Photographing Grand Staircase Escalante in Utah

Photographing Grand Staircase Escalante in Utah

New video up on my YouTube channel from Grand Staircase Escalante (such a cool name, isn't it?) in Utah. This raw stretch of BLM land begins around the small town of Escalante in the north and runs south to Big Water and Kanab, and includes nearly 2 million acres of wild land.

This area has been a political football ever since President Clinton designated the area a National Monument in 1996. Some locals were annoyed by the federal government's intrusion in their state, so in 2017 President Trump cut Grand Staircase Escalante in half to open areas for mining and other commercial uses. Four years later in 2021, President Biden rescinded Trump's edit and restored Grand Staircase Escalante's border back to where it was originally.

Beyond its controversy however, Grand Staircase is a rich natural landscape with numerous slot canyons, arches, ancient petroglyphs, and untold number of dinosaur fossils for future paleontologists to discover. And, of course, fantastic rock formations and landscapes for photographers to explore and capture.

In my video, I travel nearly two hours down Hole in the Rock Road (a road created in part by Mormon pioneers) to visit Sooner Rocks and Dance Hall Rock; two areas with massive, orange rock formations. I didn't get to spend enough time there, but hopefully you'll get a taste of what this beautiful stretch of land in Utah is like.

Video outtake: That time I destroyed a DSLR

Whenever I edit a video for my YouTube channel, a fair amount of content is always cut to make videos shorter and more digestible. More often than not that content is not worth sharing, but sometimes there are tangential stories and moments that are.

Instead of throwing that content away, from time to time I'll be sharing outtakes and "extended cuts" with my email subscribers (hey, that's you!). I like this idea, for then I can share additional moments or information for those who care to see or know more. I think this could be especially helpful with product reviews which have a tendency to run on.

Anyway, here's an outtake from my recent video in Grand Staircase Escalante in where I share the tragic and unfortunate story of when Iceland destroyed my Canon DSLR and I didn't have a backup. 🤬 😳

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Black Friday / Cyber Monday is coming

Love it or hate it, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are almost here. This is the best time of year to buy cameras, lenses, memory cards, SSD drives, backpacks, apparel, software, and more. I plan on compiling a list of deals from companies with products I've reviewed and can vouch for, plus anything else that catches my eye. Expect to see a blog post and email newsletter next week!

❤️ Favorite things this week

  • Loads of beautiful work selected in the 2022 Natural Landscape Photography Awards. These awards focus on "natural" images, and contrast other photography competitions that "reward the technical skills of post-processing, compositing and graphic design over the challenges of working within the limits of the real world." More backstory here.
  • Ford has launched a new Transit "Trail" van (YouTube) designed for conversions and off-road use (though it doesn't offer four wheel drive as an option, which seems odd). I once used a converted Transit (via Outdoorsy) and loved it. Someday if I built my own, I'd probably convert a Transit instead of a Sprinter (lower cost, better availability of parts, etc).
  • 25 Travel Experiences You Must Have (NYTimes) according to two writers, a chef, an architect and a landscape photographer. Most lists like these are entirely predictable, but this one is actually pretty good. I've experienced 1 of 25, with the Atacama Desert in Chile being high on my "someday" list.
  • Fascinated by Dysnomia by Dawn of Midi (Spotify), a minimalist jazz album in the vein of Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Sounds electronic, but isn't. Perfect material for a modern dance piece (or, you know, editing photos).
  • David Bowie calling out MTV in for not playing videos from black artists (YouTube). An amazing piece of popular music history that could have languished in the vaults of MTV, and yet (to their credit) they dug it out and posted it online. This was in 1983, in a face-to-face interview (around his "Let's Dance" period). In the video, Bowie pivots from interviewee to interviewer, asking polite yet pointed questions to MTV VJ Mark Goodman, who suddenly finds himself in the awkward position of defending his employer. Bowie's gaze when hearing words like "narrowcasting" and how MTV has to be sensitive to audiences in certain areas of the US is a sight to behold. Pushed at the end to agree ("Make sense? Valid point?"), Bowie simply smiles and says, "I understand your point of view." It cuts like a knife. Amazing.