Friday, November 20, 2015

Goosenecks Of The San Juan River, Goosenecks State Park

Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Goosenecks State Park, Utah.
Having been to southeast Utah's Goosenecks State Park a number of times, I'm always looking for the best conditions to portray this sprawling scene. 

This is my favorite shot so far. A bright sunny day, at mid day, with cumulus clouds to accent the blue sky and throw some shadows that help give the canyon slopes some sense of depth. 

The Goosenecks of the San Juan River is called "the world's most entrenched meander." It certainly is entrenched: a thousand feet down from the rims to the river. 

The Goosenecks are near the high desert hamlet of Mexican Hat, Utah. 

Nearby is one of my favorite areas, a section of Utah Highway 261 called the Moki Dugway. After driving up it another 1,100 feet you are on the southern edge of Cedar Mesa. The views of the lower San Juan River valley and toward Monument Valley are superb.

The Moki Dugway portion of Highway 261, north of Mexican Hat and the Goosenecks.

Photo location: San Juan County, southeast Utah.

© Copyright 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Early Snow in Southeast Utah

November snow, south end of Moab, Utah.
It has been an early winter in southern Utah's high desert canyon country. 

This morning in Moab there was new snow on the cliffs and hills around town, and of course another fresh coating on the La Sal Mountains.
Snow on the red cliffs above Moab, Utah.
I drove north out of town, to I-70. Then east from Crescent Junction to get a few shots of the white stuff while it still adorned the south facing aspects of the Book Cliffs. Lovely, lovely.

Snowy Book Cliffs, Thompson Springs, Utah.
Photo locations: Moab and Thompson Springs, Grand County, Utah.

Prints and photo products are available on my Fine Art America sales website:

© Copyright 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Best Halloween Display Ever

Pumpkins take over Telluride at Halloween

Seen recently in Telluride, Colorado. Perhaps the perfect mountain town, even though it's overbuilt, trendy, and expensive? 

If anything, this display indicates they like to have fun and don't take things too seriously.

Telluride is a beautiful town.

Downtown Telluride, Colorado.
Ain't it?

© Copyright 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fall Colors and First Snow, Colorado

Aspen fall colors and first snow, from Highway 145, San Miguel County, Colorado. (Click image for larger.)

Fantastic aspen fall colors, and the first snow above on the high peaks above treeline. Perfect. A perfect October. 

It doesn't happen like this often. Deciduous trees such as quaking aspen have their own needs. Their leaves are out in the spring and summer to manufacture food, courtesy of the sun's power, and the Earth's nutrients. 

Then, come autumn, the leaves are shed in order to ride out the winter in comfortably wrapped-tight dormancy. 

When the leaves are shed tells the tale. If it's a harsh end to summer, with a hard frost or early snow, our tree friends pretty much just dump their foliage. See you in the spring. But if it happens to be a nice, gentle fall, with cool nights -- not freezing hard yet -- and clear sunny days, then the trees aren't in such a hurry to close the shutters. They slowly back off on their supply of green chlorophyll to their leaves, with its green color that has been masking other colors all along. Like yellows, golds, reds. 

Thus autumn is a kind of forest-weather courtship. A quick breakup, or a love for the ages. It's weather that decides how the date goes.

Which brings us to this year -- 2015 -- in the Four Corners region of southwest Colorado, southeast Utah, and northern Arizona and northwest New Mexico. 

And what an autumn it has been here. Slow and easy, gradual with some rain and snow up on the highest southwest Colorado peaks. But not down lower. Not down in the aspen-spruce-fir forests. 

Fortunately I have been able to experience it myself. In the San Juan mountain range between Rico and Ridgway, Colorado. Of the may photographs I made last week there, this is one of my favorites. The marriage of mountains and forests in autumn in Colorado.

Photo location: San Miguel County, Colorado.

© Copyright 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Banana Yucca and Cave Towers Ruin, Cedar Mesa

Banana Yucca, Cedar Mesa, Utah.

