end of my business travels.

I am sure if I live in the country, I would spend a lot more time visiting each of these places, and enjoy the openness and the beautiful landscape.  But for now, I live by a pace that is probably faster than anything you can imagine, and I am used to it!  To give you an extreme example, I had flown direct from Hong Kong to New York, landed at noon, attended meetings in the afternoon, returned right back to the airport, took a shower at the lounge and flew right back home.  My flight time was over 35 hours but my stay in the country was less than 12!  That's the kind of life I am unfortunately living, and so, when I get the chance to steal some time and do some photography, I would do it in a heartbeat.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #21 on: May 14, 2013, 10:06:59 PM »
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Understood.  I also understand that it's not all about photography, it's also about seeing all those places, if only through the windshield.  I can sympathize with this approach and in fact, I'm guilty of driving far too much and photographing far too little.  That's why the cautionary note.

But if there's one thing I've learned from a dozen or so trips through the southwest ( and I live over a thousand driving miles from there) it's this: The fewer the locations, the more I enjoy them.  It's a classic case of "less is more".

Of course, as they say, "your mileage may vary"  : )
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NashvilleMike
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« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2013, 10:58:33 PM »
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Have you flown into Las Vegas before or been in this area before?

If not, some tips/things to keep in mind:

1) Mccarran international airport utilizes a single location off airport car hire (car rental) facility. About 10 minutes by bus. When you finally make it down to the lobby, look for the signs. However, keep this in mind when you return your car so you have enough time to get back.

2) McCarran to the North Rim Lodge is about 4.5 hours (I-15 North, then into St. George/Hurricane, to Fredonia, AZ, down to Jacob Lake AZ, then down to the lodge). Since you'll be passing Jacob Lake, definitely stop in here - they have a nice lunch counter and serve pretty amazing home-baked cookies. A nice break before you do the road down to the N. Rim proper. I'd also strongly consider stopping for supplies (either at the gas station right before you get on "the strip" close to where you exit the rental car facility, or up the road 45 minutes in Mesquite, NV. You do not want to get stranded in the American Southwest in the summer without a LOT of water and some general food supplies.

3) For any sunrise or sunset driving in the North Rim area, be very, very aware of animals, particularly deer, which might be in the road. Don't speed here. The road to Point Imperial can be really narrow, be on the lookout for other vehicles.

4) Remember when leaving the North Rim that due to a landslide that closed Hwy 89 south of Page, you'll have to go the way you came in - back to Fredonia, up to Kanab, then east on hwy 89 to Page. Just under three hours the long way. I think you might go back an hour due to the various time zone strangeness between utah/arizona, can't remember offhand. Stop at the BLM station in Kanab - it's right near the Comfort Inn hotel, you'll drive right past it. They can offer any suggestions, provide maps, etc. Very nice folks.

5) Page / lower antelope: Get there at 8am if you can, there will be a line of cars at the gate. When the folks come to open, follow the cars down to the dirt lot. There will be a shack at the far left corner of the lot. Show your tripod and DSLR or MF camera and ask for the "photo pass" - 42 US dollars now (!! it went up) and you'll get two hours to wander around on your own.

6) Horseshoe Bend: be freakin' careful at the edge - no guardrails, 350 meters or so straight down, people die here every year from falling.

There is a lifetime of shooting to be done in this area, but I think your option 2 covers some really nice things. It still may be worth your while going through Zion on the way back to hwy 15, even if only to see the park and not shoot much. I guess it depends on when you need to back in Vegas that night.


-m



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ksklo
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« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2013, 12:00:05 AM »
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Mike, thanks for all your pointers.  I think I have decided to take option 2.

I have been checking room availabilities at Grand Canyon Lodge every few hours, and was able to secure a room the night I want.  Otherwise, before the room opened up I was originally considering to actually base out of the Lake Jacob Inn, which is a good hour away.

It's going to be a lot of driving and I am sure this will become a very tiring trip.  But I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to visit the Grand Canyon, finally!  I come to LV every June but this is the only time I am actually driving out to visit some of the national parks nearby.  I mean I had gone to Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes and Palouse Hills before or after this annual Vegas trips in the past, but every time I had to fly to my destination.  At some point I would really like to visit the Death Valley but unfortunately it's going to be way too hot in the summer.

OK, back to my plan.  This is pretty much finalized but I am still open to suggestions.

