Monday, November 7, 2011

Red Rock Crossing Color

Oak Creek is getting a lot of representation lately, no wonder, it's one of the state's treasures, and photographers from all around are flocking to see the fall color. For those who don't know, Oak Creek flows here just below Cathedral Rock at one of the most photographed landmarks in Arizona. I live about 45 minutes away, and though I have been there many times, never for photographing sunset, or during the fall. I can remember when all of Sedona and Oak Creek was free to hike, and camp and play in the water. Twenty some-odd years ago Slide Rock, Grasshopper Point, and Red Rock Crossing were our favorite stomping grounds. My sophomore year I joined the seniors on 'Senior Ditch Day' and drove to Red Rock Crossing to partake in the revelry. Someone got a hold of a keg of beer, and when I got there one student was already so drunk he was passed out faced down in the shallow water. I showed up just in time for the party. I had just finished a glass of beer when the school's administration arrived. I can still remember Ms Fisher pulling up in the district's brown station wagon. She got out and proceeded to take names. Man you've never seen a full size keg run so fast up stream in your life. The students scattered, and within minutes the dirt parking lot was empty excpet for a brown station wagon, some paper cups and the poor sot face down in the shallow red rock water. Red Rock Crossing is a state park now, that charges $9 to enter. Its much better kept, and equipt with bathrooms, water machines, sidewalks and interprative signs. I have mixed feelings about our public lands becoming bumper to bumper amusement attractions, but realize that if our natural treasures weren't protected by the almighty dollar, it could very well be laid to waste. This shot was taken a couple of weeks ago just after a rain storm. I decided to head down to Red Rock Crossing in hopes that the sun would dip below the large rain cloud and bless the scene with some magic light and clouds. I showed up just in time for the party. The bank of the creek was filled with photographers and tripods, I knew the light would be fleeting, so I bracketed the shots on a couple of different ISOs, and kept the shutter speed up so I could hand hold the camera with shake reduction on. I brazenly squeezed between a couple and stepped out into the squishy mud to take the shot. Crescent Moon Ranch, a settlement preserved from the 1800s.
Back in the day there wouldn't have been anyone standing on that bank waiting with tourists for the light to turn gold. But times have changed, and we must change with it. So get out and enjoy the last of the best, before they're loved to death. Oh, and never be late to a party.

Night in Sedona


Since I got my DSLR I've been dying to get to Sedona and photograph the red rock country at night. I loaded up the gear and dogs into the VW bus and started to hit the major land marks. The plan was to grab the tripod, makes some star trails, then find a camping spot out of city limits in the national forest. The first stop was Castle Rock. I set up the tripod right in the empty parking lot. A light storm had recently passed and the clouds just began to clear. Normally a clear night is preferrable to a cloudy one, but one takes the time one has. I have found that any weather makes for more interesting photos. Here there was still some color in the sky, and the lights of Sedona were reflecting off the clouds. The light illuminating the front of Castle Rock is ambient light from car headlamps and the Village of Oak Creek. The shutter was left open for 30s, ISO 200, at f2.0 using some old legacy glass, the Vivitar 28mm f2.0. The next shot here, I just turned around toward Courthouse Butte and took three 10 minute exposures. I stacked them in Photoshop afterward to align the startrails. The high clouds made them a bit dotted by diminishing the light as they passed. The next two were taken from the parking lots of each land mark, Bell Rock and Capitol Butte. They were just some quick 30s exposures. The last photo here was taken of Cathedral Rock, but not from the Red Rock Crossing area, which is where most photos are taken of the landmark. I wanted to enter the park and photo from the crossing, but it was closed and I didn't want to tresspass. Perhaps in the future I will figure a way to get in without detection. Anyway I found an out of the way dirt road and perched there for about an hour, dogs waiting patiently in the van. Here you can see Cathedral Rock, and the lights of Cottonwood reflecting off the clouds. Again it was 3 ten minute exposures with the same settings as Courthouse Butte. This concluded my foray, after which I drove out of town to the national forest to camp out in the VW bus for the rest of the evening (about 11pm).