Late summer in the high desert of southeast Utah. Cedar Mesa, to be more exact. I am exploring some ancient ruins perched on the rim of a side canyon of Mule Canyon. 

I pause before a yucca plant, admiringly. The late afternoon sunlight has the dagger-like leaves and their curly fibrous tendrils aglow. For a brief time my mind is distracted from ancient adobe ruins, and what the people who lived there were like. The Anasazi, or Ancestral Puebloans. The ancient ones. I have no doubt they would have admired this plant, too. They used this species for a number of things, but certainly would have also admired its beauty. 

Cave Towers Ruin setting, Mule Canyon

Yucca blades to the upper left, blades straight up. A photographic compositional candy store. I trigger the camera and move on. Much to try to notice here on this peaceful summer evening.

Back at home, doing the so-called "post processing" work of the images on my computer, I decide that the yucca image would make a lovely black and white image. Also called monochrome. Back in my darkroom days it would have been called a silver gelatin print, or something similar. 

Whatever. The point is to admire the photograph well done, the composition and control of values as seen in the mind's eye at the time of exposure. Portrayal. 

One of the tower ruins.
Photo location: Cedar Mesa, San Juan County, southeast Utah.

© Copyright 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Owachomo Natural Bridge, Summer Sunset

Owachomo Bridge at sunset, July 2015.
Owachomo Bridge in Natural Bridges National Monument is the grand old lady of the three massive sandstone bridges within the park. 

It's the oldest one because it's also the thinnest at the middle of its span. Only nine feet thick, many wonder when it will collapse, though I wouldn't bet on any time soon. It could be tomorrow, it could be a hundred years from now. Only the Earth knows.

On July Fourth I happened to be at Owachomo at sunset time. Thunderstorms had been dancing around the park all day, so what might happen at any particular hour was anyone's guess. Thunder rumbling, dark clouds. A savvy outdoors person wonders about if they should be in such an exposed place at that time. Balancing the risk against the possible reward.

The sunset cast a shadow of the Bridge on the opposite canyon wall. 
Then at sunset, the clouds opened a crack to the northwest and the warm yellow sunlight poured through from the upper right of the scene, illuminating Owachomo Bridge. Only in the summer is the sun far enough north to light this side of the Bridge. The dark storm clouds behind served to show it off even more nicely.

After the sun had set, I walked back up the trail to the overlook and made a nicely subtle portrait of the bridge in the dusk.

Owachomo Bridge at dusk, below the thunderstorm clouds, from the visitor overlook.

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan County, Utah.

Prints and photo products are available on my Fine Art America sales website:

Copyright © 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sipapu Natural Bridge, Summer

Sipapu Natural Bridge, August morning. [Click on image for larger version.]

Down the trail to Sipapu Bridge on a very warm August morning. Almost no shade this early in the day. because the cliffs in this part of White Canyon catch the morning sun full on.

No problem. With sunscreen on my exposed skin and ice water in my daypack, I enjoy a descent of 500 vertical feet from the canyon rim to the bottom. Quickly, in just 0.6 of a mile. You don't have to walk very far forward to have walked down a lot more. Down is forward.

I have my photographic sweet spots on this trail, so familiar to me by now. This is one of them. It's most of the way down, a last look at the western face of the bridge before plunging beneath it. 

On this particular morning, the trademark high desert Utah clear sunny skies predominated. Sun shining from right to left, the far cliffs of Cedar Mesa Sandstone were awash with light, while the span of the immense natural bridge -- sixth largest in the world, second largest outside of China (where the four largest are) -- was in bright shadow. Green riparian vegetation in the bottom of the canyon for a nice color complement.

And a family of three resting nicely in the shade within the composition to give it a bit of scale. 

My hike was just beginning: on to secret locations within the canyon. 

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan County, Utah. 

