Bucket List

There are always those “Bucket List” images that, given the opportunity, I have to attempt. They are the iconic images that we’ve all seen and there are thousands of examples from thousands of photographers. Think, “Tunnel View” in Yosemite, sunrise at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley, sunset at Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River or in this case, the view through Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park.

You’re usually shoulder to shoulder with other photographers and you’re really just imitating the works of others who photographed there before you. It’s hardly a solitary or unique endeavor. “So why bother?”, you might ask.

There are several reasons, really. Among them are that it’s fun and you still have to make it happen! It becomes a sort of congenial affair among like-minded artists. We joke around, tell stories and give each other tips while we wait (in this case) for the sun to rise. You have to be prepared for the challenge when the moment (and the light) is right and there is a satisfying sense of accomplishment if (When!) you get a good image.

The main reason, at least for me, is that I always learn something. Copying the idea, in this case, is a great way to learn. You have to put yourself in the mindset of those who came before. Creative considerations have to be made. Technical adjustments still have to be completed on the fly by you. The conditions are never the same and it’s not just Paint-by-Numbers. You can learn a lot! And in the end, you always put a little bit of yourself into the final piece.

On this morning, the anticipated sunrise happened, disappointingly, behind a layer of clouds. People began to pack up and leave. By waiting awhile longer however, there was a “second” sunrise as the sun peeked above the offending clouds. I adjusted the height of the camera so that just a sliver of the sky would be visible between the tops of the clouds and the bottom of the arch. It was all over in a matter of seconds. I probably won’t return very soon to replicate this particular image but I’m extremely happy I was there for this one!

All Photographs © 2018 Sharon Lobel Photography or John Grusd Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Fleeting Light

My third and final morning in Monument Valley reveals a different personality from the two sunrises before. (See the two previous posts.) It again rained heavily throughout the night but this time without the thunder and lightning. The last two nights in my small tent have been interesting, to say the least!

On this morning it is apparent that the storm will be clearing. The air is colder but the wind has stopped and there are a few drizzles and a lot of residual moisture suspended in the desert air. As the bright sun rises between the horizon and a layer of low clouds, it illuminates the landscape around the Mitten buttes and the scene becomes bathed in a soft golden glow. After a few moments the sun goes behind the clouds and the magical light fades.

When I photograph landscapes, I’m always hoping for weather. Sure, it can backfire to the point that I don’t get any images at all but it can also present me with something unexpected and beautiful. We hope you’ve enjoyed this little triptych of Monument Valley sunrises!

All Photographs © 2018 Sharon Lobel Photography or John Grusd Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Desert Storm

Morn 2a

The morning before, this view of Monument Valley was filled with bright, candy colored hues. (See yesterday’s post.) Now, however, it is something very different. I spent a long night in my tent enduring a violent frontal system of thunder storms passing through the desert southwest. When you can barely count to “3” from the lightning flash to when you hear the thunder, you know you’re in the middle of it! The bottom of my little tent felt like a water balloon as several inches of silty runoff flowed underneath. Even so, I stayed dry and the rain turned intermittent by early morning. So of course I gathered my gear and headed out into the stormy dark to see if this morning’s light would be as interesting as yesterday’s.

It is a blustery and rainy “non-sunrise” as low storm clouds blow across the landscape, seemingly catching on and clinging to the buttes. As in the previous post, this is the East Mitten but today the mood is dramatically different. Squalls of rain and clouds driven by the storm constantly change the view, obscuring and then revealing different parts of the scene. Even as I battle to keep my gear dry, it’s a very satisfying morning to be a photographer!

All Photographs © 2018 Sharon Lobel Photography or John Grusd Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Fiery Morning

Morn 1

This was my first morning of three in Monument Valley. I was camping at the Goulding’s Resort and it had been a calm, quiet and comfortable night. A storm was predicted for the next day so I made sure I was up for this sunrise. The joke about photographing landscapes is that one of the hardest things about it is getting up early, way before it gets light. That’s very true. Another truism is that you don’t get the shot if you’re not there. I think I was rewarded for getting up early and being in place for this sunrise image of the East Mitten.
This trip is on our IMAGE-Adventures radar but as of yet is not scheduled. Let us know if you are interested!
All Photographs © 2018 John Grusd Photography. All Rights Reserved.

World Photographic Cup

WPC 2019

I am proud to announce that I (John) was named as a member of the 2019 USA World Photographic Cup Team!

Every year there is a friendly image competition between countries called the World Photographic Cup. It is a massively competitive event where the best of the best images from each country are judged to determine the international winners, the “Cup” going to just one nation. The USA won it for the first time last year!

This year, there are 32 countries competing in six different categories. There are only a maximum of three entries allowed per category for a maximum total of 18 entries from each nation. The image selection is up to the organization that represents their particular country, in our case it is the Professional Photographers of America.

To have an image selected to represent your country is to be a member of the team and my teammates are a fabulously talented group. You can check out the other Team USA photographers and their amazing images at https://ppmag.com/news/team-usa-2019-announced-for-world-photographic-cup .

The results of the competition will be announced in April so stay tuned. Go USA!