Day 1: Leave LV early in the morning, arrive and check in at the Grand Canyon Lodge, North Rim, early afternoon.  Do some sightseeing probably on Cape Royal Road until sunset and I will be standing by the tip of Cape Royal.  Then back to hotel and rest.

Day 2: Shoot sunrise at Point Imperial, and then return back to hotel for rest.  Sightsee and shoot more around Bright Angel Point in the afternoon until sunset.  And then start driving to Page to spend the night.

Day 3: Head out to Horseshoe Bend before sunrise, and go immediately to Lower Antelope after that.  After lunch, I will be heading back to LV.

I am just hopeful that I can book one more night at the Grand Canyon Lodge so that I can have a room to rest in the afternoon of Day 2.  Btw, my wife is coming along, so having the room is going to be a huge bonus.

My flight out of LV is going to be at around 7:30pm so although I won't have to rush driving back, I will not have much time seeing Zion on the way.

I think next year when I come to LV I will visit Bryce and maybe Zion after my business trip.

TOTALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO IT!
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ksklo
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« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2013, 04:48:43 AM »
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Sorry for my ignorance.  While it is my understanding that I will not be entering into Glen Canyon, when I made my reservation at the Lake Powell Resort I was alerted that I would have to pay a $15 park entrance fee.  Is this mandatory in my case?  Or is it mandatory since I will be going to the Horseshoe Bend?

Anyways, if I decide to stay at other hotels in or near Page on my second night, is there any way to avoid paying this park fee?
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NashvilleMike
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« Reply #25 on: May 15, 2013, 08:02:50 AM »
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Regarding Lake Powell: You only have to pay the 15$ if you're going to be staying at the lake / on the lakefront grounds. But if the hotel/motel is on the grounds, you have to pay the fee. There is no fee for Horseshoe Bend. Personally I'd stay somewhere else in Page just to be a bit closer to the main street (and avoiding the 15$ fee); both the Quality Inn Lake Powell and the Holiday Inn seem to be popular with photographers, but there are other choices. Might not be as fancy as being on the lake.

Also, regarding Lower Antelope: I don't know if your wife is planning to tag along, but the rules for the photo pass down there are such that only the photographer gets the pass; no assistants/wives/girlfriends come along - they have to take the guided tour. Something to be aware of.

You did well getting a room at the rim lodge on late notice. I've tried several times and always ended up staying at Jacob Lake, nice place, but a long way from the further viewpoints like Cape Royale.

-m
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ksklo
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« Reply #26 on: May 15, 2013, 10:56:11 AM »
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Mike, I think I'll try some other hotels then, just to save the $15.

For Lower Antelope, I am fully aware that my wife is not going to be able to tag along as an assistant or partner, whatever.  We have talked and she would prefer to rest in the hotel, especially after the late drive from Grand Canyon the previous night and the upcoming long drive back to LV right after the canyon visit.

You know I was practically checking room availability at the Grand Canyon Lodge every 2 hours earlier today.  A few rooms showed up for the week I am interested in and they were all taken within 2 hours.  This place is really popular.
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kikashi
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« Reply #27 on: May 15, 2013, 01:56:26 PM »
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Also, regarding Lower Antelope: I don't know if your wife is planning to tag along, but the rules for the photo pass down there are such that only the photographer gets the pass; no assistants/wives/girlfriends come along - they have to take the guided tour. Something to be aware of.

When was that rule introduced? It wasn't the case in April 2011, when I was there: my wife strolled along with me on the "photographers' tour" the whole time.

Jeremy
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francois
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« Reply #28 on: May 16, 2013, 07:29:56 AM »
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When was that rule introduced? It wasn't the case in April 2011, when I was there: my wife strolled along with me on the "photographers' tour" the whole time.

Jeremy

Sometimes they seem to have very flexible rules. About 4 years ago, I paid the normal, non-photographer, tourist fee and they told me that I could spend as much time as I wanted in the Lower canyon.
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Francois
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« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2013, 02:05:00 PM »
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I was at Lower Antelope in spring of 2012 and saw the rule enforced then...
IIRC, it wasn't a big a deal in 2011 when I was there in the fall, so perhaps 2012 was the year of the new rule?

-m
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ksklo
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« Reply #30 on: June 25, 2013, 01:29:36 AM »
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Thank you everyone for all the great help along the way.