Prints and photo products are available on my Fine Art America sales website:

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Kachina Natural Bridge, Summer

Kachina Natural Bridge from west buttress.
Kachina Bridge in Natural Bridges National Monument in southeast Utah is a massive span of Cedar Mesa Sandstone. The youngest of the three bridges in the park, Kachina Bridge is also the youngest one. That's why it's still so thick; it has a lot more stone to shed through the future millennia than its sisters, Sipapu Bridge and Owachomo Bridge.

On a hot summer day, the shade and breezeway-like air movement underneath the bridge are the perfect respite. The trail down from the Loop Drive parking lot is only 0.7 of a mile, but dropping 400 feet in elevation. The trail offers scant shade until you get to the bottom, underneath the bridge. There you feel like lingering, resting, savoring. And it's never crowded with visitors, either. Most of the time you can have it all to yourself. Take a lunch or snacks, and plenty of water. 

The bridge is so massive that, while underneath it, even an ultra wide angle lens can't take it all in. So for this photograph I took three overlapping images and merged them into a super high resolution panoramic file. 

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan County, southeast Utah.

If you have a large screen, click on the image below for a much larger version.
Kachina Natural Bridge, larger version (click on image).
Prints and photo products are available on my Fine Art America sales website:

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Colorado Western Slope Skyway Scenery

High country view from Colorado 145 west of Telluride.
A glorious late spring drive across a portion of the San Juan Skyway in southwest Colorado. The aspen forests have leafed out and so the lower forests are greener than green. Which makes them a nice counterpoint to the higher, bluer peaks in the distance, and the clear blue sky.

Looking south to the Mount Sneffels Wilderness from Hwy. 62, above Ridgway, Colorado.
The verdant green of an aspen and oak forested ridge provides a color and perspective complement.
Later I drove across the western portion of Grand Mesa. While camping there, I saw a cinnamon colored black bear in the forest, which didn't know I was there. Though I would have loved to have gotten a photo.

Looking off Grand Mesa, down toward Cedaredge, Colorado.
Then it was down off the southwest side of Grand Mesa, into the beautiful little town of Cedaredge, then into the larger but still lovely town of Delta.

As always, click on any image for a much larger version.

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunset Rainbow At Natural Bridges

Rainbow and Bears Ears Buttes, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

The weather forecast had been only 20 percent chance of showers. All day long we had sunshine and some dark clouds. Visitors arrived telling us they had come through intense rain, even hail, several miles back. We joked that they had been in the 20 percent spot. 

Then, in the evening, we got it. Rain, thunder. So peaceful to listen to the rain when you're inside and don't have to be anywhere right away. Stay dry and watch the land soak it up. 

Afterward, as sunset time was almost upon it, the rainbow appeared. Arcing across the eastern sky, with the blue-black rain clouds for a backdrop. And the Bears Ears Buttes up above us. The rainbow superimposed in front of them. 

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Welcome To Utah...

"Welcome to Utah" sign and tourists, near Monument Valley.

...Land of illicit stickers on state highway signs? 

There was a busload of Asian tourists at the state line, at Monument Valley. World famous Monument Valley. Having driven past this sign oh so many times, I finally noticed all the stickers on it. I guess I was always too focused on the scenery behind it. I would never even consider slapping some sticker on a state highway sign. 

Anyway, I loved watching the visitors having so much fun, taking pictures of each other. They get to visit, I get to live here. 

Photo location: Arizona/Utah state line at Monument Valley, Arizona. 

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Friday, May 8, 2015

Art Of Ancients: Newspaper Rock, Utah

Newspaper Rock, Utah.
Returning to the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah, it's hard not to stop by Newspaper Rock again on the way in.

I hate the name. To label a spectacular signpost of ancient native petroglyphs (figures pecked into the rock's surface) a "newspaper", as if they were mass published daily editions, is stupid.

The artwork, meanwhile, is world class heritage stuff. And on this day it was a rare rainy day in the canyon country high desert, which meant soft light on N--Rock.
"Newspaper" Rock artwork panorama.
And the rains had the greenery sprouted at the base of the sandstone lens that had been such a prominent place to signify--whatever it was they meant. Because they had no written language. So we don't really know what they meant. Their descendants in the modern pueblo tribes of New Mexico and Arizona know a lot. But not all. Anyway, they keep a lot of it secret.

So I stood and examined, stared, photographed once again. Most of the rock-pecked figures are quite bright, indicating relative newness. The ones with a horse or wheel are really new, since the horse wasn't introduced until the 1600s by the Spanish. Because of that indicator, most of these seem to be of that era. Not that weathered.

A couple more pondering: why so many bare feet? Why not hands instead?

The demon or monster like beings are a whole other story. Space aliens? Dreams or hallucinogenic visions?

Older rock art amid the cracks.
Much less spectacular, and maybe more revealing, are the older figures. Weathered, seemingly lower and off to the side. Toward the cracks. I think the most important stuff's there. Whatever it means.

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Moonrise, La Sal Mountains, Utah

La Sal Mountains, and...the moon

Time for another Full Moon. This time, in the high desert country of southeast Utah. 

Between Monticello and Moab is a lightly visited side road called the Anticline Overlook road. There are many more cows and pronghorn (antelope) than people. No power lines ruining the view. Nothing. Perfect. 

The La Sals in late afternoon, with the red rocks.
It was the evening before the official Full Moon on the calendar, which is usually the best day of the month for landscape photography shots of the almost full disc rising above the eastern horizon while it's still light. 

We were there, ready. Even had time for a side trip to the Anticline Overlook beforehand. 

I'd picked this spot because of the prime views of the La Sal mountain range to the east. The one that you see in all the photos of Moab and Arches National Park, towering over everything. It's a small but very photogenic cluster of peaks. And when you have the full moon rising above them, it doesn't get much better. Probably not any better, really.

Having once again used The Photographer's Ephemeris on my computer to determine the time and, just as importantly, the azimuth (compass direction) that the moon would rise that evening, I was set. Pretty much. Because those mountains in the way would block the moon for a while. And it doesn't rise straight up, like an elevator. After all, it has to arc across the southern sky and set in the morning in the west. So by the time it clears the mountains it will be somewhat southeast of where it initially "rose". 

Don't you hate that technical stuff? Even when it's useful? You just want to wing it. Not a bad idea. 

But I used it, and it worked out very well. So there. One for the geek side of me. Which allowed me to turn to the artistic side and shoot away at a very awesome scene. 
The moon first appears, 5:18 PM.
Photo location: San Juan and Grand Counties, southeast Utah.

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Kachina Natural Bridge, January

[Kachina Bridge, from the west buttress.]
Natural Bridges National Monument in southeast Utah is the only place in the world with three massive natural stone bridges in such close proximity to each other. 

I decided to revisit the youngest of the three, Kachina Bridge. The trail was free of ice from the past two storms, because there it faces almost west, and so it gets afternoon sun in the low light of winter. 

Down the stone trail, across slickrock and down some stone steps cut into the bedrock, or built upon it. One short ladder section, bolted to the cliff and polished smooth by the hands and boots of many hikers. 

[Kachina Bridge, west face, halfway down the trail.] 

Down to the canyon bottom. The stones and soft sand of the stream bed. Down underneath the belly of the massive stone beast arching above. 

Nice afternoon light. 

I climbed the sand embankment at the west buttress. Photographed a pile of massive boulders created by the most recent shedding of rock from the bridge above, in the 1990's. 

Then photographed some ancient (700 years ago, plus) artwork on the stone buttresses. The Hopi say they can trace these symbols to their ancestral clans, before they migrated to the Hopi mesas down in northeast Arizona. 

Incredible to ponder.