I have successfully completed my short 3.5 days Southwest photo trip which was both fun and very fulfilling.  I ended up extending my Grand Canyon stay by one night, so I left Las Vegas on Wednesday morning and returned back to the McCarran Airport by Saturday late afternoon. Despite the long drives, I was able to do 3 sunrises, 3 sunsets and make a trip to the Lower Antelope Canyon.  I drove for a little over 20 hours and 1000 miles in these four days, which is probably equivalent to how much driving I would do in almost a full year here at home in Hong Kong!!!

While I made a mental note that 98N is closed and I even printed out the google map with instructions to take 89A northwest from 67 and then turn onto 89E towards Page from the GC North Rim, stupidly I followed my outdated GPS navigator and took 89A east until I hit the "Detour" sign at the 89/89A junction.  I probably lost an extra 2-2.5 hours driving there...  The driving was really exhaustive, especially when I had to cover all this distance all by myself and with the jet lag.  Fortunately I made it back to the LV airport in one piece.

The sceneries were just amazingly beautiful.  Unfortunately there were no clouds whatsoever over these few days, thus I was not able to complement the captivating landscape with interesting skies.  Here are a few images which I love from this trip.  I had only done my very preliminary post processing and I expect to continue refining some of these as I find time.  Please enjoy.

First comes a Cape Royal picture.  I had tried quite a few compositions and it turned out I love the wide angle one the most.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2013, 01:31:59 AM by ksklo » Logged
ksklo
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« Reply #31 on: June 25, 2013, 01:30:40 AM »
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At Point Imperial I did not see one person during the entire sunrise shoot.
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ksklo
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« Reply #32 on: June 25, 2013, 01:34:41 AM »
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Bright Angel was the most challenging location at sunset due to its contrasty scene when there was nothing to shoot in the sky.  I had to use heavy HDR to bring out the foreground to make it a little more interesting, which I normally don't like to do because they just look to surreal to my eyes.
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ksklo
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« Reply #33 on: June 25, 2013, 01:36:02 AM »
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I wanted to capture the Angel's Window but wasn't sure if sunrise would be good.  I took the risk and I was rewarded with an image I like a lot.
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ksklo
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« Reply #34 on: June 25, 2013, 01:38:59 AM »
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Horseshoe Bend was less interesting at sunset with zero activity in the sky.  But at sunrise the reflection in the river made it more worthwhile.  Initially I had my polarizer set so that the reflection was blocked completely.  Fortunately before it was too late I realized that there was actually some beautiful colors reflecting from the water and I was able to capture them.
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ksklo
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« Reply #35 on: June 25, 2013, 01:45:17 AM »
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The Lower Antelope Canyon visit was the best invested time.  In no more than 2 hours I had taken many breathtaking shots.  I never visited the Upper Antelope Canyon or any others, but I never regretted picking the Lower Antelope Canyon as my only choice of canyons in Page, Arizona.

By the way, the photographer's pass has been raised from $36 to $42, so it is quite expensive for the two hours you've got.  The guides who were around showing the tours were very kind and respectful to photographers.
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francois
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« Reply #36 on: June 25, 2013, 02:09:32 AM »
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Thank you everyone for all the great help along the way.

I have successfully completed my short 3.5 days Southwest photo trip which was both fun and very fulfilling.  I ended up extending my Grand Canyon stay by one night, so I left Las Vegas on Wednesday morning and returned back to the McCarran Airport by Saturday late afternoon. Despite the long drives, I was able to do 3 sunrises, 3 sunsets and make a trip to the Lower Antelope Canyon.  I drove for a little over 20 hours and 1000 miles in these four days, which is probably equivalent to how much driving I would do in almost a full year here at home in Hong Kong!!!

While I made a mental note that 98N is closed and I even printed out the google map with instructions to take 89A northwest from 67 and then turn onto 89E towards Page from the GC North Rim, stupidly I followed my outdated GPS navigator and took 89A east until I hit the "Detour" sign at the 89/89A junction.  I probably lost an extra 2-2.5 hours driving there...  The driving was really exhaustive, especially when I had to cover all this distance all by myself and with the jet lag.  Fortunately I made it back to the LV airport in one piece.

The sceneries were just amazingly beautiful.  Unfortunately there were no clouds whatsoever over these few days, thus I was not able to complement the captivating landscape with interesting skies.  Here are a few images which I love from this trip.  I had only done my very preliminary post processing and I expect to continue refining some of these as I find time.  Please enjoy.

First comes a Cape Royal picture.  I had tried quite a few compositions and it turned out I love the wide angle one the most.


Thanks for reporting. It looks like you enjoyed your trip and you got very nice photos!
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Francois
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