[Bighorn sheep petroglyph and yellow hands pictographs, Kachina Bridge.] 

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan County, southeast Utah.

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Friday, January 16, 2015

Snowy Peaks, Red Rock Canyons

[Comb Ridge, San Juan County, Utah] 
A local friend calls Highway 95 west from Blanding, Utah "the road to the good stuff". And she should know, having combed this region for about 30 years. 

So I was again driving Hwy. 95 west, savoring the sights as usual. Up and through the massive cut in the red sandstone at the crest of Comb Ridge. Then down the west side, crossing Comb Wash. And up onto Cedar Mesa, the million-acre wild land with all the rugged canyons cut into its sides. Where everybody comes to hike down in to see the ancient Anasazi / Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwelling ruins that were last inhabited about 700 years ago. Great stuff. Part of my friend's "good stuff". 

Pulling over at a favorite viewpoint where I could see north from the lip of Cedar Mesa, I enjoyed the view toward Comb Ridge and the distant Abajo, or Blue, Mountains west of Blanding and Monticello. 
[Abajo Mountains through the clouds, from Cedar Mesa] 
This sums up a lot of what I appreciate about San Juan County: red rock canyons and snow capped mountains. Geology, archaeology, ecological diversity, and plenty of it.

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Snowscapes in Slickrock Country

[Butler Wash area in snow, San Juan County.] 
A lovely mid winter storm in southeast Utah. Canyon Country, Four Corners Country. Perfect snow, and I was in the mood for roaming outdoors again.

From Blanding west on Highway 95. Such a wonderfully lonesome road. Unless you consider the seeming suicidal deer, which can instantly decide that somehow the other side of the road must be the safer side. 

On this morning, though, the snowstorm had the deer bedded down in the trees, in the draws, out of harm's way. So the highway was mine.

I had plenty of time. Thus a diversion: stop and hike the short (half mile) trail to the viewpoint of Butler Wash Ruins. 
[Snowy bench, Butler Wash] 
"Ruins," as in the remains of ancient pueblos, tucked under a massive sandstone cliff. I had visited there before, even hiked down into the Wash and up to the ruins themselves. But today I would content myself with confining myself to the trail to the overlook. It should be beautiful, and slippery enough without being even more adventuresome.
[700-year-old (or so) pueblo ruins.] 
I was the first one through the virgin snow that day. It was still so overcast, and the snow so white, that it was hard to discern the lay of the trail. So I stumbled and slid a bit, taking care not to fall. My goal was to make it to the viewpoint without putting my traction aids on my boots, just to see whether I could. 

I decided I couldn't. Or at least shouldn't. The experiment was complete, so I stretched them over my soles and enjoyed a much more confident trek.
[Pull-on traction devices, huge difference.]
At the ruins overlook, I made my photos and video of the wide mouthed alcoves in the cliff across the way. Then I started back toward the trailhead. The view to the south caught my eye, so I strayed off trail across the sandstone slickrock. The tiny intermittent stream was flowing down through the snow. Beautiful, sensual patterns in the perfect snow.
[Small pools in the slick rock.] 
[Sideways slickrock stream.]  
[Snowflakes on ice veneer, on pool.] 

[Prickly pear cactus in the snow.] 

Photo location: San Juan County, southeast Utah.

Prints and photo products are available on my Fine Art America sales website:

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Clouds Part

Highway 95, west of Natural Bridges, Utah.
Utah Highway 95, down along White Canyon. No cell service, no problem. Because I'd rather be using my camera, anyway.

An inversion still had the cloud cover down low. But not all the way to the river. Sweet. I could play both sides of it just by driving along.

Fresh snow, fog, blue skies, red rock cliffs. A highway so lonesome you only see a few cars in an hour.

Photo location: San Juan County, southeast Utah.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Down White Canyon

Utah Highway 14, east of Hanksville, Utah.
 The highway goes on forever. Doesn't it?

Shouldn't it?